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      Home Improvement

      5 Home Security Tips: Holiday Season Vacation Checklist

      As the weather turns colder, snowbirds are locking up their homes and heading off for a more pleasant clime. Others are flying across the country to visit loved ones for the holidays, or simply escape the stresses that culminate the day after Christmas.

      Whenever you choose to get away, your pre-trip preparations should include home-security measures, so you won't leave the family's most expensive possession -- your home -- vulnerable to burglars.

      A few simple steps can mitigate the risk of a break-in -- and a home insurance claim: Do everything possible to make yourself a lousy target for thieves. How? By following this list of five things to check before leaving home.

      Ask neighbors to be your eyes and ears

      Alerting neighbors to your vacation plans and asking them to watch your property is paramount. Essentially, that's the best advice for low-cost home protection.

      People who are retired or who do not work outside the home are often the best lookouts. They are familiar with what is normal for your street and can take note when a van appears in your driveway.

      Instruct neighbors to call police if they see any suspicious activity. It's also wise to give a trusted neighbor a spare key to your house. That's better than leaving a key under the mat. Don't attempt to hide your spare key, thinking no one else will find it - that's one of the key reasons why "effortless" break-ins happen.

      Secure all doors and windows

      Doors and windows provide the main entry points for thieves, so make sure they are secure.

      Using deadbolts and locks that are pick-resistant, drill-resistant and able to withstand substantial force, such as kicking. These kinds of locks should be installed on all doors that are outside entry points, including the door from the garage into your home.

      Exterior doors should be made of wood that is at least 1 ¾ inches thick, or should be clad in metal. Sliding glass doors require a dowel in the bottom track to keep the door from being pried open. Anti-lift devices can prevent anyone from lifting the glass up and out.

      Securing windows depends on the type of window installed. For example, double-hung sash windows, with upper and lower halves that move up and down in tracks, require a key-locking security sash lock. Casement windows that swing open can be secured by removing the crank handle from the window's opening mechanism. Glass doors and windows should be shatter-proof and break-resistant.

      Remember to check all locks before you leave. Always keep in mind that the best locks in the world can't protect you if you don't use them.

      Don't leave a burglar-friendly yard

      Most homeowners know that well-trimmed hedges and bushes deny burglars a key place to hide before breaking in. But it's also important for home security to prune low-hanging tree branches, which can give thieves access to the second floor.

      If you'll be gone for a long period, make sure someone mows the lawn regularly or shovels promptly after snowstorms. An untended yard is a sure giveaway that no one is home. Good exterior lighting also can keep thieves at bay. Some lights can be programmed to turn on at dusk and off at dawn, while others have motion sensors, so they'll turn on when someone walks by them.

      Lighting should be focused on the entry ways into your home. The general rule is that lights always make burglars nervous.

      Arm the alarm and alert the police

      A good home alarm can keep burglars out of your digs. Even security signs and stickers can be effective deterrents.

      But an actual alarm system might earn you a discount on your home insurance. As with locks, alarms are only good if you set it before you leave. So before you pack your bags, be certain your system is working.

      We suggest doing a monthly test, or even run it a few days leading up to your vacation. Make sure it is communicating with the monitoring service. Do not underestimate the value of a good alarm system.

      If you live in a small neighborhood that's easily patrollable, you might also want to alert the local police department about your vacation plans. Many law enforcement agencies have a "vacation check" program, especially in Massachusetts. Officers or volunteers will make random stops at your home and do a cursory check.

      Do sweat the little stuff

      Overlooking the little things can negate all of the home security steps already tackled. They are easily undermined if you leave your porch light on 24/7 and you don't have your mail and newspaper deliveries stopped while you are gone.

      A buildup of papers on the front stoop or a mailbox stuffed to the brim can be almost as bad as putting up a billboard telling thieves that no one is home. Plus, an overflowing mailbox attracts another type of criminal. It is also a gold mine for identity thieves.

