Attract Home Buyers with These Bonus Features

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The average home buyer looks at 10 or more homes before making a decision. What that means to you, the home seller, is that your property will be compared to similar ones on the market. 

Every property has its amenities. An amenity can be either public (things like nearby parks, good schools, or a desirable view), or private (things like an updated kitchen, a media room, or a wrap-around porch). 

Part of your role as a seller is to make sure prospective buyers know the advantages of buying your home -- both the public and private amenities. It's up to your listing agent, your home staging, and the online photos and data to highlight these assets.

While a new roof or an energy-star-rated refrigerator might be a selling point, they aren't considered much of an amenity. To impress a buyer, you'll need to think beyond ordinary amenities and consider bonus features. 

How many of these bonus features can you claim?


Disability-friendly features matter

As more Americans enter their retirement years and plan to age in place, the demand grows for homes that feature what they need. These features include -- 

Surfaces that are easy to keep clean
Drawers instead of cabinets in baths and kitchens
Comfort height toilets
Lever-style door handles instead of knobs
A walk-in or roll-in shower with hand-held showerhead
Entrances that are without steps
Extra-wide doorways, double doors, pocket doors, and doors on rails 

None of these features will be off-putting to other markets. But they are sure to be noticed and appreciated by seniors and those with limited mobility. Around 10% of the world's population lives with a disability. You can modify your home in simple ways like doorways that will accommodate a wheelchair or scooter, such as the top photo above from Suzanne-Kasler, or making the front entrance of your home a slope instead of a stoop, as pictured above in the photo from Remodeling Magazine.  

Smart technologies modernize a home

If there are gadgets like programmable lights and thermostat, a home security system and cameras, keyless door locks, Bluetooth speakers, or an automated sprinkler system, buyers are willing to pay more. 

These simple bonus features are bound to get the attention of younger buyers, but are important to other demographics as well. A video doorbell, lightbulbs that can be turned on and off remotely, or motion-controlled exterior lighting are some examples of technology that differentiate your home from others.  

Installing them now will require money but your investment can result in a quicker sale for a better price. Your home looks like it's kept up with the times, building confidence in a buyer's mind.    

While you are considering adding new technologies to your property, it's a good idea to remove or hide outdated equipment such as oversized speakers, clunky desktop computers, and printers, old cell phones and remotes, fax machines or obsolete televisions you don't use anymore. Find out locally where you can dispose of them safely.  

A thermostat that can be programmed or remotely set represents
the latest in indoor climate control. If you're not an experienced DIY-er or have 
an older home, it's advisable to hire an electrician
or HVAC technician to do the work. Photo: Brower Mechanical

Buyers expect neighborhood perks 

Everyone's heard the expression, "Location, location, location." It's a major consideration for buyers. So, create a list of all that you love about living in your neighborhood, your town or city. Give this list to your Realtor!

"Walkability" is a current real estate buzzword, as people who have lived in urban areas before the pandemic are relocating to suburban areas. They want the best of both worlds -- room to roam, safety, and nearby shopping and dining.

Last winter, before social distancing guidelines were in place, my own small town hosted an all-day open house at our town hall for area real estate agents to show them how well the town had recovered from hurricane damage the previous year. It was a grassroots effort to help home sellers, but area businesses and our town government cooperated and contributed. Volunteers (mostly home sellers) offered refreshments, manned booths that showcased perks like our library, kayak launch, community garden, dog park, playground, marina, and tennis courts, and they answered questions about the PowerPoint and photo display. Every Realtor left with a printed handout that boasted about our public amenities -- from town infrastructure, police statistics, and town-sponsored events, to a list of businesses, clubs, and recreational opportunities.

If you start a list like this about your locale, whether it's rural, suburban or urban, you will be surprised how many special features you and your neighbors enjoy. These intangibles are often missing in MLS listings, yet they are what make people happy about their lifestyle.  

People want to know how close local attractions are to your property -- 
the library, museum, walking or bike trails, hospitals, dog park,
schools, shopping venues, and area restaurants. Photo: Chips Restaurant          


A home with a picket fence has always been part of American 
landscapes. In fact, since the 1940s a home with a white picket fence has been 
shorthand for living the American dream. Photo: Family Fence Company of Florida

Fencing is a big bonus

Realtors like to mention "fenced back yard" in an MLS description. It's no wonder. Whether for security, privacy, a place for children or dogs to run free, or purely cosmetic, a fenced area is a plus on any property. 

