Where to Splurge, Where to Scrimp When You Stage Your Home

Thursday, December 02, 2021
I've never met anyone who said, "I don't care what it costs to stage my home. Let's spend a ton of cash!"

It's just common sense to practice economy when we stage our homes. 

We all want to recover the investment we made when we purchased the home we're now selling, and maybe move on to something even better.

At the same time, we can't work with such a tight budget that the quality of the home staging suffers. 

The solution is to spend money where it matters, where it will make a difference in the perceived value of the house. That's the sure route to a quick and profitable home sale.

Important rooms

Realtors know which rooms and what features buyers put on their must-have list. So...tip one: listen to the advice your Realtor gives you on where to cut corners and where you need to spend some money.

Most real estate pros agree that the important rooms are kitchens and baths. Next in importance is the primary bedroom. Some homes have deficiencies that can't be remedied, like a less than ideal neighborhood, a small garage, or high taxes or HOA costs. If that's the case with your home, then these three important rooms can be what tips the scales and convinces buyers to overlook those problems you can't fix.

If you need to improve the value of the kitchen, bath, and primary bedroom, decide what jobs you can do yourself and what you need to hire pros to do. Minor plumbing jobs like replacing a faucet, fixing a running toilet, or unclogging a garbage disposal, can be  DIY projects, but major plumbing upgrades will require a plumber. Some buyers will insist on documentation that electrical work and plumbing work was performed by a licensed plumber or electrician.


If you are the kind of homeowner who adheres to a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly list of home maintenance chores, you can probably pass on a deep cleaning of your home when it's time to sell. But the rest of us probably have an oven to clean and some closet shelves to scrub. To make sure that your house looks good and smells good, it needs to be clean down to its bones. This may take a bit of time, but it's worth the effort. If you don't have the time or energy for this kind of work, consider hiring a cleaning service for a one-time deep clean in preparation for photographing and listing.  

Make sure rooms smell clean. Ceiling fans move air and prevent mustiness. They look good and help reduce heating and cooling costs. Unless you're an experienced DIYer, get the help of a professional, especially if you don't have safety equipment, the right tools, or you have a vaulted ceiling, which will be up to 13 feet higher than a standard ceiling. 

I'm a big fan of air purifiers. This is the one we've been using at our house. I like it because it's not big, honking ugly, and yet effective at keeping indoor air clean (not a paid endorsement). I also like to scent the air inside with essential oils, and I blogged about the scent diffuser I use (also, unsolicited endorsement). I cooked salmon for dinner earlier this evening and you would never know it now.

Buyers will judge a home's cleanliness by how clean the  
kitchen and bathrooms are. Photo: Better Homes and Gardens


There are plenty of ways you can throw money on your landscape. All but the horribly neglected landscapes require more than a simple sprucing up when it's time to sell. Many buyers don't want a fussy landscape because they see it as additional labor and expense once they move in.     

When shrubs and trees are well-maintained, they contribute up to 14%, value to your property. If trees on your property need serious pruning, hire a good tree service company that's trained in sane, safe horticultural practices. They usually offer full services like tree removal, stump grinding, pruning, fertilizing, trimming, and mulching. You don't need to splurge on all services. You can choose only what your home needs to be more marketable. 

Overgrown shrubs can be replaced with newer, smaller
ones to make a home look younger. Photo: Helen Norman, BHG


Buyers love a move-in-ready home. With budgets stretched thin by their down payment, moving costs, and perhaps expenses necessary to get their own home market-ready, most buyers hope they don't have to spring for new appliances when they move. 

Buyers often request to see invoices for energy costs. Now's a good time to get your heating and cooling system checked to be sure it is as efficient as it could be. Here is a guide to help you decide if it's time for repairs on your water heater. LED lights and programmable thermostats are energy savers that are worth the splurge. 

Gussying up your interior spaces with cute pillows and artfully displayed dishware without tending to infrastructure like roofing, electrical systems, HVAC, and plumbing is like putting lipstick on a pig. You won't fool a home inspector, so rather than disappoint prospective buyers or have to offer concessions, get ready before you list. There will be fewer glitches on the way to the closing table!      


Don't waste your money on projects that don't matter to the majority of buyers. 

I've previously blogged about my favorite, time-tested tips and secrets to make your home staging dollars go further.  

The list of renovations that don't return your investment includes adding a sunroom, converting a bedroom to a media room, adding an inground pool, changing a garage to make it living space, and removing closets for any reason. 

