Staging

Staging
A Clients' Kitchen Staged to Sell!

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I have a passion for decorating! And, as a decorator and home stager who's helped many people transform their homes, I wanted to share my ideas and tips with others. Enjoy! My company's motto is: "Home Staging for Selling or Staying!"



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tips for Decorating a Christmas Tree

Happy Holidays to all! If you're ready to start decorating your holiday tree, here are some hopefully useful tips:



Beginning the task: When decorating your Christmas tree, put lights on first, then the garland, and finally the ornaments. I think of my tree as a three-dimensional painting. Do you have a color scheme or theme that you want to follow? Sometimes having a plan for your tree makes it more fun to decorate – at least in my opinion. You can spend all year collecting items for your tree – but a good time of year to find bargains is, of course, the post-holiday sales.

Ornaments: Begin by hanging "filler ornaments" and evenly space them around the tree. They could be basic solid color balls that are easily found at discount stores in a wide range of colors to coordinate and enhance your decorating scheme. You'll need about 20 "filler ornaments" for every two feet of Christmas tree. Don't hang all your ornaments on the tips of the branches. Instead, hang ornaments and other decorations 'inside' your tree to add depth and interest.

Light it up! If you do not have a pre-lit tree, here’s a suggestion for adding lights: You can’t really have enough! Lights give a tree dimension and beauty so pile ‘em on!! I have a 6.5 foot tree and it has 500 mini-white lights on it – it’s gorgeous! Start arranging Christmas tree lights on the branches near the base of the tree. Weave strings of lights along the branches "inside," then move to the outer edges of the branches.

Adding the extras: There are so many beautiful accessories to add to your tree – from pine cones to flowers to bows. Once your tree has lights, garland and ornaments, you can fill in the "holes" with your accessories. And VOILA! Your tree is a masterpiece. By the way, my 6.5 foot tree is embellished with 400 ornaments and accessories, and each year, I receive so many compliments. You can accumulate these over time so that you don’t break the budget!

Keep your live tree fresh! If you bought a live tree, cut the stump of the tree with a fresh cut and set it in water immediately. A fresh-cut tree will absorb several quarts of water right from the start. So it's important to check and refill the water level several times a day for the first week. You can cut down on frequency later. Be sure to place you Christmas tree in a stand that has a large water reservoir and keep it filled.


Have a safe and wonderful holiday. Happy Decorating!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Decorating Your Holiday Table

Looking for some suggestions to decorate your home for the holidays? If so, here are some ideas for you for this holiday season.

Welcome your family and friends -- and get in the spirit yourself -- by beginning your holiday decorating in your family’s usual gathering spaces - the living room and dining room.

If you’re planning for an intimate gathering or a large feast, this season is the time to have fun and go “crazy” in your decorating. This year, the color selections are wide and beautiful – from traditional, reds and green; to the serene, blue and silver; to the trendy, fuchsia and teal.

My first suggestion is that you pick a theme for your holiday decorations – I usually select the colors and motif that will dominate the décor. If you are very ambitious, you can adjust the theme from room to room by focusing on one idea.

One popular decor is derived from the colors and motifs connected with the North Pole. The red, green and white color scheme, with accents of gold, are a common theme.

If you like to decorate in these colors, here are some suggestions for your holiday table: Start with a white, plaid or patterned tablecloth or, if you prefer, simple table mats in red or green. You don't need a matched set of dishes, but include bowls or plates that complement the color scheme or motif. If you have all white dishes, add a bowl decorated with red flowers or berries, or bread and butter plates or chargers in a solid hue: gold, red or green.

Napkin rings and place-card holders should be in the color or motif of your décor. I’d like to suggest that your centerpiece be low and long, stretching along the center of the table for greater effect. Ribbon, berry sprigs and small ornaments work well. For a simple touch, your focal point could be a tall, fat candle surrounded with evergreens or holly.

Accent your dining chairs by simply tying ribbons around the back of each chair, hang a bow, or small stockings, or even special ornament from the back of the chair.

Another highlight of your holiday table could be the chandelier. Hang some colorful ornaments or garland from the arms.

For your side tables or mantle, add clear glass vases or jars – in various shapes and sizes. They are an inexpensive ways to decorate and can be used throughout the year. You can fill them with evergreens, ornaments, berries, fruits and nuts – depending on your holiday theme.

So I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season – my next blog will focus on decorating your holiday tree. Happy decorating!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Decorating Your Thanksgiving Table

It's only a week before the big day! If you're still scratching your head for decorating ideas for your table, here are some suggestions:

1. You can either make or purchase a fall-inspired or Thanksgiving centerpiece. Make one yourself by using a traditional cornucopia centerpiece (similar to the one featured on my blog) with fruit or a fall floral arrangement made with clippings from your garden! Believe it or not, my mums and marigolds are still in bloom! Or, you can then scatter some fall leaves from your yard, very small pumpkins, berries or nuts on the table around the centerpiece to highlight it around your centerpiece (remember to wash your yard-treasures thoroughly before adding them to your table). If you don't feel adventurous in making your own arrangement, then I encourage you to get one from a local florist.

