10 Ways You Can Maximize Coziness in Your Home

how to make home cozy this winter

Now that the excitement of the holiday season has passed, many homeowners often find themselves feeling a bit more melancholy, wishing only to hibernate until the first hints of spring arrive once more. But there is true joy and warmth in the winter season that you can enjoy, especially in the comfort of your home! Don’t let the gray skies get you down. Instead, try these 10 handy ways you can embrace the season and make your home warm, cozy, inviting, and, most importantly, comforting:

Make Delicious Comfort Food

Now is the perfect time to break out the old recipe book and whip up your favorite comfort food! Whether you’re making your grandma’s chili or baking some delicious scones, creating comfort foods is one sure-fire (and tasty) way you can up the cozy factor in your home. Feeling unmotivated? Even sipping your favorite cup of hot cocoa or herbal tea will bring the same result!

Add in Soft Lighting

Bright cool lights might help you be more productive, but they aren’t very conducive to relaxing. Switch out harsh lighting for a warm, inviting ambiance. Candles and table lamps work well in creating a comforting space. Find extra cheer by hanging string lights in your living room or bedrooms, which will help add soft lighting when you’re listening to music, reading your favorite novel, or cozying up with a loved one as you watch the snow fall outside.

Incorporate Touchable Textiles

Think of how you feel when you cozy up in something soft and plush. Gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, right? Bring that feeling to your home with shaggy rugs, faux-fur pillows, and cable-knit throws. No room on the floor for rugs? You can always add comforting textures to the walls!

Light Up the Fireplace

Winter was made for fireplaces – and the opposite holds true, too. If you have a working fireplace, what are you waiting for? Strike a match and gather ‘round to create instant warmth. If your home doesn’t have a fireplace, you can recreate the warm feeling with plenty of your favorite candles. Electric fireplaces are also easy to install (and relatively inexpensive, too!).

Choose Grounding Earthy Colors

We can all use some comfort right now. Trade brighter, bolder tones for more neutral, earthy colors. Muted colors in teak, chocolate, rusty red, burnt orange, olive, and slate blue can help ground and calm you at the end of a hard day. Choose fabrics, pieces of furniture, or accent pieces in these colors to help you find serenity this winter.

Bring the Outdoors Inside

Speaking of calming, keeping real houseplants indoors can help make your home more peaceful and also breathe more life into your space. Pick a few cute potted plants and bring them into your home this winter to help you feel more relaxed. Got a brown thumb? Easy plants like snake plants, philodendrons, and aloe vera plants are good, low-maintenance choices!

Streamline Your Space

It’s hard to relax and find peace in a home that’s messy. Bring joy into your space by tidying up. Consider throwing out or donating the things you no longer need or use, and keep the items that you truly love in your sights! Get started by checking out our blog about tidying up like Marie Kondo!

Choose Your Favorite Scents

Adding the right scent to your home can act as an incredible mood booster. Place and light incense or a delectable-smelling candle in your living room or kitchen so the scent can carry throughout the whole house. Vanilla is a favorite for making your space feel cozier, and lavender works wonders in helping you feel more relaxed. Choose seasonal scents to celebrate winter, or coconut-scented or floral candles to help stave off any winter blues you may be feeling.

Keep Plenty of Soft Blankets and Pillows on Hand

What would a cozy home be without soft blankets and comfortable pillows? Now is the time to break out your favorite throws for cuddling with your pets or snuggling up beside a roaring fire with a good book in hand. Keep them in a beautiful woven basket near your couch, recliner, or bed!

Don’t Forget the Music

Remember the last time you lounged about listening to your favorite music? We’re betting you felt pretty darn relaxed. Spin a few happy records on the turntable or curate a few playlists of those feel-good tunes and keep them accessible for anytime you want to up the cozy factor in your home! Everyone wants to feel comfortable and safe in their home. If you’re on the lookout for a space to make your new sanctuary, call on The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties to help! We can find the perfect home for you. Call us today at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 or view our listings online!

7 New Year’s Resolutions Homeowners Should Make

new year's resolutions homeowners should make

You’ve undoubtedly been spending more time at home this year in light of the global pandemic. With the New Year on the horizon, you might be starting to think of the resolutions you want to make and stick to next year. Why not dedicate next year to bettering your home? Here are 7 New Year’s resolutions homeowners should consider making next year:

Streamline Your Space

Want to feel great about your home without spending much of anything? De-clutter. It’s always healthy to reevaluate your possessions and remove the items that no longer bring you joy. Go through each room next year and donate the gently used items that you no longer want or need. Tackle closets, your garage, bookshelves, cabinets, and more. You’d be amazed how fulfilled you’ll feel once you’re done!

