Thursday, July 31, 2008

Real Estate Staging: Fireplace for sale; comes with house

Here's the thing about fireplaces when you're trying to sell your house. If you've got one, you've got to get it to jump up and down and scream: "I'm here!"

Cause everyone, and I mean everyone, loves a fireplace.

Here are a few tricks that I used to get a fireplace hopping at a home I staged for sale.

Notice how in the before photo, the print on the mantel blends in with the paint... but the darker star jumps out. The green plant in the corner draws your eye to that part of the room as well.

But, perhaps most importantly: the chaise portion of this sectional sofa, which stuck out in front of the fireplace is gone. (It's a little tougher to see in the top two photos, but look at the photo below and imagine the chaise jutting out in front of the fireplace.)

I moved the chaise to the master bedroom, where it helped create a luxurious feel in there. And the family room now looks bigger and you've got a clear view to that fireplace.... that fireplace that's going to help sell that house...

P.S.: Remember to enter my contest for a fun art project by leaving a comment on Saturday's post!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Real Estate Staging: Making room for family

Sounds like a few of you are planning to put your houses on the market soon, given the responses to a before-and-after of a real estate staging that I posted earlier this week.

So I thought I'd offer up another example. This time it's a family room in a house that I staged.

You can see in the before shot of one side of this family room, there were too many knickknacks displayed for a house that is for sale and there really was no focus.

In the after, the knickknacks are largely gone and the sofa takes center stage. The pillows add some visual warmth and the furniture arrangement really illustrates how this room is great for family time.

On the other side of the room, a bar was the focal point, basically breaking two rules for house staging: Put away your collections and don't feature alcohol.

Alcohol-related items, along with family photos and religious items, fall into the category of the personal and are better off packed away while your house is on the market.

Besides, this end of the room looks better with the table and chairs. It's a perfect place to sit to play a game of chess... or to write up an offer.

P.S.: Remember to enter my contest for a fun art project by leaving a comment on Saturday's post!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Always a lil' devil... not always a vampire

If you're anything like me, you've got a bunch of family photos on your walls.

Wouldn't it be fun to punch up the usual fare? Check out these two websites... you can upload your photos into their photos to make... well, take a look at this photo of my son taken last Halloween:

From Dumpr:

And from PhotoFunia:

Wouldn't that be fun on your wall? Only, you know, with your own scary creatures...

P.S.: Remember to enter my contest for a fun art project by leaving a comment on Saturday's post!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Real Estate Staging: Keep the kids; sell the house

Before you know it, summer will be over, kids will be back in school (where did that confetti come from? Did you throw that?) and the real estate market will start to wake up.

As a professional real estate stager, one question I get a lot is: How important is it to stage (rearrange furniture, accessories etc. to make a room more attractive to a buyer) children's bedrooms?

Here's my take on that. They are not the most important rooms in the house when it comes to staging, but there are some simple things you can do to make a good impression with buyers.

Put away (or get rid of) as many toys, clothes and kid stuff as possible. That way you give potential homebuyers an idea of how large the room is, what sort of shape the floor and walls are in, and how much closet space there is.

It's also a good idea to arrange the room to show off its best features.

Check out these two examples of children's rooms that I staged:

In this case, I placed the bed kitty corner. That takes up a bit more room, but it highlights the two windows. Who knows what the new homeowner will use the room for? Could be an office; could be a guest room. But hopefully the potential buyers will remember the nice windows when mulling over the house.

I also removed some of the furniture, leaving only what was absolutely necessary while the home was on the market.

I did much the same thing in the next child's room. Aren't you more drawn to the windows in the after photo?

And I recommended the homeowner stash the giant gorilla that is under the windows in the before photo... You want potential buyers to remember a bright and airy room...not a giant primate, you know, when you can help it.

P.S.: Remember to enter my contest for a fun art project by leaving a comment on Saturday's post!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Love These Ideas! Sunday

After you check out these ideas I spied recently in some great blogs, remember to enter my contest for a fun art project by leaving a comment on on Saturday's post!

This is such a creative idea from Restyled Home: She used scrapbooking letters to monogram dining chairs. I think this would look great on a porch or in a breakfast room.

The Nesting Place has a great idea for both re-using fabric as a shower curtain and making a bathroom look more elegant.

Inspire Co. did a wonderful job with her daughter's bedroom. My favorite part: Using tulle as a bedskirt. Easy and pretty!

I'd love to hear more ideas!

Drop me an email at: if you've got an idea of yours or someone else's to share.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

A contest: Win yourself a fun project!

What's better than a contest? How about a contest and a how-to? Oh yea, now we're talking.

See those flowers over the bed in my friend Chris's room? They are actually vinyl art that you can apply to walls or any other hard, smooth surface. The folks at Stampin' Up came up with the idea as part of their D├ęcor Elements line, which offers several pretty art options.

The company sent me two sets of the flowers to try and another two sets for one of my readers. If you'd like to throw your name in for the flower art and the little tool you need to apply them, leave a comment and I'll draw a winner's name on Friday.

The flowers come in a set of three sizes. Chris and I decided to jazz up her bedroom using three brown flowers and three tan flowers (which the winner will also receive).

