Monday, November 28, 2011

Want Some Holiday Scents? Make a Citrus Pomander

You won't believe how easy it is to make a fragrant pomander!
Citrus tops the list of fragrances sure to please everyone. So why not greet visitors to your home on the market with the scent of fresh lemons, limes and oranges?

For the holidays, I like to mix citrus scents with the spicy aroma of cloves by making pomanders. They're pretty, they're easy to make, and the smell is natural so it won't offend anyone, even the chemically sensitive.

These pomanders are exactly like the ones people used to put in closets and dressers to make things smell pretty in the time before Fabreeze or Lysol.

Originally, pomanders were made and worn to ward off evil spirits and diseases, not to mention body odor in pre-deodorant days. Both men and women wore gold and silver containers as jewelry that held fragrant, stink-masking spices. As much as I love knights of bold in days of old, I'm glad I didn't live in those times. 

Now that your home is for sale, I am sure you have cleaned and decluttered, and made it smell fresh. To add a pleasant layer of fragrance, hang a pomander from a ribbon in a closet, set one on a kitchen window sill, leave one on a bedroom nightstand, or just pile some on a plate in the foyer.

Oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes and clementines all make great pomanders.
Once you see how festive and fragrant these citrus pomanders are, you may want to add them to wreaths, cluster them into centerpieces, or attach them on gift-wrapped packages.

Remember high school geography stories about European explorers sailing east to discover trade routes to parts of the world where spices grew? They needed exotic ingredients like cloves and cinnamon and pepper to preserve their meats, fruits and vegetables. Your inserted cloves will act as a preservative for your homemade pomanders. Unless you live in a very humid environment, the citrus rind will turn dark and leathery, and the fruit will be naturally preserved.

If your fruits develop any signs of mold as they are drying, move them to a warmer, drier location with good air circulation.  
These fruits are a week old, and show signs of drying. Eventually, the color will even out.
My version of citrus pomanders is simple. If you like being more elaborate or more precise, it's your call. You can completely cover the fruit, or make intricate designs, or write a person's name or a word like "Noel," or roll the fruit in spices like cinnamon when you're done.

Rather than buy whole cloves in cute little bottles at your supermarket, buy them in bulk for much less money at an ethnic grocer or a natural foods store.
 
The supplies for this DIY project are ordinary and cheap.

What You Need
Fresh citrus fruit like lemons, tangerines, limes, kumquats, or oranges
Whole cloves
Skewer, ice pick, or fork
Small towel or rag

How to Do
Set yourself up by laying the towel or rag on your work area to provide an absorbent surface. Decide on your pattern, and begin by inserting the skewer, ice pick or fork to make holes. The fork will give you evenly spaced holes, but they will be in a straight line.

Make good sized holes, so that you don't have to push hard on the cloves. 

After punching in ten or so holes, insert a clove in each. You can be as choosy as you want, using only those with seeds in the head, or ones without, or both. I use both. If you want to get fussy, you can sort by size, and use all large or all small cloves, or create a graduated design. Arrange them close together, or further apart. You're the artist!

You will find some cloves that are small or broken. Discard those, and use the best. 

In a few days your citrus rind will begin to darken slightly, but your pomander will still smell delightful and look attractive. Some people save their pomanders from year to year, because the fragrance never entirely dissipates. 

When your house is for sale, and it's holiday time, keeping seasonal decorations to a minimum makes good sense. Scented pomanders are one decoration that is simple and effective, yet inexpensive.

Who doesn't love the fresh scent of lime? And the color is perfect for Christmastime.
Discover more tips to help sell your home in my ebook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yes, You Can Learn to Stage Your Home from a Magazine

If you are thinking the rooms in your home can look better to home buyers, but you aren't sure how to do it yourself, there's a fast and fun way to bring your know-how up to speed.

Besides reading my ebooks!

My suggestion is to peruse the pages of Traditional Home Magazine, where the tagline is "Classic Taste,  Modern Life." Look for them on Pinterest. 

Isn't that the same message you want your home to whisper in the ear of buyers?

Are you stuck on how to arrange furniture? Do you stare at your rooms and ponder what tweaks will make them more inviting, more comfortable, more coordinated, more fashionable, more luxurious? Do you wonder what's the best use of bookcases and shelving? Are you looking for an idea for a floral arrangement? Confused about color schemes? Flooring choices? Curtain styles?

I know what you are thinking. "My house doesn't resemble the homes in home decor  magazines, not by a long shot." It doesn't matter. Even if your home is a modest cottage, or an ordinary 1980's ranch house, or an ultra modern condo, or a sparse country lodge, a mobile home, or an old-fashioned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The home decor pictured in Traditional Home demonstrates basic principles of good design and interior decoration.

There are lessons to be learned here if you know what to look for.

The first lesson is to wear your staging spectacles. Ask yourself, "What in these photographs makes the rooms look bigger, fresher, friendlier?"  Examples will be color schemes, tabletop and mantel accessories, window treatments, furniture choices, and furniture arrangements.  

The second lesson is to think like a buyer. "What in this photo would be a deal breaker if I were ready to make an offer?" Some examples would be dark wall color, built-in fixtures with too much personality (like an orange Formica countertop, outdated appliances, wallpaper, or landscaping that is very high maintenance).

Traditional Home is just another "shelter" magazine (the best in my opinion). It's not a manual about home staging, but it can still get your eye accustomed to what really good design and decor look like. 

Learn by Example and Copy The Best

Let's look at this one photo to see what we can glean from it.

It's from the October 2009 issue of Traditional Home, and it's the dining room in the home of my absolute favorite designer, Henry Brown.

Here are the elements that I think make this room so drop-dead gorgeous, and suitable for a staged home.

These are all elements easy to imitate.  
  • The colors are soothing. The color scheme is monochromatic, a selection of warm greys and whites.
  • Nothing is tiny or distracting. All the accessories are fabulously over-sized.
  • There are "signs of life" (plants). Henry Brown owns a home and garden store and greenhouse, so his plants are always real, but yours can be silks.
  • A big mirror enlarges the space. There's only one table, one potted plant here. Even if you don't have and can't afford a huge mirror, small mirrors bounce light and confuse the eye about boundaries. 
  • Natural light fills the space. If sunlight doesn't flood your dining area, artificial lighting can make up for it. 
There's Nothing Wrong with Stealing Ideas
Here are more ideas you can bootleg (a word I prefer over "hack").
  • A set of four simple wooden chairs can be painted and upholstered to look comfy and glamorous. 
  • Candlesticks and other accessories don't have to match. Table doesn't have to match chairs.
  • A room divider can let light enter the room, and be made from simple strips of lumber. 
  • Some items look pristine, and other items look weathered and aged. If everything you have is out-of-the-box new, add some props with patina. And if your rooms look too shabby, add items that show off their new-ness. It's a balance.
In this photo of a kitchen from the same issue, we can learn some staging tricks that will work in almost any home.

  • Corbels, feet, and crown moulding added to cabinets can put a custom spin on builder grade cabinets.
  • Dark wood floors and white kitchen cabinetry will never go out of style. 
  • Wicker chairs can be dressed up with small slipcovers to introduce some pattern into the space.
  • A giant bowl of apples and a package of spaghetti make interesting and inexpensive kitchen staging props.
  • A wooden top on a center island turns it into an eating area.
Try it yourself, and see what fresh ideas you walk away with when you spend some relaxing time lost in the pages of Traditional Home. They don't pay me to say this. I have issues dating back to 2000. Does that tell you my drug of choice?

And while you're thinking of how to make yourself a better home stager, check out my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, and see what's in store for you for the price of one issue of Traditional Home.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Save Money on Window Treatments

You can make fast and easy curtains for staging.
Got naked windows to dress? Looking for a frugal way to change the curtains in your home?

Hop on over to Clean Smart Simple Style blog where I am today's guest poster.

When Alexis asked me to guest post, I decided to write about economical approaches to window treatments. How windows are treated in the home for sale is crucial because they let in light, show off a view, soften the hard edges of a room, set the style, and make a space seem more comfy.

But dressing them can cost a pretty penny. So, I gathered all my money-saving window ideas in one place. And sent it over to Alexis! 

When you're a reader of Clean Smart Simple Style, you learn a zillion ways to declutter, clean and organize. Alexis writes about closets, cabinets, desks and paperwork, but she also writes about your brain, your schedule, and your style. Be prepared to be stay awhile, and be motivated and informed. There's a heap of help in those archives.  

This week, she let me add my observations about --
  • Which window treatment styles are the thriftiest,
  • Where to buy fabric, mounting hardware and supplies, and
  • How to use alternative materials to save money.
Lately, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking and writing about window treatments. Reason: I've written a second ebook, this one about window treatments for staging your home.

The window treatments ebook I wrote focuses entirely on no-sew treatments. You won't want to miss this ebook, even if your home is not on the market.

Here are some highlights:
  • How to make luscious draperies from blankets that no one would ever suspect are a DIY project.
  • How to choose the right mounting hardware and rings for a million dollar look on a dime.
  • Making curtains from plastic tablecloths (Don't laugh. They're gorgeous!)
  • Two quick mini-blind makeovers that anyone can do and that pack a wallop of style.
  • New tricks using bedsheets for draperies and curtains that give any space an upscale look.
  • Tips for imitating the latest window treatment styles so your home looks up-to-date.
  • How windows in the staged home should look, and how to get that look on a shoestring.
  • All the super-simple alternative methods to sewing. There's more than one or two!  
  • No-sew shortcuts to hemming that I've learned over the 50-plus years I've been sewing.
Many of today's casual styles are perfect for DIY no-sew window staging.

Monday, November 7, 2011

You Can Make Your Closets Look Larger. Here's How

Self-professed organizer geek, Alexis shares her know-how.
Today's post is written by Alexis Anne, who blogs regularly about home organization and stylish design inspiration at Clean, Smart, Simple Style. 

Alexis is one of those super organized gals who thrives on helping the rest of us get it all together, in one place. Be sure to visit her blog because her tips are the kind that will help sell your home.

Even if your home is not on the market, you'll learn how to get better control of your schedule,  finances, chores, paperwork, clutter, wardrobe, pantry, craft and scrapbooking supplies, your brain, and even traveling and moving.  

As an example of the advice she gives, she's writing today about closets, and how to make them work for you, instead of against you. Closets matter to home buyers, and the bigger, the better, so listen up!

Alexis Says...
Regardless of the state of the rest of your house, the great thing about a closet is that you can shut the door (or at least you should be able to!) because people don't go peeking into closets when they stop by to borrow some butter.

But, when you're selling your house- all bets are off. You know the first thing that people do when they walk into a room is slide open that closet door to see whatcha got in there, and gauge whether or not everything that they've got is gonna fit in there as well.

Closet and cabinet space can make or break a deal for house hunters, so my challenge to you is to make some space in your closets to make them every home owner's dream: spacious and organized. 

No matter which closet is your biggest obstacle, I have a few easy solutions that will leave you wondering what to do with all of your extra closet space!
Who can resist IKEA boxes like these?

If your linen closet is overflowing:
  • Store one extra set of bed sheets in each bedroom. 
  • Fold clean towels neatly on a shelf in your laundry room.
  • Put the extra blankets to use by draping one neatly across the foot of your bed.

If you lack space for cleaning supplies:
  • Keep a small cleaning caddy under a bathroom sink.
  • Place every item in the room it is intended for: extra laundry detergent in the laundry room, dish soap under the sink, garbage bags in the bottom of the trash can.
  • Create a small space for a broom and dustpan combo next to your washer or dryer.
Alexis made over her laundry room. She stores things where they are used. 


If your coat closet is jammed:
  • Hang a row of hooks in your entry to catch backpacks and purses.
  • Pare down the coat selection to 2 coats per person, and either part with the rest, or put them in a space saving bag out of site until the move is over.
  • Keep hats, scarves, and other small items in a box on the shelf.  

If your pantry is out of control:
  • Stop buying in bulk. Unless you have abundant and well organized basement or garage storage, it might be worthwhile to put your bulk wholesale membership on temporary hold. Nothing shrinks a cupboard like an over-sized supply of food and papergoods.
  • Empty prepackaged snacks out of their boxes and use a few large Tupperware containers to organize the snacks.
  • Double your shelf space with a few risers to stack things like cans or spices.
Assigning a purpose to each closet simplifies things. Family Circle photo.

 If your bedroom closets leave something to be desired:

If you are the secret owner of a "junk closet:”
  • Inventory the contents and define a purpose for the space. Then, find homes for random items that do not fit with the purpose.
  • Prepare yourself to part with infrequently used items. It's not called a "junk closet" because it's filled with your most beloved belongings, now is it?
  • Hide odds and ends in pretty storage options that unify the space rather than draw attention to its hodge podge contents.
Once the contents are under control, each and every closet is automatically going to seem larger. You can proudly leave your closet doors open and let the compliments roll in!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Faking a Bedroom- Part 2: DIY Bedskirt

On Monday I showed you how to make a low-cost headboard to stage a bedroom. Because bedrooms are important to buyers, they need to look irresistible!

Today's tutorial shows you how to make a beautiful bedskirt to disguise the inflatable mattress we used to stage an empty space as a bedroom.    

Start with a fabric that is not difficult to match when constructing the bedskirt. Plaids, wide stripes, and one-way designs are difficult to match.

A solid color, a small geometric, pinstripes, or a design that looks random, works best. Make sure the fabric is opaque enough so the inflatable does not show through.

This bedskirt has box pleats at the corners. It gives the bed a tidy, tailored look, isn’t too girly, but adds a small amount of fullness. You can put one more box pleat midway on each side of the bed for a more custom look. If you decide to add side-pleats, you’ll need to add another half yard of fabric.  

What you need  

 Inflatable bed
 3 ½ yards of fabric
 Iron and ironing board
 Scissors
 Yardstick
 Masking tape
 Duct tape

How to Do
Make sure the inflatable is completely blown up and that the valve is secure, because if the bed deflates, the bedskirt will not be the correct length. Set the bed on four milk crates, as shown in the headboard tutorial. 

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise. Be precise.


Iron the lengthwise fold. This crease will give you a line to cut on to divide the fabric into two lengths.


Cut the fabric in half, along the fold.


Turn over a 1-inch hem along the cut edge of both pieces of fabric. Pin the hem as shown. If you chose a one-way design, use the selvage (the woven edge) to be the hem on one of your two cut pieces of fabric. Otherwise, the design on one side of the bed will run upside down.
 

Iron the hem. Iron right up to the pins, but not over them, so that you have the entire edge pressed without leaving marks where the pins are. You are going to use masking tape to hold the hem in place, and you won’t be able to iron over the masking tape, so make sure all wrinkles and creases are out.


Use masking tape to finish the hem. Leave the pins in place until you have the entire hem taped. We're making a temporary bedskirt in this tutorial. If you want to sew the hem, or use fabric glue or fusible tape, knock yourself out.


Find the center of the inflatable’s bottom edge (the “foot of the bed”). Mark the center spot with a small piece of masking tape. Fold three or four inches back, and tape the folded end of one fabric length to this mark.  Make sure the hem sits just above the floor. Finger press the fold for a crisp look.


Tape the opposite end of the same length of fabric just around the corner at the head of the bed, checking to be sure the hem sits just above the floor.


Tape the fabric length at the center of the bed’s side, and at the front corner in two places. Let the excess fabric fall as shown.


Bring the center of the loose fabric to the corner of the inflatable bed, and tape it to the bed.


Create a box pleat at the corner by folding the two side pieces to meet at the corner, as shown, and tape in place. Finger press the folds.


Repeat this process on the other side of the bed, starting at the foot of the bed. Slide the end of the second length of fabric under the fold of the first length of fabric. Then fold the second length of fabric to create a box pleat. Tape in place. Don’t worry if one fold on one side is deeper than the other, as long as they look okay from the front. Finger press the fold.


To make the temporary bedskirt stay reliably in place, tape the top edge to the inflatable using duct tape. I used white duct tape because that's what I had, but ordinary duct tape is fine.


Cover your bed with a blanket, bedspread, or duvet that covers the taped edges on the inflatable, and that is thick enough to hide the indented pattern on the top of the inflatable.


Once an empty bedroom is staged with a headboard and a beautifully made bed, you’re on your way to creating that luxurious bedroom buyers respond to. 

Did you know that I've written an ebook -- not a pamphlet, but an illustrated 150-page pdf -- all about staging your own home for the real estate market? You can download it now for just $4.99, and begin making your home the one that stands out from the competition. Staging sells homes. Whether you did it deliberately or not, your home is already staged. Make it staged to sell, by following the easy advice in my home staging ebook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.               

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