Monday, January 28, 2013

When Hubby Says No, and Other Home Staging Problems

To plot to not to plot? 

Your questions help me help you. Whether the questions come through email, blog comments, Facebook, or friends, they tell me what nitty-gritty dilemmas people face when they want to sell a house.

Here are some of the questions I’ve received lately, and my answers.

Let Garden Grow?

Q: We have a 12- by 12-foot vegetable garden in our rather small backyard. Is a garden like this an asset or a liability when it’s time to sell?

A: Most people want an easy-care or no-maintenance yard. But the idea of a small vegetable plot is still appealing to many people, especially during the growing season. If you want to keep the garden while your home is on the market, keep it tidy during any off-season, and consider adding hardscape like stepping stones, attractive fencing, and birdhouses.

During the growing season, keep it free of weeds, mulch it, and make it look abundant. "Staged" this way, it becomes a selling point. 
  
If your buyers decide they don’t want a garden, they can always convert a reasonably-sized garden into lawn, or use the space as a basis for something else, like a patio, above ground pool, play area, or dog run. 

Storm Door or Not?

A handsome storm door that functions well
will add value to your home.
Q: Our house has a storm door over the front door. It keeps out the cold in winter, and converts to a screen door in summer, so we like it. But I don’t think it looks great. Should we remove it?

A: If the storm door hides a pretty front door and seriously detracts from curb appeal, I’d consider removing it. Or I’d remove it if it’s a dated style and your home is fairly up-to-date otherwise. If the door does become history, you’ll want to putty and paint over the screw holes in the trim around the door.

In the interest of curb appeal, some home sellers remove the storm door while the home is for sale, and store it so it can be replaced if the new buyers want it. 

The right storm and screen door won't be an eyesore. Can you replace the door with a new one that is contemporary and really helps with the way a home shows?

If you do replace a storm door, make sure its character is in keeping with your home's innate style.

Make sure the glass stays clean, and that the darn thing doesn't bang the heels of people entering, one of my personal pet peeves. 

Uncooperative Spouse
   
Q: My husband doesn’t believe we should spend money on staging. Any advice?

A: Instead of pleading or nagging, enlist the aid of your Realtor. Any Realtor will be able to give statistics and stories about homes that didn’t sell because they were not staged, and success stories of homes that were effectively staged.

I give more tips on how to be deal with a partner who doesn’t see the value of staging, in my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. 

Big Home Small Budget

Staging a large home after you've moved can be daunting, but there are a few alternatives. 
Q: I’m selling a large, vacant house. If I can’t spend money to “do it right,” should I skip it?

A: This is a common quandary. The best advice I can offer is to do what you can.

One possibility is that you can omit an entire section of the house, such as the second floor, or a basement. Concentrate on making the necessary living quarters – at least one bedroom, one bath, the living room and the kitchen – as well-staged as possible.

The downside of the partial staging solution is that buyers may think you’ve moved to your next home, and are therefore even more desperate to sell and willing to entertain low ball offers. You can let your realtor know that you’ve staged the house the way some builders will stage a model home.

If you do decide to leave the home vacant, be sure everything is spotless and in great condition. Paint the walls and trim if necessary and have the entire house smelling good.

Do you have a question about home staging? I'd love to hear from you!  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Four Simple Ways to Add Style to Your Home Staging

Elegant, fashionable, luxurious, distinctive, smart. These are the kinds of words most people use to define the word “style.”
 
But, when we're talking home staging, the word style means something a little different.  

Stylish home staging happens when something unforgettable sets your home apart. 

It happens when some unique quality becomes almost palpable.

It happens when something makes people respect your home.

Stylish home staging is like stylish dressing. It doesn't depend on trends or what’s current. It's about what looks and feels good on a visceral level. It's about people's gut reactions to your property.   

If you suspect your home needs an infusion of style, but you’re at a loss about the how to add style, today’s your lucky day. Here are my four simple ways to add style to your DIY home staging.

1. Add Something Unique

Generic furnishings are safer when staging a home on the market.

But when everything is generic, ho hum takes over. In the staged home, mass marketed furnishings are safe because the manufacturer or the store have already researched to discover what the market wants, or they've actually created that market.

Once your home is staged to appeal to the masses, it's safe to add a few exclamation points. Do this by adding some unique furnishings.

Maybe it’s a hand-decorated dresser or an exotic bedspread you brought back from Mexico.

Maybe it’s a Windsor chair painted red instead of the customary black.

Maybe it’s a gallery wall of dog portraits, or a driftwood-framed mirror.

Ask yourself, "What do I have that no one else has?"

If you have doubts about some of your home staging being too quirky or distracting, limit these touches to just that -- finishing touches. It's best if the basic infrastructure that conveys with the house -- walls, doors, fixtures, appliances, and built-ins -- stay with current fashions. Home buyers do not want to paint over your chartreuse walls and replace all those cute unmatched doorknobs.    