More than 63% of Americans own a dog, and having a secure place for a dog to get exercise is important to them. Families with small children appreciate the security a fenced yard promises.

If your property is marketed to investors who plan to rent it, a fenced yard is especially valuable. As a landlady myself, I know that renters have a difficult time finding rental homes that allow dogs. Fenced homes rent for more money and can give rental agents a larger pool of applicants than a no-pet rental would give them. 

But it's not just back yard fences that score points with buyers. A side yard, patio, or balcony can be enclosed with a privacy fence to create a relaxing refuge. A tall fence can screen a view that is something you don't want to see, or don't want prospective buyers to focus on. Lower fences like the one shown in this photo from Lauren Leonard Interiors, can be used to shield from view utility areas for recycling and garbage bins, bikes, hoses, and air conditioning units. A locked fence is a deterrent to troublemakers.  

Also, one of the most common complaints homeowners have about maintaining a yard or garden is that deer come and do serious damage, often destroying entire plants, but the right fence will deter them, and save expensive plantings. 

There's no need to pull a Tom Sawyer hustle to maintain today's fences. Fortunately, they can be made of maintenance-free materials like aluminum, vinyl, PVC or chain link. 

A professionally installed fence will return about 65% of your investment at selling time.  

Outdoor hardscaping adds character 

A fence is just part of a home's hardscape. Hardscaping is the name we give to all the non-living elements like stone walls, brick walkways, gravel paths, concrete patios, sidewalks, and driveways, and all the pretty things like a trellis, arbor, fountain or pool. Hardscape even includes containers for plants, outdoor furniture, and ceramic or stone statues in the landscape. 

I teach a class at the local community college about landscape design, and I love to show students examples of how hardscape elements add color, variety, and even whimsy to their home landscapes. It's difficult to narrow down the list of possibilities to a single PowerPoint for them! 

If you are preparing your home for the real estate market, consider how hardscape can enhance its curb appeal with containers of colorful flowers, how it can improve its safety with clear, smooth walkways, and how it can increase its usefulness with a patio of pavers, flagstone, concrete, or bricks. These are all upgrades that help make your home unique and memorable, and some are easily DIY projects. 

The best hardscape bonus features are the ones that will remain at the house you're selling. But any well designed and appropriate hardscape will give you a competitive edge over other landscaped homes in your market.    

Some hardscape might be fixed and convey with the property. But some might be yours to take with you after the sale, like this birdbath that adds a focal point and some structure to an untamed landscape. 

The coming autumn days are prime time for improving your landscaping in general. If you like to garden, take cuttings of your favorite shrubs and start rooting them now. You can dig up the dormant flower bulbs, replant some and dry some you might like to take with you to your next home. Divide your favorite perennials now and pot up some to take with you when you move.

If you've included some bonus features in your home improvements and home staging, you could be moving soon! Bonus features are what make a home memorable, give it some personality, and make it easy for buyers to envision themselves comfortable in your home.  

Get the look, get the book

Don't leave without downloading my eBook, DIY HomeStaging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. You'll discover a wealth of tips, solutions, schedules, and checklists that take the guesswork and confusion out of staging your own home. 

Why Purchase Offers Fall Apart

Friday, August 21, 2020

It happens all the time. A buyer likes what he sees online or on a home tour. He's ready to make an offer And then he doesn't. What went wrong? 

There are multiple explanations possible. Perhaps his Realtor talked him out of it, convincing him the price was too high, the neighborhood was iffy, the floor plan was problematic, or the necessary repairs make it a poor buy.

Sometimes family members throw cold water on the idea of a purchase offer. A spouse is uncomfortable about the location. A brother-in-law says he knows of a newer property. Or the prospective buyer simply has a difficult time making a commitment. These are situations that you as a seller can't control

But often the reason is something the seller did or didn't do. I don't want you to be guilty of any of these mistakes. They are easily avoided once you are aware of how they can ruin a home sale.

You meet the buyer

Smart real estate agents know that preventing sellers from interacting with buyers is just better business. Keeping buyers from meeting face-to-face increases the likelihood of a smooth sale. I know that some people will disagree with me. Some buyers insist they need to hear about the finer points of a home, its history and quirks. Some sellers insist they can convey the subtle amenities of their house in a way that the MLS writeup or the agent cannot. 

