Carving Out Some Fun

Can you believe it? Fall is almost here, and Halloween looms on the horizon. It’s time to start thinking about costumes and decorations. And no fall season would be complete without a trip to the pumpkin patch.

Keep the following in mind when searching for the perfect pumpkin or the most gorgeous gourd:

CHECK THE STEM: The texture and color of your pumpkin’s stem will tell its story. A soft or loose stem is a clue that the pumpkin could be prone to rotting. A green stem means the pumpkin has been freshly picked, but a tan or brown stems mean the pumpkin was harvested at least a few days ago.

SPOTS ARE BAD, M’KAY?: Soft spots on your pumpkin? Not good news. This may be a result of excess moisture or insects getting into the pumpkin, causing rot or mold. The more moisture and rot, the less time that pumpkin will look fresh on your front stoop.

ROLL WITH IT: We all know that pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. So how do you check to see if yours will stand up throughout the season? Lay it gently on a flat surface, and check for the roll. A good, flat-bottomed pumpkin will stay in place, both in the patch and on your porch.

Happy Hunting! Check the list below for some of the best public pumpkin patches in the area!

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm & Apple Orchard —  Pingree Grove

Sonny Acres Farm — West Chicago

Didier Farms — Lincolnshire

Konow’s Corn Maze — Homer Glen

Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm — Lockport



Happy National New Home Owners Day!

How well do you remember the home you grew up in?

When you were a child, the square footage didn’t matter; the size was just right. When you went to bed at night, you felt comfortable and safe. There was a wonderful sense of familiarity – you could probably walk the halls with your eyes closed, and never stub your toe. And when your own personal journey made it necessary to leave that home behind, a small piece of yourself remained within its walls.

That’s what truly makes a house a home. Not paint colors or patio furniture, not backsplashes or bathroom fixtures. No, the place that you call home exists in the feeling you get when you step inside the door, and exhale after a long day. It lives in that space where you welcome friends and family, with a sense of satisfaction and self-worth. And it will always remain in the memories you make with those closest to you – visions that never seem to fade, not even with time.

The first of May is National New Home Owners Day, celebrating that special feeling that comes with being handed the keys to a new home. It doesn’t matter if you purchase a single-family residence, apartment, condo, or town home; the pride of ownership is uniform for us all. Each of us is looking for stability – solid ground on which we can begin to build a sense of lasting welfare and well-being. Through homeownership, you are not only creating safety and security – you are making an enduring investment into your financial foundation.

At d’aprile properties, we understand that buying a home may represent the single greatest investment you will make in your lifetime. The real estate process itself can be one of the most exciting, yet emotional experiences you can go through. That’s why it is so important to have a dedicated expert on your side, who not only knows the ins and outs of today’s sometimes volatile market, but who can easily empathize with what you and your family are experiencing as you start this new chapter in your lives.

That’s where we come in. Call us today. It’s time to find out what makes d’aprile properties different.


New Home, Same Stuff

After months of negotiations led by your hard-working real estate agent, the jitters of closing day, moving company decisions, furniture shopping or removal, a revolving assortment of paint swatches, carpet samples, and kitchen tile selection, and the actual move itself, you have arrived at your exciting destination: living your dream life in your fantastic new home!

Or that’s how you felt when you first moved. Now that the newness has worn off, you’ve unpacked the necessities and realized that there’s more tedious work to be done. Where did you get all this stuff? And where shall it go? What seems like a herculean feat can actually be broken down into more manageable steps.

• So fresh and so clean, clean

No matter the state of your unpacking, truly getting moved in is a process that will be made easier by starting with a clean slate.

Do a deep clean (or if possible, hire a cleaning service) so that your new rooms are off to a fresh start. If you don’t have time for an extreme clean makeover, simply vacuuming or sweeping before moving in new furniture will mean less mess as you get settled.

If you aren’t able to do a deep clean, designating items to be moved into storage, or organizing your basic needs like kitchen and bathroom items, can set you up well for bigger projects later.

• Make a list of short and long-term action items and goals

Even if your move was executed flawlessly, there will still be a lot to do. Scientific studies have found that getting the plans out of your tired brain and onto the page can make your workload easier to manage.