Drum Up a Realistic Cleaning Plan

If you’re the kind of person who cleans the house whenever company comes over, it’s probably safe to say that your home might have been on the messier side this year. Clean homes aren’t just good for your physical well-being; they’re also great for your mental health! Come up with an easy cleaning plan you’ll be sure to stick to next year. Start by keeping all of your cleaning supplies in one place and curating an upbeat playlist to blare whenever it’s time to spruce up your space!

Boost Your Curb Appeal

Even if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon, taking care of your lawn and your home’s exterior can give you a greater sense of pride in your home (and possibly increase your home’s value!). Start with something easy like planting a few pretty flowers, updating your outdoor furniture, or repainting your front door. Then, tackle larger projects like replacing old fencing, pulling out weeds in the garden, or staining and varnishing your deck.

Make Extra Mortgage Payments

You might think of mortgage payments as more of a monthly affair, but there’s nothing stopping you from paying it off more frequently if you want! Reevaluate your financial situation and consider making some additional mortgage payments next year. It’ll help you pay off your house more quickly and save you on interest. Even just a little bit extra can go a long way!

Learn to Clean Tough Spots

When was the last time you cleaned your dishwasher, window screens, showerheads, or dryer vents? If you can’t remember (or have never cleaned them), make next year the year you learn how to clean them. Make a list of all the appliances and features in your home that you don’t know how to care for, then ask an expert or do some researching online to find out! Take notes, and then get to work!

Make Your Home More Secure

Since you’re spending more time at home, now is a great time to ensure your space is as safe as possible. If you haven’t already, install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor with a working fireplace or gas appliance. Test your home for radon, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause lung cancer. Don’t forget to clean dryer lent from the vents and ducts behind your dryer. It’s highly combustible but easy to remove!

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Making some eco-friendly changes won’t just help the environment – it can also reduce energy costs and save you money! The best part is you don’t even have to spend a lot to make many changes. Get into the habit of turning the lights off when you leave a room and turning off power strips when they’re not in use. Hang your laundry on the clothesline rather than relying on the dryer all the time. Switch out your incandescent lighting for LED bulbs, and install a low-flow showerhead in your bathroom. You can also try composting in your garden!

How will you be showing your home some love next year? Did we miss any important tips? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Welcome 2021 into Your Home With Pantone’s Unexpected Colors of the Year!

Illuminating and Ultimate Gray

As much as we might’ve hoped otherwise, 2020 was a difficult year for many in the face of the global pandemic. It’s safe to say that many of us are ready to welcome in the New Year. Pantone noticed the anxiety, frustration, and helplessness that so many have experienced in this unprecedented year and has now offered not one but two colors to help us usher in a new (and hopefully brighter) year. This ground-breaking selection might be just what you need to help put a pep back into your step or create a cheerful space in your home. Introducing Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating!

The Psychology Behind the Duality

We know at first glance that gray doesn’t sound terribly exciting (in fact, this is the very first time that any hue of gray was chosen as a Color of the Year!). Ultimate Gray (17-5104), however, is definitely not as bleak as it appears – quite the opposite. It’s a warm gray that conveys a sense of grounding, practicality, dependability, and sagacity. Its jovial counterpart, the sunny-yellow Illuminating (13-0647), is uplifting and infused with joy; it’s virtually impossible to see this color and not smile! It’s only the second time in 22 years that yellow was chosen as a Color of the Year – the last time was in 2009 following the Great Recession that rocked the Americas and Europe.

Pantone’s intention behind selecting these two very different colors as their choice is immersed in resilience and hope. By combining two colors into a unified pair, Pantone is expressing that there is unity and solidarity in coming together as one – a message that our tired country yearns for. Additionally, these colors can offer a soothing and uplifting feeling that so many crave in the face of this long-lasting pandemic. In their own words, “It’s a combination that speaks to the resilience, the optimism and hope, and positivity that we need, as we reset, renew, reimagine, and reinvent.”