Since you want to sell your home for the most money possible, and your buyer wants to buy it for the least he can pay for it, consider yourselves adversaries. That's why I like the idea of brokers being buffers between buyer and seller. 

Rather than sitting down with your buyer, let your home speak for itself. Photo: Annette Tatum

Also, there is always the chance that personalities will clash. Research shows that people make a decision about whether they like or dislike someone during the first five seconds of meeting the person, and that decision does not usually change. A buyer may have a bias against your ethnicity, appearance, race, gender, age, or attitude. In any business deal, it always helps when both parties like and trust each other.

In addition, you may be so emotionally attached to your home that you don't want to learn that the landscape will be changed and the rooms will be repainted. This info doesn't have to be shared, but it often is when the parties meet at a showing. Don't stay home when your house is being toured! As soon as you decide to sell your home is the time to think of it as an investment that you are cashing in. 

A meeting can lead to casual chatting, and then result in information being passed that is not part of any legal agreement. Why endanger the sale? Any important information -- care of the pool or your recommendations for lawn service -- can be presented after closing. The buyer does not need to know that you laid all the bathroom floor tiles yourself, that you added ceiling fans because the AC couldn't keep up, that someone died in the home, or that the neighborhood isn't what it used to be. 

You chose the wrong Realtor

When I recently sold a home, all the paperwork was being done online, using DocuSign. In one of the multi-page transmissions, a page was omitted by my agent. As a result, I unknowingly signed a document that was incomplete on my end. Because of my Realtor's mistake, I had to pay for unnecessary updates that I would never have agreed to.  

Choosing your listing agent is probably the most important decision you'll make in the whole selling process. You need an agent who is skilled in the latest technologies so she can work with your buyer smoothly, accurately, and professionally. You want one who understands your needs, budget, and schedule. An experienced one will know how to handle a difficult buyer, work well with the buyer's broker, understand the latest regulations, and be a clear, prompt communicator. It's a tall order! 

I've blogged about how to find a real estate agent who's perfect for you and your property. Avoid these pitfalls when choosing a listing agent.

Home staging is what will distinguish you from others in your market. Photo: Bria Hammel

You won't negotiate 

There is almost always some back-and-forthing between when an offer is first presented and when final documents are signed by both parties. Terms, price, timing... it all has to be nailed down. 

Negotiation experts explain that the longer the ball stays in the air, the more time spent working out the details of a sale, the better the chance that the deal will go through to the satisfaction of both buyer and seller. Of course, this fact assumes that neither party is being obnoxiously demanding.

Be the good guy during negotiations. Let your Realtor go to bat for you. Show data like a home inspection or appraisal or comparables or receipts to defend your position. Read what I've blogged about the nine ways to have a successful home sale negotiation.

You didn't spring for a home inspection

Once you and your buyer sign a purchase offer, it is a binding legal contract. If a buyer wants to back out, it has to be because of a specific contingency (inspection, financing, or other) written into the offer. Otherwise, he is obligated to follow through or forfeit his earnest money or due diligence deposit. Laws vary by state -- one more reason to work with a knowledgeable real estate agent.

Effective, unique and photogenic home staging keeps your home in the mind of a buyer all through the negotiating process. Photo: Lindsey Brooke Design

Purchase offers often dissolve when an inspection reveals problems your buyer doesn't want to deal with. That's why I always suggest a seller have her house inspected before listing it. That's the best way to prevent surprises when the seller hires his own inspector. Be proactive. Make the repairs that might scare off a buyer. Today's buyers are spoiled. Most of them want move-in ready. 

Small fixes needn't be expensive and knowing that you've taken care of any delayed maintenance issues will give you confidence and peace of mind while your home is on the market and during negotiations. 

If your inspector finds problems you don't want to fix, you'll be able to get quotes from contractors or tradespeople that your Realtor can supply during talks with a prospective buyer. If a buyer complains about the condition of your roof, you can say, "A new roof will cost $3,000, so I will deduct that from my selling price for you," and then show the lowest bid you received. 

The inspection will go with few if any hiccups if you've read my tips for a successful home inspection.  

You didn't stage your home appropriately

Your home staging goal is to make your home so sweet and comfortable and spacious and luxurious...that a home shopper can't forget about it. Your staging should seduce a buyer, capture his imagination and desire to the degree that he prefers your home over others he's considering. 