2. You can add candles to your table in fall colors - shades of golds, rusts, greens or browns - or use a set of rustic wooden or metal candleholders to decorate your table. Another suggestion - you can use the candles as a centerpiece. If you use them as your centerpiece, you can arrange autumn foliage, wheat sprigs, berries, nuts, and mini pumpkins and other seasonal vegetables around the base.

3. In lieu of a vase, use a large, hollowed-out pumpkin to display your floral centerpiece. Scatter sprigs of wheat, clusters of berries, nuts and autumn leaves around the base of the pumpkin.

4. Set your table with a tablecloth, table runner, place mats and napkins in the colors of fall -- prints and/or coordinating solids. To avoid a cluttered appearance and to highlight your centerpiece, be careful not to use too many prints on your table.

5. Use napkin rings that reflect the season as well or you can slip a twig of wheat or fall foliage into the fold of the napkin. You can also coordinate the napkin rings, with a similar autumn-inspirted motif, into the table scape.

6. If you have good china or dishes that have autumn motifs and/or colors, suggest that you coordinate them with the colors and other elements of your table's decorations.

7. For a unique place card, beautiful maple leaves (or other suitable leaf) or a mini-pumpkin can be used. If you use leaves, please rinse leaves carefully and pat dry. Once dry, write each guest's name on the leaf or mini-pumpkin with a black or gold felt-tip pen.

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas for the Exterior of Your Home

Do you want to create a welcoming and exciting home for your Thanksgiving holiday? If your answer is, yes, here's some tips to say "welcome" to your guests the minute they arrive at your front door!

1. Start with the exterior of your home with a simple wreath in the colors of autumn - gold, rust, green and brown. Add a colorful ribbon and attach other fall touches such as nuts, gourds, and raffia.

2. To perk up the area leading to your front door, place one or more gorgeous potted mums and pumpkins near your door. After the holiday, you can plant the flowers. They may pop up next year to provide you with flowers you can use inside.

3. Cover your front door with gift wrap in fall colors for Thanksgiving.

4. Add a "welcome to our home" sign or banner and attach your ribbons or raffia or fall leaves which you've gathered from your yard or garden.

5. Create a grouping of pumpkins, mums and vines for display on the porch or by the walkway to your front door. Be sure to adjust the vines to add height and movement - or add corn stalks or other dried leaves from your garden or flower beds. Make sure to hose off any bugs from your garden additions!

Check in next week for some ideas for decorating the interior of your home for Turkey Day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Purple is the new color for 2011!

Recently, on my "A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging" Facebook page, I predicted that in the New Year, the decorating world will embrace "purple" as the newest, popular color for 2011. As a result of my premonition, I decided to do some research on the color which I will share with you below. What I found out is that purple is no longer just your grandmother's color!

Throughout the ages, purple has been associated with royalty. In ancient times, the dye was extracted from mollusk, was extremely expensive and therefore, only available to the rich and to royalty.

On the color wheel, purple is a mixture of the red and blue. Various amounts of red or blue can result in different tints and shades of the color - ranging from the red violet spectrum to the blue violet spectrum: for instance -- magenta (which has a reddish tint) to violet to plum to aubergine (which has a bluish tint).

Although the deeper shades of purple still signify richness and luxury, the softer shades of purple are soothing. Many interior designers (including me) say that using a powerful purple piece in a room “can add passion to a room” and will really pop when set against a complementary background color, like green. For a cohesive look, repeat the purple elsewhere in the room. Purple can also be used in many eclectic decorating schemes. For a bold look, use purple with it's complement, yellow (in various shades in tints, shades and intensities). For a subtle, relaxing ambience, pair purple with shades of grey.


The deepest purples, like aubergines and the brooding blue-tinted shades, imply grandeur and strike a serious, formal note. These tones are best used boldly -- for instance, by painting it on all four walls or a set of built-ins. But go a few tones lighter, and even dark purples will make gathering spaces seem cozy and conversation-friendly.

So, we'll see if my prediction comes true in 2011. In the meantime, happy decorating!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tips for Getting Your Home Ready for the Holidays (or to Sell)

Whether you're getting your home ready for the holidays or ready for sale, I'm hoping the 10 tips and tricks below will help make preparation quicker and easier. In addition, all of these tips are green, so they are much healthier for your family than using the alternative, chemical-based products.

1. Clean your glass windows, doors and mirrors with a mixture of white vinegar and water and wipe with newspaper for a beautiful, streak-free shine.

2. Freshen your garbage disposal by putting a lemon wedge in and running the disposal. This will neutralize odors and create a fresh, lemony scent. Fresh lemon can also be used to scrub kitchen counters and salt can be added as an abrasive for stubborn stains.

3. Remove crayon from walls with toothpaste (not the gel type). Simply put a small amount of toothpaste on a damp sponge and wipe gently, then wipe away any remaining residue with a clean sponge.

