Home Front: How to budget effectively for a bathroom remodel

The budget necessary to create the new bathroom of your dreams depends on several key factors. The first is the goal that you want to achieve. Are you looking to upgrade to increase the value of your home because you will be selling it in the near future? Is your goal to create a personal haven in an in-home spa where you can wash away the stresses of the day? Are you simply sick and tired of a dated fixtures, dulled grout and limited functionality?

The age of your home and previous improvements to the bathroom, if any, also effect budget. Our experience indicates that it is typically less costly to renovate a bathroom built in 2000 than it is to renovate one constructed in 1900. Typically more surprises arise in older homes as generally those homes may have been renovated multiple times already.

Jason Robie: Building a bigger backyard

By Jason Robie

My fondest memories of living in Rangeley, Maine, are hanging out with mom in the backyard and playing in the garden while she worked on the veggies. My least fond memory was getting stung by a bee in that very same garden.

We were fortunate to have a backyard big enough to produce some food and provide a little playground for my brother and I. But what if your backyard is limited by neighbors, fences or even your own stuff?

I want to explore a few options you have for making the most of your outdoor space. Since you can't push back the fence without creating a neighborhood land battle, let's look at what you can do with the space you do have.

One of the more important concepts to keep in mind when laying out or "accessorizing" your back yard is scale. Although a picnic table or patio table and chairs would be great, they likely don't make the most sense if they take up a big percentage of your yard area.

The same concepts apply from staging or outfitting a living room or bedroom. You want to be sure you are considering the size of the item in question (couch, bed, coffee table, picnic table, etc.) as it relates to the overall size of the space into which it is going.

In one of the first homes I ever rented, I got a screaming deal on a king sized bed. Once I got it home, I had to remove the door from the bedroom closet since the bed literally consumed the entire room and there was no room to open the closet. Scale was not the first thing on my mind at that time, but man I loved that bed.

Another great option, and one that will help you from going too big with your purchase, is taking the design flow diagonally. Rather than simply building the walkway or "flow" of the yard directly perpendicular to the back of the home, take it off at an angle.

This helps separate the yard into sections while creating the illusion of more space. I would also consider multiple diagonals while you are at it. Simply zigzag the walkway or path to a back corner of the lot to continue the illusion of space and create a more interesting flow.

You may immediately think that trees are out of the question with a small backyard, but you'd be mistaken. Of course a towering oak tree, unless it is already there, is not the best option for the space, but you do have alternatives.

A local landscaping friend of mine suggested the crape myrtle for small spaces. It offers summer flowers, fall colors and an overall attractive look. Adding a tree or two to a small space continues that concept of scale from above. Plus, you won't feel left out when your friends with large trees are raking this fall. You'll just be done in half the time.

While we're talking about going vertical, consider the same when adding flowers and plants to your small yard. The obvious choice is planters and flowerbeds on the ground, but there are loads of options when it comes to climbing greenery and creative planters that work in a vertical space.

These are not only great options for fences around the perimeter of the property, but make perfect dividers for sectioning off the yard's internal sections. If you run with the diagonal idea above, you could incorporate a fence of flowers to help solidify that path. It softens the border and is certainly more attractive than chain-link.

"Dividing up a small backyard is a great way to create the illusion of space and allows the homeowner to get creative with the sections," Badger Realty Agent Diane McGregor said. "If the yard is sectioned into some lawn, some patio, a small garden and a section of flowers, it feels more like a series of rooms and affords the owners far more options."

McGregor is right. Like a carnival funhouse, each new section of the yard is a new adventure for the senses. The homeowner and guests alike will appreciate the variety.

One of the biggest challenges for folks living in more metropolitan areas, even just busy downtown neighborhoods, is a lack of good soil and certainly the lack of space. The best way to work with that is by incorporating containers for your flowers and vegetables. The beauty of containers is you can bring in the best soil available and not have to worry about what is in your actual yard.

