Home Improvements That Add Value and Will Pay You Back

Home Improvement | Burns Home Improvements Boston, Quincy, Medfield

If you’re planning a home remodel or are planning to sell your house any time soon, home improvements that will add value and will pay you back should be a priority on your home improvement list.

Planning a home improvement that will pay you back at the time of sale now or later requires a strategic vision as well as design. We suggest that you draw on tips from a real estate professional if selling immediately.  For those preparing now for a sale later, we recommend that you peruse home remodeling magazines and get the inside scoop on cost verses value when performing a home remodel or improvement.

At Burns Home Improvements, our top five home addition | remodel | improvement ideas are as follows:

    1. Additions: Creating a home addition will address the needs of a growing family and changing lifestyle. Adding to your house will give you the comfort and space you need without the hassle of moving. If you are planning to sell and if done wisely – in a way that won’t price your home out of the local market – home additions are the most valuable home improvement to make. Add a second story, expand into a master suite, enlarge the garage or create an extra bathroom for a busy household.
    2. Attic upgrade: Converting attic space into useful living space is a smart way to add value and attract those shopping for multi-generational family homes. Parents are moving in with their kids and kids are returning to the nest. Trends are showing that many buyers are focusing on properties with a higher number of bedrooms and baths to accommodate growing and/or extended families.  Meanwhile, your guests have a great place to stay until you decide to sell your home.
    3. Basement Remodel: If you do not have an attic, or prefer to expand your floor space beneath you, a basement remodel is always a great option. Make the most of this bonus space by finishing it for use as an in-law apartment, guest suite, office or entertainment zone. Another great way to appeal to multi-generational households.
    4. Kitchen Remodel: Your kitchen is the heart and soul of your home and should be given the highest priority when updating and improving your home.The kitchen is a major selling point for a home, and its appearance and layout can often be a deal-breaker. Your kitchen preserves the function and value of your house. Kitchen remodeling gives new life to the room that serves as the central hub of your household – where you entertain, celebrate, gather, and do projects and homework. Improving your kitchen doesn’t have to be a huge investment, however: just replacing counter tops, key appliances or cabinet hardware can transform a kitchen’s look and impact.
    5. Bathroom Remodel: The bathroom should be a blend of form and function. This room gets a lot of use, so it makes perfect sense to redesign it around the way you use it. Bathrooms tend to age easily, so neutralize potential design objections by replacing the vanity, installing efficient fixtures and choosing hardware that facilitates easy access for all.

Your home is your castle, and you want to be pleased with the way your home looks while you’re in it. Keep in mind that if you are planning to sell, be sure you don’t put in things that are extremely personal. Choose colors that are neutral not bland. Be creative but not in a manner that most would find appealing. Most important, be sure to create space that is functional and flexible so the next buyer can envision how their own needs or desires in a home can be met.

Still trying to decide on home improvements? Contact us at  508.404.5264 or 617.939.4185 for your next home improvement idea.

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5 Things You Need to Know to When Planning Your Home Improvement Project

1. Get Clear About Your Goals.
Maybe you need more space, would like to upgrade cabinets and fixtures, desire an updated look, want to create a floor plan that better fits your lifestyle, improve energy efficiency, or increase the resale value of your home. There are many reasons to improve your home with a remodel.
2. Dream up Your New Home Design
Once you defined your goals, it’s time to start dreaming up your new home design. Sites like Houzz are excellent, free resources. Check out our Pinterest page for even more inspiration. Recognize your needs and research to find the simplest solution. It’s easy to get distracted, so try to stay focused during this step!
3. Consult with a Professional.
Unless you plan to take on the entire remodeling project by yourself, you’ll need to hire an experienced contractor. Now that you know what you want to do, it’s time to discuss with a professional what can, or cannot be done, and design a plan that meets your needs and budget. Click here to request your free estimate.
4. Know the laws in Massachusetts.
A legal permit is required before making structural changes to your home. It assures that the remodeling project meets local building codes & safety regulations. Your contractor should handle the paperwork, but it’s your responsibility if they don’t. Make sure you hire a bonded, insured & certified contractor.
5. Hire a Contractor You Can Trust
Depending on the size of the home remodel, there are bound to be some small bumps along the road with your home remodeling project. This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced and local contractor who you can trust and can build a relationship with for years to come.
Burns is a Name You Can Trust:

