Home Decor

Great Items to Spruce up Your Kitchen and Home!

Recently we've been drooling over recipes and home decor ideas from the Food52.com website. If you are a homeowner who enjoys unique decor and kitchen items, or someone who loves to cook, it's a great website to peruse! 

As we have written in previous posts, it's not always necessary to completely overhaul or renovate a home in need of some cosmetic updates. You can do a lot with paint, wallpaper and decor to give your home, or rooms within your home, an updated and fresh appearance. This recent post shows four gorgeous new patterns of "easy on, easy off" adhesive wallpaper. What a great way to transform a room with one accent wall and no long term commitment!

Easy On Easy Off Wallpaper from Food52.com

Photo by James Ransom "Hojos Cubanos" pictured above

 

A statement item, such the Mediterranean Vinyl Kitchen Mat can help brighten up a monochromatic space. It looks like Mediterranean tile, and provides cushioning in high traffic areas such as the kitchen where tend to spend a lot of time on your feet. A small investment to help freshen a well-used area in your home. 

Looks as if we are going to be indoors for longer than we hoped this winter, given the recent No'r-Easter "Stella" who just dumped a bunch of snow on Northampton and the Northeast. These wire plant stands are perfect for bringing your indoor/outdoor plants in for the winter - while creating a lovely indoor garden scene, vs. a cluttered-looking corner of the house.

And for the DIY person in your life, here is a great selection of gifts from the Food52 online store. One example is:

Pictured above is the DIY deluxe Hot Sauce kit

 

 Just some helpful hints from your friendly, neighborhood real estate agency, Maple and Main Realty in Florence MA : )

Houseplants that Improve Indoor Air Quality

Who knew that having a green thumb could help with air quality in your own home? As the winter months set in, we are sealed up inside of our ever-more energy efficient homes. The "tighter" the home, the less fresh air that will naturally circulate within that home. I know that in our household, it seems my family members and I take turns feeling lousy this time of year. We live in an energy star rated home with a circulation system to keep fresh air moving through the house - but still, access to fresh air is limited as compared to warmer months. I have often thought that the lack of fresh air can lead to this increase in illness or allergic responses. The following article from Northampton's The Daily Hampshire Gazette on Tuesday, January 17th, makes helpful suggestions about how homeowners can keep indoor air cleaner during the winter. I love that adding beautiful plants to your home has the added benefit of making the air cleaner!

Plants, techniques to keep indoor air clean in winter

  • Peperomia, seen at Hadley Garden Center, is a plant said to purify air.

  • Poinsettias, seen at Hadley Garden Center, are plants said to purify air

  • Chinese evergreen, seen at Hadley Garden Center, is a plant said to purify air.

  • English ivy, seen at Hadley Garden Center, is said to purify air. GAZETTE STAFF/Jerrey Roberts - Buy this Image

  • Orchids, seen at Hadley Garden Center, are flowers said to purify air.

  • Angela Karlovich, who works at Hadley Garden Center, beside a display of plants that are said to purify air. At left a close-up of a Chinese evergreen. Gazette staff/Jerrey roberts 

  • A spider plant, at Hadley Garden Center. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS 

  • Angela Karlovich, who works at Hadley Garden Center, holds an aloe vera plant, one that is said to purify air, Dec. 12, at the store.

  • Chinese evergreen, seen at Hadley Garden Center, is a plant said to purify air


By LINDA ENERSON
For the Gazette
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
 
The ravages of winter drive us inside, where we take comfort in a warm home well protected and insulated from the elements.

But while a weather-tight home is great for saving energy and resources, that efficiency often comes at the expense of indoor air quality. 

When the windows are closed for the season, a variety of indoor air contaminants can accumulate and bother residents. Some of these contaminants are allergens such as mold spores or dust mites. Others are toxic organic compounds off-gassing from furniture, building materials or carpets. 

Dr. Jonathon Bayuk, medical director of allergy services at Allergy and Immunology Associates of New England, says there are many things homeowners can do to clean indoor air. 

