Kate Iles

Who Needs a Buyer Agent? You do!

Before I became a realtor, I had no idea how real estate agency was structured, who represented whom, etc. When we were looking for our first home, all those years ago, sometimes there would be a second realtor at a showing in addition to our realtor, other times not. I never gave it much thought at the time.


As a realtor, I feel that having a buyer agent as your personal advocate and guide through the process of purchasing real estate is invaluable. Agency relationships can be confusing if you don't understand the structure, and I often take time with clients to explain these intricacies.

When a seller forms a listing contract with a seller or listing agent, they agree on a brokerage fee (same as a sales commission) for the sale of their property. The brokerage fee includes payment for both a seller agent and a buyer agent and is built into the purchase/sale price of the house. A buyer can proceed with the purchase on his or her own, without the help of a buyer agent, and some people choose to do this - but you may find yourself in unchartered territory in doing so.

The Benefits of Working with a Buyer Agent:

1.  You have an advocate who knows you, knows what you are looking for, and has their ear to the ground helping you to pinpoint houses that may be of interest.

2.  You have a professional advocate who knows the market, the geographical area, many other realtors and people in the area - so that he or she may help you fine tune your search.

3.  If you find yourself in bidding war, your agent can be invaluable in helping you make the most desirable offer to get the house you want.

4.  Your agent will help you negotiate a fair price for the home, and they will help you negotiate if any issues come to light during inspection.

5.  Your agent will stay on top of important dates such as the signing of the purchase and sales agreement, the finance commitment date (the date by which the bank states that you will officially be receiving your mortgage for the purchase of the home), and anything you need to do to prepare for your closing date. In addition, if you need more time for your inspection period, or your mortgage commitment date, your agent will help negotiate extensions for these deadlines, so that you are still protected within the sales agreement.

6.  You have a knowledgeable person who can recommend any number of resources for you in your move, whether it be related to the home you are purchasing, or the town/city you are moving to itself. From finding a home inspector, to finding a real estate attorney, contractors for your home, recommendations of local services, etc -- a buyer agent is a wealth of information.

7.  Your agent provides a buffer between you and the seller, so that when any question or issue comes up, they go to bat for you to get your questions answered, and your issues sorted out, to the best of their ability.

8.  A buyer agent will connect you directly to the MLS (Mulitple Listing Service), so that you can be aware of houses coming on the market in real time. Other real estate sites can have outdated information or even misinformation. This access to the MLS makes looking for a house much easier for the buyer.

9. You have a personal (and confidential) advocate who can explain every nuance in the process of locating and purchasing a home.

So, if you are looking for a home - ask around to find a buyer agent with whom you feel connected. You will be happy you did!



RECTANGLE Textiles Pop-Up Shop at Maple and Main Realty

We are excited to be hosting a pre-holiday Pop-Up shop at the Maple and Main Realty office (28 North Maple Street in Florence) next Thursday, December 11th from 5:30-7:30 pm - featuring local artist Adele Mattern's new line of textiles for the home, Rectangle Textiles (Facebook and Instagram as "Rectangle Textiles", www.rectangletextiles.com website to be launched soon!).  Special guest, Local Interior Designer Sally Staub will be on hand with photos of some her inspired interior design projects as well!  RSVP to Julie Starr.

photo 2

Rectangle Textiles is a contemporary line of home textiles: simple yet bold, handmade with natural dyes.  Local Artist Adele Mattern updates traditional techniques with fair trade and artisan groups to develop pillows, placemats, napkins, tablecloths and more.

Moving On After a Breakup

It seems that the statistics are on target, and many of us has either chosen to part ways with our significant other, or knows a number of people who have chosen to do so. As a person who has tried to be a support to the people in my life who have decided to make this life shift, and as a realtor (since often the reason for the sale and or purchase of a new home has to do with the dissolution of a long term relationship) - I found this piece on Apartment Therapy to be so relevant. We all want our homes to be a place of comfort and refuge. When we are licking our wounds from a recent split, it's so important to do our best to redefine the space we inhabit (and especially when it was shared with said ex) so that it can remain that place of comfort and refuge. If selling the home you shared with an ex isn't an option (as it often isn't for many people) - here are some great suggestions for things you can do to reclaim your home.


5 Redecorating Steps for the Recently Consciously Uncoupled

Eva's Sense of Clarity

Breakups are hard. It doesn't matter if you were the dumper or the dumpee, if you hyperventilate at the thought of your ex, or if you are firmly resigned. Either way, if you once lived as a couple, you now need to dismantle the evidence of the home you worked to create together. At times the process might be soul-crushing. Other times there are practical considerations. And ultimately, there's a new glorious opportunity. Here are five steps to regroup at home:

1. Yes, Perform Triage: Hide some of the prominent reminders of your ex, or obvious emotional triggers -- like photos of you kissing on the beach in Tulum last winter - or stuff that obviously belonged to the other person. Rip off the bandaid and get them out of sight - either send it packing, head to Goodwill, or tuck it deep in a storage bin. This is no time to wallow amongst the remnants of your immediate past.

