Friday, April 13, 2018

Can Pinterest Show You How to Stage?

Staying ahead of the interior design curve is a smart move for both home sellers and professional home stagers.


Because when people shop for a new home they want to believe they are improving their lives, creating better surroundings for themselves and their family. If a home looks like the dwelling of a  prosperous family who has it all together, they're more likely to desire the lifestyle.

And, don't kid yourself, lifestyle is what a person buys when he or she buys a home.

Having furnishings that are on-trend indicates that people have the taste and finances to choose these items, whether flooring, appliances, window treatments, wall color, or other elements of a home.


It's snazzy -- the patterned carpet, the vibrant red leather sofa,
the oversized landscape, but is it Everyman's taste? Source: unknown 
We all know that people go to Pinterest to see what's new and exciting. So, let's look at what Pinterest tells us about people's taste in trends. We just have to look at what are some of the most-searched-for interior design trends thus far this year.

According to Pinterest and also who won the Best UK Interiors Awards, many of the trends seem to be pointing to 1970's design because of their colors, neon signs, and crazy prints.

"Style reflects what people feel and what is happening in the world," said Kelly Forsyth, a writer of The Odyssey. "People of the U.S. were feeling pretty similarly in the 1970s (to today), and their style reflects that."

Pinterest analytics say that intense interiors like those designed by filmmaker Wes Anderson are hot right now. "Maximalism" is the most searched-for term on Pinterest in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Compared to minimalism, maximalists are more creative with their designs. The result is a unique and strange look that's appealing to especially younger buyers.

I'll leave it to you to decide if your market and your home can support this kind of over-the-top boldness. If you're selling a loft in a big city, yes. If you have a ranch house on a  quiet cul-de-sac in a small, rural town, no.

Ksenia Shestakovskaia, a former textile-maker in Berlin, says maximalism is the push-back against the boredom of Scandinavian minimalism. "I found that at a certain point things got so clean that they projected nothing," she said.

For a home on the market. bright colors are better left to furnishings used for staging,
or for what is easily
 switched out for something the new owner will love. Photo: Instainterior.


Pantone's color of the year, ultraviolet, has increased in search terms by an amazing 2,675%. Colors like candy pink and purple have also been a favorite among Pinterest people.

"Right now, perhaps it's … a reaction against a decade or so of grey walls and bleached wood dominating the style pages and our homes," reports The Telegraph. "Whatever the cause, the last couple of years have seen a huge revival of 1970s styling … both kitsch and classic."

If you're getting ready to sell your home, I'm still casting my vote for neutral walls and monochromatic color schemes. If you want to cash in on the trendy colors, add them in smaller doses like artwork, pillows, lamps, and side chairs.


Houseplants are an excellent way to make a room connect with
the outdoors and breath life into your space. Photo: DesignAttractor
The Seventies were a time of environmentalism, a playful attitude, and open concept living spaces. In a way, today's interior design trends reflect some of the hippie vibes of Seventies design.

Popular pieces from that decade that are making a comeback include fringing on curtains, rugs, lampshades, and cushions. Terrazzo, which uses a mix of materials for tiling especially in the kitchen, is also popular given its exuberant look and lower price.

More Americans are also bringing the outdoors back into the home. Seventies-style homes boasted hanging plants, natural wood furniture, wood paneling, and indoor gardens. Can macrame be far behind?

Real wooden furniture, in particular, has become a favorite again. It fits with the trendy farmhouse look. And buyers know that wood furniture will last longer and look more authentic than imitations.


Keeping up with some trends that are popular on Pinterest may help your homestaging if you're stuck in a time warp. But remember that people pin what fuels their own quirky fantasies, not what will please a majority of others or even projects that are necessarily do-able or good ideas.

My own Pinterest boards are full of photos and practical tutorials that I have personally curated to be helpful for DIY home stagers.

The average American will move 12 times in his or her lifetime. When it's time to sell is the time to tone down your personal taste so any buyer can relate. Once you're in your new home, you can add all the personality you want.

If you are staging your own home, you can get more tips in my $4.99 eBooks.on how to sell it faster for a better price.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Four Overlooked Steps To Take Before Listing Your Home

Ms. Chang knows home staging. Take her advice.
"Really be hard on yourself."

That's the advice given by Alice T. Chan, a professional stager in San Francisco, when asked what a homeseller can do to get a home looking great for its upcoming listing.

She says that most buyers are "so strapped after they purchase a property that they literally just want to move in and live. Even if they want to make upgrades later on, they want to feel like they're getting the best value possible when they buy. So give it to them."

I could not agree more. The only way to guarantee you're getting the maximum amount for your home is to prep it to satisfy buyers before you list it. Along those lines, here are some reminders of what buyers expect.

But there are a few commonly overlooked steps that home sellers can take to make sure buyers respond favorably, and give themselves an edge over competing houses. None of these steps cost much money. Some are free. All are smart.

One Bugaboo

You can ruin a budding relationship with a potential buyer if you invite her into your home for a look, only to have a mouse run across the floor when you flick on the garage lights. Or have a trail of ants making their way across your kitchen sink. Even one belly-up cockroach will send some home shoppers running for the door.

