How to Organize Your Closets Like a Pro

Take a moment to consider the look of your closet. Are clothes packed together on hangers? Are there piles of shoes on the floor? When you plan an outfit for the day, is it challenging to find items you want to wear? And lastly, are you frustrated that your closet contains clothes that no longer fit or are out of style? An organized closet takes out the clutter, guesswork and frustration in life. Improve your productivity and mental health with our tips on how to organize your closets like a pro.

Empty Out Your Closet

The first step to organizing your closet is to pull everything out. By doing so, you can see what you have and how much you can let go of. Maybe you’ll even find a long-lost item! The closet is much easier to dust and vacuum when it’s empty, so now’s the perfect time. 

Sort Items Into Piles

Sorting through a mountain of clothes on your bed is overwhelming and ineffective. Instead, group items by category, like long-sleeve shirts and cardigans, and work through one pile at a time. Hold up each item and think about if this is truly your style, if it fits well, and goes with other pieces you own. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and keep what sparks joy for you. Place these into the keep pile, and for all other items, place them into piles to be tossed or donated.

Invest in New Hangers

While it can be tempting to buy whichever hangers are the cheapest, mismatched hangers can make your closet look messy and disorganized. When hangers are the same, clothes sit at the same height. Slim, non-slip hangers create extra space and keep clothes from sliding onto the floor. Depending on the garment, pant hangers, padded hangers, and wooden hangers can also come in handy.

Reorganize Your Closet Space

Now that you know what clothing items you want to keep, it’s time to place them in the closet. That doesn’t necessarily mean they should go in the same spot. Maximize the space you have to keep it clutter-free. Wall shelves, stacking drawers, and an over-the-door system are customizable alternatives to holding accessories like shoes, hats, and bags.

Store Sweaters Folded

Sweaters often have a delicate knit and can be thick and heavy. Hanging this type of sweater can cause them to stretch out and lose their shape, especially at the shoulder. It’s best to store them folded. Sweaters that are lightweight and tight-knit are safe to hang on padded hangers!

Put Away Seasonal Items

A great way to free up some closet space is by storing seasonal items in a different location. Put them in clear storage boxes to easily see what’s inside, and then move the boxes to another room, like the attic or basement. Or use under-the-bed storage solutions. Think of bed risers and zippered storage containers or stylish wheeled drawers. If you have the closet space, store clothes by season with the current season at the front.

Use a System That Works for You

There are different ways to organize clothes. The most typical is by clothing type where shirts go together, then pants, and so on. Another method is to hang up clothing items by function. Group the pieces you wear to the office, everyday pieces, and gym clothes. Organizing your clothes in order allows for easy access. Life becomes more stress-free when you have what you use most within reach and organized to best fit your needs.

Reach Out to The Massey Team

If you’re looking for a new home, staying organized is a great way to showcase your house and get ready for the big move. With over 45 years of experience, The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties makes the process of buying or selling your home as stress-free as possible! Give us a call at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 and learn more today.

Tips For Keeping Your Pool Sparkling Clean

Man cleaning swimming pool with vacuum tube cleaner early in the morning

It’s summertime, which means you’ve opened your pool for the season. This is great! Some fun in the sun isn’t complete without a pool party, but nothing ruins the perfect pool day like a dirty pool. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you keep your pool sparkling clean so enjoy these beautiful summer days.

Skim Off Leaves & Debris

Skimming the surface of your pool should be done daily. For this, you’ll need a long-handled leaf skimmer to gather up leaves, insects, and any other debris that might have fallen into your pool. The goal is to catch the debris before it falls to the bottom of your pool where it’s harder to clean and where the debris can cause stains. If you have trees anywhere around your pool, it’s recommended that you trim them back to reduce the amount of possible debris. Skimming is important because it also keeps debris from clogging the filter.

Brush Sediment from Pool Walls

You should brush the pool walls and fixtures every week to get rid of any dirt and algae that may have collected there. Use a brush to brush the walls, ladder, slide, and any other fixtures to remove the dirt. To make things easier for yourself, try and brush the dirt towards the main drain of the pool where it will be vacuumed up easily.

Vacuum The Pool

Once the algae and dirt has been brushed from the walls and fixtures of your pool, you can vacuum any debris that has fallen to the bottom. There are two different types of vacuums you can use—an automatic or manual vacuum.

If you want to go with an automatic vacuum, there are three types: robotic, pressure, and suction. A robotic vacuum is the most energy-efficient and works separate from your filtration system. The pressure vacuum is your middle of the road automatic vacuum that utilizes the pressure line from the filtration system to move around your pool. The final, and cheapest alternative is the suction vacuum. The suction vacuum uses the water flow from your filtration system and attaches either to a dedicated suction port or skimmer.

The alternative to an automatic vacuum is the manual. With a manual vacuum you’ll want to submerge your vacuum head and hose before hooking to vacuum up to the filter. When you vacuum the bottom of your pool, make sure you move like you’re pushing a lawn mower, and that the lanes you make overlap to ensure you are picking up the most debris possible.

