Work Magic with Scrapbook Paper When You Homestage

Sunday, June 20, 2021
On the chance that you haven't discovered the beauty and versatility of scrapbook paper, let me introduce you to your new best friend. These colorful sheets of paper sold as pages for scrapbooks and photo albums can be your go-to source for a variety of craft and decor projects, helping you solve some of your staging dilemmas. 

The benefits of using precut sheets of printed scrapbook paper are obvious. They are easily available at craft stores and online. They are inexpensive. The colors and the patterns number in the thousands. You can buy individual sheets or curated sets of designs that share a singular motif or set of colors. And the designs are varied and decorative.  

Scrapbook paper comes in different sizes, but the most popular ones are 8 1/2  by 11 inches, and 12 by 12 inches. The larger size sheets cost just 69 cents and the smaller ones cost 59 cents at Hobby Lobby. Foil, glitter, and embossed sheets can cost as much as two dollars. All are often on sale for half that price. 

You can buy the sheets individually or by the pack. Amazon sells a 30-sheet pack of cardstock weight papers for under $8. Some sheets are double-sided with a different color or design on each side, but for homestaging crafts, one-sided designs work fine. This scrapbooking company offers over 2,000 different packs. Michael's offers hundreds of beautiful 12- by 12-inch squares.   

Most sheets are medium-weight paper, 50- or 65-pound paper. The sturdier sheets are card stock weight, or 80-pound. Paper trivia: This means, for example, that 500 sheets of cardstock weigh 80 pounds. 

Here are some of the ways you can make scrapbook papers part of your toolkit for home decor when you stage. 

Dress up ordinary containers

One of your first steps in staging will be selecting a simple color scheme. If you look around your unstaged rooms, you'll probably see furnishings that don't fit with your new, simplified color palette. Scrapbook paper is one temporary way to covert things like boxes, bins, cannisters, and vases into containers that fit your plan. 

When you wrap pretty sheets of paper around an oatmeal box or cardboard milk carton, you've created one of the most frugal staging props ever. If you want your container to be sturdier or waterproof, insert a plastic or glass or metal container inside.  

To cover larger boxes or vases, you may have to overlap or tape two sheets together, but often the seam will be inconspicuous or else can be hidden on the back or underside of your container. For the half-gallon container shown here I used one 12- by 12-inch sheet. I trimmed the sheet to wrap around the carton and used the trimmed piece on the unseen backside. I used a glue stick, but you may prefer tape or a hot glue gun.    

A half-gallon milk container can be the start of something
new. For filling with fresh flowers, or to make it more stable,
use a glass or metal insert for your paper-covered carton.  

Cover hardback books

For a number of good reasons, books are always an essential element of smart staging. One reason to cover them is titles become unimportant. Even their condition isn't important. So, you can use books from your own (decluttered!) bookshelves, or books from the $1 bin at your favorite thrift store. 

Making jackets for books you want to use for staging couldn't be easier or quicker to do. Here is a 1.18-minute video that shows you how to cover a hardback book

You'll notice that many books come in a standard size, a cover that measures 8 1/2 inches top to bottom. That means many books can be covered with the common 8 1/2- by 11-inch size paper if you tape two sheets together to make it wrap around the front and back covers and the spine. Covering a book this way means you won't have a folded edge on the top and bottom of the book cover, but you won't have to cut or fold paper carefully to fit either. It will look more like the dust jacket you get on a new hardback book, and less like the way students cover textbooks. Either way looks good for staging. 

The top book took two sheets of paper, and the
cover on the bottom book is the original dust jacket
turned inside out. A tube of scrapbook paper
changed the look of the clean glass vase.

Most books will require two sheets of scrapbook paper. If you can cover a book with one sheet, that book is probably too small to use for staging. Usually, a seam is undetectable and can be hidden on the underside of the book. 

A small stack of bundled books looks special as part of a tabletop vignette. To make it look more interesting and intentional, you can either coordinate your own mix of paper patterns, or use papers from a manufacturer's curated collection.  

Bonus tip: Some books you'll use for staging may already have their original dust jackets on them. If they are in good condition, you can just turn them inside out to let the blank (usually white) side of the paper become the new cover.   

Combining patterns of scrapbook paper to create
a shelf arrangement of book covers is fun, once you
know the simple formula for mixing patterns

Update a tray

Trays can simplify your homestaging tasks. On a vanity (top photo), a coffee table, nightstand, or kitchen counter, a tray can corral a grouping of assorted objects. The right tray has the power to make a mismatched assortment of objects look logical, and the power to make a bunch of small objects read as one. 