Insect problems can be a deal breaker. Best bet is to address them before you even think about listing your home. The sooner you take action, the less damage there will be.

A roof is an important part of curb appeal. It needs to look good.
A home inspection -- required by any financial institution granting a mortgage -- will reveal signs of infestation.

It usually doesn't cost to get a termite inspection or a pest evaluation from an exterminator.

If you have severe termite damage you can expect to spend at least $3,000 for repairs, but at least you can tell your Realtor that the problem is solved.

Over Your Head

Have your roof inspected. Ideally, your roof should be checked at least once or twice or year. If you're planning on listing your home, you should have your roof looked at by a professional. It's another assurance you can give your Realtor that one of the major infrastructures is sound.

Experienced buyers always look at the roof. They're eyeing it for loose shingles, dips, bumps, poor drainage, mold, and signs of other problems. If they see any minor roofing issues, they won't feel comfortable placing a generous offer on your home. If they make an offer, they could ask for a reduction in price to cover roof repairs or re-roofing. Trust me, they will ask for more than it would take you to fix the problem.

The Air You Breathe

The HVAC air that moves through your home moves through filters that trap particles like lint and dust and pollen and dander. Regularly replacing the return air filters will let your entire heating and cooling system function more efficiently, more economically.

A ductwork technician once told me that under normal circumstances expensive filters aren't important. The least expensive ones are just as good as the fancy ones as long as you change them regularly and don't have serious problems with things like smoke or odors or allergens.

No matter how pretty your bathroom is, it will not impress a
home inspector if it doesn't deal with water as it should. Photo: BHG

Water Works

Another situation you may have become accustomed to but will not go unnoticed by a home inspector is minor plumbing issues. A toilet that does not automatically cut off the resupply but keeps running is a problem. So is a toilet that intermittently comes on to refill the tank. You may need a toilet repair kit, a minor cost, or just a new flap or float, even cheaper.

Do your sinks drain quickly or slowly? An inspector will check. He will run your dishwasher and washer through a cycle to detect insufficiencies. If sinks and tub or shower drain slowly, you can usually treat them yourself with Draino or Liquid Plumber. If repeated attempts don't fix the problem, it may be time for a plumber visit. Tell him you are preparing to list for sale and see what professional advice he can give you on specific issues he might notice.

Why Stage Your Home 

There are plenty of benefits to staging your home before you list. Increasing the value of your home is the most outstanding benefit. Staged homes typically sell as much as 10% more than homes left as is.

A staged house will appeal to more people and make it stand out from similarly priced homes that are not staged. It's easier for buyers to imagine living in a staged home than an empty house or one filled with clutter or unappealing decor. Selling a staged home is likely to be less stressful for a seller because staged homes sell faster.

If you are selling any kind of home, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your own home today so you'll attract a serious buyer.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

What to Do Waiting for Your Home to Sell

Are you impatient for your home to sell? Staging will help! 
If worrying about your home sale is keeping you up at night, you're not alone.

If you talk to people who've sold their home, they will usually tell you how much they hated the time between when they listed their property and when they closed.

They can have good reasons for their frustration. Most sellers are trying to keep the house show-ready.

They might be dealing with difficult negotiations or lowball offers.

Maybe the local housing market is overloaded with properties and they're not getting many showings. Perhaps they are in a time-crunch to move.

Having a decluttered and staged home will go a long way towards minimizing these obstacles. Staged homes statistically sell faster and for more money than unstaged ones.  To shorten the wait time even more, and at the same time, take the worry out of waiting, try these tricks experienced sellers use.

Vacant House

If you've moved from the home you've listed, whether it's been staged or not (I hope it is!), checking the property regularly is a good idea. You can't assume every Realtor will make sure a toilet isn't running, that pillows are fluffed, and that lights are turned off.  

If you've moved so far away that you can't easily visit your old home, can you ask a neighbor or friend to stop by? In addition to making sure everything is locked up, he or she could sweep the walkway, remove any junk mail, and brush any cobwebs or debris away from the front entrance area.

Don't let your staging results go to waste. Maintain an appearance that makes your house stand out from others -- the cleanliness and other signs that someone loves and cares for the home. Don't look desperate to sell or that you've already left town and written off the property. You'll only attract low offers.

Knowing that your home is perfect for someone takes the pressure off you. A clean house priced right will sell. 

Occupied House

It's not unusual for folks living in a decluttered and staged home to enjoy the minimal lifestyle. To me, it's like the ninth month of a pregnancy when everything is ready for the new baby and you are looking forward to the adventure ahead.

Of course, waiting for an offer on a house you're still occupying has challenges, too. You can't live a regular life without creating a little chaos around you.

Although it's impossible (without a live-in maid) to keep your home looking like a model home, having routines and practices that keep your homestaging intact will go a long way towards making your home tempting to buyers. People buy a lifestyle when they buy a home.

I often hear people who finish their staging tell me, "I wish I had done this sooner, so I could enjoy my home looking like this."

Check Your Mindset

Keep your home fresh while it's on the market. If the seasons change, change things like throw pillows and the front door wreath to reflect the time of year. Cooperate with real estate agents to make it easy for them to schedule showings.    