Getting rid of allergens 

Air purifiers can remove allergens and other air contaminants, including dust mites, smoke and mold particles. Bayuk advises buying one that is big enough for the area of the room and uses a HEPA filter to trap contaminant air particles. He cautions against products that utilize blades. This type of air purifier creates ozone by generating tiny electrical sparks when the blades strike a contaminating particle. While each spark generates a minimal amount of ozone, over the course of a day, the ozone can accumulate to toxic levels. 

Keeping the relative indoor humidity below 50 percent helps to discourage mold growth, according to Bayuk, but it’s important not to let humidity drop too low as dry skin can often become a problem when relative humidity drops below 35 or 40 percent. 

Mold growing on a hard surface, such as a tub, can be relatively easy to clean (Bayuk recommends a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water). However, porous objects, such as a box of books in the basement, may need to be disposed of in order eliminate that source of mold spores in the home. 

Dust mites are another common indoor allergen that can cause year-round problems for people with a sensitivity to the enzymes they excrete.

Dust mites feed on the dead skin cells that humans and pets naturally shed, as well as dust, pollen and other organic material. They live in areas where they can find food, sufficient moisture and warmth. 

Carpets, couches, and mattresses are common areas where dust mites live and breed. As these surfaces are porous, they gather below the surface of the fabric, making it difficult to get rid of them. 

Bayuk says a mattress cover is a great place to start in curbing dust mites. The cover is made of a very tight fabric the mites cannot penetrate. Cleaning the cover on a weekly basis keeps them from piling up on these surfaces.

Reducing clutter and keeping a house clean can also reduce the number of dust mites. Bayuk recommends using a high-efficiency vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove mites and their food sources from carpets and sofas. 

Dust mites are fairly easily removed from hard surfaces as they stick to a damp cloth. Bayuk says using a feather duster is virtually useless, and simply moves the mites and the particles they feed on to another surface.

Chemical contaminants 

Organic compounds off-gassing from dry-cleaned clothes, and from newly applied paints, lacquers and varnishes, as well as from newer furniture, carpets and building materials are another source of indoor air pollution. 

In the late 1980s, NASA conducted a series of experiments to see if indoor plants could be used to purify the air of future space habitats. The agency’s final report on the experiments showed that some of the most common and easily cared-for houseplants were surprisingly effective at decreasing levels of the most common organic compounds found circulating indoors. 

Hadley Garden Center stocks many of the plants named in the study. Greenhouse manager Angela Karlovich is familiar with the NASA study, and can lead customers to a wide variety of air-cleaning plants that perform well in a wide variety of indoor settings. 

Karlovich says that many of the plants cited by NASA can thrive in low-light conditions, which makes them versatile and easy to care for indoors, including: 

Dracaena: Several varieties were tested by NASA and were found to be effective at removing trichloroethylene (TCE), benzene and formaldehyde.

Spider plants: effective at removing formaldehyde. Spider plants are also non-toxic to pets. 

English ivy: removes TCE, benzene and formaldehyde 

Chinese evergreen: removes formaldehyde and benzene 

Bamboo palm: removes TCE, benzene and formaldehyde. Bamboo palm is non-toxic to pets. 

Golden pothos: removes formaldehyde 

Philodendron: removes formaldehyde 

Peace lily: removes TCE, benzene and formaldehyde 

While sun-loving Gerbera daisies are usually planted outside, these plants removed the most TCE and benzene of all the plants tested at NASA. They are also non-toxic to pets. 

Bayuk says like all plants, those mentioned above also add to indoor air quality by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.

 

Paint it Black!

As an admitted design junkie, those of you who have read my blog before know that I am a huge fan of the Apartment Therapy website and blog. A good friend of mine, who has an amazing eye for design, recently traveled to Amsterdam. When she came back, she told me she intended to paint all of the woodwork on her windows black, like many of the houses she saw during her travels. This is a woman who means business. When she has a vision, she makes it happen. I was curious about this trend, and whether it would appeal to me as well. I happened upon this story on Apartment Therapy which makes the use of black paint as an accent look extremely appealing! I think the key is to choose one element in a room, which will make the rest of the room "pop".

