Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Get The Look for Less: Fancy Schmancy Napkin Rings

Napkin rings you make yourself for pennies that look like the $8 kind you see in department and decor stores? Yep!

In fact, they are so easy to make, you can have your children do it.

I made a set of these napkin rings that are big and chunky -- perfect for staging a tabletop when your home is for sale. When home staging, the idea is to go big with what goes into a place setting. Big plates. Big glasses. Big bowls. Big ole napkins.

What You Need

To make six napkin rings, gather these things.

Six 5-ounce cans, the squat kind
Aluminum foil, 3 feet off a 12-inch wide roll
Black craft paint
Small paint brush
Clean cotton rag
Clear glossy spray paint

How to Do

I use the cans from evaporated milk, or canned mushrooms, or green chilis. Make sure all the ones you choose are the same  -- same food, same brand -- so they all match exactly.

It's important that you go around both top and bottom edges a few times with a can opener. Make sure there are no sharp burrs. After this point, the project is kid-friendly.

Remove the label and both ends of the can, and wash it well.

Using scissors, cut the 3-foot piece of foil into three 1-foot lengths. Then cut each in half.

Place a prepared can at the center of one edge of a piece of foil, and roll it so it's covered.  

Where the foil overlaps, run a small line of white glue, and press to hold the edge flat. 

Tuck the edges inside the can and flatten them with fingers. Finger press the top and bottom edges. 

Paint the outside of the can with black craft paint. Be sure to get into all the wrinkles. 

Before the paint dries completely, rub off most of it with your rag. Let it dry for an hour. 

Once you spray on a few light coats of clear gloss, it will look like old metal. 

You can decorate your napkin rings with beads. This one wasn't antiqued with black paint. 

I painted this version with red and brown craft paints to look like old leather. 

An even easier version: just cover the can with a strip of scrapbook paper.  

Another easy treatment is to wrap the can with a some decorative duct tape. 

Although I designed these napkin tings for place settings in a staged home, they're sturdy enough to hold up to ordinary use. I hope you have fun inventing your own style napkin rings from upcycled tin cans.

Is your home ready for market? Is it staged to sell? My eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, simplifies your work. Whether it's cleaning, decluttering, arranging furniture, or accessorizing rooms, I give you the insider tips and techniques that professional stagers reply on to sell homes.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The ABC's of Staging a Seasonal Mantel

A mantel that's decorated for the season gives a message to buyers that your home is getting the attention it deserves.

And a little attention on your part goes a long  way. A few new props that indicate the season, or a different floral arrangement might be all you need to make your  mantel look current.    

One of the easiest ways to stage a mantel is to start with a painting.

A landscape painting is an especially good choice, because landscapes have a way of opening up a space. If the landscape showcases the local scenery, so much the better.

To stage this fireplace mantel for the autumn season, I choose a painting I bought at a garage sale. Since it's an autumn scene, I'm already half way to the look I want.

My next step was to hunt for objects that would pick up the colors in the painting. I also wanted to include a variety of textures, of materials, and of shapes.

There are plenty of soft and pleasing colors in this autumnal scene. I decided to bring out the greens and oranges with the props I chose, because those seemed the most autumnal. The walls in this room were a soft yellow, an ideal background for the painting.

Still life paintings and abstract art are also excellent choices for home staging, providing they are not too distracting or controversial.

I love the shape of this planter, and I love the reflective glaze. The color is perfect so I knew I'd use it on the mantel. Chances are that you already own the objects you need to stage a mantel in your own home. They should not be too small, too valuable, or too personal.

Every home stager keeps an assortment of things like silks, and floral foam, and sheet moss or spaghnam moss to cover up the foam. I pulled out my faux Chinese lantern silks because I knew I didn't want to limit the color palette to greens.

The wire stems on these silks were longer than I wanted them to be, but instead of cutting them off, I bent them back a few times. Now, if I need them long again, I just need to bend the stems straight.

Even though the flowers are fake, I like to concentrate on flowers that are actually in season, the way I chose alliums and grass for staging this springtime mantel. You can read my suggestions for staging a summertime fireplace here.  

What fall arrangement is complete without seasonal gourds or pumpkins?

My green gourds are from the dollar store. I used them on a mantel last fall and even after being stored in my garden shed all year, they're in like-new condition.

I knew if I needed more things than what I had on hand, I could scavenge in my own neighborhood or backyard for pine cones, twigs, dried flowers, and even rocks.