Ways to Welcome Illuminating and Ultimate Gray in Your Home

If you want to find a sense of joy and security in your own home, there are plenty of easy ways you can incorporate these two colors in nearly every room! Here are a few of our favorite quick tips:

  • Add a quick splash of happiness by painting an accent wall in the sunny Illuminating. We love the idea of inviting the color into your home office to motivate you while you continue working from home!
  • Looking for a chic yet versatile piece of furniture? Choose or reupholster a chair, couch, or love seat in warm Ultimate Gray. Add a finishing touch with yellow pillows or throws!
  • Pops of happiness are always welcome in accent pieces! Invest in a few accent pieces in Illuminating to bring joy in your daily life.
  • If it’s time to update your bedding, choose a quilt or bedspread in cheerful Illuminating with Ultimate Gray sheets.
  • Make a bold statement and invite positivity into your life by painting your front door in Illuminating yellow!

Find a Home That Makes You Happy We are optimistic in looking forward to sunnier days ahead in the upcoming year. If you’ve been wishing for a home that makes you feel happy and comfortable, trust the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties! Call us at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started!

7 of the Most Bizarre Houses in the United States

the most bizarre houses in the United StatesHave you ever wondered what it would be like to live in your very own private castle or maybe a seemingly endless tower that kisses the sky? You might think that these types of homes can only be found in the depths of your imagination – but many of them actually do exist! If you’re looking for a trip into the fantastic, quirky, or otherwise odd marvels of architecture, we’ve got what you’re looking for. Here are 7 of the most bizarre homes ever built in the U.S.!

The Winchester House

Perhaps the quintessence of mystery, the Winchester House is like no other and for good reason. The structure, which stands in San Jose, CA, was originally an eight-room farmhouse until Sarah Winchester, a widow and heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, began renovating it in 1886. The story goes that a psychic told her that her family passed away because of the angry spirits that were killed by Winchester rifles, and the only way to give the spirits a place to go was to continue adding rooms and wings to the home. Sarah created a sprawling 24,000-square-foot, 160-room mansion, complete with staircases to nowhere, until she died in 1922.

The Dr. Seuss House

Also known as Goose Creek Tower, this 12-story-tall private home is nestled north of Anchorage, Alaska near Talkeetna and is the tallest house in the entire state. Attorney Phillip Weidner began constructing this home, seemingly stacking cabins atop of cabins until it became a regular skyscraper. Why stop there, though? Federal air space begins at 200 feet – the home reaches 185 feet. From the top, which is still unfinished, you get a glorious, 360-degree view of Denali and the beginning of the Aleutian chain. Although the home was made without any blueprints, Weidner insists his “poem to the sky” is structurally sound.

George Stickney House

In our very own Illinois stands a building that once had absolutely no sharp corners – they were all rounded. That’s because former owners (and staunch spiritualists) George and Sylvia Stickney believed spirits could get caught in traditional corners. In order to make spirits more comfortable, the Stickneys rounded the corners in their two-story home. Located just east of Woodstock in the village of Bull Valley, the Stickney House was built in 1836. The entire second floor was once a ballroom, and the couple regularly invited guests for extravagant séances to speak with the dead.

Today, the building is home to the Bull Valley government and police force, and only the exterior corners remain rounded. The structure, however, is said to be haunted, and supernatural goings-on are rumored to have occurred there ever since the Stickneys vacated the home.

The Paper House

Visit Rockport, Massachusetts, and you can actually set foot inside a house made from paper – literally. Mechanical engineer Elis F. Stenman, who designed machines to make paper clips, built the home in 1922. He began using newspaper primarily as insulation, then used it for the furniture, and then the walls, and… well, you get the idea. It’s even wired with electricity! Check out this interview with Stenman’s grand-niece for a more in-depth look on the house.

Mother Goose House

Have you ever just looked at a goose and thought, “I want a house that looks like that!”? George Stacy did in 1935. After his wife, Ollie, cooked a goose for Thanksgiving and laid its skeleton on a table near her husband, George came up with the idea, took the skeleton, and began crafting the house to scale. The roof features a large goose head, complete with egg-shaped windows and car lights that serve as the goose’s eyes. Head over to Hazard, Kentucky to see the Mother Goose House for yourself!

Fallingwater

You might not have heard of Fallingwater, but you’ve probably heard of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He designed this home in 1935 to be used as a private weekend getaway for Edgar J. and Liliane Kaufmann, a prestigious couple from Pittsburgh. Located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, which is around 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, Fallingwater marries art with nature. Wright used natural materials to create the unique structure, which sits above a waterfall that naturally flows beneath the home. Today, the building, which the American Institute of Architects named “the best all-time work of American architecture,” is open to the public as a museum!

