Diane Kelly's Blog
The open concept took over several years ago, and now, homeowners are reluctant to give up the flexibility that this optimal layout provides. Unfortunately, this versatility often only extends to meal prep, dining, and living areas. Other critical spaces tend to be far more difficult to adapt, making them problematic for long-term homeowners with evolving needs. Thankfully, a viable solution has recently emerged to help homeowners of all types make the most of every room: flex space.
What Is Flex Space? How Does It Work?
Flex spaces can take many forms. In general, however, this concept involves a versatile room specifically built to take on multiple functions. This room is purposefully built into floor plans with the intent of making adjustments over time. It may begin as a hobby room or entertainment space but eventually transition into an office or even a nursery. Its unique design allows it to serve a wide array of needs.
Beyond versatility, flex spaces are built with convenience in mind. They have the capacity to change in an instant, without the need for extensive renovations or other time-consuming and costly adjustments. This flexible nature provides considerable peace of mind, especially in times of transition. Homeowners can take solace in knowing that, no matter which surprises life throws at them, they will always be prepared with the space needed to accommodate new challenges and opportunities.
Who Benefits Most From Flex Spaces?
The versatile nature of flex space makes it appealing to many types of homeowners. However, certain individuals and families continually seek out flexible options. This approach is particularly beneficial for:
How Are Flex Rooms Designed?
Because versatility is the name of the game for flex space, rooms designated as such must be designed to accommodate a variety of potential functions. Ideally, they will be reasonably sized, as cramped rooms may not be capable of meeting evolving needs. Universally helpful features such as closets should be included — especially if the potential exists for transitioning the space into a bedroom or guest room.
When purchasing a home, it's important to consider how it will meet both current needs and those that arise in the future. Properties that include flex space can evolve alongside their owners, ensuring maximum practicality and enjoyment as long as residents call these houses home.
Give new life to outdoor tabletops using concrete or tile - and liven up one of the most important parts of your home, your porch or patio. It is surprisingly easy to make over an existing table; in some cases, the base of a table remains in excellent shape, while the horizontal surface ages more swiftly. A tile or concrete finish allows you to use what you already have and to make a custom piece you'll enjoy for years to come. While every project is different, the details below will help you get started with a concrete or tile makeover.
Tile vs. Concrete - What's the Difference?
Tile and concrete will have the same basic costs and take the same amount of time to complete. The differences lie in the look of the final results; you may prefer the look of a single, impressive slab or an artistic, tile mosaic, or another version that may better fit your home. The final consideration is tools and experience. If you've already laid tile in a bathroom or kitchen, or have a tile saw and tools, then tile may be the right fit for your makeover. If you've made concrete stepping stones and other pieces for the yard, then you might be more comfortable with this material instead.
Refinishing a Tabletop with Tile
Make sure your tabletop is in decent shape and that there are not any large gaps or large areas of damage. Measure your tabletop and sketch out a design. You can create an artistic rendering, a geometric pattern or simply place the tile in a line. Planning things out first ensures you know how much to buy and what to cut. For tables, the pre-cut pieces designed for borders and trim often work well, so a trip to the DIY store can help you determine more about your needs and preferences.
Choose Your Tile & Gather Supplies
You'll need a tile adhesive rated for outdoor use to secure the tiles. Layout the tiles on the table before securing to check the fit and look of your chosen design. When you are happy, glue the pieces into place with the adhesive. Work in small areas and allow the glue to set for at least 24 hours (cover the table with plastic if needed).
Fill in the gaps between tiles with mortar rated for outdoor use, and allow to dry at least 48 hours before using the table.
Refinishing a Tabletop with Concrete
Concrete's smooth surface comes from being poured, so you'll need to prepare the table before you mix anything. Your table should be clean, dry and clear of any defects, though the concrete will fill in small holes and hide minor blemishes.
Create an edge around the table using a product made for concrete. This temporary barrier will be removed at a later date, but will keep the concrete in place as it dries. You can find flexible edging designed for this purpose at a DIY store.
Mix the concrete as indicated on the package, then pour or scoop onto the table, smoothing it out with a trowel as you go. Once the concrete begins to set, you can make any impressions or patterns you like, or simply let it dry and harden. Do not remove the edges until the concrete is fully dried.
48 hours later, remove the edging and sand or touch up the table, then enjoy.
Concrete or tile? The choice is yours -- either of these finishes will add years to the life of your table and ensure you create a piece that is uniquely yours. Allow yourself a weekend to tackle this project and wait for a sunny, comfortable day, as most parts need to be completed in place outdoors.