And there's always the recycling bin for interesting cheap staging props that can be painted or otherwise disguised.  

I used a Michael's coupon to purchase the garland of berries, even though I wasn't sure how I would be using a string of berries.

I wanted something metallic and something with a patina, so this candle holder came out of the prop closet.

I also wanted some clear glass, so I brought out some vases and chimneys, not sure which ones I would use. I ended up setting this glass vase on top of the candle pedestal to give it height. Often, wide glass vases can look like hurricane chimneys but cost less and are not so fragile.

I wasn't pleased with this, my first attempt. The lineup of "marching gourds" looked too sterile, so I clustered them for the more interesting look you see in the top photo.

Every tablescape or mantel arrangement calls for some fooling around before it all falls into place. So, gather your props of the season and see what you can create to bring your own mantel to life.

My $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar gives formulas for decorating mantels, as well as guidelines for arranging furniture, choosing paint colors, and all the other decisions you'll make to stage your own home.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Make No-Sew Placemats for Your Staged Dining Table

Here's a DIY tabletop project anyone could
have fun with. You just weave strips of felt in your
choice of colors through a rectangle of felt that's been sliced.
No-Sew. Who doesn't love that? Especially when the results are as impressive as these handsome placemats.

Orange is my favorite color and I'm guessing that many people are attracted to it, since Tangerine is Color of the Year 2012.

Having some hints of orange -- or Tangerine if you want to get all fancy with names -- will give your home some warmth.

And a touch of trendiness too, because let's face it: you didn't see Tangerine in the color palettes of the 80's, 90's, or 00's.

I chose shades of tawny brown, gold, and pumpkin to make these placemats look autumnal.

That's another thing to love about oranges. They're "in season" now that summer's over.

These mats are made of felt. Felt doesn't require hemming. And felt comes in oodles of pretty colors. Also, felt is relatively cheap, as fabrics go.

What You Need

These materials will make four mats.

  • Felt by the yard, about half a yard  
  • Felt by the piece, 12 pieces, as many different colors as you like. I used three colors.  
  • Scissors, good sharp ones
  • Rotary cutter and self healing cutting mat (optional) 
  • Marking pen for fabric
  • Metal yardstick
  • Fabric glue

How to Do

Cut the 9- by 12-inch squares into 1 1/4-inch wide strips, 12 inches long. You can use 
scissors or a rotary cutter like this. It's important to make straight, even cuts or the mats 
will look like a summer camp craft project! If using scissors, keep the bottom blade flat 
against the work surface, and make small cutting motions rather than trying to 
keep a straight line by cutting with one long motion.  

Next, cut a piece of felt the size of a placemat. My piece measured 16 by 13 inches.
Work in good lighting, take your time, and keep the edges clean and sharp. I used
a rotary cutter with my self-healing cutting mat, but scissors will work almost
as well. This background piece will act like a loom for your woven placemat.

Fold the placemat in half lengthwise, and pin it along the cut edges to hold them in place. 
Using the fabric marker, mark lines crosswise at 1 1/4 -inch intervals. Leave an 
uncut border at both ends and along the lengthwise edges, as shown. 

Cut on the lines you marked, ending the cuts evenly on the lengthwise line. 

This is what your felt placemat will look like when it is unpinned and opened. 
This piece now provides the "weft" or the crosswise strips for weaving, held in place 
by the perimeter, which serves like the loom. The colored strips of felt 
will provide the "warp" or the lengthwise strips.

Begin weaving your first strip of felt up and down through the crosswise strips of felt. 
It won't go all the way to the end, but we'll piece it and glue it and it won't show from the front.    

Cut a piece of felt long enough to finish the row with an inch to spare for overlapping and adjusting. 
If you like, you can change the color of any strip for a different look, even midway across the mat.  

Overlap the pieces and press with your fingers to hold in place temporarily. 

Start the next row with a different color. Don't bother to square up the ends. 
You can do that when all the felt strips are in place.  Keep the mat flat and resist the temptation
to flip it over to examine it. Working on a board that can be rotated makes it easier.

Once all the placemat is covered with strips of felt, use a fabric glue like Liquid Stitch 
to join the strips that were pieced together. Keep all these glued connections 
on one side of the placemat, which will be the back of the mat. 
You can slide the strips to the left and right to adjust the placement of the 
glued overlap, and then trim off any felt strips on the two outside edges to make them all even. 

