Blog :: 2015

Which Kitchen Are You?

 

Upgrading your kitchen is a lot like buying a new car . . . we're not always in the market, but we're always looking.

A good kitchen can not only serve as a great tool to bring together a delicious meal, but perhaps more importantly it can bring your guests and parties to the whole next level!

Here are a few different layouts to explore for whatever type of home or lifestyle you're looking to build (or reimagine).

1) The One Wall Kitchen Motto: I like my kitchens how I like my chocolate -- hidden.

one-wall-kitchen-design

Commonly found in narrow houses,lofts and studio apartments, the one-wall kitchen is great for those of us not looking to make the kitchen the focal-point of the home. While counter-space can be a hot commodity in these layouts, the one wall kitchen can be useful for anyone looking to maintain an open floor plan and entertain as many as possible for a night in.

2) The Galley Kitchen Motto: Get the ****** out of my kitchen.

Galley-kitchen-design

This is a great layout for those of us who consider ourselves "efficient cookers." If you find yourself bouncing between oven, range, microwave etc. without missing a beat, the Galley Kitchen is perfect for you. With the two parallel walls, you can easily use both counter and appliance seemingly at the same time. One of the large downfalls however, is limited standing room and a closed off appearance. While they're great for efficiency they're not ideal for your social butterflies. The Galley is great for lone-wolf cooks who need their space.

3) The U Shape Kitchen
Motto: Feel free to look, but please keep your arms and legs outside the exhibit at all times.

U-shape-kitchen-design

The U-Shape kitchen is another single-cooker kitchen. Much like the One Wall and the Galley, it's design is suited for a cook who needs his/her own space rather than welcoming all the guests into their lair.

One downside to this layout is that depending on where you like your sink, it can be difficult to get it next to your dishwasher with the limited wall space. The nice benefit to The U-Shape, is the approachability it presents while allowing foot traffic to flow outside of the cooking area. You can move around and do your thing with a clear line in the sand. I like to call this layout The Lion's Den…hence the motto.

4) The U Shape Kitchen with Island Motto: Why don't I cook, clean and entertain . . . and you can take care of the dog.

U-shape-with-island-kitchen-design

For the social cookers who are also likely to freshen up the hors d'oeuvres selection every few minutes. This layout allows you to either put your stove on the island and use the perimeter as pure counter space, or to use the island as a seating area. Great for those chatty cooks who like to entertain while they cook and toss their guests some snacks.

5) The G Shape Kitchen Motto: I can rest when I'm dead . . . or when this party is over. I'll likely do both.

The U-Shape kitchen with a small dose of steroids, a lot like installing a turbo system on an award winning race-horse.

This layout is for those cooks who need to maximize every inch of kitchen space and entertain. Rather than having a gap in between your island and counter, this layout adjoins the two for that little bit more surface space. Very efficient and still allowing you to throw some food to the seals every once in a while.

G-shape-kitchen design
5) The L Shape Kitchen Motto: Keep going, I'm listening!

As traditional as it gets. The L-shape is good for multi-cook homes or for cooks willing to welcome guests into their domain for chatter or wine (likely the latter). The only downside to the L-shape is without the island, you will be facing away from the action while you cook/cut/drink begrudgingly by the sink.  You also lose a bit of counter space, for standing room. The L-shape is a versatile layout which will look best in your loft homes, but can easily be rocked in any style of home. But be prepared to be hovered over.

L-shape-kitchen-design.jpg
5) The L Shape Kitchen with Island Motto: Face to island: "Of course, please tell me about your son's gold medal!" Back to island: *restrained angry mumbling*

Take the L-Shape and give it a bit more accessibility, and you've got your L-Shape with Island. With the island, you're able to use a bit more counter space, and have some quicker access to the rest of the home. This layout is great for those of us cooks who want to engage with guests a bit more, while maintaining a safe-zone for any emotional escape you may need. You've got a decent amount of counter space and the ability to cook/entertain on the island. This is a good layout again for those of us who are in a multi-cook home.

L-shape-with-island-kitchen-design

Use this as a guide when choosing your next kitchen, and drop us a line for any hidden gems/tips/secrets you've found useful in your kitchen layout!

All kitchen layout images courtesy of kitchens.com, a great resource for design and product information. Check them out here:

A Great "Staycation" Home

Home is for living. A place to relax and unwind after a busy work day. Here you can lounge in a comfy chair and read the Times, sip a cool drink on the screen porch at twilight watching the swallows dip and dive in the garden, shoot pool in the Great Room with a close friend and star gaze from the hot tub with your loved one.