As realtors, we here at Maple + Main Realty see trends come and go with some frequency. Paint is a great way to update a space without commiting to a large, expensive renovation. In addition, paint can be painted over if you tire of the look! And a fun trend such as limited use of black paint can freshen up a space and make it look as if you have done more extensive work than you have. 

Check out the article from Apartment Therapy here:

 

7 Things to Paint Black Today

 

There's a reason black is a classic: it's dark, it's beautiful, it matches with almost everything. And it's a great way to add a little contrast, drama and depth to an interior that needs a little extra pizazz. Here are seven weekend painting projects that will add a little bit of black -- and a whole lot of style -- to your home.

 

Your stairs.

Paint just the railing, or just the stairs, or both for a little extra impact.

 

 

Doors.
Add instant class to any space, without the trouble of painting a whole room.



 

 

The bathtub.
If you have an old cast iron tub, painting the outside is a great way to refresh your bathroom without remodeling. Ohmega Salvage has a great guide to this.



 

 

Kitchen cabinets.
Try just the upper cabinets, just the lower cabinets (the two-tone look is in) or go for broke and paint them all.



 

The fireplace.
Give the focal point of the room a little extra oomph.


 

The ceiling.

Painting your ceiling black is a bold choice that can make a large room seem cozier, and will make any room much more dramatic.





 

Bookcases.
If you love your bookcases, painting them black is a great way to set them off -- and draw attention to all those lovely volumes.





(Image credits: Design Sponge; SF Girl by Bay; Martha Stewart; My Domaine; Design Sponge; Apartment Therapy; Birgitta Drejer via Trendenser)

 

Keeping Your Home Uncluttered

Having moved into our new home just over a year ago, we are finally getting close to feeling "moved in" to our new space. We downsized by 30% from our previous house in, and we sold, or gave away a large amount of our belongings before moving into this new home. Our goal is to live in an uncluttered space from here on out. It turns out this is much easier said than done. It's not only the accumulation of stuff that can lead to clutter, but how you live in your space from day to day. More to the point, it's about getting into the habit of putting things in their proper place as you move through your day, each day.

I spent time this past week sifting through the remains of our packed boxes, and getting rid of clothes and toys that the kids have outgrown. I usually donate these items to the Hartsprings Foundation in Springfield, MA, who will come pick up gently used clothes, games, toys, linens, furniture, etc. I sorted through the piles on our coffee table and other surfaces, and spent some time rearranging our living room. I find this room to be a challenge because it's a large open space, connected to the kitchen and entryway. I want it to feel cozy, not cavernous (or cluttered and messy). Once I had the furniture arranged to my liking, and had gotten rid of the accumulated clutter - I felt much better! A friend of mine, who works as a professional organizer, once told me that the key to organization is not just that everything has it's place, but that you have to go through your drawers, cabinets, toiletries, closets and file cabinets (etc) a few times a year to keep things organized! I was reminded of this during my cleaning/organizing frenzy.

I came across this blog post on the Apartment Therapy website, which gives tips about how to keep a small living space uncluttered. The truth is, I think it applies to homes of all sizes. I also think that in setting expectations for your family members, that they should follow the same rules of putting things in their proper place as they go, everyone in the household feels more comfortable, and knows where to look for things at any moment! Read on for these simple words of wisdom.

 

10 Everyday Habits to Make Any Small Space Dweller Happier at Home

 

Alana's Brooklyn Railroad

 

There are plenty of habits everyone should adopt to keep a home reasonably clean and tidy. Here are ten worth practicing in any size home, but especially vital for people living in small spaces when even a small amount of clutter can make your home look and feel messy.

1. Make your bed each morning. In a small room, the bed may take up half the space or more so if it's not made it will look unkempt even if everything else is in order.

2. Take care of your dishes as soon as you're done with them. If you have a dishwasher, put them in it. If you don't, try to wash them right away or, at the very least put them in the sink. Keeping counters clear in a small kitchen is key.

