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Posts Tagged ‘Home preferences’

Your Favorite Sofa Material?

Not only is this question about understanding consumer preferences and trends, it’s also admittedly a plea for help…. Over the years, I have always bought upholstered sofas – those you would find at Calico Corners, Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, for example.  But now I have three cats (and a dog too) who claw, claw my couches to kingdom come, and I’m at my wit’s end. It’s not the hair I mind, it’s the destruction of the couches. What can I do about this? Or maybe even better – what kind of couches can I buy that my cats won’t destroy? Suede? Leather? Microfiber? Other materials?

I have heard that leather can be more scratch-resistant, and I know that they are also great for kids with allergies. But I’ve never had a leather sofa, and so I am not used to the look. And isn’t suede super expensive? I certainly love the look of it though. I’m hearing that microfiber could be the solution to the problem, and yet it seems that the options are limited in terms of the couch’s look and design (think solid colors or basic patterns).

What are your thoughts on the subject? What is your favorite sofa material without adding in the complications of pets, children, allergies, etc.? And what do you recommend if you do have those complications? For example, if you are living in a jungle with animals that love nothing more than to scratch, scratch, scratch (like I am)? Is there a sofa option that is practical and beautiful at the same time? Or when it comes right down to it, do you ultimately have to sacrifice one for the other (beauty for practicality)? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or on the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

Outdoor Fire Pit or Fireplace?

Outdoor entertaining space has become more and more popular over the years and for more and more months of the year. Especially in our chilly New England towns of Weston, Wellesley and Wayland, for example, it is now commonplace to convene outside into the late hours of the evening in front of an outdoor fire pit or fireplace. In fact, many of the higher-end, newly constructed homes feature the option of having an outdoor fire pit or fireplace. Given all this, it begs the question – which outdoor fire choice would be your preference?

Just for a brief background, a fire pit, as defined by Wikipedia, “can vary from a pit dug in the ground to an elaborate gas burning structure of stone, brick, and metal. The common feature of fire pits is that they are designed to contain a fire and prevent it from spreading.” Generally fire pits are low-lying so they don’t impede a particular view of the property, and sometimes they can be portable units…. We are all fairly familiar with the concept of an outdoor fireplace, but to quote Wikipedia, “An outdoor fireplace is a place for building fires outside of the home. Similar in construction to an indoor fireplace, an outdoor fireplace is usually added to a stone, brick, or concrete patio. It often consists of a firebox and a chimney. As with indoor fireplaces, an outdoor fireplace requires cleaning and maintenance to keep it looking and working at its best.” Furthermore, an outdoor fireplace is generally much more of a sizable structure than the fire pit and definitely cannot be moved.

Cost is a consideration when it comes to which method of outdoor fires you choose. To give you some perspective, when I searched fire pits online, Home Depot had them starting at less than $100. Outdoor fireplaces, on the other hand, started at almost $2,000.  I know for me, the choice is simple. While the outdoor fireplaces can be gorgeous works of stone and masonry, I would always opt for the less expensive, low-lying, smaller-sized and often portable fire pit option. The fire pit is less of an investment in more ways than one, especially from a price and structure perspective, with a similar fabulous effect. But that’s just me….

What are your thoughts? Do you have a preference when it comes to outdoor fire pits and fireplaces? If so, which do you prefer and why? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or on the real estate market in WestonWellesleyWayland and the surrounding towns, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

A Finished Lower Level or Third Floor?

A finished lower level or third floor – which is your preference? These days, many homeowners have finished areas beyond the traditional first and second floors of their home. And in our neck of the woods, most people and builders tend to finish the lower level rather than the third floor or attic space. That being said, some homes don’t have basements. And older homes, for example, often have small basements with large areas of crawl space. On the other hand, some homes don’t have much in the way of third floor or attic space and/or the roof line doesn’t allow for third floor space to be finished. But if you didn’t have any restrictions, and you could equally finish both spaces, which would you finish – your lower level or your third floor?