-> Things Fall Apart: Living Alone in a Space After a Breakup

2. But Don't Overcompensate: Resist the urge to go all Left Eye Lopes on everything your ex touched. Your history as a couple is also inextricably tied to your own personal history as well. So pack up that stuff, but hold off on throwing it all out the window. There's always time to do it later, but for now, give yourself some time to get some perspective. Think of it as a time capsule to be dug up at a later date, to be examined under a more archeological eye that comes with time and distance. You might decide you still really like that Norwegian wool blanket you used to canoodle under, despite the fact that it was a gift from the ex.

3. Then Replenish Necessities: There's a practical side to all of this. If your ex owned the dining room table, and there's now a gaping hole where you used to eat your meals, you need to replace certain necessities that get used every day. It might be a microwave, or a vacuum cleaner, but you'll need it before long.

-> Breakup Shower: Would You Throw One? Would You Want One?

4. Let Yourself Indulge a Little: I'm not suggesting you hire Kelly Wearstler to gut and redecorate your apartment. But do things for yourself that weren't necessarily possible before, or weren't a priority. Hang up your favorite Michael Jackson poster, or hire someone to come and deep clean your home if you can afford it -- whatever little acts of kindness you can grant yourself during this transitional -- and perhaps unhappy -- time.

5. Finally Reclaim Your Taste: Turn your decorating "we" into a decorating "me." If your own style has been buried under an ugly wagon wheel coffee table, or you've forgotten how much you love black bedrooms, this is the moment to remember your individual needs and taste. Grab onto that knowledge with both hands, and don't let go. Figure out what you like and take the steps to make your home reflect that.

via 5 Redecorating Steps for the Recently Consciously Uncoupled | Apartment Therapy.

Interesting Local Restoration Project

In the context of most other countries, the United States is relatively young, of course.  But living in New England, where Europeans settled here relatively early, we have access to a good deal of local history with regard to those settlers.  Just up the road from Northampton sits the bucolic Historic Deerfield, "an authentic 18th Century Village" with a number of historic museum homes and demonstrations of colonial-era trades.  There is an interesting restoration project currently in the works, of the historic Barnard Tavern in Old Deerfield.  This piece in the Daily Hampshire Gazette tells the story of the restoration, and a bit about the tavern itself.

Hardware, cast nails and plaster samples are all being reused when possible in the restoration of <br/>Barnard Tavern. Recorder/Paul Franz

Layer by layer, piece by piece: Bringing a historic tavern back to life in Old Deerfield is painstaking work

For Bill Flynt, Historic Deerfield's lead architectural conservator, exploring one of Old Deerfield's 18th-century buildings is like stepping into a time machine. That's the experience he aims to give the museum's visitors, but many of the buildings have had multiple owners and restoring them to their original state takes a bit of archaeology.That's where Flynt comes in, along with John Nawrocki and Ernie Zuraw, the museum's two expert restoration carpenters.Since 2005, they've been working on the historic Barnard Tavern, which will eventually open as an exhibit to give visitors a sense of what it was like in the 1790s when it was one of the most prominent public houses along one of the main routes to Boston.The work is expected to take a few more years.To piece the restoration puzzle together, Flynt said he used historic documents, inventories, floor plans and dendrochronology -- tree ring dating -- as well as his own experience and knowledge of historic building construction practices and materials.Over the centuries, the tavern has changed hands multiple times and has gone through a series of renovations, all of which have involved removing or altering parts of the original layout.It was constructed in 1795 by Deerfield resident Salah Barnard as an addition to the Frary House, which he built as a home in the mid-18th century. The tavern was operated by Barnard's son, Erastus, until around 1805, Flynt said. In 1797, the tavern's ballroom was the site of the founding of Deerfield Academy, according to Phil Zea, Historic Deerfield's president.In the 1860s, the tavern's ownership changed frequently. It served as rental space, a store and as housing. Each of those uses required minor renovations. Flynt said the first major restoration was done when the tavern was purchased by C. Alice Baker in 1890. The 1950s brought another major restoration project under the auspices of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association."It's taken some time to sort all that out," said Flynt. "It's my job to pull it all apart and find out what goes with what period and put it all back the way it was."Much of that sorting out required pulling down walls and masonry with crowbars to look for evidence of what changes were made and why. If a door looks out of place or the style doesn't match the time period, Flynt will search through the museum's property to find one that does."In the ideal restoration, nothing's been changed and you can just come in, clean up and paint," said Flynt. "This one obviously takes a lot more work."But, said Flynt, there will always be some questions that can't be answered, such as what the original configuration of the bar in the tap room looked like, whether any of the walls were wallpapered, or exactly how the layout of the front hall has changed over the centuries."That space appears to have been modified one or more times," Flynt said.

Getting to work

Once Flynt has it all figured out, it's time for Zuraw and Nawrocki to get to work.

