Stephanie McGowan | Winchester Real Estate, Lexington Real Estate, Woburn Real Estate


Live in an apartment with a small balcony, patio or deck? A home in a thickly settled area with little backyard or space between other homes? Or just a home that has a small, raised deck? Small spaces may seem like a tough makeover/renovation tackle. You want the space to be functional but you also want it to be unique to your style. Check out the tips below for creating an outdoor oasis where you enjoy spending time, regardless of it’s small size. Furniture First things first: furniture. The type of furniture you will want in your outdoor space will depend its size and your lifestyle. Table and Chairs: If you enjoy eating meals outdoors, it is best to go with a table and chairs set. The size of your set with depend on the size of your outdoor space. A deck or patio that is only 5x5 would have room for a two-person table and chairs. Consider looking into collapsible table and chair sets that transform your space as needed. A 10x10 area could have space for a four-person set and some room to spare. Adding extra collapsible chairs is also a great way to create additional seating when it’s needed, but allowing for them to be folded up and placed out of site when not in use. Outdoor Couch & Coffee Table: This idea will fair well better with a space that is larger than 5x5. It is great for a lifestyle that includes entertaining and also relaxing. Outdoor couches are very trendy and come in many sizes and styles. Porch Swing/Swinging Chair: A porch swing or swinging chair is a great option for a compact front porch, balcony or patio. Typical porch swings need to attach to something above so are best suited for porches. However, swinging chairs are more mobile and are generally smaller. Depending on your space, either of these are great additions! Privacy Screen: Creating a bit of privacy can help create the ideal outdoor retreat. There are so many options for different shapes, sizes and materials for privacy screens to help accomplish the exact atmosphere you’re looking for. Landscaping & Garden Adding life to your small space will enhance its appeal and your likeliness to enjoy it. Landscaping: Regardless of the size of your outdoor area, landscaping is essential. This is easier to achieve if your space is on ground level, but not impossible for balconies and decks. And a little landscaping goes a long way from small areas of grass to stone and mulch to plants and flowers. Garden: Adding a small garden into your outdoor space isn’t out of reach even if you only have a balcony. Use planting buckets or rail-mounted baskets for growing things like herbs and small vegetables. As long as you have sun, water and soil, you can create a garden that suits you. A green thumb always helps, too. Accessories Homey touches are important components to your outdoor sanctuary. Of course, these pieces will need to be weather resistant. Try these simple pieces to add another level of personality to your space. Outdoor Rug & Accent Pillows: Add an outdoor rug and pillows to bring coziness and color to your outdoor space. Small Accent Pieces: Add accent pieces like decorative candleholders and candles and hanging lights and/or lantern type lights to give the space ambient lighting. Water feature: Add a serene water feature such as a fountain or waterfall feature to create a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. There are a myriad of ways to add something special to your outdoor space, regardless of it’s size with water features, pops of color with area rugs and pillows, unique seating, herb gardens and so much more. Choose a budget that works for you to update this space and get to work on your outdoor oasis.

For home sellers, maximizing the value of your residence is key. However, it is important to remember the dangers associated with overvaluing your house.

If you overprice your residence, homebuyers may choose to look elsewhere for their dream house. As such, it may take you many weeks, months or years to sell your residence if you fail to price it correctly from the get-go.

So what does it take to avoid the risk of overpricing your home? Here are three tips to help home sellers set a fair price for any residence, in any real estate market, at any time.

1. Review the Housing Market in Your Area.

Spend some time assessing the local housing market – you'll be glad you did. This will enable you to better understand how your home compares to other residences in your city or town so you can price your house accordingly.

Check out the listing prices of homes that currently are available as well as the sold prices of residences that recently were purchased. By doing so, you'll be able to collect a broad assortment of housing market data and use this information to determine the right price for your house.

2. Get Your Home Appraised.

A home appraiser will conduct an in-depth examination of your residence, help you identify problem areas and determine your house's value. That way, you'll be able to enter the real estate market with realistic expectations and set a fair asking price based on your home appraisal.

Furthermore, a home appraisal offers valuable insights into ways that you can improve your home. The assessment will allow you to learn about the pros and cons of your home, and ultimately, determine the best ways to transform your house's weaknesses into strengths.

Don't forget to evaluate your home's interior and exterior as well. Completing home improvement tasks will improve your residence inside and out. Plus, performing home maintenance may allow you to set a higher asking price than you initially expected.

3. Hire an Experienced Real Estate Agent.

Let's face it – navigating the real estate market can be a long, arduous process. Thankfully, real estate agents are available that possess extensive industry experience and know-how, ensuring you can set the right price for your house without delay.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent understands the ins and outs of both buyer's and seller's markets. As such, he or she can offer recommendations about how to price your home, enhance your house's interior and exterior and much more.

With the right real estate agent at your disposal, you should have no trouble setting a fair price for your home. In addition, this professional will do whatever it takes to promote your house to the right homebuyers consistently, bolstering your chances of optimizing the value of your residence.

Don't leave anything to chance when you sell your home. Instead, employ a real estate agent, and you can speed up the process of selling your residence.


Many homeowners are unaware that the most common causes of house fires are cooking related. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires cause 46% of house fires and 44% of household injuries.

You aren’t alone if you think those numbers are shockingly high. However, most of us are never taught cooking safety techniques. In this article, we’re going to give you some tips to protect you and your family from the most common and some lesser known causes of kitchen fires. 

Cooking fire statistics 

Knowing the most common causes of cooking fires is a great way to understand just how dangerous certain types of cooking really are. The NFPA reports that frying is the most dangerous type of cooking. Two-thirds of cooking fires were the result of the ignition of food and cooking materials.

In terms of equipment, the range or cooktop is the most dangerous part of the kitchen, causing over 60% of fires. However, much of the time the cause comes down to leaving your equipment unattended.

Cooking safely

One of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of house fires is to stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Unattended ranges, stovetops, and ovens can be particularly deadly since they can happen as a result of someone dozing off while watching television, or someone forgetting they left a burner on after they go to sleep.

A good way to monitor your cooking is to always use a timer, even if you don’t necessarily need one for the cooking that you’re doing. Also, be sure that your smoke detectors are working and that you have a functional fire extinguisher in your home. Make sure your family knows what to do if they encounter a fire.

Before you turn on your burners before frying, make sure there is nothing around your oven that can catch fire. A food container, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper towels, or curtains could all potentially catch fire if they come in close contact with a burner.

Clothing is also a leading cause of kitchen fires that turn fatal. Make sure sleeves and other pieces of clothing aren’t near any burners or open flames.

In case of fire

If you encounter a large cooking fire that is spreading throughout, the best thing to do is to immediately gather your family and get out of the house, avoiding the kitchen entirely. Call 9-1-1 as soon as you are safely outside and don’t re-enter the house under any circumstances.

For small grease fires, smother the fire with a lid and turn off the burner immediately.

Understanding cooking fires

Most fire requires oxygen to burn and spread. If there is a small fire in your kitchen, using a soaked towel or a pan lid to smother it will suffice.

However, grease fires work differently. Never put water on a grease fire, this can cause the fire to spread very quickly. Rather, use a lid to put out the fire if it is small enough to get near. You can also throw baking soda, or use a fire extinguisher on a small grease fire.




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