Blog :: 12-2015

It's All About the Journey ... Fireplaces - Cozy and Cost Effective

What’s more comforting than sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night? Fireplaces can instantly change the mood of a room, making it more cozy and romantic , and as a bonus may also give an extra source of heat. There are lots of choices to provide the glowing warmth of a fire, some that don’t require a chimney or flu.

Now that I’ve “sparked†your interest, let’s take a look at the broad category of indoor fireplaces.



open hearth fireplace Traditional Open Hearth Typically made of stone or brick, these types of fireplaces have existed for centuries. You can feel the heat, smell the wood burning and hear it crackling. They are not as effective at heating the room as some of the more modern varieties. Also, if you don’t already have a fireplace, it will require a fair amount of construction to put in the opening and chimney for proper venting.

Enclosed Fireplaces enclosed fireplace These indoor fireplaces feature a large glass panel to view the fire as it burns. You have less heat escaping up the chimney and more entering the room. Enclosed fireplaces provide more warmth while still having the ambience of a wood burning fire.

fireplace insert Fireplace Inserts These are inserts that fit into your existing fireplace opening. They are enclosed, enabling you to easily turn an inefficient open hearth heating system in to one that is more fuel efficient.

Wood Burning Stoves wood burning stove Although not technically a fireplace, wood burning stoves are an alternative to burn wood for heating without needing a fireplace. It will, however, require a pipe to vent the smoke through the chimney to the outside. You will also need to install a noncombustible floor pad and wall surrounds.

pellet stove Pellet Stoves pellets for pellet stove

These stoves are generally small, and the bags of pellets are inexpensive and come in quantities that are about the size of a mulch bag, making them easy to store. They're also easy to operate; they on­ly require loading pellets and igniting the flame. Because the fire is contained in a heat box there is a minimum of smoke, which lessens the smell in your home and prevents the outside of the unit from heating up. Wood pellets are made from recycled materials and are heavily compressed, which reduces the moisture content. Dry fuel creates more heat, causing the pellets to burn hotter and cleaner than their wood counterparts. A word of caution - these stoves run on electricity, so if your power goes out, so does your stove.



direct vented gas fireplace Direct-Vented Built-in Fireplaces This gas fireplace can be vented through an existing or newly construction chimney or you can alternatively use a pipe to eliminate more costly changes in the house’s structure.

Ventless Built-in Fireplaces ventless gas fireplace Ventless built-in indoor fireplaces are the simplest to install as there is no need for a chimney or vent. However, though every effort is made to make it clean burning, it is possible that some contaminates from the gas will enter your home without a vented system.



ethanol fireplace Fireplace Conversion If you have an existing fireplace, you can get an ethanol burning insert that will slide right in. Depending on your preference, there are options for a more traditional or modern appearance.

Wall mounted Fireplaces wall mounted fireplace 2 With this style, you can actually hang your fireplace on any wall that you choose, making it double as a heating source or a centerpiece of a room.



electric fireplace

Electric fireplaces are the most cost effective option on the market. They are easy to install and require no ventilation. Another added benefit - most allow you to turn the heating function on or off while maintaining the ambiance of a fireplace. Available in a traditional mantel surround or built within a media cabinet, they can be operated by remote control and some have different varieties of fire effects.

Doesn’t it sound nice to grab a glass of wine, curl up with a blanket and sit by the fire? With all the options out there, it’s possible for everyone to enjoy!

It's All About The Journey ... The Dining Room – Back to the Future

formal dining room dining room transitional informal

Dining Rooms appear to have taken a back seat and have been looked at as a formal space that only gets used once or twice a year, so are they really that important? From my experience, buyers are usually looking for a separate dining room-whether it’s a formal or more informal space. There’s an appeal to having the option of hosting a family holiday or dinner party an intimate setting with the knowledge that this room may not get year round use. According to one real estate agent, “The issue of where to put the dining table kills more deals than anything else in real estate. If a family is moving, the dining table is the one thing they say they can’t part with.â€

Formal Dining Room with Round Table

In today’s world where everyone is busy and having ANYTHING ready to eat is a major accomplishment, is a separate space allocated only for dining really practical? Well actually it’s that very reason to give Dining Rooms their props! To have a place to retreat after a long day and be able to close the door on the “dirty dishes†(if only temporarily) gives people a chance to sit down, forget about the stresses of the day and reconnect over dinner. Many people also grew up in houses with separate dining rooms so when it comes time to buy, they might want a piece of home that reminds them of their childhood. Also most new construction features open floor plans and there’s a pent-up desire for a home with separate dining rooms and kitchens.