"We're trying to save as much of the original building as possible for future generations," said Zuraw. "Wherever it's possible, we try to use the same materials."

Some of those materials -- old forged nails, pieces of wood and chunks of plaster from the building's entryway painted with red-and-pink floral designs -- could be seen laid out on an impromptu table built from floorboards and sawhorses in one of the tavern's dining rooms.

Much of the plaster in rooms throughout the building must be replaced. A walk through the tavern's tap room reveals the process: the walls that have been finished are off-white and smooth, while the lathe -- strips of wood nailed to the wall that act as an anchor for the plaster -- is visible on the ones that have not.

According to Nawrocki, the entryway's plaster will likely be restored using the same type and color of paint that would have been used originally. That work will be contracted out to a professional painter.

Upstairs, in the tavern's cavernous ballroom, a similar process is under way. Flynt has scraped away parts of the wall trim to reveal a faux-marble paint scheme, which he said was probably done in the 1800s. The room's original door, painted in the same style, leans against the back wall.

Flynt said he's taken flake samples of the paint and sent them to a lab to be chemically analyzed. When the results come back, they'll be used to guide a painter in replicating the scheme throughout the room.

"Sometimes you'll take a wall that you thought had three layers of paint, but when you put it under a microscope you see that it's actually got eight layers of paint and the first layer was something completely different than you expected," Flynt said.

Mixing new and old

Some pieces of wood the carpenters are using have been taken from other buildings in Old Deerfield that were built during the same time period, Zuraw said. Not all of the work can be done with original materials, though. Some just hasn't stood up to the test of time.

If it's too far gone, Zuraw said, they use modern methods to recreate it. "We try to stick to what they would have used back then."

Replacement work of that sort can be seen in the hallway connecting the kitchen to the tavern's other rooms, where Nawrocki said extensive termite and carpenter ant damage forced them to replace some of the wide pine boards on the walls.

"There're a lot of termites in the whole village," Nawrocki said.

The new wood on the walls still has a fresh-cut smell and stands in stark contrast to the weathered floorboards, but Flynt said they'll begin to take on a more uniform look over time as sunlight oxidizes them.

While the new wood will eventually blend in with the rest of the building, it will never be exactly the same, Nawrocki said. Many of the original boards were cut from old-growth trees, making them irreplaceable.

One of those boards -- a solid 16-foot plank -- serves as the seat of a wall bench that runs the length of the ballroom. Boards like that, said Nawrocki, are rare these days and most are found through word of mouth and networking with other carpenters.

Modern methods are often used, said Nawrocki, during repairs to the building's framing. When the carpenters want to keep some of the old timbers, they add steel plates to strengthen the structure.

Not all of the renovation work is as much fun as reproducing period molding or door frames. Some of it is just downright dirty.

Nawrocki's least favorite part is crawling through rat droppings and cobwebs while repairing the building's frame.

"It's not prime stuff," he said, chuckling. "Most of the framing was that way."

Zuraw said he's also encountered fecal matter and dead critters while reinsulating the building.

"We find all sorts of things like that," he said. "It's no fun."

Though they've both worked on other historic buildings in Old Deerfield, restoring the Barnard Tavern is the biggest project Zuraw and Nawrocki have undertaken there.

"They've worked on smaller wood roofing projects, window cap replication, cornice rebuilding, timber framing repairs, masonry repairs, molding replication and general restoration carpentry, but the Barnard Tavern is the only whole-house restoration we've tackled since either was hired," Flynt said.

Learning the trade

Flynt began his career in preserving historic architecture after graduating from Williams College in 1975. He worked for a contractor who specialized in dismantling and re-erecting historic barns for a time, then went through the University of Vermont's graduate program in Historic Preservation, after which he began working for Historic Deerfield.

Nawrocki, who lives in Ashfield, said his involvement in restoring old buildings started out of necessity; his own house was built in the 1880s and needed a lot of work.

"Buy an old house and you'll learn how to do it pretty quickly," he said.

A carpenter by trade, Nawrocki said many of the contractors he's worked with over the years sent similar jobs his way.

"After a while, that's all the work I was doing," he said.

Nawrocki began learning young. His family was full of carpenters and woodworkers and he said he enjoyed watching them work as a child. Eventually, he, too, picked up the craft. After being self-employed for 30 years, he came to work for Historic Deerfield in 2001 and began working on the tavern in 2005.

Zuraw, who lives in Cummington, said following a brief stint as a truck driver, he became interested in preservation while working for various masonry companies.

"I was able to work on some of the oldest buildings in the county," Zuraw said. During one of those jobs, he was lowered into the chimney of the Jethro Coffin House, Nantucket's oldest building, on a chain ladder so he could repair the brick.

He eventually branched off and started a contracting business, which he owned for about 20 years. Then, the recent financial crisis made bidding for jobs difficult, so he took the restoration craftsman job at Historic Deerfield.

Flynt said he expects the interior renovations to pick up during the winter, but the project will probably take a few more years to complete. Since Zuraw and Nawrocki are the only two restoration carpenters on staff, they are frequently called to help with other projects. Exterior repairs take priority during the summer.