It's easy to find trays to use for staging, but not so easy to find trays that work with the colors and style you've established. Scrapbook paper to the rescue. Just measure the flat area you plan to cover, trim your paper to fit, and either glue it in place with a glue stick or just lay it there, keeping it in place with the objects you'll arrange on the tray. 

Bonus Tip: Since many scrapbook sheets feature a small design, it's easy to choose paper that you like that can then be trimmed to any dimensions and still look great. Even designs that are off-center or have a "large repeat" can be trimmed to look good on a tray. 

There was nothing terribly wrong with this distressed
mosaic tray, but I didn't want the beachy look. 
All I did to the beachy tray to give it a new look was to lay
in two square sheets of an animal print scrapbook paper.  

Add interest to place settings

A naked dining table in a staged home isn't doing its job. When they tour a home for sale, people think about sitting down to family meals and hosting friends. Why not take the opportunity to help buyers envision the life they will have when they buy your home? Place settings, simple ones, can help. 

You can use scrapbook paper to make placemats, chargers under plates, or napkin rings. None of these projects takes much time or skill or expense, yet they dress up a tabletop to make it more interesting. 

I've blogged about how to make napkin rings from tin cans, using aluminum foil or duct tape. But scrapbook paper makes it easier, faster, and gives you more options! 

I brushed the rims of this can with some metallic
gold craft paint before wrapping it with paper.

Start with a set of cans that match, ideally the 4 or 5-ounce ones for evaporated milk, mushrooms, and green chiles. Once you have collected enough of them to stage the table you plan to dress, you're ready. Remove the labels and the bottom ends. Wash them well.  

You can use either hot glue or glue sticks to affix the paper to your cans. I prefer glue sticks because you get a chance to fine-tune the fit. The disadvantage to glue sticks is that you'll have to place a rubber band or clips to hold the paper in place while the glue sets. I've used paper clips, binder clips, and clothespins, all with success. 

The choice is yours whether to wrap the inside of the paper-covered cans, or just the outside. Once a napkin is arranged in the ring, the inside isn't seen, so I recommend the simple route of outside only. 

Scrapbook paper doesn't have quite the flexibility of paper you might use for decoupage projects, so be prepared for a more wrinkled look when you are wrapping the can's round rim. My preference is to let the metal edge of the can be visible on the finished project, as shown on the two front cans below.  

One can is wrapped inside and out, adhered with ModPodge, 
and top-coated with ModPodge. The other map-design scrapbook paper is
just glued on the outside of the can. The front can is just wrapped,
glued and then decorated with beads using a glue gun. 
The heavier weight of cardstock scrapbook paper is 
 sturdy enough to use as placemats. The paper in this photo   
is embossed and has a sheen. I used one and a half
12- by 12-inch sheets, slightly overlapped and taped underneath. 

Create instant  art

Framed artwork is an important component of effective home staging. I've blogged about the importance of wall art and about how to make a collage of paper

The easiest way to use scrapbook paper for framed artwork is to simply insert it in a glassed frame you have. If the frame has a good, clean mat, tape the corners of the scrapbook paper to the backside of the mat, lay it on the glass, place the glass in the frame, fix the backing onto the fame, and you are ready to hang using whatever method you'll use for hanging. 

The fact that most scrapbook papers have a small, all-over design means that centering the paper or getting a mat sized to match perfectly isn't a problem.

Bonus Tip:  When you are thrifting, be on the hunt for square picture frames in good condition and with square mats, since many scrapbook papers are sold as squares.  

It's easy to imagine scrapbook paper sheets like this,
matted and framed like watercolors. Photo: Hobby Lobby
Even without a mat, a square of scrapbook paper
centered on a square of framed, white foam-core is a
simple solution to creating economical artwork.

Make unique decor props

Professional stagers have their arsenal of decorative objects that add the finishing touches to a room -- ceramics, baskets, pitchers, candles, pillows. But probably the most economical, pretty little addition to a room is a small box wrapped as a gift. 

Why not take advantage of scrapbook paper's versatility to wrap a box to be part of almost any room's staging? A little gift looks right at home on a side table, bookshelf, coffee table, or desk.  