      We also suggest that homeowners put a few interior lights on timers. They can give the appearance that someone is home - this is always a deterrent to break ins.

      Finally - for those who are home insurance (theft) policyholders - remember to keep valuables such as jewelry and important papers in a secure location. Don't leave them in plain sight, such as sitting on the desk in your home office, that on its own could be a cause for the insurers not to compensate you.

      Top 10 Home Repairs To Make Before Winter

      With all the barbecues, baseball games and road trips that go on during the summer months, home maintenance projects may not seem very appealing. But, before Old Man Winter bears down on your area, there are a few projects you should consider completing.

      This is especially the case for those of us in the Northeast - where in the matter of just hours, our homes become our refuge from the freezing winds and heavy snow that batter the region unexpectedly. It's one of the 'perks' of being in Boston, you'll definitely have a feel of all the four seasons that make up the year - especially wintertime.

      So, before it ultimately gets too wintry out there for you, here is a list of things you might want to take care of before the mercury completely falls and freezes over.

      Check Heating System

      Before it's time to turn on the heat, you should have your home's heating system checked out and serviced, if necessary. Having your furnace examined and fixed, during the air-conditioning months may be easier than it would be in the winter, as the demand will likely be lower then. Putting it off until winter could mean a longer response time.

      Inspect Your Roof

      Summer storms may have affected your roof. And since winters can also be rough, it's important to have any small repairs completed to prevent larger, more expensive problems from developing. Snow, ice and heavy rain can turn a seemingly small issue into a major headache -- so why not get that roof fixed before the weather turns bad?

      Fill Gaps Around Windows and Doors

      Any gaps around windows and doors could allow heated air to escape, requiring homeowners to run their heating systems more to make their homes comfortable. By filling in gaps with silicone caulking or weather-stripping, you can save money on your monthly utility bills and cut down any drafts.

      Inspect the Chimney and Fireplace

      There's nothing cozier on a cold winter's night than cuddling by the fireplace. To help reduce the possibility of fire danger disrupting your peaceful evening by the fire, it's important to get your chimneys, vents and fireplace cleaned before you light a fire. Other items in your home that burn coal, oil, wood or gas should also be cleaned before it's time to use them.

       

      Make Quick Exterior Fixes

      The cooler weather and falling leaves of autumn can cause drafts and clogged gutters, so it's a good time to do some exterior maintenance. Check for cracks in your home where the warm air can leak out. Also, you should clean the gutters and rake the yard, as piles of leaves could later cause ice dams. It also may be a good idea to fill cracks in the driveway or walkways before the cold sets in.

      Switch Ceiling Fan Direction

      One thing many people don't know is the effect reversing your ceiling fan has on your home's ability to keep your house warm. Running a fan clockwise via a reverse switch will allow it to push down the warm air that rises toward the ceiling. Doing so could allow you to turn down the thermostat while staying toasty warm.

      Buy Supplies and Tools Early

      Purchasing winter supplies early can ensure stores don't run out, while it may also provide you with a deal on all the necessities. Fall is a good time to check out the stuff you already have and replace damaged snow shovels or other items. Don't forget to pick up ice melt and salt, as these tend to go quickly when storms approach.

      Construyendo la casa de sus sueños.

      Una mudanza o un cambio de destino conlleva muchas más cosas que coger un avión, un tren o un coche y plantarse en la ciudad de la noche a la mañana para comenzar con su nueva vida.  Cuando por fin se declina por la casa o el apartamento de sus sueños a veces resulta un poco depresivo entrar a vivir y que  lo único que haya en su interior sea polvo acumulado y un olor a cerrado espantoso. En BIRE creemos que para construir una vida de ensueño primero tiene empezar por amoldar su espacio personal; de este modo, usted y su familia se sentirán más cómodos, satisfechos y felices.

