How to Create a Brew-tiful DIY Coffee Bar at Home

Even though we all have the ability to make coffee at home, there's something comforting about recharging at our favourite coffee shop. Money doesn't matter, because we're not just paying for a $5 cup of coffee—we're paying for a vibe. Good tunes, dog-eared magazines and beat-up leather chairs pull you in like quicksand. And that sensory punch of ground beans and steamed milk? It's a delicious addiction.

The coffee shop is so beloved and ubiquitous that some modern workplaces have even gone so far as to emulate that coffee shop feel at the office. But why not take it a step further and recreate your favourite café atmosphere at home? 

When you break it down, the coffee bar “look” can easily be achieved with a few carefully curated items and essential equipment. Soon, you'll have friends and family dropping into your kitchen for a cup of java instead of the local!

Pick your style

Photo by Katlyn Giberson on Unsplash

First, nail down the design elements you love about your latte loafing headquarters. This is best determined by doing some research and visiting a few other shops to suss out the vibe. Do you gravitate towards the stark Scandi approach? Are you most at ease in an Industrial setting? Or do you err towards the comfortable, colourful cafés of bold Bohemia? Whatever your preferred design style, think about whether you're planning on working in your home café or simply want to use the space to hang out. 

Lighten up

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Coffee shops generally rely on lots of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. The further recesses are easily warmed by floor lamps and swing arm reading lamps. If possible, create a café nook near a window and remember, pendant lights over countertops create ideal lighting for spreading out the weekend paper.

Shopping list: lighting

Scandinavian: Satin nickel LED floor lamps, drum-shaped wooden and metal flush mounts.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

Industrial: Foundry lamps, seven-light cluster pendants, oil-rubbed bronze caged ceiling lights, aviation-inspired double blade fans.

Photo by Tomas Jasovsky on Unsplash

Bohemian: Geometric pendants, Turkish Moroccan lanterns, aged brass pharmacy floor lamps, antique stain wicker blade fans.

Photo by Omar Tursić on Unsplash

Take a seat

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It all comes down to ergonomics versus slouching. If your kitchen counter is going to double as a workstation, matte iron counter stools are sleek space-savers but aren't designed for the long haul. Window seats or banquettes offer casual flopping spots in micro spaces and can be piled up with throw cushions that lend to your look.

Shopping list: seating

Scandi: Polypropylene desk chairs, beech wishbone chairs with woven seats.

Photo by Blake Parkinson on Unsplash

Industrial: Drafting table stools, adjustable height swivel stools.

Photo courtesy of Jules Torti

Bohemian: Pear-shaped twill bean bags, Bardi's bowl chairs, howdah (traditionally used to carry people on the backs of elephants and camels), chunky knit or leather poufs.

Photo by jose aljovin on Unsplash

Against the wall

Ingridi Alves Photograph on Unsplash

Don't overlook the surface that allows you a free-range canvas of possibility! While you can rely on paint to achieve coffee shop coziness, textured options like faux brick walls will flip a room instantly. Consider open shelving with apothecary jars or hang unexpected art pieces like a spray-painted beach cruiser bike or an old axe or dart target board.

Shopping list

Scandi: Create your own blackboard surface with paint or visit a printer to design a retro vertical flat menu with your favourite or peculiar coffees from around the world like Scandinavian Egg Coffee. It's a thing!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Industrial: If you don't live in a former warehouse with exposed brick, you can still achieve the look by purchasing faux brick wall panels and applying the German Schmear technique (a carefree whitewash of mortar and paint). It's a simple DIY with gratifying results.

Bohemian: This look offers so much freedom—from elephant tapestries, Batik designs, antlers or a collection of mismatched mirrors… anything goes.

In re-creating your favourite coffee shop at home, don't forget the vitals. Canvas friends for soundtrack requests or swap magazine piles. Grab games like Mahjong or The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game. Have an ongoing Scrabble board for drop-in players—everyone must leave a word.