To cover an ordinary box, make sure it is in good enough condition that it sits square when you tape it shut. Rather than flimsy boxes like cereal boxes, stronger ones, like what you'd get from an online purchase, work best. 

Even if your scrapbook sheet doesn't cover the entire bottom of the box, you can still use it where it won't be handled, such as out of reach on a mantel, or else hot-glued to a tray. A box doesn't have to have a removable lid. An unlidded, empty box can be wrapped and placed open side down. 

If you have plain jane decor props like clear glass vases, or candlestick lamps, you can make them part of your color scheme by wrapping a strip of colorful or textured scrapbook paper around just part of the vase or lamp. 

Other pretty props to make with scrapbook paper include a chain of scrapbook paper links or a pennant banner that could dress up the wall over a bed. Or styrofoam balls decoupaged with scrapbook paper and arranged in a glass bowl or a basket. You can also use it to line the backs or the shelves of book cases or cabinets. 

Bonus Tip: Wired ribbon will add structure, height, and an extras special touch to a gift-wrapped box. 

Boxes wrapped with scrapbook paper make lovely
props for table vignettes and centerpieces.
I changed the look of the frosted glass vase with a strip
of scrapbook paper, coiled and placed inside.  

Disguise storage boxes

When you stage your home, it's better to have opaque containers for storing all kinds of unglamorous things. Containers like wastebaskets, desktop accessories, medicine kits, or cord storage boxes look better when people can't see what's inside. I like to use clear plastic boxes for all kinds of things because contents are easily visible. But for staging, I like to use opaque containers. 

Changing transparent containers to decorative ones is easy with scrapbook papers. Usually, you can just slip a piece of paper trimmed to fit the sides of a see-through box, and you're done. If the lid is also transparent, it might call for another sheet. 

This trick comes in handy when you have a collection of small tools, manicure equipment, nutritional supplements, cosmetics, socks, underwear, or small toys. These are the kind of items that people on tour don't need to see.  

Bonus tip: Save the scraps and partial sheets for smaller craft projects, like holiday and party decorations, bookmarks, gift tags, notepaper, greeting cards, and... scrapbooking!  

There's no shortage of paper designs and colors
in the scrapbook aisle of Hobby Lobby.

Get the look, get the book

When you are staging your home, it's refreshing to have some projects that are this simple and quick to do, and yet are as effective as using scrapbook papers to decorate, unify, and conceal. 

I hope you'll have fun seeing how you can use pretty scrapbook papers to make your home more interesting to buyers. Need more ideas and tips for economical home staging? Don't leave here without downloading my home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips for Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.  

Tablecloths: Yay or Nay for Home Staging?

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

I've always had a problem with tablecloths being used in home staging. 

To me, a tablecloth in an otherwise beautifully staged home looked as though it was trying to hide a tabletop. As though the table surface was something so precious it had to be protected. Or else was so ugly it needed to be covered. 

But now that something called grandmillenial decor is a thing, I'm having to rethink this whole tablecloth issue. 

Grandmilenial style used to be referred to as "granny chic," but now it's just chic. It turns out that wallpaper, wicker furniture, fringes, chinoiserie, flowery slipcovers, fancy chandeliers, chintz draperies, and needlepoint pillows are popular with some buyers.

Currently, there is a demographic profile as young as 25 and as old as 40 who are drawn to this style. They find it both relaxed but refined. It relies on old-school, classical design combined with today's clear colors and a sense of humor about itself. More fresh than frumpy. 

There are pros and cons

The fact that a certain group of buyers is embracing this particular style brings good news and bad news if you are staging your home. The good news is that decorating grandmillenial style can save you money. You can use furniture you may have inherited, pieces you've been told are too dated to appeal to today's Instagram-educated buyers. You can happily use the furniture you bought as a young bride in the 1950s. You can use second-hand furniture that shows some age. You can sew or paint or craft things instead of shopping new.  

The bad news is that part of the homebuying population is not going to "get it." There are plenty of buyers still carrying around the old notion I had about tablecloths and other elements of interior decoration embraced by previous generations -- that they looked frumpy and out-of-touch. Many of these buyers prefer minimalism, and grandmillenialism is the opposite of that! 

When tablecloths work best

The skirted table is one typical element of grandmillenial decor. To know if it is right for your home staging plans, you'll have to consider the look you want to create.

A table draped with fabric will look out of place in some homes. If your home is a sleek, mid-century modern ranch with an open floor plan, tablecloths might not fit your streamlined look. If you're aiming for an industrial farmhouse vibe, the skirted table would look silly there, too.    