Therefore, it can't be staged with outdated or beat up furniture. It can't look skimpy or cheap. It can't be crowded with oversized pieces. It needs to be clean and uncluttered. Read this blog and my eBooks, and click on the icons below to peruse my Pinterest boards or see what's new on the Facebook page. Study the look of luxury homes because that is the look you are selling, even if your home is a woodsy cottage.    

I've made your home staging projects easy for you. Follow the advice I give in my eBook, DIY HomeStaging Tips to Sell Your Fast and For Top Dollar. It will steer you through all the questions you have about the way to make your home irresistible in today's real estate market. You can download the 150-page pdf now and -- on a budget --begin to make your home worth more!    

Best Tips for Selling Your Home During the Pandemic

Wednesday, August 05, 2020
Every year, 43 million Americans move. Surprisingly, despite job losses and uncertainty about almost everything as a result of COVID-19, people are still buying houses and relocating.

Sellers can be optimistic. According to Curbed, prices for homes are not expected to drop, in part because there is not a surplus of desirable homes on the market.

Of course you want to get the best price for your home. You don't want it to linger on the market. You want it to attract serious buyers who won't whittle away at your asking price. In some markets, people are buying homes without setting foot inside them. In these hot markets, bidding wars are not uncommon.

Where people buy

If the home you are selling is located within commuting distance of a major metro area like DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, San Francisco, or Miami, your property will be attractive to people moving away from city-living. They are looking for more space, less high-density living, lower cost of living, and a safer place to raise a family. The growing popularity of remote working has made these moves more practical.     

Even outside of these booming markets, desirable properties are in demand. Houses in inland cities, affordable mid-sized cities, even rural land and homes, are all more popular than years past. It's not just remote workers who are buying, but real estate investors as well. 

No matter what your target market looks like, the fact remains that empty houses and messy houses are not what anxious buyers are attracted to now. Let's take a  look at what will help your home sell.

Use what you own

You don't need to spend money on a home you expect to leave soon. Smart staging calls for creative use of the furnishings already in your home.

Jennifer Rizzo can show you how to
a set of old encyclopedias
to dr
ess up bookshelves for staging.

I've found that removing the not-so-attractive furniture and rearranging the best pieces goes a heck of a long way to upgrading a home's appearance.

Can those pieces that don't look all that stylish, that well maintained, or that valuable be put into storage, donated, or sold? You may want to decorate with a new look at your new home, when pieces can be acquired over time.   

Once you have major pieces in place, you'll want to select the decorative objects that -- shall we say -- reflect the lifestyle you want to become accustomed to?

For finishing touches, choose only the best accessories and pack up the rest. Narrow down your stash of objects like hardcover books, vases, decorative bowls, throw pillows, blankets, wall mirrors,  candles, and houseplants to the biggest and best. Incorporate antiques if you have them. Add a dash of whimsy.

Don't overlook forgotten items that you've tucked away in areas like your basement, attic, garage, closets, or cabinets. I've worked with homeowners whose most interesting decor items were in their garden shed or storage unit --  things we then brought out to help stage rooms that appeal to buyers. You can cover an old set of encyclopedias with white shelf paper, or age them the way the photo above shows. Use a vintage, galvanized washtub for an indoor palm plant. Hang a guitar, an antique sled or even a bike on the wall.

Go minimal for a clean look 

Even a little decluttering and depersonalizing will go a long way.

Homebuyers are especially attentive to cleanliness during COVID-19. A home needs to look clean and smell clean.

Start with a deep clean of your home. Then do what it takes to maintain that image of a well-maintained home, one that looks like it will be easy to maintain. That calls for a lack of clutter. The best staging has always been "less is more," and that approach is even more significant now.

The minimalist look doesn't have to feel cold and unwelcoming. Staging during COVID-19 should depend on what's being labeled "comfort decorating," and "grandma chic" to indicate the trend towards furnishings that emphasize comfort over high-end style. That's definitely good news for sellers who are staging with hand-me-downs and traditional pieces that have been around a while.

An outdoor oasis can suggest
that a home be the place
to staycation. Photo: DecorPad

Stage some special features 

What buyers are looking for now is a home where they can comfortably spend family time, and possibly work from home. They may be homeschooling children. They may have adult children returning to the nest.

Aim to create a space that can function well as a home office or homework central, with good lighting and well-designed seating. It needn't be a large area, so even smaller homes should be able to find an "office spot."