Rainforest Castle

Have you heard the proverb “a man’s home is his castle”? Someone took that adage literally and created an actual 3,000-square-foot castle nestled in 20 acres of beautiful rain forest in Washington back in 1997. Visit Sedro Woolley, Washington and you could get a glimpse of this ornate, one-of-a-kind home. Although it only boasts 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, you can enjoy a magnificent great room, a modern kitchen, and a large billiards room. Besides, you get to enter your castle through your own private drawbridge, which sits atop a beautiful creek!

Maybe you don’t want to live in a home that attracts a line of gawking drivers, but you might want something with some personality and charm. The experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties can help you find the home of your dreams! Call us at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298, or start checking out our listings at masseyteam.realestate!

8 Signs Your Kitchen is Ready for an Upgrade

signs you need to upgrade your kitchenWho doesn’t love the kitchen? It’s the place where our loved ones gather to share food and stories, relax in one another’s company with a glass of wine, and help make memories (and Grandma’s homemade cookies) together. Just like any other room in your home, however, your kitchen will age and show signs of wear and tear. But when is it time to go for an upgrade or two? Here are the biggest signs that it’s time to upgrade the heart of your home:

Your Appliances Are Old

Maybe your appliances came with the house, or maybe you’ve relied on your trusty old stove to cook dinner for decades. We know that change is hard, but if your appliances are from last century, it might be time for some new ones. Newer appliances don’t just boast attractive features that turn potential homebuyers’ heads, but they’re also much safer and use up less energy than their older counterparts. Remember, when you choose to upgrade your appliances, rely on a professional electrician to get them set and up to code!

There’s Never Enough Counter Space

Does it feel like your countertops have been taken over by your appliances? If you’re struggling to prepare your meals on your crowded countertops, your kitchen could probably use a bit of a facelift. An easy way to add more space? Install an island, if your floor plan allows for it! If not, consider bidding farewell to your cabinets in favor of larger, deeper cupboards.

There’s Noticeable Damage and Wear

Your kitchen won’t stay pristine forever. The cabinets are bound to accumulate scuffs as time goes by. But if you’re noticing water damage, stains on the walls, cracked, peeling, or chipped countertops or floors, or mold, you should consider an upgrade. Mold and bacteria are tenants that should never take up residence in your kitchen!

The Lighting is Bad

Lighting in the house is probably the most crucial in the kitchen. After all, you need to see what you’re doing. If you’re having a hard time reading instructions from your recipes or can’t tell how much salt you’re adding to your pasta dish, add or upgrade the lighting! Under-cabinet lights work wonders in illuminating the space without straining your eyes.

You Just Can’t Find Anything

We don’t have to tell you that your home should – ideally – be clutter-free, but life happens. You’re bound to have an untidy kitchen here and there. But if you’re spending more of your time trying to find the right utensils as opposed to making dinner, then your kitchen is begging for a redo. Freshen it up with an organizational system so you can spend more time enjoying your food, not finding the can opener.

You’re Struggling to Sell Your Home

Which room is usually the most popular for potential homebuyers? The kitchen, hands down. An upgraded kitchen is a wise investment that will capture the hearts of many would-be homeowners. Make sure your appliances are newer, the lighting is bright, and the space is as tidy as possible. The investment oftentimes pays for itself!

Your Family is Bigger

Whether your family has grown or you have more friends visiting and spending more time with you these days, a cramped kitchen makes it hard for loved ones to congregate and enjoy one another’s company. If this is the case for you, your kitchen is probably in need of a makeover – even knocking down a wall to create a more open space can make a big difference!

You Just Don’t Want to Be There

Does your kitchen make you cringe every time you see it? Do you find yourself working as quickly as possible to assemble your sandwich or sneak a snack, just so you can eat it elsewhere? Let’s work on fixing that. Take baby steps first to see if you’ll begin falling in love a little more with the space. If that doesn’t work, try bigger changes until you have a kitchen that makes you sigh dreamily when you shuffle in to make your morning coffee. Have we missed any important tips? Let us know in the comments below! If you’ve been having a hard time selling your home, let us cook up a plan for you. Trust the experts at The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties to sell your property! Call us at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started.