      Una de las trabas más pesadas a la hora de desplazarse a un lugar nuevo puede ser la búsqueda de inmuebles, de hecho, dormir tirado en el suelo con un colchón inflable no es una sorpresa mientras que se desarrolla este proceso. Sin embargo, peripecias como las del colchón a la larga puede que les traiga problemas. Si algo bueno tiene la ciudad de Boston es que cuenta con cantidad de tiendas y lugares para conseguir sus inmuebles de una forma rápida, segura y, por supuesto, encontrando todo lo que busca, ya que es una metrópoli con una tasa de desplazamientos bastante alta.

      Aquí les dejamos una pequeña lista para que echen un vistazo de los principales lugares de venta de muebles.

      IKEA: 1 IKEA Way, Stoughton, MA 02072

      Está tienda cuenta con todo lo necesario para construir su casa a un coste bastante rentable, suele ser utilizada por estudiantes que vienen a estudiar a la capital de Massachusetts. El único desafío que presenta está compañía es que los muebles han de ser montados por usted mismo.

      BOSTONWOOD: 1117 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

      Está tienda se ubica en el vecindario de Allston/Brighton, se equipa con productos de madera de excelente calidad. Además, si le gusta pintar podrá hacerlo, pues muchos de los productos vienen con el propio color de la madera. Así que coja un pincel, deje su imaginación volar y personalice los muebles a su gusto y semejanza.

      LEKKER HOME: 1313 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      Situada en South End, este lugar cuenta con muebles y precios de todo tipo. Es un espacio ideal para aquellos que quieran dar un toque "chic" a su domicilio. También podrá encontrar más utensilios como ropa de cama, ropa de baño y cantidad de artículos de decoración.

      CREATE & BARREL: 777 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

      Ubicado en el centro de Boston este lugar también ofrece multitud de muebles para empezar a decorar su casa. Además, será atendido por grandes expertos que le ayudarán a elegir que es exactamente lo que desea.

       

      THE BOSTON BED COMPANY: 1113 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

      Los muebles son algo fundamental pero una buena cama también lo es. A la larga esto le evitará problemas de espada, malestar y le permitirá estar descansado y al 100% para enfrentarse a la vida activa con la que cuenta una ciudad. Esta tienda está especializa en colchones que gozan de una calidad exquisita para satisfacerle con un buen descanso.

      MOHR & MCPHERSON: 460 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02118.

      Si le gusta una decoración de interiores impregnada de paz y buenas vibraciones entonces el diseño asiático es su estilo. En esta tienda encontrará todo lo que necesita para que los rincones de su casa luzcan como usted desee.

      Y por supuesto hemos de mencionar Craiglist.com. Se trata de una famosa página web de segunda mano donde podrá encontrar todo lo que está buscando a un precio muy económico. Incluso en muchas ocasiones se pueden encontrar productos totalmente gratis, ya que su dueño se tiene que desplazar y no sabe que hacer con ellos. Esta página es muy utilizada por aquellos estudiantes que vienen un corto período de tiempo y necesitan enseres que en un futuro no volverán a utilizar.

      Hablando de páginas web Amazon.com también ofrece productos interesantes y muy atractivos para darle forma a su hogar. Además, este sitio web ofrece la opción de comprar artículos nuevos y de segunda mano, eso ya depende de usted y de sus intereses.

      Y como no íbamos a mencionar los famosos rastrillos de la calle. Seguro que han visto cientos de veces en películas a aquellas familias que están a punto de mudarse de la ciudad, sacan todas sus pertenecías a la calle y, allí mismo, en la propia acera de su casa, las venden. No sea tímido y eche un vistazo si se topa con uno de estos rastrillos, pues puede encontrarse con una sorpresa y darle algo de vida a su apartamento.

      Lo que debe tener en cuenta es que lista de los sitios que le ofrecemos abarca tan solo una pequeña parte de la multitud de opciones y tiendas que Boston ofrece a sus residentes. Y como hemos mencionado antes, esta ciudad está continuamente recibiendo y despidiendo a sus ciudadanos. Por eso tiene más opciones además de elegir la primera tienda que tenga un sofá en su escaparate. Mire tiendas de segunda mano, páginas de internet que considere que pueden ofrecerle unos buenos chollos y hable con lugares especializadas para descubrir que es lo que realmente busca.