4. Refresh watermarks on wood surfaces by rubbing in a little mayonnaise and then buffing out the mark.

5. Remove candle wax from fabric by hardening it first with an ice cube and then by chipping away the hardened wax.

6. Repair small, noticeable scratches on hardwood floors with wood stain magic markers, available at most hardware stores. Be sure to choose the stain color that most closely matches your current floor stain color, fill in the scratch with color and buff with a soft cloth to blend. Wax pencils in many wood stain colors are also available for repairing similar scratches on wood furniture.

7. Shine stainless steel appliances with a small amount of olive oil. Simply rub a little on a soft cotton cloth and polish to a shine.

8. Remove soap residue in your dishwasher by running a wash cycle with a cup of white vinegar added.

9. Clean stains on your sofa fabric with a small amount of club soda on a dry cloth. Some stains can be more difficult to remove. If the club soda does not work, make a paste of 3 Tablespoons Baking Soda and 1Tablespoon of club soda and rub a small amount on the stain with a soft cloth. Gently rub the cleaner off with another clean soft cloth dipped in a small amount of warm water. Once dry, vacuum off any remaining residue.

10. Remove oil and grease stains from concrete driveways or garage floors by sprinkling the stains with baking soda or another absorbent substance such as cornmeal or sawdust. If the stain is dry, be sure to wet it first to create a paste and then scrub with a stiff brush. If this is unsuccessful, try using automatic dishwasher detergent, leave it on for a few minutes and then pour boiling water on it and, again, scrub with a stiff brush.

Good luck...I'll be sharing some more tips in the future!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Decorating with Different Patterns and Prints

One of my friends asked me to write an article about mixing patterns and prints in decorating. So... if decorating with many different prints appeals to you, here's my advice on mixing prints in a room.


Go ahead and be adventurous! But, in my opinion -- as a decorator for the past 20 years -- I would keep these things in mind: stick to the color scheme in the room; limit the types of prints or patterns to three or five at the most (in decorating “three” is a magic number); and keep proportion and scale in mind. So here are some tips to remember for the "novice":


1. First, visual your room as a large picture on canvas. Key colors in the room should be repeated throughout the room, in your upholstery, your throw pillows, your window treatments, in your artwork, on the walls and on the floor. Select a dominant color, a secondary color and up to two accent colors to anchor the palette.

2. Choose one multicolored pattern as your primary print and pull different colors and textures to compliment it. All the colors in the patterns/prints should tie in with your color scheme. For instance, if you have a solid blue sofa and you want to add some punch, add various sizes of throw pillows in different prints, but ensure that they are the same colors as your color scheme. So if your color palette is blue, green and yellow, the prints should include at least two of the three colors and relate to each other (in other words, be in the same color family).


3. When mixing, patterns/prints should not be the same proportions, and the colors should be part of your color scheme. For example, you can mix one large plaid with a small plaid; one large floral with a small floral; one large stripe with one small stripe; or one large print or a small print. You can also mix a striped fabric with a floral or a print - as long as proportion and color are kept in mind. However, my advice is to be careful in mixing a plaid or check with a stripe. You can do so, but one pattern should be bold and the other subdued - and all colors should relate to one another. Be sure to pick the patterns carefully, selecting different patterns about half the scale or size of the first pattern.

4. Maintain the same scale (balance) and proportion (size) throughout the room to achieve a comfortable repetition of color and design.


5. Choose three or more patterns. Odd numbers, especially the number three, just seem to work, whether you're combining colors or items in a vignette. Three is the minimum number of patterns you should use, and the key to successful mixing is to vary the scale, from small to large. For the "mixing novice" I recommend starting with three patterns until you get comfortable with mixing prints and patterns.


6. Finally, If you are not accustomed to decorating with different prints, you may feel a little uncomfortable at first. But - try it, you might like it! And, If the look doesn’t appeal to you, go back to decorating your way. Or ask a professional decorator or home stager to assist you. Most of all, have fun with your decorating.


PLEASE NOTE: The pictures on my website are not mine; they should be credited to Better Homes and Gardens or ezine articles.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tips for Selling Your Home: Stage Your Basement and Laundry Room!

If you're trying to sell your home right now, you already know that it's still a tough real estate market out there.

As a home stager, I have one piece of advice for you -- make sure that EVERY room in your home looks great -- even the basement and laundry room!
So, here are a few ideas to get your basement and/or laundry room in shape for prospective home buyers:

1. Clean up your basement or laundry room by beginning with the piles on the floor. Put away items neatly in closets and cabinets and add new shelves if you need to. Give away, donate or throw away items (or even consider selling items) that you do not want to take with you when you move. Store large items in storage units or PODS off of your property if possible - they are a distraction to a possible buyer and can be a eyesore to potential buyers when they do a "drive by."

2. Paint the walls - even the cinderblock -- if the room seems a little dingy. Consider freshening it up with a coat of paint. You may even want to paint the basement floor (with a good quality garage floor paint) if it is unfinished concrete.