Most importantly, start collecting cool mugs, buy good beans and hone those barista skills!



How Much Room Do You Need for a Kitchen Island?

Installing an island can enhance your kitchen in many ways, and with good planning, even smaller kitchens can benefit

A well-planned island layout can allow a smooth workflow and provide a comfortable space for preparing and cooking food. Islands also frequently provide space for dining, working and storage. But while a well-planned layout offers much enjoyment, a poorly planned island can be frustrating. This is particularly true if there is insufficient space for an island to begin with. If you’re considering a kitchen island, follow these tips to help you decide whether you have enough space to make an island work for you. And if you don’t, discover what else you can try.

RRSP vs. TFSA: Which is the Best Investment Tool for First-Time Home Buyers?

So you've decided you're ready to buy a home. Now the real work begins—saving enough money for a down payment.

“It's absolutely critical the down payment is a good size on a first home—somewhere in the range of 10 to 20%,” says Lesley-Anne Scorgie, a personal finance author. “The rationale simply being that the habit of saving is the same habit you'll need for actually owning a home—keeping up with the payments and preparing yourself and your bank account.”

There are many online mortgage calculators available to help you determine how much home you can afford.'s mortgage affordability calculator can help guide you through this entire process. It's important to save a healthy down payment to avoid, what could be, steep mortgage insurance fees.

To help, the federal government has set up a number of tools you can use to build up sizeable savings, including Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs). Each offer benefits for first-time home buyers to help them achieve their home purchasing goals.

a woman with her baby on her lap while working on a laptop

“For most first-time home buyers who earn an income of over $60,000, the RRSP is a very good choice, as they're building up their down payment while they receive the benefits of a reduced tax bill,” said Scorgie. “That money can then be put towards further beefing up their RRSP, with the ultimate goal of taking out the money for buying a home.”

First-time home buyers can use their RRSPs towards their down payment, which again, isn't taxed. Recently, the federal government's 2019 budget increased the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $35,000. The repayment period starts two years after the funds are withdrawn, and one-fifteenth of the withdrawn funds need to be repaid each calendar year (over a max of 15 years) or it will be taxed as income.

“When you pool that with a spouse or a partner, they can each take out that amount in their RRSPs. When you have 15 years, that's a nice length of time to pay it back,” Scorgie said.

There is one drawback: When money is withdrawn from an RRSP, it's not invested in any financial markets but rather in the real estate market. Home buyers are trading off one market exposure for another. In real estate, your investment is exposed to the fluctuations of the local market. Meanwhile, money invested for the long-term in stocks, bonds or mutual funds is exposed to the changes in the financial market.

“If you feel you'd be better off making more money in the stock and bond market, keep your money there. Consider instead taking the money you need for the down payment out of a TFSA,” says Scorgie, adding it can also be a better option when household income is lower.

Young woman moving to a new apartment

For example, if you've been over 18 since 2009, you would have TFSA contribution limit of $63,500 in total; $5,000 for each year from 2009 to 2012; $5,500 for each of 2013 and 2014; $10,000 for 2015; $5,500 for each of 2016, 2017 and 2018; and $6,000 for 2019. (TFSAs were not available before 2009).

“If you invest your money in a TFSA, there's no penalty for using that money for a down payment. You can also re-contribute all that money back because you get your limit back. You can keep saving. There aren't many drawbacks,” Scorgie said.

In the end, it really comes down to a personal preference between an RRSP and a TFSA. According to Scorgie, you could also use both to improve your savings power.

“In expensive markets, it's very common to use both,” explains Scorgie. I would say 90% of first-time buyers in expensive markets have to use both because of the limit of the RRSP.”

Saving for a down payment is hard work, no matter how you choose to do it. Be sure to take advantage of all the savings tools at your disposal and, before long, your dream of homeownership could become a reality.

REALTOR® can help recommend a mortgage broker, online tools, and make sure you're getting the most bang for your buck when negotiating the sale of your first home.

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.


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