Martocchia REALTORS® | Boston Real Estate, Cambridge Real Estate, Newton Real Estate


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Housing priorities of young families and retired couples can vary. More and more households are combining by necessity or for the added convenience. When households combine, invariably, some adjustments will be necessary. 

However, the needs of young families with babies and toddlers are not really so different from the "aging in place" guidelines that allow seniors to remain comfortable and safe in their own homes. So, when two or more generations share a home, function and aesthetics are equally vital.

Here are 5 points to consider:

Space Needs

An open floor plan is practical and contemporary, making a home feel more spacious than its actual square footage. Open space should be balanced with private retreats if different age groups are to coexist in harmony. Look for plans that include flex space or a bonus room that's adaptable to specific needs, perhaps as a playroom, a home office or a space for reading and hobbies. Homes with split bedroom wings are ideal for multi-generational living, and a separate "apartment" can often be carved from underused rooms or in a basement.

The Heart of the Home

The hardest-working room in the home should be both functional and attractive. Ideally, a kitchen in a household with two or more generations would accommodate multiple cooks. Plan zoned areas for storage, meal prep, cooking and cleanup. Consider an island or eating bar with appropriate seating and be aware of traffic patterns. Install an under-counter microwave, a second sink, and perhaps remote refrigerator drawers or a supplementary dishwasher, if possible, to boost convenience.

Embrace Technology

Motion-controlled and voice-activated lighting is not only available and fitting, but it adds an additional layer of safety and security. But technology shouldn't stop there. Employ modern high-tech devices to facilitate communication between rooms, to monitor door locks and the building perimeter, and to alert residents to potential equipment malfunction. Investigate sensors that provide early warning about fire, carbon monoxide and water leaks, and install water-temperature controls on bathroom faucets.

Bathroom Requirements

Shared bathrooms can be efficient and attractive with adequate lighting and storage, and modern fixtures and faucets.  If you must add or remodel a bathroom, compartmentalize it so that more than one person can use the space at the same time. Opt for blade-style faucet handles and lever doorknobs. Install comfort-height toilets and curbless showers, dual vanities and use easy-care, durable sustainable materials. 

Stairs and Hallways

Ranch homes are perfect for families with toddlers and young children, as well as for senior citizens. Aim for that hallways are as wide as possible, ideally four feet, and that doorways are 36 inches. Try to eliminate impediments like uneven flooring.

Finally, whether the living arrangement is short or long-term, try to adjust your routine to cater to the individual needs of each family member, allowing room for privacy and personal expression.


Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Looking for a soup for all seasons? Let Zucchini Potato Soup fill the bill. It's low-fat and light yet filling. It's power-packed with nutritious goodness, and enhanced with the perfect blend of spices and herbs.

This recipe serves a party of 6 or more. If you have a food processor or a blender, you can make it. Here's how.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

To create a robust soup base, you will need:

  • 5 medium-sized zucchini squashes
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 5 medium-sized potatoes
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil, torn or chopped 
  • 2 Tbsp. tarragon and a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Organic, cold-pressed olive oil
  • A clove of garlic, chopped
  • Pepper and salt
  • Step 2. Prepare the Vegetable Broth 

    Wash and coarsely chop your zucchini squashes, potatoes, carrots and onions. There is no need to peel the potatoes unless you prefer doing so. Sauté these vegetables together with a generous dash of your best olive oil, or heat them up in a non-stick pot if you'd prefer to go oil-free. As your vegetables become just slightly browned, add the parsley, pepper and salt.

    Add enough water to cover these ingredients and create a savory broth.

    Cover the pot.

    Allow broth to simmer for 25 minutes. 

    Drain, while reserving the broth.

    Step 3. Prepare the Hearty Soup

    Sauté the chopped clove of garlic in a pan lightly lined with olive oil until the garlic is golden brown. Add the zucchini-carrot-potato mix. Toss in the chopped basil and tarragon.

    Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. 

    Stir well.

    Blend reserved vegetable broth into the soup.

    Step 3. Simmer and Cool

    Allow soup to simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. 

    Let the soup cool down. Pour just over half of the cooled soup into a food processor and purée the mix.