       

      *Si busca el apartamento de sus sueños llame al (617) 505-1781 o escribanos a: info@bostonire.com y concrete una cita con nosotros. ¡Le facilitaremos el comienzo de una nueva aventura!

       

       

      Practical Renovations for Investment Properties

      Regardless of whether you just bought your first rental property or just considering becoming a landlord, you're probably wondering which home improvements make the most sense when updating your investment property. Should you replace the windows or flooring? What about painting the walls and upgrading fixtures and finishes in the bathrooms and kitchen? The nicer your property, the longer you'll likely keep your tenants whatever their background is - student, professional, or a family, everyone appreciates a well-maintained rental. With that in mind, these improvements should make your property desirable without putting too much strain on your wallet.

      Interior paint

      New paint in a lighter shade is always nice. Azure blue, for example, is light and bright, and you can use a flat or semi-gloss finish for walls. Whatever color you choose, make it a lighter color and paint the whole house the same shade, except ceilings, which should be white.

      Flooring

      Carpeting can be relatively inexpensive but usually only lasts a few years. Plus many tenants get the "ick" factor seeing worn wall-to-wall carpet filling a space. Many landlords are opting instead for wood laminate flooring, which looks great and is tough as nails while being less expensive than hardwoods. Laminate is easy to clean between tenants, and there'll be no arguments over who should pay for carpets to be cleaned. It's better, however, to stick to tile in the kitchens, bathrooms and other high-plumbing areas.

      Plumbing

      If the property is reaching its second decade, you should consider having a plumber change out all the water valves, hose bibs, supply hoses and sink faucets (you can skip the in-wall supply or drain lines, as they typically last a much longer time). Check the dishwasher supply and drain lines, and especially the washing machine supply hoses and drain hose, which should be changed out every few years. Doing this upfront work will help reduce the risk of a pricey water-related disaster.

      Bathrooms

      Changing out old towel bars, toilets and sink faucets shouldn't be too expensive. A new vanity top, medicine cabinet and/or light fixtures can be installed by a good handyman. If the property is 30-plus years old, it might be time to change out the shower, tub and floor tile as well.

      Kitchen

      The kitchen gets more expensive, so hopefully it's been updated a little. If not, having the cabinets sanded and painted, and adding nice doorknobs should update the space without too much expense. Switching out old fluorescent ceiling lights for new track lighting and adding a newer countertop (laminate isn't too pricey) could really update the look for years going forward. Consider changing out the sink/faucet, too, if you're doing the countertop. You can find reasonably priced replacement combo packs at home improvement stores.

      Door knobs and locks

      These aren't too expensive, and you can switch them out yourself. Interior knobs make the unit look much nicer, and exterior knobs and locks add security. Try Kwikset's Smartkey exterior locks, which can be re-keyed in place between tenants.

      Requesting Repairs From Sellers

      When looking for a new place to call home, it's important to see beyond the aesthetics of paint colors and furniture that may or may not be your taste and, instead, focus on the floor plan, structural design, and other physical elements of the house. Replacing carpets or changing light fixtures are typically simple and affordable changes you can make once you move in. But if certain areas of the residence require repairs, like the foundation or the roof, purchasing a property could become costly.

      With Boston's continuing downward trend of available listings, there's only a handful of properties that are up for grabs. And in a bullish market such as the one we currently have, it's a good idea to consider snapping up properties that may need a little fixing. But don't let the fear of having to pay for repairs deter you from buying, though. In some cases, home sellers may be willing to pay for repairs if it will help them close the deal and sell their property. Here are some tips on how you can ask and negotiate:

      Reasonable Requests

      There are certain types of fixes that are generally 'OK' for home buyers to request sellers make before they agree to purchase the home. Getting a home inspection is a must. Once this is complete and specific parts of the home have been identified by an inspector as needing essential upgrades (electrical wiring, for instance), you can approach the sellers to see if they would be willing to pay for the repairs. Conversely, it is not acceptable for home buyers to make non-essential requests for fixes in a home for sale. This might include painting the property simply because you prefer a different color, or making other aesthetic alterations. Remember to keep your requests reasonable - you don't want to turn off the seller and them to shrug your offer.

