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Basement Upgrades

One of the biggest goals people make in the new year is to do some work/remodeling on their home. For instance, your basement. Right now, you're just using it to store old boxes and things you can't think of anywhere else to put. Wouldn't it be nice if you could turn it into something fun or functional for your home? Here are a few ideas for your basement this year.

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Painting Tips

Painting, whether it's indoors or out, is a great way to give your home a fresh new look. While it's relatively easy and inexpensive to update your home with paint, there are some pitfalls you'll need to pay attention to. Here are a few tips from our real estate agents for avoiding common painting issues.

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Winter Landscaping

The weather is getting colder, and winter will be here before you know it. Landscaping may not be the first thing you think of doing this season. But in fact, you can tackle plenty of landscaping projects in the winter months. If you recently moved into a new home and have been working to improve the landscape, you don't have to quit as winter rolls in. Here are some winter landscaping projects our real estate agents recommend for a more beautiful facade all year long.

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Home Improvement Tips

Was your New Year's resolution for 2022 to get more done around the house? The year may be almost over, but that doesn't mean you're out of time. Here are some quick and easy indoor home improvement projects, perfect for this time of year. Refresh your home's appearance just in time for the holidays with these project ideas from our real estate agents.

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Tuscan Decor

In a recent survey, the most popular decorating trend for homes in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, is Tuscan decor. The rustic, Italian look and Old World style can add a lot of charm to a space. If you've just bought a new home and are looking for a decor style that will make it seem homey and welcoming, Tuscan is a great option. Here are some Tuscan design elements you can incorporate into your space.

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Halloween Decorating

One way to make your new house feel like home is to decorate it for your favorite holiday - especially if that holiday is Halloween! You can put a carved pumpkin in the window or add a few cobwebs in the corners, but wouldn't it be more fun to go all out? Here are a few tips for decorating your home, inside and out, this Halloween.

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garage storage space

If it feels like your home lacks ample storage, turn to your garage. The garage is a frequently underutilized space that can significantly increase your home's usable storage.

Our real estate agents recommend following these tips to help you maximize and showcase your garage's storage space. 

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Water Softener Tips

If your home has hard water, a water softener is an excellent addition to your property to help you reduce your water consumption, enhance the quality of your water, and get your dishes and clothes as clean as possible.

Like any system, a water softener needs periodic attention to function properly. Our real estate agents suggest following these maintenance tips to prolong the lifespan of your water softener and maximize its performance. 

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Front Yard Tips

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. The same holds true when it comes to selling your home. 

Your front yard is at the center of your home's curb appeal, which is a term used to describe how your home appears from the street. If you think about it, your front yard is the first thing people see when pulling up to your home. It's clearly visible to visitors, anyone who drives by, Google Maps, and most importantly, potential buyers who are thinking about scheduling a tour of your listing. 

As a result, our real estate agents always recommend giving your front yard a bit of extra love before listing your home on the market. Luckily, there are many easy and affordable ways to improve your yard this summer. If you want to make your yard stand out, we have a list of ideas for you:

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In-law suite

With more generations living under one roof, in-law suites have become popular home features. This type of space provides a separate living area for one or more older parents of an adult child, and it can be configured in many ways, including as a free-standing building or a converted garage. Not only can an in-law suite help a parent live somewhat independently, but it can also serve as a residence for an older child, a home office, or a guest house if needed. As a result, our real estate agents point out, this flexible space can help increase the value of your home when it's time to sell.

Before you start planning an in-law suite, make sure to check any local laws or regulations that might affect your plans. Once you know what - if anything - is prohibited, you'll need to thoughtfully plan the space. The following are some of the best features you can add to your in-law suite to make it safe, comfortable, and practical:

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Work From Home

If you're one of the millions of employees working from home, it's important to create a dedicated space for your work activities. A dedicated workspace helps you increase your productivity and creates a distinction between your home and work life. Our real estate agents suggest adding these features to make working from home even easier. 

  • An Ergonomic Chair
    Many workers experience back and neck pain related to poor posture during their workday. Keeping your body in a neutral position (feet on the floor, arms relaxed by your body, back straight, and head centered above your shoulders) reduces the amount of strain that sitting has on your body. An ergonomic chair encourages your body to maintain a neutral position, allowing you to be more comfortable, focused, and productive. Look for a chair with customizable features and a sufficient lumbar cushion to ensure your body has the support it needs. 
  • A WiFi Booster
    Few things are more frustrating than sitting down to begin your day, only to discover that your WiFi is running at a snail's pace or even refusing to connect entirely. A WiFi booster eliminates connectivity deserts in your home and makes it possible for multiple devices to use your WiFi with minimal buffering. 
  • A Task Light
    A home office needs multiple levels of lighting to ensure that you have proper illumination to reduce eye strain. In addition to an overhead light, you should invest in a task light. A task light makes it easy to adjust the placement of the light so that it's suited to your work activity. Look for a task light with an adjustable arm and multiple dimming levels so you can customize the type and placement of the lighting. 
  • A Desk That You Love
    Your desk is one of the most important elements of your home office space. Since you'll be spending a lot of time at your desk, you must select a design and style that fits your stylistic preferences and work habits. For example, if you need a space for using a computer and completing paperwork, a desk with an L-shape may be a good fit for your needs. Or, if you know that you like to stand for a portion of your workday, a desk that allows you to sit or stand while you work is a smart investment. 
  • A Bin or Basket to Store Your Work Supplies
    When you're through working, you need a spot to stow your work supplies. This will keep your office space uncluttered and tidy, and it ensures that you always know where all your necessities are. A large woven basket is one stylish alternative, or you can invest in a utility cart to quickly stash your work essentials. If you ever need to relocate for part of your workday, having everything in a single location makes it quick and convenient for you to do so. 
  • A Houseplant
    Your workspace should be a spot that you find inviting and welcoming; adding plants to your office instantly makes the area feel brighter and more appealing. Houseplants also purify the air inside of your home, removing odors and potentially harmful chemicals. As you select your houseplant, make sure its lighting needs are compatible with the light in your home office. 
  • A Camera Cover
    A camera cover is a convenient addition to your computer or mobile device that prevents your camera from catching portions of your day that you don't want to share with clients or other coworkers. Camera covers attach to your device or computer and slide as needed to conceal your camera. 
  • A Charging Station
    If you depend on a lot of devices during your workday, it needs to be easy to keep your devices charged. A charging station lets you charge multiple devices and accessories using a single unit; you can even customize the charging cords so that you have the best combo for your work devices. 
  • A Planner
    Whether you prefer an old-fashioned paper planner or like to utilize a digital alternative, a planner is valuable for organizing your workday, keeping track of deadlines, and monitoring your to-do list. If you decide to use a paper planner, make sure that you have a stash of ink pens or pencils readily available for quick schedule changes. 
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones
    When you're on a work call or just need to drown out background noise, noise-canceling headphones are a must-have item. Look for a fast-charging pair with a long battery life. 
  • A Larger Monitor (or a Second Monitor)
    Increasing the size of your computer screen is an effective way to boost your productivity. Or, depending on your job, you may prefer to add a second monitor so that you have a dedicated screen for certain tasks. If you conduct your work business from a laptop, there are also dual monitor options that are laptop compatible. 

Need a home with more space for your remote work days? Contact us to start your search!


plant tips

It's no secret that today's world is full of chemicals and other toxins. Luckily, these pollutants don't have to put you and your family at risk. There are beautiful houseplants that act as natural filters for many of the most common airborne toxins in today's homes. The diverse list of plants below will brighten up your space and improve your indoor air quality at the same time. 

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new england home decor

Are you looking for a new decor style to use in your home? If you're like many people, you know what you like - and don't like - when you see it, but you may have struggled to tie your home decor into an appealing style. Without a general direction, you can end up with a collection of elements gathered over the years that don't seem to complement each other or create a cohesive look. Whether that's the case or you'd simply like a change from your current style, it may be time for a refreshed look.

Our real estate agents suggest the following tips to help you find the best decor style for your home:

  • Look Inside Your Closet
    Check your closet and identify your favorite clothing items and accessories. What do you like to wear when you want to brighten your mood or when you have a special occasion to dress for? Look for some common elements - such as colors, fabrics, and patterns - that you normally find attractive. And take a look at items you avoid wearing and try to figure out why. Consider your general style. Do you prefer bold, flashy looks or more neutral colors and classic styles? Even the types of fabrics you like can serve as inspiration for items like pillows and draperies.

  • Create a Vision Board
    Look through a variety of magazines without limiting yourself to home decor publications. Check out photos of all types, including those representing nature, fashion, jewelry, and more. Use them in a vision board and consider what appeals to you about each image. For example, if you have a photo of leaves, does their color appeal to you? What about their shape or texture? Do they have curved lines or straight lines? Each photo can give you cues about what design elements you find most appealing.