From my perspective, there are several pros to finishing your lower level. First, there is often more workable space on the lower level than on the third floor which can be plagued with a lower ceiling height and roof line restrictions. The lower level is also closer to the living areas of the house where we spend the majority of our time, and so it can be more accessible than a third floor. And because lower levels are usually underground with less natural light, they are ideal for media rooms, which are quite in vogue these days. Not only this, but think about the “man cave.” These are just not conducive to being located on the lighter and brighter upper levels of the house. Same with the temperature-regulated wine cellars of today – they are perfectly housed on the lower level. The other factor is that finishing the lower level doesn’t add to a home’s square footage (unless the lower level is walkout), and so many builders will finish this space and not run into problems with the town vis-a-vis square footage restrictions. That’s why almost all of the newly-constructed homes feature finished space on the lower level rather than the third floor.

And now looking at it from the other side, there are also advantages to finishing your third floor and attic space. Probably the biggest pro is the amount of natural light on the higher level. You can have full windows with loads of sunlight streaming in. The third floor is, without a doubt, lighter and brighter. Another appealing factor is that the third floor doesn’t usually have the water issues that lower levels can have. And if your teens or others are looking for a way to be slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of the house, the third floor space is the perfect choice. And think of the gorgeous views and heightened perspective that a finished attic can offer – absolutely breathtaking….

In my two homes in Weston, MA, I have had finished space on the lower level mainly because it was pre-existing and because finishing the third floor wasn’t an option without doing major renovations to the houses. In my family’s house in Nantucket, MA (a.k.a. my dream house), the basement was an old, dark and dank space that was not ideal for finishing. But the third floor was beautifully completed with three bedrooms, a full bathroom and a ladder up to a phenomenal widow’s walk. And so I have personally experienced both kinds of finished space and can clearly see the pros and cons to both….

What are your thoughts on the subject? All things being equal, would you prefer to finish space on the lower level or third floor? And why is this your preference? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or on the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

Buying a House with a Pool: Keep it or Fill it in?

To keep the pool or fill it in – that is the question? And I can’t wait to hear from those of you who have faced this question – and ensuing decision – during the home-buying process. I’ve never been in this particular situation myself, and so I don’t have my own personal experience from which to draw. And even as a real estate agent, I have seen buyers vacillate on the answer to this question, and it seems to depend mainly on these four practical considerations….

1. The New England Weather - One of the first things that comes to mind in contemplating this question is our New England weather. Honestly, the most we can expect to realistically use a pool is for about four months of the year (June, July August, September) – maybe a bit longer if we have an early spring (less likely) or a late summer (more likely). We’re not living in Florida, Texas or California where the warm, sunny days far outnumber the cool, cloudy days and where the pool therefore could be used most of the days of the year. This point is well made by checking out the chart linked here detailing the average temperatures for my hometown of Weston, MA as an example.

2. Safety/Ages of the Children – This is probably the most compelling issue that buyers consider, especially those with younger children. Babies, toddlers and inexperienced swimmers are the biggest safety risk and need to be closely monitored when there is a pool on the premises. That being said, Massachusetts has incorporated laws and rules, including mandatory fencing, gates, alarms, etc., for swimming pools to make sure that safety is maximized for pool owners. For those who have older children, the safety matter becomes less of an issue but is still something to consider when entertaining friends and their potentially young children.

3. Preferences and Lifestyle – Do you as the buyer like to swim, sit in the sun, entertain by the pool, etc.? Or do you prefer other activities in the warm weather, thus having no use or need for a pool? Does the presence of a pool just translate to wasted backyard space or space that could be better utilized to satisfy your desires and preferences? If the pleasures of having a pool don’t appeal to you, this can be reason enough to fill it in.

4. Costs – The final consideration is the cost to maintain and operate a pool. Filling in a pool is an expense, but it is far less costly than the operation and maintenance of a pool year after year. Implementing and following the safety mandates is also another expense that should be considered when analyzing the costs of having a pool.

So what are your thoughts on this subject? If you were buying a house with a pool, would you keep it or have it filled in? Similarly if you were building a new home, would you elect to have a pool in the backyard? And how would these four (and any other) considerations weigh in on your decision? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

Your Favorite Household Big-Time Item?

