Joseph Federico - Donahue Real Estate Company | Dedham, MA Real Estate, Canton, MA Real Estate

Live in an apartment with a small balcony, patio or deck? A home in a thickly settled area with little backyard or space between other homes? Or just a home that has a small, raised deck? Small spaces may seem like a tough makeover/renovation tackle. You want the space to be functional but you also want it to be unique to your style. Check out the tips below for creating an outdoor oasis where you enjoy spending time, regardless of it’s small size. Furniture First things first: furniture. The type of furniture you will want in your outdoor space will depend its size and your lifestyle. Table and Chairs: If you enjoy eating meals outdoors, it is best to go with a table and chairs set. The size of your set with depend on the size of your outdoor space. A deck or patio that is only 5x5 would have room for a two-person table and chairs. Consider looking into collapsible table and chair sets that transform your space as needed. A 10x10 area could have space for a four-person set and some room to spare. Adding extra collapsible chairs is also a great way to create additional seating when it’s needed, but allowing for them to be folded up and placed out of site when not in use. Outdoor Couch & Coffee Table: This idea will fair well better with a space that is larger than 5x5. It is great for a lifestyle that includes entertaining and also relaxing. Outdoor couches are very trendy and come in many sizes and styles. Porch Swing/Swinging Chair: A porch swing or swinging chair is a great option for a compact front porch, balcony or patio. Typical porch swings need to attach to something above so are best suited for porches. However, swinging chairs are more mobile and are generally smaller. Depending on your space, either of these are great additions! Privacy Screen: Creating a bit of privacy can help create the ideal outdoor retreat. There are so many options for different shapes, sizes and materials for privacy screens to help accomplish the exact atmosphere you’re looking for. Landscaping & Garden Adding life to your small space will enhance its appeal and your likeliness to enjoy it. Landscaping: Regardless of the size of your outdoor area, landscaping is essential. This is easier to achieve if your space is on ground level, but not impossible for balconies and decks. And a little landscaping goes a long way from small areas of grass to stone and mulch to plants and flowers. Garden: Adding a small garden into your outdoor space isn’t out of reach even if you only have a balcony. Use planting buckets or rail-mounted baskets for growing things like herbs and small vegetables. As long as you have sun, water and soil, you can create a garden that suits you. A green thumb always helps, too. Accessories Homey touches are important components to your outdoor sanctuary. Of course, these pieces will need to be weather resistant. Try these simple pieces to add another level of personality to your space. Outdoor Rug & Accent Pillows: Add an outdoor rug and pillows to bring coziness and color to your outdoor space. Small Accent Pieces: Add accent pieces like decorative candleholders and candles and hanging lights and/or lantern type lights to give the space ambient lighting. Water feature: Add a serene water feature such as a fountain or waterfall feature to create a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. There are a myriad of ways to add something special to your outdoor space, regardless of it’s size with water features, pops of color with area rugs and pillows, unique seating, herb gardens and so much more. Choose a budget that works for you to update this space and get to work on your outdoor oasis.

If you’re hunting for a new home, it can be tempting to make an appointment to view as many as possible. However, it can be a better use of your time to narrow down the search beforehand and eliminate houses from your list based on some at-home research. That way you can use those extra hours for fine-tuning your home search and make sure you visit only the houses that will suit your every need.

In this article, we’ll teach you some ways to research a home, neighborhood and town before you take the time to visit.

Things to Research about Your Potential New Neighborhood

So you’ve found a listing that looks nice. Your next step should be to find out as much as possible about the area the home is in to make sure it suits your needs.

A good first step is to head over to Google Maps to find out which amenities are in the area. Schools, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, parks… the list goes on. This is also a good time to map out how long it will take you on average to drive to work from this house and to see if it will lead you through any high-traffic areas that might affect your daily schedule.

You can also research other homes in the area to see if the house is selling higher or lower than average. This will give you a question to ask the real estate agent if you choose to reach out for further information.