  • Take a Few Online Quizzes
    There's an online quiz on just about every topic, so it should come as no surprise that a large number of websites have quizzes that will help you determine what home decor style you prefer. If you Google "interior design quizzes," you'll find lots of ones to try. Not only are these types of quizzes fun, but they also may surprise you and give you insights into your style preferences that you may not have expected. In addition, you'll be able to get some home design buzzwords - such as "industrial" or "boho" - that you can further research to find specific looks and pieces.

  • Weigh in on the Home Decor Items You Already Have
    Look at your current home decor items with a critical eye. Are there things that you love? Think about what it is about them that appeals to you. On the other hand, identify items that you just don't like. What is it that you find unappealing about them? As an added bonus, this step lets you eliminate some of your home decor items that just aren't working for you since you can sell or donate those things that you dislike. This also gives you the space to bring in more elements that suit your new style.

  • Consider Your Home's Current Atmosphere
    How does your home's current atmosphere feel? Is it warm and homey? Or maybe you have a modern, minimalist vibe going? Are there areas of your home that make you happy and others that make you feel bored or stressed out? Whatever you have, determine the mood it projects and figure out if that's still what you're going for, but with new decor items. Or you may decide you want to change the mood of your space entirely.

  • Give Your Style a Name
    Many, if not most, people have an ideal style that encapsulates elements of several different styles. This often works best since, although specific styles can provide inspiration, you may not like every element of any single style. Fortunately, there's no need to lock yourself into one look and follow its recommendations to the letter. Look at the information you've gathered and any patterns you can identify and come up with a fun description of your style. That way, as you consider different elements to bring into your home, you can ask yourself if they fit in well with your self-named style.

  • Start Small
    Decorating an entire home or even a room can seem overwhelming. Start with a small space in your home, such as a shelf or end table, and gather and arrange some objects that reflect your newly defined style. Live with them for a week or two, and if they're still appealing to you, start spreading the style throughout your room and home. If you find the style less attractive than you'd hoped, redo some of the previous steps to help further define your home decor style.

Contact us if you'd like to see homes for sale so you can have a fresh start in discovering the best decor style. Whether you're looking for a home to buy, are ready to sell your home, or both, we're ready to help! 


Housewarming Gifts

If you have a friend or family member who has recently bought a home, giving them a gift is a lovely tradition that helps them celebrate their new residence. 

Our real estate agents suggest choosing from the following housewarming gift ideas that are sure to please new homeowners:

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laundry room tips

If you're a home décor enthusiast, you may be wondering how to handle decorating your laundry room. How can you make such a functional space look its best without making it difficult to use?  

Our real estate agents have seen some gorgeous laundry rooms over the years. In that time, they've observed several trends in how homeowners choose to dress up this space. Take inspiration from these 7 tips to transform your laundry room from basic to beautiful.  

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You just bought your home, and you are excited to move in and start your new life. It was a major investment, perhaps the largest one you will ever make! As a homeowner, caring for your home is a big responsibility and one that can add value to your investment!

While maintaining your home is a significant responsibility, having the right repair tools and making an annual home maintenance to-do list can make the job easier! In this post, we will look at the steps to take to create a home maintenance to-do list and include some tips for sticking to your plan!

The Importance of Home Maintenance

Most of us visit our doctor for regular health check-ups to help prevent serious illnesses. A home maintenance schedule is much the same thing. Continuing to check on your home systems including the exterior, appliances, heating and cooling, plumbing, security, and electrical system can help you prevent breakdowns, save money, and keep your home's curb appeal up!

Creating a home maintenance checklist can help you schedule seasonal updates, cleaning, and repairs. Revisit your to-do list monthly and at the beginning of each season to keep your home in perfect working condition.

If any jobs or repairs are above your skill level or might lead to more extensive repairs, consider hiring a professional to help. Some jobs require an experienced professional, for example, HVAC, plumbing, or electrical work beyond simple maintenance or repairs.

A good practice is to create a maintenance schedule that consists of a monthly list and a more extensive seasonal list of projects.

Steps For Creating Your To-Do List

No matter what type of property you own, creating your maintenance plan consists of first creating a master list of tasks. While many maintenance tasks are universal, and you can find plenty of info on the web, every home is unique and requires specific maintenance depending on several factors. These include your home's building materials, the age of your property, and features like pools, skylights, or your unfinished basement.

You will also want to customize a home maintenance plan based on your region and weather. For example, homeowners living in New Hampshire might need to think about winterizing their pipes, while those living in the south might want to incorporate hurricane preparations into their maintenance plan.


Start with a walkthrough of your home. Look at every living space, the bedrooms, floors, and all of the nooks and crannies. This can help you to remember easy-to-forget maintenance items. Carry a notebook or use your phone to take notes to prepare. Here are some tasks to consider:

  • Bleed your radiators
  • Check the crawlspace for mold or vermin
  • Test your well annually for contaminants
  • Sweep the patio
  • Test the sump pump
  • Make sure your gutter downspouts are directed away from the house
  • Inspect your chimney


Now that you have your list, it might seem a bit daunting! The next step is to break out Excel and set up a spreadsheet with all of the items on your list in one place. Organize your list by frequency – weekly, monthly, seasonally, and annually. The frequency of your tasks is the key. For example, checking and replacing batteries in your home's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors annually can save your life. Failure to do so can be a disaster!


To get organized, putting your tasks into a spreadsheet app like Excel is a good option. However, there are plenty of apps and planners specific to home maintenance. A few options include:

Centriq – for appliance maintenance. Just input all of the info for your appliances. The app has a database of user manuals, how-to videos, and other options specific to your appliances.

Wunderlist – is essentially a massive to-do list you can create with deadlines and reminders. You can also share your list with others and delegate tasks to get the family involved.

The Black and Decker Home Planner Logbook – an analog option, the B&D logbook provides space for all of your records and maintenance tasks and features extensive information on home features and the importance of regular maintenance.

Sticking With Your Plan!

You know the saying... the best-laid plans. No matter how thoughtful and thorough your home maintenance checklist is, forgetting or failing to do a task is not an option! The solution? Set reminders!

Many app-based options allow you to set push notifications that will pop up on your smartphone to remind you to do a task on your list. When working with an Excel spreadsheet consider adding important maintenance dates to your Google calendar. Schedule reminders a couple of weeks before your deadline. That way, if you need to hire a professional, you'll have some time to do it, so you won't be calling at the last minute.

Store Your Home Maintenance Records!

This is important for both you, and should you ever sell, for potential buyers. Keep meticulous records of the work you've done on your house, when the work was done, and how much it cost. Hang on to:

  • Home improvement receipts
  • Contractor invoices and receipts
  • Warranties
  • Manuals
  • Any estimates for pending work to be done

These records are important when you sell. It's easy to do. Once you've completed and checked off an item on your list, store the paperwork in a file. Whether it's an analog file or digital is up to you but do it immediately upon completion. Don't check off a task until it's completed.

You'll be glad you did when it's time to sell. Following a comprehensive maintenance plan and keeping your home repaired and updated will eliminate the hassle of repair requests and extra costs when negotiating a sale. Depending on the work done, you might even be able to get more money than you expected. Plus, you'll be able to show any potential buyers just how much you cared for your home!


In Home Technology

Studies continue to report that potential homebuyers are seeking homes with technology that makes their lives and their ability to run their households easier and more convenient.

Our real estate agents know that a home with updated technology is often more appealing to prospective buyers. Even if you don't anticipate selling your home in the future, adding a few new high-tech options can help you customize your home to your needs.

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Moving Tips for Collection

Moving is never an easy feat, but it becomes significantly more complicated when a collection is involved. Whether it's made up of stamps, action figures, or rare books, your collection is important to you, and so is getting it safely into your new home. From prep work to moving day, this list of tips from our real estate agents covers everything you need to know to successfully move your beloved treasures.  

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Adopting a DogIf you've decided to adopt a dog, congratulations! You're about to embark on an exciting journey with your new best friend, who will shower you with unconditional love and affection.

A new pet often feels scared, anxious, excited, and inquisitive about a strange environment, so you need to prepare your home for your pet's arrival. To help your dog adjust, our real estate agents suggest that you pet-proof your home before your dog arrives. Here are eight tips to welcome your new fur baby to a safe, comfortable, happy home.

8 Tips for Adding a New Pet to Your Home

  1. Purchase Essential Pet Supplies
    Make a trip to the local pet store to gather essential supplies including dog food; tasty treats; food and water bowls; a dog collar and a leash; a comfortable dog bed; and a few toys. Dogs love to chew, so buy some milk bones, rawhide chews, and chew toys. If this is your first dog, talk to someone at the pet store or animal shelter about the best supplies for your dog's breed, size, and weight. You may need to make some adjustments in food and treats after you get to know your dog, but make sure you have the essentials ready for the new arrival.

  2. Find a Local Veterinarian
    Becoming a pet parent comes with responsibilities like regular visits to a veterinarian for health exams, vaccines and shots, dental cleanings, and medications. You need to find a veterinarian and a 24-hour emergency animal hospital that's in your area. Schedule an appointment for a checkup with the vet and keep the emergency numbers handy. If you adopt your dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization, try to get records of any shots and treatments the dog had while in their care. If the dog is not spayed, neutered, or micro-chipped, have those procedures done when you take your dog to the vet.