Maintain Chemical Levels

An important part about owning a pool is understanding the necessary chemicals needed to keep the water clean and clear. The two things you’ll want to monitor the most are the chlorine and pH levels. Chlorine is a chemical that kills germs and bacteria in the pool water and the pH level (measures how acidic or alkaline the water is) influences how effective the chlorine is at keeping the water clean. You can use a water testing kit to test your water about twice a week. Your chlorine should measure between 1.0 and 3.0 parts per million, while the pH levels should read between 7.2 and 7.6. If the pH is too low add an alkali to reduce acidity, and if it is too high, add an acid to the water, muriatic acid or sodium bismuthate are the most used.

Shock & Algaecide

Once a week you should shock, or super-chlorinate, your pool to kill any bacteria or algae that may be growing. You can buy shock at any pool supply store, but make sure to read the box to see how much you should use, because it varies on the size of the pool you need to shock.  Apply algaecide if you notice any algae growing along the walls or fixtures of your pool. Algae can turn your water green, yellow, or cloudy.

Backwash

Backwash refers to cleaning out your pool filter. This is when you run water through the system in the opposite direction. If your water starts to get cloudy it’s time to backwash.

Maintain Good Water Circulation

If you don’t maintain water circulation it could affect how the chemicals in your pool, like chlorine, are dispersed, which throws off the hole balance of your pool’s ecosystem. To maintain good water circulation, you should run your pump for at least eight hours a day, clean out your skimmer basket weekly, empty out your pump and filter basket weekly, consistently clean filter, and monitor and troubleshoot any unexpected PSI changes.

The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties

Looking for a property with the perfect pool for summer parties and relaxation? Contact The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties today! To get a look at our current listings at https://masseyteam.bhhsselectstl.com/. Want to get in contact with a member of our team, reach out to either of these two phone numbers: (618)791-5024 & (618)791-9298

How to Refresh Your Home on a Budget

Chances are, you’ve looked around your home and decided now is the time for an update. What you liked years ago has changed, and so have you! We’ve compiled a  list of seven tips on how you can refresh your home on a budget – and help you fall in love with your home all over again!

Swap Out Accessories

Ready to give your couch or bed a facelift? Add a pop of color to any room with accessories. Decorate with colorful accent pillows and throw blankets to match the season or your mood. Pillows can add texture, pattern, color and that finishing touch that you’re looking for and are an inexpensive way to change the look of a room.

Change Up the Hardware

You may have noticed, as you’re taking out ingredients and cookware to make dinner, that your kitchen isn’t exactly your style any longer.  No worries!  An easy way to update your kitchen’s aesthetic is with new hardware for your drawers and cabinets.  Knobs and pulls are easy to install and generally inexpensive – and can put a fresh and modern spin on your cabinets and kitchen style.

Incorporate Plants Indoors and Out

Did you know that studies show that plants can reduce the feelings of anxiety and depression, can make you more productive and boost creativity, and also increase the air quality in your home? Adding plants to any space is a great way to give a room character while achieving some health benefits for the occupants! By breathing in this fresh air, you’ll naturally feel more relaxed and less stressed. And, your room will look more cozy too! If you’re a newbie, here’s a list of 12 beautiful flowers that are easy to grow!

Bring Out the Paint

Walls show signs of wear and tear over time. There are scratches from moving furniture, holes from hanging up paintings, and chipped paint from age. A fresh coat of paint easily and quickly updates the look and feel of a room.

Want to create instant curb appeal? Go ahead and freshen up the front door while you’re at it. As we all know, first impressions matter. Consider painting your front door with a bright, welcoming shade like blue, yellow, or red.

Make a Statement With Your Walls

A fresh coat of paint isn’t the only way to revive your walls. You can also create a statement wall by adding your favorite paint color or wallpaper pattern to a central wall in your room. Also, consider adding artwork by hanging a large painting, or create a sophisticated gallery wall with photos and art of varying sizes. This is a great opportunity to display photos from vacations and other memorable outings.

Add Warmth With Rugs

A great way to add warmth and charm to a space is with the addition of area rugs. Adding area rugs in the entryway and under tables can help anchor any room. Combining rugs, blankets, and pillows with complimenting colors and textures can help create a warm, cozy vibe and quickly refresh any room.  And the best part? Adding area rugs can also help cut heating costs in the winter months!

Create A Cozy Nook

A small, calming space can be just what you need to relax. In the corner of a room, set up a small table and comfy chair, and adorn them with a fuzzy blanket and comfortable pillows. Place a small bookshelf and a reading light to make the ideal reading nook, or a floor mat for the perfect spot to meditate. You’ll feel more at ease in no time.

Trust the Experts at The Massey Team

Not sure where to start? Trust the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties! We’ll help you find the home of your dreams and make positive changes. Give us a call at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 and learn more today.