Of course, I always recommend thriftiness when you stage your home for sale. My eBooks on DIY home staging tell you all the most cost-effective ways to make your home desirable to buyers. Even if you are a professional stager or real estate agent, you are bound to learn from my books new ways to make smart choices about how to spend your staging budget, no matter how small it is. 

Top Photo: Studio McGee

It's Show and Tell Time - November Edition

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Welcome to December! Come with me to take a look back at what interested me during the past month. 

Design and decor

I'm going all out for a silver and white Christmas this year. I think it will be relaxing and yet glam. I'm getting inspired by this board on Pinterest. Between all the mercury glass, rhinestones, metallic fabrics, snow flocking, and pearls, there's no shortage of easy-to-duplicate ideas!

I think these sheets from Pottery Barn are perfect for the season. 

The ceramic Christmas tree my Aunt Hilda made in a ceramics class 60 years ago comes out of the box every December in our house. She would be astounded to see these 15 stylized versions that today's designers are offering. 

We tend to regard English interior decor as rather stuffy and even chaotic, but this English home manages to combine traditional and contemporary design perfectly.  

In the kitchen

After reading this fashion blogger's post about aprons worn in the kitchen, I was surprised to learn from reader comments that apron-wearing is quite popular today, and not just something our grandmothers wore. I have a few aprons that I will wear if I think things will get messy, but I've decided to purchase a new one.  

Every Christmas my mother used to make little cookies called Coconut Gems and I do the same. They are unusual because they have a certain crispness due to the use of a leavening agent called ammonium carbonate. This powder was used in old-fashioned cookies before baking soda became the norm. Here is a recipe called Princess Gems that is similar to the one handed down in my (Norwegian ancestry) family. The recipe lists sources for ammonium carbonate.

There's no shortage of outrageously delicious ideas for party foods on this list of 100 no-touch finger foods to serve this season when everyone is being covid-cautious. How do beef curry puffs, zucchini fritters, mini beef wellingtons, prawn and chorizo gazpacho shots, goat cheese quiches, tiny gingerbread cheesecakes, and strawberry mousse cups sound? 

If you have a cook on your gift list, you'll most likely find the perfect book for that person on Bon Appetit's list of the best 2021 cookbooks to give. 

If you are at all interested in food's role in history, you might enjoy this article. Five food historians describe how sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly, tuna salad, the club sandwich, and others evolved during the 19th and 20th centuries. You'll learn that something called the chow mein sandwich was invented in Emeril  Lagasse's hometown, and that most of the world's population thinks Americans are crazy to eat peanut butter and jelly together.

The club sandwich, today considered a fairly hearty affair, 
was originally designed as a dainty snack for ladies
lunches. Photo: Alena Haurylik via The Conversation 

Holidays ahead

Kylie Harris is the creator of The How To Mom blog, and she is passionate about making wreaths -- all kinds of them. I liked the way she showed how to make three versions of a ribbon wreath. I know I'll follow her easy tutorial to make at least one Christmas ribbon wreath this month. 

Kylie demonstrated the bubble method, the push up and twist
method, and the cut and bunch method of ribbon wreath making.

This season would not be complete without a holiday home tour, either local or online. Here is one blog hop of seasonally decorated homes that begins at one of my favorite content creator's home. Be sure to scroll down Michael's Inspired By Charm page to see the links to seven other beautifully decked-out homes.   

"Inspired" is definitely The Word at Michael's blog.
I love the way these stockings are so casually set 
at one end of the mantel. Photo: Inspired By Charm 

If you fancy the look of a jam-packed, overstuffed, full-on-decorated Christmas tree, you'll find some inspiring ideas on this post from Decorator's Warehouse in Texas. 

It's fun to choose a simple color scheme for Christmas
decor, and just run with it! There's no reason to stick
with the traditional colors. Photo: Decorator's Warehouse

Parade Magazine put out a list of the best Christmas songs for 2021, some long-time classics and some new ones. I have my favorite collections, including any of Harry Connick's three albums, which I listen to first off, as soon as I start baking cookies after Thanksgiving. Parade's list includes Kelly Clark, Seth MacFarlane Gwen Stefani, Laine Hardy, Dolly Parton, jazz musician Micah Edwards, and more. Of course there's always the old reliables -- Elvis, ole' blue eyes, Eartha Kitt, Nat King Cole, Charlie Brown, and The Nutcracker. 