  3. Create a Space Specifically for Them
    To help your dog feel safe and comfortable in a new home, create a comfortable space where the dog can relax and sleep. Consider investing in a dog crate with a cozy bed inside where your dog can retreat when feeling anxious or fearful. Crate training provides a secure place for your dog when you're not at home. If you don't want a crate, set up a quiet space in the house with a dog bed, blankets, and a few familiar toys.

  4. Prepare for House Training
    While an older dog who lived with another family is likely house-trained, you will need to house-train a new puppy. Typically, puppies can control their bladder for one hour for every month of age. If your puppy is three months old, don't wait more than 3 hours between bathroom breaks outside and invest in puppy training pads for indoors.

  5. Plan for Walks and Exercise
    All dogs, big and small, love to go on long walks to see the sights, greet other dogs, and smell other scents around the neighborhood. If you're adopting a dog, it's important to make time for daily walks and regular exercise to keep your dog active, healthy, and fit. Larger, active breeds like border collies, huskies, labs, and German shepherds need to run and exercise, while small breeds like chihuahuas and terriers may be happy with a quick walk around the block.

  6. Secure Your Home and Yard
    Before you bring your dog home, secure your home and yard to minimize the chance of your dog getting injured or lost. You can also install a pet door that allows your dog to go outside when you're not at home. Keep in mind that some breeds like huskies are notorious escape artists, so your fence will need to be solid and at least 8 feet high.

  7. Make Family Ground Rules
    Before bringing your dog home, it's a good idea to make some family ground rules to ensure everyone is on the same page. Set rules about where the dog is and is not allowed to go if the dog's allowed on the furniture, and where the dog should sleep. Developing a chore list for family members makes everyone responsible for the dog's daily care and activities. Taking the dog for walks is a great task for older kids because it teaches them pet responsibilities.

  8. Establish a Routine
    Pets function best on a routine schedule for meals, walks, playtime, and sleep. Determine your dog care regimen with family members as soon as you bring the dog home. Most dogs are fed twice a day at regular times, so make sure someone is responsible for daily feedings. Establish routines for daily walks, trips to the dog park, playtime, doggie daycare, and sleep schedules. A routine will make your dog feel more secure and less anxious.

Adding a pet to your household is one of the many perks of homeownership. If you're considering buying a home that is more pet-friendly, contact us for information and prices on available properties that meet your needs.


    Home Office Tips

    Whether you work from home full-time or sporadically, it's important to have a home office where you can be productive

    Our real estate agents know that a home office that's functional and appealing optimizes your workflow and encourages creativity.

    After working from home for a while, has your home office started to feel stale? Refresh your workspace by following these tips.

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    Selling Tips

    Our real estate agents want to make the whole home selling process easier for you. In many cases, that starts by giving you a firm idea of exactly what you can expect. While selling will always have its ups and downs, it becomes much easier when you understand how it all fits together.

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    Mason Jar Home Decor

    You've just moved into your new home. Now you need to decorate it and make it your own. You don't need a lot of fancy trinkets and expensive doodads. All you really need to make your house a home is a few mason jars. With National Mason Jar Day coming up on November 30th, let's look at some of the many fun things you can do with these durable, beautiful, and versatile jars.

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    Latte Tips

    November 23rd is National Espresso Day. What better way to celebrate than with a delicious latte? There are plenty of coffee shops in the area, but if you've just moved to a new place, it might be nice to try out your new kitchen and make one yourself. Here are some tips for making the perfect latte.

    Ingredients and Equipment Needed

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    Halloween DecoratingHalloween decorating is a fun fall activity for the whole family, but it can also get a little bit competitive among neighbors. Whether you're planning a party or just looking to spook the neighborhood trick-or-treaters, our real estate agents created this guide of Halloween decorating tips to help you create the most mystifying home on the block. 

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    Home Security Tech

    In our high-tech world, home security systems have become more sophisticated, affordable, and easier to use. And unlike the manual security gadgets of yesteryears, today's home security devices are discreet, packed with a variety of security features, and can be controlled using your phone or tablet. Smart home security tech can deter criminals and help in an emergency. From smart cameras to smart thermostats, our real estate agents explain the typical devices in a smart home security system to help take the first steps to a more convenient and secure lifestyle.

    2021 Home Security Tech

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    Moving Tips

    It's no secret that moving can be stressful! When you're packing up your entire life and relocating across the country, it's important to make sure you're prepared. Spending some time planning your move will help ensure everything goes off without a hitch. 

    Not sure where to start? You're in luck! Our real estate agents often work with clients from out of state and have created a helpful guide to help with planning cross-country moves. Here are a few of the most important tips. 

    Cross-Country Moving Tips

    • Start by Decluttering
      There's no sense paying someone to move stuff you don't really want or need. You'll save yourself money if you declutter before you move. Even better, you may be able to make some extra money by having a yard sale, working with a consignment store, or selling items online. You can also donate gently-used items to local nonprofits.
    • Ask for Help
      There's nothing worse than trying to handle a cross-country move by yourself. Don't hesitate to ask for help with certain tasks. Even school-age kids can pack up boxes of non-essentials if they're shown the proper way to do it. There's also nothing wrong with asking family and friends to come over and lend you a hand. 
    • Book Travel Arrangements Early
      You don't want to scramble to figure out your travel arrangements at the last minute. Having the right airline and hotel reservations can make or break your move, so make sure you spend some time doing your research and start booking your reservations at least a month in advance. 
    • Get Quotes from Multiple Movers
      A cross-country move can be expensive, so it pays to get estimates from at least three or four different moving companies before making your final decision. Make sure each company you're considering is licensed and insured. Be careful not to make your decision solely on price. It's also important to consider their anticipated delivery time, the services included, and whether you feel comfortable with the company's reputation. Many of the best moving companies book up quickly, so it's important to get started on this as soon as possible. 
    • Take Photos or Videos of Your Items
      When packing up valuable items, it's a great idea to take photos or videos to document their condition. This way, if they arrive damaged, you'll be able to easily show proof to the moving company. 
    • Get the Driver's Contact Number
      When you're moving cross-country, you can sometimes wait a week or longer for your items to arrive. Getting a contact number for the driver can help give you some extra peace of mind. 
    • Consider Moving Insurance
      Most moving companies offer a free moving policy, but these typically only cover the bare minimum. When booking your move, consider whether you need Full Value Protection. This will hold the mover accountable for covering the actual cash value of your items. You'll also have to weigh the pros and cons of choosing a policy from your mover versus getting one from a third-party insurance company. 
    • Bring Valuables and Important Paperwork
      Make sure to protect your valuables and important paperwork by keeping them with you instead of sending them with the movers. Some of the items you'll want to keep with you include jewelry, heirlooms, your birth certificate, and your marriage license. 
    • Pack a Bag of Essentials
      As you're packing up your belongings, make sure to keep a separate bag or a suitcase for your essentials. This should include everything you need for moving day and the first few days after you arrive. Make sure you have at least a few changes of clothing, all your necessary toiletries, medications, and items like towels, toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, pet food, child necessities. 
    • Examine Your Items Carefully
      When the movers arrive with your items, make sure you inspect them thoroughly. This is particularly important for large items, like furniture and anything valuable. If you notice any damage, take photos and contact the movers right away. 
    • Update Your Information
      Thanks to modern technology, it's now super easy to change your address. You can just visit and select the date you want the post office to start forwarding your mail. You'll also need to change your address with your bank and credit card companies and change over your new utilities. 
    • Get a New Driver's License
      If you're living in a new state, you'll need to get a new driver's license. To do this, make an appointment at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and bring all the necessary paperwork so they can issue you a new license. 
    • Explore Your Neighborhood
      Now that all the hard stuff is done, it's time to settle into your new home and get comfortable in your new neighborhood. This means getting outside and saying hello to your new neighbors. This is also a good time to start exploring local parks, restaurants, and retail shops. You may also want to check out your local group. 

    Are you planning to relocate soon? Our agents would love to help you find your dream home! Contact us today. 


    Pet Fire Safety Day

    Pets are a part of the family in many Northern New England homes!

    And July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a great reminder to fine-tune your family's fire safety plan so that all your family members are protected.

    Our real estate agents also recommend making a few changes around your home so that your furry family members don't inadvertently start a fire. Here are some valuable tips to help keep your pet safe in case of an emergency. 

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    Staging Your Home

    In a seller's market, such as we have today, sellers might feel like they can skip some steps before listing their home. After all, sellers are getting their asking prices, aren't they? But is that the only thing to consider? Our real estate agents know staging your home is important in any real estate market. Here's why. 

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    Sustainable Kitchen Products

    Sustainable kitchen products are those that use eco-friendly materials, last longer, and are more easily recycled than traditional items. Buying these products has become more popular in recent years as more consumers consider the impact on the environment when they're making purchases.