Every seller, every home has a sweet spot between holding out for the perfect selling price and not jumping at the first serious offer. Stay current with what comparable homes in your market are selling for. A good listing agent will guide you towards what's a realistic price. Having confidence that your price is right will help you be patient.

Buyers can often discern when a seller is over-anxious for a sale. Don't appear vulnerable
to discounted offers by regularly taking small chips off an inflated asking price

If you are still in knots about your home's sale, find a way to deal with the stress. This could be the time to learn a new skill or take up a hobby you're curious about. Socialize and exercise.
Enjoy the time you have in your home. Play tourist in your hometown before you relocate. Learn about your future neighborhood, town, or state.

Need more encouragement and suggestions about staging and selling your home? Download my $4.99 home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It's a 150-page pdf that will guide you step by step through doing it yourself with style and ease.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Beginner's Guide To Selling Your Home in the Internet Era

It's becoming increasingly common for a homeowner ready to put his home on the market to say, "Why don't I sell it myself without a real estate broker?"

Is this you? Are you thinking of hammering a  For Sale By Owner sign on your front lawn? I've previously blogged about selling your home without a Realtor, and advised against it. But I wrote that post eight years ago. Some of my rationale is still solid, but some things have changed so it's time to re-evaluate the FSBO scene.

More people are plugged in

The number of devices that connect to the Internet is expected to rise from about 13 billion to 50 billion by 2020. It seems like we are all connected all the time! Why not? The web lets us learn about anything and reach goals easier than we could have scarcely imagined a generation ago.  

About 92% of people now use the Internet when looking for a new home.  If you'd prefer to sell your home on the web without a real estate agent, it 
might be something you'd have no regrets about. 

Questions to ask yourself

Eyes wide open is the way to tackle
any FSBO program. Educate yourself about
the advantages and disadvantages. 
Do you have time to gather the specs about your house and prepare the selling literature?

Are you up to the task of researching what a realistic selling price for your home is? 

Can you show your own property without tipping your hand about how anxious you are to sell, or having personal opinions about the prospective buyer influence the negotiations? 

Does your daily schedule allow you to show your home when a prospective buyer wants to see it? 

Are you skillful and comfortable about negotiating price and other considerations?  

Be aware that real estate agents are probably not going to bring you clients unless you subscribe to a FSBO program that hooks you into agents willing to work with you. Otherwise, you are going solo. 

If you decide you want to "be your own Realtor," here are just a few tips to help you get started with marketing and selling your home online

Don't Hesitate To Pay For Exposure

One of the best ways to sell your home online quickly is to make sure the listing reaches as many pairs of eyes as possible.

Since selling your home without a Realtor's guidance can save you thousands of dollars in commission costs, why not allocate some of those savings to exposure? Fortunately, there are quite a few FSBO websites to choose from. Research the features and costs of each program to determine what fits your finances and skillset.

The FSBO website you choose should have a high search engine rating, a simple user interface and navigational site map, and of course, quality listings with clear descriptive sections,  plus sufficient images.

Some FSBO sites will let you list with Multiple Listing Service,, Zillow, and Redfin. Most offer different packages at different prices. If you want to spend for it, you'll get advice, signage, forms, brochures, and other perks.

Advertise Best Qualities

Brag about your house. Be professional
instead of personal. Don't be like this guy.
When you create your home's listing, think about what a potential buyer would want to know. Reflect on what you enjoy about your home and locale.

Mention improvements and upgrades you've added, and indicate how these upgrades relate to the bigger picture of health, convenience, aesthetic appeal, and even social status or success.

For example, if your home is located in a picturesque location that's highly walkable and close to many businesses, it helps to emphasize it in the listing. Considering the fact that about 14% of Americans have even changed jobs to shorten the commute, a convenient location can be a major selling point.

When it comes to images, both quality and quantity are important.  Your lead-off profile shot needs to be stellar and show off your curb appeal!  

A good listing will have at least one clear photo of every room, in addition to several angles from the outside of the home. If you've recently remodeled, include pictures of the upgrade and specify brand names and other details.  Even small remodeling jobs can push home-hungry buyers to make a decision, or at least come to see the property.  

Any photo that makes your home look "new and improved" will help attract potential buyers. For example, a 2017 interior design trends survey showed that more than a third of respondents said they prefer a neutral color palette. 

If you want to have a measurable advantage over your competition, hire a professional photographer so your photos represent your home at its best.   

Take Advantage of Social Media

Finally, don't neglect the powers of social media when it comes to reaching buyers. Start by posting to your own friends. Then, post your listing in any neighborhood watch groups, HOAs, and listserves for local residents.

Use Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and/or Twitter. Tune your message to the medium -- frisky and tempting on Instagram, teasingly cryptic with a photo on Twitter, and detailed and inclusive on Google+. Make sure your social media posts contain a link to your home's FSBO listing so potential buyers can learn all about your home and take the next step if they're interested.

Even though a Realtor is a good investment, it's empowering to know that you do have the ability to sell your home with nothing more than a device with Internet access and your own intelligence and efforts.

Help is on the way

To guide you on your home staging journey, my popular book of tips. techniques and tutorials will prove indispensable. Download the  $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, and start your staging today.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Does Wall Color Really Matter When Selling Your Home? (Spoiler: Yes.)

