8 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Cozy in Time for Winter!

cozy home in winterNormally, we might not have our sights set on winter just yet, but the recent weather patterns make it seem as if fall has left us for good this year! You might be trying to make sure all of your to-dos are crossed off your fall home maintenance list as quickly as you can before the REAL cold hits us. While we applaud your efforts in making sure you’re keeping the cold out and the heat in your home, did you know that there are other ways you can warm up your home as well?

From romantic lighting options to soft textures and cozy alternatives, you can transform even the sleekest, most modern home into a comfy winter weather getaway. Here are 8 easy things you can do to transform your home today!

Think Warm Colors – The cool hues of blue, green, and purple tend to take us away to a coastal paradise (or an arctic oasis in the summer), but they can really dampen the mood when winter arrives. To warm up your home instantly, think fire-hued tones of gold, terra-cotta, and mahogany. Yellow, brick, and rust will also have a similar warming effect. If you happen to have white walls (and don’t want to paint), you can always warm up your space with these warm colors in your furniture, rugs, and accessories.

Cover the Floors – Bare hardwood or tile floors are great for the summertime heat, but they can become very uninviting when the chill of winter creeps in. Cover your floors with area rugs to bring a pop of color to the space and give your feet a warmer feel. Runners in the hallways are an excellent addition as well!

Bolster the Windows – Is your favorite chair next to a drafty window? Don’t suffer all winter long (or avoid that cozy chair) – take the time right now to weather-strip your windows! You can find cheap but durable material at the local hardware store, and even the most inexperienced of homeowners can do this simple task. If worse comes to worse, consider moving the chair to a warmer spot in the house.

Pull Out a Throw – Throws don’t just help keep you warm – they can add color and pattern to a room as well! Be sure to keep a few throws near your chairs and sofas to snuggle with during the winter. Don’t forget to put a few in your bedroom and guest bedrooms as well!

Hang Heavier Drapes – Bid a temporary farewell to the light and breezy summer sheers and break out the heavier drapes for the winter season. These types of drapes will help block out the cold winds and keep your home nice and warm. Besides, the right drape can add a sense of opulence to your space!

Choose the Right Accessories – It’s time to put away the silk floral arrangements and seaside decorations in favor of baskets of pinecones, cozy-looking knickknacks, and fleece pillows. Even the simplest of decorations can provide just the right touch to help your home feel warm and inviting.

Add the Right Lighting – The glow of ambient lighting can make anyone feel right at home! Be sure to add some candles on the coffee table or light a fire in the fireplace if you have one. Your guests will especially appreciate the glow that this type of lighting provides.

Play With Warm Scents – Winter is the time for warmer scents! Cinnamon, apple, pine, or even bayberry can really elevate the mood in an instant. For extra warmth, try baking some of yummy treats with these scents (pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls, anyone?!). You’ll get the aroma, warm up your home, and fill your belly all at once!

What’s your favorite way to give your home a warmer feel during the winter? Let us know on our Facebook page or tell us in the comments below! Remember, whether you’re in the hunt for a new home or need a reliable agent to help you sell your home, call the experts at the Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298!

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Looking to Buy? 9 Essential Tips to Help You Save Money For a Down Payment

save money for down paymentAre you a first-time homebuyer longing to own your very own home? Do you already have a home but are now ready to move closer to work, your friends, or both? We know you’re probably preoccupied with the location of your dream home and have driven by dozens of houses, daydreaming about throwing parties with your friends or just living your daily life in your new home. While finding the right house for you is essential, it’s maybe even more important that you prepare your finances first by getting money together for a down payment.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the national median home price in June 2013 was $199,999, and the prices are on the rise once more. A 10% down payment for a home of that price would be $20,000. While putting down a 10% down payment is ideal, it can be very hard to gather the funds for a proper down payment. After all, that means that you will have to save about $833 a month for the next 24 months in order to afford a home of that price.

Don’t worry – it’s not so impossible to save for a down payment for your home! Read on to discover 9 different ways you can save for that down payment in no time.

Create a Special Savings Account – This account should be totally designated for your new future home. If you have a separate account for your future home’s down payment, you can keep more organized and track your progress much more easily.

Cut Back – This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of the little things in life can add up very quickly. Try to cut back on little luxuries right away. This could include expenses like your morning coffee run (don’t worry – you can brew some at home!) or eating out all the time. You can save so much money just by bringing your own lunch to work and making dinner at home every night – and it’s healthier for you as well!

Look Into State and Local Home-Buying Programs – You might be able to get some extra help on your money-saving journey. Check to see if your state, county, or local government operates programs for first-time homebuyers, veterans, and more. Some of these programs offer housing discounts while others can help you with down payment loans or grants.

Make It Automatic – After you’ve calculated how much money you need to set aside each month for a down payment, have that amount diverted from your paycheck into your special savings account automatically. By doing it this way, you don’t have to remember to deposit a certain amount of money after every paycheck.

Monitor Your Spending – Do you wonder at the end of each month where your funds go? Then it’s time to start monitoring your earnings more closely. You can save a lot by tracking your finances and cutting down on things you spend money on needlessly. Look into safe online apps like Mint.com to help you out!

Generate Money With a Hobby – Do you enjoy drawing, writing, doing crafts, or fixing others’ computers? You could very well have a source of income (no matter how small) that you haven’t tapped into yet! You can also try tutoring, teaching a sport, waiting tables on the weekends, or doing any other type of freelancing.

Cut Back on Student Loan Payments – If you have a heap of student loans to attend, you might be able to scale back a bit on payments, especially if those loans are backed by the government. Talk to your lender about repayment options; readjusting your pay rate can really help you save some money!

Put a Garage Sale Together – This is a quick and relatively easy way to earn a few bucks. Though you probably won’t earn enough to fund your entire down payment this way, you’ll be surprised just how much you can make by selling your old, unwanted stuff to others. It’s also less to pack when you get ready to move in the future!

Don’t Force the Issue – If you’re not able to gather all the funds you need to come up with a decent down payment or if you feel like you can barely afford simply buying a house, it might not be time to force the issue. Instead, just start saving money now until you’re ready to put forth what it would take to produce a down payment, purchase a home, and pay for maintenance, renovations, and insurance.

We hope that this list of tips will help you get the funds together more easily for the down payment of your new future home! Once you have your funds ready, come see the team who can help you find your dream home – The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties. You can stop by to see us at our office, see our listings online at www.dianamasseyhomes.com, or call us at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298.