Instead of spiraling about the monumental tasks ahead, sort your ideas into short-term action items and long-term goals.

Setting aside time to daydream (and budget) for your long-term goals will be satisfying once you’ve gotten the most pressing work out of the way.

• Choosing a particular area to revitalize may unlock other design ideas for the rest of the home

While the modern go-to for decor reinvention is the handy Ikea hack, you don’t have to go all out with a design project to feel like you have refreshed a particular area of your home.

Consider rearranging the layout of an area by re-orienting furniture. Relocating certain pieces such as end tables and smaller shelves can create a new vibe, especially in small spaces.

If you like the current layout, redecorating in small ways can freshen up a room. Spring for a new rug, a house plant, or try new arrangements for surfaces like mantels and bookshelves.

• Moving things around will get your creative juices flowing

Make note of project ideas, rooms in need of some attention at a later date, or minor home repairs so they will remain on your radar.

While the desire to make everything perfect will be strong, realize that taking the time to clean spaces and get organized will be the earliest steps in a long process. Spending time to dream and plan for the future will make your hard work feel worthwhile!


The Time to Buy is Now

 

Looks like it’s becoming harder and harder to be a renter in the US.

The latest rent report from RENTCafe is in, and while the news is not so good for those who currently rent their home, it is very positive for those looking to own in 2019. The national average rent in March was $1,430, which is up 3.2 percent over the same period last year. That is an increase of $44 dollars a month on average, all across the country!

Rents are also up in 92 percent of the nation’s biggest 253 cities. That includes Chicago, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. Only 2 percent of these cities saw rents decrease over the year! In case you don’t like doing math (which we totally get, by the way), that comes out to…five cities. Yikes.

At d’aprile properties, we look to educate our clients, ensuring that they understand not only the home buying process, but all of the benefits of home ownership as well. Because the truth is, saving money is just the beginning.

 

PRIDE – A renter simply cannot experience the sense of pride and freedom that comes with home ownership. The homeowner has no landlord, no rent payments, and no one to answer to. A homeowner gets to decorate and maintain their home however they may choose, experience the joy of owning a pet, and relax in their own yard with a feeling of accomplishment.

PRIVACY – It’s hard to put a price on peace and quiet. As any renter will likely tell you, sharing walls with other tenants can be awkward at best, and downright annoying at worst. Plus, a landlord can at times have unfettered access to your living space. Owning a home provides safety and security, as well as peace of mind.

POTENTIAL – Perhaps the most significant benefit of homeownership is the opportunity to build equity. Keep this in mind: even if you’re currently renting, you’re still paying a mortgage. It simply belongs to someone else. Owning your home means that each month you’ll be putting money toward your own valuable investment, instead of in your landlord’s pocket.

We would love to be a part of your home ownership dream. Get started by clicking on our logo below. We’re here for you every step of the way.

 


Let Spring Into Your Home!

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Is winter over yet? Officially, spring began on March 20th. While the weather is a little slow to catch up, it’s the perfect time to embrace the season and give our living spaces a little refresh.

Here are some things to consider when getting your home ready for spring:

Clean Things Up

You either love spring cleaning, or you dread it. Either way, it’s a great time of year to refresh your space by washing away the signs of winter hibernation. It doesn’t have to be all ammonia and baseboard-scrubbing; start with small projects like cleaning out the fridge or freezer, then move up to larger tasks like floors and windows. Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces can help avoid feeling overwhelmed. Open a window for some fresh air and to vent out the smell of cleaning chemicals while you’re hard at work.

Decluttering is just as important as cleaning, and you’ll be amazed at how different a room can feel after getting rid of the things that don’t bring you joy. Similar to cleaning, break organizing down into smaller bits at a time. You don’t want to be done for the day, only to realize your bed is still covered with all the boxes of clothes you’re going to donate.