3. Brighten it up! Add some extra light to make sure that the basement or laundry room is bright enough so that it doesn't seem scary to potential buyers. Consider putting electric sconces on the wall (as long as there is an outlet beneath them) or adding an uplight in a dark corner. Otherwise, you may want to hire an electrician to add another ceiling light.

4. Add blinds or curtains to windows - for a decorator's touch. And it has the added benefited of hiding an ugly view!

5. If your washer and dryer is in the room, make sure that they are sparkling clean and not loaded with piles of clothes or laundry detergent.

6. Organize your detergents, brushes and other items on shelves, in attractive baskets or in canisters - or even better -- in a cabinet to keep them out of sight. Remember that the laundry room should appear clean and functional.

7. Store your belongings neatly on shelves or bookcases to give an organized, clean appearance. No matter how clean the room is, if there is a lot of clutter and piles around the room, it's going to appear "dirty" to a possible buyer.

8. Don't forget the ceiling and the floor. If the ceiling has exposed joists, clean away the cob webs and extra dust. And if the basement or laundry room has old vinyl flooring, consider replacing it with attractive laminate floor tiles (peel and stick are the easiest to install).

9. Finally, if you want to add a little more personality to your laundry room or basement (and have painted walls) you may want to add colorful pictures for some punch!

According to internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, "With just a small amount of effort, you can transform even the dullest rooms into beautiful spaces, and that can go a long way towards helping a prospective buyer imagine themselves living in your home."

If you have some specific problems and need more advice, please contact a professional home stager in your area. Good luck!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Fall" For Organizing Your Home

Autumn is time for changes – the leaves are turning, the kids are back in school, football games are on TV, and you start looking toward the upcoming holidays – which will be here before we know it!

If your house needs a little TLC before the fall football get-togethers and the holiday season begins, here are a few ideas to help you:

1. Begin your task with one room at a time – so you do not feel so overwhelmed.

2. Identify the problem area(s). And ask yourself - are there too many books, magazines, dishes, knick-knacks, blankets, toys, etc. around? Does something need to be repaired or fixed before you can start organizing? If so, try your hand at the repair, hire someone or bribe your significant other to help you.

3. Next, start looking for some storage solutions to organize your belongings. This could range from bookshelves with canvas or wicker baskets to under-the-bed storage containers (I bought lifts at Bed, Bath and Beyond for my bed so I could squeeze some storage containers under my bed). B-B & B has a wide variety of containers as well as Target and Walmart; or it you have a Container Store or IKEA nearby, check out their selection.

4. Store items in trunks that are available now in different types, colors and sizes and are attractive ways to hide belongings. I have four wicker trunks in my house – all used for storage – from throws to decorations to family board games. And if the trunks are located in family areas, they provide a convenient storage for frequently used items.

5. In my home office, I bought two black storage ottomans that I use for filing bills and paperwork in my office, instead of a filing cabinet. They are also comfortable to sit on if you occasionally have a visitor while you’re working in your office.

6. Children's toys can be stored away in colorful trunks, square ottomans, canvas baskets in storage cubes or bookshelves, or in plastic containers. Color-code each container (for each child or for the type of toy) for easy retrieval and easy clean-up by the kids. The colorful, square storage ottomans are multi-purpose and can also be fun to use as extra seating around a small table (I bought mine from Target). And you can stack them in a corner too.

7. Buy some over the door hooks for the bedroom doors to hang bathrobes, purses or hats to save some room in closets.

So, there are few suggestions to get you started on your fall clean-up. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to add your comments. Happy Fall!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Top Staging Tips for Home Sellers

It's almost fall and the race to buy a new home is on! If you're a homebuyer, you definately are on a house-hunting mission! If you and your real estate agent do "drive bys," you've probably eliminated a few properties based on their exterior appearance - including broken railings, children's toys in the yard or an unmowed lawn. Curb appeal is so important to the prospective homebuyer. It could mean the difference between a "sale" and "no sale."

If you are the home seller, here are some recommendations to keep your home in pristine condition and appeal to the prospective homebuyer's "drive by":

1. Make sure that your lawn is freshly cut and that leaves in your lawn are raked. If winter has set in, please make sure that the snow has been shoveled in the driveway and on walk-ways and sidewalks.

2. Your home's entryway should be attractive and welcoming. Consider a potted plant by the entrance, repaint the door, add a beautiful wreath on the door and/or a new exterior light to highlight the entrance.

3. Make sure that you repair or replace any problems - such as broken railings, doors, lights, or other exterior items. It means so much to a prospective buyer to be greeted with a welcoming exterior.

4. Clean and sweep clean your walkway and drive way.

5. Store away garbarge cans, recycling bins and other "extras" in the front yard.

6. Ensure that the exterior of your home is power-washed, including siding and decks. It is an alternative to painting. If the exterior of your home is clean, it will show well to prospective buyers.

7. Store-away your treasures that could look like "clutter" to prospective buyers. It will distract them and they will not be able to envision themselves in your home -- which is a very important element in whether or not the potential buyers will fall in love with your home and want to buy it.

