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


Photo by Michal Jarmoluk via Pixabay

Home décor and styles change all the time. One of the main things to remember before getting ready to completely remodel is choosing the right contractor. Although there are many contractors in the area, making sure they are able to do the job correctly makes all the difference. What are some things you should be looking for?

  • Recommendations

Getting input from friends and family, or a reputable association of contractors can help you create a list of contractors that could handle your project.

  • Interview

Once you have your list, it’s time to interview those contractors. Ask the following questions: Can you handle a project of this magnitude? Do you have samples of your work? Can I speak to previous clients? Do you use subcontractors? Are you licensed? Do you have insurance? This step can help you narrow the list even further and decide who you want to meet in person.

  • Meet the contractors

Once you’ve established who made the cut, it’s time to have a face-to-face meeting. It’s during this meeting where you will determine whether they are a good fit. They should be able to answer any questions you have with ease, provide their licenses, and start to formulate a quote.

  • Do your homework

Call the references the contractors have given you. Did the contractor ask to see the blueprint when you had your meeting? If they didn’t, they aren’t your ideal contractor. A quote can’t be made if they don’t know what they will be working on. Also, you want to discard the lowball quote. Quality work isn’t cheap.

  • Discuss the project and finances

Once you’ve selected the final contractor and agreed upon the estimate, it’s time to find out how their billing structure is set up. You should never pay a contractor all the money up front. Even with glowing reviews, contractors can slip up. Don’t put yourself in that position.

  • Timelines and agreements

The contractor should be able to provide a firm timeline on what will happen and how long the project will take. Everything you two agree on should be outlined in the contract from the very beginning. This protects your interests. The contract should detail every element of the project, from payment schedules to materials being used. The agreement should include proof of liability insurance, as well. You should require lien releases from the contractor to protect you from subcontractors and suppliers that may go after them if they don’t pay their bills. If there are any changes, it must be outlined in the agreement.

Following these steps should help you choose the right contractor and get the home of your dreams.


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.


 Photo by Trudi Finniss via Pixabay

Wallpaper is making its comeback in 2020, much to the delight of today's edgiest designers. Fitting wallpaper, with its vintage appeal and old-time reputation, into modern spaces presents a unique challenge. But then again, today's wallpapers bear little resemblance to the paper our parents used in the '60s. Deceptively easy to apply, contemporary or even vintage wallpaper is an affordable way to turn a ho-hum space into a vibrant and interesting home.

Industrial

Industrial design comes and goes, and it's in again this year in a big way. You can cash in on the trend without breaking the bank by hanging wallpapers made to mimic building materials such as reclaimed wood or metal. A little goes a long way when papering a space to look like exposed brick. This is why we recommend sticking to a single accent wall in lieu of papering your whole room. 

Ombre

Ombre is a trend that's new to wallpaper, but it creates a clean, minimalist effect that pleases the eye. Gradients can be shades of gray or transitions between colors of light to dark. They can even feature misty, moody mountains as a background for simple furniture pieces to add depth and shading to your space. Wallpaper that graduates from light at the top to dark or patterned at the bottom makes low ceilings appear taller, too. 

Exotic

Tropical is trending in 2020. So are Asian-themed papers that boast botanical prints. Bold and busy, these wallpapers bring a bit of culture to your bedroom or bath, and they're a pleasing welcome when you return home after a long, hard day at the office. Busy prints like these are ideal for wide-open spaces that need color and pattern to bring them close and make them feel cohesive. 

Graphic

Graphic wallpapers, ones that feature bold lines and geometric shapes are rumored to be big in 2020. Wallpapers such as these bring order to a room, actually evoking the sensation of a calm and organized life. Graphic wallpapers pair well with the busier florals of couch cushions and with textures such as corduroy or chenille. 

Classic Blue

Wallpaper that features classic blue colors is expected to soar this year, after Pantone's decision to choose it as their official color of the year. Expect to see classic blue, and it's contrasting and complimentary colors of orange and purple, adorning America's walls and ceilings this year.

If you're considering adding an accent wall of wallpaper this year, you'll have multiple varieties from which to choose. Try bringing texture and pattern to your space by shopping by the roll this spring instead of in the paint department. 