      Time Is Of The Essence

      In addition to making appropriate repair requests, it's also important for home buyers to ask for fixes in a timely fashion. Making requests days before closing may halt a home sale altogether, as the sellers may not be willing to alter their agreement at the last second. This means you will want to ask the sellers to upgrade certain parts of their home early on in the negotiating process. In certain circumstances, home sellers may be willing to pay for home repairs after the sale is complete. To ensure the sellers follow through on their intent to do so, you might want to hire a lawyer to draw up a contract stating the seller's intention to make the fixes within a predetermined period.

      What You Can Live With

      There is a chance that a home seller may be unwilling to pay for repairs. At the preview, you should already determine have some sort of idea of how willing you would be accept the property as-is, without any repairs paid for by the sellers. If the majority of the place is in quality shape (make sure the defects won't impact your ability to get insurance on the property) and you like most features, you just might want to worry about making fixes after the sale goes through.

      The key to approaching home sellers about repairs? Communication. Make sure that you or your agent communicate your requests well, as they may be the key to getting your dream home.

      Sprucing Up For Springtime

      The snow outside might have made you overlook it, but yesterday was officially the start of springtime. But before you make your vacation plans and do-it-yourself projects, it might be a good idea to start small. And when we say small, we mean within walking distance small. Spring is the best time to prep yourself and your living space for the active season ahead. And whether you're in your first apartment or your dream home, or looking to sell your space, sprucing up your apartment doesn't have to be painful. If you cannot do the entire cleanup in one day, tackle one or two things at a time. You'll feel better about your place and ready for the new season. Here are a few suggestions that will vastly improve the comfort of your home in one afternoon's worth of work.

      Organize and clean the refrigerator

      Do you have three almost empty bottles of mustard and some long-expired eggs in your fridge? How about those Mexican leftovers from a month ago? Go through your fridge and toss what's no longer edible. Then, if you want to go the extra mile (or if the fridge literally stinks) actually clean it. And don't forget the freezer section while you're at it.

      Edit your clothes

      Even if it seems like you have the right amount of clothes, you may have much more than you think. In fact, it's not uncommon for someone to give away 20 pounds of clothing after going through their closets. Get out all of your clothes and consider how long it's been since you've worn each article. Often, items at the very bottom of your dresser or back of your closet haven't been used in several seasons. If you haven't missed these pieces yet, you likely never will. Give them away, or throw them out, as the case may be. By doing so, you'll finally have room for the clothes you actually wear.

      Get rid of 'the pile'

      Have a box or two that you never bothered unpacking after your last move, or a stack of "important papers" that is making a mess of your desk? How about a stash of old CDs or video games shoved under the bed? Go through them. Toss what you don't need, save and organize what you do, and be glad to be done with it. Who knows, you might find something you'd been vaguely searching for but had given up as lost. As for those old video games: You might be able to convert them into a little bit of cash online.

      Don't be a hoarder

      Now, go through all the products, perfumes, and miscellaneous items in your medicine cabinet and bathroom shelves. Throw out everything that you are not currently using -- even if it was expensive -- or that is clearly past its "use by" date. And while you are in the bathroom, look at the shower curtain liner. Is it greenish? Then it's time to get a new one.

      Riding The Real Estate Wave With The Young

      Selling your home can be challenging. Selling your older, dated, and historic home is even more challenging. But if you live in a city (or a state, for that matter), that's as old as the founding of the country, you're bound to have an exposure to these old-er and "antiquated" abodes - in fact, chances are, you own one of them. You might have held on to your home as long as you've had for historical or sentimental reasons, but the recent changes in the local real estate market is probably prompting you to do otherwise; and only rightly so since now is definitely the time to consider letting others in on your "oldie but goodie", cashing in on your investment while the market is scorching hot.