 

Long Days, Warm Nights

You’ve made it past daylight saving time – are you prepared for all the extra daylight that spring brings with it? Sunlight affects our circadian rhythm and is a factor that tells us when it’s time for bed. Darker mornings make it easier to stay in bed in the morning, and a little bit harder to fall asleep at night. Winter’s darkness gave us time inside to relax and decompress before bed, but the late sunset of spring can make it difficult to feel tired on time. If you find yourself staying up later with the extra sunlight, make sure you are still taking the time to unwind after a long day. A nighttime routine centered on relaxation can help give structure to the end of your day so you don’t find yourself lying awake at night.

With the temperatures beginning to rise, turning the thermostat down a few degrees before bed can actually help prepare you for a deeper sleep. If you are a hot sleeper, don’t forget to change out warmer sheets for a set that breathe well and keep you comfortable. If you still find yourself warm, a mattress that sleeps cool is worth the investment and will keep you enjoying sleep for seasons to come.

 

Bring the Outside In

Outside your home, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. But how do you bring the feeling of spring into your home? The simplest way to bring the outdoors in is to include some plants in your home decor. Easy-to-maintain options that will bloom this spring include violets, lilies, and hard-to-kill succulents. Plants are a great way to embrace the season and let some refreshing color into the home while on a budget. You can also use spring colors, such as pastel greens, sky blues, or sunshine yellows in your decor to really brighten up a room and give it a spring feel. The ultimate way to refresh your space and bring some color in, however, is to repaint. An accent wall is a simple way to change the entire feel of a room and use bold colors in your living space. If you choose a bold spring color such as yellow, make sure you will be able to tie your room’s decor to the accent wall for the rest of the year.

There’s no doubt that we welcome spring with open arms. Taking a little extra time to prepare your home for spring, however, can make a big difference in enjoying the season.

 

 

 

 


Make Every Hour Count!

Ernest Hemingway once said, “I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

We can relate. We LOVE sleep. Life for your average go-getter is inherently busy, and the idea of falling into your warm bed to drift off into a heavy sleep will almost certainly always draw a smile.

That’s why many people aren’t looking forward to March 10, the dreaded ‘Spring Forward’ of Daylight Savings Time. How DARE they take away an hour of our beloved z’s?

You could look at it that way. But glass-is-half-full kind of folk instead circle the 10th of March on their calendar with a bright red marker, knowing that they will have one extra hour of sunlight (or at least daylight) in their day.

Spring is inching closer – what will you do with that additional hour? We have a few suggestions:

  • Go for a Run: The average person can make it 2-4 miles in 60 minutes.
  • Watch Two Episodes of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross: ‘Cause if happy little trees don’t make your day, we’re not sure we want to know you.

Photo Courtesy: Biography.com

  • Get/Give an Hour Massage: Treat yourself, or treat your significant other!
  • Listen to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin 15 Times: You might want to sing it note for note…

  • Take a Hot Bubble Bath: For a better experience, add wine.
  • Build a Fort with Your Kids: Because it will make their weekend.

Photo Courtesy of: Healthy Gallatin

  • Try a new recipe: No longer winter, not quite spring…might we recommend some BFD (Breakfast for Dinner)?
  • Learn a Magic Trick: Make people think you’re a wizard. And always have an ice breaker at the bar.
  • Watch the Sunset with Your Spouse: Because it no longer takes place at 4:30 PM.

Photo Courtesy of: imgur.com

No matter what you do, change your Spring Forward mindset, and make the most of the time you’ve been given!

 

 


Top Tips for Converting Your Home into a Vacation Rental

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay

Please welcome back Suzie Wilson, the creator of happierhome.net, and today’s guest blogger! Suzie has a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes, a talent she has crafted over 20 years as an interior designer!

Are you thinking of turning your home into a money-maker? Creating a place that is the perfect getaway can be a smart solution, not only boosting your income through renters but also preparing it to be more sellable at some point down the road.

Here’s how to make changes that catch travelers’ eyes and give you great ROI. 

Welcoming Interior

When it comes to making guests feel at home, think along the lines of an interior with broad appeal. Steer clear of immensely personal style, do some decluttering, and decorate in colors that reflect what might be drawing visitors to the area. For instance, if your property is on the shoreline, sandy beiges accented with cool blues might provide the right atmosphere. A cabin, on the other hand, could warrant earthy browns and greens. Choose decor that fits the environment as well, such as airy textiles in a lakeside property, or woolly blankets for a cozy cabin. At the same time, a depersonalized and uncluttered home are keys to selling; should you put your property on the market later, you’re already one step ahead. 