The Best Plants for Your Bedroom

When picking the right plant, or plants, for your bedroom it’s important to keep beauty and functionality in mind. You want a plant that looks good, but you should also want a plant that’s going to keep your space clean and airy. That will make it easier for you to catch a good night’s sleep.

Lavender

Lavender’s tantalizing aroma has been known to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, hopefully relaxing you enough to help you fall and stay asleep. This plant needs direct sunlight for a few hours every day. It also needs to be watered when the soil has become slightly dry. Be careful not to overwater or the plant will rot.

Areca Palm

This gorgeous palm has been known to grow upwards of ten feet! So, make sure it has plenty of room. This plant produces oxygen and absorbs pollutants like toluene, xylene, and formaldehyde. To keep this plant happy, it requires bright, indoor light and constant, light moisture in the spring and summer. Be careful not to let the plant become too soggy.

English Ivy

This hardy plant thrives in pots or in pots mixed with taller houseplants. It needs moderate light in the spring and summer but requires bright light (or additional fluorescent lighting) in the fall and winter. Let the soil dry just a bit in between watering, but don’t let the plant dry out completely. The English ivy is great for seasonal allergies, as research shows that it can reduce airborne mold and feces. While this plant is great for alleviating allergies and symptoms of asthma, be careful. It is slightly toxic to ingest. So, keep it away from children and pets.

Chinese Evergreen

This easy-to-grow plant is great for the bedroom. It tolerates low, indoor light, and still emits high levels of oxygen and removes chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. Make sure to always keep its soil moist and to keep it away from cold air. It despised cold air!

Snake Plant

If you’re a bit of a brown thumb, this plant is great for you! It’s tough as nails and only needs to be watered when the soil is practically dry. The only thing you need to remember is that this plant requires bright, indirect sunlight. With the right care this plant can live for decades, which is great, because it’s been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. Unlike most plants, the snake plant also converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night. The better air quality will help you sleep, especially if you have allergies.

Golden Pothos

This plant is a great air purifier, easy to care for, and doesn’t require too much light. A good choice if you want some hanging plants, golden pothos has been shown to remove pollutants like benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde. It also increases air humidity, which is great when you’re sleeping in spaces with dry air.

Spider Plant

Like some of the other plants on this list, the spider plant can also help remove formaldehyde, cigarette smoke, ammonia, benzene, and other pollutants from the air. This is a great house plant, because it’s nontoxic, can live in bright or less sunny parts of the house, and it creates ‘pups’, or smaller versions of the plant that can be obtained by pruning an overgrown plant.

Peace Lily

This low maintenance plant grows best in bright, direct sunlight. While it is mildly toxic to ingest, it’s graceful beauty and ability to reduce the microbe count in the air, makes it well worth keeping around.

Gerbera Daisies

This cheerfully, colored plant provides a pop of color during the day and at night they emit oxygen and absorb toxins like carbon dioxide from the air. This plant has long been recommended to people who suffer from allergies and sleep apnea.

Bamboo Palm

This low maintenance plant filters toxins out of the air like xylene, chloroform, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. It prefers indirect sunlight and is non-toxic to cats and dogs.

Gardenia

One study showed that the intense aroma of the gardenia had similar anti-anxiety effects as some barbiturates, suggesting that this plant may help you sleep better and boost your mood. If you’re set on a gardenia, be sure you can give it six to eight hours of sunlight a day.

The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties

Here at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties, we know what it takes to make a house a home. When it comes to picking the right house plants, there’s a science that most people don’t think about, but that’s why we’re here for you. From picking the right house plant, to picking the right house, we’re here for all your home needs. To get in contact with a member of our team call one of these two numbers: (618)791-5024 & (618)791-9298. To check out our current listings follow the link here.

Why You Should Use a REALTOR® to Sell Your Home

As the real estate market in 2021 is heating up, many homeowners are wondering if they should capitalize on the moment and sell their home. With homes seemingly flying off the shelves, you may be tempted to sell your home yourself. While it’s not required by law to sell your home with a Realtor, it certainly has its benefits! According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 89% of people selling their homes worked alongside a real estate agent.  Here are seven reasons why you should consider hiring a Realtor when selling your home:

Handling Real Estate is a Full-Time Job

Most homeowners lead busy lives and selling a property is certainly a full-time job. Do you truly have time to deal with home showings, open houses, and marketing your home (not to mention fielding phone calls and emails of nosey neighbors and passers-by) while you are busy managing work schedules, meetings, family obligations? If not, trust this full-time job to a real estate agent who will be able to handle these tasks and more.

Realtors Have Access to a Large Network of Contacts

Real estate agents are able to list homes on the multiple listing service (MLS) database, which is strictly accessed by licensed real estate professionals. The MLS is available to all Realtors and is the #1 tool they utilize in listing and selling homes. FSBO (for sale by owner) listings are not permitted on the MLS, which leaves homeowners resorting to yard signs, flyers, and old-school advertising to list their homes and get the word out to potential buyers. Plus, real estate agents utilize their contacts with clients, agents, and other agencies to quickly spread the word about a property.