Once the Barnard Tavern is fully repaired, Flynt said it will be decorated with authentic furniture by the curatorial department and opened as a museum.

"We are aiming to have the tavern appear as it did during the 1796-1805 period when it was operating as a tavern."

Tom Relihan can be reached at trelihan@recorder.com.

Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here. For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today!

via Layer by layer, piece by piece: Bringing a historic tavern back to life in Old Deerfield is painstaking work | GazetteNet.com.


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Homeowners' Liability and Coverage Can Extend Beyond the Home.

We just got a new puppy.  She has A LOT of energy - and she can jump!  Having been taken down by a darting dog at the dog park in Northampton, MA just a couple of years ago myself - I can just see our girl Charlie inadvertently doing the same thing to some poor, unsuspecting dog park patron.  Luckily, when this happened to me, I was sore and stunned, but not injured.  I'm not sure whether most home insurance policies cover pet-related incidents, but, as realtor and a homeowner, I was interested to come across this article on the BusinessWest blog about how homeowners' insurance can cover certain incidents outside of the home as well as in the home.

Homeowners' Liability Often Extends Beyond the Home


One misconception about homeowners' liability insurance coverage is that it covers only incidents in the home. In actuality, the comprehensive personal liability (CPL) coverage under a homeowners' insurance policy is really not associated with any location, other than the limitations and exclusions on the policy.

Here are some examples of what probably would be covered by CPL:

o Sports incidents: for example, you are playing golf and you drive a ball that hits someone in the head and disables them. If you are found liable, as long as you were not doing it professionally, your policy will likely provide coverage.

o After shopping at your local market, you accidentally drop a bottle of olive oil in the parking lot, and it shatters and bleeds the oil onto the pavement. Another shopper comes along, slips, and seriously injures herself on the pavement. While the assumption is that the injured party will take action against the market, the typical practice of attorneys is to go after everyone associated with the incident.

o You are on vacation at a hotel, and you are so excited to leave the room to enjoy a sightseeing tour that you forget to turn off the faucet. The running water causes significant damage to the hotel structure. The hotel decides to go after you for damages. Your CPL will defend you and may pay out damages if you are deemed liable.

o Your kid lends his skateboard to a friend, and the friend, who may not be experienced with the skateboard, gets seriously injured trying to make a maneuver. Parents can be held liable for this injury, and there is a very good chance this will be covered by the CPL coverage.

o If your dog bites a stranger at the park, your CPL will cover you as the owner and responsible party for the dog, as long as the policy does not exclude coverage for your dog breed. Some homeowners policies exclude coverage for breeds deemed dangerous, such as pit bulls.

Additionally, the CPL coverage will usually extend coverage for the following items, even if an incident happens away from the insured premise:

o Trailers that are not attached to a motor vehicle;

o Motorized golf carts;

o Watercraft that does not have a motor or is not more than a specified amount of horsepower;

o Sailboats below a certain length;

o A vacation residence (however, certain conditions may apply, so you also may need to schedule it); and

o Non-motorized bikes.

Here are examples where coverage does not exist and is excluded by nearly every homeowners' insurance policy:

o Your cars, which are clearly excluded if registered for road use. This is exactly why you need to get a separate auto insurance policy;

o Motorized recreational vehicles, especially if they are off the premises;

o Any incident related to business; and

o Intentional acts.

Policies vary, so it is important to review your policy to see what may be covered and what may not be covered. Additionally, some policies allow you to endorse a coverage that may not be on the policy. This is why it is so important to sit down with your agent to address additional risks you may have and make sure coverage for those risks is addressed.

Liability coverage is perhaps the most important coverage you should have, simply because most of these cases involve attorneys, and if coverage exists, the insurance companies provide for your defense, as well as any settlement up to the limits of your policy. Again, an annual review of your personal risk exposure with your agent is essential. It could be a very short conversation with your agent from year to year if nothing has changed in your life, but more often than not, changes do occur that could expose you unnecessarily to a potentially uninsured loss exposure. Ignorance is never a good defense.

One thing that you should carefully note is that, if you are involved with any activity where you charge a fee of some kind, there is a good chance that the insurance company will deem this to be a commercial exposure and will therefore not cover the activity under your CPL. Your agent or broker is always available to answer these questions, and you should never hesitate to put him or her on the spot.

Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here. For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today!

via Cover Story | BusinessWest.

Matisse at Mt. Holyoke

One of the reasons I love living in Northampton is that although it is a relatively small city - there is so much culture to take advantage of here, and in neighboring cities and towns as well.  Take, for instance, the exhibit of rare Matisse drawings currently on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.  I think we will spend our Saturday afternoon digesting Halloween candy, and taking a beautiful fall drive down to South Hadley to view this compelling exhibit.  How about you?

Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here. For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today!