10 Things You’re Doing That Could Be Scaring off Buyers

things you're doing that scare off buyers

We enjoy a good scary movie just as much as the next person during this spooky time of the year! Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with this real-life scenario that sends shivers down our spines: a well-intentioned seller wants to sell their home, but their wild yard, messy interior, and outdated features send would-be buyers running for the hills. Let us help you out of this nightmare scenario! Here are 10 things you might be doing to scare off potential homebuyers:

Your Online Listing Photos are Low Quality

We’ve said it before, but we’ll keep saying it because it’s just that important: first impressions matter! In this age of the internet, that means you’ll need to have your house looking sharp both in real life and in online photos if you want to catch a homebuyer’s attention. What gives buyers true goose bumps? Grainy, blurry, or otherwise low-quality photos, especially ones taken in poor lighting or unnatural angles. Do yourself a favor and ask a professional photographer to take photos of your home!

Your Landscaping is Overgrown

Does your home look like an abandoned, honest-to-goodness haunted house? If your lawn is completely unkempt in any way, buyers will more than likely feel bad vibes about the situation and will run back to their cars before they even give your home a true chance. Get your hands dirty and rake or mulch leaves, mow the lawn, and plant some flowers to give your yard a much-needed makeover. Not able to tackle it yourself? A professional landscaper can take care of it for you!

You Have Way Too Many Security Features

We admit, some security features in a home can be quite handy and can add a bit of value to your property – but too many can make homebuyers feel, well, uncomfortable. They may wonder why your house is decked out with all the latest features or several different locks on each door. Remember, sometimes less is more!

Your House Has Some Strange Odors and Smells

Every house has its own certain, shall we say, eau de cologne. But if prospective buyers are holding their noses because they smell mildew, smoke, trash, pet odors, or other questionable odors, then you might have a problem. Not sure if your home stinks? Ask your real estate agent for their objective opinion, then get to the root of the problem if you’re able. When in doubt, baking fresh cookies just before a showing works like a charm!

Your Home is Messy or Personalized

Home is where you hang your hat – or rather, where you keep your stuff, right? While that might be true, you will find that many curious buyers will hustle out of your house quickly if they see too much of your personal things, piles of clutter, or walls painted in loud or clashing colors. Buyers want to envision themselves living in your home, so do everything you can to make it easier for them. That means straightening up your house, depersonalizing your space, staging your rooms, and painting the walls neutral shades of gray.

You Really Dislike Cleaning

Let’s say you went ahead and put away all of your personal effects. Now you’ll want to break out the vacuum and dust cloth to keep your space looking beautiful and inviting. No one wants to tour a dirty house, so keep the kitchen picked up, clean the bathroom, and tidy up frequently!

You Own a Pet

Many homeowners have pets, but that doesn’t mean a prospective buyer wants to necessarily know that you do. Pets can easily scare off buyers with their barking and shedding. While you may not be able to send your furry friend off to live with a relative for the time being, do your best to clean your home thoroughly and take your pet with you during showings if at all possible!

Your Home Has Outdated Features

If a buyer isn’t shaking in their boots when they see old windows or Formica counters, then they’re more than likely outwardly groaning with dread. Why? Buyers don’t want to do any extra work after they purchase a home. If your humble abode looks like it could use a bit of a facelift and you have the time and resources available, go ahead and update some of your features. This is a great way to keep a buyer’s intrigue (and keep your price point steady).

Two Words: Popcorn Ceilings

We know that popcorn ceilings are both nostalgic and tough to replace, but they turn off quite a few homebuyers – buyers that otherwise might have put an offer on your home. These ceilings are often synonymous with not only outdated décor but also asbestos. Fortunately, replacing them usually costs under $2,000, so if you can replace them, do it. It could make all the difference!

You Hang Around During Showings

Ever get the feeling someone’s watching you? That’s what a potential homebuyer feels if you like to stick around during showings. We understand that you probably know your house best and want to present it in the best light possible, but trust us – you’re doing more harm than good. Buyers will often feel intimidated and will refrain from asking questions about the home if you’re around. Instead of haunting your temporary visitor, visit one of your favorite haunts until the showing’s over!

As frightening as buying a home can be, selling your home can also be pretty scary. So who you gonna call? Trust The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties! Reach us at either (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 and check out our listings at masseyteam.realestate to get started today!