Realtors Keep Emotion Out of the Sales Process

Selling a home is an emotional process, and a real estate agent doesn’t let emotions get in the way. Aside from the emotion tied to living there, a homeowner can have a difficult time listening to negative or upsetting comments. Agents use feedback to plan next steps or address issues if a home isn’t selling, and don’t let their emotions take over. Realtors are trained to look at listings objectively to help a homeowner sell as quickly as possible for the highest price – all without emotion.

Agents Don’t Ignore Flaws in Your Property

While your home may be your castle and is perfect through your rose-colored lenses, there may be things that you don’t see that might be off-putting to a buyer. Realtors are trained to see what potential buyers might notice as flaws. Whether it’s the interior design, pet odors, dated paint colors, or just a matter or “less is more,” agents can work with you on these issues and drastically improve the chances of getting your home sold.

For example, perhaps upgrading your kitchen would yield huge returns in your sale price. Even small upgrades can make a big difference! Old appliances, outdated countertops, water damage, and bad lighting can make it a struggle to sell a home. The saying “the kitchen is the heart of the home” rings true, and the kitchen is a big selling feature! Read here to learn more about upgrading your kitchen to capture the hearts of future homeowners.

Agents List Your Home at the Right Price

Did you know that FSBOs typically sell for $24,000 less than agent-assisted homed? While you might be thinking you can save on commission, you’d actually be losing money by underselling your home! The NAR added that, of the FSBO homes that sell quickly, 77% do so because they were sold to someone the seller knows. Agents help determine the listing price through detailed competitive market analysis and expertly handle negotiations. Agents also understand the current market conditions and what’s in demand, and can use this to your advantage. In addition, they are well-versed in what is typical in a real estate transaction, such as whether the buyer or seller should negotiate for fees like closing costs or repairs. Your agent will have the best resources to get you the best price for your home.

Agents Are Able to Negotiate Like a Boss

Selling your home may seem like a slam-dunk, but finding a buyer willing to pay your listing price is the least of your worries. After you negotiate that “perfect selling price” comes inspections, possible contract amendments, and so much more.  A Realtor is equipped with info and possesses those hard-core negotiation skills – all while keeping everyone calm and on the same page. In the end, agents oftentimes yield a larger profit at the time of closing based on the additional items they negotiate on your behalf once the contract is signed.

Trust the Experts in Real Estate

With this process comes a lot of legal paperwork. It would be nice if selling a home were as simple as signing over a title! However, that is definitely not the case. Your agent will know what paperwork is required to sell your home and will keep you out of legal hot water.

For instance, does your house have any structural issues with the foundation that need to be disclosed? Is mold present or is there termite damage in your home? Has your home passed radon tests? Is your home located in a flood zone? All of these things can lead to potential pitfalls in the contract process. A real estate agent can help you navigate and resolve these issues while staying within the confines of the law. By trusting experts to handle important items, buyers can protect themselves from being sued.

Ready to sell your home? Trust the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties to help you sell your home. Learn more by calling either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298, or view our latest listings here!

The Ideal Home for You Based on Your Zodiac Sign

ideal home based on zodiac sign

Have you been on the hunt for the perfect home but you’re just not sure what to buy? The answer could lie in the stars. Whether you’re a serious, more elaborate person or a much more laidback and simplistic soul, there’s a home that could be right for you. Learn more about which type of home could best line up with your zodiac sign!

Aries (3/21 – 4/19): Ranch

You are an energetic go-getter with a notorious stubborn streak. You like to be in and out quickly and tackle your to-do list without stairs or embellishments getting in your way. A one-story ranch is your perfect match! Bonus points if your new abode has plenty of yard space for you to sprawl out and expand your domain (or compete against your friends in outdoor games).

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20): Victorian

Taurus, you tend to love luxury yet have a very practical and timeless taste. You’ll want to invest in a home that you’ll not only love living in, but can also increase in value. The elegant and classic Victorian style could be your dream home! You’ll enjoy the gorgeous details, intricate staircases, and stained glass windows, and the historical status of the building will also appeal to you. Besides, you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of renovating if need be!

Gemini (5/21 – 6/20): A modern split-level

Gemini is known as the “twins of the zodiac” – what better way to celebrate and express that duality than residing in a split-level home? These homes offer versatility and can be restyled quite easily to suit your whims. Tap into your inner social butterfly and entertain guests on one level of the house while having a separate sanctuary to retreat to and reboot once the party’s over.

Cancer (6/21 – 7/22): Cottage

You are a compassionate soul with a big love for others. You enjoy feeling cozy and comfortable at home, and you want your friends and family to feel the same way when they spend time with you there. Cottages are perfect for portraying that calming “at-home” feeling. You may feel even happier in a cottage that’s either out in the countryside or by the sea – somewhere far away from the hustle and bustle of life!