8. Tackle one project at a time when you're de-cluttering your home. Go through your closets and pare-down the things you want to keep and the ones you want to give-away or discard.

9. You do not want little problems in a room to distract the buyer and cause the potential buyer to focus on the flaws. For example, ensure that peeling wallpaper is glued down, chipping paint is repaired and that all covers on all electrical/lighting outlets are replaced. Repair all dripping faucets and moldy caulking. Believe it or not, this really makes a difference!

So, my advice to home sellers - do a walk-through of your home. Try to have a critical eye and identify any potential problems that possible buyers may see.

Real estate agents and professional home stagers can help you with this tedious process. Remember, this is a difficult real estate market and you need to ensure that your home looks its best - the first time. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Please let me know you need an objective opinion. I can help you if you in the Anne Arundel (Maryland) county, Southern Maryland or Eastern Shore area. Good luck to you!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Decorating Ideas for College Dorm Rooms

It's that time of year again when the kids will be going back to school! For a lot parents, you're breathing a sigh of relief that the kids will be back in school again. But if you have a son or daughter who is going away to college for the first time, you may be feeling some trepidation.

Most teenagers are anxious for a new adventure and to be free from their parent's watchful eye. However, they may also be feeling a little uneasy about being away from home for the first time. If this is the case and your teenager wants to make his/her dorm room more cozy, here are a few tips on making their new abode feel more like home:

1. Purchase a twin-sized comforter in their favorite color or design -- most dorm room beds are extra-long twin beds;

2. Buy rod pocket curtains for the windows (of course, color-coordinated with the bed comforter!);

3. Buy a spring curtain rod (it fits inside the window frame - no need to drill holes in the window frame or wall); it that does not work, consider purchasing regular curtain rods.

4. Picture board (e.g., French memo board) to post personal pictures -- it's more attractive than a cork board;

5. Find out if there's a desk/chair aready in the room; if not, purchase a computer desk that is light weight but has some storage;

6. Comfortable office/desk chair - your teenager will be spending many hours in it;

7. Large, fluffy pillows to lounge on - for the bed or the floor;

8. Two lamps -- one for the bedside table and one for the desk;

9. Bring some framed posters - your teenager's favorites!

10. Colorful canvas baskets or storage cubes for extra storage;

11. Small bedside table -- for the clock and a lamp;

12. Add a comfy throw for the bed - it's great to curl up with!

13. One or two soft, color-coordinated throw rugs - keeps the room from feeling too institutional and feels great under foot!

14. To inject more personality into the room -- and if you're feeling creative and energized - find out if you can paint the dorm room; if so, stick with pastel colors that can be covered easily with one coat of paint.

15. Or - if your teenager loves wallpaper or borders - buy wall decals that are easy to apply and easy to remove).

Additionally, don't forget the staple items such as: bed pillows, sheets, towels, extra blankets, clothes hangers, drawer liners, an iron and ironing board, alarm clock, wastebasket, mirror, extension cord, power strip, a laundry basket and supplies, a shower bucket and toiletries, a backpack, coffee maker, TV, low-power microwave, small refrigerator and a computer.

According to some colleges, items to be left at home when living on campus include halogen lamps, loft beds, candles and incense, fireworks, space heaters, toaster ovens, hot plates, cinder blocks, pets (except small fish), street signs and paint ball guns.

Finally, my advice for new college students: Have fun decorating your dorm room --- you'll be spending a lot of time in it!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keeping Toys Under Control While Your House is on the Market

Moving is one of the most stressful times in your life, and if you are trying to sell your house during the summer months when your kids are at home, you may feel like pulling your hair out, strand by strand. Especially if you're trying to stay ahead of the of the toy clutter. Well, I have a few suggestions that may help you wage attack on the toys and win!

1. Try to keep a box for the toys for each child in your house. I'd like to suggest that you keep the rest in storage or alternate the toys (in storage) if your house is on the market for more than a few weeks.

2. Try to limit the games or building toys with small pieces to ones with large pieces. This will facilitate the daily clean-up.

3. Limit toys that are large and have lots of parts - such as kitchen sets and kid's furniture - suggest that you keep those in storage since they may distract the potential buyer and prevent them from envisioning themselves living in your home.

4. In the front yard, keep outdoor toys, such as bikes and tents, neatly stored away or out of sight from the street -- just in case a potential buyer does a "drive by" your house.

5. Store the remaining toys in attractive containers that can blend into the decor. I'd like to recommend that you consider storage cubes or shelving units, and keeping toys in wicker or canvas baskets.

6. Entice your kids to help unpack their toys by placing a toy or two in each box so that they are excited about helping you unpack their toys after you move.

According to Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, who is an internationally known home staging expert: "The presence of toys probably won't turn off prospective buyers without children, but keeping things tidy and preventing toys from overwhelming the home will increase the property's appeal."

