Monday, July 22, 2013

Popular Decorating Advice You Should Ignore

Can you spot the four staging mistakes?
Interior decor. Home staging. Two different animals.

That's why you can disregard some of the most oft-heard decorating advice. Here's examples:

Trends. "Don't follow trends." Wrong. Trends will make any home look fresh and appealing. You don’t have to honor every passing trend, but something new and stylish gives life to a room. 

Home buyers often tour model homes, which are decorated with trending colors, the newest furniture, and the latest home accessories. Look current. 

Colors. "Add pops of color." I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hearing how a dull room can be rescued by “adding a few pops of color!” 

A staged room doesn’t want pops of color. A staged room wants to be seamless and layered. It wants to be interesting but not in-your-face, like a tastefully dressed but approachable woman at a meet and greet. Lose the pops, please. 

Style. "Buy what you love and it will all work together." It probably won’t. A well designed room is no accident or collection of oddities. A room that buyers are attracted to takes some forethought, even if it was professionally decorated by an expert interior decorator. When it’s time to stage, the décor rules change.

Palette. "Look in your closet to determine what colors you should use in your home." Not. Although you might determine your personal color preferences, that’s no guarantee you’ll find the right color scheme for staging a home.

You can save all  the fun of splashing color and pattern around
once you sell your staged house and move to your next home. 

White. "Paint a closet a fun color. Or Paint a ceiling a fun color." Don’t put stumbling blocks between a buyer and a purchase offer. Most people do not like to paint. They want to buy a home that’s move-in ready. Choose paints that will have the widest appeal possible, colors that don’t call attention to themselves. Closets and ceilings should be white. Period. Ignore what the frou-frou decorators say.  

Pattern. "Stencil designs on your wall." Step away from the stencils! Stenciling an entire wall is fashionable with DIY decorators and home décor bloggers right now. But a wall of design, no matter how tasteful, is restrictive. What are the chances it will be appropriate for the new owner? Painting over a stenciled wall is more difficult than painting an ordinary wall because of the raised paint edges and uneven texture left by stenciling. 

Stenciling a wall is one of the mistakes in the photo above showing a yellow tree on the wall. The other staging blunders are: colors are too bright, the photos are too small, and the photos show family members.  

It's pretty. But paint is safer. Not every buyer
will fall in love with the same wallpaper you  have.  
Displays.  "Don’t save your wedding gifts and heirloom possessions for special times. Display and use them." Wrong. I’m saying that you should pack these sentimental and valuable household items away. 

There is always the chance that something will be stolen from a home on the market. Why take a chance, when you can stage a home with ordinary art and accessories instead of precious belongings or expensive antiques?  

Wallpaper. "Use wallpaper in unexpected places like a powder room, pantry or small foyer." All wrong! Buyers do not like to see wallpaper. Chances are they’ll want to change it. Painting is faster, easier, cheaper, smarter.

Bath. "Use robe hooks instead of towel bars to save money." Another veto. This tactic looks cheap, even if you are doing it to be stylish. Also, I question that towels dry thoroughly when they hang from a hook.

 
You have no secrets in a kitchen with
shelves like these. All photos BHG. 
Shelves. "Replace your upper kitchen cabinets with open shelving." Stupid idea. I can think of a few instances where this approach would work: a minimalist’s kitchen, a small vacation home, or a loft where the owners hardly ever eat in. 

Most buyers will want closed storage. Are you sure you want all your dishes on display? Do they look THAT nice? And do you want dust and cooking oils to settle on all your dinnerware and glassware?   

Trim. "Paint your trim a dark or interesting color." Mistake. Spaces look bigger when edged in white, and dark trim closes spaces. Buyers want big. Give them clean, classic white trim. It will go with whatever wall colors new owners want in the future. 

Painting trim is time consuming. It looks crappy if you do a poor job, devaluing your property. It’s expensive if you hire painters to paint trim. Keep your trim white.

Lights. "Choose lighting that will flatter yourself and guests." Forget this. Choose lighting that will make your rooms look spacious and clean. This is no time to create moody ambiance with subdued lighting. Make it easy for a realtor to illuminate a room without circling the room to turn on lamps, even if it means you put timers on lamps.

More. To get more tips on staging your own home, be sure to download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar. Why make mistakes, when you can do it right and make your home sale go faster and more profitably? 


Monday, July 8, 2013

Let's Get Real About DIY Projects

Most DIY projects start off great. Some go downhill
from there. Case in point: these chair slings
I tried to sew myself. Mistake.   
Ever start a craft or home improvement project and give up after you’re halfway finished?

Or been disappointed when you’re done? 

Yeah. We’ve all been there.

But the benefits of DIY are so compelling, we usually jump back on the DIY wagon.

Hiring a professional or buying off the shelf is fine for many home staging and decorating projects. Other times, it makes more sense to do the work yourself.

Done right, DIY saves money, gives you results that are unique and customized, and satisfies that urge to create.

What Are Problems with DIY?

But, DIY can also be a slippery slope. If you aren’t prepared with the right tools you can create more problems than you solve. You don’t want to hire someone for a do-over. If you don’t have the experience or know how, you could wind up way over budget. And still have results that look sloppy, cheap, or hack --- not what you want when you’re selling your home.

Also, safety is an issue. We've all seen enough America’s Funniest Videos to know how common falling off a ladder is, not to mention dealing with toxic paints, glues and solvents, handling unfamiliar power tools, and overusing muscles we didn’t know existed.