      According to the 2012 Home Quality Survey of Greater Boston Homes, more than half (53%) of Bostonian homes were constructed prior to 1920. This figure includes buildings and single-family homes that have five or less than floors in them, referring to brownstones and apartment-type structures. The survey also noted that of the 53% of "older homes", barely half (47%) have gone through "extensive renovations", except for city-mandated structural repairs. This bit of news is especially staggering when you consider that Boston real estate has been in the spotlight of late for all the developments that are on the rise.  But of course, majority of these newer properties sit on land that has been recently reclaimed, rezoned, and or redeveloped.

      And thanks to the efforts of Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Menino to attract and make the youth a more permanent fixture to Boston's city life, majority of current and prospective homebuyers nowadays belong to the younger demography of 25-39 years of age. And aside from the difference in age, another factor that differs between "historic" home sellers and the vibrant youth of today are their lifestyle preferences. To put it simply, you could say that it's like selling a cassette recorder to a kid.

      But not to worry, all is not lost - you could still cash in on your property; all you need do is appeal to a buyer's practicality and put a little effort into your pitch, and you should be all set. The very first thing you'll need to do is to allay the fears of young buyers about maintaining a home that was around during the real "Beantown" days. Second, you'll need to showcase the features that have the most appeal to young couples and families. Have not fear, following our eight tips won't cost a lot of money, and they could reap you an early and hefty offer.

      Pre-inspect your home

      One of the most difficult decisions for home sellers is to figure out how much to spend on home improvement projects before putting the house on the market. We always recommend paying for a home inspection, especially if you're a bit more senior and have not had the money or energy to keep the house in great shape. An inspection will help determine if there's anything that absolutely must be done before putting the house on the market. In addition to a general home inspection, we recommend that homeowners get the heating and air-conditioning system cleaned and inspected. In Boston, this might entail having those radiators checked and that furnace fixed or replaced. There are tons of services out there that would gladly "trade-in" your old ones for newer models for a fraction of the cost.

      Remember: your goal is to provide peace of mind for younger buyers, ensuring them that they won't have to spill that much more by buying a dated home. We also recommender highlighting these small but substantial endeavors in your listing sheet or marketing materials, as that is a prospective buyer's first contact.

      Buy a home warranty

      Sellers should buy home warranties that cover repairs for the systems (electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling) and appliances in the home. Most home warranties are available as one-year policies and provide coverage while the property is on the market and after the closing. A home warranty costs around $300 to $400 and reassures buyers that they won't be faced with a major repair expense in their first year of homeownership.

      Offer a possible expansion or renovation plan

      Most real-estate agents know a contractor, and we have definitely have a go-to list of people we contact for the type of job to be done, so it would be fairly simple for us to give you a ballpark estimate of sample fit-and-finish renovation projects such as replacing the flooring or renovating a bathroom. Younger buyers don't always realize that everything they see can be changed with a renovation. If they like the home based on the location, the schools and the general style, they can be persuaded to buy if they can see the possibilities that come with a renovation. Sellers can also pay for simple drawings that show some renovation options that would work well with the home's configuration and its lot.

      We also recommend that sellers find out about any permit issues with an expansion such as height or setback restrictions or wetland and to include that information with marketing materials. For instance, we do background research on properties we think have great potential, even taking into account its age. In fact, these gems tend to sell faster than newer homes, since it's already in a well-developed part of town.