Leo (7/23 – 8/22): Castle or mansion

Known as the royalty of the zodiac, Leos are larger than life and enjoy being in the spotlight. Tap into your inner king or queen and relish the luxury of a castle or mansion. With plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms fit for royalty, opulent windows, and perhaps even a pool in the backyard, a castle or mansion is the quintessence of glamor and will keep everyone talking.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22): Modern home

Virgo, you are classy, smart, practical, organized, and a bit of a neat freak. Everything in your home has a purpose and a particular place. The streamlined perfection of a modern home will help you feel comfortable and stay organized and tidy. Modern homes are perfect for minimalist lifestyles while still giving you the space to express your true self!

Libra (9/23 – 10/22): French provincial

Libras tend to be romantic, artistic, and very social. You love having people around while also having a place to express your creative side. French provincials can give you the balance you crave! You’ll appreciate this style of home with its symmetrical proportions. As an air sign, you will also enjoy the many windows and doors these home often have as well. And don’t worry – there’s usually plenty of room for you to entertain your guests, both indoors and outdoors!

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21): Log cabin

Complex and private by nature, Scorpios need a place to call home and recharge after being out in the world. Log cabins in the woods are the perfect home for this mysterious water sign. Cabins are often warm and cozy, especially when the fireplace is turned on, which is something the home-loving Scorpio craves.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): Tiny house

With an undying thirst for travel, the optimistic Sagittarius loves to be on the go and having new adventures. They are more prone to collecting memories and experiences over decorations and objects. The tiny house makes for a perfect home base for these archers to retreat to in between adventures. Bonus points if you find a tiny home with wheels – this makes it even easier to pack up and move wherever the wind takes you!

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19): City apartment

Capricorns are dedicated, career-oriented people who rise up to any challenge. They like to be in the middle of the action whenever possible and work hard to make their way to the top. A high-rise apartment in your favorite city is the right fit for you! An apartment will keep you close to work and all your favorite haunts after you crush your goals.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18): Eclectic homes

Aquarius, you enjoy unique homes that other homebuyers tend to pass up. Whether that’s living in a yurt or in a house shaped like a goose, you gravitate toward asymmetrical, unconventional designs. Mid-century modern, ultramodern, or contemporary homes will make you feel at home and ahead of the trends!

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20): Mediterranean

Deeply artistic and incredibly imaginative, Pisces needs a home that’s as colorful and dreamy as they are. Mediterranean-style homes are an excellent choice for the water-loving Pisces. Complete with unique, coastal qualities, a Mediterranean style would make this water sign feel right at home. And all the better if this home were situated on a waterfront of some sort – Pisces needs to be close to a source of water to feel at peace! Whether you’re in the market for a home of your own or simply daydreaming for now, The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties can make the stars align and help you find your dream home! Get started by calling us at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298. You can also view our latest listings here!

9 Handy Tips to Help You Compost Like a Pro

composting 101

Whether you do a lot of gardening, want to do more for the environment, or wish you could decrease your food waste, you might have heard the term “composting” floating around here and there. It might sound like an intimidating endeavor, but composting is actually a pretty simple and effective way you can reduce your waste while improving your garden, thanks to a bit of scientific know-how! If you’re trying to figure out how you can compost at home, check out our 9 tips below to help you get started:

First of All, What Is Compost?

The mixture you get when you combine kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials – that’s called compost. It’s the “black gold” that your garden and its soil crave. Why? Compost is rich in plant-friendly nutrients, which is often a blessing to depleted soil. Thanks to a combination of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, moisture, and helpful microorganisms, the organic materials in your heap will break down over time, creating matter that will boost your soil’s ability to grow and nurture more plants!

The Many Benefits of Composting

Did you know that an estimated 30-40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted? Much of that winds up in municipal landfills when it can be enriching your garden instead. Composting can make that happen! Aside from reducing food waste, here are some more excellent benefits that composting can bring:

  • Controls soil erosion while rejuvenating the soil itself
  • Protects and treats plant disease and nutrient deficiencies
  • Revitalizes and filters local water sources
  • Prevents the use of artificial fertilizers and harsh chemicals
  • Reduces methane emissions caused by food and yard waste
  • Decreases landfill costs
  • Lowers farming production costs
  • Positively affects the environment

Sounds great, right? If you’re ready to get started, here are our 9 tips to help you become a composting pro in no time!

Choose the Right Container

When it comes to composting, there are dozens of ways to do it. You just need to find the right way to get the job done for you! Most of the time, this involves buying a container of some sort (instead of relying on worms or burying your food waste straight into the soil). Some options include:

  • Plastic stationary bins: These are probably the most common composting containers! You simply pile a few new layers of material on top of the others and then mix it up every week or so till it’s good to go.
  • Tumblers: These are great for batch composting. They might be a pricier option, but they can help accelerate the composting process. What might take months can take as little as three weeks, thanks to tumblers!
  • Indoor containers: Of course, you can always keep a small container inside your home. These are often used when you want to donate your heap to a community composting location on a weekly basis.