Town statistics

Another step to take on Google for this home is to look up statistics for things like neighborhood crime, ratings for the school district, and the state of local businesses.

Is the area up-and-coming with healthy businesses and low crime? If so, it could be worth pursuing further.

If you’re planning on having children or already do, the quality of the education could be of importance to you.

Finally, get an idea of the local tax rates so you know how much you’ll owe the government for your property and excise taxes.

Researching the house itself

If you’re comfortable with the town and neighborhood, there’s still some research you can do online before you schedule a showing.

See if you can find out if the house belongs to a homeowner’s association. Look up their rules and fees to see if they’re agreeable to you and your family’s lifestyle and plans for the future.

Look up the sale history for the home. If there are several recent sales, this could be a sign of problems with the home or neighborhood. Similarly, if the price has increased or decreased dramatically more than nearby houses, consider asking the real estate agent why this is.

Finally, see if you can view the number of days the home has been on on the market, commonly abbreviated as “DOM.” This will give you some insight as to how desirable the home and neighborhood are.

Once you have all of the information at your disposal, you’ll be in a position to decide whether or not to schedule an appointment to view the home.

Chairs, especially traditional and reclining chairs with deep cushions, are favorite furniture pieces. The furniture is so popular that television shows like All In The Family and Frasier set aside an old comfy chair for a star of their show. Everyone familiar with Archie Bunker knew not to sit in his lounge chair. It was as if the chair was a part of Archie.

A similar thing happens in real life families when fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts and grandparents find a chair so comfortable and inviting that it's the first place they head to when they return home from work or an out-of-town excursion. Clearly, choosing the perfect chair can have a long lasting impact.

Choosing the right chair

For years, chair choices were limited to mainly lounge and rocking chairs. Then, out came arm less chairs. You may see these chairs in company cafes or recreation areas. Arm less chairs are built like modern kitchen chairs, except their spines tend to be wider.

Arm less, accent chairs work well in tight spaces. They also fit easily into corners. Accent chairs also come with arms, offering a more traditional look and feel. Where accent chairs differ from older chairs is in their design.

Colors that accent chairs are made in tend to be more distinctive and modern as well. You can save money with an arm less accent chair. But, you generally won't yield cost savings if you get one of these stylish chairs with arms. Other chair types that are on the market include:

  • Easy chair
  • Egg chair
  • Club chair
  • Chesterfield chair
  • Skirted chair
  • Folding chair
  • Ottoman
  • Slumber chair
  • Sweetheart chair
  • Parlor chair

Important features to consider when selecting the perfect chair

In addition to selecting the perfect chair type, when furnishing your living room, den or bedroom, think about the fabric and cushion depth that you want in a chair. Also, decide if you want a hard or a soft back. As an example, parlor chairs are often built with wood or metal backs.

Depending on where you plan to place a chair in your house, it may be especially important to measure the width, length and height of the area where you want to put the chair. If you live in a small space, a chair might be great but turn out to be too big.

To ensure that a chair offers ample support, consider shopping for a chair in person. Sit in four or more chairs before you make a final decision. Should you order a chair over the Internet, pay attention to the chair's measurements and read reviews about the chair.

Find out if the chair has to be assembled. Many online reviews post how long it takes to assemble a chair and how easy or difficult the assembly was. If you want a chair that you can assemble in 10 minutes or less, opt for a chair that only requires you to attach the legs.

Add more design to a chair by placing one or more throw pillows in the chairs corners. Take your time selecting the perfect chair, as the price of a chair is not much less than what you'd pay for a love seat or sofa.

Few people may have thought that it would ever pay off. But, there are people who bought a house at the height of the Great Recession who are earning a significant profit on that house. Buying a house when prices are low then selling that same house after  prices rise is almost a sure way to generate a profit.

Open your eyes to how a second home saves you money

Yet, you don't have to sell a house at a profit to generate income from a second home. Keeping a second home pays off in more ways. An example is when  you buy a second house while your child is instill in high school.