Besides considering your home's style, you'll want to consider who your likely buyer is. Even if seniors and retirees are your target market, a skirted table won't look out of place in your staging as long as the look of your house as a whole isn't stuffy and cluttered. Done with restraint, some touches of grandmillenial will speak to nostalgia and comfort. 

There are three kinds of table coverings to consider. One is the small, informal tablecloth, another is the tailored table skirt, and the third is the to-the-floor, draped tablecloth (my favorite). 

Outdoors, a bistro table set for an impromptu snack
is the perfect spot for a casual, colorful,
black-eyed susan fabric covering. 
A layered look is part of the new/old
style. Both above photos: 
April Cornell 
A tablecloth that drapes to the floor
is one way to utilize a table that is less
than perfect or doesn't work with your decor.
A round table with a full tablecloth is a great way to fill
a space without interrupting a natural traffic pattern.
It's the perfect way to fill a corner or center an entry.
Both photos above: Leslie Unruh via One Kings Lane

This is a bold and even tricky move to pull off successfully.
If you don't already have the furnishings to stage like this, and if
your buyers would not respond well to it, it would be unwise. 
This is a prime sample of grandmillenial decorating.
BTW, I love the look! Photo: Furlow Gatewood 
Here is another over-the-top room, not particularly
suitable for most home stagings, but still handsome.
I wanted to show how a round or rectangular or
square table can look with a full-length skirt. 
It's the kind of thing that can add some needed anchoring
to a busy room. Photo: Ware M. Porter

The skirted table is one clever way to create some 
hidden storage. This kind of tablecloth could 
be a DIY project. Photo: Christopher Nutter 

To help you decide

Are you attracted to the idea of using tablecloths in your staged home? Here are some tips.

Don't overdo it. Most homes would look strange having more than a couple of tables with cloths. You don't want to look like you are hosting a wedding reception. 

Choose fabrics that compliment the other textiles and colors in the room. I've blogged about how to decorate with patterns and how to make fabric patterns work for your decorating.  

Make sure the perceived value of your home isn't compromised by using tablecloths. Choose a style that matches the style of your home -- elegant if your home is more formal, casual if it has a more laid-back feel. A lace tablecloth isn't going to fly when you are aiming for that clean Scandinavian look.

Ask yourself if the likely demographics will respond well to the look you create. People living in major metropolitan areas are generally more receptive to trends like grandmillenial decor and an eclectic mix of styles. 

The skirted tablecloth with corner pleats is a good way to transform mundane or cheap furniture like old metal desks, file cabinets, or particle board cubicles.   

Don't use a cloth with a seasonal theme, such as a Christmasy one for photographs taken in December, because if your house is still on the market in January, your MLS listing could look stale. 

Don't use a cloth if you have children or pets that could make a mess by pulling on the edges. 

If you are staging an outdoor table, be sure the fabric is waterproof, like vinyl, and is weighted on top and on the edges so it can't blow away. 

Check that your tablecloth-covered table doesn't make a room look too feminine. The room doesn't have to be devoid of fussy details, but you can't it fill it with pastels, ruffles, florals, curvy furniture and piles of pillows. Herringbone patterns, solids, stripes, animal prints, and geometrics mix well with grandmillenial furnishings. 

If you think a table in one of your staged rooms would benefit from the softening effect of a tablecloth, but you're not sure how to choose one or if it fits your style, consider using a table runner instead. Also, in lieu of a tablecloth, large placemats under staged place settings will work to dress up a table.     

A table staged with stonewashed 100% linen will look
gorgeous to some, and like a wrinkled mess to others.
It depends on your market and the rest of your
home staging. Photo: La Bottega di Casa 
This was the picture from the latest issue of
Better Homes and Gardens that started me 
thinking the whole idea of tablecloths for staging.
I'm not going to try to improve on these instructions
how to make a round tablecloth
, from Diane Henkler,
of In My Own Style blog. Her 
tutorial is complete
and easy to follow, with variations to help you
make one that suits your home.

Get the look, get the book

Well-done grandmillenial decorating represents good taste and even wealth. If you go down this road, study the look in shelter mags and online to be sure you nail it. Better Homes and Gardens offers this advice: "A well-edited design is key to pulling off the grandmillennial look in a way that's more timeless than antiquated. Be selective as you accessorize to avoid an overly cluttered look. Choose fabrics in bold patterns, but keep the color palette tight and consistent so the look is layered and cozy, not chaotic."