Outdoor areas are more important than ever to people who are relocating from cities. They want amenities like a porch, deck, or patio, the more spacious and private the better. If you have a backyard, add outdoor seats and anything else suitable in your climate -- a firepit or outdoor shower or herb garden or horseshoe pit.
A simple desk with a chair and some accessories are all it
takes to create the look of an office. Photo: DecorPad

Prepare for virtual tours

Most real estate agents are now offering virtual home tours in lieu of in-person showings. This way of showing a property can be a great way to reach buyers who might otherwise be unable to see your property. Make sure the Realtor you choose has the experience to do justice to your listing on a video.

Virtual tours reveal more of your home's interior and exterior than do edited still photos on an MLS online listing. Make sure there are no distracting objects like bathroom toiletries clustered on vanities, small items piled onto tables, or children's and pets' toys scattered about. 

It's a documented fact that staged homes sell more quickly and for more money than homes that are left as-is. Even in a seller's market, staging still pays off. With these tips in mind, you'll be more likely to field multiple offers and spend less time on the market. We all want that!

Your staging will go faster, easier and for less money when you follow the advice I give in my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It's a 150-page pdf that you can instantly download now.

Top Photo: Lucan Allen, Country Living

All You Need to Know About Today's Trends

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Interior decor trends come and go. And after they've been gone a while, they come back!

A home on the market needs to acknowledge current trends to some degree or risk looking out of step.

When you include some carefully curated trends as part of your home staging, you're signaling that your house has kept up with the times.

Staging with some on-trend colors or furnishings implies that the home is well maintained, that money and energy have been spent caring for it. Buyers are more likely to get the message that the entire home, including systems like HVAC, electrical systems, and plumbing are all up to the latest standards.

Your trendy touches might be a certain paint color, the latest style coffeemaker, that backyard amenity people are talking about, or the newest look in bedding. Don't assume that buying into the latest styles is going to be expensive. Avoid fads. Upcycle what you have. And get smart about what today's home buyers crave.

These times are unusual

Especially now, because of COVID-19 we're seeing a return to styles of the past. People are spending more time at home. They're craving a sense of normalcy. They might even be sentimental about how things used to be.

Relaxing colors and comfortable seating should be part of
your home staging plan. Photo: Giannetti Home
More people prefer solid surface counters over granite now,
 and classic cabinets over open shelving. Photo: Bob Vila  
Luxury touches like this alcove staged as
a makeup station are impressive, especially
to women buyers.Photo: Courtney Hill   

Mix old and new

Aim for a layered look rather than the boring, formula staging of 20 years ago. You can do this by mixing old, traditional objects with brand new furnishings.

That skirted round table shown in the photo at the top of this post was popular decades ago, but now it's sitting beside a bed with today's style padded headboard and luxury linens.

Think about mixing textures, too. If you have faux fur rugs and wicker or rattan furniture, put them together for an inviting juxtaposition.

Don't be afraid to toss in some happy colors and frisky accessories, as long as you balance them with traditional settings. Sew up chartreuse pillow covers to decorate your duvet-covered bed. Stage grandma's china cabinet with a collection of seashells, cookbooks, or DIY Mercury glass vases -- something other than ho-hum china.

If the home you are staging has features like a tin ceiling, wainscoting in the bath, a  free-standing tub, a breakfast nook, a kitchen pantry, a large front porch, or mid-century furniture, ...well, you're in luck! These nostalgic touches make a house feel like a generous helping of comfort food right now.

Reflect the present lifestyles

The pandemic has affected every area of our lives. And real estate preferences reflect the changes. More people are working from home and will continue to do that as businesses opt into remote workforces when it makes sense to do so.

Families want accommodating spaces where they can congregate for Netflix and meals, but they also need places for privacy, homework, and office work. The open floor plan is not a high priority now. We could see more multi-generational families buying homes as younger career builders might be moving in with parents and grandparents might be needed for childcare. Suburban and rural homes have gained in popularity as people reassess their needs to live in urban areas.

