Upper Cape Living: 5 Additions for Easy Cape Cod Living

Not every home renovation or addition has to be a big expensive one, or one that is done exclusively to add to resale value. Here are some affordable fixes and updates that can make your home more comfortable and functional to live the Cape Cod lifestyle.

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Check out the large patio at 16 Massachusetts Avenue in Falmouth.

Building a Patio

Yes - we're well aware that this only helps 2.5 seasons out of the year. But, oh does it help! If you're like us and you always have company over, the dining room can often get tight. Rather than spending the big bucks to expand or renovate, add a patio outside and entertain there in the spring, summer and early fall months. You're only constrained by your imagination and your budget - simple ones can be installed DIY-style with some hard work and a lot of patience. Bringing family and friends outside makes dining and and cleanup easier and in our opinion, far more enjoyable. Plus, you get to use the grill! When the time comes to sell your house, a patio is often an appealing selling feature, especially in beach communities.

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Skylights help 38 Uncle Edwards Road, a Popponesset cottage, feel bright and airy.

Installing Light Tubes; Also Known as Skylights

One of the main complaints we hear from buyers and sellers, especially of older homes, is that the kitchen and/or family room are too dark. Many of these homes were designed before recessed lighting was popular, or have inconveniently placed outlets and funny dimensions. Rather than stringing endless power strips and snaking cords, turn to a solution that went out of vogue for a while but is back and better than ever. Light tubes, aka skylights, have come full-circle from their drafty, magnifying-glass-on-ant imitating brethren of the 1960s and 1970s. New skylights flood the room with ample natural lighting, and help to control energy consumption by reducing the amount of time your lights are on. Modern skylights are well-insulated, meaning that your room won't be heated to unbearable temperatures by summer sunlight, though the light will help keep your warmer in the winter. They also have the side benefit of making your floor plan feel more open and make your rooms feel larger.

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The covered porch adds character and sheltered outdoor space to 480 Main Street in Falmouth.

Adding a Covered Porch

Don't swing for the fences on a home renovation! It's not all about square footage - in fact, 94% of luxury homebuyers in a RIS Media survey said they'd give up 1,000 sq ft for a "lifestyle amenity." The arms race in square footage is one of the most misguided ways of increasing and determining a home's value. If you want to add some extra useful space, and add to the sale price of your home, add a covered porch. They add a design flourish to your home and are indispensable spaces for reading, enjoying a cocktail or taking in the sea breeze in the spring and summer months. Depending on the side of your home its on, a covered porch can also help you save on electric costs in the summer by providing shade to a couple of your interior rooms. Covered porches are a great way to bring a bit of the outdoors in. Additionally, adding one won't trigger a review by the town or cause you to have to update a septic system.

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Even in winter, the shrubs at 388 Quaker Road provide shade, privacy and curb appeal.

Planting Shrubs

Go spend some money at your local lawn and garden center! Shrubs, bushes, small trees and pretty much anything that grows in mulch can definitely count as a home update. First and foremost, a well-maintained set of shrubs, especially flowering ones, adds immensely to the curb appeal of your home and makes a great first impression on friends, neighbors and potential buyers. Planned well, and you can hire a landscape architect to help, or ask the staff at your garden center, you can have shrubs blooming from April until October without much work, with the added benefit of having to mow less of the lawn. There are literally hundreds of varieties of low-maintenance flowering bushes that require watering and little else. Hydrangeas are a quintessential Cape Cod flower that appeals to any palate, and we highly recommend planting a few of these gorgeous shrubs around your home.

Extra Power Outlets

The amount of electronics in each household is growing, and that trend shows no signs of stopping. Between smartphones, tablets, laptops and home entertainment systems and the necessary things like lights, it seems like we need power outlets every couple inches. Believe it or not, homes that don't have enough power outlets in each room, or have them in inconvenient spots, are becoming harder to sell. Outlets can often determine where at TV goes in the living room, and in older homes, it's not always in the most convenient spot. Homeowners want to be able to plug in their smartphones and have them charge on the nightstand, and to have them plugged in and charging while Tweeting and watching TV. Next time the electrician is in your home, see if he'll add a couple extra outlets around the house as an investment in the future sale of your home. No, it's not going to add to your home's sale price, but it might help the home sell faster and make the new homeowner happier.

Are there any unconventional updates we've missed? Let us know and we'll put together another edition.


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