Done right, tables covered with fabric can definitely be part of your smart staging strategy. You might find a skirted table is just right for a bedside table, an entranceway, a living room end table, a dining table, or even a table in the bathroom. 

Don't leave here without checking out my three eBooks about homestaging

DIY Home staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar,  

No-Sew Curtains and Draperies to Stage Your Home, and 

How to Arrange Furniture  -- A Guide to Arranging Furniture Using  What You Have  

It's Show and Tell Time!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

If you are like me, you enjoy cruising around the internet, being entertained and educated about things that interest you. I'm always on the lookout for real estate news, decor trends, home improvement projects, and DIY topics especially useful for home staging. Along the way, I stumble on related topics -- people, places, products, and subjects that because they are so well presented I can't help but read, investigate, or listen to. 

I've decided to highlight just a few things that have caught my attention. None of these are affiliate links. I am not being given product or reimbursement of any kind from these mentions. It's just a random sampling of what I think is worth sharing, a kind of charcuterie board where you can take what you like and maybe discover some new tastes.    

Sites I like

Some of these websites are ones I visit regularly and others only when something catches my eye. 

Did you know that you can go to eBay and use the term "books by the foot" or "decorative books" to find merchants who sell bundles of color-coordinated hardcover books? Instant library for homestaging!

Here's what to consider if you have a patio and are planning to sell your home.

Learn what the red flags are for people buying a home 
that has a patio or deck attached. Photo: Apartment Therapy

I like the variety of art in this home.

Art in a staged home doesn't have to share a
similar genre throughout the house. Photo: Laura Casey

Kate Wagner, who writes the blog McMansion Hell, is SO entertaining and humorous. She pokes fun at those super-sized suburban homes typically built between 1980 and 2008, the American housing bubble. Be prepared to be tickled, as well as taught about what makes architecture attractive and functional.

Plan to spend some time when you visit McMansionHell.

Another Kate I admire is Kate Riley of Centsational Style. She recently published her list of fake plants that don't look fake. Since I think today's faux greenery is a boon to home stagers, this is definitely info that deserves sharing.

Products I like

Again, I don't make money on any of these items. I'm only doing what most women enjoy doing -- spreading the word about what works for them. 

I'm never without this hand lotion. My friend Ellen gave me some for Christmas a few years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. It's extra rich so you don't need more than a dab. I put it on my hands every night before bed, just to enjoy its orange blossom scent. If you're not familiar with Naked Bee, you may not know about their line of natural skincare products.

I have used this Ikea round, metal side table in a number of stagings. It's affordable, attractive, and versatile. It doesn't take up much visual room, and it's the perfect height for a bedside table, but also useful for outside bistro settings. 

The Lindved table has simple lines that mesh
with different styles. The price is just $25. Photo: Ikea

Why do we all love canning jars so much? I think it's because they are so versatile and sturdy, and no matter what size you choose, they have that mouth that makes them easy to fill and clean. They're microwave- and freezer-friendly. The size is consistent and measurable. And with the right lids, you can actually use them for canning. Here's another reason to love them -- colorful plastic lids for regular or wide mouth jars. These lids are not for canning but they are dishwasher safe, made of food-grade, BPA-free plastic, and come with gaskets to make the seal leakproof. Pretty enough for gifting foods, too. 

The bright caps make it easy to code the contents. For example, 
when using for refrigerator storage, you could use yellow for
leftovers, red for "use right away," and blue for soup
ingredients, and teal for "Hands off! This is for Mom only!"    

I've just finished a book entitled An American Bride in Kabul, by Phyllis Chesler. It's the fascinating account by an American woman who married a Muslim man from Afghanistan in 1961 when they were both college students in New York City. Her book was written in 2013, and is more relevant now than ever. Although she envisioned an exciting life of travel and adventure, once in Afghanistan, she became part of her husband's wealthy household ruled by unimaginable restrictions and contradictions. Although she nearly died while there, she was able to flee the country alone and has since become an active advocate for the rights of Afghan women. Eye-opening!

I hope you've found something here to interest you, that sparks your imagination or helps you relax. Curiosity is a gift, and according to this post, has the power to help you handle anxiety, because it lets people "tap into their natural capacities for wonder and interest." Stay curious.