This room looks fresh and contemporary, even though it's
decorated with an assortment of what can be called traditional
elements like the collection of books, classic textile patterns,
houseplants, a sunburst mirror over the fireplace,
and a slipcovered, retro chair. Photo: Meyer Interiors
The leggy, molded plastic 50s chair is an interesting 
companion to an old painted desk. Together, they create 
a charming corner workstation. Photo: Fine Furnished
Comfort is more important than ever. But it can't
look sloppy. An old wingback chair upholstered in 
fuchsia velvet, the fluffy pillow, primitive art,
and a modern side table balance the old-style
iron bed and plain white quilt. Photo: Meyer Interiors   
Stage indoor and outdoor spaces with throwback pieces 
of wicker and rattan. They are easily available, economical, 
lighthearted, and low-maintenance. Photo: Gumtree  
Older furniture pieces can take on a new life that
fits today's more casual styles, like this china cabinet, painted
and staged as a bookcase. Photo: Pencil Shavings Studio 
A bamboo bar cart like this one is right at home in today's
staged home. Be sure that there are no actual
alcoholic drinks accessible. Photo: Serena & Lily
Botanicals and florals are now more popular 
than geometric patterns that seem hard-edge. 
If you can't be bothered with caring for 
houseplants in a bath, a shower curtain like this 
adds that lush vibe. Spa-like additions are fluffy towels,
soaps, and sponges. Photo: Apartment Therapy

Get the look, get the book

I hope I've given you fresh ideas to help you get your home ready for the lively real estate market. It's never too soon to begin planning your staging.

It's rare that any one property checks all the boxes on a home buyer's wish list. You may not have the perfect house that satisfies the majority of buyers. But home staging can bridge the gap, encouraging buyers to value your property as a good fit. 

You can learn more about timeless methods to stage your own home in my $4.99 eBooks for home stagers. You're just two clicks away from reading how you can start today to prep your home for the real estate market. Follow me on Twitter for news, tips, and inspiration about home staging.

Top Photo: Rita Konig

What you can learn about home staging from my Garden Shed Makeover

Thursday, June 11, 2020
It's often the utility rooms, closets, storage buildings, and work areas of our homes that get no love.

They're the non-public rooms of the house that only family sees.

But if you're listing your home for sale-- and sooner or later, almost everyone will sell his residence -- it's not just immediate family who views these spaces.

It will be prospective buyers.

Why not make these necessary spaces attractive now, so they'll be safer, prettier, and more functional for you and yours to enjoy?

My garden shed was an example of one of those neglected storage buildings. It wasn't ugly, but it was crowded, disorganized, and dirty. It was no source of pride even before Hurricane Florence blew through our area a year and a half ago, but after the storm, it was a disaster. Floodwaters rose to three feet in the shed, where we had stashed potted plants, lawn furniture, and assorted outdoor equipment we didn't want to be blown away.

It took me a few weeks before I had the time and stomach to deal with the fetid, moldy remains of flooded bags of potting soil and organic fertilizers. Some things I was able to gradually dry out. But some things went to the curb where our still soggy furnishings waited for debris removal.

The steps I took to bring my shed back to a place I enjoyed using are the same steps anyone should take to stage a home.

Previously, the little outbuilding where I store garden supplies
looked like this. Since I see it from our dining room, from
the deck, and from my kitchen window, I wanted to
give it a little more character and color.   

Step one: Toss, then clean

Cleaning is always a good beginning when you stage a home. But even before a thorough cleaning, it makes sense to get rid of what shouldn't be there, whether you're staging a bedroom, closet, bath, backyard, front porch, or basement family room. There's no sense to cleaning what won't remain.

Cleaning gives you a new slate. Cleaning empowers you. Cleaning brings new possibilities to light.

It was mayhem inside the building after the storm.
So my first task was to take everything out of my little outbuilding.

Then I swept, hosed out, sprayed with bleach, and let it dry out for a full week of warm weather.

I knew I didn't want a gussied up she-shed. I wanted what my father called a "hut," -- a handy place to store all the supplies and equipment, big and small, a gardener needs that can't be left out in the elements.

While the building dried, I sorted through what was stored there.

Just as with a closet organization project, it helps to have everything out of the space and visible, in order to decide what needs to go back. I realized that some of the larger pieces of equipment should live in the garage, since they generally get used more by my Mr. Lucky. So, I relocated the power edger, leaf blower, and weed whacker to the garage. Amazingly, they all still functioned because we had secured them high up in the shed.

The back wall of the 8- by 8-foot building was dry and empty, but dirty.
I stood on a step ladder and hosed pine needles and branches
off the corrugated translucent plastic roof to let in more light.

Lesson: A blank slate makes home staging simpler. 

