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Supersize your small kitchen for the holidays

November 21, 2015

Norma Zuniga/Getty Images

Norma Zuniga/Getty Images

Worried you’ll have too many cooks in your tiny kitchen? Even the smallest space can be functional and amazing with the right organization tricks.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, odds are you’ll soon be spending plenty of time in your kitchen. (Maybe even way more then you want!) Adding to the holiday stress levels: if your culinary workspace is tight, turning out meals for a crowd may be a real challenge, especially with more helpers (aka family members) around. Don’t panic! You still have time for some kitchen-organizing hacks that can bring some order to the chaos. Plus, you can get inspiration for how to maximize your small space for next year.

1. Plan where everything will go

Before you head to Williams-Sonoma and start swooning over gravy boats shaped like roasted turkeys, take stock of what you already own and plan out how you’ll organize everything, says Susie Kurkowski, owner of Items of Interest, a home decor boutique in Brooklyn, NY.

You may have to do a holiday-specific reorg—as usual, the items you’ll use most (such as dishes, cups, and mixing bowls) should be within arm’s reach, but you’ll also need to get out your heirloom casserole dishes and other items for serving. After the big meal, those special-occasion dishes can go back into storage where they’ll be safe but won’t get in the way of your daily routine.

You’ll also want to limit the number of small appliances (just stick them in a closet, if there’s nowhere else) on your countertops, to free up prep space. And again, when the festivities are over, you may want to rethink what you put back out. The Keurig you use daily? Yes, that can remain. The dusty waffle maker you got as a wedding present and haven’t used since 2009? Say adios!

2. Pimp out your cabinets with custom inserts

Whether you inherited an antique kitchen with equally outdated shelving or you’re starting from scratch, it’s smart to buy custom inserts to organize each nook and cranny, Kurkowski says. You’ll be able to put away more things—without putting them out of reach. She recommends Rev-A-Shelf’s products, which include pullout inserts, Lazy Susan spinners, tray dividers, and door storage.

“Sometimes store-bought cabinets come with weak shelving and inserts that don’t last, so it’s best to buy those items separately,” Kurkowski recommends. “Position like items such as dishes, bowls, and cups close together to make them easy to access, and use the inserts to store all of your small appliances, spices, and other necessities to keep them out of sight and off your counters.”

3. Invest in new appliances

Switching out appliances is one of the easiest ways to bring style, increased efficiency, and a higher resale value to your petite kitchen, Kurkowski says. Although stainless steel has been the preferred choice for the past decade, white appliances are coming into vogue. Certain sizes are considered the standard, but you can opt for smaller appliances to gain more storage inches in your cabinets. Just pay attention to the height, width, and depth. Most modern appliances are deeper than what you probably have now, and you don’t want new appliances to stick out past your countertops.

4. Go easy on color

If you want to add a touch of style, just know that small kitchens are not the place to let loose with dramatic hues. Choose a more subtle color, says Allison Petty, an interior designer with Homepolish. Just like with other small spaces, keep darker colors at the bottom of your kitchen and use lighter shades higher up. More and more homeowners are opting to paint lower cabinets a darker shade, like gray, and the uppers with a creamy white for contrast, Kurkowski says. The effect is dramatic: It brings the eye up and makes your kitchen appear more spacious.

That said, be careful with the backsplash, which is already in shadow. A white subway or hexagon tile goes flawlessly with most kitchen designs instead of dark granite or mosaic tile, Kurkowski says. Adding a backsplash is an inexpensive and dramatic way to add some visual pop, as long as you keep colors neutral.

5. Open up your space with light

Your kitchen is no place to skimp on lighting. Use bright lights over workspaces, Kurkowski says. If you’re blessed enough to have an island, invest in a showstopper light fixture. Hudson Valley Lighting has plenty of beautiful options. Recessed lighting for the rest of the kitchen works fine, but Kurkowski thinks track lighting is even better.

“If you put a track in a suspended rectangle junction box in your kitchen, you can have up to 12 lights on one track and point them at different areas in the kitchen,” Kurkowski notes. “It is less expensive than installing several fixtures that each require their own junction box.”

6. Give old cabinets and countertops new life

Don’t have the funds for a complete gut and reno? No worries: You can transform your outdated cabinets with paint, Petty says. A popular option with avid DIYers is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Another low-cost, eye-popping transformation is to change out or add new knobs and pulls, which can update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

There’s no beating around the bush: Countertops are expensive to replace—even in small spaces. You’ll spend at least $4,000 for engineered quartz (a hot option right now). If you don’t have the money for a complete upgrade, consider painting laminate surfaces with Giani Countertop Paint (available at your local home improvement store for under $100).

Everything Is New In Worcester!