Feel good

A woman invented an ingenious device for people who miss their dog and want to talk to him while they are at work all day. 

A scientific study of what kind of music people prefer at different times of the day led to the surprising finding that the 1983 song "Every Breath You Take" by The Police hits all the bumpers, that people enjoy it literally morning, noon and night. That explains what has made it last such a long time in our pop culture. I prefer this is live version from a 2008 concert in Tokyo. 

At 69, Sting is still performing. Photo: Evening Standard

The book I've been nibbling my way through during November is The Healing Powers of Chocolate. I have to note that the author is a little repetitive, but it's still a good read for a chocoholic like myself if for no other reason than we can stop feeling guilty of our indulgence...as long as we can be moderate about the amount of chocolate we eat. You'll find the book as a paperback, new or second-hand, and also in Kindle format. 

Have a wonder-full December!  

How to Outsmart the Competition When Selling Your Home This Winter

Friday, November 19, 2021

Although winters can be chilly where you live, the housing market is hot just about everywhere in the US now. If you plan to sell this winter, that's good news. 

There will be competition, but you can maximize your selling potential by following my favorite wintertime selling tips. 

Your timing is good

I've already blogged about the advantages of listing a home for sale in winter -- the seriousness of buyers, the quick sale, the seasonal goodwill, and even the seasonal climate for some buyers. With more people able to work from home, buyers who are vacationing in your area may decide to relocate, or to invest in a second home. Be ready for them!

Stage your home to highlight the wintertime delights of your particular locale. Are there winter sports facilities or annual festivals that you can brag about? 

Most likely you won't actually meet any potential buyers, but you can replace all your family photos with photos of what you want people touring your home to know about winter activities around your neck of the woods. Maybe you have a photo of your home's exterior after a picturesque snowfall, or of the local ice hockey team. You can either leave a photo album open on a coffee table or counter, or you can frame prints and hang them in a neat, grid pattern on a wall. 

Even small towns have holiday home tours, parades, tree lighting ceremonies, concerts, firework displays, outdoor decoration competitions, and religious celebrations. Include photos or brochures of these things in your staging. Some historic towns or tourist destinations publish hardcover books about the area's history. I've seen books l like this when I lived in Asheville about the Biltmore Estate, and when I've visited places like Williamsburg, Charleston, Boston, and Napa Valley, so look for coffee table books like this about what's special in your area. It will be especially appealing to buyers from other parts of the country. If your Realtor cooperates, make some of these local amenities part of your online images.  

Make it easy for out-of-town home buyers to learn
about how your town celebrates the holidays.
Photo: South Florida Sun Sentinel 

A greenery wreath like this will still look terrific in January
 and beyond. I show you exactly how to make it in this tutorial.

Stage for the season

When preparing a home for sale, I always stress the importance of staying with the seasons. Doing so demonstrates to buyers how much you enjoy and care for your home. By "staying with the seasons" I mean, for example, that you stage your patio in summer to feature it as a place to entertain, and stage your fireplace in winter to make it the focal point of the room. 

For staging this winter, make sure signs of summer are gone -- the beach toys and lawn equipment. Make your home look cozy by adding layers and textures that say, "Relax in your private retreat!" Bring on the toss pillows made of velvets and plaids, and the throws of knobby knits and velours. Draw chairs and loveseats closer to create intimate seating arrangements. Fold a thick blanket or quilt at the foot of the bed.    

Does your interior have great lighting so all your rooms look big and bright? Prior to showings, turn on all your overhead lights, floor lamps, wall sconces, and table lamps. It will feel more welcoming, cleaner, and safer. I've blogged about other ways to stage smart for the winter season

It's important that your home on the market have 
only pleasant, natural aromas. I show you
how to make these citrus pomanders here.  

Check your infrastructure 

Part of that whole coziness thing is the indoor temperature of your home. People touring your interior, looking for their next home, will be alert to any red flags with a heating system, especially in winter when they are more aware of home heating -- how efficient it is, what it might cost them monthly, how old the system is, how noisy it is, and even how it smells. 

Holiday expenses are bound to take a bite of your income. So, if your home needs some tweaking, have a budget for any remodeling or repairs, and do your best to stick to that budget. Spend money where it matters, not on an upscale bathroom remodel or an addition on your master bedroom. Better ways to spend a budget will be improved landscaping, minor bath or kitchen upgrades, or replacement windows. 