      Provide renovation loan information

      Mortgages are available that allow homebuyers to borrow money to buy the home plus money to pay for renovations. The most popular renovation mortgage program is called the FHA 203(k). The loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

      Younger buyers who are looking at homes that are 20 or 30 years old are likely to look at the kitchen and baths and want to renovate. A seller can provide information about an FHA 203(k) loan with their marketing materials to show buyers that they can wrap renovation costs into their mortgage. Listing agents usually prepare a cost analysis of a standard mortgage and an FHA 203(k) loan to demonstrate the availability of the loan program and to show buyers what the mortgage payments would be based on prospective renovation plans at various price points such as $5,000, $25,000 or $50,000.

      Offer a credit for repairs

      Sellers don't always have the money or the energy to make repairs themselves, and besides, some buyers will want to do renovations their own way, so you can offer a credit back for repairs, and suggest to buyers that your home could be an opportunity for them to make it reflect their own personality. While repair credits are often part of the negotiating process, if you know some things will need fixing, you can provide information about the credit upfront to prospective buyers, so they know they won't have to pay for a new furnace as soon as they move in.

      Lighten and brighten your home

      Homes that were built decades ago are darker with smaller windows, so to compensate for that, you need to remove the heavy window treatments and clean the glass to make sure as much light as possible is coming in. Use the brightest light bulbs you can and update your light fixtures. Particularly, trim shrubs covering windows, remove old carpet from hardwood floors and remove dark, heavy furniture. Don't overdo it though, and just remember to keep it simple. Get rid of your collections and sentimental things, so buyers can visualize themselves in the home.

      Highlight neighborhood amenities

      The thing with younger buyers, is that they have a long road ahead and are often are interested in schools, even if they don't have children yet. Your marketing materials should mention everything that appeals to young couples and families such as the location near commuter routes or public transportation, swimming pools, tennis courts, a gym, or nearby shops and restaurants. You need to think about what young buyers are most interested in, and then market your house accordingly. If your home has a great yard or a prime location within a subdivision close to the elementary school or a park, we make sure that's highlighted in your marketing.

      Paint your home in neutral colors

      The old rule of thumb used to be that sellers were supposed to paint their rooms white in order to appeal to all buyers. These days, white rooms tend to look boring, especially to younger buyer since they like neutral colors other than white.

      Young buyers are nowadays attracted to highly stylized storefronts of stores like Pottery Barn and West Elm which essentially translate to their living space's look. Check out similar stores and or their catalogs, and you'll see the palette has soft earth tones, off-whites, beige and pale gray. These colors, though neutral, are in style and would give your prospective buyers some room to imagine themselves in the space you're offering.

      Livening Up Your Space for Spring

      With three back-to-back winter weekends, it's not at all hard to imagine why Bostonians are raring for Springtime to hit the city. And with sunnier days fast approaching, everyone's looking forward to new beginnings - especially at home. While completely redoing that old kitchen or adding use to an old room might run you into some serious money, there are also plenty of other smaller projects that can freshen up and transform your space, all without breaking the bank.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      Starting small is key, and there's no better way to experience a fresh new room than concentrating your efforts on a singular space. First, think of the room that you best spend your time in when at home. Most often than not, you're probably better off starting with the living room, as this is where most of the lounging happens. You don't necessarily have to go as far as replacing your comfy couch - as long as it's still decent and provides support - but you can certainly add and remove elements in the room to make it livelier. For instance, putting a planter box, faux or for real, gives the room a breathe of fresh air. There are many indoor worry- and mess-free planter boxes that you can get for cheaps online and in-store that would provide the living room with life.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      Nooks, though nowhere near imposing, make for nice experiments. If you're really on a tight budget, going for smaller spaces and the details within them might be your best bet. There are a lot of things you could do to give a particular room a do-over without changing much. For audiophiles as well as those who relax while they're bathing, consider installing a shower head that not only cleanses, but also spurts out sound while you're scrubbing! Play your favorite tunes via bluetooth with this shower head sensation.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      Spend more of your time in the kitchen? No problem, get a small but significant centerpiece gadget that breaks away from your usual chef duties. Consider a tequila buffet set that not only complements the spring and summer season, but would make for a great entertainment piece as well.