The vinyl designs are sandwiched between two pieces of paper, a backing and a sticky side that you attach to the wall.

Now the how-to:

Before you remove the backing, decide where to put the designs and tape them to the wall with painter’s tape.

Mark the locations with a pencil.

Remove the backing, after rubbing it to be sure the design is well attached to the sticky paper. You need to do this step slowly and re-rub the paper if it isn’t quite sticking.

Apply the sticky paper to the wall. Rub the design well.

Pull off the sticky paper and poof: you’re done.

It took us about an hour and a half to do this. Getting the design to stay on the sticky side was the toughest part. But we worked on the technique and it went faster the more we did it.

The two sets of flowers and the tool cost about $50 if you were to buy them.

The company offers other designs, alphabet sets, and letters for monogramming. You can use them on walls, mirrors, lampshades, and even furniture.

So comment and win yourself some fun!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Room makeover, a before & after: Taking back a spare room

Do you have one of these rooms in your house? Nearly everyone does. It's a guest room/storage room/retired furniture room/good place to hide to eat the last piece of birthday cake room.

I thought I'd show you a re-design of a room like that in a client's house. The homeowner used this room as a guest room for her mom. But there was also a wine cooler in there and a mish-mash of furniture that didn't quite fit anywhere else. (The fourth wall you don't see is a wall of closet doors.)

The homeowner wanted her mother to feel more comfortable when she stayed. So, we moved the wine cooler into the closet, and the wicker settee into another space to create a reading nook.

I moved the daybed to make it the focal point of the room and used the homeowner's blue and white bedding for a fresh look.

I grabbed a bookcase, coffee table and accessories from elsewhere in the house. (Take a little bit from here, a little from there and you really don't harm the look of the other rooms.)

I even brought in a patio chair. It's a placeholder until the homeowner gets a more comfy chair for the room, but it serves the purpose for now.

The blue and white in the accessories help pull the room together and the lamps make the room cozy.

Who wouldn't want to stay here... especially now that you know there's wine in the closet?

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Room makeover, a before & after: Saying "welcome home"

What's the first thing people see when they enter your home? I mean, on a good day... when the shoes are away, the jackets stored, the iguanas back in their cages, the engine parts stashed...?

I thought I'd show you this mini-makeover that I did as part of a client's living room re-do to illustrate how to brighten your entryway... even if it isn't very large.

In this home, the wall to the right of the staircase and opposite the front door was a perfect place to define as a welcoming spot. In the before, however, the table is a too small, and is turned toward the living room... trying to be a part of it, but not quite making it.

And the candle, vase and other little accessories don't make a bold statement.

To create a more dramatic landing spot, I used a larger piece of furniture, facing it toward the front door, and a bigger picture and vase with flowers, all of which the homeowner owned.

And I always like a tray, or a long, shallow dish like I used here, near the front door. It's a good place to put your keys, sunglasses etc. when you come home. (Added bonus: You'll always know where they are!)

Finally a lamp brightens the area and catches your attention, making you pause before you enter the rest of the house.

And think of all the stuff you can hide in those drawers...

(If you're looking for lots of great ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer's Works-for-me Wednesday feature... even though it's not Wednesday...)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Warning: Graphic post ahead

Have you noticed lately the trend toward bold graphics in upholstery fabrics, dishes, sheets, pillows and throw blankets?

You can spot them all over the place: large, stylized flowers or geometric shapes with generous spaces between them (like the chair by Pottery Barn above.)

I'm loving it for two reasons:

One, it's so darn pretty and fresh.

Two, it's easy to get the look by incorporating a few pieces into a room.

You can add a rug or a few throw pillows for an updated look without replacing everything.

A few examples: This indoor/outdoor rug by Linens n' Things:

And this rug by CB2:

And these pillows, this handmade one available on Etsy, below, and the one below that by Pier 1.

I wouldn't go with something this dramatic on a big piece, like a sofa, because it's not easy to change the look later if you want. And we all know, we're going to want to change the look...

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Just a couple of girls hanging out

Me and Mrs., Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones,
We got a thing going on

This is my girl, Olive, aka Olive Jones. She is my cat and, while she loves my husband, I am her person. We are the only girls in this family of a husband, son and boy cat.

For the most part, she is wherever I am. She's at my feet, or in the nearby window when I'm working on the computer. She's always stealing my seat, that red wicker one, in the kitchen.

She studies me when I'm getting ready, like she wants to know how to apply mascara for when she's grown up.

I can't quite sleep until she jumps on our bed and the heft of her settles in against my legs... or on top of my chest.

She's never accepted my son, even though he was born five years ago when she was two, and swats at him whenever she can. Still, he named one of his Webkinz "Olive."

If the boy cat Homer gets too close to me, she licks his head and then nibbles his ears and then bites his neck until he stamps his feet and leaves.

She enjoys a paw massage and looks like she's listening to something intently when you slowly rub her back along her spine.

She's not so much fat as her head is too little.

She loves treats, prefers to eat cat food off the floor rather than from the bowl, and is a super marathon sleeper.