Christmas decor or not?

Who doesn't love to see neighborhoods come alive in the dark of December evenings? Prospective home buyers commonly cruise neighborhoods after dark when looking for the perfect neighborhood. You don't want your home to be where the Grinch lives if everyone on your street goes all out, but you can still keep it simple. I've blogged about how to make your home's exterior look festive in winter. 

Every year, over 50,000 fires are caused by electrical issues that result in injuries and property damage. So, don't string a never-ending network of extension cords together. You can go here to see how many strings of lights you can safely connect, depending on your home's circuits and whether you use incandescents or LEDs. Tip: LEDs will let you have more lights with less energy. 

Avoid inflatable decorations that look pathetic during the day. And be sure all that seasonal decorations get packed away as soon as the celebrations wind up in January.  

Net lights like these are easy to use, look great, and are
simple to store off-season. Photo: ChrristmasLightsEtc

Get the look, get the book

If you are selling with a plan to buy another home, remember that the buyers you deal with when you are the purchaser are pricing their home to maximize their equity, just the way you are. So, the more money you can pull out of your present home, the better the chance that you'll find a home you love just as much as the one you sell, if not more.

As an informed DIY home stager, you're more likely to be aware of the way home staging can affect your emotions. That means you can be a smart homebuyer and base your decision on hard facts instead of sentimental decisions about decor or other things that do not convey with the property. 

For additional inspo and tutorials for the coming holiday season, visit my Pinterest Board for Christmas Staging. You'll see over 100 pins perfect for home stagers like you. 

The easiest way to get savvy about DIY home staging is to download my 155-page pdf, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It will make you a better seller and a better buyer. Don't wait any longer to make more money when you sell and save more money when you buy.  

Show and Tell Time: October Edition

Friday, October 29, 2021
Welcome to another edition of my Show and Tell posts. I really enjoy sharing my finds and opinions here! I hope you find some items to brighten your day, expand your world, or ignite your imagination.

Home and Garden

Are you in your autumn groove yet? It's impossible to choose a favorite idea from these 17 ways to decorate for fall. Reminder: be sure to add some seasonal touches to your staged home, but not so large and specific that they will date any real estate photographs that are an important part of your home's online presence. 

These pumpkins made warty with chalk paint and hot glue
look like a fun project.Photo: A.C. Moore Arts and Craft

Benjamin Moore named its Color of The Year, a pale green, "October Mist." It's a soft green, as the name indicates. I love this color. However, I'm still on the fence about how wise a choice it would be in a staged home on the market. In the right home, with the right pool of buyers, it would be perfect. It was interesting to read how the color of the year is chosen. My dream job would be to travel the world on an expense account to help a paint company name its colors! 

Some buyers might have trouble envisioning their furnishings
in a house with walls this color. Photo: Benjamin Moore

I am glad some home inspectors have spoken out to warn DIY home repairers (Is that you?) about the kinds of improvements that work against a good home inspection report. This is the kind of realistic advice that's important to people who plan to sell their home. And eventually, most people will be selling their homes. Find the sweet spot for what you love and what others will love. 

You want to make your home reflect your personal taste, but there
are some changes that work against its safety and value.  
Photo: Aleksandar Nakic via Apartment Therapy

From the kitchen

Summer is considered picnic season in many parts of the country, but here in the South, it's more comfortable to wait for the weather to turn a little cooler before we start scheduling many picnics. No matter where you live or what dietary guidelines you follow, I think you'll find great advice here on how to plan a picnic

I don't do much dessert baking because I have low willpower when confronted with sweets. But for my garden club's annual bake sale, I decided to bake two things that I thought would look tempting and also taste terrific. I baked cherry pie squares and apricot bars. 

We distribute containers to members ahead of time. These
containers make it easy to label and display the baked goods.

Imagine your future

It's increasingly clear that news outlets and social media sites thrive on distributing disheartening content -- the virus, natural disasters, shootings, abuse cases, celebrity divorces, corruption, scandals, and political polarization. We can't bury our heads in the sand, but we can make an effort to balance all this drama with a regular infusion of good news, and Bright Vibes is a handy online source of exactly that. Treat yourself!

Ordinarily, I don't post about my family here, but today I want to "show off and tell about" my daughter, Mir Garvy. Twelve years ago she created a resume writing business, which continues to prosper and grow today while helping people find better careers. She and her team maintain offices in major cities in six states, and she has just expanded her credentials to include certification as a professional career coach.  