Step two: Refresh the base

I wanted fresh paint on all surfaces. Because of the way it was constructed, with so many exposed studs and framing, I decided to use a small roller and grid in a one-gallon can to paint the ceiling, walls, shelving, and even the floor. I used a flat, interior, latex, white paint. On the floor I used a latex porch and deck paint.

You can see what a difference a new coat of white paint made. Rolling it on was
easier than brushing, but I still had to do a little bit of cutting in with a brush. 

Lesson: Paint solves a multitude of problems.

Step three: Organize the essentials

Now came the task of placing the essentials in my hut, so that everything would be handy and the small space would not look crowded.

We've all heard the expression, "A messy desk is the sign of  genius." And research actually supports this fact. However, I'm still going to bat for team organized! Whether you are trying to sell your house, find what you need when you need it, or just clear your mind, an organized workspace is a plus all around.

I've blogged about how to easily create order from chaos with better organization and establishing systems to save yourself time and space. 

I clumped into groups all the items that needed to return to the shed -- hand tools, larger tools, bags of soil amendments and potting soils, labeling supplies, seed packets, string and ties, pots, and plant supports.
Before the hurricane, I took photos all around our property,
inside and out, so I could document damage for any
insurance claims. This was my messy work area. 

Lesson: Eyesores and excess junk need to disappear when you stage.    
The same area looked like this once I cleaned, painted,
and put supplies back where they should have been all along. 

Lesson: Buyers expect cleanliness and orderliness.
Before the storm the other side of the building didn't look
very pretty either. It was dirty and disorganized.

Lesson: Buyers will judge you by how you maintain your belongings.  
Now, this is what I see when I open the door to my shed.
I can locate things quickly, and it's easy to
keep the whole area clean.

Lesson: First impressions are important. 
All the long-handled tools went back up on the third
wall. There's no question where they belong, so replacing
each one is effortless.
Lesson: Make it easy to maintain orderliness.     

Step four: Decorate with flourishes

Adding the finishing touches resembles the last steps you'd take when you actually stage a home, except I was staging to please only myself. I wanted things colorful. I chose teal and blue as unifying colors in order to reduce eye clutter. I shopped my house for boxes, bins, and other containers in teal tones.

What doesn't fit your new color scheme when you stage can be updated. I used things like paint, tape, and fabric to recover surfaces. I covered the main work surface with a plasticized cotton drop cloth that could be removed and washed. And I used 
duct tape and some washi tape to dress up these spray bottles.
Lesson: A simple, cohesive color scheme is a home staging essential.  

Gloves always need a place where they can dry out but still be
accessible. I mounted a cheap towel rod under the counter and used
clips with hooks to store all my garden and work gloves. 

Lesson: A well-staged home is a logically organized home. 
I wanted colorful accents outside the shed.
I used this faux finished container, and a vintage tin bucket set in a recycled wire seat
to keep costs down and add personality.
Lessons: Bright color makes sense when decorating
outdoors, especially mixed with some distressed items.
To make the plain jane building more interesting, I mounted
a small wooden shelf, added a Foo Dog, and hung
a small watering can from underneath.
Lesson: Touches of whimsy are always welcome additions.  

On the other side of the door I placed a wreath I made from
grapevines and artificial flowers. I know I will 
switch it up in autumn and spring with different DIY wreaths.  
Lesson: A home on the market should reflect the season.
Over the door I added a sign I stenciled on a
scrap piece of wood. It reminds me of my dad.
Lesson: Unique props can make a home on the market
memorable, as long as they are not too personal or controversial. 

The fence sections attached to the front corners helped
to ground the shed and make it look larger and more important.
The ceramic garden seat below the wreath added color.
Lesson: Buyers are impressed with size. Big looks like a bargain. 

Get help with home staging

Because of social distancing guidelines, you may be dealing with boredom and restlessness as you stay home more. Improving a small corner of your property is bound to lift your spirits and provide a sense of accomplishment. 

For more tips about improving the value of your home, download my eBooks about home staging you can do yourself. No matter how long you plan to stay in your home, learning about what makes a property attractive to a wide variety of people is a smart move.


Feeling Blue? Think Indigo.

Friday, May 08, 2020
There's a reason people love classic bluejeans, and it has to do with their color. Classic blue denim jeans aren't just blue. They are indigo!

Their indigo color is one reason jeans are considered a basic, go-with-everything wardrobe essential. Indigo is a color that's a mix of true blue and violet.

