RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Q: Should the Architect and Contractor Have a ‘Vested’ Interest in One Another?

June 7, 2012 6:12 pm

A: It does not hurt to have a situation where the architect and contractor already have an existing working relationship. In fact, such an association could benefit a project by ensuring the smooth integration between the design and implementation. In a residential project, there is sometimes a triangle of tension between the architect, the contractor and the homeowner in terms of finger pointing and assigning blame. There is greater coordination of efforts, and generally less stress, with a design/build firm where the architects and contractors are accustomed to working together and are knowledgeable about construction costs and can fit design plans and specifications to your budget.


HUD. Acronym for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency from which almost all of the federal government’s housing programs flow.

June 7, 2012 6:12 pm

HUD. Acronym for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency from which almost all of the federal government’s housing programs flow.


Ninja Decorator: Master the Art of Toss Pillows with Nine Simple Do's and Don'ts

June 7, 2012 6:12 pm

Much more than an accent color, decorative pillows have come into their own as one of the least expensive and most cost-effective ways to personalize furniture and change a home's décor. With more open floor plans today—and fewer walls to hang art on—they can also be conversation starters.

"The perfect scarf or bracelet can turn an ordinary outfit into an extraordinary one," says Kris Woodcock, VP of Merchandising for Ashley Furniture. "In the same way, the perfect combination of toss pillows can turn an ordinary room into a showstopper."

Many exciting new pillow trends are making their debut, from couture, nubby and boldly-patterned choices, to a bolder mix of pillow styles together. But how do you mix and match decorative toss pillows to create a look that's right for you?

Below are some rules to follow:

1. DON'T use cheap-looking pillows! Nothing ruins a good-looking sofa more than dated or poor quality pillows, while nothing transforms an inexpensive sofa more than high-quality, fashion-forward toss pillows.

2. DO match the mood of your pillows to the mood of your sofa. Choose toss pillows the same way you chose your sofa—based on your lifestyle and tastes. Use dressy pillows with a dressy sofa; casual pillows with a casual sofa.

3. DON'T use pillows that are duller, or a lot lighter than the sofa. There's an exception to every rule, but decorators agree that decorative pillows look best when they're darker, brighter or bolder than the sofa.

4. DO use pillows in a similar style. For an elegant look, stick with satiny or faux-fur fabrics. For a global look, stick with earthy or exotic fabrics. For a modern look, stick with bright or geometric fabrics.

5. DON'T use pillows too big (or too small) for the sofa. Large throw pillows on a small sofa will make it look even smaller. Small pillows (or too few of them) on a large sofa will look dwarfed.

6. DO use toss pillows with related colors. Forget about fancy color theories. Simply choose pillow colors with something in common, such as hues all inspired by a country landscape or a summer fruit salad.

7. DON'T feel compelled to use the pillows that came with your sofa. Factory pillow choices are intended to appeal to as many people as possible rather than to personal tastes. Be different!

8. DO mix patterns and textures. Choose pillows that look like they came from the same place or era, then mix nubby with smooth. To mix patterns, simply repeat the colors in each decorative pillow, while differentiating the pattern's motif or scale.

9. DON'T play it too safe! Be bold with memorable colors or textures.



Spring Showers Bring Beautiful, Lush Lawns

June 7, 2012 6:12 pm

Season after season and year after year, you do everything you can to get your lawn looking lush and vibrant. You know, just like your neighbor's lawn. You've done it all - from dedicating weekends to covering your lawn in fertilizer to inspecting every inch of your lawn on all fours. But despite your greatest efforts, you still have somehow managed not to achieve the awe worthy lawn you want. If getting that picture perfect lawn feels like a feat that will never come to fruition then perhaps there are still some steps you've missed in your lawn care routine.

Lawn aeration and over-seeding are not only essential steps to your lawn care routine, but can also be the answer you've been looking for. Over the previous summer, your lawn will have been subjected to a lot of traffic that can cause soil compaction, which if not alleviated can lead to a variety of problems. Lawn aeration doesn't just loosen the soil, it increases oxygen flow, water and nutrients absorption, and helps eliminates thatch. Following up with over-seeding promotes new growth, ensuring your lawn stays thick and dense making it much harder for weeds to come along and call your lawn home.

When it comes to lawn care, timing is everything, and could be the difference between achieving that picture perfect lawn and not. That's why kick starting your lawn care routine in early spring is the best thing you can do. Since that is when your lawn is awakening from the winter thaw and actively growing, allowing it to recover from the lawn aeration quickly and grow more lushly from the over-seeding.

Source: GreenLawn.


The Do's & Don'ts of Exterior Wood Stains

June 7, 2012 6:12 pm

Now that the warm weather is here, you'll probably want to spend more time enjoying your backyard and your deck - but if your deck is looking past its best, you may want to consider applying exterior wood stains to freshen it up.