I could not be more proud of my 
smart, hard-working daughter! 

On the bookshelf

October 11 was officially declared Indigenous Peoples Day. I decided to read a kindle version of Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life, by David Treuer, a Cherokee. Previously, I had read Code Talker, by Chester Nez, a memoir from one of the original Navajos who used their native, unwritten language to help the US military during the Second World War. If you have any interest in American history, both books are must-reads because they fill in the gaps of what most of us have been taught about what being a native American has meant and means today. 

If you're a fan of John Grisham's books or you're an aspiring novelist yourrself, you might enjoy this recent interview with him.  

Grisham talked about how important it is to get accurate details into
a work of fiction. Photo: Donald Johnson for The New York Times, 

Let's launch into November with an eye to a holiday season that's more special than previous years. Because we all deserve that, so I hope you can do whatever it is you and your circle of family and friends do to make holidays special.

Everything You Need to Do to Stage a Home Office

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Whenever I ask my Realtor friends what people today are looking for in their next home I often hear about the home office being on the wish list. It's no surprise, given the rise in working from home.

So, if you are getting ready to list your home, or if you have a home on the market already, a good question to ask yourself is, "Does my home have the kind of office that would satisfy today's buyers?" 

If you think the answer is no, I assure you there are simple remedies. Some creative thinking can give buyers what they want. Home staging to the rescue! 

Even a small, simple place to work or read or is a plus
in a home that's for sale. Photo: Southern Living

Find the spot

If your home doesn't already have a space or room you use as an office or craft room, your first step will be to find the space. Just hunt your home for unused square footage. Don't fret about a view or natural lighting. But you do need at least one electric outlet and wireless capability.  

It's fine if you want to tuck some office space into a corner or nook of the kitchen, family room, or even a wide hallway. Some WFH people are singles or semi-retired people who can work without worrying about family distractions. Parents who need a home office can often make their office and Zoom hours happen when children are at school, or they will use their home office only as a spot for children to do homework. 

Others will use a home office for occasional computer work, gift wrapping, bill paying, correspondence, or crafting. Your task now is to show with home staging that your home can accommodate a place to work.

One clever and easy way to quickly make your work area feel larger is by adding a mirror. Mirrors don't need to be expensive. Visit a big box store or shop online. With approximately 1.8 billion e-commerce websites out there, you're bound to find the perfect one at a good price, all without leaving home.

Another way to make a room look more spacious is to show as much flooring as possible, and to eliminate or limit the use of small area rugs. Transparent, reflective, translucent, or leggy furniture pieces are also helpful.

Add the essentials 

The only must-haves for a home office are a work surface, a chair, and a power source. Sometimes the work surface can be an existing built-in, but more often you'll need to bring in a table or desk. It's best if this piece of furniture matches the style of your home because otherwise, the space looks like an afterthought.

If your style is eclectic, you could use a vintage piece of furniture or perhaps something sleek and new in a mid-century modern mode. If your home favors a farmhouse look, a rustic table is perfect. For an industrial look, hunt for a table with metal legs and reycled work surface.

A desk like this is always useful, economical and will
be easy to transport when you move. Photo: Wayfair    

Adding a secretary desk or vintage writing desk is often all 
you need to suggest a suitable home office. Photo: Homesquare

A wall-hung unit like this from Boyd Design can be
the most effective use of a small space in your home. 
Photo: Roger Davies via Architectural Digest

Tucked into a corner of a room with a daybed, this 
home office hits all the bumpers for luxury. 
Photo: Joshua McHugh via Architectural Design

If your designated space doesn't have natural lighting, you can always add illumination. A beautiful view of the outdoors and plenty of natural lighting are both nice, but optional for a staged office. Buyers will however respond favorably to a well-lighted workspace because it will look larger, cleaner, friendlier, and more functional. This is especially important in interior rooms or during the winter months.

Add some LED lighting. LEDs are currently the most popular lighting choice, making up 53% of the world's market, because they are bright, energy-efficient, quiet, and don't generate heat. A typical desk lamp with a typical halogen light bulb will accept an LED light bulb as a substitute improvement. One popular way to add LED lights is strip lighting under a shelf or row of cabinets.

Dos and don'ts

Once you have a location and a desk, chair, electricity, and lights, you're off to a great start. See what you already own that can be pressed into service as part of the staging. Given adequate space, possible additions would be a bookcase or shelving unit, a file cabinet (yes, they are still useful), a plant, some artwork, and a rug to ground the grouping. 