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” -- Gore Vidal
This hand-painted chest is a statement piece. It says that the home was
decorated with taste, love and attention. Photo: Porte Italia via Decorating Diva. 

2. Mix Opposites

Picture a sleek chrome and glass table surrounded by shabby chic chairs.

Or a fluffy rug in front of your leather sofa.

Or Lucite lamps on an antique wooden desk.

When you pair old with new, or ornate with simple, or black with white, or formal with informal, you’ve created style! Just the way a gal dressing herself in a bomber jacket and sequined top does, combining seemingly disparate elements brings style.

If you don’t trust your eye to do these kinds of combinations, copy something you’ve seen a decorator do online or in a shelter magazine’s editorial pages. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Never fear mixing styles. In this bedroom, a formal chair sits on one side  of the room
 but a much more casual wicker loveseat sits at the foot of the bed. Photo: BHG 

3. Simplify

Here’s one path to high style that’s easy. Just clear out the clutter.

Get rid of the small stuff.

Decorate with large items. That includes upholstered pieces you want to sink into, pillows at least 24 inches square, drapery panels more than twice the width of the window, oversized table lamps on well-proportioned tabletops, man-sized art, and supersized floral arrangements. Nothing ditzy! 

If you find clearing out clutter robs you of essentials, like remotes, reading material, cooking supplies and toiletries, cluster them into containers or tuck them into cabinets, ottomans, handsome wooden boxes, or covered baskets. You can do this!

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”  -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Do it big, do it right, and do it with style.” -- Fred Astair
Simplifying the right way: This sleek sofa and a pair of matching campaign chests
help the room look clean.  And the other furnishings
are kept to a minimum, using texture to keep it all interesting. Photo:hgtv

4. Experiment

I am a great believer in the “fooling around” approach to decorating.

What fooling around looks like is: you spend a hour trying different furniture arrangements in your bedroom, for example. You might switch out the pair of lamps for two in the living room, then stand back and study the result. You might test substituting a bookshelf for a nightstand. You might try the bed placed diagonally in the room. You might reverse the duvet cover for a different pattern.

There is plenty of experimenting you can do that doesn’t require spending money or making irreversible decorating decisions. Jump in!

Trust your eye to tell you what works. Maybe live with it for a few days. Tweak it some more. Have fun.

You'll find more advice like this in my $4.99 eBooks about decorating and staging your own home. I offer three -- DIY Home Staging, No-Sew Window Treatments, and Furniture Arranging -- all immediately downloadable.
“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.” -- Pablo Picasso 
Photo:   BHG.                   Top Photo: Megan Winters

Monday, January 14, 2013

Can Your Home Pass this Staging Quiz?

A few simple questions will tell you if you've succeeded
in staging your rooms like a professional. 

At the beginning of a new year, most of us consider the road ahead and where we want it to lead.

If you are selling your home, your goal is to get that purchase offer, sail through smooth negotiations and closing, and find the next home you want to live in.

When goals are this large, it’s always good to break them down into smaller goals and have a plan for reaching the mileposts along the way.

An early goal for this year can be a review of your home on the market. An assessment of your property can be the starting point for that sale!

Once you know what needs to be done, you can make your to-do list and check off the necessary tasks.









A Quick Test to Take
These questions will help you review the staging rating of your home. The more of these questions you can answer yes to, the better your chances of reaching that goal of a home sale.   
  • Is the purpose of each room apparent at first glance? Can some rooms serve a secondary purpose as well?
  • Is the furniture arranged so there a clear traffic flow through the room? Does someone entering the room for the first time have a sense of spaciousness?
  • Does the eye flow around the room, not jerkily bouncing from one minor focal point to another?
  • Is it as clean and bright as it can be?
  • Does it have a clean scent, no mustiness, no cooking or tobacco or pet odors?
  • Are the colors right? Would they make most people feel comfortable?
  • Is  something on trend in each room?
  • Is there something that’s unique, hand made or one of a kind in each room?
  • Is there something that’s obviously not new, like an antique or a distressed piece of furniture in each room? 
  • Is there a plant or container of flowers -- either real or silk -- in each room?    
  • Is there something reflective in each room – a mirror, some metallics, glassware or glass top table?
  • Do window treatments improve or emphasize the mood of the room?
  • Are there some level surfaces that are clear of clutter, places for the eye to rest?
  • Is there some kind of art on the walls? Is it large and noncontroversial?
  • Are personal, religious, political, and out-of-season belongings put away?
  • Are the rooms free from signs of deferred maintenance and unfinished projects? 
  • Have you removed small items and other unnecessary clutter? 
  • Is the temperature comfortable in all rooms? 
  • Are furnishings and accessories in good repair? 
A white kitchen is bound to please most people. Your choice of flooring, and black or 
stainless appliances can break up the all-white look.  Are your colors customer-friendly? 