We finally gave up on our original contractor. Brett Burns came in after a few false starts and did an incredible job working with the last contractor’s poor workmanship. The kitchen was completed in a few weeks due to Brett traveling down to North Attleboro every day, often in a snowstorm. He is a pleasure to work with, detail oriented and gets done what needs to be done keeping us in the loop all the way. It’s difficult coming in and completing someone else’s work with a number of existing problems but Brett & crew handled it masterfully. He was the knight in armor to rescue a project in trouble!

– Greg Lee, North Attleboro

Brett is a Pro’s Pro. We’ve worked with Brett for years and have always been thrilled with his work. He always has suggestions to improve our ideas and he is creative in his solutions to the problems of updating an older home where walls aren’t always straight and even. Brett is meticulous, comes on time and leaves everything tidy. He is easy to work with and it’s a pleasure to have him help us. We feel lucky to have him work for us!”

– Terry and Billy Gaskill, Brookline

About Burns Home Construction:

We are a local company, bonded, certified and most important – established. We live and work in the communities we provide home construction and home renovation projects. As your neighbor, we too care about our community. As a local company we show concern for preserving the charm and unique architectural heritage of New England. We aim to earn your trust with anticipation of becoming a lifelong partner in the ongoing maintenance and expansion of your home. Read our customer reviews.
Learn about your home improvement options with an experienced home improvement specialist, Brett Burns. The estimate is completely free and without obligation. Contact us today to get started.
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Better Homes and Gardens Inspired Home Improvement Ideas

New Kitchen Addition | Burns Home Improvements Boston, Quincy, Medfield

It’s never too late to fall in love with your home again. Whether you want to customize a basic home re-design, renovate an old home, or learn how to remodel a kitchen or a bathroom, you can create your dream home with smart updates, careful planning, and the right professionals. As our Holiday Gift, we thought we would share some of these Better Homes and Gardens inspired home improvement ideas.

Make your home as functional as it is livable by making updates that will help your home reach its fullest potential. Browse some of these home remodeling  ideas for projects that fit your time frame, budget, and style. Check out some custom kitchen back-splash ideas:


At Burns Home Improvements we will share our knowledge, budget ideas, material recommendations, and remodeling advice to get your project started on the right foot. Learn how to remodel, how to budget for costs related to home remodeling.  At Burns Home Improvements we can also show you how to plan a home addition, how to update your home’s exterior, how to add architecture to your home, and so much more.

Find inspiration to create your dream bathroom, kitchen, home offices,attic, basement or even an entryway you’ll love and look forward to seeing every day. Then contact Burns Home Improvements at 617-939-4185 to change that dream into a reality.


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Posted in Home Additions, Home Improvement Ideas, Kitchen Design

Creative Wreath Ideas for the Holiday Season

Holiday wreaths can be as unique and decorative as the individuals who create them. Even if you’re not the craftiest person on the block, you’ll be surprised to learn what you can achieve with some hard candies and foam . . . and a little imagination! You can pick up any foam shape for your wreath base from just about any craft shop throughout New England.

At Burns Home Improvements we thought we would offer some inspirational and creative wreath ideas for the upcoming Holiday Season.  Have some leftover marshmallows from the evenings of summer? Check out the neat wreath of marshmallows.!  Plenty of leftover wine corks lying around the house?  Collect them and create a nifty wine cork wreath!

Gather fallen pine cones from your backyard and make quite the homemade wreath. Get creative with some evergreen branches, dried berries, and colorful fallen leaves and add a little splash to your masterpiece!