Photo Courtesy of: Pixabay

 

Stay Abreast of Issues

If you decide to list your home in the future, give it the proper upkeep it needs to be move-in ready. At the same time, your guests will feel most welcome if you put forward a spotlessly clean, well-kept presentation. Some people elect to hire a housekeeping service for some or all of the chores, although you can do it yourself with smart cleaning strategies. Gather effective cleaning supplies so you can whiz through with minimal effort. Start by investing in a quality vacuum, and research reviews from How to Home to ensure you’re getting the best one for the job. Fill a tote with wipes, sponges, an all-purpose spray, and some hard-hitting basics like vinegar and baking soda. As you go through the property, note any maintenance concerns and make sure you tackle them before the next guests arrive. 

Make Some Upgrades

A few changes here and there can boost your property’s appeal to renters as well as buyers. Bathrooms tend to be key points in both areas, so consider some upgrades that give you a good bang for your buck. Todd Whittaker Drywall suggests certain alterations provide especially good ROI — such as Universal Design elements and new fixtures — and they are smart additions in terms of making your place more rentable as well as sellable. Top off your refreshed bathroom by assembling a welcome basket. Consider putting together some breakfast goodies or locally made soaps and lotions. For a personal touch, add a note with any quirks about the property, as well as information about the area. Include things to do and anything unique to your locale, such as a great deli, your favorite historical sites, or the location of a must-see vista. 

Photo Courtesy of: Kiddie Holidays

 

Safe and Secure

Many people feel a little off-kilter in a strange place. In order to feel at ease, rather than a traditional key, a keyless lock gives both you and your guests some advantages. You can change things up between visitors, and there is no worry about a key or card getting lost or stolen. If your property might stand vacant for lengths of time, your main residence is far away, or you just want to bolster peace of mind, adding a smart security system is also a plus. It could raise your home’s ROI all the more should the time come that you’re ready to sell. 

 In order to impress guests, you want your property to be well maintained and inviting. At the same time, this can be a step toward raising your home’s value, should you elect to sell at some point down the road. For the best results, aim for a great experience that will not only provide optimal ROI, but it will also make your visitors want to keep coming back.

** Suzie Wilson is proud to announce that her debut book, The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House, is COMING SOON to online retailers and bookstores near you! Filled with tips, tricks, and other advice based on her 20 years of experience in interior home design, the book will set you and your home up for success.


And the Oscar Goes to…

Green Book, probably. Or Roma.

Personally, we’re pulling for Black Panther, because WAKANDA FOREVER!

But this post really isn’t about this year’s movies. No, in honor of Oscar Week – cause, you know, we dig homes – we thought we might put together a list of our favorite homes in recent film history. No garish mansions or sweeping castles on this list – simple residential real estate only.

Gone Girl

Sure, Neil Patrick Harris’ sleek lake house was (cough)…killer, but it was Nick and Amy’s suburban Missouri rental that truly caught our eye. Of course, Amy was a deranged sociopath with rather impressive knife skills for a homemaker, but you can’t deny that she had a chic sense of style.

 

Photo Courtesy of: The Movie District

Father of the Bride

Admit it – you watch at least part of this gem of a Steve Martin rom-com every time it comes on TBS. The Colonial Revival House that served as the site of the big wedding sold in 2016 for a cool $2 million. Looks like a steal if you ask us!

 

Photo Courtesy of: CBS News

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Despite the snow and the Chicago-setting of the script, the Griswold house is actually an exterior set on “Blondie Street,” a suburban block created specifically on the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank, CA. The house has been featured in several films (including American Beauty and Pleasantville) and if you look closely, you can see the Murtaugh’s house from Lethal Weapon next door. We can certainly imagine having a big family holiday in this charming two-story.