As a home stager and decorator, my advice is to keep in mind that a professional home stager can assist you in preparing your home for sale and will objectively give you advice on de-clutting and organizing (as well as beautifying your home) to sell your home faster and for possibly more money - especially in a slow real estate market.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Art of Downsizing

There can be many different reasons for downsizing – but moving is probably the most common. Well, I’m not moving, but the older I get the more I get annoyed at all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. Does this sound familiar to you?
In the past, I would move to a different home every four years. And every time I moved, I would sort through my stuff, donating lots of bags to the Salvation Army, Purple Heart and Goodwill. As you can tell, my love of shopping for clothes, shoes and decorative items has always gotten me in trouble.

However, now that I’ve been living in the same house for the past five years, my “stuff” has been multiplying exponentially. Not only is the crawl space under the house filled up completely, but we now have a garage that has no more extra room – especially for a car. And it's migrating to my two spare bedrooms and the closets are bulging at the seams. I'm really tired of the piles which seem to grow on a weekly basis. And even more frustrating, I usually can't find what I'm looking for!

Time out. I need to fix this situation! No one else can weed out all my personal items unless I call a professional organizer.

So, what has inspired me to think about downsizing? Because I've been helping my family transition into a new, smaller place after moving from a large house with lots of storage. Now they are in an apartment with no basement, no garage. To make their situation even more challenging, not only are they moving their own belongings, but also all the inherited "treasures" from their parents. Since I really don't want to be in that situation when I'm older with lots of aches and pains, I've decided to tackle my downsizing process now -- while I still have the energy without the maladies.

So how do you let go of your "treasures"? The answer is -- with difficulty. But, in my opinion, the pay-off is worth it.

Here are some suggestions on my downsizing method:
1. First, make four piles: 1) Give-away or donate; 2) Sell; 3) Trash; 4) Keep (try not to be tempted to add too many items to that pile).
2. Second, in sorting through your personal belongings, ask yourself: Will I need or wear it now or within the next year? If the answer is no, you probably want to put those items in the "give-away, sell or trash" pile.
3. Third, can I give it to someone who can use it? Donating items to charity organization can provide you a tax donation write-off -- just make sure you get a receipt for your donation. By the way, Purple Heart will pick it up from your doorstep if you schedule it with them online.
4. Next, do you want to sell your items and make a little money (or a lot, depending upon the worth of the items)? You can put ads in a "Pennysaver" for very little money or advertise on "Craig's List" for free, have a garage sale or take items to a consignment shop. Your choice. Will your efforts be worth the pay off? Maybe. It depends on your point of view and your priorities.
Personally, I'm lazy about garage sales, so I decided to donate those items that I hadn't used/needed in a year, and I received a tax receipt. Remember when you’re donating to keep the receipt and itemize (and summarize) the number and types of items.
5. Which leads me to my fifth suggestion: ask your family or friends if they would like to "inherit" your hand-me-downs. If they're ready for your hand-me-downs, that will help your downsizing efforts.
6. Finally, here's my last suggestion if you going through this alone and need help: Consider hiring a professional organizer to assist you in sorting through items and deciding whether to keep them, sell or donate them, or trash them.
Or, if you're going to sell your home, professional home stagers can help you "de-clutter" make your home appeal to prospective buyers.
So, right now, I'm taking my own advice and beginning to downsize on my own. If you’re also ready to take on this challenge, good luck on your "spring" cleaning!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Decorating Your First Place

Decorating your first place. No, I don't mean your dorm room or the home you share with your roommates or your relatives, but your first home away from home.

Your first home is a symbol that you're finally independent and can begin interjecting your own creativity into the place where you live. In my opinion there's nothing more exhilarating than decorating your first place. I was reminded of that old feeling because my niece is getting married in two weeks. She exclaimed to me how much fun she was having decorating their first apartment. After reflecting on my past experiences, I thought I might outline a few tips that may help with this task while decorating on a tight budget.

1. Many of us start out with hand-me-downs, garage sale or flea market finds. Although we appreciate the generosity of the "giver," it can be a challenge to incorporate them into a cohesive decorating plan. Luckily the "shabby chic" and eclectic styles are still in vogue!

When it comes to hand-me-down upholstered furniture, it depends on the condition of the furniture (and of course, whether the fabric covering appeals to you), whether you want to recover the piece; if so, you may consider a slip cover. You can find them at home decorating stores or order them online. Another option is to drape a throw over the piece and perk it up with lots of color-coordinated accent pillows.

2. An older wooden table, dresser or chair is another challenge. Can you cover up scratches with a stain-stick or "Old English" liquid? Or does the entire piece need to be repainted or refinished? If you decide to repaint it, make sure you first consult with the paint experts at the hardware store. However, if repainting or refinishing is not an option, you may want to consider covering the top of the table or dresser with a runner or doily. Chair seats can be recovered or you can add a new seat cushion.

3. Paint or wallpaper the walls if you can. I'm a big proponent of paint because it's easy to clean or change if you wish. Paint can transform a room and make it feel like home. If you're renting, some landlords will allow you to paint the walls of the apartment if the color is not dark or bold. The usual criteria is -- can one coat of paint cover your paint color? If the landlord approves, go for it!