    Pro tip: Why cool the soup before pouring it into a food processor or blender? Steam can quickly rise out of hot mixes and fill up the machine, splatter out and cause burns. Plus, pouring anything super hot into machines with plastic parts just isn't an appealing idea, even if the machine parts are all food-safe. So, if you want to speed the cooling process, use ice and a large spaghetti strainer and pour the mix through it.

    Step 4. Heat and Serve

    Add the puréed part of the mix back into the pot with the rest of the soup.

    Heat and stir for 3 minutes.

    Serve hot. This soup goes well with a fluffy bowl of couscous, rustic rolls or homemade bread.


    Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

    Is your workspace feeling a little blah lately?  The new year is just the right time to make a change!  Make it part of your New Year's resolution to create a cheery, bright, and welcoming workspace by upcycling your old, dingy file cabinet into this blackboard-sided, pretty yet utilitarian piece of office furniture!

    You'll Need:

    • A filing cabinet or cabinets
      You probably have a filing cabinet sitting in your office or garage already and if not, you can easily source one from a thrift store or used office supply warehouse.  If you do buy your file cabinet(s) used, be sure to check them carefully for rust and make sure you can easily open and close each drawer before making your purchase.
    • Spraypaint and spray sealant
      Choose a cheery color several shades more intense than your wall or carpet color. 
    • Blackboard paint
      Blackboard paint is the best thing since sliced bread.  It may seem like an expensive buy, but you won't use it all on this project unless you're working with multiple filing cabinets, and you'll find yourself wanting to use it all over your house: it's addictive!
    • Tools to remove your hardware
      You will need a screwdriver to remove the drawer handles and locks from your file cabinet.
    • Sandpaper
      You'll need fine-grained sandpaper for this project.  An electric sander would come in very handy!
    • Primer and/or Sealant
      You'll need to use a basic primer to ensure that your paint stays put!
    • Garbage bags and painter's tape
      If you don't have a dropcloth, several large black garbage bags taped together with masking tape do just fine!
    • Spongy applicators for blackboard paint (or a small roller)

    Steps:

    1. First, remove all your hardware: the drawer handles, locks, and so on.
    2. Sand your filing cabinet.  Your goal isn't necessarily to remove the paint, but to create a rasp to which your primer can adhere, and to remove any peeling paint or flakes of rust.
    3. Remove the drawers and lay them out on your dropcloth.  Next, use a spray primer to create a tacky surface to which your paint can adhere.  Make sure you spray everywhere you'll paint, including your fittings if you plan to paint these.  Some blackboard paint doesn't require a primer; read the instructions on your paint to find out.  
      Note: Spray the back of the cabinet as well as the front; you never know which way it will face in the future! 
    4. Wait the prescribed amount of time for the primer to dry.
    5. Next, paint the left, right, and back of the cabinet and the space between the drawers with blackboard paint using your roller.  Continue applying coats until the look satisfies. 
    6. Using painter's tape, wrap a garbage bag 'cape' just beneath the top of the cabinet so only the top is exposed.  Then, spray the top of the cabinet with your spraypaint.  Then do the same with the drawers.  
      Note: Slower is better: do several light coats instead of trying to apply a great deal of spraypaint at once.  Check out this great article for ultimate spraypainting tips!
    7. You may choose to apply spraypaint to the hardware, keep it plain, or paint it with blackboard paint as well.  If you choose to spraypaint your hardware, be sure you've primed it thoroughly, first.
    8. Keeping the 'cape' in place, spray a sealant over your spraypaint.  Do not spray the sealant over your blackboard paint.
    9. Once the cabinet is completely dry, re-attach your hardware and place the drawers back inside the cabinet.

    Now you have a beautiful, bright, blackboard-sided filing cabinet!  The blackboard paint along the edges of each drawer allows you to label the contents with chalk markers and easily erase them if you rearrange your filing system.  You can put to-do lists or draw your calendar on the sides.

    Some Additional Ideas for this Project:

    • Do the entire filing cabinet in blackboard paint!
    • Apply stick-on decals before applying a sealant over your paint.
    • Mod Podge over textured paper, wallpaper, contact paper, old maps or newsprint to the front of your drawers rather than spraypainting them.  Apply a sealant as usual when you're done.
    • Use painter's tape to create amazing patterns on your drawers or on the top of your cabinet.
    • Edge the top and bottom of the drawers -- or the top of the cabinet -- with washi tape.  Use Mod Podge and sealant to ensure it doesn't peel up over time.