Thinking of changing your Holiday tree look this year? Make use of the old ornaments and create quite the colorful eye-catching wreath. You can attach ornaments to metal forms by looping floral wire through each ornament’s hanging caps. Glass balls are light enough to attach to foam wreath forms with glue, too.

We saved our favorite homemade wreath for last! Show your home builder just how much they are appreciated with a custom home tool wreath!

The options are as limitless as your creativity!

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Posted in Holiday Decorating Tips | Ideas

Weekend Projects for Under Twenty Dollars

Creative Coat Hooks

Creative Coat HooksHave you recently moved into a new home or are sprucing up your home to sell? Here are some simple, quick and inexpensive weekend projects that make a big impact.

  • Window ShadeAdd a Divider – Organize drawers and cabinets with simple dividers from a place like the Container Store. These small adjustments can clean up the look of storage spaces.
  • Add a Lower Bar to Your Closet – Double your closet space by adding a second, lower bar. Hang tops above, pants or skirts below.
  • Add a Stone Path – Visit a home department store, such as Lowes or Home Depot, to select large stones and create a stone path from the sidewalk to your front door. Install
  • Add Extra Storage – Add shelves in unused, recessed spaces to  take items off the floor and off of surface areas, such as counters.
  • Get Filtered Water – Forget bottled water! In five minutes you can add a water filtration system to your sink.
  • Improve Air Flow – Remove old grates and replace with more stylish and efficient grates.
  • Increase Lighting – Add a new light fixture to a dark closet or a designated reading area.
  • Jazz Up Curtain Rods – Toss out the aluminum rods and update with a wooden or cast iron dowel. Match the new rods to the design aesthetic of the room.
  • Organize Your Entryway – Have a hook by the front door for each family member to hang his/her jackets, keys and leave shoes.
  • Prep to Install Speakers – You may not be able to buy speakers for $20, but you can consult an electrician about installing speakers and obtain the appropriate wires you’ll need.
  • Put Towels Within Reach – If your towel bars are across the bathroom, take five minutes to add a new bar closer to the sink, shower or tub.
  • Replace Switchplates – There is no reason why your light switch can’t add a little style to a room. Replace standard, white switchplates with colored, ceramic, wood or metal ones.
  • Replace Window Shades – Have your shades been weathered by the sun? Are they not as bright as they used to be? Swap out old shades for new ones and try a new color!Window Box
  • Streamline Your Sink – Add a soap dispenser to your kitchen sink to keep soap rings from forming on your sink and counter.
  • Tackle Trim Work – Finally take the time to spruce up molding and baseboards that have suffered damage.
  • Transition Floors – Add thresholds strips where the type of flooring changes from room to room.
  • Update Door Hardware – Have a loose door knob? All it takes is a screw driver to put that knob pack into place and turning seamlessly.
  • Update Hardware – Change out drawer pulls and cabinet handles with unique or antique looking accents.
  • Update with Paint – Give a new personality to an old piece of furniture with a new coat of bright paint.
  • Window Boxes – Add flair to your first floor, front windows with boxes of flowers.
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Money Saving Home Winterization Tips

Home In the Winter


Home In the Winter

There is no getting around it.  If your home is in a cold climate, keeping it warm in the winter is expensive.  The Department of Energy predicts that prices for natural gas and heating oil will rise again this winter compared with last – and that is even after the sharp rise in prices last year.

he quickest, cheapest, yet still effective solution for windows you don’t need to look beautiful is the bubble wrap application. You’ll only need water and a spray bottle to affix the fun-to-pop stuff to a window. When applying the bubble wrap, spray the window with the water and press the ‘bubble’ side to the window pain. The bubble wrap still lets light through, and it’s surprisingly good at putting hundreds of little pockets of air between your warm room and the cold window surface.rise again this winter compared with last – and that is even after the sharp rise in prices last year.

