Susan Fung | Falmouth Real Estate, Mashpee Real Estate, Barnstable Real Estate, Dennis Real Estate

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Whether you’re buying, selling or simply decorating a home, knowing the differences between architectural styles will put you at an advantage. Some home styles are simple to define and recognize, while others are a bit more complex. Some popular styles, like modern and contemporary, might even sound like the same thing. Despite their similarities, modern and contemporary are terms for separate design concepts. Here we will go over the basics of how to recognize and define these commonly conflated terms.

Modern vs Contemporary at a Glance

One of the hardest things about differentiating modern and contemporary styles is that people commonly use the terms interchangeably. This accounts for a lot of the confusion and uncertainty regarding the difference. The key difference is that in design terms, modern refers to a specific time period, while contemporary means present day.

Modern Architecture Specifics

Even though it sounds new, modern architecture is a style that emerged in the early to mid-20th century. It came about as a rejection of the style norms of the time, which for architecture meant overly ornate homes that prioritized embellishment rather than practicality. In contrast with that, modernist architects wanted to simplify home designs and focused on simplicity and functionality. One key example was the omission of formal sitting and dining rooms that had been popular previously. These were extra, unused spaces and instead modernists opened up the main rooms into open floor plans to promote multi-functional environments.

Modern architecture uses streamlined and geometrical structures with clean edges and asymmetrical elements. Large windows are a common feature and minimalist furniture and other interior furnishings. Though many consider the modern style “cold” or uncomfortable, with furniture the opposite is often true: modern designers prioritized comfort and practicality over aesthetics.

Contemporary Architecture Specifics

While modern architecture relates to a very specific time and movement, contemporary architecture is more difficult to define. This is because by nature of its concept, it changes constantly as new trends and advancements become popular. A contemporary home today will not look the same as a contemporary home in the future because of the evolving landscape of exterior and interior design. Despite this, contemporary homes continue to showcase specific themes and elements, some of which they share with modern architecture. Large windows and clean geometric lines are common in contemporary style, as are open floor plans. Materials differ by time period, with more recent contemporary designs favoring sustainable and eco-friendly materials and features like built-in solar panels. It is also common to mix materials in order to create contrast. For example, a home primarily built of concrete may have wood or metal accents.

Overall, contemporary design will always include what is trending now. Though most contemporary homes draw on design elements of modern architecture, they will always be unique depending on the era and location in which they’re built. They will also differ in that they draw on other styles entirely in order to make something “new”—for example, favoring traditional or craftsman style exterior with an open floor plan.

It's difficult to differentiate these two styles, but knowing how to distinguish between them will help you make informed decisions when buying, selling and decorating. After all, though the words modern and contemporary sound like they mean the same thing, the differences can be very important to the look and features of the home.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Is your workspace feeling a little blah lately?  The new year is just the right time to make a change!  Make it part of your New Year's resolution to create a cheery, bright, and welcoming workspace by upcycling your old, dingy file cabinet into this blackboard-sided, pretty yet utilitarian piece of office furniture!

You'll Need:

  • A filing cabinet or cabinets
    You probably have a filing cabinet sitting in your office or garage already and if not, you can easily source one from a thrift store or used office supply warehouse.  If you do buy your file cabinet(s) used, be sure to check them carefully for rust and make sure you can easily open and close each drawer before making your purchase.
  • Spraypaint and spray sealant
    Choose a cheery color several shades more intense than your wall or carpet color. 
  • Blackboard paint
    Blackboard paint is the best thing since sliced bread.  It may seem like an expensive buy, but you won't use it all on this project unless you're working with multiple filing cabinets, and you'll find yourself wanting to use it all over your house: it's addictive!
  • Tools to remove your hardware
    You will need a screwdriver to remove the drawer handles and locks from your file cabinet.
  • Sandpaper
    You'll need fine-grained sandpaper for this project.  An electric sander would come in very handy!
  • Primer and/or Sealant
    You'll need to use a basic primer to ensure that your paint stays put!
  • Garbage bags and painter's tape
    If you don't have a dropcloth, several large black garbage bags taped together with masking tape do just fine!
  • Spongy applicators for blackboard paint (or a small roller)