  Let the glue dry for 24 hours. Flip the placemat over and admire your finished product. 
You will find felt very forgiving and pleasant to work with. 

Although I generally advise against setting a table in the staged home with real cutlery
because it is too tempting for people to steal it, I discovered these 
disposable silverware sets that don't look like disposables, at the dollar store. 
They are so lightweight that if anyone picks one up, he'll immediately realize it is plastic 
and leave it there. If he takes it, well, one dollar buys you four three-piece settings!  

I staged this tabletop for an autumn Open House, but by changing the colors, you can make holiday or springtime or birthday or picnic or wedding or any occasion placemats. The Liquid Stitch didn't stand up to washing, so unfortunately these mats aren't for ongoing usage. A stain and water repellant like Scotchgard can extend their life, but basically, the placemats are suitable for staging or limited use only.

A bare table in a staged home usually begs for some decoration. Why not stage your tabletops to make people touring your home see that you're tuned in to the changing seasons, and that you enjoy living in your home?

Do you want more ideas for staging your home for sale? Download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Stars Align When You Sprinkle in Some Bling

Aren't these contemporary Mercury glass vessels
from West Elm to die for? Here's my choice of the
best tutorial for hacking the Mercury glass look.
Sometimes you might finish decorating or staging a room and even though you can check off all the boxes, it seems to lack something.

It's time to add another box -- the bling box. When a room needs a lift, some shiny things are usually the answer. No matter what style or price point your home falls under, using shine will bring it to life and give it personality Maybe even a little glamor.

Here are my favorite sources for the kind of bling I am taking about.
  • Mirrors
  • Crystal and clear glass
  • Lucite and acrylic
  • Glass
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Nickle
  • Chrome
  • Sequins, rhinestones, beads and other embellishments
  • Mercury glass
  • Glossy plastic and vinyl 
  • Stainless steel
You probably already own some of the bright objects listed here.  So, it should be easy for you to round up something that glistens for each room in the staged home.

Bathrooms and kitchens will be an easy place to add shine. Stainless appliances and ceramic fixtures quality. Glassware is a natural in these rooms. I'm picturing a large clean glass bowl of lemons in the kitchen, and apothecary jars of spa goodies in the bath.

Gleaming Surfaces 

My favorite way to make a room glisten is to add mirrors. At least one per room. Large or small, depending.  And my favorite mirrors are bevelled mirrors. Heck, you can pick up a 30 x 30-inch sunburst mirror at Home Depot for about $35, or a 36 x 30-inch wide-framed mirror from Lowe's for $60. That's alot of bling for the buck.

Along the same lines, glass-covered prints in mirrored frames add serious wow to any room. I see these in vintage styles as well as sleek, contemporary styles.

These botanical images take on a modern vibe when they're placed in mirrored frames. 

The bathroom chandelier, done right! There's lots of hard surfaces in this room -- 
the tub, floor, window, tin backsplash, chrome faucet, and glass vases, 
that the wooden fireplace surround 
and door are a welcome counterpoint. Photo:

Stainless appliances are still popular. Whatever your opinion of stainless, 
it does add gleaming surfaces to a kitchen, and in a dark or otherwise 
slightly dated kitchen, that's a plus. Photo: BHG

A glass topped table and some clear seats almost disappear except for the shine 
they bring to the eat-in nook. Chrome legs are sexy. No? Photo: BHG

A chandelier is the ultimate bling thing. Look for a place where a fancy
light fixture might be a surprise, like a closet or bath. Photo: Traditional Home

This bedroom by Sarah Richardson is layered with subtle shine: the glass door knob, 
ceramic lamp base, lacquered nightstand, mirror over the bed, nailhead trim 
on the headboard, a metallic vase, and some pillow textiles with sheen. 

A patent leather headboard like this one is going to make a bed the 
focal point of any room. This House Beautiful bedroom also features 
a mirror over the headboard and some metallic Buddha lamps. 

Do your homework. Hunt your home for sources of shine. Make them part of your staging mix. And don't forget that the existing fixtures you have in your house -- the chrome faucets, the ceramic lamps, the bathroom mirrors, the stainless appliances  -- should sparkle because you've cleaned and polished them. Do these things, and your home on the market will outshine the competition. 

Do you need more advice, inspiration and formulas for beautifully staging any home on the market? You need my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.  It's an instantly downloadable, 150+ page pdf guide to home staging, for only $4.99! You can't afford to e without it, and I guarantee you'll  be pleased or I will refund your money.

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