If you are staging this home office in order to fill a vacant or sparsely furnished room, some possible additions might be a larger bookcase or two, additional seating or a couch, floor lamps or a statement desk lamp, a musical instrument, radio, or sound system, a bar cart, or a coffee station.

Don't locate your staged office where there is no year-round indoor climate control unless you live where the air temperature and quality are consistent and comfortable all year. For a room over the garage, it's common to add a window air conditioner or a source for auxiliary heat in order to convert the space to a useable office.

Don't makeover a closet into an office. Buyers prefer storage space over a place to work.

Don't squeeze an office into a bedroom if it is going to crowd the room and make it less than a restful retreat.

Don't get cheap by making a desk from hollow core doors or a sheet of particle board on top of a couple of cardboard storage units. It will only look shabby and devalue your home.

Don't make an office look gender-specific. Many offices you'll see on Pinterest or on blogs are designed to please women. They're pink and fluffy and romantic. Even though women are often the prime decider in a home purchase, it's just smarter to plan your staging to please as many people as possible.

Twin beds? That's a perfect place to add a desk and stool
or chair to suggest a tiny workspace. Photo: William
Waldron, design by Alessandra Branca and Steve Uihlein 

Since many homebuyers no longer care about a
formal dining room, that kind of area can be
staged as an office like this one by Andrew Fisher
and Jeffry Weisman. Photo: Simon Watson

Trick it out

The final flourishes in your staged office will be the fun part of staging. You'll want to add the props that add personality, and that fuel the imaginations of people touring your home. 

Most likely, you'll already have some items on hand that can be your office props. The usual candidates are books and supplies for organizing the office. You can't walk through any store's home decor department without seeing displays of organizing baskets, boxes, racks, boards, and holders. Considering that "getting organized" is the most common new year's resolution for most Americans, staging an area that makes organization look easy will please potential buyers. 

As always with home staging, keep clutter out of the picture. If you are actually using this office, arrange it so that any daily accumulation gets tucked out of sight when you aren't there. Don't leave out any confidential information, valuable objects, or calenders that tell when you won't be home. You know the drill. Stay safe.

Choose a few handsome desk accessories, nothing too small or valuable. No matter how small your office space is, a plant or some flowers are almost a must. They can be real or silk. As a staging prop, I've used a closed laptop that my computer repair guy said was unrepairable and then made it obviously not-worth-stealing by removing its insides. Some art, corkboard, or oversized clock helps fill blank space.  

If you want to add some color to your office setting, planning a simple color scheme keyed to colors in the surrounding area is best. Sometimes, a group of office objects you already have can be spray painted to look more coordinated.          

Window treatments are an easy way to bring more color into your home office without painting the walls. They can also help to regulate your home's temperature. About 25% to 30% of your home's heating and cooling is lost through your windows. Thick, quality curtains can help to keep the indoor temperature even, whether you are living there are not, and they add a soft touch.

Of course, most people are going to fall in love
with a she-shed office. Don't do this if you don't
have the power to heat and cool it, illuminate it, and  
access to the internet. Photo: Man Cave Know-How

If the appearance of your house is more industrial chic,
you get a pass on adding colorful accents. Photo: DigsDigs

Make sure whatever electronics you stage with look current,  
but aren't liable to be stolen or hacked. Kate Riley at
Centsational Style used pink flowers and draperies
to add color to her mostly white home office.  

Your colorful accents don't have to be bright colors.
Pastels work just as well. Photo: Little Pink Notebook

Color will be what gives your home's staged office a bit
of punch. Choose one or two accent colors, or even a rainbow 
in small accents like desktop accessories. Photo: Signs Plus Signs

Get the look, get the book

Remember, it doesn't matter if everything in your staged home office conveys with the property or not. The idea is to let buyers see the potential your house has to be a home for them to call their own. 

If you would like more ideas for staging a home office follow that link to visit my Pinterest board for home offices. You'll find more than 60 inspiring photos there, all of them suitable for a staged home.   

And don't you dare leave here without downloading my home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. You'll get all the encouragement and tips you need to plan and execute your staging, from start to finish. Take advantage of my years as a decorator and real estate investor to speed you on your way and simplify the work! 


