Sunday, October 25, 2015

Outdoor Decor in Five Easy Steps

A staged home depends on some seasonal touches to make it look loved and tended.

But when your home is for sale and the winter holidays approach, I know you have your hands full.

That’s why I wanted to share with you how easy it can be put together an outdoor arrangement that spans the seasons, one that greets Realtors and their clients with something festive. 

The secret’s in the formula.

It’s one you can apply to any floral arrangement when you want it to make a real statement at the front door or from the curb. 

Step One: Start Big

Start with a large container. And the perfect one is the jumbo pot that housed a display of your summer flowers. Retire those annuals and remove any bulbs you want to save for next spring.

Leave the potting soil in the container, and leave any perennials that will winter over. A pot with personality is ideal, like a wine half barrel, a brass spittoon, a faux-finished plastic pot, or a lined wicker basket. Put it where it will give you the most curb appeal all winter. 

Paint your container if it needs refreshing or if you want to change it with the seasons. The same container can be black or brown in the fall for example, then gold or red in December, and maybe white for a fresh start in January. 

Step Two: Build a Base

Lay on a couple of wreaths. This jump-start creates a base and adds importance to the arrangement. The wreaths could be real or artificial. Just lay them on the lip of the container or on the soil.

If you plan to locate the container on the porch or other protected area, you’ll have more leeway with what your wreaths are made from. Burlap, felt, fabric, or straw wreaths need shelter from the elements, but wreaths made from real or artificial greenery, tinsel, grapevines, twigs, plastic, or metal can handle any weather. 

I started the Christmas decoration with a tinsel wreath and a plastic Della Robbia wreath. 
I let the vinca vine that was still growing in the pot peek out from the center,
and I wired some pine cones onto the bottom wreath.
Step Three: Add Height

You need something tall to make your statement piece. It needn’t be weighty or fancy or expensive or rare. Branches are perfect. Professional decorators, florists and homestagers keep an arsenal of sticks, branches and poles to use this way.

If you have access to woodlands, take a hike and bring your pruners. You’re bound to find pretty limbs that are suitable au natural or spray painted. Craft stores and craft departments sell bamboo, willow, tall grasses, and twiggy stuff, all reasonably priced.

Insert your branches or sticks into the potting soil to anchor them firmly. If the branches are fresh and real, cut the stems at a sharp angle and poke them in so they can absorb moisture from the soil and stay fresh longer.

Your large items could also be a trellis, tuteur, obelisk or other garden construction. Even garden poles or a tomato cage inverted to make a pyramid can provide that structure your container garden needs. 
Here's a bird's eye view of the bamboo garden stakes inserted into the soil to make a teepee.
    
Step Four: Fill In

While taking that walk in the woods or when pruning your own landscape shrubs, look for greenery that can fill in the center of the display. If real greenery isn’t available, use the faux stuff. Yes, real and fake can co-mingle!

You can begin the season with a potted mum, switch to ornamental kale around Thanksgiving time, and add silk poinsettias for Christmas. If you live in a mild climate, you have more options for incorporating plants like succulents, ferns, pansies, and potted bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhites.  

The two kinds of greenery I wound around the
garden stakes were both artificial. Why not?  
Step Five: Find Details

Finish your work of art with some smaller items that define the season. Look through your props for those that will withstand some months outside. These will be the details that put your display over the top. You can change these as the season progresses.

Pumpkins, gourds and other autumnal objects give your container the right spin that will take you through Thanksgiving. After that you can replace them with red bows, glittery ornaments and whatever else you discover when you dig into your holiday decorations. Come January, just remove the obvious holiday trinkets and go for a fresh, wintery look built around pinecones, and greenery, or whatever might be blooming in the more southern states. Add an ornamental birdhouse or some ceramic animals for some whimsy.

Another detail that adds drama is lighting. You can tuck a spotlight into the arrangement, or place one where it will illuminate the area at dusk. A string of lights is another possibility, wrapped around the sticks, wound around the container, or nestled in the foliage.

Mixing in details like these snowflakes and this ceramic bird will give 
your holiday decorations a custom look instead of something off-the-shelf.
Additional Tips

Many sticks are free!  After I gave these crepe myrtle branches 
a coat of red paint they remind me of underwater coral formations.  
When working on your container, place it on a bench or low table. You’ll do less bending and have a better view of what you’re creating.

If you’re selling your home and you’ve already decluttered as part of your homestaging, I don’t want to encourage you to stockpile decorating items.

But if you are a professional stager, a builder or real estate investor, I encourage you to schedule your décor purchases to save money. Buy decorating supplies on sale after the holidays. And look for marked down décor props during the year at places like Michaels, Target, Walmart, TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby, and home improvement centers.      

You can always spray paint ordinary decorations like wreaths, branches, leaves, pumpkins, lanterns, ornaments, bows, and even silk plants to match the season. Why not utilize silver gourds, red birdhouses and glitter-encrusted branches at Christmas, the same items that were part of your autumn arrangement?

Bows make a big difference. If you plan it right, just changing the bow to match the season and replacing a real plant with a faux plant will fast-track you to the new season.

Remember that selling your home means selling your location. Remind prospective buyers of what’s appealing about your locale. Include seashells and driftwood in your arrangement if you live by the sea, tropical flowers if you live in the South, or skis and sleds if you live where it snows.
If your effort doesn't look attention-getting enough, elevate it.
Place your container on something stable like this plant stand,
or a stool or pedestal. You'll be surprised at the impact added height makes.  

Here is the same container as my Christmas display,
now holding an autumn arrangement.  

The fall display began with a painted grapevine wreath
and a foam wreath loosely wrapped with burlap.

The sticks providing height are willow branches from Walmart. 
The cost of about $6.50 was worth it because they're versatile props.


The pumpkin centerpiece could have just as easily been a potted mum,
cluster of gourds, or a scarecrow. I don't like scary things for homestaging.

About as scary as my homestaging gets is a scared cat. The silk flowers,
another pumpkin and a gourd are all that's needed for this easy display.

Selling a home is stressful, but you can simplify some of your homestaging tasks by following advice like this and other tips in my homestaging $4.99 ebooks http://diyhomestagingtips.blogspot.com/p/ebooks.html  

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