Seldom seen: Rare Matisse drawings on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley

Copywright 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York" />Copywright 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Henri Matisse was one of the giants of early 20th-century art -- an influential painter, printmaker, sculptor and collage artist who became particularly noted for the expressive colors and strong brushstrokes of his paintings.

But Matisse (1869-1954) also loved to draw, whether making studies for later paintings, stand-alone portraits or sketches he used for experimenting with new ideas or examining compositional problems. As John Stromberg, the director of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, puts it, "He was restless. He was often looking for new ways to express an image, and drawing was a key to that."

The college's museum is taking a fresh look at some of those drawings -- many apparently rarely seen even by Matisse scholars -- with an exhibit drawn from a collection built by Matisse's youngest child, the late art dealer Pierre Matisse. The show has been curated by noted American artist Ellsworth Perry, a printmaker and painter whose own lithographs have been inspired by Henri Matisse's work.

The exhibit, which runs through Dec. 14, includes 45 Matisse drawings, predominantly from the latter part of his career, when he became partly disabled and found drawing easier to do than painting or printmaking. There's a wide range of work, from quick sketches of the human figure, to more studied portraits and still lifes, to small series that look at the same subject from different perspectives.

But all of it, Stromberg says, shows "the sureness and economy of his line and his interest in shape and open forms. ... Matisse was always experimenting, looking for ways to innovate." Stromberg notes, for example, that the artist would vary the look of the eyes of many of the subjects of his portraits, even within a study of the same person or similar people.

In a sequence of images of a veiled woman ("Femme voilé") in the exhibit, for example, the first depicts a woman with slanted, slightly hooded eyes, while in a second and third drawing her eyes have become more rounded. In another sequence, this time focused on female heads, the contours all form heart-shaped faces, but the overall impression is of noticeably different faces.

Matisse lent a bit more detail to one of the exhibit's larger drawings: a 1937 self-portrait, done in charcoal, that shows the artist wearing a suit and tie, glasses, and a serious expression, his head tilted to the left.

But even here, Matisse was playing with a conventional image: Behind his self-portrait is a shadowy, partially visible second image of his head, like a double exposure photograph.

An appealing proposal

Stromberg said the genesis of the exhibit can be traced to last winter, when he had a conversation with the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation in New York City, which has a huge collection of art -- not just that of Henri Matisse -- and lends items for exhibits. The foundation had given a three-year grant to Mount Holyoke for arts education, and Stromberg says staff there told him they'd also be happy to lend the college some of Matisse's drawings for a show.

"That was a very appealing proposal, of course," he said. "But I also thought it would be interesting to have an artist curate it." His thinking was that an artist could bring a different perspective to the show than he would as an art historian.

With that in mind, he contacted Kelly, whom he's known for some time; Stromberg helped coordinate a show of Kelly's at Boston University when he worked there in the 1990s as the school's art gallery director. Kelly's drawings had also been paired with Matisse's a few times in exhibits elsewhere.

Kelly, who lives in New York state just over the Massachusetts border, said he'd be happy to curate a show, for which he initially reviewed some 500 high-resolution Matisse images from the foundation's collection, Stromberg says. Then, to get a sense for what he might select for the Mount Holyoke exhibit, and for how he'd display the work, Kelly had a scale model of the actual gallery space installed in his studio.

In keeping with the flavor of Matisse's generally spare drawings, there are no wall labels, only numbers, for the 45 works on exhibit. An informational pamphlet, available for use in the gallery, contains titles and dates of the works, although a fair number of the drawings are undated. However, Kelly also requested the drawings be given custom-made frames to highlight the shape and size of each piece.

There's no particular order or organizing theme to the exhibit, either, but Stromberg sees that as part of Kelly's different approach to the show. "I think he basically picked what he liked," he said with a laugh, "though he's made some great choices."

An inveterate drawer

In fact, the eclectic mix of drawings, and the fact they've been chosen by another artist, gives the show a certain sense of intimacy.

Aside from their detail, or lack of it, the drawings are made from a variety of materials -- pencil, ink, charcoal -- and Matisse's lines can vary in intensity. One undated work, "Tête de femme" ("Head of Woman"), consists of just a handful of very thick lines of ink. But they clearly convey the face and neckline of a young woman, with neck-long hair parted to the side, and a slightly pensive look on her face.

Another, the more finely drawn "Nu à la fenêtre" ("Nude at a Window"), from 1944, could have been the first draft of one of Matisse's colorful, semi-tropical paintings inspired by his long residence in southern France. A nude woman, seen mostly from the back and side, stands alongside a window frame that's largely filled with the spreading foliage of a tree. Other greenery can be seen in the room; in the drawing's lower left corner, the artist's hand is shown sketching the scene.

There are a few detailed still life drawings, such as a bowl of lemons on a table, and portraits of women in hats and in various hairdos; somehow, even with just a few lines, they all look quite sophisticated, with something of the legendary "je ne sais quoi" often associated with French women.

