Jim Sheridan | Burlington Real Estate, Billerica Real Estate, Reading Real Estate


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Every yard needs a fun and functional picnic table. Your outdoor table may be used to hold food, plants, craft projects, beverages and more. But, regardless of its function, it needs to look nice, and it needs to fit into your outdoor decorating theme. We have tons of ideas on turning your plain-Jane picnic table into a functional focal point. 

Add a Drink Holder

One of the most popular projects on Pinterest, adding a trough to hold drinks and ice to your wooden picnic table is an easy weekend project you can do yourself. You may have to cut and move braces beneath the table, but basically, it's just a matter of taking out the center board of your tabletop and replacing it with a length of capped and sealed rain gutter. Once attached, you can use the trough to hold drinks and ice, or it can become a pretty planter down the length of your picnic table. 

Use Glow-in-the-Dark Paint

Every picnic table needs a little something to protect it from the elements, especially if yours is made of wood. Applying a few coats of paint is recommended, and if you use outdoor paint that glows in the dark, you'll add a fun functionality to an otherwise blah piece of outdoor furniture. When your table glows in the dark, it's the perfect centerpiece for your nighttime parties. 

Apply Art Resin

Art resin is a newly popular technique for turning surfaces, such as bar and picnic table tops, into slick and shiny surfaces. You'll need to brush up on this technique by watching an online tutorial, and you'll need supplies such as art resin, gloves, spreaders, and cardboard. You can even embed objects like coins into the crevices and knotholes of your picnic table beneath the shiny resin. 

Create a Mosaic

Did you know you could turn your existing picnic table into an exotic work of art simply by covering the top with a colorful mosaic? Plane the top of your wooden table first, to make it nice and smooth, then attach a sub-surface, such as plywood, to act as the base for your mosaic. Turn chipped and broken teacups, pottery and dinnerware into colorful tiles by breaking them carefully with a hammer inside a plastic bag (wear googles!). Use tile adhesive to adhere them to your tabletop in a pretty design, and grout and seal them afterward just like you would tile. The result is a colorful, eclectic tabletop that's fit for the home of an artist. 

Picnic tables don't have to be bland to serve their purpose. Use these tips and others like them to make every cookout much more enjoyable. 


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Most everyone would love to gain some extra room, especially those in small homes with limited space options. Here are three home interior DIY projects to help you maximize your space.

1. Transform a Closet into Workspace

If you’re lacking the room for a home office, transform one of your closets into a mini-office. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to give yourself a dedicated workspace.

  • Remove the door and hinges.
  • Empty the closet and give it a good wipe down.
  • Disassemble hanging rods.
  • Touch up or repaint the closet’s interior.
  • Add two to three shelves—a deep one to serve as your desktop and additional ones for storage.

If you prefer a traditional desk and your closet is wide enough, slide one in and eliminate the need for a deep shelf.

2. Mount Your TV

Modern styles are all about minimalism and entertainment centers don’t exactly fit this look. Besides, media consoles take up a ton of floor space. An easy way to reclaim this useful space is to mount your TV to the wall or above a fireplace.

  • Choose a mount for your TV—this will be a tilting mount, low-profile mount or full-motion mount.
  • Select a location and determine the best viewing height—be sure you have sufficient outlets and access to cable connections you need.
  • Cut out a piece of TV-sized cardboard or poster board and tape it to the wall to get a “visual” of your TV’s position.
  • Locate a stud and mark it. (If mounting to a fireplace use masonry anchors.)
  • Before you drill, use a level to ensure the wall mount is even.
  • Drill holes, attach your mount and secure it so it doesn’t collapse.
  • Add a cord cover to hide unsightly wiring.

Media consoles were useful before flat-screen TVs became the norm, but most people today can easily get by with a wall-mount and a shelf to hold cable boxes, media players or game consoles. If you need additional storage, add a small table with cabinet space.