Containers are also a great way to bring flowers and veggies into a section of your backyard to help with nearly all of the concepts from above. They can help create divisions, paths and sections of your yard to help define it and bring added life and creativity.

Much like having a short driveway in the winter, having a small backyard is mostly a blessing. You have less maintenance and with the ideas presented here (along with some of your own) you have the ability to get creative with the space and give it lots of personality.

I encourage you to spend some time in your yard today and to start to come up with some awesome ideas for how you can best utilize the space. Maybe that inner landscaper of yours will come out and surprise you.

Property of the Week: Waterfront living in Fryeburg


Whether you are looking for awesome family vacations or a fabulous year-round home to raise a family, this property located at 142 Rapputak Road in Fryeburg Maine, will meet your every need.

A quality-built home with windows galore and water views to Rapputak's unique lakefront setting. Many recent upgraded features are enhanced by a spacious three-story floorplan.

Upgraded kitchen, gorgeous fireplaces and first and second floor master en suites, plus plenty of other bedrooms, den/office and living room options complete with a lower level that boasts of a separate entrance in-law with all the bells and whistles. There are also decks, screened patio and porch to help bring the outside in.

Set on a lovingly landscaped lot in a popular well-established waterfront community with it's own private beach and docks right on Lovewell Pond. Enjoy the vintage clubhouse, boat and swim docks, recreation courts and common land in this upscale community.

Located across from Fryeburg's bike path entrance and Eastern Slope's regional private airport and just 3 miles from town and Fryeburg Academy, which draws international, dorm and day students.

The property is nearby to loads of vacation village fun, lakes and ski regions include Bridgton and Naples, Maine, and North Conway and Jackson in the heart of the Mount Washington Valley.

The listing price is $500,000.

Call listing agent Bernadette (Friberg) Donohue of Badger Realty, for more information and to arrange a showing call (603) 356-5757 ext. 310 or her cell (207) 542-9967.

 

 

Home Front: Organizational Bliss

The design of a new kitchen or bath is never truly completed. There are always small and incremental improvements to enhance what already exists.

There is no better evidence of that idea than the ability to better organize and store equipment, supplies, utensils or just about anything else that lives in your kitchen. Rev-A Shelf, Hafele, & Richelieu offer a wonderful assortment of organization tools.

The following organization tools have caught our attention recently and can be easily installed in any kitchen or bath.

1. Mount organizers or shoe racks to the backsides of interior doors to store and organize cleaning supplies.

2. The backsides of doors offer multiple storage solutions. One customer mounted a chalkboard that is used for grocery lists and installed bars with hooks to hold measuring cups.

3. Install pop-up outlet stations to charge smart devices, laptops and other electronic devices that enable you to use appliances on islands or other parts of the kitchen where access to power historically is limited.

4. Have too many water bottles and coffee travel mugs? Consider magazine file holders to keep them organized and within hands-reach.

5. Need more space for pots and pans? Check out a sliding rack mounted underneath your kitchen sink.

6. Snacks such as pretzels and chips in family-sized packages create storage challenges. Try attaching snack packages to skirt hangers and placing them in a pantry or in a cabinet.

7. Convert your fake drawer into a paper towel holder.

8. We recently placed a cutting board with a hole in the center of it inside the top drawer of a cabinet. Below is the trash container that accepts scraps.

9. Have lots of knives, forks, spoons and other utensils? Check out tiered drawer organizers.

10. Cake stands can be used for more than displaying your favorite dessert. One of our customers is using a sculptural cake stand as an elevated soap dish.

11. Need a dedicated place for charging cell phones? Attach a towel rack with a hanging basket below an electrical outlet.

12. Expand your storage and work spaces with a kitchen cart on wheels.

13. Store trash bags on rollers underneath the sink or in a cabinet.

If you are interested in learning how to make your kitchen more attractive and easier to use with innovative storage ideas, give us a call at (603) 356-5766 or visit our showroom at 95 East Conway Road, Center Conway.