Stromberg notes that Matisse, though an inveterate drawer, may have done less of it earlier in his career, and that many of those drawings have since made their way into private collections and museums. But those in the college's show, predominantly from the late 1930s to early 1950s, are likely to be of considerable interest both to casual viewers and art historians, he added.

"I think it's safe to say that many of these have seldom been seen," Stromberg said.

As a bonus to the show, a collection of Kelly's lithographs from the mid-1960s is displayed in an adjoining gallery -- images of leaves, flowers and fruit that mix both detail and abstraction.

But the focus is on Matisse and what many consider his mastery of the "less is more" approach to drawing. As Stromberg said at the college when the exhibit opened, "A seemingly simple curve could simultaneously define a shoulder, establish its place in relation to the picture plane, suggest its volume, outline the shape of the upper torso, and lend an emotional tenor to the sitter."

via Seldom seen: Rare Matisse drawings on exhibit at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in South Hadley | GazetteNet.com.

Beyond Ikea - Thanks to Apartment Therapy!

Admittedly, I am an Ikea addict.  Whenever we travel to visit my in-laws, I make sure to leave enough room in our mini-SUV to accommodate a trip to the nearby Ikea, to stock up on all sorts of items that I may or may not need - but which give me great pleasure to shop for.  We recently sold our home in town, and moved to nearby Emerson Way in Northampton MA.  This move was about downsizing, to that end I spent months selling much of our furniture, and donating unwanted items to various charities and recycling events.  This allowed us to purchase some new furniture to go with the new house.  Since the house we bought is new construction, we also had the fun, if overwhelming, task of purchasing lighting fixtures, tile, paint, cabinet pulls, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, etc.  As you can imagine, I clocked countless hours on various websites shopping for our new home - and posting ideas to Pinterest and Houzz (fantastic resources for seeking and organizing ideas).  Much of my time was spent in person or online at Ikea.  They have some great and inexpensive options (as long as you don't go "full Ikea").   But Ikea is only one resource for inexpensive and attractive furniture.  I was excited to find this blog post on the ever-informative and juicy Apartment Therapy website.  It includes some great resources for Ikea alternatives.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Beyond IKEA: 10 Other Cheap, Chic Furniture Stores


We know -- you're tired of seeing IKEA on every single affordable furniture list we pull together. It's one of the biggest and best sources for modern furniture on a budget... but, yes, it can get old. So, to make up for the IKEA overkill, here's a list of sources for cool furniture on the cheap. We tried to stick to non-obvious sources. Don't worry -- there's no West Elm or CB2 here either.

East Coast

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites with online ordering.

5093f32edbd0cb0349000512. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop MUJI This Japanese store has multiple locations in New York City, as well as a US website for national orders. Their selection of sofas, beds, shelving, and tables is simple, stripped-down, and inexpensive.

5094410adbd0cb033a000762. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop White Furniture They have locations in New York and San Francisco, and they manufacture knockoffs of classic mid-century designs. The quality is much less solid than the real thing, but the prices are low.

5094410bd9127e2f06000725. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop The Grove Furniture Based out of New Jersey, the Grove sells solid wood unfinished furniture. Styles tend to be basic and traditional, but it's a good source for cabinets and case goods that could be painted any color you like.



All stores listed below have e-commerce sites or catalogs with phone/mail ordering.

5094410bdbd0cb034200072a. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Roy's Home Furnishings Roy's is a 30-year-old Chicago institution. They're known for excellent prices on upholstered furniture and big pieces like dining tables and beds, and they recently launched an online catalog.

5094410cd9127e2f0a000689. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Dania They have stores scattered throughout suburban metro areas in Illinois, Minnesota, and the Pacific Northwest. Styles are a mix of contemporary and Scandinavian-modern, and prices are affordable.

5094410ddbd0cb0349000777. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Chiasso This Chicago store focuses on modern metal-frame furniture. Not all of it is cheap, but there are some very affordably priced sofas, tables, and shelving. They tend to carry small-scale pieces designed for apartment living.

5093f32ed9127e2f160004b2. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop McMaster-Carr Supply Company Headquartered out of suburban Chicagoland, this catalog retailer specializes in industrial equipment. They'll happily sell to retail customers, and you can find sturdy shelves and stools at great prices.

West Coast

All stores listed below have e-commerce sites or catalogs with phone/mail ordering.

5093f32fd9127e2f21000480. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop TINI Store Perfectly suited to this list, TINI stands for This-Is-Not-IKEA. This LA-based vintage furniture store has great prices on mid-century modern stuff, and their website is updated frequently.

5094410ddbd0cb033a000763. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Hoot Judkins Serving the Northern California area, Hoot Judkins is an unfinished furniture store. They have a mix of modern and traditional solid wood pieces, from dining sets to beds.

5093f330d9127e2f21000481. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Stanford Surplus Property Sales Colleges and universities are rich furniture resources that are often overlooked. Many schools put used office and dorm furniture on sale at the end of the year, and Stanford even has a web catalog where you can search their inventory online.Top Photo:

Larsen Chair, $350 at White Furniture


via Beyond IKEA: 10 Other Cheap, Chic Furniture Stores -- Shopping Guide | Apartment Therapy.