9 Handy Tips to Keep Pesky Bugs Away in the Fall and Winter

tips to keep bugs out of your house for fall

Fall is the perfect time of the year to indulge in your favorite autumnal treats, break out those luxurious blankets, and cozy up by the fireplace. If you just heaved a dreamy sigh of content, you’re not alone. Plenty of insects and pests have this very thought on their minds and are all about finding a nice, warm spot to snuggle up and get through the impending winter. If you’re not careful, they could find their way into your home and right up alongside you.

Take control now and tell those creepy crawlies to bug off by following these 9 easy preventative measures!

Seal Up Cracks and Openings

Even the tiniest of cracks or holes pose as a miniature “WELCOME!” sign to insects and other pests. Strike while the weather is still temperate to inspect your home’s perimeter and seal up any openings you find with caulking and weather-stripping. Check the doors, windows, near the gutters, and around the foundation, electrical lines, and pipes for any air leaks and holes. Insulation can also be a huge help in keeping those pesky bugs outside where they belong!

Keep the Kitchen Tidy

Insects and humans might be more alike than we’d want to admit. After all, who doesn’t love lumbering into the kitchen in search of a tasty late-night snack? Bugs certainly do, which is why it’s imperative to keep your kitchen picked up and clean. Wipe the counters every day to avoid leaving a miniature smorgasbord for insects to feast on at night. If you’re not doing so already, make it a rule to always put food away and clean your dirty dishes every evening. This will leave insects hungry and discourage them from taking up residence in your kitchen!

Minimize Moisture

Have you checked your faucets and pipes recently? You’ll want to ensure that you dry up the damp areas in your home as much as possible – otherwise insects like silverfish, springtails, and house centipedes might make them their new watering hole. Fix any leaky drains, pipes, or faucets in your home, and absorb excess moisture by running a dehumidifier. Doing so won’t just deter bugs, but it will also help prevent mold from forming!

Clean the House Regularly

We know, cleaning is exactly zero fun, but it’s important if you want to keep your home pest-free! Clean and run the vacuum once a week, empty out the trash cans regularly, spruce up the bathroom, and work on removing clutter and stacks of papers from your rooms and closets (bugs love hiding in them!).

Check What You Bring Inside

Insects are highly-skilled hitchhikers. Give them a heavy jacket or some firewood lying outdoors for a while and they will find a way to sneak in and become your newest roommates. Beat them at their own game and evict them before you even bring them inside by thoroughly checking everything first. Homeowner: 1, insects: 0.

Trim Trees and Bushes

Branches and limbs that extend over your roof or brush up against your house are never a good idea. Not only will they act as natural bridges for inquisitive critters and insects hoping to gain entry into your home, but they can also pose as a safety issue whenever the next storm rolls through town. Take action now while the weather is still warm enough and prune the plants on your property!

Clean Up Your Yard and Garage

In medieval times, castles were often surrounded by moats as a way to keep intruders out. You can effectively construct your own type of moat, no shovel or errant crocodiles required! Just clean up the leaves, mulch, wet soil, and other common fall materials in the yard. This will give insects and other pests fewer hiding places, which will force them to seek shelter elsewhere!

Protect Your Chimney

Here’s a terrifying scenario for you: you’re downstairs in the basement watching TV when all of a sudden you notice a few wasps wandering around aimlessly and bumping into the lights overhead. After you get rid of the invaders, you’re probably wondering how the heck those pests found their way into your home, let alone the basement. As odd as it might sound, you’ll want to check your chimney. If it doesn’t have a cap and screen, birds, mice, and the aforementioned nightmare fuel can sneak into your home and wreak havoc.

Store Food in Tightly-Sealed Containers

Say “sayonara” to clothespins and bags – if you want to really keep bugs out, you should start storing your food in sealed storage containers. Not only do they help keep hungry bugs like weevils out, but they also make organization a breeze! If you have a pet or enjoy feeding the birds, you’ll also want to store their food in their own sealed containers.

Did we miss any tips? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

7 Tactics to Try if Your House Isn’t Selling

what to do when your house isn't selling

It can be so frustrating and disheartening to see your home sitting on the market for so long. You may wonder why your home hasn’t had any offers within the first month or so after you’ve listed it. Why can’t potential homebuyers see how great your home is? If you haven’t had a bite within a month or so, you may have to help steer buyers in the right direction. Here are some key tactics to try if you’re struggling to sell your home:

Rethink Your Staging

It might seem strange that buyers aren’t putting down an offer simply because of what you have inside your home. After all, they’re not shopping for furniture, right? The truth is that many potential homebuyers struggle with imagining themselves living in another home if there’s too much clutter or distraction. Take the time to de-clutter and pare down your furnishings. Even temporarily sending some extra chairs and shelves to a storage unit will be worth it! While you’re at it, replace your family photos with tasteful artwork and paint the walls with a fresh coat of gray, cream, or off-white paint.