      Minimalist hanging planter box

      A fresh coat of paint might sound intimidating, but really it isn't. And no matter how small your living space is, an accent wall or two would definitely make your home look brand new. Not sure whether the color would go with your decor? Try sampling it out first on a slab of wood or cardboard box, prop it by your stuff, and see for yourself. If you're the creative type, consider creating a wall chalkboard for your instant ideas! There's an awesome spray paint that converts your wall into a full-fledged chalkboard without having to tear out your drywall or install anything else. And if you're tired of jotting down on your wall, simply clean up with a wet rag and you've got your old wall back!

      For long-time homeowners, you've probably collected many items and home decor over the years, and it's probably a good idea to start organizing and tagging them so that come spring or summer, you'll be ready to host a yard sale of some sort. While you're at it, revisit those things in storage and figure out if it's either time to bring them back out or completely sell them off. Some pieces may take on new life with a coat of paint or fresh upholstery, or simply by being moved to a different room than the one they're meant for. Either way, you're freeing up some space (potentially for another use ) and getting a couple of green bucks out of it.

      Interested in these pieces? Email us for resource list.

      What Are Innovation Units?

      Over the past months, much of Boston has been a buzz over Mayor Menino's pronouncement of his initiative to push for innovation units to be built alongside developments within the city. Particularly, his vision is to have the units ready for occupancy with concentration in South Boston as well as the Waterfront district. The aim of his initiative is to prepare affordable and practical living spaces for young professionals that will soon flock to these areas for employment, as commercial properties begin to turnover and development contracts are continuously being signed.

      Innovation Units Studio Architecture Design Boston International Real Estate BostonIRE BIREThe concept for these "high-efficiency" apartments are based on NYC-style units that have been optimized to maximize living spaces and accommodate the massive Manhattan population.The most recent development to sign-off on these Manhattan-esque compact units is the Pier 4 project by the Waterfront, standing 21 stories high and will have 373,000 square feet of retail and residential space, and will include  50 smart innovation units.

      With this in mind, you're probably asking yourself, "what are innovation units?", and how different are they from existing floor plan configurations currently available in the market?

      Size Matters

      The Innovation units' floor plans come in a very specific range, starting from 375 square feet, but would not exceed 450, which coincidentally is the city's current minimum for new-construction apartments. In contrast, the average one-family home in the Northeast roughly about 2,600 square feet. Taking into consideration that most of these units are dedicated to yuppies flocking to the district, the size in itself is practical to house a single occupant and a guest at most.

      Interiors and Items

      The units are also configured to have furnishings that will maximize space, and at the same time still serve multiple purposes. In this case, form and function meet, as the items are tastefully designed to be soothing to the eye, yet pleasing to the user's needs. A professionally-designed pulled out bed will be the main fixture in the floor's layout.

      Beyond Cooking and Bathing

      For those worried that the unit's bathroom will not be a blissful experience, worry not. A modern stand-up bath will take up a fourth of the unit's space and is planned to have storage facilities as well to hold clothing and peripherals. As for the kitchen, an eat-in counter will take up another fourth of the space, and is designed to provide you with a culinary corner that can doubles up as a computer nook.

      Read more about upcoming developments that host these Innovation units from Boston Redevelopment Authority's website.

      Innovative Kitchen Sink

      Kitchen + Bath Artisans, is a full service design firm specializing in but not limited to kitchen and bath design. They also offer architectural and interior design and consultation services for residential and commercial projects.

      Tim Odom, principal of Kitchen + Bath Artisans, was tasked to create an unmatched kitchen for his clients that reflect both their unique personality and the house's surrounding beauty. "The common theme in this kitchen," explains the designer, "is the subtle details that you don't notice until you focus. That's my definition of good design." The sink was the premise for the kitchen's design that began two years before any purchases were made. The problem was that once it came time to order the sink, it was discontinued. "We hunted it down and finally found the very last one...in Sweden". The Rotating Sink is amazing ... has cutting board, colander & more.

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