Just don’t light a match anywhere near the storm sewer…

 

Photo Courtesy of: Hooked on Houses

The Money Pit

“THE STAIRS ARE OUT!!” Tom Hanks’ facial expressions alone are enough to recommend this underrated gem of a comedy. But the titular ‘pit’ is actually a stunning, eight-bedroom masterpiece with its own name: Northway. Located in the village of Lattingtown along the famed Gold Coast of Long Island, it went back on the market in 2018.

It can be yours for a cool $5.9 million.

 

Photo Courtesy of: Zillow

The Holiday

Cameron Diaz’s LA mansion was the very definition of modern style (for 2006, anyway), back when automatic shades were the hi-fi! But we’re not interested in Cali-chic: give us Kate Winslet’s fairy tale English cottage any day. From the (extremely) long walk up to the brick wall that lined the property, it seemed like something straight out of a painting. Which, to be honest, is not far off – the filmmakers could not find the perfect cottage for their seasonal flick, so they built one – in just two weeks.

Sadly, the interior was filmed separately, as the cottage itself was just a shell. 

 

Photo Courtesy of: Bustle

Something’s Gotta Give

Maybe our favorite on this list, Diane Keaton’s Hampton’s Beach House is simply striking. Maybe it’s the killer kitchen complete with large island, stainless-steel Sub-Zero refrigerator, and a Wolf range. Maybe it’s her character Erica’s bedroom alcove, with a desk situated right in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, creating the perfect writing spot. But no, honestly the real selling point here is the amazing beach access, complete with a beautiful twisting staircase leading down to the surf.

No wonder Jack shed tears.

 

Photo Courtesy of: PICTURESMO.COM

Home Alone

We finish off with a local landmark. The Winnetka wonder that plays home to Macaulay Culkin’s mini-mastermind, Kevin McCallister, is a red-brick Georgian-style Colonial. Known at the time for its spacious foyer and fantastic master staircase, the home has since seen a complete overhaul. Now it boasts a beautiful white kitchen and a serene screened-in porch. Considering that the home sold in 2012 for over one and a half million, and the fact that he paid for a Parisian vacation FOR FIFTEEN PEOPLE, we still can’t help but wonder what Kevin’s dad did for a living (COUGH)mafia accountant(COUGH).

 

Photo Courtesy of: AOL

What did we miss? What is your favorite movie home? Sound off in the comments! 

 


Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful…

 

We live in the Midwest, and let’s face it – while the nation’s heartland boasts the best people and some truly breathtaking surroundings, the weather in winter months can be a bit… fickle. When you consider that we typically don’t thaw out until well into March or April, the kickoff to the real estate season often begins under a blanket of white.

You want to put your home on the market early, to maximize its selling potential. But by doing so, you may be presented with unique challenges brought on by the season. Cold temperatures can keep customers away from open houses. Shoppers are forced to remove their shoes, or subject themselves to the dreaded plastic ‘bootie’. Worst of all? That beautifully landscaped front yard, one of the key selling points to your property, may be buried under a foot of white powder.

So how can you be sure that people see the true beauty of your home, when all of its curb appeal has been greedily pocketed by Old Man Winter? You put your faith in your d’aprile realtor, that’s how! An experienced agent knows that first impressions can make or break a sale. It’s their responsibility to ensure that your potential buyers are WOWED by the interior of your home as soon as they step inside. 

 

 

Yes, your flashy contemporary kitchen or your enormous master bedroom closet may get mouths watering, but first you have to get people inside the door. Believe it or not, the entrance to your home can make or break a shopper’s opinion in the first few seconds. A bold splash of welcoming color or a strategically placed piece of artwork can be candy for the senses and will leave shoppers hungry to see more. 

By allowing your dedicated agent to help you stage a dynamic foyer, you’ll create the perfect way to greet your visitors by stimulating their senses and tapping into their emotions. Consider the following:

A Warm Invitation: What better way to make an impression in harsh winter than by making guests feel cozy the moment they enter? Consider defining the entryway with a bold color (such as rich red or mustard yellow) that will exude a warm welcome. From there, a nice runner just inside the doorway will draw individuals immediately in, then lead the way to all of your homes amazing interior amenities.