Find the Right Spot

Take a peek out your window. Where are the driest, shadiest spots in your yard? These places could be ideal for your future compost heap, which needs to have a controlled balance of temperature and moisture. If you’d rather do the dirty work indoors, that’s no problem! We recommend finding a cool, dry place to keep your home smelling fresh.

Compost the Right Materials

Unfortunately, you can’t just compost any old thing! You’ll want to avoid including anything that might harm your plants or attract rodents. This includes pet waste, charcoal ashes, animal products (dairy, meat, etc.), and any yard trimmings that were treated with pesticides. What can you include? Essentially, anything that came from the ground – vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, tea bags, and possibly even shredded, uncoated paper products.

Let the Water Drain

Remember how we mentioned that your compost heap requires just enough moisture to make the magic happen? You’ll want a way for excess water to exit your compost heap. To keep the environment damp, build a base layer of twigs or straw that’s at least a few inches off the bottom of the pile. The remaining water will drain away instantly. Remember, a compost heap should always be damp – never dry nor saturated!

Be Smart About Layering

All successful compost heaps need carbon and nitrogen to decompose. Carbon derives from dry, tough, fibrous materials (browns) while nitrogen comes from lawn waste, kitchen scraps, tea leaves, and coffee grounds (greens). For an effective mixture, layer with one-part green and three-parts brown. This will help waste break down more quickly while keeping any smells at bay. Additionally, only add just a little bit at a time; you don’t want to overwhelm the heap!

Aeration Is Key

Oxygen is another necessary component that helps decompose organic materials. Introduce plenty of oxygen to your compost heap with regular aeration! Every week or two, take your shovel or pitchfork and turn over the material in your outdoor bin to introduce fresh air to the heap, which will help speed the decomposition process.

Keep Flies Away

Fruit flies are bothersome, especially when they find something they like. Keep them away from your compost bin as much as possible by making or purchasing a fruit fly trap, boiling the food waste (it makes it less appealing to fruit flies), or by spreading out how often you add to the heap.

Show Pests They’re Not Welcome

Maybe one of the bigger reasons you’ve been hesitant to start a compost heap is you’re concerned it might attract rodents and other nocturnal critters like possums or raccoons. You can absolutely avoid that by ensuring your final layer is made with brown materials. And remember: don’t compost animal products – that’s what really attracts pests!

Make Your Plants Happy

Does your compost look like smooth, dark, rich soil? If so, then it should be ready to use on your plants and lawn! You can use it in potted plants, garden beds, mulching material, and even your potting soil. If you’d rather not get your hands dirty, a local farmer or community collection center will happily use your compost! If you’ve been wishing you could begin your compost heap or even branch out by starting a vegetable garden and adding a peaceful deck but you’re short on space, don’t worry! Trust the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties to help you find the home of your dreams. Learn more by calling either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298, or view our current listings here!

15 Easy Tips to Help You De-Stress Your Living Room

how to de-stress your living room

There’s nothing better than coming home to a relaxing space after a long day on the road, running errands, or putting in some work hours. Your living room – perhaps the first space you enter as you open your front door – should be a sanctuary that exudes tranquility. Unfortunately, a disorganized, chaotic living room can ramp up your anxiety, and you may find it difficult to unwind. Don’t worry: there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your space becomes a wonderful, harmonious place to relax! Here are our top 15 tips to help you de-stress your living room:

Clean Up the Clutter

Before you do anything else, take a look around and straighten up your living room. Those piles of papers? Chuck ‘em. Those tchotchkes from 1972 that are taking up space and collecting dust? Stick them in a box and donate them. Don’t forget cord clutter as well, which is a very common source of stress! Go through and organize your belongings, sort out the ones you want to keep or donate, and only keep the things that soothe or inspire you in that space.

Keep It Clean

A dirty space can make you feel tense and uncomfortable, whether you realize it or not. Now that you’ve kicked out the clutter, it’s time to do a little bit of cleaning (it’s always easiest after de-cluttering!). Grab a dust cloth, bring in the vacuum, and wipe down the windows. Once you’re done, light a lovely candle or diffuser to bring in a calm, refreshing scent.

Organize Your Bookshelves

Got bookshelves in your living room? Make sure everything’s in order! Donate anything you don’t want or haven’t touched in years and organize your books as you like – whether by author, by color, or some other way. If that’s too tough, you can always hide the bookshelves with a chic curtain.

Get Clever With Storage Systems

Those power cords, DVDs, and video games need a home, too! Hide them with a few storage boxes or baskets, or in a chest. You can also use storage ottomans to furtively stow your extra pillows and blankets!

Bring Home a Few Plants

There’s just something about plants that soothes us. Find a few cute houseplants and incorporate them in your décor! Pot a polka dotted plant, hang a spider plant, or place a rubber plant in the corner to bring serenity into your space. Not a fan of plants? Fresh-cut flowers or even artificial plants work just as well!