    Benefits of Choosing Sustainable Products

    Our real estate agents know that there are many reasons why homeowners opt for sustainable kitchen products. Some of the top benefits include:

    • Can be reused
    • Can be recycled more easily
    • Decomposes more quickly
    • Longer-lasting
    • Lower costs over time
    • Lowers exposure to toxic substances

    Sustainable Kitchen Products for Your Kitchen

    Thinking of how to make your kitchen more eco-friendly? Opt for some of these products in your home.

    • Metal Straws
      Plastic straws aren't recyclable, and paper straws – in addition to often disintegrating as you're trying to sip your beverage – are still a single-use item. Metal straws are environmentally friendly as well as being easier to drink through. Buy several different sizes along with a tiny brush for cleaning to stash in your kitchen and in your purse.
    • Cloth Paper Towels 
      Instead of going through seemingly endless rolls of paper towels, buy a roll of durable, washable cloth towels. They come in an easy-to-use roll of perforated sheets just like paper towels, but they're lint-free and tear-resistant. You'll be able to make a roll of 75 sheets last for about 4 to 6 months.
    • Reusable Produce Bags
      Plastic produce bags are made from fossil fuels, are only used once, and may never fully decompose. Make a sustainable choice by purchasing a set of mesh produce bags, taking them to the grocery store with you, and washing them when needed.
    • Reusable Sandwich Wraps
      Skip buying single-use plastic and snack bags as you pack your lunch for work or your kids' school lunches. Buy natural beeswax wraps, which are more versatile since can be folded into various sizes of packets or baggies and reused.
    • Stainless Steel or Cast Iron Pans
      Teflon pans are popular because of their non-stick properties, but they can easily become damaged and need to be replaced. They also release toxic chemicals when they become scratched. Skip the Teflon and instead choose long-lasting, healthier alternatives such as pots and pans made of heavy-duty stainless steel or cast iron.
    • Soda and Seltzer Machine
      Instead of buying soda or sparkling water in cans or plastic bottles, invest in a soda and seltzer machine to satisfy your love of carbonation. This eliminates your need for single-use plastic bottles and aluminum cans since you reuse the carbonating bottle over and over again.
    • Reusable Dish Brush  
      Skip buying disposable sponges, which don't last long and often come packaged in single-use plastic. Substitute a reusable dish brush, which lasts much longer and works just as well. Some have biodegradable heads that you can replace when they're worn out, so you won't have to buy a whole new brush.
    • Glass Storage Containers 
      Chances are good that you have a variety of plastic containers in your kitchen cabinets. When it comes time to buy new ones, choose glass containers with bamboo lids. They're more durable, environmentally friendly, and won't get stained when you heat up spaghetti sauce or similar foods.

    • Wooden Cutting Board
      Plastic cutting boards scratch easily, harboring bacteria within the cuts. Depending on how much you use your plastic cutting board, you could end up replacing it every few months. Maple or beech wood boards made out of a single block of wood are a much better choice. They can be easily cleaned with warm, soapy water and sanitized with a product like Simple Green. If your wooden board develops cuts over time, sand it down with fine-grit sandpaper before washing and drying it. Finally, rub it down with a bit of mineral oil, and you'll have a cutting board that looks like new.
    • Reusable Oil Spray Bottle
      If you buy your cooking oil in an aerosol sprayer, switch to a reusable oil spray and mister bottle. You can use it with oils, vinegars, or similar substances, and since it's refillable, you won't be buying cans that will end up in landfills. In addition, since they're non-aerosol sprayers, these reusable bottles don't use chemical propellants.
    • Wooden Cooking Utensils
      Swap your plastic cooking utensils like spatulas, spoons, and ladles for ones made of bamboo, wood, or stainless steel. You may wonder if you can put bamboo or wood utensils in the dishwasher, and the answer is yes, for many versions.
    • Natural Air Fresheners
      Your kitchen can sometimes have lingering odors from cooking or trash. Instead of using chemical air fresheners, make your kitchen smell nice in a healthier, more sustainable way by simmering spices or aromatic plant oils on the stove. Grinding up a slice of lemon in your garbage disposal can also help keep your disposal and kitchen smelling fresh and clean.  

    Looking for a brand new kitchen to enjoy for years to come? Contact us today if you're interested in buying or selling a home in New England.


    Items to Toss Spring Cleaning

    It's hard to believe spring is already here, and if you're like our real estate agents, you're probably getting ready for your annual spring cleaning routine. Clearing the whole house of clutter takes time, but if you break it down into manageable pieces - start by targeting items that you can throw away or donate right now. It is the perfect time to get rid of unwanted things you've accumulated throughout the year. While it can seem like a hassle, it's definitely worth the effort. After all, few things are as satisfying as a nice clean home.

    Here is a quick jumpstart list to get you motivated. If you're getting ready to start your cleaning process, don't forget to throw out these items this year.

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    Masiello Home Improvement

    Home improvement shows can be pretty intriguing. With the exquisite finishes, the grand reveals, the hugs, and the grateful smiles, it's easy to get sucked into a five-hour marathon session of entertaining reality TV. Unfortunately, these shows can be misleading. They give viewers unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished when it comes to remodeling, flipping, buying, and selling a home. Our real estate agents reveal 5 things that home makeover shows never tell you.

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    Home Theater Masiello

    It's no surprise that many of us are watching more TV than normal. Whether it's your favorite cable sitcom or your favorite streaming service, many homeowners are thinking of ways to improve their watching experience at home. 

    A good home theater system is essential for creating the best possible viewing experience and maximizing comfort in your living room. Our real estate agents take a lot of pride in their home theater setups, and there couldn't be a better time to improve yours. Below are some tips to get the most out of your home theater setup:

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    Gallery Wall Masiello

    A good way to create a focal point in your living room is to craft a gallery wall. One that is well done makes a home look inviting and helps tie the room together. This creative collage does require a bit of planning! The following guide will help you to create a stunning gallery wall you'll love to look at in your home.

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    Home Listing Tips

    If you plan to put your home on the market, it's better to start your preparations sooner rather than later. Our real estate agents find that homeowners who complete home repairs and maintenance tasks are more likely to produce spaces that appeal to potential buyers. Follow this checklist if you plan to list your home this spring. 

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    Home Organization Apps

    Staying organized has never been easy. And after a year when many of us have spent more time living and working at home than ever before, it's understandable if home organization has gotten a little lax. 

    Our real estate agents understand the struggle. Luckily, we also have a few suggestions for getting your home organization back on track. We can't promise you won't have to do any actual cleaning, but we can say with confidence that these home organization apps will help!

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    Interior Design Details

    Sometimes the smallest change can make all the difference in the world. And if you've spent as much time at home in the last year as we have, chances are you're ready for a change!

    Our real estate agents are here to help. These interior design tricks can make a huge visual impact and seemingly transform your space. They're also simple, affordable, and require a minimal investment of time and effort. Happy decorating!

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    Ways to Cut Energy Costs

    January 10th is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, so be sure to add energy efficiency to your New Year's resolutions. When it comes to cutting energy costs, a few small changes can really make a big difference. More importantly, making our homes eco-friendly can have a major impact on our community and Earth. Our real estate agents love discussing ways to improve your home's energy efficiency, and they have compiled this list of tips to help you reduce your utility bills in 2021:

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    Remote Learning

    You aren't the only one in your family who could use a home office! More and more kids are learning remotely, and for many of them, this means trying to do their schoolwork in a busy area of the house or in their rooms. These aren't ideal solutions, so you might be looking for a better way to help your kids with remote learning.
    Our real estate agents suggest the following 5 workplace ideas to help your kids with remote learning:  

    1. Choose a spot that has as few distractions as possible.
      Your child probably won't be able to concentrate well without a separate space for schoolwork. If they're in the family room or at the kitchen table, they'll end up getting distracted due to the hubbub of daily family life. And if they do their schoolwork in their rooms, they're likely to find all sorts of distractions, including toys and electronics. Instead, set aside a desk in a quiet room to help your child focus. If a separate room isn't available, try utilizing a corner, hallway, or even a converted closet to house their workspace.
    2. Have a place for everything and put everything in its place.  
      An organized space will help your kids enjoy their work area and keep everything where they can find it. To make this happen, every item needs to have a designated spot so your kids can return them to their proper place when they're finished for the day. Think of storage solutions such as rolling trays or drawers for art supplies, hooks to hang headphones on, and charging stations for tablets. Clear jars, labels, and magnetic items can also come in handy for this type of organized area.
    3. Make sure the workspace has enough lighting.  
      Especially if you're using a space like a hallway or closet for your kids' work area, you'll need to make sure it has adequate lighting. A spot with some natural light is best, but even if you have it, you'll still need to supplement it with some artificial lighting. Desk lamps are a convenient solution, and you can also move anything that's blocking natural light from flooding the room.
    4. Let your child decorate their workspace.  
      Letting your child personalize their workspace will make them feel more positive about spending time there and invested in keeping it orderly. Photographs, artwork, prints, and other items can be used to dress up the walls, and floating shelves can hold cherished objects.
    5. Include some stress relievers.   
      Your kids will be spending more time at their workstations with remote learning than you might expect since it's meant to substitute for a full school day of learning. Between assignments and tests, your kids may start to feel anxious and burned out after a while, so let them keep some stress relievers on hand in their workspace to help. These can include Silly Putty, stress balls, or Koosh balls, as well as letting them listen to music if they're not distracted by it. And if your kids have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, take a cue from some traditional in-school classrooms and let them sit on an exercise ball instead of on a chair.  