She hunts down the belt of my bathrobe and tries to kill the shoelaces when she catches my husband tying his sneakers.

She prefers the indoors to the outdoors, but visits there a few times a day, particularly when it's warm and there are moths to be caught.

Now she's gone. Looks like a coyote got her this weekend, leaving only a bit of her tail, which we've buried in the back yard.

I really miss my friend.

Well, it's time for us to be leaving
And it hurts so much, it hurts so much inside
And now she'll go her way, I'll go mine
But tomorrow we'll meet at the same place, the same time
Me and Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones

Regular programming will resume tomorrow...

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Monday, July 21, 2008

UPDATED: An idea from my easy friend...I mean an easy idea from my friend

Don't you hate it when you find a really simple solution to a problem...after trying to solve it all the hard ways first?

Perhaps this will save you a bit of that frustration. The photo above is of my friend Marianne's dining room. She recently replaced her dining set with a round table and upholstered chairs in a pretty plaid to complement the yellow and blue toile wallpaper.

She searched all over for a round rug that would fit into the French country decor... and would have the same blue from the chairs and wallpaper... and would be the right size as well as shape. She thought she finally found one online, but it was wrong. That meant paying for shipping - twice.

Finally: The answer! She went to a local carpet store and discovered you can have a carpet cut and bound into any shape you want. Most of us know you can get a rectangle or square cut, but there are all sorts of possibilities. Marianne found several options that would have worked just fine, picked the best one and had it cut into the size circle she needed.

Here's one more trick you can steal from Marianne: While waiting to find the perfect round table for her dining room, she had someone cut a plywood circle and put it on top of her old, oval dining table (with a table cloth).

The carpenter put a little lip on the plywood in a few spots so it wouldn't slip. And you'd want to put a table pad underneath the plywood so you don't scratch the table.

Clever, clever girl, Marianne is. Think I'll hang around with her for another 30 years to see what else she comes up with ...

Update: I've added another photo of the room so you can see the wallpaper as well. I also got a few questions about the cost. Of course, the price of a custom job like this would depend on a few factors, including where you shop, how expensive a carpet you pick out etc.

But, in Marianne's case, getting the carpet cut into the circle in the size she needed added another third to the cost of the carpet. Getting exactly what you are looking for, though, is worth it sometimes.

Thanks for your interest!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Love These Ideas! Sunday

It's Sunday and that can mean only one thing: Tomorrow's Monday.

OK, I guess it means two things: It's time for me to show you a few great ideas I spotted this week in Bloggyville.

My Romantic Home published a how-to on creating a living wreath. So pretty. See the tutorial here.

This is an inventive idea from Pretty with Ribbons. She used part of an antique cabinet door to display art. Very clever... and great looking. Visit here.

There's another great example of how to re-use furniture with a beautiful result at Magnolias and Sunshine. She found a headboard at a consignment shop and transformed it into the perfect addition for the French country room that she created for her daughter (that includes the desk in the second photo).

Great example of a beautiful look without spending a million bucks. Take a closer look.

Finally, from Daily Danny, an idea for using a bird bath as a cooler for an outdoor party. Read more here. (Before sure to give the bird bath a good scrubbing before and after you use it.)

Nice work everyone! And I'd love to hear about more. Drop me an email if you've got an idea of yours or someone else's to share.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Room makeover, a before & after: I could really use a back rub, too...please

I mentioned last week that I finally got around to putting my deck together for the summer... good thing, since pretty soon I'd have to skip the whole thing and hang the Christmas lights out there instead.

I wrote that I rearranged the furniture, much like you would do in an interior room, creating a focal point (the bench) and giving the room some definition (with the potted trees).

This week I finally put out the soft things: the pillows, tablecloth and flowers, the stuff that beckons you to come on out and take a seat....

...but first, would you mind grabbing me a cocktail...maybe a little bowl of slippers...ooh, a magazine...heck, my pajamas...?

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A Snapshot: Roses are purple, violets are orange...

I picked up this oil painting for my office for two reasons. One: It perfectly complements the green of the walls. Two: All the colors are all crazy. The seagull is black, the sky is green and the ocean is yellow. And around here, we appreciate crazy...

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Room makeover, a before & after: Maybe I just want to hide...

I seem to have this thing about tents, like maybe I'm really supposed to run off and join the circus.

Case in point: Check out these two room re-designs that I did for a client. In both cases, I used curtain panels to create little fortresses in the girls' rooms.

Here, using a canopy frame that the family already had: Before:

and After:

And here hanging the curtain panels from the bump-out in the ceiling (I've explained this one in more detail in the past.)

Here's the before:

And the after (although if that wasn't obvious, perhaps I really do need to consider circus work for my next career...):

But, what to do in a boy's room? Good question.

Here's what I did for my son. I used two twin bed sheets and clipped them to a rope (do this only after your kid is past the pulling on the rope relentlessly until it comes out of the wall, and then hurting himself with it stage...) . I screwed heavy-duty closed hooks into the wall and tied the rope to them.

It's a fort when the drapes are closed, stage curtains when they are open. Pass the peanuts, please.

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