Thursday, April 22, 2010

Finally We Are Staged to Sell

Just when you think you're done staging, there's one more detail that needs attention.

To celebrate finishing up the condo rehabbing/staging project, we were going to go to a nearby coastal town for a fabulous seafood dinner, but we got hung up working out some electrical tweaks at the condo with Mr.Carpenter.

He told us he enjoyed working with us because we knew what we were doing, had taste (he said that!), and didn't change our minds about things once the project was underway. 

Then we went for burgers right here in town.  And relaxed. For the first time in weeks.

All the work was worth it! Here's a look at the finished project, with apologies for poor photography.  

We kept the entrance to the condo uncomplicated.







The master bedroom has comfy bedding, matching side tables and good lighting.
One bathroom, small but pretty, is off the master bedroom.


The entrance room gets the most sun. We staged it like an office/family/TV room.
This view shows how nice and high the ceiling is.
We chose to paint the entire unit one color, a warm beige.
Staging with a twin bed rather than a double made this bedroom look more spacious.

Off the living room, this closet became a dry bar.

 Even though the property isn't on the beach, I wanted a beach feel.

The marina is visible from the kitchen. Our new cabinets look fabulous.

A new range and microwave/hood made a big difference. 
Adding new cabinet doors was one of the biggest changes. 
I used some polka dot ribbon to play up the nailhead trim on the mirror. 
The other bath also has a new mirror, one with a wide white frame that goes wall to wall. 
The deck chairs are supposed to have cushions, but I like the clean look without them.
On the other end of the deck, I added a fountain because it sounds so relaxing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Moving Large Furniture to Condo

More back door appeal than curb appeal, this fountain's 
soft gurgle is what will greet househunters when 
they step out onto the deck.
I did some cleaning at the condo after dinner, and then dealt with getting some things in the van for tomorrow. I wanted to be putting things in the van in the dark so the neighbors won't see me and think we're moving. Silly, I know.

We still have a few large pieces to get over there--loveseat, floor lamps, office credenza, bakers rack, wall mirror. Mr. Lucky's not totally on board with the two nightstands from our room and the drop leaf table in the kitchen with two chairs, so I'm a little discouraged by that. Not only does it mean I have to be diplomatic, compromise, and pick my battles, I have to do more of the moving and bed-construction myself (because I want it done "my way," ** stomping her foot **).

But I am very encouraged by the way the place is looking. I've got a little fountain by the back door that gurgles water from a fish's mouth. Sweet. The baths are looking boutique-hotel and the dry bar closet is all staged.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Curb Appeal That Says, "Come In! You'll Love Me!"


We doubled up on the pavers to make a wider and 
more welcoming sidewalk. Then we 
 put down landscaping fabric and river rock.
Most people selling a home have heard about the importance of curb appeal.

But when the property you're selling is part of a complex of almost identical units, and there are covenants or restrictions that limit what you can do to the exterior, you have a special challenge.

The condo we're renovating is like that.

I need to walk the fine line between fitting in and standing out. Our door and entrance area match the units to the left and right of us, just 10 feet away.

I chose to imitate their minimal landscaping style because I knew it would make my entrance way look larger, part of the whole complex.

One of the units used river rock, a look I happen to fancy, so off I went to the landscape supply store.

I try to learn something every day and today I learned that what I call river rock the local supplier calls egg rock. Whatever it's called, I love the clean and practical quality of it. I brought my own 5-gallon buckets (I'm a housepainter, so there's never a shortage of these around our house), and I left with 10 of them filled with rock, for a total cost of $102 at 13 cents per pound.

I also bought four 18 x 18-inch cement pavers with a pebble finish to match the six that were already at the condo. Each paver cost $12. I was pleased.

I don't know how pleased Mr. Lucky was to have the task of downloading the rock and pavers from the van and putting it all in place. As landscapes go, this approach is about as low maintenance as you can get and still look appealing. I brought in a spot of color with a large planter filled with annuals.  The planter is an $8 plastic one from Big Lots that I faux finished to look like stone.

You'll learn other t ricks to make your while home more welcoming to buyers in my eBook DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.

Curb appeal is crucial, and I think the look of our entrance is clean and inviting.  Whether we're talking about speed dating, job interviews, or househunting, first impressions can scoot you to the top of the list, or kick you off the list.

Staging your home's exterior can put you at the top of the top, and staging the interior will keep you there. Order my eBook NOW, and start NOW to get your staging done right -- economically and quickly.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Table and Chairs on Loan for Condo

This table is tall enough to
give househunters the message 
that they will have a  wonderful 
water view during dinner.   
The table and chairs that my daughter and son-in-law loaned us to help stage the condo MAKE the place.

 I mean, those two made money for us by loaning us that set.

The scale, the colors, the style--it sets the tone for the whole unit, bumping it up a big ol' notch.

Staging from scratch is difficult when you don't have extra furniture. Renting furniture is iffy, and something I did not want to do.

Although I believe this condo will sell quickly, I won't be able to factor in the cost of rental furniture. I don't know how long I'll need it, and the cost adds up quickly if you are using rooms of rental furniture.

Also, sometimes rental companies require a minimum number of months.

The easy solution -- if you can do it -- is to borrow.

If you need some furniture to stage a room of the house you are selling, remember that family and friends can be excellent sources.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Should I Paint My Brick Fireplace?

The living room fireplace after I painted and staged. 
I have a neighbor whose husband is a mason, so when I told her that I had painted the brick fireplace in my own home, she gasped, "Oh, my husband would never let me do that!"

I don't get it. It's brick, not a sacred relic.

To me, a brick surface of almost any kind belongs outside, so an indoor fireplace is just begging to get covered with whatever color I like that works for the rest of the room.

In a staged home, that color is probably going to be white.

I know there are some people who will say, "But what about the next owner? They'll never get the paint off the brick."

My comment to these people is ... that I don't care. Keeping something you don't love for the person next in line is like laying plastic mats on your car's floor to keep it clean for the next owner. 

Besides, plenty of people love the look of painted brick. It's clean, it's contemporary, it's cottagey or sophisticated depending on the decor.

To say bye-bye to the red brick of our condo fireplace, I masked off the carpet, then primed it with a stain-blocker. Then it got two coats of our pure white semi gloss trim paint.
Before I painted the heath and surround, our room's focal point was just a dark and brassy hole at one end of the room. My, that cord to the fake fire is attractive, eh? 

Mr. Lucky had already masked off around the metal fireplace screen. He used heat-resistant fireplace spray paint to make it black.

This BHG brick fireplace got a fresh look with some white paint.
The black hearth risers give it some personality.

A casual room like this, from BHG, with plenty of white, looks better
with a white fireplace, rather than a red brick one. 

I love the look of the "new" fireplace in this condo we're flipping. I have a feeling the new owner will not say, "Why did someone ruin the precious red brick?" Buyers notice eyesores more than they do special features. Don't be afraid to freshen a brick fireplace with paint.

My eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, which you can download now, gives many other ways to revitalize your home on the market. Make your house the one house hunters remember and want! I show you how.  


 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How to Finish a Bathroom

As I said in my eBook DIY Home Staging Tips, I like to see a mirror in every room.  Of course it’s a given in the bathroom.

When we investigated medicine cabinets at Lowes we learned that for the price of a plain old generic one, we could have a big, handsome mirror.

We left with two different styles, each almost 3 x 4 feet. They contribute to a more contemporary look, and add lots of glamour and the illusion of space to our small bathrooms.    
   
The mirrors were on sale so they cost about $50 each.

We looked at equally large mirrors at some discount stores, and some were even cheaper, but they didn’t have a beveled edge, which gave the ones we bought that added heft and high quality look. 

Black and White: Unbeatable

We chose one black and one white framed mirror. The more masculine black one we hung in master bath. It has a row of silver studs encircling the frame.

Coincidentally, I had purchased some black and white polka dot ribbon to tie up towels and toiletries in the bath, so everything fell together quite nicely.

Love when that happens. 

For those toiletries, I stumbled on a clear plastic aqua plate at Goodwill, bought it for 99 cents. I mean, it looks like something hand blown in Italy. On this I arranged an assortment of bath products that I chose for their aqua labels as much as for their good quality (Jason), because I plan to use these myself.

I wrapped it in cellophane (to discourage pilferage) and tied it all up with a polka dot ribbon.

Bubbles and Duckies

In the other bath, I loaded a pale wicker basket with an apothecary jar of sea salt, some bars of handmade soap, a coiled hand towel,  a sponge, a loofa, an empty atomizer of air freshener, a Dollar Tree jar of shower gel, and a cute yellow rubber duckie. What’s not to love? I ran out of cellophane, so I tied it up with a square of tulle. 

Towels.

They’re a very important prop for staging. More than anything else you’ll put in your staged home, towels speak of luxury.

This is one place where recycling just won’t do. Treat yourself to fluffy new towels, preferably white. They’ll go with you to your next home.

I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and hunted down a few towels, as well as a couple of deliciously scented candles, something else I don’t like to get at the dollar store because I’ll be burning them in my own home someday. And because better quality candles give off more scent even when unlighted.

That’s really important in a staged home.



For the master bathroom, I wanted a sophisticated
collection of luxury spa items on the vanity. 
The last things I put in the master bath were a black and white photograph of a sailing yacht on the wall, and a vase of silk flowers on the toilet tank.

I had more fun decorating the baths than any other room.

I deserved it. I had spent all the previous day cleaning that blasted, hard water scummed shower stall. All day. Now it sparkles.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Budget-Friendly Home Improvements

A microwave and range hood combo seemed like an economical way to add some contemporary style to the kitchen. 
What better way to show off the property's major amenity than to put a seating group on the deck overlooking the water?
We knew we wanted to replace the scrimpy off-white range hood with something more up-to-date, and when we went shopping for one, it quickly became apparent that upping the budget for one by $100 gave us a hood with a microwave built-in, fashionable space-saver.  It would mean that Mr. Carpenter would be stealing some space from the cabinets over the range, but it gave the kitchen a more modern look, so we decided it was worth the labor cost.

While Mr. Carpenter installed the microwave, and hung the new kitchen cabinet doors, Mr. Lucky and I worked outside to spruce up the deck. 

It would have been nice to replace the boards on the 184-square foot deck, but that wood have cost over $500, so instead we just pressure washed it and gave it a coat of Cabot’s solid color deck stain. 

I also pressure washed the sidewalk leading to the deck, pruned the shrubbery, and planted some annuals I knew wouldn’t be too demanding (vinca).

The posts surrounding the deck were in terrible condition, so Mr. Lucky bought 4 x 4-inch pressure treated lumber and, using an old post as a template, cut new ones to replace all of them.  He bolted them on and then we glued on copper caps and ran a new rope through the post holes.  It’s not exactly a safety railing, but the deck doesn’t sit high off the ground.  It must be “to code” because all the units in the complex  have the same design.

I feel strongly that creating an outside seating area is crucial in staging, especially where there is a view.  Now that the deck is done, we can bring over that spare set of outside table and chairs I have at home.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Choose a Paint Color The Easy Way

This week Mr. Lucky and I are finally getting some paint on the walls of the condo that we’re rehabbing and staging to sell. 

As a professional housepainter, I know that many people suffer with the color selection question. I know that many people are disappointed with their choice after the walls are all finished.

I am here to tell you that I have a failsafe formula!

I write about this formula in my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, but I will outline it here as well, because paint color selection is an important decision, and a sticky problem for many DIYers.

It's especially an important decision if you are planning to sell. Colors set a mood, and can work for or against the likability of your home.

Unless you are undertaking a total renovation, or building a custom home, the rooms you are painting typically have some features that won’t change color.

Examples of these fixed features would be a fireplace, carpeting, ceramic or vinyl flooring, bathroom fixtures, major kitchen appliances, countertops and backsplashes, or even woodwork that you do not plan to paint.


Your goal is to find a paint color that will harmonize with these fixed features.

Never select a paint color in a vacuum, by going with your gut as you look at a display of color chips or a sample brochure.

Worse yet, never choose a color from a magazine spread or Pinterest photo. Colors can change dramatically depending on the lighting surrounding them, reflections nearby, the inks used in printed media, and the electronic screen you're reading.

For staging purposes, I endorse the one-color-throughout-the-whole-home approach. However, you may not be able to find a single color that works with all your fixed features. In that case, you’ll have to work room by room with your color selection and try to stay in the same family of colors.

Family of colors? What is she talking about? There are just three things you have to grasp about paint color.

Every color belongs to one of two temperature families -- either a cool family or a warm family. (I know there's a joke there somewhere!. Warm colors lean towards reds, yellows, and browns. Think fire. Cool colors lean towards blues and greens. Think swimming pool.

Every color belongs to a named pigment family on the color wheel. These families can be narrowed down to red, yellow and blue -- the primary colors -- plus three additional colors we get by combining these three families -- orange, green, and purple. You will see that paint manufacturers' fan books of color strips that decorators and painters use are arranged by color pigment families. The chip displays that you find in paint stores and paint departments are also arranged by pigment families. It is these families that give the undertones to a particular paint color, so now you know what the color experts are talking about when they are talking about undertones.

Adding black or white pigments darken and lighten these six colors to produce different values on the scale from light to dark of the value family

Your paint color selection can get way more complicated if you are planning to stay in your home instead of staging it for sale, or if you are planning to change flooring or carpeting or countertops, or other fixtures.

The flooring and the marble colors in this bath weren't going to change, so the 
wall and cabinet colors were chosen to create a sophisticated palette. 
Photo: Urban Grace Interiors.

Decorators and painters use their fan books of more than 1,000 colors samples.You, the DIY homestager, will have to, in effect, create your own mini-fanbook.

Here's how.

At every hardware, paint and home improvement store you can find a display of paint color samples. Many of these strips will not work for you because they are too bright or too dark. You will know which ones they are, the ones that look like a cartoonist’s palette. Eliminate those samples.

Then, take home a big handful of strips that you think will match the unchangeable fixtures back at your house. You can always go back for more if this group doesn’t deliver your perfect color.

Once you're home, you can lay those strips down next to brick or laminate or carpeting or vinyl and find a color in the same family as all these elements.

Look for a color that matches or harmonizes with most of the elements that convey with your house when it sells. Match the background color in ceramic, vinyl or hardwood. Match the color of a Corian or Formica counter. Match the predominate color of fireplace stone or of carpeting.

Look for colors that are in the same families -- the warm or cool family; the red, yellow,blue, orange, green, or purple family; the light or dark family.

When you have narrowed your choices down to a few, pay for samples of these paints. Paint two coats of each color choice on poster-size foamcore boards. Once dry, move these boards around the room and observe how they look next to different pieces of furniture, on different walls, at different times of the day, with different lights turned on. How does each one look next to your fixed features?

Now you can make an informed, safe color decision.


Designer Sarah Richardson chose a pale blue for the center island that tied 
into the flooring and the tiled backsplash in this kitchen.

What we want for staging a home for sale is a seamless look. Most decorators won’t agree with my advice, but we are not decorating. We are staging. And we need to keep your d├ęcor clean, unified and simple.   

If you need to choose more than one color because no one color coordinates with all your fixtures, make all those colors either warm or cool, and all in the same value range on the scale of light to dark, probably the first or second color on the light end of the strip.

If you have difficulty nailing down paint color, get help. You could hire a professional color consultant. You could show your favorites to someone like the manager of a paint store. These people are there to help you. Do not ask friends, neighbors or relatives. Many people have different types of color blindness, and see colors inaccurately.

The chips that match your fixed features are like the sample board that a decorator will carry, and you can use them when you are making other decisions in the field, like choosing curtain material in the fabric store, or an upholstered piece at an estate sale.

Once you use my handy-dandy formula for paint color selection, you'll wonder what all the nail-biting was all about. Go ahead now and order my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, to help you make other home staging decisions.

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