    Contact us today at The Masiello Group if you're interested in buying or selling a home in the Northern New England area. We have offices throughout the area and have been the region's real estate leader for more than 52 years.   


    Indoor Plants

    Winter's tough on us all, but you may have noticed it can be particularly tough on your indoor plants. Now, why should that be? Indoor plants get to stay indoors in the winter, out of the elements, just the same as they do in the summer. And yet, each winter, you've observed brown leaf tips and leaf drop once the heat comes on.

    If you've got a nice collection of indoor plants, you want them to stay healthy all year long. Here are some tips for helping them get through New England's long, cold winter.

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    Light Upgrades

    You don't have to be a master electrician to leverage light for maximum impact. Our real estate agents share easy lighting upgrades that instantly add value and visual appeal to your home.

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    DIY Tools for HomeownersWe're all spending a little bit more time indoors this year, so there really couldn't be a better time to start that DIY home improvement project you've been thinking about. From home renovations to simple woodworking projects, DIY projects can be fun and rewarding, and now is the best time to get started.

    Investing in the right toolset before you begin will save you many headaches and trips to the hardware store. Our real estate agents thought it might be helpful to provide a list of tools we think you should have handy before you begin your next DIY project:

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    Home Inspections for Sellers

    Home inspections are an important part of the home selling process, and in some cases, they can complicate or even derail the sale. That's why it's important to understand exactly what a home inspection covers and how it can affect the pricing and sale of your home.

    Our real estate agents share the following things that sellers should know about home inspections:

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    Displaying Wall Art

    Whether you're using photographs, paintings, or tapestries, wall art offers many great options for adding visual interest to your home, but selecting the pieces is just half the job. Our real estate agents share top tips on hanging wall art for optimum effect.

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    Interior Design Trends to Avoid

    Fashions in interior design come and go. When getting ready to list your home, you might be tempted to try the latest trends to help make your home stand out from other listings. But sometimes, those trends can have the opposite effect. If you're planning on selling your New England home, our REALTORS® can help you sort through fads and nail down the fashions as you get your home ready for the market. 

    Here are some timely warnings about what to avoid. 

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    Tricks to Make Your Home More Spacious

    If you find yourself spending more at home this year, your living space may be starting to feel a little cramped and claustrophobic. A comfortable living space is important, and studies have suggested small spaces can negatively impact your overall mood and mental health. Not only does more space equal more happiness, but it can also increase your home's overall value.

    Luckily, when it comes to interior design there are simple ways to make your home appear more spacious. Our real estate agents have several tips for making your home appear more spacious. Whether you're looking to put your home on the market this year or simply looking to make things more comfortable, consider these design suggestions that can actually trick the eye into seeing more space:

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    Ways to Use a Spare Room

    All you need is a little creativity, and you can transform that spare room in your house into your favorite place. Thinking of ways you can turn your spare room into a space for your family to enjoy? The following are five suggestions to consider.

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    Home Maintenance Issues To AddressAs a homeowner, protecting your largest financial asset should be a top priority, but many of us are guilty of turning the occasional blind eye when it comes to certain problems around the house. However, failing to take care of some seemingly small repairs can result in compounding problems and expensive repair bills down the line. Below are six home maintenance issues that you should never wait to address:

    1. A Damp Basement 
      Water in the basement is not a problem to ignore. Not only can it lead to property damage and foundation deterioration, but it also creates a breeding ground for dangerous mold and mildew that can have a hazardous impact on air quality. The longer the problem is ignored, the more time the mold and mildew has to grow. The first step to resolving the issue is to figure out how the water is getting in. A damp basement could be a sign that water is pooling near the foundation of your home. If this is the case, you may want to reevaluate your landscaping and check your gutters and downspouts. Worst case, you may need to install a drain tile.
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    Staging Mistakes

    Staging your home is an important step to take before putting it on the market. It helps your real estate photos look more appealing, which brings potential buyers inside your door. And once the buyers are there, a perfectly staged home lets them visualize their family living happily in your home. Home staging mistakes, however, can have the opposite effect.

    Our real estate agents point out the following common staging mistakes you might be making in your home. 

    1. Failing to Start with a Plan
      Start your home staging process by having a plan and strategy. Keep in mind who your home is likely to appeal to and stage your home accordingly.

    2. Neglecting to Make Improvements
      Making quick, inexpensive improvements to your home and fixing major problems that can't be ignored are important to prospective buyers. The most beautiful, appropriate staging won't hide maintenance issues that need to be addressed.

    3. Ignoring Your Home's Lighting
      A home with lots of artificial and natural light will look brighter and cheerier than a dark one. Take down dark or heavy window treatments and replace them with ones that let the light shine through. And add cool LED lighting to any space that has fewer than four lights.

    4. Too Much Furniture
      Including some furniture in your home staging is a good idea. Just make sure you don't have too many pieces since it can make your home seem small and crowded.

    5. Failing to Clean Thoroughly
      Even the nicest, best staged home will turn off buyers if it doesn't look and smell clean. Deep clean all areas of your home including your floors, windows, entryway, and garage floor.

    6. Keeping Things Too Personal
      Your home should have a neutral palette instead of boldly colored paint, furniture, and flooring. Personal items such as photos should also be removed and replaced with geometric artwork or something similar.

    7. Making Your Home Decor Overly Neutral 
      Neutral decor is important, but too much of it will make your home seem drab and unforgettable. Include some visual contrast by adding a pop of color with items like a decorative pillow, rugs, and wall art.

    8. Neglecting to Paint
      Paint looks dreary over time, so a fresh coat can help make a home look and smell new. This not only applies to your walls but also your ceilings.

    9. Misplacing Your Furniture
      Don't place furniture like couches and chairs up against walls or hiding in corners. Instead, move them a few feet away from the wall so you create natural pathways. Just make sure you don't create any barriers to a natural traffic pattern.

    10. Ignoring the Outdoors
      Taking care of the inside of your home is vital, but don't neglect the outside of your home. Outdoor areas that are well-tended show that you're taking care of your home. Take a little extra time and effort to add some touches such as a bistro table.

    Contact us to learn more about how to avoid staging mistakes so you can present your home in the best possible way. Our agents have a great deal of experience buying and selling homes and can advise you on how to stage your home to attract buyers. 


    Budget Friendly Kitchen Upgrades

    Is your kitchen looking a bit worn and outdated? One thing our real estate agents have learned in our many years buying and selling homes in Northern New England is that the kitchen is the most important room in the home. Here's how you can update yours on a budget. 

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    In New England, we have to be mindful of getting home improvement projects done during our summertime window of good weather. Some indoor projects may be done in fall and winter, but anything that involves paint fumes, dust, and going in and out repeatedly should be done when you can keep the windows open. 

    If you're like most homeowners, you've got an extensive list of projects you'd like to see completed. Perhaps you're planning to put your home on the market soon. 

    We recommend prioritizing before you embark on any home improvement project. Try tackling a more involved project at the start of summer, when you have more time, and then make your way down the list to easier projects. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

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    Garden Maintenance

    Our real estate agents know one of the biggest reasons many people look forward to owning a home is to have a garden. Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby, but it also means staying vigilant for that ever-present pest: Weeds.