Nature presents exterior wood with a host of challenges. The moisture in rain and snow can cause swelling, mold, mildew and even rotting, while the heat of summer can make wood shrink, crack, fade and warp.

Wood stains can provide protection from the elements by repulsing water and reflecting harmful UV rays. They are also versatile and easy to apply - from door and window stains to deck stains, fence stains and siding stains - but care should be taken to ensure effective results. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying exterior wood stains to your deck, siding or doors and windows.

Application Do's
• Apply when surface and air temperature is between 10ºC and 35ºC (50ºF and 95ºF)
• Stir wood stains well before using
• Saturate all end grains, nail holes, cavities and cracks in the wood
• Maintain a wet edge to prevent lap marks
• Apply in the direction of the wood grain
Application Don'ts
• Do not apply in direct sunlight
• Do not apply when the surface is hot to the touch
• Do not apply when dew, rain or frost is present or expected within five hours
• Do not apply when moisture content of the wood is greater than 18%
• Do not thin
Before applying wood stains, please carefully read instructions specific to each product.
Other factors may require attention prior to any application of wood stains. The shiny surfaces (mill glaze) found on some woods, for example, can prevent coatings from penetrating, and should be sanded beforehand. Color tests are also useful: to confirm the color you can expect to achieve, use a sample of the wood you intend to treat and apply the appropriate number of coats.

So prepare for summer by enhancing your home's natural beauty with exterior wood stains.

Source: Sikkens


Q: What Are the Specific Responsibilities of the Contractor vs. the Architect?

June 6, 2012 6:10 pm

A: Beyond having the architect create the design and the contractor implement it, both professionals have additional responsibilities. The contractor is responsible for pricing the project and ensuring that it is completed in a timely fashion. The architect is responsible for getting the construction drawing completed with proper specifications and architectural detail. Since many jurisdictions require architectural drawings to be reviewed to ensure the plans sufficiently meet local codes, the architect may also be responsible for applying for and securing the permits. Make sure that everyone, you included, understand who is responsible for what before work begins in your home.


Word of the Day

June 6, 2012 6:10 pm

Housing codes. Local regulations that set minimum conditions under which dwellings are considered fit for human habitation. It guards against unsanitary or unsafe conditions and overcrowding.


Big Design Ideas for Small Kitchen Spaces

June 6, 2012 6:10 pm

(ARA) - Bigger isn't always better in the real estate world, and what's more, it's not always possible. With more baby boomers downsizing from McMansions to smaller, more manageable houses, and a growing number of people opting to rent rather than buy, many families are looking for new ways to decorate, design and work with smaller spaces.

Kitchens sell homes, but this most-used room in the house hasn't escaped the "less is more" trend, either. Interior designers, decorators and home product makers are responding to the growing demand for practical, beautiful options that make sense in smaller kitchens.

If you're looking to make a big impact in a small kitchen, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Work the walls - You may love your cozy kitchen, but that doesn't mean you want to make it look or feel any smaller than it already is. Lighter wall colors can help a little kitchen feel more open and airy. One winning decorating technique for small kitchens is to paint the majority of the wall space in a light neutral tone, like a pale cream or taupe and then add a pop of brighter or darker color to one accent wall or area. You can edge up the excitement of this technique by using a mural for kitchens on the accent wall, rather than just a different paint color. Have an oddly shaped niche in your kitchen? You can turn that problematic space into a design statement with custom, repositionable wallpaper that can be custom-sized and custom-colored to fit your specifications. This unique product can be adhered and re-adhered hundreds of times so you can take it with you to your next house if you choose.

Smart-size your appliances - Sure that 30-cubic-foot stainless steel refrigerator is beautiful in the showroom, but how much will you love it when you can't fully open the door in your small kitchen? Refrigerators come in several sizes, so you should be able to find one that will fit your space. The same is true for stoves, microwaves and dishwashers. Choosing appliances that make size-sense for the space you have not only improves the livability of your petite kitchen, it can improve your efficiency as well.

Get creative with storage - One of the biggest challenges of a small kitchen is finding space for everything from pots and pans to flatware, dishes and foodstuffs. Small spaces call for storage creativity. Whether you hang some pots and pans overhead, replace traditional cabinet shelves with pullout drawers or use special racks to store plates vertically, you can find plenty of creative small-kitchen storage solutions.

Liven things up with light - Often, a small kitchen will have just one window - or no window at all. Yet light is an important way to make a tight space feel more expansive and inviting. Task lighting is essential for work areas in small spaces. Pendant lights can create ambiance and provide practical illumination without sacrificing any wall space. And if you crave natural light for your windowless kitchen, consider installing a skylight. Tubular skylights can bring sunlight into your ground-floor kitchen even if there's a second floor above it.