We all want to believe that we make decisions only after we've logically examined the facts. But are we really objective about how we decide things?

We buy cars that eat too much fuel but look luxurious, and shoes that feel uncomfortable but make us look sexy.

Emotions refuse to take a minor role when it comes to buying a house, too.

Home buyers are influenced by intangibles like aromas, sounds, memories, textures, and colors. Even buyers who collect all the pertinent data about things like price per square foot, neighborhood comparables, and average utility bills respond to a property on an emotional level as well.

As a home seller, your task is to make buyers fall in love with your home on all levels. Data matters to buyers, but so do the intangibles. Color is one of those intangibles.

Of all the surfaces in your home, walls are the largest. People touring your home will be surrounded by walls. That means wall color has a big impact on emotions. So it's  important to know what colors make buyers feel good.

Surveys Show

In 2016, approximately 560,000 new houses sold nationwide. Even though it's starting to look more like a seller's market in some areas of the country doesn't mean it's easy to convince a buyer to make that offer. Buyers expect homes to be well-maintained and look pleasing. Paint satisfies in both those departments. It protects and beautfies.

Certain colors are almost expected in certain rooms.
Bathrooms are a natural for pale blues, greens and teals.
Photo: M .House Montgomery 
The best part about painting is its cost-effectiveness. Whether you do it yourself, or hire others to do it, painting gives you one of the best returns on your staging budget. The right color can actually have a better ROI than a big-ticket renovation, according to real estate agents and home staging professionals I've talked with.

An interior design trends survey from 2017 found that more than one-third of respondents would choose a neutral color palette if they were redecorating their home. It's no surprise, then, that "greige" -- pale gray with a beige undertone -- and off-whites are still very popular choices when choosing a new hue for home staging.

Three Boxes to Check Off

We've all heard the advice that neutral wall colors will deliver the clean, non-polarizing canvas that allows buyers to picture themselves in your home.

The interior design industry generates around $10 billion in revenue every year. This figure tells me the average homeowner values her home's interior decor. She wants the latest looks. She wants comfort. And when looking to buy, she wants a turnkey property. Paint can go a long way towards creating all three of those ideals.

ONE: Today's Style 

Paint colors go in and out of style. Grey is still riding high and whites are always stylish. When you paint with a grey or white that plays well with the fixed features of your home, you've checked off the box for colors that are on-trend.

TWO: Comfort  

The colors that telegraph the comfort buyers are looking for are the colors that are not dark, unusual,  highly saturated, or otherwise alarming.

These wall colors -- turquoise and chartreuse -- are the kinds of colors that a new homeowner might find difficult to decorate around. Deep colors like these have too much personality. 
Also, it will probably take two coats of paint to change the color to something more buyer-friendly.. 

Bathrooms feel right when they are painted with cool colors, perhaps due to the association with water and cleanliness. Kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms can go either warm or cool, depending on the other features, like cabinets, countertops, and floors. Select comfy colors and you can check off box number two.

THREE: Move-in ready

Many buyers need to move out of their old homes and into new ones on the same day. Most people do not enjoy painting interior walls, especially if they are already living there. For these reasons, when you make your property turnkey, it's more appealing.

Choose interior colors anyone could love and you've removed the hurdle of a looming DIY project. Check off box number three.


With walls this color, the new owner can easily visualize her existing
furnishings in the space. Photo: Alyssa Rosenheck.
After you've finished rolling neutral paint on, you may need to really take stock of your furnishings and weed out the "color clutter," according to You might love that colorful duvet cover or crazy abstract painting you have, but if it doesn't go with the palette you've chosen, you might need to rethink. Aim for a soothing palette.

If your rooms begin to look boring, it's time to add color where it isn't a permanent part of your house. Here is where accessories like pillows, rugs,
books, and other props come in handy.

Choose these props with an eye to a color scheme based on three colors, all of the same intensity. It's a foolproof formula for a seamless look stagers prefer.

When your home on the market feels as special as those luxury cars and sexy shoes, buyers are attracted to it on a visceral level. Result: Up go your chances of a good purchase offer.

If you are selling any kind of home, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your own home today so you'll attract a serious buyer.

Top photo: Phoebe Howard

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Lights, Camera, Escrow! Simple Ways to Sell Your Home During Winter

People buy homes at all times of the year, but winter isn't the most fun time to be a home seller.

Days are short. Weather can be unpredictable. Travel might be difficult or even unsafe. Schedules are cramped. And home landscapes lack the lushness and color of other seasons.

If you live in the most southern states, where winters mean drinks by the pool and driving to work with the top down, selling a home won't be as challenging, but for most of the U.S., selling in winter takes special planning.

Don't let the lack of sunshine, birdsong, and flowers bring you down if you're a wintertime property seller. Here are some simple ways to make your home stand out.

Curb Appeal

Even when Christmas is past, you can decorate your front entrance
to celebrate the winter season. What is special about winter where you live? 
Buyers judge your home from the outside, so landscaping is just as important in December and March as it is in June, maybe more so!

One reliable budget formula is that spending 5% of your home's value on landscaping can get you an ROI of up to 150%. But if that money is spent on spring flowering shrubs, summer annuals, and colorful fall foliage plants, it's not a well-designed plan.