The Danger of Reverse Mortgages

Understanding Reverse Mortgages

Die Gangschaltung

These days it's more and more difficult to secure your future, specifically in regards to your retirement and the funds that go along with it. So many companies offer an out with tempting advertising, one of the most appealing being the "Reverse Mortgage." While we're not here to brand them as the poison apple, it's important that you understand the fine print before you sign up for one. A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) study found that a number of Americans failed to fully grasp the consequences of the Reverse Mortgage, one of the largest of which can be the loss of their home.

According to their June 2015 study: "A Closer Look at the Reverse Mortgage Advertisements and Consumer Risks" many borrowers are swayed into a number of misconceptions with taking out a Reverse Mortgage. We're here to outline just a few of them.

The first misunderstanding is that a Reverse Mortgage is not a loan. It is!! Like many loans, they come with a stack of requirements. A few of which are that you maintain your home (otherwise it's value could be depleted which in turn depletes the value of the equity you've just given up).

"Reverse mortgage borrowers are responsible for several requirements, including paying property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and property maintenance. Failing to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that results in foreclosure. "

Another misconception is that these lenders are associated with the government and misunderstand the involvement of the US Government in this program. A number of advertisements use 'American' symbols such as the eagle, scroll etc. to gain trust and convince borrowers that these solutions are government mandated such as Medicare. Make no mistake, these are lenders who require that borrowers uphold the loan agreement, and require that proceeds are repaid with interest.

The false imagery to closely associate lenders with the government can lead borrowers to think they are not meant to repay the loans since they are mandated rather than offered.

"The marketing of reverse mortgage proceeds as "tax free" unquestionably contributed to some consumers' confusion that reverse mortgages are not loans. "

Since you are required to repay these loans, it should go with out saying that they carry interest rates, but many Americans are lead to believe otherwise. Many of these lenders conveniently use fine print to state that they come with compound interest rates on the proceeds of that very loan, in exchange for the equity you hold in your home. Some of these ads even omit the interest rates which leads to an even larger misconception.

"Many consumers we spoke with did not understand that reverse mortgages are loans with fees, compounding interest, and repayment terms unless they saw an interest rate explicitly stated in the ad."

The Reverse Mortgage can be a useful tool for those of us over the age of 62, but it's important that you understand all the details and read the fine print to avoid dealing with the unwanted consequences. For a more complete list, take a look at the report in more depth "A Closer Look at the Reverse Mortgage Advertisements and Consumer Risks"

Beyond the BBQ

Outdoor living has improved so much since I was a child. Back then (don't ask when), most yards in Massachusetts had a lawn, swing set, foundation plants, slate or brick patio with functional all-weather furniture - remember what a picnic table was? Today's yards  feature outdoor rooms that are comfortable, well-designed and function for a complete outdoor life, day and night. Once just a simple grill for burgers, chicken and hot dogs has given way to huge grills with rotisseries, smokers and elaborate pizza ovens. Check these out and make space for yours.

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Finally - It's really Spring

After this brutal winter there is definitely a lot of clean-up to do around the yard, along the driveway and walkways and the battered perimeter of the foundation plants. We are New Englanders, strong, resilient, un-broken, so let's get to it and make our outdoor spaces welcoming to the former winter warriors. WE NEED IT.

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Sign of the Times

ny-yankees-lettersAnyone who has ever needed to balance work and pleasure, knows that the best way to do it is through your hobbies. Take up a new sport, learn to paint, go fishing, buy 10-foot-tall sign from the old Yankee Stadium. What?

Ok, the last one was a little on the odd side. Unless of course, you're Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson. Jackson purchased the letters back in 2008 along with his old locker room, and a few rows from the bleachers where he placed three consecutive  home runs in the 1977 World Series (which he won with the Yankees).

But wait! There's more! Jackson is putting the letters up for sale through Sotheby's. (We're working around the clock to get the letters displayed in one of the Barrett SIR storefronts).

The letters will be sold for an estimated $300,000-$600,000, which is great news for those of us who have both, half a million dollars to spend, and 1400 square feet of wall space to kill.

The auction takes place April 1st at 8 pm. Hmmm just imagine what a piece of Fenway would fetch . . .

Highlighting the Unexpected

Much of the trending home decor I see leans toward simple lines and spare palettes. Using large areas of neutral tones accented with punches of strong color and pattern. Another trend seems to be highlighting unexpected elements and the use of strong color for ceiling paints. I love this unexpected color for the intricate moulding.

Take a look at these examples of prominently colored ceilings: