Monday, October 31, 2011

Bedroom Staging: DIY Headboard and Make-Believe Bed

Do you need to stage an empty bedroom, or make a glam headboard to gussy up a drab bed?

You've probably seen photos and tutorials for DIY headboards on the web, but many of them don’t make sense for someone staging a home for sale.

Someone who's trying to save money for that down payment on the next house. Someone who doesn't want to buy and then move or store heavy sheets of plywood. Someone who has other things to do than spending all day hand-tufting a piece of pricey decorator fabric. Someone who can't stand the thought of making holes in the newly painted walls.

Is that you? 

Here is a hassle-free, DIY headboard you can make to stage a bedroom. You can make it from a fluffy blanket or puffy quilt. I used a duvet with a large quilted pattern to make the grey headboard on the right. Even a sleeping bag is the right thickness.

What's so Special?

This headboard is made from a sheet of foam core sheathing sold in the insulation aisle at home improvement centers. It’s lightweight, and will cost about $10 for the half-inch thickness I used.

To cover the piece of foam core in the tutorial, I used a faux fur throw. It was as wide as the queen size inflatable bed I used. It even had a subtle border that I was able to run across the top of the headboard. It was plush enough to soften the edges of the foam core panel. A thick covering like this means you don't have to bother with a layer of polyester batting or expensive foam. Easy! 

The inflatable is my choice for staging an empty bedroom. It’s cheaper and more practical than investing in a box spring and mattress, and easier to deal with on moving day. 

What You Need
  • One inflatable bed, and pump
  • Four milk crates, of equal dimensions
  • One 4- by 8-foot sheet foam core insulation
  • Yardstick
  • Ball point pen  
  • Utility knife
  • One thick blanket like a quilt, duvet, or fake fur throw
  • Masking tape or duct tape

How to Do

Blow up the inflatable, and put the head of it against one wall, where you want the bed to be. Set one milk crate about a foot inside each of the four corners of the bed.

“Dry fit” the foam core behind the bed to check the size. I had already trimmed my 4- by 8-foot piece to roughly the size I knew I wanted, adding a few extra inches. Mark the width you want the headboard to be. It should be a little wider than the bed. You can make rounded corners by tracing around a plate on the upper two corners.

Measure carefully so the headboard will sit squarely. My orange yardstick shows where I wanted to cut the panel. Mark the cut-off line with the pen. Cut the foam core panel with the utility knife, using a sawing motion, being careful not to cut carpeting.

Bend the foam core panel to break it, then finish cutting all the way through, using the utility knife.

Lay your blanket face down on the floor. Center the headboard on the blanket. If there is a large pattern to your blanket, or if it has a centered design, center the design. If the fabric has an obvious up and down design (like letters or figures), be sure “up faces up.” 

Wrap the blanket around the foam core panel edge. Place masking or duct tape at intervals all around. My blanket had stretch to it, so I used lots of pieces of tape to make sure it was stretching evenly. Re-check your front design.

Finish taping so all edges lie flat and are secure. Duct tape is preferable if you plan to use the headboard long term.

Slide the headboard behind the bed. If you want to make it taller, you can tape a string to the back and hang it on small nails. Usually, setting it on the floor works fine.

Your new headboard is complete. With the right bedding, you can create any look you want for staging your bedroom.

To hide the fact that the bed is an inflatable, you’ll need to make a bedskirt. Later this week, I’ll post my tutorial showing how to make the tailored bedskirt shown below, with box pleats at the corners and center. It calls for just three and a half yards of fabric. Fabric that you can use again another time. Like, after you have sold your house want to make curtains for your new home!         

Bedrooms are often the first room buyers look at when they tour homes. An empty bedroom is a missed opportunity to showcase your home as a comfortable, accommodating and special place, yet it can be the most economical room to stage. A beautifully made bed, a headboard, some art, some plants, a bedside table or two, and you're done!     

For more ideas on how to stage your own home on a shoestring, download my $4.99 ebook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Favorite Tips and Tools for a Professional Paint Job

I love to paint! It's easy when you have the right equipment.
Is your home for sale? Do some rooms need refreshing? Are some wall colors dark or dated? Have you given up trying to scrub away some persistent marks? Does your realtor suggest removing wallpaper? Is your master bedroom dark purple with a lemon accent wall?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it's time to paint.

Compared to other home improvement projects and home staging techniques, paint returns excellent equity value for your dollar, about 148%.  

My blogger friend, Stacey at Spiffed Up Spaces asked me to guest post on her blog last week. I decided to write about painting, and give my favorite tips that save you precious time, tips that give your next painting project the professional edge.

Jump on over to Stacey's site and read my suggestions, as well as her own advice. Stacey is a trained color consultant, and redesigner. Whether you are selling your home or just looking for some savvy makeover magic, she can help you revive, renew and redo your spaces.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Home for Sale? Pretend You Are a Tourist in Your Town

Every home needs a welcome sign.
If you are looking for ways to make your home on the market stand out, try looking at it with fresh eyes. The eyes of a tourist to your town.  

I checked the stats, and can report to you that according to a 2010 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 12% of the people who moved, moved to a different state. Almost 17% moved to a different county in the same state.

Even if prospective buyers for your home are from another neighborhood, staging your home to accentuate what's special about your neighborhood, your town or county or state is just plain smart.

I've blogged already about the value of knowing the specialness of your part of the country and your own location.

Last week I spent a few days in another place, a part of my state that is worlds away. Getting there takes just 2 hours by car and then 2.5 hours by ferry.  Yes, ferry. We went to Ocracoke Island, off the North Carolina coast. 

Once on this small strip of sand, surrounded by the sea, life slows down and you can't help but savor the simple things. Fresh, salty air and bright blue skies that reach to the level horizon in all directions. Friendly, honest people who still sprinkle their thick brogue with words that no one has used since Shakespeare's time. Seafood prepared with attention to its real flavors. An appreciation for the way life used to be, when a boat brought mail to you once a week.

We chose the perfect season to visit. Weather was ideal, and beaches were uncrowded.
I did not take pictures of people's homes, but I did take photographs of signs, because I think words painted on wood and words printed onto museum labels tell interesting stories. I hope you'll enjoy the photos I brought home. And I hope you can see the beauty of your own location, if only to help you merchandise your own home on the market.

When you live on sandy shores, and going barefoot is the order of the day, you need this.
From Ocracoke you can go kayaking or go fishing, or just let someone else take you cruising.
The sign gives you the idea of just how small the inhabited section of the island is.
It's a short walk to the lighthouse, still working to signal boats at sea.
In 1942 British soldiers died at sea helping America defend our shores. Locals still honor them.  
Part of a display at one of the small, local museums.
More signage from the museum.
I love any hand painted sign, especially when a skeleton becomes an arrow!
I had the curried (local) shrimp with baby eggplant.
Remember to look at your home not as someone who wants to move, but as someone who appreciates the best of what your location has to offer. Then, be sure that your home staging, as well as any literature emphasizes what's unique and remarkable about where you live.

My $4.99 ebook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, helps you stage your home yourself, no matter where you live. You can download it now and start staging today to make your home that one that stands out from the competition.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Guest Post: Going beyond Curb Appeal to “Invite Appeal"

“I think I’ll keep looking.”
photo: Morgan’s Acres Neighborhood | 

We have a guest poster today. It’s Stacey Sherman who writes the blog, Spiffed-up Spaces.

Stacey’s blog and her North Carolina-based business both focus on helping people fine tune their homes to make them practical, comfortable, stylish, and more enjoyable.

It’s a tall order, but Stacey has a passion for it, and has been doing it long enough to know how to revive, renew, and redo any home for any one. Stacey offers individual consultations, group presentations, and workshops. Visit her site to see her portfolio and read her blog.

Just for you, she decided to write about the difference between good curb appeal and GREAT curb appeal! Here's what she has to say. And, a big "Thank You" to her!

Have you ever done the “Yard Sale Drive-by?"

It goes something like this.

It’s Saturday morning and you get up early to venture out to a few local yard sales. The first one you visit looks like it has a lot to offer, so you slowly cruise by to check it out.

As you get closer, you notice that the merchandise looks “just okay,” but not really worth getting out of your car for.

So, you either cross it off your list or make a mental note to maybe come back later in the day.

You move onto the next sale and this one immediately catches your attention. The items are “displayed” on long tables, not all over the ground.

The clothes are on racks or neatly folded.

The larger items are in pristine condition and visible from your car window.

Suddenly you just can’t resist the urge to quickly park the car to get out and look around!

So, what was the difference? 

The second sale had “Invite Appeal.” It looked enticing and made you want to take a closer look at what it really had to offer.

The same thing is true when potential buyers are house-hunting. They aren’t just looking for shelter, but are searching for THE place in which the next chapter of their lives will be played out.

Studies have shown that people don’t buy based on facts or price alone, but that their feelings and emotions also play a large part in their spending decisions.

So, what does this have to do with staging your house for sale? Everything!

You want to make your house as attractive and inviting as possible so that potential buyers will want to see more of it. And, it begins before they even set foot in the front door!

Curb Appeal Does Matter, but…

Exteriors are an important part of the home-seeking process. Houses can be (and have been) eliminated from a prospect list simply based on how they look. But, thanks to shows on HGTV, DIY network, and others, most buyers and sellers now know about “Curb Appeal."

Curb Appeal is how your home looks from the front curb, and is generally understood to mean that the yard and house are well-kept.

The lawn is mowed, the shrubs are trimmed, the yard edges are neat, and the flower beds have fresh mulch.

The house paint is in good condition, the porch railings and floors are maintained, and the front door is clean and painted.

The front walkways and porches are swept to remove dirt and cobwebs (especially in fall lest your home look likes it’s decorated for Halloween).

All of these things ensure your house looks good from the street. They can keep it from being eliminated as a choice. But, what can you do to make your house even more enticing to potential buyers?

Add Some “Invite Appeal”

Invite Appeal is what causes buyers to keep looking or linger. It’s something that subconsciously whispers to them, “Welcome! Come on in...You know you want to see more!”

Invite Appeal adds character, life and color to the house’s exterior.

It might also invoke feelings of home, maybe from childhood memories or from some idea about what “home” should be like. And, with just a little effort, it’s easy to create.
Very little curb appeal and absolutely no invite appeal.
Great curb and invite appeal here.
Invite Appeal How-to’s

There are many ways to add “Invite Appeal” to a home. Below is a list of some of my favorite ways:
  • Add flowers or plants. Seasonal flowers in pots by the front door, on stairs and/or flower boxes add great color. Don’t have a green thumb? Buy ready-made planters at big-box stores like Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot.
Create symmetry with matching planters. 
  • Use outdoor furniture. A few chairs and side table make a quaint conversation area. If you have large, covered porch, a ceiling-mounted swing with pillows & a throw blanket are nice. For smaller porches or stoops, a petite bench is a great choice.

  • Use fabric cushions on chairs and benches. All-weather fabrics, like Sunbrella, fade less and hold up well in the elements. Cushions can be found seasonally at local stores and year-round on-line. Also, most fabric stores carry a line of exterior fabrics by the yard.
  • A tall (about 2-foot) concrete or terra cotta planter or a weather-resistant basket can hold umbrellas in spring/summer time or ski poles in winter.
  • Add a door mat or replace old, tattered ones. For a great example of fun, colorful doormats, read Barbara’s recent post about doormats.
  • Flags can be used, but limit to either the US Flag or seasonal ones – Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall designs. No cutesy ones with sayings or initials that would personalize the house or possibly offend a buyer.
  • Seasonal décor, used sparingly, is a nice addition. A word of caution: If your house is on the market during any of the major holidays, avoid overly garish décor and lighting – keep it simple. Here are a few seasonal ideas:
    • Fall: pumpkins, wreaths, flags, potted mums, pansies, potted ornamental kale or cabbage, pillows, wall hangings or welcome signs.
    • Winter: potted hollies or other evergreens flanking front door, any flowers that will hold up through the winter where you live, like pansies here in North Carolina where I live. Color is especially welcome in late January, February and March.
    • Spring: seasonal flowers, door wreath, flags.
    • Summer: colorful planters, pillows, lemonade pitcher and glasses, wreaths or door hanging, patriotic decorations for Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day.
A few color-coordinated items and a brightly
painted door create wonderful Invite
Appeal. photo:
  • Check your hardware. Are house numbers, mailbox, door handles, and light fixtures out of date, dirty, or need to be painted?
Do’s and Don’ts:
  • All items should be in excellent to very good condition. Replace faded fabrics. Remove or paint badly weathered wood items like flower pots, boxes, and benches.
  • All flowers and plants must be maintained at least every other day, and in hot weather, every day. Water, Water, Water! Deadhead spent blooms, replace wilted plants, and change out seasonal flowers when necessary.
  • Be sure that the color of the items you use, coordinates or blends with the house’s exterior. For example, don’t use bright red and green holiday décor on a grayish-blue façade.
  • If you have a garage door, don’t forget about the space around that. Tall planters with a seasonal display, or urns with small evergreen shrubs are nice. A metal welcome sign is another option.
Dress up the garage door.
  • Include good-quality outside shots of your house on the MLS/FSBO listings. Dawn or early twilight photos show the house in a different light, literally and figuratively. It’s warmer and more inviting than direct sunlight. Determine how your house is position to get best light. If the front is west-facing, twilight is great. If it’s east-facing, dawn is perfect. If it's north or south-facing, try early twilight.
  • Don’t use political or religious symbols, or post election signs in the yard.
  • Don’t use school or college “pride” symbols.
  • Don’t use door mats, wall plaques or flags with funny or offensive sayings, or initials.
  • Don’t use every idea on this list. Remember, the goal is to make the space feel alive, not to clutter, overwhelm, or confuse a potential buyer.
Entice those buyers!

By adding a few of the above ideas in with traditional curb appeal tactics, you can create an alluring and inviting space that entices home buyers to wonder, “Wow, if this is what the outside looks like, I can only imagine how fantastic the rest of the house must be.”

Thank you, Stacey, for an info-packed guide to improving curb appeal!

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