Top Photo: Page42 via eBay 

Are You Guilty of Any of These Staging Mistakes?

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Whether you are just beginning to prepare your home for the real estate market, or the photographer is scheduled to show up tomorrow morning, there are some simple ways to judge how successful your staging will be. 

Will it intrigue people who see your video tour enough to request a walk-through? Or will online house-hunters left-swipe you? By reviewing these common mistakes, you can determine how your staging project rates if it's finished, or how on-target your planning is going so far. 

Generic accent pieces 

Your home should present itself as a quality package from a luxury boutique. To that end, you want to avoid cheap and generic decor. I'm all for using dollar store items for the sake of budget staging, but they have to be tweaked to make them not your ordinary, off-the-shelf junk.

Generic items do, however, have their place in staging and that place is in closets and home offices, where you are aiming for a cohesive, uncluttered appearance. I'd rather see a closet shelf lined with matching plastic baskets from the dollar store than a shelf lined with an assortment of mismatched wicker baskets. But those baskets will look interesting hung as decoration on a hallway wall.   

Visit second-hand stores. Shop garage sales. Use one-of-a-kind pieces you already own. When you add dollar store items, give them some personality. Decoupage glass vases. Wrap twine around picture frames. Spray paint ceramic animals gold. Do whatever it takes to make them your own. I've blogged about how to rescue cheap props for staging

Poor furniture arrangement

Make it comfortable for potential buyers to navigate your home. Consider the path these strangers will choose to move through your rooms. Consider the first view they have of each room as they enter it. 

My furniture arranging book, eBook, How to Arrange Furniture -- A Guide to Arranging Furniture Using What You Have, will take the guesswork and mistakes out of this common problem. Most of us arrange our furniture to make ourselves comfortable, but it may not be the best layout to impress people viewing your home for the first time. 

The best rooms are the ones that invite people to
walk into them unencumbered, and where they
feel at home. Photo: Studio McGee

Excess Personalization

Put away your collections, religious pieces, awards, and family photos. I know that some DIY stagers say that family photos make a happy connection with people looking at their home, but I disagree. Potential buyers should be able to easily envision themselves and their belongings in your rooms. Personal stuff is just a distraction. 

The less a buyer knows about you, the seller, the better your position in the negotiations that are part of every home purchase. 

Small area rugs

There are a number of reasons you should avoid staging with small rugs. One reason is that they tend to make an area look chopped up, and we all know that people prefer rooms to feel spacious and uncluttered. A second reason is that these scatter rugs can be a tripping hazard. About 25% of all reported injury claims during the year are from slip, trip, and fall injuries. 

Another reason is that small rugs look cheap, as though the owner could not afford something more luxurious. You never want to look like you are hurting for money when you are selling a home. Additionally, small rugs look like they might be hiding something or solving a problem. Is that scatter rug in front of the kitchen sink hiding a wear pattern in the flooring? Is that rug near the toilet base meant to catch drips and overspray? Ugh!  

The guidelines for using rugs are that they ought to be sizeable and anchored by furniture. Placed that way, they keep the furniture from looking like it is floating in the room and are less likely to shift location or cause tripping. Larger rugs placed under the edge of chairs or a sofa will unite a seating group. The right area rug will also add an interesting layer of color or texture to the room. Well-anchored hallway runners are the exception to the no-small-rug rule.  

Inadequate lighting

Lighting can show off your home's best assets. Consider adding extra lighting in areas that look gloomy. Photographers are not magicians. Bright illumination in the kitchen and bathroom areas is especially important because it makes these areas look cleaner.

Use maximum wattage in all lighting fixtures and lamps. Use window treatments that let in as much natural lighting as possible. Don't place furniture in front of windows. Make sure your windows are super clean. Some sellers even remove and store window screens to make rooms look brighter.  

Read on to learn the best kinds of interior lights to make a success of your staging.

Window treatments that offer privacy without
blocking natural light, like these "Serenity Sheer Shades,"
offer the best of both worlds. Photo: Blinds to Go 

Old light fixtures

The right ceiling light can be the focal point of a room. Do you have a room that begs for something striking and instantly noticeable? For what they deliver in impact, fixtures that are not your usual boob ceiling lights are worth the purchase price. Make sure yours have some personality, whether they are classic or the latest trend.  