    National Weed Your Garden Day is June 13, a Saturday this year. It's the perfect time to get some fresh air and work on the best ways to protect your garden from weeds. Here's how to stay one step ahead of these troublesome invaders:

    1. Minimize Soil Disturbance
      Most lawns have been heavily infiltrated by weed seeds. So, why aren't there weeds everywhere you look? It's because only seeds that reach the top two inches of soil get the sunlight needed to germinate. To prevent weed seeds from seeing the light of day, dig only when you need to. 
    2. Mulch Early and Often
      Mulch helps your soil stay cool and moist while also keeping light away from weeds. Organic mulches can be attractive to crickets and beetles that actively feed on weeds, too. Mulch is best at a depth of about two inches – more than this can reduce the oxygen content in the soil. Spread mulch over a thin layer of biodegradable fabric to maximize your weed protection.
    3. Choose Your Mulches Carefully
      Mulch is vital. But, it can give cover to unwanted guests. Get rid of all existing weeds before you mulch, and use only weed-free mulches from a reliable source. Leaf compost is a great option for most garden beds. When making your own mulch, use a straw instead of hay. Straw is virtually always weed-free, but hay can be rich in weed seeds.
    4. Weed at the Right Times
      Believe it or not, there's a best time to weed. Weeding is best done right after a major rain. If you have gone a long time without a good rain, you have options: Weeds sliced off just above the soil line will quickly wither away. After severing a weed, settle mulch over the area.
    5. Optimize Your Plant Spacing
      Shading the soil between plants helps prevent weeds from emerging. Design your garden with drifts of closely spaced plants, and you'll be off to the races. Many plants will thrive even with about 25% removed from the recommended spacing. The exception? Plants that are vulnerable to foliar diseases. These plants need space and shouldn't touch other plants even at maturity.
    6. Use Irrigation and Fertilizer to Your Advantage
      A whole book could be written about the best way to irrigate your garden – and has! The right irrigation approach will make your plants healthier and save you money at the same time. Drip hoses are ideal for this, as you can place them beneath mulch directly around your thirsty plants. Don't forget to give your garden a fresh helping of good compost regularly.
    7. Use Cover Crops and Low-Growing Plants
      Cover crops can be a terrific way to add character to your garden and defend yourself against weeds at the same time. Clover, barley, and wheat are just a few of your options. Not only are they beneficial to most other plants, but they will happily block out weeds for you. Always look for ways to prevent bare spaces, since these are where weeds are likely to pop up first.

    Contact us for expert advice on buying or selling your home.


    Summer Patio Tips

    Have you always dreamed of having a beautiful backyard patio where you could enjoy your summer days and nights? You're not alone! Our real estate agents often hear from buyers who have added a great backyard to their list of "must-have" home features. 

    The good news is, it's fairly easy to add or upgrade a patio, even if you don't have a ton of outdoor space. The following seven tips will help you make your dreams come true! 

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    Indoor Air Quality

    Did you know that air pollution isn't just an outdoor issue? There are many factors in your home that can negatively impact your indoor air quality. 

    Luckily, there are relatively easy things you can do to improve the air quality of your home. 

    Our real estate agents have a few tricks up their sleeves. Use these tips and tricks to improve your indoor air quality!

    1. Eliminate Pollutants
      One of the most important steps to improving indoor air quality is to eliminate pollutants at their source. This includes using non-toxic, fragrance-free household cleaners and detergents, replacing chemical-based air fresheners with essential oil diffusers, and utilizing non-toxic extermination methods to get rid of pests. Be sure to also check for and eliminate mold in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and any other moisture-prone areas. 
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    Spring Cleaning TasksWarmer temperatures have arrived, and it's time to get your house ready for the new season. Whether you're happy in your current space or want our real estate agents to help you find a new home, a little spring cleaning will help your home put its best foot forward. Instead of sticking to your normal spring cleaning tasks, make sure to turn your attention to items that are commonly overlooked. Here are a few tasks to put on your spring cleaning checklist. 

    1. Clean Your Mattress
      Over time, dust, dead skin, and other debris settle into your mattress. Strip your mattress of its bedding and break out the vacuum cleaner. Feel like your mattress needs a little extra deodorizing? Sprinkle a little baking soda on your mattress and let it sit for a few minutes before vacuuming. This will remove any old, set-in odors. If your mattress design permits, spring is the perfect time to flip your mattress over so that it wears evenly. Should you have a pillowtop mattress, just rotate it, so the top part is at the bottom of your bed, and the bottom part is at the top part of your bed. 
    2. Sanitize Your Tech Accessories
      Your tech accessories, like your remote controls, headphones, and gaming controllers, are some of the most touched items in your household. Take a few minutes and wipe each one down with a damp sanitizing wipe. Out of wipes? Dip a cleaning cloth in equal parts rubbing alcohol and water until its damp. Use a moistened q-tip in the tight or narrow areas around buttons and indentations.
    3. Declutter Your Seldom-Used Storage Spaces
      It's easy to overlook the overflowing closets and bulging storage bins in areas that you seldom use, like your attic, garage, and guest bedrooms. However, it's important to make decluttering these spaces a priority so that you don't wind up with an overwhelming mountain of stuff. Once you get rid of some unneeded items, it's much easier to clean the space. Not sure what to get rid of? A good rule of them is to throw out, sell, or donate non-seasonal items that you haven't used in the last six months. Or, if an item doesn't fit your current lifestyle, it's okay to let it go.
    4. Spray Off Your Window Screens
      Make sure that a lovely spring breeze doesn't blow dust and allergens throughout your home by cleaning your window screens. Remove each screen from its window. Mix a little dish detergent with water and use a soft cloth or brush to clean your screens. Rinse thoroughly with water and blot the screen dry with a towel. Depending on the size of your screen and the layout of your, you can use your bathtub or an outside area and your water hose.
    5. Clear Out Your Gardens
      Don't forget to clear out your gardens! Your flower gardens are one of the first things visitors see when they arrive at your home. Dead, decaying plants will detract from the look of your healthy, blooming flowers. In addition to dead organic matter, take a few minutes to pull any weeds, grass, or plants that don't belong in the space. 

    Feel like you've outgrown your current home? Contact us today to explore your options. 


    Home Improvement Projects

    Whether you are making improvements to your living space or preparing to sell, home improvements are a valuable investment in your property. Our real estate agents are available to go over home improvement suggestions to help make your home more attractive to potential buyers. But there are numerous home improvement projects that you must leave to the professionals.

    Without a specific skill set, experience, and specialized tools, some home improvement projects can be dangerous to try yourself. Besides, without proper training, you may spend more time and money on your remodel. Here's a list of home improvement projects you should leave to the professionals.

    1. Electrical Work
      One of the top items to leave to the professionals is electrical work. Rewiring sockets, adding lights, removing old fixtures, or installing a home theater system may sound easy. If not done correctly, your work may result in a dangerous fire hazard. Not to mention, you risk personal electric shock if not done correctly. A professional has the knowledge and equipment for fast installation and energy efficiency.

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    Landscaping Trends to Try

    Now is the time of year when many homeowners start looking for ways to spruce up their curb appeal. If you're thinking about selling your home, this is particularly important. When dealing with springtime sellers, our real estate agents always recommend paying extra attention to the outdoor space. 

    When it's done right, a landscape refresh will have a major impact on your home's value and will bring you a positive return on your investment. Before you start making changes, it's a good idea to check in with the latest trends. Here are four fun and exciting ideas you may want to consider incorporating into your new design. 

    1. Verticle and Container Gardening
      If you live in a home with a small outdoor area, you may have thought you didn't have many landscaping options. However, verticle and container gardening are both trending right now, and the results are stunning. There are kits available that make it easy to create "living walls," or you can add multiple rows of planter boxes to your fence. If you don't have a fence or wall to work with, try making a fun container garden. Choose a variety of plants and large decorative pots, then create your design by strategically placing them around your outdoor space. While owners of small spaces have embraced this trend, it works well in many different outdoor areas regardless of the size. If you have an outdoor kitchen, consider adding a living wall made up of a variety of herbs and spices. This creates a unique and beautiful addition to the space that's also incredibly functional. 
    1. Pops of Blue
      Blue is the color of the year, and it's popping up everywhere! Since it's a natural color that's both calming and relaxing, so it's the perfect addition to any outdoor space. There are a wide variety of ways to incorporate it into your landscape design. Start by adding some blue-hued plants like hydrangeas, grape hyacinth, globe thistle, delphinium, or blue fortune. Then, choose a blue-colored focal point to pull it all together. Since water features are also trending this year, a blue fountain or birdbath are both excellent options. 
    1. Edible Landscaping
      Many homeowners are embracing the "farm to table" experience they can create by opting for edible landscaping. Full-sized vegetable gardens are making a comeback. However, if you don't want to put in that much effort, you still have plenty of options. Consider planting raspberry or thornless blackberry bushes in place of traditional shrubs. It's also a great idea to combine edible landscaping with vertical and container gardening. This is the ideal way to grow lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and more while saving space and avoiding the effort of maintaining a full garden. 
    1. Smart Irrigation
      The smart-home trend has made it outdoors! The latest high-tech irrigation systems make it easy to keep your landscaping looking beautiful with a minimal amount of effort. These new systems give plants the exact amount of water they need. This helps ensure that they stay healthy while also minimizing water waste. Homebuyers generally love houses with the latest technology, making this upgrade something worth looking into. 

    If you're thinking about listing your home, you need an excellent real estate agent by your side. Contact us today to learn how we can help. 


    Bathroom Remodel Ideas

    With a few small changes, you can transform your bathroom from blah to beautiful. Remodeling your bathroom can have a significant impact on how much you enjoy your home, and it's also a project that can increase your home's resale value. 

    Our real estate agents suggest the following seven bathroom remodeling ideas you'll want to try:

    1. Maximize Your Space 
      If you have a small bathroom, design the space with the idea of making it look larger. Installing glass doors for showers and tubs creates an open look, and you can also choose a pedestal sink since it will take up less room than a sink with cabinets underneath. If you still need storage, use racks that fit above the toilet.