Real Estate Forecast Presented at Western NE University

In addition to the good news we received about mortgage rates once again dipping below 4%, we just caught wind of this interesting presentation to be sponsored by the Realtor Association of the Pioneer Valley.  If you'd like to find out more about current trends in the real estate market, this sounds like a great event to attend!

Economists to Present Real-estate and Economic Forecast on Oct. 23

SPRINGFIELD -- Nationally recognized economists Dr. Lawrence Yun and Dr. Elliot Eisenberg will present a real-estate and economic forecast on Thursday, Oct. 23 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Western New England University, ?Rivers Memorial Hall, 2105 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. Doors open at 8 a.m. for breakfast and registration. The event is sponsored by the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley and the Home Builders Assoc. of Western Mass.Topics will include recent developments in the housing market national, state, and local, the direction of home prices in the next 12 to 24 months, comparisons with past housing cycles, shadow inventory and foreclosure impact, new-home construction, economic backdrop, and a forecast of the economy and housing market. Yun is chief economist and senior vice president of the National Assoc. of Realtors, while Eisenberg is a former senior economist with the National Assoc. of Homebuilders. Tickets cost $20 per person, which includes breakfast.To register, contact Laura Herring, education coordinator for the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, at 413 785-1328 or laura@rapv.com. Corporate support comes from Abide Inc., PeoplesBank, MLS Property Information Network, the Republican/MassLive, and United Bank.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

via Economists to Present Real-estate and Economic Forecast on Oct. 23 | BusinessWest.

Leaf Peeping

The weather we have been blessed with in the past week reminds me why I love living in the Northeast, and, specifically, in Northampton.  Mild temperatures, clear skies, and insanely beautiful views of multicolored trees wherever you train your eyes.  I can't imagine living somewhere without real seasonal changes - and I feel lucky to live here in the Pioneer Valley.

As a realtor and resident of New England, I suscribe to Yankee Magazine, which is a great resource for things to do in this part of the world.  They recently published a "Western Mass Foliage Drive" article which outlines a beautiful drive through the areas surrounding Northampton.  If you are looking for something fall-inspired to do this weekend (in addition to the Ashfield Fall Festival, that is) read on!

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Western Massachusetts Foliage Drive


Photo/Art by Krisin Teig


Housed in an 1842 grist mill, the Montague Bookmill offers a wide assortment of used books as well as a lively café.

From the source of Route 47 in South Hadley and on along quiet roads to Route 63 in Northfield, our journey is a sinuous, hypnotic drive, with the Connecticut River flashing in and out of the trees like a bright ribbon. It's a day for farmstand hunting and lots of stops.

Starting out, you'll want to grab provisions at South Hadley's Village Commons, from Tailgate Picnic or the Thirsty Mind coffeehouse, both across from the storied beauty of the Mount Hol­yoke College campus. Then launch yourself north on this sumptuously winding road.



In Hadley, pull over at Barstow's Dairy Store & Bakery, which fronts Longview Farm, to watch cows grazing in the lower fields. Longview, designated a Massachusetts Century Farm, is actually a two-century farm, run by the same family since 1806, when Route 47 was a cart track. Drive through Skinner State Park to the summit of Mount Holyoke itself, where you'll gaze upon the Oxbow of the Connecticut River as it winds through fertile fields and dense forests. The 19th-century Summit House hotel reminds you of those grand old society days at mountaintop resorts.


You'll pass many good farmstands through Hadley: Try Becky Sadlow­ski's, at the corner of her family's ancestral farm, Rooted Acres, right next to a tobacco shed and corn crib. On Sundays, the Olde Hadley Flea Market offers the most breathtaking backdrop of fields and mountains of any open-air shopping venue on the planet.

A side tour on East Street will bring you to Hadley Common, where once villagers baited a witch, and where every fall they still hold a firemen's muster. Pull over to allow yourself a close-up of the curve of the Connecticut from the Hadley Dike.

In season till mid-October, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum's warm, aromatic corn barn and the fish pond in its sunken garden are sights to behold, and the North Hadley Sugar Shack is a must for maple gifts for family and friends. Thre's one breathtaking view after another as you drive on through Sunderland; then detour left onto Route 116 to curve on up to the top of Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, which ancient indigenous peoples said was the body of a giant beaver slain by a sky god. From the lookout tower, you can see the entire Holyoke Range in the distance, the silver flow of the Connecticut River, and the way the Pioneer Valley is held by the bowl of the surrounding mountains.

Now backtrack to Route 47 to an old burying ground, Riverside Cemetery, just past a cornfield in Sunderland, whose old slate gravestones display soul effigies and epitaphs in archaic letterforms--a peaceful resting place since 1714. About six miles farther along, stop at the Montague Bookmill to inhale the scent of nearly 30,000 used tomes, and refresh yourself with lunch at the mill's café alongside a tributary of the Connecticut.Continue north to Turners Falls--home of the historic Shea Theater, funky stores, street gardens, and fish-shaped bike racks--a fine town to stretch your legs in; be sure to stop in for a drink at The Rendezvous or a snack at 2nd Street Baking Co. (which is actually on 4th Street). At the Great Falls Discovery Center, you can witness the churning energy of the old mill canal and learn more about this historic river you're following.