Some shrubs that look interesting even when their leaves are gone are Japanese maples, witch hazel and red twig dogwood. Some shrubs that still look good during the cold month are hollies, boxwoods, evergreens. Even if the ground is frozen, your local nursery can supply you with small potted varieties of these plants to use as container plants near your entrance.

Other containers can still add color with flowering kales and cabbages, and evergreen branches left from your Christmas tree or prunings from a florist. Even spray-painted bare branches in a bucket can serve as your front entrance spot of color.

Take a serious look at your property in midwinter. Make sure fallen leaves, frost-bitten plants, dead tree branches, and downed limbs are removed. Mulch should cover beds that are resting.

With cold temperatures and dreary skies, potential buyers can have a difficult time picturing what your home looks like in summer. For winter listings, it's important to include a photo showcasing your home in its best season to help them see how it looks at other times of the year.

Safety first

When potential buyers come to your house, will they have a clear path through any snow? Your driveway, sidewalk, and porch should all be cleared of snow and ice to not only make it look nice, but to make sure no one gets hurt walking to or from your house.

Buyers don't need to be reminded of the work they will have to do to maintain a home. Please don't display a stack of snow shovels and bags of ice melt products. Keep them handy but out of sight.

It's also important to make sure visitors have someplace safe and convenient to park their vehicles. If your home is still on the market during the "mud season" common in areas where thawing snow and spring rains make a mess of unpaved roads and paths, let agents know about conditions ahead of time so no one gets stuck.

A place to put muddy boots and shoes just outside your front door and a box of disposable "footies" is a good idea.

Homes on the market in winter will be viewed after dark. Dramatic lighting on your exterior will
help show off the home, emphasize its architecture, deter prowlers, and make the property
look more cared for. Photo: Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

Lighten and Brighten

Realtors might be bringing clients to see your home after the workday is over, when it's dark. Motion-activated exterior lights are easy to install, especially if you can simply replace an existing fixture. Make sure all outdoor lights are functioning and have the maximum wattage recommended.

It's possible you may not have sufficient notice of when your home is being shown. Perhaps you are traveling, working, or you've already moved. In these cases, you'll need some timers on lamps to guarantee that some rooms are pre-lighted when people arrive.    

Because the harsh winter weather can leave you stuck inside, it's a good time to tackle some easy upgrades. If you're not one of the 20% of Americans who feel happy with their home decor, according to a HomeGoods survey, make some decisions about how to change things to make your space feel as inviting and homey as possible.

One budget-friendly way to do that is by painting your interior walls. Choose colors that are in style right now, like warm greys, violets, teals, and greens, to attract trend-savvy buyers.

Real plants and flowers can be part of your "lighten and brighten" campaign. Grocery store bouquets are inexpensive and can last more than a week if you know how to stretch your floral dollar.

Warm Welcome

Warm woods, a color scheme based on greens, fresh plants and flowers,
all make this room a welcome winter retreat. Photo: Flynnside Out Productions
While selling during the winter can be discouraging, there are ways to make the most of the season's charms. The Danish have a word for it: Hygge, and it means coziness. According to The New Yorker, "It is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace."

So, if you have a fireplace, make it a focal point in the room. Stage it with winter style.

If you live near winter amenities like ski areas, winter festivals, seasonal tourist attractions, or special winter scenery, make sure your listings highlight those features.

Keep your house interior comfortably warm. Potential buyers will feel immediately cheered by coming in from the cold.

Here's a bedroom that emphasizes the cozy qualities of winter in a cold climate.
Hygge depends on warm fabrics, layers of natural and textured materials,
 and intimate lighting. Photo: Achia Living   
But with the heat cranked up, it's important to ensure your home is properly sealed. If your attic is not properly insulated or if you have openings or air leaks, now is the time to take care of them. Doing so will not only lower your present energy bills but will produce a return on your investment when you sell.
In northern states, buyers will often inquire about heating costs, so it's a selling point if your home is energy efficient.

Why wait for spring?

If your home is on the market in winter you're bound to have fewer showings, but all it takes is one buyer, so focus on that thought, and stage your home to attract that person. Selling during the winter months can be discouraging but not impossible! With a little extra lighting, a toasty interior, some reminders of the season's pleasures, and maybe a snowman in the front yard, you're sure to attract that buyer who's ready to make an offer.

If you are selling any kind of home, at any time of year, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your way to a more profitable sale today.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Essentials Every Homestager Needs

I ain't gonna lie. Staging a home, whether as a decor-challenged home seller or a professional homestager, can be hard work.

Can be. Doesn't have to be

The difference will be what you have in your toolkit.

I want to share with you my favorite time-savers and energy-savers. Anyone staging a home should have this equipment handy right from the start of a homestaging project. None of them are expensive.

Measuring Tape

One of the first steps you'll make when you stage a home is to take measurements. Measure the rooms, the furniture you'll use (footprint and height), windows and doors, and rugs. Keep these numbers with you when you shop. You'll prevent yourself from bringing home oops or having to live with things like draperies too short, a nightstand that's too tall, or a sofa that won't fit through your front door.