This is another just for fun topic that is similar but different from Your Favorite Home Purchase. In that blog, we were talking about smaller items – flowers, candles, pillows and the like – that you purchased for your home. Now we’re talking about the big kahuna – furniture, appliances, electronics, works of art, rugs – substantial items that add presence to your home. And these items may have been purchased, given as gifts or acquired some other way.

So back to the question at hand – what is your favorite household big-time item? Is it a sofa, armchair, flat-screened television, dishwasher drawer, lighting fixture or piece of art? And is it your favorite item in your house simply because you love the look or the way it adds to your home? Or does it have family significance or sentimentality? Or does it just make your life easier? And is your favorite household big-time item the most expensive purchase in your home – and therefore you love it in an extra special way? Or is it the opposite – something that you received as a gift or that was a real bargain?

When I ask myself this question, I vacillate between two things….  One is my “pair of men” andirons (one “man” is pictured here) that my father gave me from his Nantucket, MA home (my dream house as some of you may remember). These men are so unique and full of character; I love their proud stances and their one arm akimbo (remember learning that expression when you were growing up?).  Every time we have a fire in the winter, I smile when I look at them. They are so fun and serious at the same time.

The second is a gold, antique mirror (pictured here), also from my Dad’s Nantucket house, which now sits above my living room mantle. My Dad can’t be reached for comment at this time, so I don’t know all of the history of this item. (Honestly, he might not know either.) But I can tell you that this mirror has seen quite a bit of history in its long life; it has the markings of age in its gilded wood pieces, some of which are broken off, and in its mirror, which has that antiqued, somewhat worn reflective look.  The bottom line, though, is that it is gorgeous and adds tremendous presence to my living room. You can’t walk into this room and not take notice….

But at the end of the day, I think my “pair of men” really win the prize. I just love their stances and the uniqueness and flair that they add to my home, not to mention that they came from my Dad’s home in Nantucket and are therefore quite special to me…. What are your thoughts about your own big-time home items? Which one or several are your favorites? And why are they your favorites? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

What To Do With That Popcorn Ceiling?

This is a question I ask myself frequently…. My house in Weston, MA was built in 1972, and the bedrooms all have popcorn ceilings, defined by Wikipedia as “a spray-on or paint-on ceiling treatment used from the late 1950s into the 1980s in residential construction. Cheaper than painting, it could be quickly and easily sprayed on in new construction….”  It is “also known as an acoustic ceiling…as it was the standard for bedroom and residential hallways ceilings for its noise reduction qualities.”

When we bought this house 10 years ago, there were popcorn ceilings in all of the bedrooms on the second floor and the family room on the first floor. Since that time, I renovated the family room and therefore resurfaced the ceiling in that room, but the popcorn ceilings still exist in the four bedrooms. Hmmm – what to do?  When I asked my painter about re-surfacing the ceilings, he said it was expensive and a big mess. He also added that the “popcorn” on my ceilings was not really so bad (see photo of the ceiling with the pink walls). And he’s right – the ceilings aren’t so swirly. That being said, I have several friends who have redone the popcorn ceilings in their homes. In fact, they had such a distaste for them that they removed the popcorn before moving in.

From a re-sale perspective, popcorn ceilings aren’t usually the deciding factor about whether buyers purchase a home or not. At least I have never experienced that kind of response from buyers when I have showed them homes with swirly ceilings. They generally consider this aesthetic fix an easy one and one that is not super costly, especially vis-a-vis kitchen or bathroom renovations.

The truth is I am on the fence about this. When it comes right down to it, I would rather spend the money needed to fix the ceilings elsewhere – on a new vanity, appliance or piece of furniture for example. What are your thoughts? If you were about to repaint your bedrooms with popcorn ceilings, would you use that opportunity to resurface the ceilings or keep them as is? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett Williams (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

What To Do With That Perfectly-Perfect, Level and Expansive Backyard?

Sometimes you hit the jackpot, and you buy a house with a perfectly-perfect, level and expansive backyard…. The kind of backyard in which you can play a game of football or soccer with the family and neighbors, put in your own ice hockey rink for the winter, install a fun play set for the kids, display all kinds of tree and plant specimens, have lavish outdoor parties with all of your closest friends or simply just take in the beauty of its expansiveness on a daily basis. These backyard uses, however, assume that you want to keep your perfectly-perfect backyard as it is. But what if you don’t? What if you want to make some changes to your backyard so that you can use it for specific recreational purposes.  And so you install a tennis court, sports court or pool (of course this assumes that you don’t have a septic system located directly under your backyard). The bottom line is that the possibilities are endless however you choose to use and enjoy your perfectly-perfect backyard.

The answer to this question might change, however, when considered from a re-sale perspective, especially if you buy your home knowing that you will be selling it again in the very short term. The optimal sales objective is to have your home and land appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. You already know where I’m going with this….  And so a pool, for example, may not appeal to families with babies and toddlers. Similarly a tennis court may not appeal to those who don’t play tennis and a sports court may not appeal to empty nesters. This is all well and good – and true t00 – yet there is something to be said for enjoying your property just how you want no matter whether you plan to sell your home in two or 20 years….

From my own personal perspective, I am lucky enough to have an almost-perfect, level and expansive backyard.  The reason it’s almost-perfect rather than perfectly-perfect is because my septic system is located beneath it, and so my possibilities are limited….  But what about you?  What are your thoughts on this fun-to-ponder subject? Would you keep your perfectly-perfect backyard as it is because you simply love it that way not to mention that you’ll get the added benefit of appealing to the widest array of buyers as possible when you eventually sell your home? Or would you put in a sport court for your kids who are avid basketball players or a pool because your family loves to have neighborhood pool parties? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Williams (781-267-2844 or, to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

The Optimal Choice for Your Master Bathroom

As you know, I love, love your questions, feedback, comments, opinions and more.  And so a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to get the following question from a homeowner in the Wellesley/Weston area…. “Have you ever covered whether a master bathroom must have a jetted tub? When searching for my current home, I HAD to have a jetted tub because it represented to me what I didn’t have in my small starter home. The ‘forever’ homes seemed to have a master bath with a jetted tub. I have a nice tub in my master bathroom, but I never use it. And since space is limited, and I can’t just add a master shower to the existing master bathroom, I’m thinking about taking out the tub and putting in a shower. What do you think?”

From my perspective, there are two ways to look at this. The first is from a re-sale perspective. And then the answer is easy – keep the tub! And I say this because if you have the space for a tub, then you can likely add a hand-held or wall-mounted shower fixture and consequently have the 2-for-1 tub/shower option. Not only does this appeal to all buyers, it also appeals to all of those living in the household – females, males, adults, teenagers, young children and everyone in between. The other reason I say this is because when I show a house that doesn’t have a tub in the master bathroom and just has a shower, it can be a negative for some buyers, particularly for the women who like to end their day with a relaxing and stress-relieving “tub.” In addition, bathtubs are essential for bathing young children, and if the master bathtub is the only tub in the house, then I strongly suggest keeping it.  Otherwise when you go to sell your home, families with young children will not have a bathtub in which to bathe their little ones, which is problematic. And so for the reasons above, certain buyers will discount a property that only has a master shower because of the concessions they will have to make to their way of living.

The second way to look at this is a from a home enjoyment scenario. And then my answer is a bit different….  If you are going to live in your house for the next several years and never use the tub – or when you do use the tub, you think with increasing irritation how much more you would enjoy a luxurious shower – then you should probably just take out the tub and put in a great shower.  Or vice versa – take out the shower you loathe each time you take one and put in a great bathtub and relish your “tub” time. There’s something to be said for living in and enjoying the house that fits your way of life and preferences.

As an aside, I think that if we all had the space and resources – as well as the time and energy for that matter – we would all very likely want a luxurious bathtub as well as a separate steam-generating lush shower. But often this is not the case.  And when it’s not, my question for you is…which is the optimal choice for you – a master bathtub or shower? I can’t wait to hear….

Buying Your Next Home: Move Right In or Fix It Up?

