Blog :: 11-2014

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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

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 |


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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.