I like to carry a small tape measure in my purse. At home, it's handy to have a yardstick, a ruler and a measuring tape. Don't guess. Although my mother-in-law could take a length of fabric, hold one end up to her chin, and by stretching the edge of the cloth out the full length of her arm-- whether yardage at a garage sale or curtains at a thrift store -- know that it was exactly 33 inches from chin to thumb. Handy.

Paint Color Chip Charts

Decorators and other professionals are awarded paint companies' monster chip charts, or "fandecks"  to help them plan their designs and show options to clients. You can make your own more practical book of color chips that will guide your choices in textiles, furniture, counters and other furnishings.

Next time you are at the paint store or home improvement center, grab all the paint color strips that you think will work well with what you have at home and then make your own paint color book. I've previously given a simple and foolproof formula for selecting paint colors.

 A stager always carries color samples. Know your palette. 


I'm not embarrassed to admit I have an on-going love affair with gloves. How else is a girl supposed to protect her hands from cleaning chemicals, paint, and grime? If you do any landscaping, you need gardening gloves. If you strip furniture, you need heavy nitrile or viton gloves that safeguard your skin from paint remover. If you move furniture, you need gloves that help you get a grip on bulky pieces. If you paint walls or furniture, you need cotton gloves, nitrile or disposable latex gloves that make cleaning up afterward fast and easy.

Microfiber Cloths

One time you don't need to glove-up when cleaning is when you use microfiber cloths and water. We all love these cloths and mops and dusters for their ability to gather and hold the stuff that brooms and ordinary dust cloths send airborne.

For tougher grease and grime, you'll need to use your microfiber cloth with an all-purpose cleaner. I find windows and mirrors are easier to get streak-free if I use a glass cleaner on my microfiber cloth.

For real problem areas, like soot left on an acrylic shower stall wall from candles burned in the bathroom, bring on the magic erasers. P.S. real beeswax candles don't deposit soot on your walls or lungs. All paraffin candles do.

Most of us have some version of a Swiffer for floors. I also like the Swiffer WetJet, For quick dusting and reaching high places, nothing beats a long-handled microcloth duster. Buy your microfiber cloths by the bundle in the automotive department for the best price.

Milk Crates

You can strap this crate in your car with a seatbelt!
The reason I'm big on milk crates is that they are lightweight, economical, have handles, stack easily, and let you see the contents. True, they won't protect their contents from dust, mildew or other damage, but they are big helpers when you are gathering your homestaging supplies in a clean, climate-controlled space. They make transporting supplies easier, as well.

Best source for milk crates? The ones discount stores sell for $2.50 are fine for most storage and toting tasks. If you want to get all crazy and have color-coded or heavy-duty milk crates, here's an online source for that.

Clear Bins

Sometimes you need more protection and visibility than milk crates offer. Bring on the plastic, lidded tubs. There's no shortage of styles and price points.

It's smart to stick to one style of bin if you plan to store or transport staging supplies regularly. Matching ones will nest when not in use, and they will stack easily with lids on. They'll also make you feel and look ever-so-organized!

How much you want to spend depends on your budget and your fussiness. I find that discount stores have bins that are good enough, whether shoe box size or 72-quart, or anything in between.

I like clear bins because the contents are identifiable.


Having the right glue on hand lets you tackle any project at the right time, like when you want to do a group of repairs all at once, or when you need to make a quick emergency fix on deadline, or when the mood strikes at a crafting session.

What did people do before hot glue guns came on the crafting scene? Home stagers can use a glue gun to make no-sew draperies and pillow covers. They're indispensable for a million crafts projects joining metal and wood and fabric surfaces, but be aware that cold temperatures will break the bond. I once made a  twig trellis as a Christmas gift to my sister in New York. I glued all the branches together with a hot glue gun. Fast and fabulous! I drove from North Carolina with it in my trunk and when I popped the trunk in Brooklyn, the trellis was just a pile of sticks, having been undone by freezing temps. There's a lesson here: if you want to remove hot glue, just freeze it.

When working with hot glue, keep an ice cube ready for those inevitable finger burns. Putting ice on that burn for a few minutes will sooth the ouch and prevent a blister from forming.

Another boon to stagers is spray adhesive. Use it to bond new fabric to an old padded headboard, to turn a box spring into a bed pedestal by covering it with fabric, create montages for framing, recover a lampshade, decoupage a tray or plastic container, or cover ordinary shoe boxes with a pretty textile to create props for staging tabletops and closets. Please spray only with plenty of ventilation and not at all if you are pregnant.

I'm not a fan of super glue. I would rather use every crafter's favorite --  e6000. It dries clear, is easy to work with, sets fast and forms a strong bond for fabrics, ceramics, rubber. vinyl, leather, fiberglass, wood, and concrete surfaces. When I want a really durable bond, I'll use a two-part epoxy. And for temporary place holding, nothing beats a glue stick.
With a hot glue gun you can quickly hem curtains,
add trim to pillows or lampshade, and create crafts for
staging, like these faux pewter planters. For starters! 

Spray Paints

My preferred brand is Krylon. They spray evenly, don't spit, cover well, offer great color choices,  and I can use my handle/trigger attachment.