4. Discard your college dorm stuff. You're no longer a student. It's time for a change.

5. Finally, and most importantly, personalize your new home. Add your own touches, wall art, pictures, rugs and other accessories that are uniquely you. And if you're sharing your first home with someone special, remember to consider them in your decorating plan too.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Color Your Life

Color. What a great five-letter word. Color has long been associated with a person's mood. It can make you hungry. Cheer you up. Make you blue. Energize you. Make you relaxed or transport your thoughts to another place.

There are three different types of colors: warm, cool and neutral.

Let's start with warm colors. Orange and red are generally chosen by restaurants because they are known to stimulate the appetite. Yellow is known as the "happy" color because it is the color of sunshine. In homes, these colors are commonly used in dining rooms and kitchens.

Cool colors -- green, blue and purple -- are considered to be "relaxing" colors and are great for bedrooms and living rooms.

If neutral colors are your favorite -- such as white, cream, grey, brown and black --you're in luck because they are very popular in decorating right now.

In selecting the colors for your home, it is a safe bet to pick the colors you really like because whatever you choose, you'll have to live with for awhile unless you're the energizer bunny or are independently wealthy!

Here's some advice: Instead of choosing the wall color first in the living room, family room or bedroom, I suggest to my clients that they FIRST choose the color of their largest piece of furniture -- such as the sofa, loveseat, bedspread or comforter.

After that selection, you can choose the color for the walls and, if possible, the floors. Remember the walls and floors consume the most visual space so be careful in choosing colors that will coordinate with the fabrics on your furniture. Another option for the wall color is to select a neutral, such as a creamy white or pastel grey.

If you're unsure about your color choices, call your favorite decorator for an expert opinion. Happy Decorating!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Get a New Look for Your Home With Paint

Do you want to change your home's ambiance for the least amount of money? If your answer is, yes - here's how: Paint!

Changing the color of a room can transform the overall feeling of a room. First, you need to decide on a new color. I'd like to suggest a couple of options:

1. Before you buy the paint color that you have selected, I recommend that you purchase a sample in order to paint it on your wall to see if you like it. Most brands of paint these days have samples available for purchase. This is a good idea because you'll get to see the color on the wall in your room in different lighting - morning, afternoon and evening light. Paint colors can change according to the light in the room, and you can make sure that you like the way the new paint looks during the different times of day.

2. If you'd rather not paint samples on the walls or a sample color is not available, I'd like to suggest that you attach several large swatches of the new paint color (available for free at the store) and tape them on the wall in order to visualize the paint color in the room. This can be very effective in helping you make a decision.

3. If you're still indecisive, paint one wall in the room. One way or the other, this will help you make a decision on whether you can live with the new color.

4. If you are trying to paint over a dark or bright color, you really need to paint the walls with primer paint first. This is an important step so that the old color does not "bleed through." Talk with the paint store experts about paint that has both primer and paint combined. This may be a good option for you and will enable you to skip a step.

5. Another suggestion in selecting paint is to choose low or no-VOC paint (VOC stands for volatile organic compound). It is a little more expensive, but it does not emit harmful smells or odors as much as other paint and is considered to be a "green" alternative. I wholeheartedly recommend low or no-VOC paint to my clients.

Even if you do not like the new color --painting is basically the least expensive way to get the most impact in redecorating your room. You can always repaint. Be brave and try it! If you need a second opinion before you start to paint, call your favorite decorator or me! I'll explore choosing colors for your rooms in my next blog.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How To Give Your Home A New Look For Less Money

How do you make your home feel "new" without spending too much money? Well, here's some budget-wise decorating tips to give your home an updated new look:



1. Accent Pillows. Furniture is usually the most costly item. So if your furniture still looks acceptable, you can give your room a boost with some new accessories. Add a few new color-coordinated throw pillows to a sofa, a chair or on the bed and they can perk up your room without breaking the budget. A few new pillows can give old, tired upholstered furniture a new look.



2. Flowers. Buy a new flower arrangement or make one yourself. It's easy these days. Visit a home decor store (for example, Michaels) and buy silk flowers for as little as $3 a stem. Buy a vase (they are very reasonable at Michaels or in a consignment shop), add some pebbles in the bottom to help hold the flowers in place (again, buy them at a home decor store) and start adding silk flowers.
Flowers can add a punch of color to a dining room table, coffee table, end table, a dresser or in a dark corner.

Real flowers are beautiful too -- especially if you can pick them from your garden. But if you have to buy flowers on a weekly basis, it can get a little costly.


3. Wall art. Add some new artwork or a mirror to your walls. Check out consignment shops, budget-friendly stores such as Walmart, Target, Marshalls, Kohls and TJ Max. They all have home decor sections.

If you're not sure what artwork to buy, add a mirror! Mirrors reflect light and color and can make a small room look larger and a dark room look brighter. Here's another idea - add a wall shelf. You can place artwork, accessories, or plates on the shelf for a three-dimensional or "layered" appearance.