During this time, you could rent the house to people who recently relocated to the area.These are the very people who may most appreciate the chance to move into a well cared for home on a good lease.

After your child graduates from high school and enrolls in college, she could live in the second house that you bought. Outcome of this is saving the money that you would have spent on out-of-state campus housing.

Buy a second house in an upscale community that's within walking distance of major colleges or universities and you could save yourself or your child the money that you would have spent on a new car or truck for your child. You could also put your child within walking distance of major companies, places where your child could gain firsthand experience in his major by participating in rewarding internships.

Even more savings attached to owning a second home

But, you don't need to have college aged children to benefit from owning a second house. Owning a second house could save you money if you use the second house as your:

  • Vacation home - Although the cost of an overnight hotel stay varies by facility, you could easily spend $150 a night on a hotel if you're vacationing with two to three people. Over the course of ten days, that comes to $1,500.
  • Rental property - Rent out your second house and you could generate enough money to cover the entire cost of your main home.
  • Retirement home - Instead of paying for costly nursing home stays, you could encourage your parents to relocate to your second home. If your parents are facing health challenges, you could pay someone to care for your parents inside the second home. Even with the cost of the daily care, you might spend less than what it would cost to keep your parents in a nursing home.

You could also operate a full scale business out of a second house. One good business that you could operate out of a second house is a bed and breakfast. The more creative you are, the more ideas may surface that reveal to you surprising ways that a second home can save you money.

My family went on several camping trips up and down the east coast when I was a young child. At the end of the trip my parents would often ask us kids what our favorite part was. Was it the roller coaster park? Kayaking down the river? Hiking up the mountain? Much to their dismay, our answer was usually something like "roasting marshmallows" or "jumping on the air mattress." The moral of the story: If you have young children you don't need to take time off from work or plan expensive vacations for them to have a great time and build lasting memories.  One of the best ways to mix things up at home and spend time with your children is to camp out in your own backyard. Here are some fun ideas to include in your backyard camping trip. My two pieces of advice before you start:
  1. Get the kids involved in the planning to build their excitement
  2. Leave the electronics in the house; it will take away from the camping experience

Backyard camping ideas

  • Be prepared. Make sure you have everything you need outside before you start your "trip." Bug spray, sunscreen, food, fire fuel, sticks for roasting marshmallows, etc. You don't want to have to keep running inside the house.
  • Make your tent a fortress. With blankets, pillows, and poles (like a broom or rake) you can build a vast fortress inside your tent that the kids will love.
  • Fun and games. Unless you live on a mountain you probably aren't going to be doing much hiking to fill the daylight hours. Plan outdoor games that are age-appropriate for your kids. Examples: bean bag toss, I-Spy, bird-watching with binoculars.
  • Rough it. Don't take any shortcuts when it comes to camping at home. To you it might seem like a pain to have to bring everything outside, but for your kids it's exciting. Set up the tent together, build your fireplace and fire together, cook food outside together, and so on. Not only is it a fun way to teach your kids outdoor skills, but it will also be good preparation for your next real camping trip.
  • Explore. We take the little things for granted. Odds are your backyard has some small parts of nature that you've never even noticed. Have your kids collect leaves, flowers, and whatever else they find and make a collage.
  • Night time fun. The most exciting part of camping for children comes when the sun goes down. It's usually a time they're not allowed to be outside, so they'll probably be full of energy. Take advantage of that by playing games with flashlights. Flashlight tag is fun, but if your child is very young you might want to do a flashlight hunt instead. Hide an object in your yard somewhere while you and your child try to find it with flashlights.
  • Food and fires. Cooking on a fire is very exciting for kids. The classic example is making S'mores, but if that's too messy or you can't have a campfire where you live, you can always cook on a grill. Put some marshmallows and chocolate inside an ice cream cone to make less-messy S'mores cones.