To save money, try to purchase your new lights on sale or at discount stores. My local Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great source for almost-new ceiling fixtures. (When wealthy people get tired of their decor, they donate what their decorators decide to replace --  things like chandeliers and other overhead fixtures.) Often an outdated brass chandelier can be upcycled with new globes or shades or bulbs, and a coat of black paint.  

Floor lamps and table lamps should be serious, not rinky-dink. I recently saw an MLS photo of an average size bedroom with four small lamps, one on each side of the bed, and two on a dresser just across the room. And none of them matched. Don't make that mistake. 

Modern or vintage lamps will add some flair to your rooms. Look for timeless ginger jar shapes for table lamps, and mid-century modern for floor lamps.

This tripod-style floor lamp would look terrific in almost
any setting. The price? Just $89 for an investment piece
you can take with you when you move. Photo: Overstock

Colorful Walls

Accent walls might be trendy in high-end, customized homes, but home staging and interior decorating are different animals. Instead of highly saturated, unusual, or dark colors, keep your wall color on the  pale side. A neutral color won't be a red flag. It makes it easy for the next owner to feel comfortable with your choices. Not many people want to paint walls when they move to their new home. 

The vivid colors in your home can come from accessories like artwork, throws, pillows, lamps, vases, and even larger items like upholstered pieces and window treatments. But your background -- the walls -- are your grounding element. 

Here is a perfect example of a room
that gets its dose of bright color from one item --
the pillow on the daybed. Photo: One Kings Lane

Stained carpeting

Don't neglect cleaning the carpets in your home. Flooring is one of the first things buyers notice when they enter a home, and dirty or stained carpets bother buyers. Odors, dirt, allergens, and stains build up in the carpet over time, and you may have become accustomed to how they look or smell.  

A professional carpet cleaning is the way to go, since there is only so much you can accomplish with equipment that's not professional grade.   

Nothing memorable

Home staging is often accused of turning homes into sterile places. There is some validity to that attack. But it doesn't have to happen to you.

Decide what your home wants to be. What is unique about it? What do you love about it? What does it offer that other houses in your neighborhood and price range lack? Those are the features you want your home staging to put the spotlight on!

If you have a fireplace, make it a focal point and stage the mantel. If the outdoor view from inside is striking, or just plain pleasant, keep furniture away from those windows. Make sure that landscaping outside doesn't block a good view. 

Be sure that buyers can appreciate special architectural elements that might not be obvious on a quick tour, by having your Realtor mention these features in the MLS writeup.   

Be true to the character of your home. Even if your home is a replica of every other home the builder constructed in your subdivision, you can still add quality touches that make it memorable, like distinctive, oversized art on your walls, unusual window treatments, one-of-a-kind antiques, and decor props like colorful tabletop settings and interesting bookshelf arrangements.

Will your house be the one real estate clients remember
as the one with the light-filled bay window alcove staged with
 a keyboard and guitar? Photo: Design Sponge

Get the look, get the book

The average American moves 11.7 times during his lifetime. These buyers can be demanding, especially in a buyers' market. Homes that are staged are the homes that sell 73% faster than non-staged homes. But it is critical to get it right. My homestaging eBooks show you how. Download now to see how you can "smart stage" your home. 

Top Photo: Tracy Lynn Studio via HGTV

Spice Things Up with These Kitchen Staging Tips

Monday, May 10, 2021

If you were to look at the kitchen wish lists of homebuyers, you'd see some pretty specific preferences. They may want a certain style cabinet or a style of flooring. They may prefer quartz counters over granite countertops. They might insist on stainless appliances, a farmhouse-style sink, gas stove, or large center island. 

Even if you undertake a major kitchen remodel, replacing your cabinets, flooring, backsplash, and appliances, you're not going to satisfy everyone. 

Some industry experts estimate that the ROI for installing a new kitchen can be as high as 82.7 %, depending on the kind of remodel, the condition of the rest of your home, and your location. Usually, a well-done minor kitchen remodel can reliably return about 80 percent of your expense when you sell.  

It's estimated that about one in three Americans cook at home every day, and even people who aren't cooks want a kitchen that looks good. So, let's not minimize the value an impressive kitchen can add to a home's appeal. And to its selling price. 

The good news is that your kitchen might need only minor updates to land you a purchase offer. There are some techniques that can still put your home on the must-see-again list of those picky buyers. 

Streamline and clean it

You've heard it before: the first step in prepping your home for the real estate market is clearing away whatever is visually distracting or doesn't add to the perceived value of the home. Yes, we're talking about decluttering. 