Get Creative with Your Listing

You know just how awesome your house is – now it’s time to really show buyers what they could be missing out on. Team up with your agent to craft a powerful description of your home. Think about the elements of your home that enchanted you – the sunshine streaming through the kitchen windows in the morning, quiet afternoons reading on covered deck, or curling up by the fireplace in the evening. Tap into those feelings, play up your home’s unique features, and work on selling homebuyers their dream.

Show Your Home in the Best Light (Literally)

Everyone wants to walk into a house that’s bright and inviting. If buyers haven’t made any offers, dark colors or dim rooms might be scaring them off. Install some high-watt light bulbs and do everything possible to allow natural light to spill in through the windows. If the walls are darker, opt for lighter, neutral shades to brighten the room (and make it appear larger!). Take a look at the photos on your online listing as well. If they don’t show well, consider asking a professional to take eye-catching photos of your home!

Amp Up Your Curb Appeal

First impressions matter. If the outside of your home isn’t looking its best, it could send a message to house hunters that the interior might not be as promising either. Take the time to upgrade your landscaping, trim bushes, plant flowers, seed bare spots in the lawn, and clean your gutters. Even something as simple as a fresh coat of paint on the front door can work wonders!

Consider Making Improvements

It might be time to take a hard look at some of the cosmetic features of your home. Are the cabinets in need of a good facelift? Is the bathroom outdated? Updating parts of your home can have a positive impact on how buyers view your property. Consider asking your agent if buyers made comments about any potential undesirable aspects of your home. If many of them are saying the same thing (say, the wall-to-wall carpet should go), it could be a smart idea to work on replacing or fixing the issue!

Reduce the Price

Some aspects of your home – location or basic square footage, for instance – just can’t be changed. If this is the case, it could be time for a price drop. Lowering the amount can help generate new interest and may attract new homebuyers. Work with your agent to help determine how much you should lower the price.

Consider Renting Instead

If push comes to shove and you don’t want to pay for two mortgages, renting your home could be another option you can try. This strategy can help you buy some time and save money until you choose to put it on the market once more. Just remember, if your home isn’t selling after being on the market for a while, all is not lost. Making the right changes in your home can help you seal the deal. The key is to be flexible, open-minded, creative, and motivated. Of course, you need a dedicated agent to help get the job done as well. Count on The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties to help you sell your home! Call us today at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started.

10 Tips to Make Your Next Outdoor Movie Night a Smash

tips for outdoor movie night

It might be September, but summer’s not over just yet! What better way to savor those warm summer nights a little longer than with an outdoor movie night? Whether you want to cozy up with your significant other, hang out with your closest friends, or even host a showing for one under the stars, now is the time for some last-minute outdoor cinema fun. Here are 10 invaluable tips to help make your outdoor movie night a complete hit!

Set Up a Screen

Give everyone a great view with the right screen! Even affixing a simple white bed sheet to a wall or fence will do the trick. If you want to make outdoor movies more of a thing in the future, consider investing in an outdoor projection screen, which can be rolled up and stored until the next movie night.

Prep Your Projector

Now you’ll need a way to project the film onto the big screen. Your laptop, DVD player, or smartphone can do the job, or you can choose to find a portable projector instead. Make sure you have enough extension cords for the projector in question before the big night!

Test It Out First

Maybe you’ve tried your hand at outdoor movie nights in the past and you’re feeling confident that your setup is flawless. It’s still wise to give it a once-over before the screening and confirming that your connection is strong if you’re streaming. While you’re at it, secure and cover the cords as well as you can. You don’t want anyone to trip!

Give Bugs the Boot

Do you remember inviting any creepy crawlies to your party? Unless they’re fireflies, probably not. Keep mosquitoes and other annoying bugs out of your outdoor theater with the help of bug spray and strategically placed citronella torches. You can even give your guests a choice of using sprays, patches, or handy bug repellant bracelets as an option that’s less heavy on the smell.

Serve Up Some Sweet and Salty Snacks

If you don’t have snacks, did you even go to the movies? We think not. Set up your very own concession stands filled with seasoned popcorn, movie-style candy, and a variety of drinks for guests of all ages. Up your game by providing a few tasty popcorn toppings like garlic and olive oil, sea salt and asiago, or chocolate sauce for your more adventurous guests!