Listen to Your Rooms

When you’re staging your home, you almost have to become the room whisperer, discovering what each room in your home really wants to be and then working your magic to make it happen.

Need help working that magic? My $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, will answer your real estate questions and solve your home staging problems. You can instantly download the pdf, and get on the path today to a successful home sale. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Get It All Done and Still Stay Sane

Whether you keep your To-Do List in a
pretty little booklet like this, or electronically,
the important thing is to have a list!

Are you determined, like so many others, to get organized this year?

Do you plan to take your To-Do List more seriously every day? Are you determined to have a place for everything and everything in its place? Are you ready to tackle the unfinished projects that haunt you? 

When your home is for sale, staging it and keeping it show-ready, can feel overwhelming. But if you are managing your time well and have systems in place for where stuff goes, you’ll feel empowered. And that’s a great feeling!

I hope these tips -- my best tips for getting and staying organized – empower you on your way to getting that purchase offer.

Organization Tip 1: Think systems

If essentials are scattered throughout your living space, and you are always hunting for what you need, maybe it’s time to introduce some systems. This means grouping items according to their use.

It sounds like common sense, but do we do it? There’s always room for improvement.

And I don’t mean simply going out and buying the latest closet organizers. Although pretty boxes are sometimes the kick in the pants that gets you started.

Some examples: a box strictly for hanging pictures that holds nails, picture hanging hooks, hammer, Command picture hanging strips, ruler. A box that holds all your first aid supplies. A shelf for all baking essentials. A container that holds all the items waiting to be epoxy glue repaired. A bag for clothes on their way to Goodwill. Keep the container where it is easy to get to, and easy to put back. 

Do you have systems for common tasks?

Organization Tip 2: Simplify

Here’s where we talk about uncluttering your home. FlyLady suggests making regular sweeps of the house, grabbing what isn’t useful or attractive, and getting rid of it.

When simplification looks difficult, take it in small bites. You don’t really need to empty and reorganize your entire walk-in closet in one sweep. Simplify only the top shelf one day. Sort through just the shoes another day. Cull the out-of-season clothing another time. 

Are there areas of your home that are crowded or chaotic?    

Time Management Tip 1: Delegate
    
Learn to delegate to your team. I know you’ve heard this before. But for some of us, it doesn’t come easy. My advice, if you have trouble going to others for support, is to start small. Ask for little favors. Explain why it is important to you. Don't micromanage. Don't feel guilty for asking. And show appreciation.    

Make sure you have a team that you can delegate to. When you’re selling a home, you need support. Your realtor, your family, neighbors, tradespeople, friends – go to these people instead of shouldering every responsibility, even if it is just for advice. 

Are you reluctant to ask for help, yet afraid to say no when others ask you for help?
    
My husband is my best go-to guy. He has the right skills
and the right attitude. He took apart this bench, painted it,
and re-assembled it, without my even asking.

Time Management Tip 2: Prioritize

Planning your day ahead of time is one of the best ways to accomplish goals. In fact, having weekly and monthly goals will help even more. List what you want to do, and what you need to do, then prioritize these items. Don’t let minor disruptions take you off track. Go back to your plan. 

If you aren’t sure where your time goes, keep a log book of how you spend hours for one week. It’s bound to be eye-opening. We all know that we waste time, but seeing exactly how much time can be what it takes to change our habits. You don’t have to kiss Pinterest and Facebook goodbye, but you can save them for “dessert” when you’ve checked off more pressing chores. 

Are you making a distinction between important tasks and just putting out fires?  

Mental Health Tip 1: Balance

Everyone needs time alone to recharge batteries and clear the mind. But too much time in isolation makes anyone a bit brittle and stagnant. Find the combination that feeds you, that lets you accomplish what must be done and still lets you engage with others.

Each of us has a personal magic ratio that represents the best way to divide our time between being in the company of others and being alone. I have a friend who has an armoir in her garage she would love to paint, yet she constantly postpones it. When I asked why she doesn’t do it, she said, she knew she’d be all by herself all the time she was working on it. For me, working on something like that in solitude would be relaxing, but for her, it’s drudgery.  

Are you aware of how much time you need to yourself and how much time you need with others?    

Mental Health Tip 2: Take Charge

Discover what makes you feel relaxed, strong, happy. Making a “Gains and Drains List” can help. Once you know what things drain your energy and what adds to your sense of well-being, you’ve got a great start on re-structuring your days.

For example, I know that music, humor, and being outside are what improve the quality of my life, so I make sure these perks are part of my day every day. And television news, clutter, and being around negative people is something I routinely avoid.

Do you know what specifically fills you up, and also what makes you feel downright crappy? 

For More Specific Tips

For the nuts and bolts info on staging your home for sale, download my $4.99 pdf eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. My book has helped hundred of people sell their homes faster for more money, and I guarantee it will help you, or I’ll give you your money back!   

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