    2. Update Your Fixtures 
      For comparatively little money, you can update your bathroom fixtures such as light fixtures, faucets, towel racks, and drawer pulls. These will give your bathroom an updated look and make a larger-than-expected difference in its overall appearance.

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    Flipping House

    You've probably seen all the house-flipping shows on TV that make buying a house and selling it for a profit look easy as can be. We know you're also well-aware of the differences between reality and reality TV, but flipping houses can still mean big money if you do it right. For anyone looking to get into the flipping game, our real estate agents have a few helpful tips on how to get started. 

    • Know the Market
      When you're getting ready to buy a house, it's important to have a deep understanding of the housing market, not just on a national or even city-wide level, but right down to the neighborhood and the street. Two identical houses could sell for drastically different prices just a few blocks apart, so location matters. If you're flipping your first house, it's best to start in your local area, which you're more likely to be already familiar with. 
    • Buy at the Right Price
      It's essential to know how much you can spend on a house before renovations and still make a profit after you've done the required work on it. Search hard for a house that you can add value to, and sell for more than you've spent. 
    • Pay in Cash
      Buying a house for cash up-front isn't realistic for most of us, especially if you're just getting started in the house flipping business. But one thing that many of the most successful flippers have in common is that they deal in cash. The reason is simple: houses cost less when you can put cash on the barrelhead. Even if you can't buy the whole house in cash, scrape together as much as possible to put down the biggest down-payment you can; you'll end up paying less interest and turning a better profit. 

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    How to Declutter

    There are many reasons people opt for a smaller space. If you've decided to downsize to a smaller home, you'll reap many benefits, including a lower mortgage payment (if you still have one), lower utility bills, and a smaller area to maintain and keep clean.

    Before you downsize to a smaller home you have to downsize your belongings. It's important to declutter your current home so your new home can be well organized with items that fit your new lifestyle. Our REALTORS® suggest the following tips help for downsizing to a smaller home:

    • Consider Your New Lifestyle
      As you prepare to move, consider what your lifestyle will be like in your new home. Do you see yourself pursuing an old hobby? Or maybe you won't be pursuing a sport you still have your old equipment for, but you'll have plenty of room to ride your bicycle. Imagine living in your new home and determine what items will help support this lifestyle.

    • Evaluate Your Furniture
      Furniture takes up a lot of space in a home and is difficult to move. Consider your smaller home and how many rooms it will have. If, for example, you'll have fewer bedrooms, you won't need as many beds, chests of drawers and other bedroom furniture. Check with your friends and relatives to see if anyone needs your excess furniture.

    • Go Through Everything
      Go through everything in your home, because you may have boxes of items that you no longer use or want. Open all of them and sort through their contents, so you don't blindly move them to your new home. This also lets you eliminate duplicate items, such as extra sets of drinking glasses.

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    7 Chores do Yearly

    Owning your own home is a valuable step in building your equity and creating security for yourself and your family -- no matter the shape or size. Part of homeownership is maintaining that investment through required chores and maintenance. Don't lose value simply because you don't know what to do. The start of a new year is the perfect time to keep tabs of chores you should be doing once a year. Our REALTORS® have assembled seven chores you shouldn't forget to do yearly, to help you keep your home in top shape.

    1. Clean or Replace Lightbulbs
      It might seem a little strange, but starting by wiping off your lightbulbs will let in a tremendous amount of light -- easily more than you would expect. This shining light will let you better notice other areas of your home that need attention, and it's also a good reminder to change a few bulbs. Also, it's always a good idea for your health and safety to remove extra dust and debris so you can breathe better and reduce fire hazards too.
    2. Deep Clean Carpets and Upholstery
      And speaking of dust and allergens, you'll want to do a yearly deep clean of upholstery. Go beyond carpet cleaning to make sure any food or pet stains get removed and provide an overall fresher feel to your home. Also, proper cleaning can help improve the lifetime of your furniture.

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    Energy Efficient Home Improvements

    New England is an absolutely beautiful area to call home. With this beauty though, there's a bit of unpredictability. The New England area has a strange and unpredictable weather history, including everything from tornadoes to droughts to ice storms. All of these weather events, but especially the cold, can create a costly utility bill for your household.

    Making your home energy-efficient is a great way to invest in your home and save you money in the long run, especially during the New England winters. Save yourself the seasonal stress of costly energy bills and consider energy-efficient home improvement projects. 

    Energy efficiency isn't just a way to save, it's also a valuable way to draw the attention of homebuyers. Our REALTORS® have insights on energy-efficiency home improvement projects to save you money and to stand out among other area homes for sale.

    1. Conduct Seasonal Maintenance
      The energy experts at Energy Star have a recommended seasonal maintenance list. Having your systems in top shape and leaks all patched up can provide significant savings for your families. Ensuring your system is in working order before it's forced to "work hard" for the season is a fantastic money-saving strategy. Key things to look out for include:
        • Check your thermostat settings (HVAC and water heater too)
        • Tighten loose electrical wires
        • Inspect oil and gas connections
        • Lubricate moving parts in fans and motors (friction can decrease efficiency over time)
        • Unclog drains and replace filters
    1. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate
      Keep your heat inside your home. Make sure you have the correctly rated R-value of insulation for your area and that it is in place in your attic, walls, floors, and more. Seal up drafty windows using either permanent or temporary methods. Consider installing a storm door (not a screen door) to help further insulate your house from the elements.

      If you need help identifying areas of heat loss, consider hiring a professional for an energy audit. By insulating your home properly, you can turn down your thermostat and gain significant energy savings. 

    2. Don't Plug It In
      An energy-efficient task that requires no initial investment! Our love of electronics is without question, and plugging in the right appliances and devices at the right time can make this love far more energy-efficient. Gain savings on your electrical bill by unplugging device charges when not in use. 

    3. Energy Efficiency Investments
      Just because some energy-saving projects don't cost anything, doesn't mean you should shy away from ones with an upfront cost. Consider purchasing and installing efficient light bulbs at the right wattage around your house. The largest investments you could make include upgrading your large appliances like your washer, dryer, and dishwasher. Look for Energy Star rated items to increase efficiency and check with your state for possible local rebates. Though these have a significant investment involved, these are the improvements that can save you the most in the long run. 

    Winter is coming, but don't let that stop you from staying warm and comfortable in your own home. Contact us to learn more about different home construction and energy-efficient features in your area.


    Get in the Zone…Well, Safety Zone comes to mind if you are in the middle of a mess, but we're talking about creating zones in your home that create a feeling and a purpose to every space you live in.

    New to staging? No problem! Here are a few quick tips to get your started!

    Dive in to a Deep Clean

    "Remember staging your space is putting your home's best foot forward so that you can reap the benefits", explains Interior Designer, Erika Gaudreau.

    The first step isn't fun, but it's a must! Dig in to a deep, deep clean (if you haven't already read our first three blogs in our "Clean Up Series", check it out for some key clutter busting tips). We're talking power washing the outside, clean all inside surfaces, scrubbing grout, cleaning windows, steaming carpets and all. It's worth hiring a pro, if necessary.

    Staging can be as Easy as Moving Furniture!

    The three most important rooms to focus on are the living room, master bedroom and kitchen. Taking these spaces to the next level could be just a matter of moving the furniture you already have, getting rid of extra pieces or renting what you need to create a space that will sell buyers – literally!

    Create More Space

    Place living room furniture away from the walls (this creates the illusion of more space, we promise) and bring it all together with a beautiful area rug. Make the space into an area where you can envision family and friends sitting and hanging out comfortably together.

    Focus on a Focal Point

    Highlight one area or unique feature in each room. Just one. Work with the furniture you have and strategically place everything to highlight the positive. Place pieces across from new, bright windows to show off the natural light or an out of this world view. Does your living room have a fire place? Face furniture towards the hearth – it will draw wondering eyes to what you want them to see!

    Out with the Old…

    Say Goodbye to the couches you've owned for 12 years. Worn furniture gives the impression that the home is not well kept. While you're at it, oversized furniture can go too. You want to create more space, don't take up your entire room with a giant couch. This rule goes for any lamps, tables and odds and ends that are not being used. Throw additional items in storage or get rid of them for good (who wants to move unused items anyway).

    …In with the New

    Rent or buy furniture to enhance what you have!

    Extra room or finished basement? Purchase, borrow or rent an inexpensive bed, nightstands and bureau. Voila! You have a guest bedroom! Dress the bed with a big, soft, gender-neutral comforter and add some decorative pillows and a cozy throw.

    If you're wanting your living room space to feel casual, opt for a new sectional sofa and a cozy recliner. Going for formal? Two matching sofas or beautiful sofa and two classy arm chairs across from each other with an elegant coffee table placed in the middle will do the trick. 

    One Word: Nostalgia

    What are your favorite things about where you live? Do you have bike trails? Do you have a bay window that overlooks a gorgeous garden or body of water? You want home owners to feel an emotional connection to your home and all that it offers (beyond the space), after all, they'll want to create their future memories there! 