Think About Your Seating Situation

Keep things simple by asking your guests to bring their own lawn chairs and outdoor blankets to your screening. Try to stagger seating as much as possible so everyone can get a good view of the film. Moviegoers with blankets and pillows should be placed in the front while those with chairs can sit behind them. The nights are beginning to cool down a bit more quickly, so don’t forget to provide some cozy throws, just in case it gets chillier than expected!

Add Soft Lighting

Make the scene enchanting by hanging a little bit of lighting for your outdoor movie night! Soft holiday lights, fairy lights, or decorative lanterns hanging from the trees work wonders in creating a cozy atmosphere while illuminating your path to the snack bar (because yes, snacks are that important!).

Keep Your Audience in Mind

It can be tricky finding a movie that everyone will like. Keep your guests in mind and work on finding a film that appeals to everyone. Shoot for a movie that doesn’t have too much quiet dialogue or many dark scenes. When in doubt, everyone loves classic comedies!

Don’t Keep the Neighbors in the Dark

In an ideal world, you’ll want to alert your neighbors that you’re planning on hosting a movie night. Besides, nothing can ruin a fun night of laughs than a frustrated neighbor. Keep them in the loop and ensure that the sound is at a reasonable level so everyone can have an enjoyable evening. Summer nights were made for outdoor movies with friends. If you wish your current backyard were bigger, we can make your dream come true! Trust The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties to help find the perfect home for you. Call us at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started!

7 Ways You Can Seek Solace in Your Own Backyard

peaceful backyard tipsNow more than ever, it’s essential that we make time for ourselves to unwind, drop our worries at the door, and do what makes us feel happy and whole. You don’t have to go very far to experience it – serenity can be found right in your own backyard. Try these 7 tips to help make your backyard a welcoming oasis:

Invest in Comfortable Seating

It’s a fact: if you have a cozy spot to lounge, you’ll be more likely to spend more time there. Give careful thought to your outdoor seating situation. Perhaps a deep-seated sofa, hanging chair, or a padded swing will help you feel more relaxed and closer to nature. When in doubt, set up the epitome of relaxation: a hammock!

Gather ‘Round the Fire

There’s just something comforting in sitting in front of a fire with your closest friends by your side. Find peace in front of a fire pit or even an outdoor fireplace. They make the perfect place for making s’mores, stargazing, and talking with the ones you love the most!

Steal Away to a Secret Garden

Have a green thumb (or want to work on cultivating one)? Gardening may be the perfect answer for you! In fact, this healthy hobby not only brings you peace of mind, but it also touts several other health benefits. Make plans to begin landscaping a swoon-worthy garden, or strategically add your favorite plants and flowers to what you already have in your yard. Aromatic flowers like lavender and peppermint can also promote relaxing vibes!

Go On, Feed the Birds

Did you know that 40% of Americans regularly feed birds in their backyards? It’s no wonder why – it’s a peaceful hobby that benefits both you and your feathered friends! Set up a bird-feeding station somewhere in your yard. Read up on your favorite birds and set out the type of seed that will attract them (hint: sunflower seed is a big hit with many birds!).

Add a Water Feature

Water can have such a calming effect, which is why you should consider installing some sort of feature in your backyard. Start small with a running water feature in your lounge area or a gorgeous koi pond filled with colorful fish. If you have the space and budget, you can add a hot tub or a swimming pool to soak up all your troubles at the end of the day!

Amp Up the Privacy

You can’t quite relax when you can see neighbors or passers-by from your backyard. Create some much-needed privacy by installing some screens, walls, or even a fence to give you a sense of security. Turn it into an even more inviting oasis by providing plenty of shade and some soft lighting around the area!

Create an Area Just for You

No matter how much or how little space you have in your backyard, you should design a spot for you to do the things you love the most. Turn your patio into a place that you can easily enjoy the latest page-turner or practice yoga. That slab of concrete you have no idea what to do with? Add a few chairs, a table, and some potted plants to create your own hangout spot for you and your friends. The possibilities are endless!

Your backyard should be your own private sanctuary and a source of happiness in your daily life. Looking for a bigger or more inviting backyard? Enlist the help of The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties! We can help you find the home (and backyard) you’ve been dreaming of all this time. Call us today at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started!