If you have multiple small appliances crowding your countertop, it's best if you pare it down. Store elsewhere (offsite if necessary) what you don't use regularly, and find convenient places to hide other small appliances. 

Remember the rule of thumb: declutter first, then clean. Every kitchen benefits from a deep cleaning, something that's not as daunting if you've pared down your belongings first.   

An appliance garage like this is an ideal way to keep oft-used 
equipment close by but out of sight. Photo: LB LegacyBuilders
This heavy-duty lift mechanism is designed to be 
 installed in a base cabinet. It's a great way to get
appliances off the counter. Custom Hardware Service
Sometimes there is room in a kitchen for a narrow
pantry to be added, or for existing cabinets
to be retro-fitted to accommodate appliances. 
Of course, you would stage it to
look enviable! Photo: House Beautiful 

Make smart color choices

I think we all know that painting gives you the best return on your home staging budget. Since minor kitchen remodels have a worthwhile return, and since most kitchen walls are hidden by upper or lower cabinets or by appliances, painting your kitchen walls won't require a big investment in either money or time.

But the choice of paint color will take some smart consideration. I've blogged about my foolproof formula for choosing a paint color. You can read the easy steps there, but I will summarize here. Work with the existing fixtures like flooring and counters that will stay in place, and then determine the undertones that work with those fixtures (Do you have a warm and creamy white, or a cool and blueish white, for example). 

When you are staging your home, the kitchen needs a simple color scheme that revolves around three colors, just like every room in your house. Choose a neutral background color that repeats itself on the major surfaces like cabinets and walls. Usually, white, a pale grey, or pastel works best.  Your second color will be flooring or appliances. And your third choice is where you'll add smaller does of a more interesting color, like red or copper or bright green or lemon yellow or turquoise or navy. 

This kitchen's color scheme limits itself to varying
shades of greys and whites, with accents of
an appetizing, lemony color. Photo: BHG 

It's difficult to go wrong with a black and white
kitchen color combo. Here, the wood and brass
accents add some warmth. Photo: Wit & Delight 
 via Apartment Therapy. 

Add interesting details

One of the most wallet-friendly ways to get your kitchen up to speed with today's real estate market is to add embellishments that modernize the look.  Some examples would be interesting overhead light fixtures, stylish cabinet hardware, a new faucet, a coffee station, or some of the other economical kitchen upgrades I've already blogged about.  

Here is my list of want you don't want to add --

  • Cutesy knobs made from forks or spoons
  • Small white ceramic knobs unless you are going for a country or cottage look
  • Collections of things like ceramic animals, salt and pepper shakers, or liquor
  • Signs and labels that say things about your politics or religion or jokes about your bad habits
  • Fake food like bread or cupcakes (lemons and artichokes get a pass) 
  • An abundance of oven mitts or potholders 
  • Photos of your family
  • A trash can that's conspicuous
  • Multiple fruit bowls or vases of flowers
  • Expensive family silverware
  • A backsplash with too much personality or contrasting colors
  • Kitchen sponge, dishrag, or multiple cleaning products

What I do think adds visual value to a kitchen are some handsome cutting boards, an impressive appliance like an espresso machine or KitchenAid mixer, copper or cast iron cookware, or a simple green plant.    

Stylish, new lighting fixtures like these can update
any kitchen. Photo: LB Legacy Builders
Cabinet hardware needs to tie in with your
existing color scheme, the way these handsome
black, drawer pulls do. Photo: Country Living

Have literature available

I always like to see a handout at a home that is being sold. Househunters often view multiple homes in  one day, or over the span of a hectic weekend. If they leave your property with printed material, they have an easily accessible visual reminder of where they've been. Even if they are taking cell phone photos, most people will appreciate a paper printed with specifics about your property. Construction blueprints are two-dimensional drawings that will be impressive reminders of qualities your home has that other properties might not offer. 

A handout is an opportunity to include facts that an online MLS listing doesn't show, such as the exact distance to the nearest coffee shop, appliance brand names and models, what you especially like about your home, and the age of things like the roof and your HVAC system. 

Get the look, get the  book

Whether you are planning a major kitchen remodel, or just putting the finishing touches on your kitchen in preparation for showings, let my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your You Fast and For Top Dollar, be your guide. It has all the formulas, techniques, inspiration, and encouragement you need to stage your own home with the least amount of trouble and the most amount of return when you sell.

Top Photo: Greige Design

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