    "I bought a $200 vertical bike rack when we listed our home in Boston just so people could imagine commuting into the city or grabbing the bike for a ride along the Charles. You're creating an environment people can see themselves in" suggests Gaudreau.

    Just like adding a bike rack, highlight that bay window by keeping the curtains and shades wide open, add lots of pillows, a book or two and a beautiful blanket. Make memories for the house hunters they haven't even thought of yet.

    Ready to get rearranging? Staging can be a lot to take on, but remember, it can also mean less time on the market and more money in your pockets. Cha-ching!



    Winter Curb Appeal

    When winter arrives, it's time to put away warm-weather clothing, boats, and other summer items. But when it comes to New England homes for sale, there's no offseason.

    According to, average home sales net a higher amount above asking price during December through March, even in cold-weather areas. Make your home stand out above the competition with these tips from our REALTORS® to boost winter curb appeal. 

    1. Clear the Snow
      This is the top winter yard care rule for two reasons. In addition to making a home look untended, snowy walkways are a hazard to family, visitors, and potential buyers. Be sure to clear the driveway as well.

    2. Organize the Garage
      While it's not visible from outside, a messy and cluttered garage is an immediate turn-off to buyers. Today's garages often multi-task as vehicle shelters, storage and workrooms, so it pays to make yours look as spacious and organized as possible.

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    Kitchen Remodel Mistakes

    Are you thinking about starting a kitchen remodeling project in your home? It can be a great idea, as long as you do it right. 

    Our REALTORS® talk to homeowners every day, and they hear plenty of stories about fantastic remodeling projects and ones that have turned into absolute nightmares. You can help ensure that you fall into the first camp by learning from the mistakes others have made. Before you start your project, check out this list of kitchen remodel don'ts. 

    1. Skimping on Storage
      Failing to include enough storage in your kitchen design is one of the biggest mistakes people make. From Lazy Susans and roll-out drawers to cabinet inserts and tray dividers, there's no shortage of storage options. Do yourself a favor and incorporate plenty of them into your remodel design. 
    2. Forgetting About Functionality
      While most remodels focus on stunning design, those who forget about functionality are sure to regret their decisions. Sure, it's more fun to choose paint colors and tile designs, but make sure you also pay attention to important details like ventilation and lighting.

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    Inheriting a Home

    Before you think about selling an inherited property, there are things you can do to get ready. A step-by-step approach helps you avoid spending too much money or waiting too long before you take action.

    Our real estate agents have consulted many clients who want advice after inheriting a home. While it's true most inherited homes eventually go on the market, it's important to take your time and make an informed decision.

    Here's how you can make the most of your time and make the best choices:

    1. Cancel (Most) Recurring Bills Relating to the Home
      First things first, it's crucial to minimize the amount you pay to maintain the property. You can start by cutting out things like the internet that won't get any use while a home is vacant. If possible, leave the electricity and water running – these make it easier to show the home to buyers in its best light. If you have a security system, keep it running so the home will be protected.

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    Again Roof - Sell Your Home

    Our real estate agents know the roof is one of the most important parts of any home. Not only does the roof protect your well-being and comfort, but it also safeguards the entire structure.

    When there are problems with the roof, it can create a domino effect that leaves the rest of the building vulnerable. Ultimately, a damaged roof can even lead to cracks in the foundation.

    In a world of increasingly wild weather, it's never been more essential to have a durable roof. And with New England winters being what they are, a major leak is the last thing anyone wants.

    So, when it's time to sell your home, it's vital to ask the question: Should you repair the roof?

    Roof repair is something many sellers want to avoid. Although it can raise the sale price of your home, you won't usually recover your entire investment. However, there are some situations where getting roof repair done early on will help you out in the long run.

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    Spring Maintenance Checklist
    Spring is a time for making your home alive again after a long, cold winter. Even if you've just moved into a new home, by spring there's a good chance that you'll find plenty of tidying up to do. If tasks have been piling up over the last several months, it can be difficult to know where to start with spring maintenance. Our real estate agents are here with these steps toward making spring house maintenance easier. 

    1. Inspect your roof
      Winter weather can wreak havoc on rooftops, and leaky roofs can lead to water damage inside your house. If you can inspect your own rooftop with a ladder safely, do so; otherwise, try to find an angle on the ground where you can see if any shingles have fallen off or if any rust has formed. Even if there are no visible cracks in your roof, you should still inspect your ceilings for water damage; nails holding shingles in place can start to pop out just enough to let water in. Even if your roof is fully intact, it might be a good idea to hire a roof cleaning service to get rid of any lingering debris.

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    6 Tips for a Happy Kitchen Renovation

    Your Guide to a Successful Kitchen Remodel

    Kitchens are, in most homes, the center of daily life. That simple fact means that if yours isn't functional and attractive, it can be quite the thorn in your side. That's why kitchens are among the most often renovated rooms in any house. If a kitchen renovation is on your to-do list, the chances are good that you have heard a lot of stories about problems and hassles along the way. However, as our real estate agents can tell you, it doesn't have to be that way, whether your renovating in a newly purchased home, or updating the one you've owned for years. Here are six tips for a successful kitchen renovation that can help you smooth your path to creating your dream kitchen:

    1. Spend a LOT of time on planning – Knowing exactly what you want to be changed in your kitchen before you get started is essential to keeping costs within reason and hassles to a minimum. Spend some time visualizing how you want your kitchen to look and function, then get into the details of the appliances, fixtures, and materials you will need to make it so. Getting a clear picture of what your remodel will entail is an important first step that will make the steps that follow much easier.

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    Do You Need a Home Warranty

    Our real estate agents at the Masiello Group are always happy to assist current and future New England homeowners in getting the most value from their property.

    That often involves pointing out resources buyers and sellers aren't aware of yet.

    A prime example is National Home Warranty Day, celebrated on February 10.  Yes, National Home Warranty Day is really a thing – and so are home warranties.

    Just about everybody has heard of homeowners insurance. After all, it's required in many cases. The home warranty, on the other hand, is not well known. That's unfortunate since a home warranty can save you hundreds of dollars in an average year.

    Let's take a closer look at the two and how they differ.

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    10 Tips for Turning Up the "Wow" Factor in Your Home

    Owning a home requires a lot of work. Fixing up the house can also get expensive. Tackling a few DIY projects is a great way save a lot of money and add value to your property.

    1. Storage, storage, storage

      A common complaint among homeowners is that there is never enough storage. One easy solution to maximize the spaces in your home is to look up. For example, there's usually a lot of empty space in the laundry room above the washer and dryer. Hang galvanized pipe fittings  from the ceiling so that you can hang clothing. After cleaning and spraying the fittings with metal primer, paint them to match the room and then attach them to the ceiling. Other ways to use high areas of your home include building shelves where there was previously unused wall space.

    2. Don't forget your patio
      The summers are the perfect time to start an outdoor project. There are thousands of DIY patio projects online, including tips for how to build a trellis or a fire pit. Some projects are more labor intensive than others, so be realistic about how much time you have to devote to executing your idea.

    3. Plant some bushes or trees

      DIY projects can be extended to the garden. Plant a row of evergreen shrubs or trees along the side of your house for privacy or as a windscreen. Many shrubs or trees grow many feet per year, which means that within a couple years, you'll have one of the most enviable homes on the block.

    4. Outfit your kitchen to your style
      Thankfully, there are plenty of DIY projects that not only can improve your home, but the results are just as attractive as big-name pieces, such as a bamboo knife block for your kitchen. All you'll need is a piece of reclaimed lumber, and then you stain it.
    5. Add insulation to your attic

      Although it might not be the most impressive project, adding insulation to your attic can save you an enormous amount of money for years to come. Laying insulation is a very easy DIY project. The materials are inexpensive and can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

    6. Turn up the lights

      Although it's easy for homeowners to grow accustomed to sitting in dimly lit areas, adding lighting to brighten up a space is a no-brainer. You can add some lamps, or for a relatively simple project that takes only a few minutes, install a dimmer switch.

    7. Install wallpaper

      Painting is passé and wallpaper is in vogue. Wallpaper can be a great investment for a living room or bedroom. There are more designs than ever available on the Internet. That said, although painting isn't currently in style, it also never gets old. A simple paint job over a greying white wall really brightens up a space.

    8. Add some flair to your door knobs
      Although a doorknob doesn't sound like the most interesting element of a room, it can easily become a beloved art piece. Decoupage is a colorful old-world look, but it's also expensive.

    9. Turn a closet into a room
      While most people feel they don't have enough space, there are some folks who have unused closets. It's easy to take a closet door off its hinges and convert the space into a small office. Paint the walls a bright color, add shelves, great lighting and a small desk. Voila, you've got the home office of your dreams!

    10. Paint your front door

      Make your home as inviting as possible by painting your front door a color to match your personality. If your home is light grey or white, consider a bright red or blue door to make it really "pop." For darker-colored homes, try canary yellow.

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