127 Talbot Street, Manchester, NH 03109
If you buy a townhouse or condo, you’ll find that you’re more than likely a member of a Homeowners Association, or HOA. What that means, in a nutshell, is that you, along with everyone else in your community, own the exterior of the buildings and the common areas. If your roof fails, it’s everyone’s problem, and if someone else’s roof fails, it’s your problem too. Sometimes a development of detached houses have an HOA as well.
Here are some of the advantages and drawbacks.
Pros of HOAs
There’s less work done by you and more hired by the association. You don’t have to own a lawnmower. Exterior building maintenance, landscaping and gardening all happen while you are off at work, relaxing indoors or enjoying the pool.
You may have amenities you couldn’t afford as an individual homeowner, such as a swimming pool, a clubhouse and workout facilities. Some HOAs even sponsor social events and hobby clubs.
HOAs have rules that keep up appearances. You don’t have to worry about your neighbors letting their weeds grow or keeping junk cars by the curb.
Most insurance costs – building exteriors and common areas -- are borne by the association. You need to insure only for the interior of your unit. In addition, garbage removal, cable TV and some utilities may be covered by the HOA, which might negotiate a better rate.
Cons of HOAs
Somebody has to pay for the amenities and for the upkeep work you’re not doing, and that somebody is you. Payment comes in the form of HOA fees, usually due monthly or quarterly. Fees are set by the association board and can be raised at any time. If there is an unplanned expense, the board can make an assessment. If you don’t pay your fees and assessments, you are subject to all kinds of penalties up to and including foreclosure.
HOAs have rules. A lot of them: the color of your exterior, where you park, the number and size of your pets, outside antennas, the color of your curtains and what you can put on your balcony may all be subject to regulations. Home businesses can be disallowed. Motorcycles and trucks with logos may be forbidden. Many have restrictions on how often you can sublet and who you can rent to.
Like your state or country, the association is governed by elected representatives, and the board can govern well or poorly. If you don’t like what they’re doing, your recourse is to elect someone else or run for the board yourself. Managing an individual home is difficult, and managing a community of homes raises even more issues.
Should I Buy a Home with an HOA?
Know what you’re getting into before you sign the purchase agreement. Understand the fees and assessment. Get a look at the revenue and expenses. In particular, see if the reserve fund is adequate. Roofs eventually need replacement and swimming pools need refurbishing, and if there’s no money being set aside, one day there’ll be a massive assessment.
In general, an HOA means you have less work but less individual control. If you’re comfortable with that, an association can be right for you.
For anyone who is intimidated by the idea of working with garden pavers, for those who may think they are tools only for professionals experienced in masonry, be assured that you too can beautify your garden and yard with these smooth finishing touches. Perfect for taming and refining wild, overgrown areas, concrete pavers are easily customizable building blocks for framing or accenting outdoor spaces. And making a permanent commitment or leaving the option to change it up is all up to you--in most cases using grout is optional depending on the purpose and look you’re going for.
Rock Garden Borders
To complement any small trees in your yard, you can dot the area surrounding the base of the tree with smaller plants and flowers, either potted, in the ground or both. Creating freeform borders allows you to build around the existing trees and plants, and curved lines give your yard a flowing atmosphere. Concrete pavers serve this purpose especially well since many styles offer interlocking shapes or flat edges that can be tightly lined up against each other to hold in mulch, natural stones, gravel, or other attractive fillers.
Flat-edged pavers or designs with interlocking shapes offer an easy way to elevate potted plants and keep them out of the dirt, upright, and steady. Set a few pavers together on either side of the front door or at the entrance to your garden and place a potted plant on top. Giving plants some extra height adds interest and spotlights them as welcoming touches.
If you enjoy having a fair amount of lawn space and particularly if you live out in the country, having a beautiful yard to curate usually comes with the price of tracking dirt into your house. Use concrete pavers to form a natural, neutral walkway in the hue and shape of your choice, or arrange several together to create stepping stones to your front door. Both solutions help keep dirt off of shoes on the way in and don’t take up much of your yard.
Border For Your Outdoor Kitchen
For sheds, pet houses, or even outdoor kitchens made of wood, the sides collect dirt and sand, particularly in seasons of stormy weather. Concrete pavers let you easily build a border around these structures to beautifully frame them as well as help protect them from dirt and dust. You can also add a stepping stone pathway to the building that matches its border.
Border For Garden Beds
Evoke the ambiance of an English garden by filling unused garden space with concrete pavers. Line the ground beneath first with weed prevention cloth if your garden is especially prone to weeds; without grout you will likely still get some growth between the stones anyway but, when well maintained, adds to the rustic look.