3. Process your paper mail each day. Small space living is a constant fight against "piles". Try to deal with your mail soon after you bring it in—recycle, file, shred, etc.—so you don't end up with even a small pile (which is always a slippery slope).

4. Digitize as much as you can. If you have a piece of paper that *might* be important, but you're not sure—take a photo of it and then recycle it.

5. Straighten as you go. Get in the habit of straightening and returning things to their homes as you walk around your home. Gabbing on the phone? This is an ideal time to do some straightening.


Christina's Sunny South Austin Digs

6. Put your coat and bag away as soon as you get home. Don't drape them on a chair or leave them on a table. As my husband likes to say "don't put it down, put it away."

7. Deal with in-store or online returns as soon as you can. Don't let boxes or packages or items clutter up your space and don't take the risk that you will lose receipts and other documentation.

8. Break down unwanted cardboard boxes immediately and take them outside to recycle as soon as you can.

9. Cook from your pantry. How many half boxes of pasta are in your cabinet? Or cans of beans you bought for a recipe and never used? Be vigilant about using stuff up before your cabinets are a complete jumble.

10. Put your clothes away each night before bed. Don't let them accumulate at the end of your bed, on a chair or, the worst, on the floor.

Do you have any useful habits in your small home to defend against clutter and mess?

(Image credits: Sherrie and Oliver ; Kate Bowie Carruth )

 

Painting Hardwood Floors to Freshen a Room on a Budget

When we pulled up the old linoleum kitchen floor in our last house in Northampton - we were excited to see fir floors beneath, just waiting to be brought back to life. I had my heart set on red floors - somewhere between the color of cherries and blood. I went to many paint and hardware stores in the Pioneer Valley to look for the right color stain, but all I could find were barn reds, mahogany reds and auburns. I consulted woodworker friends and was pointed in the direction of aniline dyes.  I purchased red and black dye from a local woodworking store, and then set about mixing up just the right hue before staining our floors. I won't go into the gory details, it was a messy process with a lot of room for human error. I did wind up with the perfect color red stain, which also allowed the wood grain to show through. 

I have always been a fan of painted wood floors. The right paint job on a floor can give a room so much personality, as well as a fresh new look - without spending a great deal of money. Whether you are interested in creating a pattern on the floor, adding a pop of color, or going with a lighter neutral, a painted floor can be a wonderful way to change up the look of your space.

The following article from the Associated Press provides food for thought about how to go about painting a hardwood floor.

Painting the hardwood: A creative Solution for Worn Floors

by Melissa Rayworth, Associated Press

(Photo: Karina Kaliwoda/Houzz.com/AP Photo)

 

Worn and faded hardwood floors can drag down the look of a room. But having scuffed floors sanded down and re-stained can be expensive and messy.

One alternative that's gaining popularity: painting older hardwood floors. You can add solid color, stripes, or any imaginable stenciled or hand-drawn patterns to a floor.

There's actually a long tradition of painted wooden floors in American homes, says Tom Silva, general contractor on the long-running PBS television series "This Old House." One hundred years ago, paint was considered a practical way to protect floors and add some beauty in the process.

In a survey done this month of more than 1,200 users on the home-improvement website Houzz.com, 15 percent said they're ready to make the leap to painting while 85 percent were still more comfortable with stained wood floors. But Houzz editor Sheila Schmitz says some of the site's members who have embraced painted floors have done so with real creativity.

"We've seen homeowners reinvent their floors with glossy white paint, oversize stripes, checkerboards with alternating natural and painted finishes, and even more fanciful shapes," Schmitz says.

It's a DIY project that requires effort but little experience.

So how do you do it, and what are some of the boldest, most interesting approaches you can take?

___

Prep smart

Fans of painted floors point out that the process is less labor-intensive than staining because you don't have to sand away every old scratch or stain. But that doesn't mean you can skip the step of prepping your floors.

Clean the floor well, says Silva, then scuff it with sandpaper just enough to create a slightly rough surface. That prep work is the key to making sure the first layer of paint or primer will adhere. Primer isn't required if the floor already has some finish on it. But putting down a few thin, clear coats of primer can make it easier if you decide years from now to remove the paint.