My safety advice is to wear the right clothing. Wear closed toe shoes when you're moving heavy objects. Wear a respirator when you spray paint. Wear goggles when you use a table saw. Wear latex gloves when you mix chemicals. And never underestimate the curiosity of small children.

Don't work on projects when you're tired, stressed, rushed or inebriated. Pay attention. Stop if you lose patience or reach a stalemate. DIY should be fun.     

Learn How to Win the DIY War
I used the old chair slings as a pattern. So far, so good.
But I soon realized that I needed a heavy duty machine
to sew through four layers of canvas.
Sailmaker to the rescue. Lesson: know when to not DIY.  
The main reason most of us DIY is to save money. So, don’t jinx yourself by overspending.

Whether you are upcycling hand-me-downs, garage sale bargains, or knockoffs from the dollar store, starting with economical purchases lets you take creative risks fearlessly. Ruining a family heirloom or wasting expensive supplies is discouraging.

Success breeds more success, so make yourself a winner by starting with goof-proof materials.

Know where to buy. Be creative about sourcing. Learn the local and online sources for getting supplies you need, especially when buying in bulk.

Visit places like dollar stores, second hand stores, office supply stores, wholesale distributors, pawn shops, salvage yards, closeout bargain stores, and consignment shops. Search Craigslist, Freecycle, and eBay. Check sales at government offices, colleges, camps and other institutions because they sell furniture and equipment when they remodel.

Don’t forget Mother Nature as a source for natural materials like grapevines, logs, moss, leaves, branches, flowers, rocks, sand, and shells, to name some favorites.

Stay on the lookout for remodeling jobs or construction projects, and befriend the workers, where you can often walk away with doors, windows, lumber and other raw materials for projects of your own.

Just today I was visiting my friend Wendy, and she showed me some lumber she said she got free from Lowes. I said, "Lowes gives away lumber?" She told me she goes to where they cut lumber and if there are scraps she asks for them, sometimes big scraps. She told me the secret is to always ask for "Big Mike." She's made a friend.

Dumpster diving and curbside shopping are other common ways to acquire the makings of your home improvement projects, as long as you don’t turn your garage into a junkyard. My motto is, “Don’t pay for new when second hand will do.”    
The word on Harbor Freight tools is that
they are pretty much junk. If you need tools
that aren't electric and that you'll use
just once, they are probably okay.
Otherwise, buy good tools that last. 

Don’t buy tools you won’t need again. Power tools and special crafting tools are usually pricey. Even small tools can add up to a hefty bill.

Some supplies are sold only in bulk quantities. Consider borrowing or renting what you don’t have to own, such as an extension ladder, tile cutter, power washer, or miter saw. Renting a piece of equipment comes with the additional benefit of training. Tool rental places will give you a demonstration, something you don’t get from an instruction manual.

Take advantage of services that businesses offer. Home improvement stores will cut to order lumber, PVC pipe, wire, and glass for free or a small fee. (Ask for Big Mike first.) Frame departments at craft stores can frame your DIY artwork.

If your project requires a step that’s outside your skill set, go to the “Gigs” section of Craigslist, and you will find local people available for work. Sometimes you can trade skills or products. A friend of mine babysits her neighbor’s toddler while the neighbor gives her an equal amount of yardwork time.

Prepare Mentally

Don’t start from scratch. You’re not inventing the wheel. You’re painting a table. You’re covering a pillow. You’re turning oatmeal boxes into vases. You’re fashioning a wreath from rags. Keep it simple.

Do your homework. Trial and error can be costly. Read what others have done. Don't depend on just one source of advice. Research where to buy both tools and supplies. Talk to any professionals you know who have been there. Look on Pinterest, or google your project for online tutorials and videos. Take a class at the local craft store, garden center, or home improvement store.

A word about collecting materials for a DIY project: plan to have some oops if you’re new to a particular craft. Mistakes happen. It’s good to have that extra fabric, some spare nails, more paint than the plans call for, or scrap paper to practice on.

What's this, you ask? It's one of my DIY project that's stalled. I started converting these
three bowling balls into cucumber beetles for a Master Gardener project last autumn.
 Everything went along swimmingly until I had to figure out a way to attach wire
 antennae with corks in a watertight fashion. I'm waiting for inspiration. Or something.    
Also, plan on a project taking more time than the craft books, HGTV, and YouTube tutorials suggest. I estimate my completion time, and multiply by three!        

If you get bored or disappointed with the project, take a break. Call on someone more knowledgeable to advise you. If things go wrong, just remind yourself that creative processes often take unexpected turns, sometimes with surprisingly good results. 

For tedious or repetitive projects, develop a system to be efficient. Work from left to right, or vice versa if that works better. Keep all tools handy and visible, not scattered around your home or work area.    

Pretend that the Y in DIY stands for “yourselves.” Whether it’s your spouse, roommate, friend, sibling, or teenager, an extra pair of hands and the additional brainpower can make the difference between completing a fabulous task and giving up in frustration.

It’s very disappointing to begin a DIY project all bright-eyed and then abandon it in despair, or else finish it with less than satisfactory results. Know your limits. Know when to hire someone to do the job. If you’re excited about creating an ambitious home improvement project, review the steps and check your budget. You may decide you’re dreaming of a DDIY – a don’t-do-it-yourself.

For solid, foolproof advice on staging your own home on a shoestring, order my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.

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