    Finding the right house that meets your family's needs is an important decision; it's one that can affect the quality of your life for years to come. That's why it's especially important to be in a focused, resourceful state of mind when house hunting. It's also helpful to have a clear idea of what you're looking for and have a system in mind for comparing the strengths and weaknesses of every house you visit.

    Knowing What You Want

    Chances are, you're going to approach your house search with some preconceived notions about features like the floorplan, bedrooms, and number of bathrooms. You may also have strong preferences for a particular school district, the size of the back yard, and proximity to neighbors. One thing's for sure: There are a lot of details on which you'll need to concentrate as you meet with your real estate agent and visit different homes for sale. While conditions are not always ideal for taking it all in, here are a few tips which may help you get the most from the experience.

  • Work from a checklist: Before plunging into a serious house-hunting campaign, it's a good idea to prioritize the features and characteristics you're looking for in a new home. Ideally, you should have a separate copy of the list for each home you visit and create a simple rating system for evaluating how well each property lives up to your expectations. Make note of your impressions and take a few photos of key rooms, such as the kitchen, master bathroom, or whatever areas are most important to you. As a courtesy, ask the real estate agent if they or the homeowner would mind if you took some pictures.
  • Arrange childcare if possible: When you're going over important details with your real estate agent or visiting a listed house for the first time, you'll be able to get more out of the experience if you can devote your full attention to it. Children, especially young ones, tend to be more focused on their own agenda, including hunger, boredom, sibling conflicts, and the impulse to wander off on their own to explore unchartered territory! When the opportunity arises to check out a potential new home, you'll want to have 100 percent of your mental and emotional resources available to appreciate and absorb all the details, nuances, and possibilities of a house that's for sale. Since "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry", it won't always be feasible to arrange alternative (and sometimes last minute) childcare plans for your little ones. When it is possible though, you'll have more of your wits about you for the important task at hand.
  • While it's unrealistic to always expect house hunting to go smoothly and without a hitch, a focused and organized approach to finding the home of your dreams will always yield the best results!
     


    It’s a competitive market for home sellers right now. That means it’s more important than ever to make your house stand out from the competition and draw visitors to your listings and open house, as well as attracting interested buyers with excellent curb appeal.

    All of these preparations take time and planning. However, if done correctly, you’ll not only bring more potential buyers to visit your home, but you’ll also be able to increase your asking price based on a few key aesthetic upgrades.

    In this post, I’m going to fill you in on some of the most time and cost-effective ways to prepare your house for sale to bring the most number of potential buyers.

    Make a revitalization budget

    Before you start spending on your home upgrades, take the time to make a budget for the things that are the most important to making your home look and feel great. This budget will help you keep your spending in check and get the most out of your sale preparations.

    Start working on curb appeal

    Without spending much money, many homeowners can drastically increase the curb appeal of their home. Pressure washing the siding and sealing and sweeping the driveway is a great start.

    Before taking photos or receiving visitors, trim and edge the lawn and lay down some fresh mulch. You don’t need to spend hundreds on flowers to make a substantial difference on curb appeal.

    To make your home stand out and look up-to-date, apply a fresh coat of paint to your front door. Choose a color that complements your home, but one that also “pops” and grabs your attention.

    Declutter and organize

    Preparing your home for sale also happens to be a great time to start packing away some personal belongings. Family photos and other items that are unique to your family are best left out of your photos and distract viewers from being able to picture themselves in your home.

    Since our homes are built to live in, many of us keep our things in convenient places rather than tucking them away. Now is a good time to try and find ways to integrate some minimalism in your home so that visitors don’t feel crowded by clutter.

    Spend money on the right items

    Some home upgrades just aren’t worth the time and money they’ll take to perform before selling. So, it’s best to prioritize the things that will have the most impact on visitors and viewers of your real estate photos.

    A new welcome mat and cabinet handles are a great example of inexpensive upgrades that can make a home feel new again.

    Take a look around your home and find the accessories that look dated or worn and see what you can accomplish on your budget.




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