Draft dodgers are great for that space between your doors and the floor.  Be sure to use draft dodgers for any interior or exterior doors that have gaps. Draft dodgers are cloth or insulation stoppers that fit the space under a door, but still allow the door to open with relative ease.  Draft dodgers run about $15, are easily adjustable for most any door, and are machine-washable too. Visit http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/brica-reg-door-draft-dodger-topography/1040811888 to learn more.

Get a programmable thermostat. If you have to pick one upgrade to pitch to your landlord, or your significant other, this is the one. A slightly smart, electronic thermostat with good programming evens out the heating demands of your big empty spaces. Be sure to purchase one with memory and allows for overrides without deleting the default settings.  We purchased one and we set our temp about 60 degrees at 4 pm and then 65 at 6 pm and drop to 57 about 9 pm. For those cool mornings, we set about 64 degrees at 7 am and back to 57 about 9 am. If my wife or I want it warmer sooner, we can crank it up, but our thermostat returns to default mode thereafter.

If your attic is not insulated – there is no time like the present. A properly insulated attic can save you about 10-50% off your heating bill. And remember that insulated attics work the opposite way for hotter days. In summer, it helps stabilize your homes indoor temps to keep cooling costs at bay.

For optimal efficiency furnaces and heating units should be professionally cleaned and filters replaced annually. Adding this task to your home winterization to-do list is a good idea. Not only will the furnace run more cleanly and effectively, but clean units will save you money as well.

If you find your home is extremely hard to heat and winterizing is too demanding a task, or if your winterizing efforts are having little effect on the large picture of maintaining efficiency and saving energy dollars, consider hiring a professional to upgrade your home. It may be time to replace windows and doors with more energy efficient, insulating models. Similarly, having added or new insulation installed along exterior walls and roofs, and possibly re-siding your house may cost you surprisingly little in the long run as opposed to continually heating an inefficient home that is not able to hold the warm air. Technology has produced many new products and techniques that are minimally invasive and can be quickly applied, such as exterior insulations that can be blown in without ripping into a house’s walls

Here is to a cozy winter!

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Spiced-Up Kitchen Design Color Combos

These unexpected paint pairings are sure to get your spiced up kitchen design cooking


Two Toned Kitchen TWO-TONED

If you’re looking for a way to give the hub of your home a new look with maximum impact for minimum hassle, consider a double dose of color, as shown in the kitchens we’ve rounded up here. Apple green with mustard yellow. Tomato red with carbon black. Taupe gray and pistachio green. Deep plum and pale mint. And cream paired with vintage-mixing-bowl blue. “Paint allows you to put your personal stamp on cabinetry,” says Brian Yahn of Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania, whose clients often request a custom hue—or two. With upper cabinets in one shade and base cabinets in another, island and perimeter cabinets in contrasting colors, or simple pantry units painted to stand out like furniture, “it’s not your mother’s kitchen,” he notes. Case in point: the mix at right. For more on this and other lively pairings, check out the rest of this gallery.

Shown: Carefully plotted fields of color, including citrus shades of yellow and green, define prep, storage, and lounging spaces—and guarantee an upbeat mood. Cabinets: Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry


A new kitchen is like a blank slate: You can color it any way you want. Just take a look at this kitchen-and-family-room addition at Bonnie and Jim Connors’ house outside Chicago. The layout is pretty straightforward: The cooking area is flanked by small home-office and mudroom nooks; upper cabinets, prep space, and range are along one wall; windows, sink, and counters fill another; an island separates the cooking and family room areas.

But then things get interesting.

Working with architect Healy Rice and kitchen designer Kathy Walder, the couple stepped away from the traditional look of plain-vanilla boxes. “I’ve always loved color,” says Bonnie, and that includes her favorite shade of green. To keep the look sophisticated, she also opted for black base cabinets with an aged patina, off-white marble countertops, and plenty of stainless steel.

For a similar look, try Valspar‘s Green Tea (upper cabinets) and Pitch Cobalt (lower cabinets).