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Engage the Senses: Give your foyer’s wall space a bit of character by adding an eye-catching wall display, or position an ornamental mirror to catch the light and bring sunshine into an otherwise drab hallway. If seasonally appropriate, try sprucing up a stairway banister with garland or holiday lights. Blank spaces come off cold, but well-positioned points of interest will allow people to experience your house as a lived-in home.

Get Organized: Nothing will ruin the mood of an engaged and excited open house participant like a foyer cluttered with coats, or whose floor is lined with other people’s soaking shoes. Maintain order with a combination of hooks, racks, or bins to store all those coats, scarves, and boots. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, add a touch of simple hospitality with a small bench for people to sit on while they discard their winter layers.

 

Photo Credit: Let’s Move!

Most importantly, when it comes to make your entryway a scene-stealer, put your faith in your devoted d’aprile real estate expert. They have spent years training themselves to see homes without bias, through the eyes of a potential buyer. With their guidance, you can guarantee that buyers will come through your doorway wanting to see more, and leave it ready to make an offer.

 


Tips to Get Your Property Sold Quickly

Please welcome our newest guest-blogger, Suzie Wilson! As the creator of happierhome.net, Suzie has a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes, a talent she has crafted over 20 years as an interior designer!

When your home is on the market, it’s like it’s going on a date. It has to look its best. That’s because buyers can be extremely picky, often looking at 10 or more properties before settling on the right one. Who can blame them? After all, this is likely the biggest investment of their lives, one for which they’ve probably saved up for years.

So, just what do you need to do to get an offer? Before you throw your hands up in despair, here are some suggestions that have worked wonders for other sellers, and could do the same for you.

Stage It

According to a realtor writing for the Balance, it’s all about illusions that generate the mood you want buyers to feel when they walk around the house, involving a wide variety of props such as mirrors, plants, lamps, throw rugs, fruit baskets, and cookbooks. The idea is to make each room tell its own story, and you may want to hire a professional to do it right, which Angie’s List notes usually costs $150 to $500.

Upgrade the Landscape

One expert says it could increase the value of your property by a whopping 150 percent. That’s quite a return on investment if you keep costs down, and there are ways of doing that while creating the perfect yard. Just the basics will make a huge difference, and that means trimming and watering the grass, mulching the periphery, and adding color through flowering plants.

Give It a Paint Job

You may not have to if your house already has a fresh coat in the right color. That would be blue, at least according to a survey cited by a contributor to Forbes. Rooms that evoke the sky and sea can help a home fetch almost $5,500 more than similar properties on the market. Dark or style-specific shades have the opposite effect, actually shaving money off the expected sale price.

Redo the Trim

This can also add significant value to your home and get it off the market quicker, but only if done correctly in a style that matches the overall decor. Some popular options include crown molding, which lends a touch of elegance, especially in rooms with high ceilings. Ditto for the right window and door casings.

Tackle Minor Repairs

Take a walk around the house from room to room and spot anything that doesn’t look right, including scratches on the hardwood floor, poorly-attached fixtures, and dripping faucets. Make a list of everything you see and take care of each item one by one, calling in the professionals if the job is too big for you to handle. Shoddy DIY can actually undo your efforts.

Add Some Space

Not literally, of course, but through decluttering and centering your furniture so there’s ample room to move around. Begin by removing items that don’t really belong where they are and putting them in storage – particularly anything personal – as visitors want to envision themselves in the house, not the previous occupants. Some experts recommend taking photos of each room so you can examine them more objectively.

Clean Thoroughly

A dirty home tells the buyer it’s not well maintained at all, and that could put the kibosh on a sale when you’re so close to sealing a deal. Besides, getting it spick and span isn’t all that hard once you’ve finished the decluttering, as long as you follow the right tactics. Do it room by room and clean from the top down, with special attention paid to the kitchen and bathrooms.

Once all this is finished, it shouldn’t be long before you have an eager buyer ready to sign, and for more money than you thought you would get.

That cash will come in handy at the new place.

** Suzie Wilson is proud to announce that her debut book, The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House, is COMING SOON to online retailers and bookstores near you! Filled with tips, tricks, and other advice based on her 20 years of experience in interior home design, the book will set you and your home up for success.

All images courtesy of Pixabay.