Choose a Relaxing Color Palette

The walls of your home can greatly influence your mood. If you haven’t already, paint your living room in a soothing color or a calming neutral. White can reflect natural light while grays and light browns can also be relaxing. Truly soothing colors like various shades of blues or greens do a great job in keeping you calm. Thinking about incorporating some art pieces to adorn your walls? Consider something soft and pleasing to the eyes. Watercolor compositions can make you feel lighthearted and at ease!

Upgrade Old Furniture

Outdated or old pieces of furniture can make us feel down or stressed. If your living room furniture has seen better days, take it from us – it’s time for something new! Swap them out for newer, brighter pieces that bring you joy, or go ahead and repair or refurbish your furniture to make it feel new again.

Clean Up Your Coffee Table

A cluttered coffee table can easily cause distress. If yours is covered with bills, notes, or anything else, clean up the mess to feel relaxed once more! At most, you should ideally keep 1 or 2 pretty magazines or cherished books on your table for visual interest.

Consider Your Layout

Sometimes moving the furniture around can solve all your problems, especially if your focal point is less than inspiring. Think about your furniture and your living room’s unique layout. What’s the focal point? Brainstorm a little bit and see what you can come up with – you might be surprised!

Introduce Calming Scents

The right scent can work wonders in lifting your spirits. Create a relaxing atmosphere with traditionally calming scents like lavender, vanilla, lemon, or rosemary. You can also burn candles in your favorite scents to get the same effect!

Keep Work Out of the Space

Have you been working out of your living room during the past year or so? You might have noticed that you’ve had a hard time relaxing there lately. Separating your personal and work life is essential if you want to unwind easily at the end of the day. If you can’t take your work into another space, even changing where you sit after work can make all the difference!

Incorporate a Rug or Two

There’s nothing like walking barefoot on the softest rug imaginable. Introduce supple softness and start feeling relaxed by adding an area rug underfoot. You can also incorporate other soft touches through additional textiles like linens, curtains, and cushions. Think velvet, silk, and brushed cotton!

Light Up Your Room

Don’t underestimate the power of good lighting! First off, throw open your curtains, shutters, or blinds and flood your living room with beautiful natural light. Don’t forget to include a few good lamps, a floor lamp, or even dimmers to help you unwind in comforting lighting after the sun sets.

Reconsider Your Noise Sources

We’re all guilty of leaving Netflix on while we do something else in the living room. Guess what? That background noise can contribute toward your stress levels! Be more mindful of where your sounds are coming from and pay attention to how they make you feel. An easy swap? Turn off the TV and play some calming music. Break out the record player or cue up a relaxing playlist to help you chill out.

Stick to a Few Easy Rules Every Day

If you want to relax more regularly in your living room, make it your mission to put everything back in its place once the day is done. This includes paperwork, books, bills, toys, dirty clothes, video games, and anything else you might bring in the living room. Another pro-tip: open your curtains or blinds every single day to take advantage of natural lighting!

Remember, Less Is More

You don’t have to go overboard with bringing in an array of relaxing items or rearranging your furniture. Just do what feels natural to you! What matters most is that your living room’s atmosphere feels inviting and relaxing to you. It absolutely doesn’t need to be a showroom! If you’ve found that you can’t find peace in your living room or throughout the rest of your home, no matter what you’ve tried, you don’t have to feel stuck or alone. Let the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties help you find your perfect sanctuary! Call us today at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 or check out our online listings to get started!

Tricks and Tips for Removing Aggressive Weeds

Following a harsh winter season, spring offers such a welcoming change of scenery. That is, of course, until you start finding pesky weeds growing in your yard! A lot of weeds are actually quite alluring so you might not even recognize them as invasive at first. Others tend to be a real eyesore and can be spotted right away. How did they pop up in the first place? Well, they have to be pretty aggressive in order to survive – weeds do fight other forms of plant life for resources after all. Here are a few tricks and tips for removing those aggressive weeds:

Pulling Weeds

It’s crucial that you start plotting the removal of weeds as soon as you locate them. The most common method involves getting your hands dirty and pulling weeds out of the ground. Don’t wait for them to spread across your property, but do wait until after it rains. The weeds’ roots will slide out much easier from wet soil than they will from the dry stuff. Sometimes, however, weeds need to be physically dug up.

Digging Weeds

Remember those old weeds that you pulled up last year? It really looks like they’re now back with a vengeance. That’s because you may have missed all of their roots or didn’t remove them before they spread their seeds. If you missed the roots the last time around, try breaking out a spade or garden trowel to locate their source. After removal, be sure to fill in the patches around your lawn with new dirt and grass seed. If weed seeds are more of an issue, it may be time to start spraying.

Spraying Weeds

One option to stop weeds in their tracks is to spray herbicides. Pre-emergent herbicides work on annual weeds like crabgrass when they are still seedlings. Post-emergent herbicides take out the weeds that have already grown. When using these, it’s important to wear gloves, eye protection, long sleeves and pants, and closed-toe shoes. Follow the instructions on the label to apply the herbicides properly.