Cross the river and Route 2, and head up Main Road into Gill; about a mile above the center you'll see North Cemetery on a little ridge on your left, flanked by open, grassy fields, calling you in past an ancient red-maple sentry to visit graves so old that some of them are coated in lichen, their inscriptions all but worn away.

The light should be getting long by now, and you might need a jacket. Head right, over the river; then left on Route 63, ending your ride seven or eight miles north at the historic Northfield Drive-In (just over the line into Winchester, New Hampshire), its old car-radio pillars authentic testimony to its longevity. It closes after Labor Day, so there's one more great reason to visit the Valley again come summer.

via Western Massachusetts Foliage Drive | Directions - Yankee Magazine.

Rising Energy Costs, and Renewable Energy Resources

Although the warmer temps seem to keep coming and going - the weather yesterday and today have me easing the temperature higher and higher on our thermostat.  We are eager to test out our new Tier 3 energy efficient home in Northampton, MA - to see whether our utility bills will be as low as promised, in the coming months.  To that end, I was both encouraged and upset to read the following editorial today in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  Apparently, we can look forward to higher electricity bills this winter.  Although this news is not encouraging, the fact that a company called Hampshire Power will be supplying Lowell, MA with power largely from renewable energy sources, is encouraging.  This solution that will cost less money to the citizens of Lowell, and have a more positive environmental impact.  Apparently, Hampshire Power has signed up 11 communities in Berkshire County and one in Worcester County with a similarly beneficial program.  Here's hoping that the local communities of Hampshire County /Pioneer Valley follow suit!

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Editorial: Electricity costs pinch New England, but relief may be on horizon

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A recent drop in gasoline prices helps only a little to buffer news that electricity costs will rise sharply this winter, making it more expensive to keep lights on in the darkest season and delivering a blow to households that heat with electricity.

Given enough time, New England will be able to bring down electricity costs as new plants come online, experts in the field point out. But the picture in the months ahead is grim. Massachusetts and neighboring states must adjust to significant shifts in the energy markets.

Utilities that provide electricity in western Massachusetts warned last week that competition for a limited supply of natural gas is largely to blame for prices that will jump a third this winter compared to last year.

Natural gas is used to produce half of the electricity generated in New England. The growing need for that fuel source is what led six New England governors to embrace the idea of bringing in more natural gas -- an appetite two major projects are eager to satisfy.

Even with a clear need for alternatives to coal-fired and nuclear plants, Gov. Deval Patrick hit the brakes in July by calling for a more detailed study of the state's energy needs.

Kinder Morgan wants to build a 177-mile natural gas pipeline across the northern part of the state -- and running through a small part of Hampshire County and nine Franklin County towns. The project, which must pass muster with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, faces determined local opposition.

More recently, Northeast Utilities, which owns the Western Massachusetts Electric Co., announced that it and a partner, Spectra Energy, propose to bring more natural gas into New England by expanding the capacity of existing pipelines.

While they would increase needed supplies of natural, these projects have yet to prove their worth and safety. Critics rightly question whether the gas will ease New England's energy pinch or be routed to the export markets, doing little to benefit a state that endured a pipeline construction or expansion.

As for this winter's sticker shock, National Grid says it will pass along a 37 percent cost increase compared to last winter. WMECO has not yet said how much rates will rise, but a spokeswoman noted, "We are all facing the same challenges." For the average National Grid customer, electric bills will rise about $33 a month. Those who heat with electricity will pay a lot more.

While electricity customers may feel they are at the mercy of price jumps, they do not need to be utility captives. Just this week, Hampshire Power, a project run by the Hampshire Council of Governments, announced it won a competitive bid to supply power to the city of Lowell in a deal that significantly expands its operations and will lower prices for ratepayers in the state's fourth-largest city. Instead of seeing prices rise a third, customers in Lowell will pay that much less.

And the rates will be locked in for three years. As an added benefit, the electricity Hampshire Power will supply 31,000 residential and 4,200 business customers in Lowell will come from renewable sources in New England. That is both a lean and clean deal for Lowell.

Hampshire Power has been pushing its option for years and has signed up 11 communities in Berkshire County and one in Worcester County. It hopes soon to secure state Department of Public Utilities permission to roll out a program that would enable it to buy power at lower rates on behalf of 160,000 residents and businesses in 35 cities and towns. Those customers want the power. Their municipal leaders have signed the papers. The state should stop fiddling around and allow them access to it.

In the short term, electricity customers can find themselves at the mercy of the market. In the long term, they have options worth pursuing.

via Editorial: Electricity costs pinch New England, but relief may be on horizon | GazetteNet.com.


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