3. Build Window Seats

Adding window seats to any room eliminates the need for extra seating on the floor, gives a cozy look and offers additional storage space.

  • Buy two wall cabinets about 30 inches wide by 15 inches high. You can purchase new or, to scale back costs, check secondhand stores, such as Habitat for Humanity’s Restore, for used cabinetry.
  • Use plywood (2x4 or 2x6) to serve as a perimeter base, nailing these pieces of wood into the floor to create a toekick. Be sure your outline’s depth is large enough to hold your cabinets, and leave a little extra room to pull your cabinets away a few inches from the wall beneath the window to save space for your seat.
  • Place cabinets on top of the toekick and clamp the two cabinets together. Be sure your screws are strong enough to hold the units together.
  • Clamp and screw cabinets to the toekick.
  • Place hardwood plywood on top of the cabinets to widen your seating area. (Sand and paint, if necessary.)
  • Add cushions and pillows.

Tip: Be sure to avoid positioning your seat over an HVAC vent or baseboard because you don’t block out your heat or A/C.

If you’re working with some tight spaces, you can better utilize it by transforming your existing space.



 Photo by Viktor Birkus via Pixabay

Everyone covets the annual HGTV Dream Home that's given away each year as part of a sweepstake. But the sad reality is that few winners are ever really able to take possession of their grand home and actually live out their happily-ever-after. There are, however, ways to pick and choose which features of these elegant, over-the-top homes you'd like to try for yourself. That's why we've compiled a list of four luxury home features inspired by HGTV's 2020 Dream Home Sweepstakes. Which one will you try? 

1. Golf-Cart Parking Bay

Because it's located on Hilton Head Island, this year's dream home includes an extra bay built on to the detached garage. It's the perfect size and space to park a golf cart, which the locals use to get from place to place. According to Homeguide, the average cost to build garage space is $49 per square foot. To comfortably park a golf cart, plan on building a space that's at least 7-feet wide by 15-feet long. This should cost somewhere in the vicinity of $5,145.

2. Industrial-Sized Ceiling Fan

The dream home features a ceiling fan that's 10-feet wide to help keep the air circulating in a living space that features comfortable seating around a coffee table and fireplace. To purchase your own industrial-sized ceiling fan, you may first need to fortify your ceiling support and your wallet. Even a lightweight, aluminum version weighs a whopping 77 pounds and costs around $4,400. 

3. Multiple Porches on Each Level

Like outdoor space? Have you considered adding multiple porches to your existing home? This year's dream home has a porch that runs the length of a single level, completely screened in. There's a porch on the floor above, too. Each features dreamy sliding glass doors that allow guests to transition easily from inside to out. According to Improvenet, expect to spend around $30,000 to construct a wrap-around porch with full screening. 

4. Carriage House Garage Doors

They're made of insulated steel, but the double garage doors on the dream home are crafted to look like wooden carriage house doors of old. They're a perfect blend of beauty and energy-efficient construction that you're going to love if you value architectural appeal but don't want to sacrifice your energy bills. Doors such as these start at around $2,000. 

Small investments add up to big home improvements. And, over time, you can design your own dream home, using just the best and most functional features of this year's TV version -- features that work for you and your family to save you time or money. And if they also bring you joy and relaxation, that's a bonus. 

 

 

 



A jumbo mortgage refers to a high-priced loan, usually meant for a luxury property. And while this loan may have once been reserved for the millionaire investors of the world, it may not be as exclusive as you think. If you're interested in what it takes to apply, it helps to understand how they work and who the best candidates are. 

A Moving Target 

To be considered for a jumbo loan, it must be above a certain minimum. However, this amount will differ based on where you purchase your home. The minimum for a jumbo loan in Beverly Hills will be much higher than the minimum in Kansas City due to the discrepancies between median home prices. These values will rise and fall depending on the local economy and average property appraisals, so buyers will need to do a little research into their city's criteria.  