Bold and BrightBOLD AND BRIGHT

To get the right shade, she handed a piece of fabric to decorative painter Alex Stefanski, asking if he could replicate its zippy tone and soft texture. Using a bright green paint, umber-tinted glaze, and a specialty faux-finish brush to add texture, he covered the range wall’s upper cabinets with a broad swath of color. Then he tackled a hutch made of cabinets and butcher block on the sink wall, using a similar blend of paint, glaze, and brushstrokes to create an antiqued mustard yellow.

For a similar look, try Valspar‘s Yellow Chimes (hutch).


Cabinets for the home office were ordered in a factory-applied yellow that echoes the hutch across the room. Grass-cloth wall covering adds a sophisticated note and warm neutral backdrop, while red accents provide punch.

The color choices may be courageous, but they were hardly random. “It took a lot of time to think about ways to use color and create a balanced look,” says Walder. To help get it right, Bonnie made copies of the architectural elevations and used crayons to color them in a half-dozen different combinations.

Citrusy shades of yellow, green, and orange not only enliven the cooking space but also help give different areas of the addition distinct identities. More important, “the kitchen is really happy,” says Bonnie. “People love to be in this room.”

For a similar look, try Valspar‘s Golden Haze (office cabinets).

Should you find any of these color suggestions appealing or a kitchen remodel is in your Fall list of things to do, please be sure to contact Burns Home Improvements at 617.939.4185.

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Ten Simple Affordable Home Improvement Ideas

Home Improvement Image10 Simple Home Improvement Projects

1. Every home has different improvement needs and not all projects will suit all homes. The best way to begin is to identify where improvements can be made in your home or where you want to have some change. Once you have done this, use design magazines and go online to look for the solutions you need. The web offers a vast amount of resources and being able to surf the net for a legitimate purpose makes a nice change for most people. That being said, here are some generic home improvement projects that do not cost a lot of money and which can be done in most homes.

2. The kitchen is the heart of the home and the one room that everyone uses. Because of the heavy use it is subjected to it can become tired looking and worn out very quickly. A rejuvenated kitchen will brighten up what whole house. You don’t need to spend vast amounts on new appliances and cabinets. Go to manufactures’ websites and you will often find that you can buy new doors for your cabinets and appliances at a fraction of the cost of replacing them. Alternatively, a few simple things such as changing cabinet hardware and applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to the woodwork can be very effective in giving the kitchen a new look.

3. Light fixtures can be economical and changing them is usually not difficult. New lighting can give a room a completely new look. Eco friendly lights will give you the satisfaction of reducing your carbon footprint as well as lowering your electricity bill. Use simple easy to clean designs for light that are in places where cleaning them is difficult and not easy to do often.

4. Floors bear the brunt of all the traffic in the house and they can become worn looking very quickly. Replacing flooring with new ecofriendly materials like bamboo is not only good for the environment but also not as expensive as you may think, especially if your DIY skills allow you to do the installation yourself. Carpets too have to put up with a lot of heavy use and can become dirty very quickly. If you rent a carpet shampooer and buy the cleaning agents required, you will be able to give new life to your carpets at a fraction of the cost of buying new ones.

5. Bathrooms are places where wear shows quickly. A few simple inexpensive things such as replacing chipped tiles, putting in new towel racks and changing a worn toilet seat can give the room a fresh look. If your budget extends to a new sink, that’s even better.

6. Your front door is the first thing a visitor sees of your home. A worn out door with chipped paint and broken or loose handles creates a negative impression. A fresh coat of paint and some new hardware can give the door a new look which is another way to brighten up your home. If your budget is large enough, a few new lights on the front porch can make an even bigger change to the look and vibrancy of your home.

7. An attic can be more than just a place to store things you don’t need but don’t have the heart to get rid of. Conduct an inventory of all that you have there, be ruthless in getting rid of junk and then put up shelves to hold what is left and what you think you will collect in the future. Partition off this area and you will find a large open space that you can use as you want.