Scoop up a selection of the colors you'll use to reinforce your home's unique color scheme. I always have gold, silver, black and white. You never know when you'll be inspired to transform old into new, convert an assortment of odds and ends into a collection, or work a mismatched item into your grand plan!


To guide you on your homestaging journey, a book of tips. techniques and tutorials will help. You can download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Homestaging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, and start your staging today.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Captivate Your Buyers in 2018 With These Home Design Trends

Are you ready for 2018? As a home seller you have to ask yourself, "Is my home ready?"

Although some buyers may not be tuned into current and changing decor trends, many will.

Your home will be compared to what buyers see on reality home remodeling shows and on Pinterest and decorating blogs. Brick and mortar stores will be showcasing the latest in furniture, bedding, accessories, appliances, and window treatments.

Trending styles look young and fresh to the eye, and buyers like being on the cutting edge, rather than spending money on what looks dated

Here are the predictions that come from authorities like Houzz, Trulia and others for what's hot for next year and beyond. Whether you decide to incorporate some of these trends or just one, there's no doubt that you'll entice buyers with your attention to detail. I've narrowed the interior decor industry trends down to the ones that make sense for people with a home on the market.

Instagram-Ready Decor

One of the reasons people buy homes is to reassure themselves and to signal the world that they are moving ahead economically. Everyone wants to be proud of his or her home, and that means showing it off on social media. 

Now's the time to evaluate how the spaces in your home photograph. Unexpected, beautiful, and functional are three words Trulia's Jay Britto uses to describe what Instagrammers around the world are looking for in their home decor

To get your spaces "upload worthy," get rid of clutter. The camera picks up all the messy areas. Then, make sure the lighting is flattering. 

Both interior and exterior lighting are important for cosmetic and functional reasons. When interior lighting is more than adequate, your home looks bigger and cleaner. What's a beautiful room without good lighting for snapping a picture?

The National Association of Home Builders took a survey and asked people what was important to them in a home. In its current "What Home Buyers Really Want" survey, they found that almost 41% of respondents said exterior lighting was important.

It makes sense. Good exterior lighting can make a property safer by deterring troublemakers, and also by lighting the way on paths and stairs. During the winter months, homes are often in the dark by early evening, and serious buyers will cruise the neighborhood of a home they are interested in. How does your home look at night?

Good lighting, colorful surroundings, a simple composition, an interesting
subject -- these are the elements for a winning Instagram shot. Photo: Dornob.

Moody Hues

White walls may still be a safe trend, but Houzz predicts that more homeowners will be drawn to darker, cooler hues during 2018.

Clean, white kitchens are a classic that may never go out of style, but adding a touch of a trending color, freshens the look.

In fact, adding color throughout the home is another prediction on Houzz's list of 2018 design trends. These are the tones they expect to gain popularity:
  • Grays
  • Blues
  • Tobacco
  • Camel
If you're planning to sell your home in 2018, you might want to try out one or two of these shades to add just a little bit of pizazz to your space.
The dramatic color pops here are limited to what the buyers
don't have to buy.  They're temporary. But these colors help make the kitchen
more friendly and memorable. Photo: BHG 

Dramatic Color Accents

Home staging typically focuses on monochromatic color schemes, but if your home is large or lacking architectural detail or scantily staged, some color can add interest.

I'm not suggesting you paint a bedroom dark purple, but adding a statement wall to a small room can make that wall recede and create the illusion of a larger room. Conversely, painting one wall in a large room an accent color can make the room feel cozier.

Because they might want to repaint, buyers will moan over rooms painted unusual colors. But repainting one wall that's a color not matching their preferences is different from painting an entire room. Often, it's a simple, DIY project that can be done after new owners move in.

Adding a dash of intense color here and there might be just what your staging needs to give it the wow factor buyers seem to crave. Look for lamps, pillows, and tabletop decor to hit the stores in eye-popping shades. And ...there's always spray paint for giving boring items a trendy makeover.

Mixed Metals

Combining different metals is a trend any frugal home stager or home seller can applaud. Gone is the worry that unmatched doorknobs or lighting fixtures throughout your house will mark it as dated. So, keep your nickel hinges and chrome faucets and oil rubbed brass chandelier. They add eclectic details. And save you money.

Even if you don't mix metals in your more fixed furnishings like lights and faucets, you can add touches of silver and gold to your staging the way Diane Henkler did at her blog, In Her Own Style. She used metallic tape to add shine to her party supplies, shown in the top photograph.

Home decor follows fashion trends and women have been mixing things like silver bracelets, gold earrings and copper necklaces for the past few years. It's a kind of in-your-face-I'm-bold-enough-to-break-the-rules look.
This room includes pieces made from brass, tin and iron. When mixing metals, it's best to make just one 
of them predominate. The gold-toned frames and table are the stars here. Photo: styleathome

Sink Updates

Almost 14% of consumers report wanting to add a kitchen to their outdoor space, and they'd love a sink to go with it. Lucky you if you have such an outdoor feature or can add it!