  1. First, remove all your hardware: the drawer handles, locks, and so on.
  2. Sand your filing cabinet.  Your goal isn't necessarily to remove the paint, but to create a rasp to which your primer can adhere, and to remove any peeling paint or flakes of rust.
  3. Remove the drawers and lay them out on your dropcloth.  Next, use a spray primer to create a tacky surface to which your paint can adhere.  Make sure you spray everywhere you'll paint, including your fittings if you plan to paint these.  Some blackboard paint doesn't require a primer; read the instructions on your paint to find out.  
    Note: Spray the back of the cabinet as well as the front; you never know which way it will face in the future! 
  4. Wait the prescribed amount of time for the primer to dry.
  5. Next, paint the left, right, and back of the cabinet and the space between the drawers with blackboard paint using your roller.  Continue applying coats until the look satisfies. 
  6. Using painter's tape, wrap a garbage bag 'cape' just beneath the top of the cabinet so only the top is exposed.  Then, spray the top of the cabinet with your spraypaint.  Then do the same with the drawers.  
    Note: Slower is better: do several light coats instead of trying to apply a great deal of spraypaint at once.  Check out this great article for ultimate spraypainting tips!
  7. You may choose to apply spraypaint to the hardware, keep it plain, or paint it with blackboard paint as well.  If you choose to spraypaint your hardware, be sure you've primed it thoroughly, first.
  8. Keeping the 'cape' in place, spray a sealant over your spraypaint.  Do not spray the sealant over your blackboard paint.
  9. Once the cabinet is completely dry, re-attach your hardware and place the drawers back inside the cabinet.

Now you have a beautiful, bright, blackboard-sided filing cabinet!  The blackboard paint along the edges of each drawer allows you to label the contents with chalk markers and easily erase them if you rearrange your filing system.  You can put to-do lists or draw your calendar on the sides.

Some Additional Ideas for this Project:

  • Do the entire filing cabinet in blackboard paint!
  • Apply stick-on decals before applying a sealant over your paint.
  • Mod Podge over textured paper, wallpaper, contact paper, old maps or newsprint to the front of your drawers rather than spraypainting them.  Apply a sealant as usual when you're done.
  • Use painter's tape to create amazing patterns on your drawers or on the top of your cabinet.
  • Edge the top and bottom of the drawers -- or the top of the cabinet -- with washi tape.  Use Mod Podge and sealant to ensure it doesn't peel up over time.

If you’re looking for the perfect location to live but can’t quite afford the neighborhood that you’re vying for, a good option is to look for what’s deemed a "up and coming" neighborhood. These areas are where buyers can find the perfect house in a place where property values are only going to increase in the coming years. Buyers may feel that this is a gamble. How can you really tell if a neighborhood is one of these areas? There are a few vital signs that you can find below which show a city or town is on the up and up.

New Concept Businesses Are Moving In

If you hear a new grocery store is going in an area, co-working spaces, or vegan restaurants are coming to town; it’s a good sign that the neighborhood is going to be a happening place very soon. Think organic, Millennial minded ideas that are trendy. The key is to find the things and places that people want most. If you can move into one of these areas before it becomes popular, you have struck property gold. 

Public Transportation Is Nearby

In any urban area, being near public transportation is a huge plus. Being near any major transit is great for property values. Even homes near major routes are attractive. People will always want easier access to work and the things they need.

Think About How An Area Is Perceived

Cities across the country have flipped from having negative connotations to being an area of luxury. It happens slowly, but it starts with how desirable people believe the area to be. What’s considered “hip” can really affect the way an area is perceived.

Are The Homes In The Neighborhood The Same?

There’s often much potential in neighborhoods where all of the homes have the same design. If you see homes in a place where properties could use some TLC, it may be an opportunity for you. Other buyers or house flippers may have the same idea. It will be like a domino effect, and the neighborhood will turn around quickly.  

How Long Have Homes Been On The Market?

If houses in an area have been on the market for an extended period, it could be an opportunity for you to get a bargain. Buyers may shy away from a home just because the area is less than ideal. Your real estate agent can help you to determine places where homes have been on the market for awhile.           

If you want to enjoy a seamless homebuying experience, it generally is a good idea to establish a property buying plan. That way, you can take a step-by-step approach to make your homeownership dream come true.

