Joel Margolis - J. Barrett & Company | Beverly, MA Real Estate, Salem, MA Real Estate


Not all upscale upgrades have to break the bank. Often times small upscale upgrades can fit in most people's budgets. However, because it is associated with a high end and expensive home they assume it couldn't’ possibly work within the average wallet. Today we’ll focus on the details that are small changes but make a drastic difference.

To create a sleek, clutter-free workspace install a built-in soap dispenser. Say goodbye to unsightly plastic bottles with their gunked up tops. Built-in soap dispensers come in many finishes and styles you are sure to find one that matches your existing decor. Hide the neon green soap that clashes with your decor without giving it up altogether.

Peel and stick tile is a great option for two camps. The first is those looking for a quick and easy solution to add color and visual interest. The second is those who want a temporary solution they can easily swap out down the line. You can finally try out the subway tile look without the commitment to, or work of, the trend.

Bring in a fresh look to your kitchen by installing new faucets. Swap out your existing finishes for something updated and new. Alternatively, you can update your faucet with a new updated style. High arc faucets with a pull-down sprayer are a popular option at the moment. Or make a chic statement with a stylish 2 handle bridge faucet.

If your walls and cabinetry are feeling flat and boring adding millwork will make your kitchen feel one-of-a-kind with some old-school class. Measure out the perimeter of your walls, go out your favorite style of molding and get creative. Install millwork along where the walls meet the ceiling, where the walls meet the floor or even along the middle to create a chair rail.

Pick out a bright, new color to add to your kitchen and pick up a couple of cans of paint for a weekend project. Add a pop of color to white walls or if you have a colorful kitchen paint the walls white. Reach for a choice that contrasts with your current decor for the biggest impact. Neutrals make a room feel high end while bold colors can make a stylish statement.

New hardware can update cabinets without tearing them out to start anew. Depending on your flavor of luxury look for either more detailed options or those that are starkly minimalist. Bar handles are very on trend and perfectly encapsulate the minimalist look. For a more classy, detailed option look through Antique shops or on Etsy for vintage sets. And while nothing beats, the real thing there are many vintage-inspired options for those who don’t love the thrill of an antique hunt.


Having a garden is a big decision. It involves several tasks, care, commitment, and patience. Gardening means getting your hands dirty often. Thankfully, it’s always worth it because gardens develop into beautiful and useful plants all around the home. Gardening tools are the items used to keep your garden in top condition. They include sheers, lawn mowers, spades, and weed pullers. Though used frequently, gardening tools can last for years to come with the right maintenance.

Here are ways to care for your gardening tools.

Cleaning

Keeping gardening tools clean is the most critical part of maintenance. Without proper and regular cleaning, dirt will accumulate on the tools and cause damage in a short time. Always rinse or wash the utensils before storing them away. Use a suitable brush and water to clean gardening tools. You can equally dip them in household bleach for faster cleaning results. Dry them before storing to keep rust from forming.

Sharpening 

Most gardening tools such as scissors, shears, knives, and shovels need periodic sharpening. Proper care keeps them functional and in good working condition. Buy a flat mill file from the hardware store and use it to sharpen your gardening tools when necessary. You can also use a whetstone.

Storing

These tools differ significantly from your house cleaning tools or other materials. Keep them in a well-ventilated, safe, dry place. A shed is a popular choice for most homeowners. It is accessible and used mainly for storing similar equipment. Hang shovels, hoes, and rakes to keep them off the ground and allow air to circulate. Keep other tools at a suitable distance from each other and work towards preventing rust by hanging them or turning the working end upright in a pot. 

Also, be sure to unplug any electrical tools and keep them away from wet conditions. Check such gardening tools regularly for tears, cracks, or cuts. 

Stay informed 

Learn as much as you're able to about gardening tools to help you know the right cleaning methods to use. Make sure that you always consider the function of the instrument as you clean.

Repair

Most power demanding tools such as the lawn mower can develop faults or wear out. Bear in mind that special precautions are essential when cleaning electrical or power gardening tools as they can quickly become a source of electrical hazard in the home. When you see any damage to a power tool, do not try to fix it yourself. Hire a professional for the repair.


Making your own compost for your garden is a rather straightforward process that won’t cost a lot of money but will offer you some great returns. Basically, home composting is all about turning your regular kitchen waste into a rich additive for your garden. If done the right way, you won’t have to deal with any smell or messiness through the process. 