If you do prime the floor, use sandpaper to lightly scuff that clear coat after it dries to help subsequent painted coats adhere well.

Rich red paint on the hardwood floor brings warmth and color to this stylish, gender-neutral nursery. Painting hardwood floors can be an inexpensive and easy solution, especially in rooms where the floors has become worn and scuffed after many years of use. () (Photo: Holly Marder/Houzz.com/AP Photo)

___

Bold floor, neutral walls

Interior designer Camila Pavone was ahead of the trend in painting her kitchen floor in 2010. The room previously had green walls and a stained wood floor. Pavone switched the walls to a creamy white (she used Martha Stewart's "Glass of Milk") and covered the wood floor with jade green paint. She considered using marine paint but chose a formula called Break-Through!, which dries quickly and creates a harder surface than many other types of paint.

Five years later, Pavone is still thrilled with the result. The floors "always get a 'Wow' when new people come to my house," she says. "The only thing I didn't take into account was the wear and tear of two dogs and now two kids. The claws on the dogs do scratch the floors up a bit. But I try to pretend that if I saw that in a store display in Anthropologie, I would think it was fabulous. So I don't stress."

Because the kitchen is a high-traffic area, Pavone has repainted the floors once every two years to keep them looking shiny and scratch-free. But that work is relatively easy.

"It's a really fast project and normally only takes around two hours," she says. "I would totally do it again!"

 

Pick any pattern

Paint can also be perfect for entryways. Thick stripes, diamond or chevron patterns can make a small foyer seem bigger, drawing attention to an otherwise ignored space. Once the floor is cleaned and prepared, simply lay out your design with painters' tape. Be careful to measure the width of stripes or the angles of diamonds or chevrons to make sure you've laid the tape in the proper places.

Consider using large stencils to add a pattern to the floor of a larger space, like an enclosed porch. Or paint a brightly colored "rug" in the center of a room by first painting a solid rectangle, then adding a pattern once that solid coat is completely dry.

Another option: Coat the floor with a semi-transparent stain or paint that allows the grain of the wood to show through. Once it's dry, use painters' tape to create a border around the room that you'll fill with a contrasting or complementary color or pattern.

___

Take time for topcoats

Once you've finished your painted masterpiece, add one or several clear coats on top for protection. Patience between layers is the key: You may be tempted to paint again as soon as one thin coat feels dry to the touch, but you'll get a much stronger and more attractive result if you leave extra time.

Silva points out that oil-based topcoats "may add a little bit of a goldish color to it, because of the oil. Water-based will give you the true color of the paint."

And, obvious as it may sound, remember: "Know where to start and where to end," says Schmitz, "so you don't literally paint yourself into a corner."

 

Finding New Uses for Household Items

As realtors, this time of year can be very busy.  Whether we are helping buyer clients find a new home, or helping seller clients sell their home, the spring market tends to be jam-packed with real estate-related activity in Northampton.  As with any career person during their busy season, it's good to take some time throughout the day to put down the phone or walk away from the computer and do something else... Ok, so I often sit near my phone and stay at my computer and look at other information online when I need a break, but still - it is a break of sorts. 

As I have mentioned many times, as a former NYC resident of many years, I still love to read the Apartment Therapy blog whenever time permits.  It has so many great tips and ideas for freshening up ones' living space. The following blog post has some great ideas that maybe I will get around to during the winter season in real estate, which tends to be a bit slower than spring!

Read on, and remember, please be kind to your realtor, he or she is working very hard for you!

 

REALLY UNEXPECTED USES FOR OLD THINGS AROUND THE HOUSE

You'll never believe what this little greenhouse is made from!

We see makeovers all the time, mostly of the "let's sand this table and repaint it" variety. So we get overly excited when everyday household objects get remade into really surprising things with a completely different purpose. Here are common things you may no longer have use for, and inventive ways to adapt them into entirely new household objects.