As you prepare a homebuying strategy, there are several factors to consider. These factors include:

1. Your Dream Home Definition

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of a dream home. Instead, this definition varies from buyer to buyer. But if you define your ideal residence, you can narrow your house search accordingly.

Think about the features you require from a home. For instance, if you want a house that offers multiple bedrooms, you can search for residences that provide you with the space you need. On the other hand, if you want a home that boasts a deluxe swimming pool, you can search for a residence that offers this feature.

Consider where you want to reside, too. By doing so, you can search for homes in a select group of cities and towns.

2. Your Homebuying Budget

You likely have only a finite amount of money that you can spend on a residence. Thankfully, if you establish a homebuying budget, you can search for houses that fall within your price range.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you start a house search. These financial institutions can teach you about a broad array of home financing options.

Don't hesitate to discuss your home financing options with a variety of banks and credit unions, either. If you check out myriad home financing options, you can select a mortgage that complements your finances perfectly.

3. Your Homebuying Timeline

You may want to create a timeline for buying a house. With this timeline in place, you will know precisely how many days, weeks or months you have to find and acquire your dream residence.

If possible, you should maintain a flexible homebuying timeline. There is no telling when problems may arise as you search for your dream house. And if your homebuying timeline is flexible, you can adjust it at any time.

For those who want to streamline the homebuying journey, you may want to employ a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you find a great home at a budget-friendly price. Plus, he or she can offer expert guidance as you craft a property buying strategy.

Also, as you navigate the homebuying journey, a real estate agent will respond to any concerns or questions. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to provide homebuying tips and recommendations that you may struggle to receive elsewhere.

Ready to transform your homebuying vision into a reality? Craft a homebuying strategy today – you will be glad you did. Once you have a homebuying plan at your disposal, you can navigate the property buying journey with poise and confidence.

If you’re considering replacing your lawn with something more sustainable and low-maintenance, there are many options to choose from. Many homeowners hesitate to get rid of their lawn because they will miss the softness and lush green color of grass. Luckily, there are lots of alternatives that can satisfy that same aesthetic demand while still saving you time and money. Here we’ll go over some of the best green (literally) alternatives for your lawn:


Clover and micro-clover make for an extremely lush and affordable lawn alternative. Clover processes and releases nitrogen back into the soil which not only improves its chemical composition but effectively fertilizes itself. You’ll never need to add fertilizer and it can grow healthy in any quality of soil. Clover is drought tolerant, meaning it can stay green all year with a fraction of the water a grass lawn would need. Dog owners will love clover’s resistance to urine spots, as well. There is very little that can discourage a clover lawn, making it one of the most cost and labor-efficient lawn alternatives available.


For another evergreen and low-maintenance grass alternative, try moss. Moss is incredibly easy to establish, and though it stays very low, it spreads quickly over large areas after simple initial planting. Moss will create a velvety but tough carpet over the ground that will stay green in the driest of summers. There’s no mowing or fertilizing required and there are lots of varieties to choose from. If you want a particular shade of green you can select from many varieties or even plant a mixture for a wilder natural look. The only real downside of a moss lawn is that it prefers the shade. If your yard is in full sun all year round, moss will struggle against the strong UV rays.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has improved drastically the last few decades. It used to be that the term artificial turf meant fake-looking, crunchy and cheap. Modern artificial turf is far more lifelike and even more resilient than its earlier incarnations. The biggest advantage of artificial turf is the durability. There’s a good reason sports team organizations around the world love using turf—it can take a beating! If your lawn is a regular spot for sports or other play, artificial turf won’t let you down in terms of damage control. It’s also practically zero maintenance compared to other lawn alternatives, except for any raking of leaves you might need to do.

Artificial turf, while it has made tremendous improvements, still has some major disadvantages. It’s incredibly expensive, averaging around $20 per square foot. This makes it a huge investment for those with larger outdoor spaces to cover. Drainage is another issue that some homeowners find with artificial turf, especially in wetter climates. If the soil underneath the turf has poor drainage, you might end up with problems in the future. Many choose to install additional drainage underneath the lawn to mitigate this, which of course adds another upfront expense.

These are just a few of the options if you want something green to replace your grass lawn. There is a wide variety of ground covering plants you can use as well as other options like ornamental grasses or creating garden beds. It’s a good idea to consult local landscaping professionals who know the climate and soil where you live, as they can help you gather information to aide your decision-making.