It's a color that's easy to work with, versatile, available, stylish, and likable across different demographics, ages, and genders.'s the perfect color to incorporate into your home staging.

As a wall color for a home on the market, indigo won't rate high, because usually it's too light-absorbing and makes rooms look smaller.

But for almost everything else, it's a winner, either alone or sharing the spotlight with other colors.

It's easy to find pillows, art, and other
decor props in indigo shades for your
homestaging. Photo: CoastalStyleBlogspot
Indigo combines beautifully with neutrals like cream, tan, grey, and white. Experiment with it, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to see how it provides a foil for intense colors like tangerine, chartreuse, or bubble gum pink.

Do you have the blues? 

At a time when many of us are "feeling blue," I decided to poke around the Internet to determine the origin of that very phrase.

There are only theories about when and why feeling sad was given its own color!

History tells us that ancient Greeks believed when the skies were blue, it was because the god Zeus was sad and crying.

But perhaps the expression originated on naval vessels of long ago when an officer died onboard and sailors would raise a blue flag.

Or it could be that the color blue was associated with sick or dying people who had bruises or blue lips.

Well, I say, it's time to look again at blue, specifically indigo blue, for some more cheerful news!

Indigo has a history

What makes indigo unique is the way it dyes the surface of fibers, but only partially penetrates them. That's the reason indigo fabrics fade to give to a characteristic worn or vintage look.

Here's a little of indigo's fascinating story. In 1905 Adolf von Baeyer, of Bayor Asprin fame, was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering how to manufacture a synthetic indigo dye. 

It took him 14 years of research to develop a way to imitate the special qualities of indigo. Until then the dye was made from plant material in a labor-intense, time-consuming, multi-step process that remained unchanged for thousands of years. It was actually the mass production and popularity of Levi-Strauss jeans that necessitated the search for a modern synthetic substitute for real indigo dye. 

Here are photos that might spark some fresh ideas of how you can harness the appeal of indigo in your home staging.
Looking like the color of a loved and faded pair of jeans, 
the fabric on these slipcovers combines 
both ethnic and classic vibes. Photo: Luxesource
Three indigo-patterned pillows and an indigo-dyed throw are jazzing up a monochromatic color scheme. Photo: Raquel Langworthy Design 
A shibori print roman shade and an indigo floor pattern are perfect in this all-white bathroom. Photo: Samantha Todhunter Design
Indigo's the ideal foil for bright colors like this lemony
yellow, a color repeated in the abstract art. Photo: Tobi Fairley

Touches of indigo in surprising places can add a unique quality
to your home staging without shouting. Photo: rentpatina
Ceramics are another source of indigo accessories for
your home. Expect to find it in ethnic- and coastal-styled
pottery and textiles. Photo: Rae Dunn Clay 
Indigo holds its own as an exterior paint as well
as an indoor color choice. Shutters, front doors,
planter boxes -- they're all candidates for getting
a coat of indigo paint. Photo: Euamodecoracao 
You'll find indigo in Sherwin Williams most popular shades
of blue. This chart shows a dark tone of indigo, incorporating
some black pigment. Light and dark indigos mix well.    

Blue lifts us up

Color is powerful. It affects our emotional state more than we are conscious of. Just like the way decluttering or rearranging furniture or giving your home a deep-clean, injecting new color into your home can award you a sense of accomplishment and strength.

Right now's a great time to welcome some decor changes, even without leaving the house. If you don't have the paint or fabric on hand, go online and search for American-made products!

Search Etsy for indigo fabrics and order some today to stitch up pillow covers for your staging. Upcycle an old pair of jeans as a fabric-covered box or serving tray. Make an ink-blot work of art with some blue food coloring from your pantry.

It's a sad time in the history of the world. Each of us has a story to tell, but often not shared, about how the pandemic is affecting us.

You may be welcoming a slowed pace or more time with your immediate family, a new routine, the chance to be quiet in solitude or catch up on tasks usually ignored. Or not.

I hope your situation is not that you are haunted by anxiety, overwhelmed by homeschooling, worried about older relatives, or stressed about money for basic needs. You are not alone.

Most of us are little stir crazy, isolated and missing friends, coworkers, and family. Once we're reunited we're sure to savor more than ever our connections and friendships.

Meanwhile, no matter what your situation looks like now, I hope that the new normal that lies ahead is a good fit for you and all you aspire to. Let's hope the changes COVID-19 brings include improvements in the quality of life for every individual, globally.

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