Trimming Weeds

There’s a chance that you’d rather just maintain sprouting weeds on a weekly basis, just like how you cut the grass. If that’s the case, then break out the string trimmer and aim for their heads. This prevents the seeds from spreading – as long as you remember to dispose of them properly!

Proper Weed Disposal

After you have pulled up, dug up, or trimmed the weeds, you still need to throw them all out. What’s the best way to go about this? First, you’ll need a rake and a pair of gloves. Collect all of the weeds and place them into a yard waste bag. Inspect the area thoroughly and make sure that you have picked up any that have fallen back to the ground. Finally, check for the date and time of when your neighborhood picks up yard waste and place the bag on the curb accordingly.

When In Doubt, Mulch It Out!

If you’re still unsure about what to do with the weeds growing in your yard, then rely on mulch! Weed seeds can only germinate if they have access to sunlight, which a few layers of mulch can totally prevent. Mulch also provides nutrients so it will make any of the surrounding flowers or trees thankful for the addition, too.

Get Ahead of the Game

Sick of dealing with weeds year after year? Get ahead of the game by utilizing landscaping fabric or sheets of burlap. Before you put down any mulch, prepare the fabric or burlap by cutting holes just big enough for the plants in your garden or flower bed. Lay it down on the ground, pull the plants through, and voila! You now have a base layer that can smother out any weeds. Add the mulch or a layer of rocks last to make everything look nice and pretty.  

Start Fresh with New Landscaping

Maybe this war on weeds is the last straw to a string of other issues relating to your current living situation. If so, then now’s the time to partner with one of the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties. We’ll make sure that your next home checks all of your boxes, including new and improved landscaping! Check out our current listings or call us at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 today.

The 8 Best Places in Your Home to Use Bold Colors

the 8 best places in your home to use bold colors

We love a good eggshell white or slate gray any day of the week, but keeping your home completely neutral can feel a bit too safe and stale. Sometimes you need to shake things up with a fun, eye-catching color that demands visitors’ attention in the best kind of way. If you’re looking to turn your ho-hum home into a visually stunning sanctuary, we’ve got your back! Here are the 8 top spots in your home that bold colors can make the greatest difference:

Pay Attention to the Details

How long has it been since you’ve actually noticed your baseboards or switch plates? We’d guess probably a good long while. Add a subtle yet bold pop of color in unexpected places around your home! You can start small with switch plates and doorknobs or go big with a bright fireplace mantle (or the fireplace itself!). Don’t forget to breathe new life into your home’s exterior as well – outdoor shutters are fabulous places to add a brilliant new shade of bold color!

Primp Your Powder Room

Is your small bathroom a bit boring and blasé? Add some visual interest with splashes of your favorite hues! Paint the underside of that clawfoot tub or wall-mounted sink in a bright color for a seamless look. Even a navy bathroom with white fixtures and baseboards can make an elegant statement!

Pack a Visual Punch in the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of our favorite spots for so many reasons. Not only is it the heart of the home where we gather and spend time eating and laughing with one another, but it’s also the perfect place to add some zest to your color scheme! Paint your lower or upper cabinets, add fun barstools in an eye-catching color, or update your backsplash to give your kitchen that much-needed pop!

Take It to the Ceiling

If you’re not ready to paint an entire room one shade, start somewhere a little different instead – the ceiling! This makes a world of difference, especially when your room is painted and decorated in neutrals. If the ceiling still seems a bit too intimidating, try something even smaller by adding a gorgeous accent color to your light fixture or lampshades!

Add Unconventionally-Colored Upholstery

Usually, it’s a smart idea to invest in big-ticket items in neutral shades like cream, beige, or charcoal. If you want to add a punch of color without spending thousands of dollars, bring home upholstery in playful hues! Don’t be afraid to step a little outside of your color scheme to add more visual interest. Maybe, for example, you have ruby red chairs in the dining room; if so, try adding a magenta or fuchsia chair in the adjacent living room!

Crank Up the Color on Case Goods

We’re talking bureaus, bookcases, chests of drawers, and wardrobes! Take that boring oak dresser in your bedroom and give it new life with a bold new color of your choice. Adorn it with some fun new hardware and voila – you made a beautiful statement piece without spending much money!

Accentuate Beautiful Architecture

Why wash out your home’s unique architecture with a stark shade of white? Dress it up with a dazzling color that’ll get everyone talking! If that feels like too much, you can always highlight the window frames to create an interesting focal point.

When in Doubt, Start Small

We totally get it – sometimes you just don’t feel terribly comfortable investing in bright colors and would rather stick with metallic or neutrals. There’s no shame there! Instead, play it safe by making a few small changes around your home. Throw pillows, rugs, vibrant artwork, ottomans, throws and blankets, and lampshades are excellent choices to help create a lively yet harmonious space! You can also spray paint some thrift-store frames to add an inexpensive yet stately pop of color! Which bold colors are you excited to decorate your house with? Navy? Crimson? Peony? Leafy green? Tell us all about your plans in the comments below!