family dininmg

Does that mean the open floor plan is a thing of the past? Absolutely not. Buyers still like an open feeling and gathering spaces that flow from one room to another. It can all depend on the size of the home. If you have limited space, the dining room can sometimes be the first thing to go because it is not a room that is used every day. If you’re an empty-

+3nester you might not want to see a house with a dining room at all because the honor of hosting holidays can be passed down to the next generation! Another option if you find you are using the Dining Room less and less is to re-purpose, until the need arises to entertain more often. Perhaps a playroom for young children or a home office would better suit your immediate needs.

dining Room repurposed as library Dining room as Craft room

The concept of separate spaces for cooking and eating is proving so attractive that architects are concocting twists on the idea, among them what they call hybrid kitchens, which can be open or closed using pocket doors. In essence, what research has shown is that people want a little of both. The cook might not want the chaos of cooking and serving around a bunch of people in one room, yet they still want to be in touch with what’s happening around them.

Dining Room with pocket doors Dining Room with Barn Doors


So if you were thinking the Dining Room is a dinosaur of days gone by, think again. Buyers are going back to the future on this one!

It’s All About the Journey … Loving Your Living Room

Living in the Northeast we tend towards the “traditional†when it comes to our homes. One of the most traditional spaces you’ll find is the “formal†Living Room, usually located close to the Front Door. This area is where so much of our home life happens … or not.

There are tons of ideas of how to use this space to fit your lifestyle whether it’s lounging, storing, playing, entertaining or re-purposing because you have other space you use more frequently. No matter what the case, you should create a space that you love spending time in, but will also resonate with buyers down the road.


Depending on your home layout, your living room can serve many functions. If you have a separate family room, the living room is often a formal sitting area or parlor used for reading, relaxing and entertaining guests. If it’s the only living space you have, it’s also used for watching TV, playing games and spending time with family and friends. Regardless of its purpose, any good space has comfortable seating, a coffee table and a focal point such as a fireplace, entertainment center or picture window offering a view of the outside world.

lr5 Mandarin_Oriental_Miami_Mandarin_Suite_living_room

If your living room is your primary gathering area it will most likely serve several purposes. Here are some things to think about - it’s important to incorporate plenty of storage to accommodate all of your “goodiesâ€. Options range from built-in bookshelves and cabinets to freestanding, decorative pieces. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and infuse the space with your personality through color, rugs, artwork, curtains & lighting. Just keep in mind that when it’s time to sell, neutral works best so colorful accessories may be the way to go instead of flashy paint colors.

lr tree1

If the majority of your time is spent in a separate Family Room the question of how to use the “formal†living room often arises. Here are some of the most popular ideas:

* Move your Dining Room into your Living Room. If you entertain large groups of people, this will allow you to open your table a little more and often times take advantage of a fireplace or pretty view, while enjoying friends and family over a holiday or celebratory meal. If that leaves you with a smaller, unused Dining Room – you can turn that into a cozy office or library.

  • living room as dining room
  • An at-home office, especially if you are one of the many people who now telecommute. Since this space is usually separate from the rest of the house it can offer some peace & quiet and make for ideal working conditions. The addition of French doors can give it a feeling of privacy.

  • living room as office
  • Along the same lines as an office, a library or reading area is a popular choice. This would be easy to set up, especially if you already have furniture. You can arrange it as cozy reading groups and then if you need the room for company, shift the furniture back for entertaining.

  • living room as library
  • Other ideas include a gym, a separate playroom for younger children, a billiard or game room, craft room, music room, theatre room, adult “lounge†with a bar set up – let your imagination run wild.

living room as playroom living room as music room

Any of these options are good at suggesting alternatives for potential buyers. This will help them envision the increased options for the use of this space and not struggle with the thought of paying for a room they’ll never really use.

However you decide to utilize this space, here are some tricks to get the most out of it:

Decorate with mirrors, strategically placed to make a small room feel larger and to help reflect light and add ambiance.

living room mirror

  • Draw the eye upward to show off the room’s vertical dimension as well as the horizontal. Floor-to-ceiling drapes, special moldings or a grouping of small to midsize artwork invite the eye to roam beyond the eye-level horizontal space

  • living room coffered ceiling

  • Use neutral colors on floors, walls and ceilings. Soft hues tend to illuminate a room by reflecting light and will add instant sophistication plus create a calming environment.

cape lr living room neutral colors

No matter how you use your space, here’s a chance to rekindle your Living Room love.