August 25, 2015

Sunderland 1What is new? Nearly everything! NEW hardwood flooring throughout the upper level and stairs (not engineered hardwood but REAL hardwood)! NEW tile floor in kitchen! NEW granite counter tops! NEW kitchen cabinets! NEW stainless steel appliances! NEW high efficiency gas heating system! NEW front door! NEW slider doors to deck with no maintenance blinds! NEW lighting fixtures! NEW granite top and vanity in bathroom! NEW to this low inventory market is a move-in ready 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with paved driveway and garage! Beautiful open layout on the main level with cathedral ceiling and skylights for great natural light. Large bedrooms and full sized bathrooms. Workshop / storage area in lower level! Easy commuting location within minutes of 290, 146, 122 and the pike. This is not one you want to miss out on! .

Call or e-mail a showing20150813_140116

41 Sunderland, Worcester

Kitchen Remodeling…add storage not space

February 22, 2011

It’s not a secret that a kitchen can make or break a house sale.  It’s the room we spend the most time in and it’s the room that most buyers give the highest priority.  Even if you are not considering selling your house – we still all focus on the kitchen.

I thought this would be a great blog to go with our in-store demo at Lowe’s this evening.  We will talking with the experts in kitchen cabinetry at Lowe’s in Ware (http://www.meetup.com/Lowes-Home-Improvement-In-Store-Demos/events/16642827/) as part of our weekly series.  Stop in the find out more about your kitchen cabinet choices, costs and where to begin when planning your kitchen remodel.

This article keeps it simple – Keep the same footprint, add storage, and design adequate lighting so you preserve value and keep costs on track.

1. Establish your priorities

Simple enough? Not so fast. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning before beginning the work. That way, you can thoroughly evaluate your priorities and won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction. Contractors often have clauses in their contracts that specify additional costs for amendments to original plans. Planning points to consider include:

  • Avoid traffic jams. A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide, according to the NKBA. Work aisles for one cook should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.
  • Consider children. Avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the heights recommended by the NKBA—3 inches below the shoulder of the principle user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.
  • Access to the outside. If you want to easily reach entertaining areas, such as a deck or a patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.

Because planning a kitchen is complex, consider hiring a professional designer. A pro can help make style decisions and foresee potential problems, so you can avoid costly mistakes. In addition, a pro makes sure contractors and installers are sequenced properly so that workflow is cost-effective. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

2. Keep the same footprint

No matter the size and scope of your planned kitchen, you can save major expense by not rearranging walls, and by locating any new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes. Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. Match appliances to your skill level

A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator might make eye-catching centerpieces, but be sure they fit your lifestyle, says Molly Erin McCabe, owner of A Kitchen That Works design firm in Bainbridge Island, Wash. “It’s probably the part of a kitchen project where people tend to overspend the most.”

The high price is only worth the investment if you’re an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like www.ePinions.com and www.amazon.com, and resources such as Consumer Reports.

4. Create a well-designed lighting scheme

Some guidelines:

  • Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate clean-up and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces.
  • Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Consider dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.

5. Focus on durability

“People are putting more emphasis on functionality and durability in the kitchen,” says McCabe. That may mean resisting bargain prices and focusing on products that combine low-maintenance with long warranty periods. “Solid-surface countertops [Corian, Silestone] are a perfect example,” adds McCabe. “They may cost a little more, but they’re going to look as good in 10 years as they did the day they were installed.”

If you’re not planning to stay in your house that long, products with substantial warranties can become a selling point. “Individual upgrades don’t necessarily give you a 100% return,” says Frank Gregoire, a real estate appraiser in St. Petersburg, Fla. “But they can give you an edge when it comes time to market your home for sale” if other for-sale homes have similar features.

6. Add storage, not space

To add storage without bumping out walls:

  • Specify upper cabinets that reach the ceiling. They may cost a bit more, but you’ll gain valuable storage space. In addition, you won’t have to worry about dusting the tops.
  • Hang it up. Install small shelving units on unused wall areas, and add narrow spice racks and shelves on the insides of cabinet doors. Use a ceiling-mounted pot rack to keep bulkier pots and pans from cluttering cabinets. Add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

7. Communicate effectively—and often

Having a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. “Poor communication is a leading cause of kitchen projects going sour,” says McCabe. To keep the sweetness in your project:

  • Drop by the project during work hours as often as possible. Your presence assures subcontractors and other workers of your commitment to getting good results.
  • Establish a communication routine. Hang a message board on-site where you and the project manager can leave each other daily communiques. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
  • Set house rules. Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, which bathroom is available, and where workers should park their vehicles.

Consumers spend more money on kitchen remodeling than any other home improvement project, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute, and with good reason. They’re the hub of home life, and a source of pride. With a little strategizing, you can ensure your new kitchen gives you years of satisfaction.

Please  stop in at Lowe’s at 6pm and join us for an in-person discussion.  For more information:  http://www.meetup.com/Lowes-Home-Improvement-In-Store-Demos/events/16642827/.