There’s a lot more to interior design than simply picking out the latest trends in home decor. Design principles are also used to make the atmosphere of your home spacious and welcoming, and to make your home livable in a practical way.

 In spite of the fact that most people will own a home someday, no one is ever really taught interior design. So, it comes as little surprise that so many people are missing out on simple techniques that can drastically improve their home.

 In today’s article, we’re going to share with you some of the best interior design and decorating secrets to help you spruce up your home and make it more practical at the same time.

Low ceiling? No problem

Having a low ceiling can make it difficult to decorate and make your home seem spacious. One great workaround is to avoid tall furniture and seek out chairs with low backs, and bookcases that are wide rather than tall.

Omit hanging lights and ceiling fans and used recessed lighting instead to maximize your space and avoid having taller guests having to dodge objects hanging from the ceiling.

Finally, paint the ceiling white and remove crown molding to give the impression of openness.

Making small rooms feel larger

If you have a small home it can feel difficult to keep things uncluttered while still making sure you have everything you need. There are a few ways to make rooms feel more spacious that don’t involve throwing out your belongings.

First, add mirrors to give the illusion (literally) of space. A single or group of mirrors can be a nice decorative touch that makes a room seem much larger than it is.

Next, paint and decorate with mainly light colors or white. Dark colors will make a room feel smaller.

Lastly, take advantage of hidden storage space, such as tables with drawers underneath, and avoid putting decorations on too many surfaces. Filling the room up with objects will make it appear smaller.

The size of decorations matter

There’s a rule in interior decorating called the “cantaloupe rule.” It states that you should avoid using decorations that are smaller than a cantaloupe.

However, that doesn’t mean this rule can’t be artfully broken. A better description would be that you should omit several small decorations in favor of just a few large ones.  

Create a color palette

When choosing the color of your furniture, walls, and decoration it can be easy to just choose whichever color you like for that object rather than what works well in your home. Try making a color palette to adhere to when shopping for these items.

Create a house-wide palette and a palette for each room. Stick to three or four colors that complement each other well for each room, and make sure they aren’t too starkly contrasted from other rooms in your home.

If you aren’t sure about how to design a color palette there are several free online tools you can use to help.



 

If Downton Abbey or Pride and Prejudice speak to your inner self, add a little Victorian charm to your décor with well-placed picks of porcelain. If farmhouse style is more your thing, vintage ceramic ware can bring your design to life.

In housewares, ceramics and porcelain span the gambit from lanterns, pitchers, and vases to delicate teacups, figurines, ornaments, and even knobs and pulls. Deciding where to add your special touches is the first step. But once you know where you want it, you need to find it.

Vintage shops, antique stores, and flea markets offer a lot of choices, but not all of it is antique. And if it is vintage, it might not prove hand-painted. It might be transferware or otherwise mass-produced. So, know what it should look like before you go antiquing.

What is transferware?

Historically, as a means of mass-producing ceramic or porcelain pieces, manufacturers would create an engraving on a copper plate. The inked engraving transferred onto paper and then the paper applied to the un-kilned clay object—anything from fine bone china to earthenware—allowed the clay to absorb the ink and create the design. Then, with the paper removed, glazing and firing developed the final piece with design intact. Developed in Staffordshire, England in the mid-1700s, the area became widely known for mass-produced wares destined to grace the tables of the burgeoning middle class. In the 1820s and 1830s, many designs became popular in the United States. 

While not as valuable as hand-painted pieces, transferware is highly collectible and sought after by dealers. Modern reproductions of transferware use a different, printed technique to recreate the look of the original, but they are not indeed transferware since they use different methods to imprint the designs.

To distinguish transferware from hand-painted pieces, scrutinize the edges. If the pattern runs off the side, it's likely to be transferware. Hand-painted designs flow with the shape of the dish.

Is it porcelain?

Porcelain is translucent. That means that light shines through it. So, use your cell phone’s flashlight feature to see if the beam comes through. If you can’t see a glow from the other side, it most likely is earthenware or stoneware ceramics. 

Check for stamps, initials, signatures, and other identifying marks. Often, vintage ceramics from the Eighteenth century or older showed stamped marks while newer porcelain or ceramic ware have printed or impressed marks.

Should I buy it?

No matter what the provenance, if you like the piece and it brings you joy, display it with pride.




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