Inside, updated kitchen and bath sinks are high up on Houzz's list of 2018 home design trends. If you're looking to really draw in buyers with your kitchen and bathrooms, consider the following:
  • Concrete sinks
  • Copper sinks
  • Stone sinks
  • Bucket sinks
  • Trough sinks
  • Patterned ceramic sinks
The modern farmhouse trend is still a big one, which means those trough sinks could really up your buyer's interest.
Buyers look for spa-like baths that feel clean and luxurious. The trends for trough
sinks, natural materials and mixed metals are apparent here. Photo:

Pattern on Pattern

A long time ago in a galaxy not that far away, pattern on pattern was a fashion taboo. Now mixing prints has made it to the list of top 2018 home trends.

Contrary to popular belief, mixing patterns doesn't need to be gaudy or too obvious. Bedrooms and living rooms are obvious places to start. Consider perking things up with a well-planned placement of pillows on a bed or sofa. I've written a simple formula for how to mix different fabric patterns and the also about how to decorate and stage with patterns. 

Juxtaposition of patterns isn't limited to prints and textiles. Surface textures count as patterns. For example, putting an ultra-fluffy throw blanket over part of a smooth duvet cover, or silky pillows on a velvet loveseat can give the impression of mixed patterns. And if you have a rustic twig chair and you set it on a polished concrete, you've mixed patterns.

Natural Materials

Materials given us by Mother Nature rather than the lab will be making waves in the year ahead. Think bamboo, cork, and reclaimed wood flooring, rattan furniture, hand-thrown pottery and handmade paper lampshades, living plants, concrete and natural stone countertops, and metal lighting fixtures.

Even if you are not planning any remodels before you sell, there are decorating changes you can make to add natural materials to rooms.

When you incorporate natural substances, you've given your home timeless style. Also, recycled and natural materials are usually more ecologically sane (greener).

Tips to Remember

An estimated 63% of potential homeowners believed 2017 was a good year to buy a home. With these home design trends in your pocket, you could make 2018 another excellent year for buyers. And yourself! Try one or two of these ideas out for yourself and I think you will discover the results will surprise you, not to mention warm the hearts of buyers.

Get more advice on how to stage a home by downloading my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It comes with my money-back guarantee that you will learn countless ways to make your home sale profitable.

Top Photo: InMyOwnStyle; Photo below: Jonathan Rachman

Monday, December 18, 2017

Furniture Facts: The Bedroom Bench

Is your master bedroom lacking some personality?

Have you staged it to appeal to the masses by removing all those beloved furnishings that made it unique?

Let's bump it up a notch by adding the luxurious touch that a bedroom bench brings to the scene.

The addition of a bench at the foot of the bed can add that bit of flair that's lacking.

And the best part is a piece of furniture that adds so much to a bedroom doesn't have to bust your budget. There is no shortage of DIY versions you can choose from on Pinterest. If you look at what IKEA offers, you'll find a dozen basic benches for less than $100 you can customize with upholstery or trim or paint.

Sample Some Benches

These photos will get you started thinking about what style works for your staged bedroom.

Here's the classic and classy foot-of-the-bed bench -- tufted pastel velvet that begs you to sit down.
The curvaceous legs emphasize the old-fashioned, feminine look. Photo: Giannetti Home  
Leather-covered seating on rectangular metal legs creates a more masculine bench.
The metal repeats itself under the nightstand. Photo: Zoe Feldman Design
A soft and shaggy topping on this simple bench adds more texture to this bedroom.
Homestaging can mix decor styles and still look pulled together. Photo: Terracotta Studio
This eclectic mix of furnishings features a rustic bench at the foot of this tailored
bed. Matched dressers and lamps add some formal balance. Photo: Martha O'Hara Interiors 
Another Martha O'Hara bedroom, this one with a streamlined windowpane check
upholstering the simple bench for a retro look. 
This wide version gets its dressmaker details from piping on the knife edge cushion and
additional piping along the bottom of the bench box. Photo: One Kings Lane
The bedroom bench isn't always at the base of the bed. It can appear in a corner, under a window, or like
this one, centered on a rug to the side of the sleeping area. Photo:One Kings Lane.
Isn't this an inviting scene? The bedroom bench is sometimes a sofa
or loveseat. This side table is the perfect companion. Photo: Ivory Lane
A chest often stands in for the bedroom bench. This antique makes the room less pretentious.
Chests like this give you handy storage space, too. Photo: Ginger Barber
Someone's not afraid of mixing patterns. The clean lines of all its furnishings
keep this bedroom from looking fussy. Photo: Andrew Howard Interior Design
There's a bench for every decor style. See-through furniture like this Lucite bench is ideal
for homestaging. The geometric print cushion gives it some structure. Photo: Kelly Golightly

Here's the kind of bench that makes a dramatic statement. Its sinuous lines and zebra
print cushions make it the room's focal point. Enrika Bonnell Interiors

There's no rule that says a bedroom bench can't be two stools. These beautiful square upholstered
seats will never go out of style. Photo: Timber Trails Development

Poufs and ottomans substitute for benches. They're economical to buy or make, fun, versatile, and trendy. Photo: Brook Wagner Design 

When you stage with bedroom benches, you can leave them bare like these X-stools,
 style them with a throw, stack them with books, or add something like a hat. Photo: Chango & Co.

I hope these photos of bedrooms have sparked ideas for you to use when you stage your home. For more ideas you can use to sell your home fast for a price you like, download my $4.99 homestaging eBook and get the advice and encouragement you need.

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