1. Old picture frames are a dime a dozen at yard sales, flea markets and thrift store. Emily of The Wicker House gathered a bunch and made this pretty indoor terrarium.

2. This home from Chic Design Investments cleverly used old wooden doors in lieu of traditional stairway railing. The use of salvaged material throughout the house lends the space a lot of character. Want some more ideas for old doors?

3. We recently featured this vintage ice bucket that Brooke from Prettyographyhacked to make a countertop compost bin. And, if you have other flea market stuff:

4. For this project from Sugar & Cloth, bundt pans were painted and repurposed as cute hanging planters.For more ideas on how to repurpose stuff from the kitchen:

5. When the children leave for college, that baby furniture has to go somewhere. Try change a changing table into a potter's shelf like this one from Shelstring. If you also get your hands on a crib, try:

 

6. Using old cookware found at secondhand stores, Eric Smillie fashions new lamps using enameled pot lids as the shades.

Decorating On A Budget

 
With the spring real estate market now upon us, buyers and sellers alike are gearing up for the busier real estate season.  For buyers, this may mean speaking to their bank about pre-qualification, connecting with a buyer's agent to receive up-to-the-minute information and advocacy, and attending many showings and open houses.  For sellers, this will likely mean readying their home to put on the market.  Whether this will require a deep cleaning, some new coats of paint, staging of certain rooms, de-cluttering and organizing - or all of the above - a seller's agent will help you to prioritize and connect with any contractors you may need to get the job done.  
 
Regardless of whether you are gearing up to buy or sell a home - many of us feel the urge to purge and start anew with the onset of spring.  This feeling can lend itself nicely to taking on home decorating projects which have fallen by the wayside this long winter.  The following article from Apartment Therapy has some great advice about how to tackle certain decorating projects on a tight budget.
 
 

5 Sneaky Money-Saving Solutions for the Discerning Decorator

 

Wouldn't it be nice if there were some kind of grant that would allow people with exceptional taste to decorate their spaces however they please? It's a nice idea, but we live in the real world, where more often than not extraordinary taste is paired with a less than extraordinary budget. But that doesn't mean you can't have the home of your dreams — you just have to get smart. Here are five sneaky solutions that will have your home looking like a million bucks — without you having to spend, well, a million bucks.

Design Problem: Upholstered furniture is super, super expensive, and none of the couch offerings at IKEA is striking your fancy. 
Smart Solution: It will definitely take a little more legwork, but if you're searching for a beautiful sofa on a budget, vintage furniture is the best way to go. Find a couch you like on Craigslist or in a thrift store, and then get it re-upholstered in a fabric of your choice. Professional upholstery also isn't cheap (you can get an idea of the price here), but once all is said and done you'll have a unique, high-quality piece, in a fabric of your choice, for about the same price as a generic-looking, mid-range sofa.

A Scandinavian home from Entrance.

Design Problem: You've finally found some dining chairs that you really love. The price, however, is less lovely. 
Smart Solution: Who says everything has to match? Buy a pair of the chairs you really love, to anchor the ends of the table, and fill in the middle with more budget-friendly pieces.

Design Problem: You have a whole wall that you want to fill, but oversized artwork is out of your budget. 
Smart Solution: Instead of a single piece, creating a grouping (like the one above) of same-sized frames. Extra-pretty calendars are great for this — use 'em for a year, and then hang them on the wall.

Design Problem: You have things in unusual sizes that you want to frame, but custom framing costs an arm and a leg. 
Smart Solution: Go to a craft store and get a custom mat cut. Make sure the outer dimensions of the mat are a standard size, and then buy a frame off the shelf.

Design Problem: You find a rug you love, but you can't possibly afford to buy the size that's actually big enough for your room.
Smart Solution: Get an inexpensive sisal rug in the size that you need, and then buy a smaller size of the rug you like and layer it on top. You'll save money AND add a little bit of interest and texture to your room.

(Image credits: Esteban CortezEntranceWilliam Waldron for Architectural DigestAndrea SparacioNancy Mitchell)

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.

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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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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

SHOPPING GUIDE

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.

 

Midwest

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.