Small kitchens are here to stay, whether as part of the trend toward smaller, more efficient homes or the reality of rental unit life. With some decorating creativity and practical design tactics, you can ensure your small kitchen yields large benefits - both in terms of enjoyment and resale value.


Going Green: Laminate Flooring Is the Homeowner's Eco-Friendly Choice

June 6, 2012 6:10 pm

Among homeowners in the know, laminate flooring has long been known as an affordable solution. Now, with the green movement catching on with homeowners, laminate has earned a reputation as an inherently green one as well.

Laminate flooring is composed of a hybrid of materials fused together through a unique lamination process. Thanks to the layer of high-definition photography used to give laminate flooring its beauty, laminate creates the realistic look of a natural resource – such as wood, marble or stone – without actually using it, so fewer raw materials are used in the manufacturing process.

"The manufacture of laminate flooring doesn't involve the harvesting of old-growth hardwoods like those found in tropical rainforests," says Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). "Laminate provides the desired look, no matter how scarce, without depleting natural resources."

Moreover, textures that replicate saw marks, worm holes and other decorative details give laminate flooring a remarkably realistic look, but not at the expense of Mother Nature. For example, laminate's fiberboard core is typically comprised of at least 74 percent pre-consumer recycled waste, such as sawdust from mills and wood chips from log processing.

NALFA conducts independent, third-party performance tests on laminate flooring, and products that earn the NALFA Certification Seal are deemed sustainable.

"Laminate flooring has a wealth of green advantages, and products certified to NALFA's sustainability standard are being used in growing numbers because of them," Dearing says. "Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of environmentally friendly products."

Dearing says the NALFA Certification Seal is confirmation that a laminate floor is manufactured with these earth-friendly qualities:
• It's made with recycled natural resources producing a heavy-duty, high-density core board.
• It's recyclable.
• It's free of air-damaging chemicals. Because laminate is installed without glues and adhesives, and because laminate floors can be cleaned without the use of harsh chemicals, laminate helps to prevent harmful emissions of volatile organic compounds.
• It complies with formaldehyde emissions regulations for laminate flooring core board set forth by the California Air Resources Board.
• It is comprised of recycled content that may contribute points to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for homes and businesses.
Finally, at the end of a laminate floor's lifetime, it can be reused or recycled. Or, when dismantled, the boards can be put back into the production process, ground for agriculture use, or burned as waste-to-energy. That keeps old flooring from landing in the landfill.



Summer Checklist: Tips to Make Sure Students End Year on a Strong Note

June 6, 2012 6:10 pm

With the end of the school year approaching, now is the ideal time for parents to start planning for summer and preparing for next year. Parents play an important role in helping their children continue to learn, says Deme Clainos, CEO or online reading program StudyDog.

“Knowing your child’s learning needs will give you something to focus on during the months ahead and will also be a great asset when school starts again in the fall,” Clainos says.

The following checklist includes a few things parents can do to help their children finish the school year and make plans for the summer months.

1. Meet with the child’s teacher

Meet with teachers before the school year ends. Ask them if the student is on grade level in the subjects they have been studying and for recommendations on how the student might catch up if they have fallen behind. Ask the teacher what they think the child’s strengths and weaknesses are and if they have any suggestions for assignments or things they should work on during the summer.

2. Talk to your child
Discuss with the child what they liked most and what they liked least about the school year. Praise them for their hard work at school and review their report card. Talk to them about their interests and let summer be an opportunity to focus on areas they want to learn more about. Summer is the perfect time to let children explore new interests.

3. Review curriculum for next year
Take time to review general curriculum plans for the next school year to get a better idea of what the child will be studying. This is helpful for identifying learning areas the child should focus on during the summer.

4. Take care of special requests or questions
If there are requests for the next school year, take care of those as soon as possible. Teachers and administrators will most likely start their own break within a few days of school ending. Special requests may include asking for a specific teacher or requesting that a student be put in separate classes from someone they didn’t get along with. This is also the best time to ask teachers about a report card while it’s fresh on their minds.

5. Stay in touch with friends
Have the child collect their friends’ phone numbers and other contact information before school ends, so they can keep in touch through the summer break. Help them make plans to get together with friends, giving them something to look forward to when school ends.

6. Plan educational activities
Make goals for learning during the summer months. Spend time studying areas that were a challenge during the school year. Set aside time each day for reading or for using an interactive program to practice reading skills. Look for educational programs students can participate in like camp or swimming lessons. Spending a few hours learning each week will help keep the child’s mind sharp and ready for school next fall.

7. Plan for down time
Summer break should be relaxing. Be sure to plan for plenty of down time between sports and other activities. The key to summer learning is to keep it from seeming like school, giving your child something to look forward to when they return next fall.