8. Don’t ignore the outside of the house. Redoing your garden requires little more than a shovel, a hoe and some seeds but the effect of fresh new shrubs and flowers can be huge. Why even have grass? If you live in a desert city such as Phoenix some out of towners like to move in and plant grass. Green in a brown environment does not look right. It is foolish and does not match the scenery. This is not even counting the fact that water is expensive in Phoenix because it is a desert. It is hilarious and worrisome that people insist on growing grass when it is a pain to cut and maintain and does not look right when you are the only one on the street that is trying to grow grass in the desert.

9. Furthermore, and if you don’t have a big yard, why not install a few flower boxes? You can buy then at garden supply stores and they are not expensive. Most are easily fitted below windows and the scent of flowers and the bright colors can infuse warmth into a home.

10. We tend to not really notice changes in things we see or come into contact with every day. Look around your home carefully and you will find areas that need improvement. Most of these fixes are simple jobs that don’t need a large wallet but will change your home of the better.



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Multiple Uses for Old Magazines

Magazine RackHave you ever wondered what to do with your old magazines when the pile of glossies on your nightstand gets too tall? Here are some useful tips that will not only recycle your magazines, but actually transform them into other useful items:

  1. Store any type of cords. Roll up one of your used magazines and secure it with tape. Then wrap your extension cord, those annoying Christmas tree lights, or any type of cord for that matter, around it to keep it from tangling.
  2. Use them as a protective liner for your liner. Line your Koi pond or that patio garden. Before adding a liner, place a thick layer of magazine pages over the surface of the excavated area to keep rocks and roots from puncturing the liner. (Newspaper works, too.)
  3. Create an impromptu “bathroom lift” for your young ones to reach the sink.  Get a box, approximately the same size as your magazines.  Stack the magazines in the cardboard box and then seal it up with heavy packing tape.  Paste images from the magazine all over the outside for some decoration.
  4. Keep glass paint-free. Who needs tape? Before painting window muntins, wet the edges of magazine pages and press them onto the panes, edges against the muntins. After painting, the paper peels off easily.
  5. Make boot trees. Ever get tired of the folded crease in your designer boots? Use them as boot liners to keep the shape of your cowboy or dress boots.  Roll the used magazine and secure it with tape and slide them into the boot to keep their form.
  6. Protect work surfaces. Line your worktable and the floor beneath it with magazine pages for easy cleanup after a messy job.
  7. Wrap a present. Why pay for gift wrap? Recycle colorful pages from old magazines instead.
  8. Line your drawers. Use heavyweight magazine pages to keep drawer bottoms clean.
  9. Use as a trivet. Slide a magazine under a hot pot or dish to protect your tabletop.
  10. Use them for artwork.  Purchase an inexpensive frame from your local crafts store and line it with magazine images of your favorite items and then hang your new masterpiece!
  11. Elevate a plant. Potted plant too short for a planter? Pile magazines at the bottom of the planter, and put the pot on top.

Brett Burns
Burns Home Improvements


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Simple Fix for a Clogged Drain

Toilet with flowersThe Clogged Drain

Be it the shower or the sink, nasty clogs can typically occur in the bathroom. Families with teenage daughters are more likely to appreciate the clogged drain as a fact of life. Plumbers and harsh chemicals aren’t always the answer. At Burns Home Improvements our first line of defense against a clogged drain is simple. Use a toilet plunger. Be sure to use some force, and a rapid up and down motion.  This has to be repeated several times. Our second attack is to simply add boiling water loosen things up.

If the plunger and hot water combination does not succeed. Try using one cup of baking soda poured down the clogged drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. The two ingredients, will bubble as they work their way down the drain and can then be followed by boiling water.

This is an inexpensive tactic to try all options to unclog a drain. Those who have a septic system will appreciate the use of non-corroding ingredients. In fact, at Burns Home Improvements, we highly recommend steering away from using commercial clog removers found on store shelves – especially is your pipes are old or connected to a septic system.

Brett Burns
Burns Home Improvements

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