You can also make your own artwork if you feel adventurous. For example, if you collect beautiful greeting cards, you can mat and frame them yourself as long as the frames are a standard size (5X7, 8X10 or 11X13, for instance). I'll give you some advice on art-arranging techniques in a future blog.

Another option --buy a plain canvas and create your own contemporary artwork in colors that coordinate with your room! Acryllic paints are easy to use and come in many different colors.


With a little creativity and ingenuity, your rooms can have an updated look without spending a lot of money. However, if you'd like some professional decorating advice, call your favorite decorator. Happy decorating!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Selling Your Home? Five Reasons Why You Need a Home Stager in a Slow Market

If you have decided to sell your home, you probably are trying to prepare your home to sell in this slow market. Here are five reasons a professional home stager can help you sell your home:

1. Outshine your competition.

The real estate market is still slow. Most homes will sit on the market for months because there are so many homes for prospective buyers to consider. Today, there is so little incentive for buyers so, as home owner, you need to stand out from the rest! Consider hiring a home stager/ real estate stager to evaluate your home and give you an objective point of view with their recommendations on how your property can outshine the rest.

Recently, my clients spent less than $500 to have me stage their home. I helped them declutter, used most of their belongings and added accessories for punch. Their condo received two contracts in 10 days and sold for more than the asking price. The feedback from these prospective buyers was very complimentary, while their neighbor's condo sat on the market for more than 6 months with no contracts.

2. Save money and preserve your equity:

For the desperate home seller, a home stager can be the "light at the end of the tunnel." Real estate agents can give you advice on ways to sell your home, but the bottom line is your home needs to shine above the competition. If the home does not show well, often these price reductions will impact the profit from the sale. The longer the home sits on the market, the more money you may lose when the home finally does sell. An investment in home staging (at least an objective report on what needs to be improved) costs much less than another price reduction, which is money out of your pocket.

3. Meet a deadline for a conditional offer on another house:

Conditional offers are based upon the sale of the buyer's existing home by a deadline. If you've found the home of your dreams and have to sell your old home fast, staging can provide a way to speed up the sale of your old home so that you do not lose out on your dream home.

4. Increase the number of showings on your home:

According to internationally recognized home staging expert, Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, "There was a time when buyers and sellers were totally dependent on real estate agents. Those days are gone. Approximately 80% of prospective buyers shop online before ever calling an agent," explains Gould. "Now that the public can access MLS listings and shop from the photos they see online, it's even more critical for your property to show well in listing photographs. Otherwise, your agent won't even get a request for a house showing. Staging makes all the difference in how rooms look both online and in the real world. Savvy real estate agents are recommending staging to their clients as a way to draw attention to their listings and to sell homes faster," states Gould.

Here's another example of how home staging helped my client. Their home was unstaged and on the market for almost a year. After I helped them stage their home, they reported an increase in the number of showings and within a couple of weeks, the sellers had a contract.

5. Alternatives to paying commissions.

In this slow economy, many home sellers are trying to avoid paying real estate commissions when they are selling their homes. One option many home sellers are exploring is "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO), and there are a vast number of websites and services available to assist them. Home stagers can help FSBO sellers with their knowledge of the real estate market, creativity and skills in preparing their homes for sale and making their photos stand out online.

For all the reasons listed above, sellers should consider hiring a professional home stager to help you achieve your goal -- selling your home faster and for the most money possible!

Monday, May 17, 2010

How Home Staging Aids Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

Foreclosure. The word even sounds daunting.
So many people around the country are facing the possibility of foreclosure. If you're in this category, my advice to you is be proactive.
Contact your mortgage lender immediately and politely and clearly explain your situation. You may be able to negotiate a modified mortgage payment plan. I know people in Florida who didn't contact their mortgage company in time to save their home. Sadly, their story did not have a happy ending, so call your lender as soon as possible -- and don't wait for them to call you back. Remember the old cliche -- the squeeky wheel gets the grease!
If you've decided that you need to sell your home to avoid foreclosure, please, please hire the best real estate agent in your area. Ask your friends for referrals or call the Real Estate Association in your state for the best reference! A real estate agent needs to have knowledge of your area, be able to provide you with comparable home sales and make this information available to you.
If you want to sell your home quickly and for the most money possible in this very competitive real estate market, you'll need to prepare your home for showings. To show your home in the best possible light, you may want to consider hiring a home stager in your area.
According to internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, "Hiring a professional home stager is the single best way to outshine your competition. It might seem counterintuitive to hire a professional stager when you've tightened your budget and are facing the sale of your home to avoid foreclosure; however, it has been proven time and time again that staged homes sell faster and for a higher price than homes that are sold "as is."
"Hiring the right real estate stager can mean an extra $10,000 to $70,000 in the selling price of your home," states Gould.
Real estate agents can give you good advice about selling your home. However, they probably don't have the training, creativity or skills to transform your home to make it appealing to prospective buyers. Leave that up to the home stager. Depending upon your needs and budget, they can just give you advice or actually do the home make-over for you.
Selling your home can be one of the most stressful things you can do -- especially if you're faced with foreclosure. Let the experts help you through this difficult time.

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