Real Estate

In Conversation with Jo-Ann Capelaci, Interior Designer

Sep 2023 | By Sue Webb Smith

Rightsizing?, Downsizing? Smartsizing?

ALC Takes a NEW look at choosing a NEW HOME for Your Retirement.


Arriving at the time you decide to retire is quite a momentous occasion. After all, you’ve spent quite a while to get here and leaving your familiar working life behind is not without its challenges. That said, most of us will be looking forward with energy and enthusiasm to planning the exciting years ahead. Top of mind will be choosing a community that offers the location and lifestyle that meets your needs and, most importantly, the kind of house you will love to live in.

For many retirees, starting their search with resale homes or condos may seem to be the best option. But considering the benefits of buying a “new” home has much to offer.


ALC: Jo-Ann, you urge buyers to consider choosing a new home for their retirement.  What do you think are the most important things for the buyer to consider?

JO-ANN: Yes, I believe a “new build” home and community has many benefits for the home buyer and buying a new home can be the perfect way to begin this new chapter.

Design & Budget: The house plans will be fresh and well thought out. The choice of available product helps the buyer choose what suits their needs and the right price for their budget. Many new communities include detached bungalows and bungalow-lofts in their roster of house plans – sometimes as semis and townhome designs.

Quality of Construction: Today’s high building standards give attention to energy savings and convenience. Homes are built to meet the most updated building code and covered by the New Home Warranty Program. In short, a quality build means peace of mind.

Finishes & Features: Some of the features that many downsizing buyers look for are not always found in a resale home. Think 9’ ceilings, pot lights, security systems, energy efficient windows insulation. Consider also finishes like engineered hardwood flooring; the latest in kitchen design options with up-to-date cabinetry and storage, soft-close close doors and drawers, stone counters, new appliances.

Touch & Feel: Many builders will have model homes showcasing both standard and upgrade features. Before you buy, you can get a really good understanding of how your home will look and feel. Having the floorplan of the home helps the buyer to plan out how their existing furniture might work in their new home in advance of moving in.

Location: Often new home communities spring up close to your own neighbourhood, so you can continue to have familiar surroundings and friends where you are!


ALC: If a buyer has never bought new before, what should they know when they first enter a sales centre?

JO-ANN: The process of buying “new” is a very different experience from purchasing a resale property. Buyers are assisted by professional sales people, who guide the purchase process from helping the buyer choose the home plan most suited to their needs, to presenting the Offer to Purchase to the Builder, to closing day. I recommend buyers take the time to read over and understand the features and finishes included with their Sales representative.


ALC: Selecting finishes for a whole house might be quite daunting!

JO-ANN: I think it rather like buying a car – you choose the model, the colour and so on, and then choose the “extras” that your budget allows. Our clients are both the Builder we are working for, and Buyer of the Home. Working closely with the Builder’s construction schedule, we set appointments that allow the buyer enough time to make sure they are happy with their choices and cover all their concerns. We strongly recommend our clients have a budget in mind. Come prepared by reviewing the options available, perhaps have a list of the items that are most important to you and allow yourself time.


ALC: What do you recommend the client consider first?

JO-ANN: We start with the structural things that aren’t easy to add once construction is well underway. These could include the “built in” aspects such as available floorplan options, new technology, the electrical plan and plumbing features. A colour consultant can help create a dream kitchen that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Layering the lighting can enhance the mood of a room with LED lighting for valances and pot lights and dimmer switches. Be generous with the outlets, it will help flexibility with your furniture placement.

Exterior lighting adds to the function and curb appeal of the home.


ALC: What are the trends you are seeing currently? And what is your advice to clients looking for inspiration for their new home?

JO-ANN: After living in the same home for a number of years, you may be surprised and delighted with the new products, accessories, furnishings and so on that are now available. Moving to a new home and starting out with a “clean slate” is a wonderful experience and an opportunity to explore all sorts of new ways to express yourself and your love of “home”. Get inspired by visiting stores or websites for companies like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware. Check out Pinterest sites of designers. You can bring these ideas to your colour appointment too and that will help when you pick your faucets, or light fixture, or door handles even.


ALC: That’s lots of food for thought Jo-Ann! Thank you for joining us.

In closing, ALC is delighted to welcome you as a valued ALC Ask The Experts Partner and look forward to your continued insights into Design and the Home.

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Jo-Ann’s home base is Peterborough, ON. Working extensively with some of Ontario’s most influential new home community builders, her expertise includes creating award-winning Model Home presentations. Her Colours & Concepts’ team of Colour Consultants assists homebuyers in customizing the features and finishing details of their new homes.

Jo-Ann divides her time between her GTA home and Thousand Oaks, CA where her primary focus is remodeling and designing individual residences.