The Spring Guide to Your Home
It’s that time of year again. The crocuses are popping yellow banners of joy.
And you are hopefully taking a moment to revel in the sunbeam streaming brightly into your home and imagine all the ways you will shower it with love this spring. Perhaps you will add an outdoor kitchen, bid adieu to your formal living room, plant a meditation garden, or honor this year’s Pantone Color of the Year blend by painting your flower boxes Serenity with splashes of Rose Quartz.
Personal preference will dictate how you romance your residence. Whether you wish to embark on a home renovation project or delve deep into a detoxing home cleanse, we have assembled a team of experts to guide you.
Plan Your Project
April showers bring May flowers as well as lots of homeowners who are excited about the prospect of home renovation projects. Margie Kaitz, Co-CEO of National Lumber, offers a few tips to begin the process:
Good planning is the key to a successful home project.
- Research products
- Find out if a building permit is required
- Large projects usually require inspections
Expect to be inconvenienced and figure out how to adapt
- Use quality materials that will stand the test of time.
- Select paints and stains that protect as well as beautify your home.
- Consider the amount of maintenance that will be needed over time; low-maintenance options are available for many materials. For example, think about replacing wood planks on your existing deck with a low maintenance option.
- Cabinetry construction is different between brands and price ranges; don’t take shortcuts with the foundation elements of your kitchen or bath.
- Good workmanship is essential
- Unless you have the necessary skills, hiring a professional is usually the best way to guarantee a successful project.
- Homeowners must check references and licensing of any contractor before beginning a project.
How do you begin a remodel? Jane Grover, Architect at Concord Lumber Companies, tells prospective clients that they do not need to know all the answers up front. “They simply need to know how they live and what they like. It is the job of the professional designer to put the pieces together. I guide most people to the website Houzz.com. Here they will find six million photos of finished residential projects. They can start idea books of individual photos with attached notes that might read, ‘love the lights,’ or ‘nice paint color,’ or ‘big open space.’ These idea books help convey the expectation of taste and quality to the design and construction professional,” says Grover.
Explore New Trends
What are the latest trends in home remodels? Jane Grover sees the top housing trends, in order of scale:
- A first-floor master bedroom suite/in-law apartment/aging-in-place. Many homeowners are taking in their aging parents as an alternative to retirement communities. There needs to be both an inclusion and a separation of the living spaces. Some homeowners are also planning for the future by including a first floor master bedroom in their design. This can be a second master bedroom.
- Elimination of the formal living room and dining room. It used to be that people added on to the back of their houses to gain family rooms connected to kitchens. The front of the house was abandoned. Now the front of the house might have an office, mudroom, master bedroom, or flex-space.
- Outdoor living, such as terraces, fire pits, outdoor showers, screened rooms, and outdoor lighting are adding to the overall living space of the house. These elements are an extension of the indoor living spaces.
- Large master showers with multiple shower fixtures—gone are the cumbersome jetted whirlpools in favor of simple, elegant, stand-alone soaking tubs.
- Black window sashes add both elegance and sophistication, but can be “dressed-down” to look fantastic on a farm house.
Live Inside Out
Sean Bilodeau, President of Acorn Tree and Landscaping, notes that people are moving outdoors and creating outdoor living spaces such as outdoor kitchens, edible landscape gardens, meditation gardens, and natural, low maintenance chemical free landscapes.
How can you keep your landscape lush? “The best way to keep your landscape healthy in the summer is to prepare it in the spring. Then in the summer monitoring water—too much watering can be as detrimental as no water. Monitor for insect and disease infestations on plants and turf,” says Bilodeau, who gives five simple tips for springtime maintenance:
- Prune winter damage on shrubs and trees
- Clean excess mulch out of your plant beds
- Make a plan to rejuvenate plant beds
- Remove overgrown shrubs—transplant existing shrubs
- Plant new shrubs and perennials to
enhance the landscape
More and more New England homeowners are creating beautiful outdoor living spaces. Custom backyard swimming pools, the perfect sanctuary away from hectic lifestyles, are often at the top of the list. “Now is the perfect time to install a pool so your family can enjoy swimming this summer,” says Ed Andrews, president of Pools by Andrews. He notes that there are ongoing advances in energy-efficient water filtration and heating systems and lighting, as well as technology that allows the pool environment to be controlled through a smart phone. Spas continue to trend as an integral part of a complete aquascape experience. New and improved concrete paving stone materials offer variety, beauty and durability in pool patios, while natural paving stones such as bluestone, travertine and granite provide a timeless, classic alternative.
Be aware of how Mother Nature will affect your outdoor space. “Be sure to select a product that is specifically designed to withstand the specific climate elements for the region. For New England that’s such things as wide temperature swings (hello 60 degree February day followed by blizzard!) snow, ice, rain, and wind. Residing provides resale value to your home that is often overlooked. Think about when you last shopped for a home, did you potentially pass over a home because the outside appearance wasn’t to your standards? There could have been a beautiful kitchen in there, but that home missed on it’s one chance to make a good first impression,” says Mike DiRico, Area Sales Manager New England for James Hardie Building Products.
“There is a lot of useful information out there, but be careful to choose your sources wisely. Unfortunately some sources are out for personal gain instead of being helpful. Look for trusted sources like Angie’s List and Good Housekeeping and see what they have to say about the products. Read the fine print! Lots of product warranties might look good, but once you dive in they aren’t what they seem. Lastly, choose a trusted contractor. This is an investment in your home which is often your largest asset,” says DiRico.
Super Clean Your Spaces
Whoever coined the phrase spring cleaning must have known that spring is an ideal time to take cleaning to a new level. “People don’t clean or vacuum enough,” says Neal Steinly, of Tidal Rescue, also known as ‘The House Doctor.’ “Remember to clean your attic space. Mold can easily grow in your attic. April is a good time to check for moisture and do a cleaning with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum,” says Steinly. He also advises homeowners who have adverse reactions when going into certain rooms in their homes to undergo an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test to identify the cause of the reaction so it can be remedied.
Whether you’re are renovating a home or cleaning a closet, spring is the perfect time to “stop and smell the roses” and express gratitude for our homes as the weather finally improves.
A perfect way to welcome spring is to create a neat nest. David Townsend of Closet Factory sees a general movement of people wanting to get organized whether it’s their home office, kitchen pantry or closet space, especially in the city where people are trying to operate out of smaller spaces. “The new systems have a much more modern look to them that are sleeker and a little more angular and linear. Floating shelves are also a great way to organize,” says Townsend. •
Check out the following landscape and home experts for your spring updates:
Acorn Tree and Landscaping, Inc.
Concord Lumber Corporation
James Hardie Building Products
Pools by Andrews