To make the composting process go smoothly, you will need to pay attention to 3 things:

  1. A good composting container. A container will help you hold all the decomposing material that you are going to use. It doesn't have to be extra fancy or attractive; it just needs to be able to keep all the materials together while the bacteria do their work. The kind of bin that works is one that retains both heat and moisture as they are essential to the process. You can purchase a compost bin from any gardening store near you. Remember to situate your compost container in the sun, so it gets maximum heat.
  2. The right mixture of ingredients. You are looking for a combination of both brown and green plant material along with some moisture so the bacteria can get to work in a conducive atmosphere. Use items like newspapers, dry leaves and wood shavings, kitchen waste and grass cuttings to start the compost. Other things that should go in your compost bin include fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, straw, and wood. Some items are not good composting materials because they cause pests to gather. Avoid things like meat, fish, and dairy products as they will attract rats and raccoons to your compost bin. Also, avoid diseased plant materials as they will transfer bacteria to the soil when used eventually. Also, avoid animal feces. Always add even layers of green and brown materials for excellent balance and an even flow of moisture.
  3. Composting proper. Add water to the compost pile regularly. You are aiming for the consistency of a wet sponge so be careful not to add too much water. Keep turning the compost pile with a pitchfork every two weeks to make sure the process is going on as expected. The mix should always be warm, around 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Final use. You know your compost is ready to add to your garden when it no longer gives off heat. Then you can apply about 5 inches of compost to your garden and flower pots.

Following these simple steps will help you develop your own compost for use in your garden.


Many people find it difficult to find the time and energy to prepare meals at home. Cooking at home may seem like another task on your to-do list for the day, but it carries many benefits for you and your family. It not only benefits your wallet, but it will also create lasting memories with your loved ones. 

Meal Planning

Before you make the leap and decide to quit eating out so often, it is essential to prepare for this new lifestyle change. The initial thing to do is come up with a plan of action. Meal planning can ensure your success. Start by planning which days of the week you would like to start cooking on. These days can be reoccurring in your schedule each week. For example, you can cook on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings and eat leftovers or takeout on the other days of the week. Pick days in your schedule that are not jam-packed with activities. Once you decide upon the days you would like to cook at home, begin to make a recipe list for that week. Find recipes online and print them out so that they're easy to access when you're ready to cook them. If you're not a huge fan of at-home cooking, try to find one pot meals that can go a long way for you and your family.

Grocery Shopping

After you have your recipes for the week, create a shopping list for those recipes. Try and steer clear of buying unnecessary ingredients that will go bad before you use them. Stick to your list as much as possible. If you’re too busy to find time to make it to the grocery store, utilize the free pickup option that many grocery store chains now offer. 

Fall in love with cooking

A love for cooking may not be something that comes naturally to you at first, but do not fret, before long you will be enjoying the benefits of utilizing your kitchen more. To develop a love for cooking, you need to make it as stress-free as possible. Now that you have your meal plan operating make sure you have the right tools to make it work for you. Look into tools like a pressure cooker or a food processor to cut down the tasks of preparing your meals. If chopping veggies are going to add stress to your prep time, opt for pre-cut vegetables in the frozen food section. 

Make it an event

Food often brings people together. Cooking can become a family activity that you enjoy throughout the week. Involve everyone in the family by assigning tasks to each person and work as a team to create a delicious meal. Invite your neighbors over for a family dinner and get to know the neighborhood. If cooking for a party seems too overwhelming, ask others to bring a dish. 

Once you get the hang of cooking for your family consistently, enjoy the quality time you now get to spend with your friends and family at your dinner table. Invite your neighbors over for your next homemade meal!


A commuter is someone who regularly travels from one place to another because of work. Commuters spend a lot of hours per day to get to work daily which may require a lot of sitting or driving in a bus/car. When they get to work, they still must sit for hours in the office and then drive back home while sitting in a bus/car. During this long commute, getting fit through exercising every day for at least 30 minutes might not be possible.

To get fit, you must change your routine. For example, if you're always sitting on a bus or train to get to work, and then sit all day at work, you might need some ideas about adding a fitness routine into your commute.

To improve fitness while you commute, instead of always sitting to get to work, you can decide to stand for at least 10-15 minutes to strengthen your muscles. Alternating sitting and standing burns calories, strengthens your core, and reduces back pain.

Also, if you are riding a car to work every day, it requires a lot of sitting which can cause neck pain and backache. To work out while driving, you can stretch during slow traffic or when there is a red light. Better still, you can simply park your car and take 10-15 minutes break while stretching yourself before you continue your drive.

For more ways to add exercise into our commute consider these: 

  • Get a bike: To improve strength you might need to buy a bike and ride it to work instead of taking the bus. If your commute is very far, you can ride the bike for at least 20-30 minutes and then take a bus at the next available bus stop. Make sure that you wear a helmet and jacket when commuting via bicycle and when you get to work you can change to your office clothes.
  • Park a bit farther from your workplace: When commuting by car, to increase fitness, park your car a distance from your office. Then, walk to your workplace. Your muscles will be active, and you’ll gain energy when you do this every day.
  • Don't use the elevator: Decide to take the stairs to your office. If your office is on the 4th floor, you can take the stairs to the 1st or 2nd floor and then use the elevator for the rest to reduce the risk of knee pain. Practice this every day, and you will become fit more quickly.
  • Breathe In and Out: For sitting commuters to get exercise, try breathing in and out slowly for at least two to three minutes. The aim of this exercise is to reduce stress and make you relax.

A long commute doesn’t mean you can’t get in some exercise, but if you’d rather live closer to work, talk to a real estate agent about reducing your commute.




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