When you imagine yourself buying your next home is it a “move-right-in” or a “fix-it-up” property? From my perspective as a real estate agent, I see the gamut of answers to this question…. Some people are incredibly busy with work, kids, activities, driving, technology and more that they don’t have a minute’s time to dedicate to renovating a “fix-it-up” home. And so they opt for the “move-right-in” home (like the brick colonial pictured here). Similarly, those who are relocating to the area generally have so much to deal with in transitioning to a plethora of new things that they often don’t want to saddle themselves with constant trips to Home Depot, endless decisions about which materials to use and determining which vendors are best tailored to their needs, preferences and budgets.

Yet there are others who think the best home that they can buy is a “fix-it-up” one (see the grey clapboard colonial pictured here) – a home on which they can make their mark. Why pay for someone else’s renovation which is not 100% to their liking? Instead, they will renovate using the colors, granites, moldings, etc. that they prefer.  This way the end product is exactly what they want – not what the family, who previously owned the house, wanted. But as you may know, this way of buying a home takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. And often it can end up costing more than a “move-right-in” house does.  Even though the buyers have likely gotten a good price on the “fix-it-up” house, once they’re done with all that they want to do, the price tag can ultimately be more.

And then there are those who are in the middle.  The house they buy is basically move right in – well, after they’ve painted and refinished the floors – but ultimately needs some updating of the kitchen and bathrooms.  My advice to these people is to live in the house and then over time, develop a plan for some of the updates based on their way of living in the space.

So where do you fit within this spectrum of buyers?  Are you one who prefers a “move-right-in” home without the hassles and unpredictable costs of renovating a home?  Or are you someone who loves nothing more than a “fix-it-up” home which results in an end product that is 100% tailored to your needs and desires? Or are you somewhere in the middle?  I can’t wait to hear….

Your Master Bedroom Preference: 1st or 2nd Floor?

Another which do you prefer question – which I just love.  They’re a great way to get your opinion and preferences, therefore also getting valuable insight into your minds and the trends of today (a.k.a. consumers/buyers).  As you can probably guess, this question really applies to those of you who own homes with second floors and can make a choice about where to locate your master bedroom. So in other words, we’re basically talking about colonials, capes, multi-levels and often contemporaries too. Even if you’ve bought a home and inherited a master bedroom that is not on your level of preference, with these types of homes, you can often make changes to the floor plan and room sizes and relocate the master to the floor of your choice. But those of you who own ranches don’t have much say in the matter; your master bedroom is generally on the first floor.

So back to the question at hand…. Which is your preference – having your master bedroom on the first or second floor?  In my humble opinion, the answer to this question probably depends on where are you are in the course of your life.  Are you single, a couple without children, a family with young or older children, an empty nester – the list of possibilities is endless?!  For those who are single, don’t have children or have older children, the preference for a master bedroom on the first floor or second floor is probably not earth-shattering – there is some flexibility there.  Though once the children come, and especially when they are young, parents seem to have a strong preference to all be on the same floor.  This generally means the second floor since that is where the bedrooms are traditionally located in a home with two stories.  On the other hand, when the children have moved out of the house and the parents are getting older and are having a harder time navigating stairs, the preference seems to be hands-down for a first-floor master bedroom (and as an aside, a garage on that same level as well).

From a re-sale perspective, the best way to look at this is what appeals to most buyers therefore increasing the number of buyers or buyer pool. And the predominance of buyers – at least in our neck of the woods in Weston, MA, Wellesley, MA and surrounding towns – are families with children.  And so what appeals most to these families are homes with bedrooms all on one floor, traditionally the second floor.  As mentioned above, families with older children are often willing to have their master bedroom on the first floor while their children are on the second floor or the lower level, but some are not willing to be separated.  It’s like the Venn diagram we learned about when we were young – the largest intersection of buyer preferences is for the master bedroom to be on the second floor with all of the other bedrooms.  Once you have bedrooms on different levels, buyers may have to make concessions about their preferences, which can result in their discounting the house and finding it less appealing.

These are my thoughts from a general perspective.  I know there are many other opinions about the ideal location for a master bedroom.  What are your thoughts?  Do you love having all of the bedrooms on the second floor or do you prefer having your master bedroom on the first floor thus having some separation from the kids or from the other bedrooms?  I can’t wait to hear….