Lender Terms 

Jumbo mortgages are available in a variety of options, similar to a conventional loan. Unsurprisingly, lenders tend to be a little pickier when it comes to who they approve and who they reject. A single application may go through several underwriters to arrive at the final answer. They're looking for exceptionally high credit scores and equally low debt-to-income ratios. 

It's the lender who dictates the exact terms of the loan, though historically, jumbo loans have had higher interest rates. However, it should be noted that this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Interest rates have been known to come down based on the caliber of people who apply. The more qualified applicants, the less overall risk the lender assumes. 

In addition, the jumbo mortgage minimum down payment has been relaxed to just 5% to allow a more level playing field (especially for people in high-priced markets). Despite this though, most lenders are still looking for at least 15% on a jumbo loan. Shopping around can make it easier to find a lender with reasonable terms for a jumbo loan. 

Structuring the Loan 

Adjustable-rate jumbo loans are available, but they are not the ideal choice for homeowners unless they know they'll be selling in the very near future. To avoid paying more interest than necessary, experts recommend a fixed-rate over 15 years.  

There may be a lot of fine print to a jumbo loan, but lenders are largely ensuring that the homeowner has enough in stable assets (e.g., property, savings, etc.) to cover their mortgage even if they fall on hard times. Knowing the terms can make it easier to prepare, apply, and be approved for the home of your dreams. 

 


Photo by SuperJHS via Pixabay

In the modern home, nothing combines practicality and style like a cubby bookshelf. Children can keep books or toys organized. They set the perfect backdrop for a display of photos, figurines, delicate dishes or other collectibles.

And if you size them right, just add some baskets to turn some of your shelves into drawers. Here's how to create a cubby bookshelf from scratch.

Plan your Shelves

There's no reason to recreate the wheel. You can find precise diagrams online that help you understand what you're going for. You can then adapt these plans to fit your space. 

For our guide, we'll create nine same size cubes each one x one x one foot. But if your skill is more advanced, you might choose the alternate larger and smaller cubbies both to fit different types of items and because it adds visual appeal.

Gather Supplies

You'll need:

  • A-1 red oak plywood (One 3/4" 4' X 8') - This product is more expensive. But it's high-quality. It comes in many hardwood shades. You may need to go to a lumber yard to find A-1 red oak plywood, but it's worth it. Alternatively, you can use 3/4 pine and treat it.
  • 1/4" plywood for the back
  • Banding veneers (around 25 ft) 
  • Clamps
  • Pocket hole screws
  • Wood plugs that match
  • Wood glue
  • Tung oil
  • Drill
  • Table saw - a manual saw could work. But you'll need a lot of elbows grease to accomplish it. *Pro tip* Check around with friends to see if you can borrow before buying a table saw for this one project.
  • Eye/Ear protection when using power tools

Measure & Cut your A-1 Plywood 

Measure and mark lightly with a pencil. This mark is on the cut line, so it shouldn't be seen on the finished product. You need:

  • A top 1'X3'
  • A bottom 1'X3'
  • Two sides 1'X 2'10.5"
  • Three shelves 1'X 2' 10.5. Note that each shelf and the top need two dadoes (grooves) where you'll slide in the dividers
  • Six dividers 1' X varies. This depends on the depth of your grooves

Coat each piece with two to three coats of tung oil for extra luster. And let it dry completely, eight hours between coats.

Piece the Shelf Together

Take your time. Glue and clamp one side at a time minus the dividers. Get some help if needed. It can be tricky. Let the glue dry before drilling and inserting screws for more permanent stabilization.

Now the dividers should slide right in. Use wood plugs to cover up your hardware.

Add Finishing Touches

Attaching band veneers on cut edges gives the shelf a professional, finished look that many DIY projects lack. Generally, you'll simply iron these on carefully. Add the back and secure your shelf to studs. Cubby bookshelves will look like a jungle gym to some children, so take this precaution if children ever visit.

And that's how to create a cubby bookshelf. For more fun and DIY-friendly home projects, follow our blog.




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