Cash in on the Perks of Selling Your Home In Winter

Friday, October 15, 2021

Planning to list your home for sale this winter? Don't be discouraged by the general opinion that home buying's prime seasons are spring and summer. Selling in winter has benefits to you as a seller. Let's make sure you take advantage of them.

You're ahead of the game

Buyers looking for a new home in winter tend to be more serious buyers. They might want to get a jump on the springtime buying push, or they might want to make a purchase before the end of the year for tax purposes. As a seller, you'll have fewer properties to compete with. 

Real estate agents can be less busy and able to give your listing more personal attention and marketing. People like appraisers, inspectors, and real estate photographers are less busy as well.

Large corporations tend to relocate executives in January and February. Often these moves are financially subsidized by the company. These relocation packages can make it easy for buyers to make a decision and pay more.  

If you need minor repairs, it will be less difficult in slow months to find tradespeople and laborers. With 13.9% of moves occurring in the month of June in 2016 and just 3.3% in December, you're likely to have an easier time hiring a moving company.

Staging techniques for winter

Now's a good time to stage your home to remind buyers what it looks like in all seasons. If you have a photo or two of your home or parts of your landscape in different seasons, get them to your listing agent so they can be part of your online photos. This is especially effective if your home gets lots of snow in winter but there are many blooming trees and flowers in your landscape in the other seasons. 

Collect your documents and warrantees for any energy-efficient upgrades your home has, such as solar heating features, improved insulation, programmable thermostats, new windows or exterior doors, and ductwork in good condition. Any impressive specifications you can pass along to your listing agent can become part of her promotional material. Many buyers will want to see a history of energy bills, so be prepared to supply those and check that they are accurate.  

Buyers will respond well to images of what your
property looks like in other seasons, especially to people
relocating from other climates. Photo: Deavita.net

If you want to make your life easier, plan your wintertime staging in the fall. Plan it so that the basics are in place and can be tweaked as you move through November and December. Remove obvious signs of summer. Get rid of  Halloween decor on November 1. Add touches of winter-themed props to carry you through the last two months of the year and into the early months of next year. 

Stage it cozy. Keep your house warm when you expect a showing. Winter's shorter days mean you can't count on natural lighting to make your interior look bright and clean, so keep the wattage high in overhead lights, sconces, and table lamps. I discourage the use of candles, but battery-operated flameless candles are very convincing and add a homey touch to any room.

An assortment of white, flameless candles makes even
a non-working fireplace an asset. Photo: Shelterness

Winterize your curb appeal

Unless you live in a mild climate, you won't have the advantage of the colorful annuals of spring, summer and fall. Now is the time for greenery that will withstand lower temperatures. You can also fill flower boxes and planters near your door with real foliage trimmings and branches or with small, living shrubs acclimatized to your temperatures. Sprays of cut evergreens and pruning from common shrubs like boxwoods will last for weeks in most climates when their stems are stuck into pots of soil or sand. 

As an alternative, there's always artificial greens. Yes, they will fade in time outdoors, but will look fine through the winter, so go ahead and invest in some silks for your outdoor staging. You can even mix real plants and prunings with artificial greenery. I've blogged about how to create professional outdoor decor in five easy steps.  

Also, be sure to check my post about my five favorite 15-minute holiday decorations for winter.  

It's easy to find ready-made arrangements like these.
Or you can purchase the faux greenery and other essentials 
and use almost any kind of container to create
your own outdoor decor. Photo: Ballard Designs

With all the lights and seasonal decorations dressing up houses in December, neighborhoods look especially friendly and safe. Don't be that one guy on the street who doesn't string up some lights out front. Most Realtors recommend that sellers keep winter decorations secular, since buyers prefer dealing with people they like and who share their values. Be sure to remove all Christmas decor by the first of the new year. 

Keep your landscape looking tidy. By now, you should have removed leaves and branches that fell during the fall. Trim the trees and shrubbery, especially those near the entrance. Pressure wash your siding, sidewalk, and driveway. If you have barren areas or an informal pathway, add a top dressing of river rock for a clean, non-messy look. Keep cobwebs and debris away from the front door. Be sure the entrance is not dangerously slippery. 

I've already blogged about more ways to improve your winter curb appeal.   

All homes need a facelift    

Seasons come and go, no matter where you live. It's a simple task to make your home reflect the time of year indoors and out. Replace flower-patterned throw pillows and bedding with fabrics that have some texture and warmth. Choose pillows, bedding, and throws that are quilted, or that feature wintery designs like plaids, paisleys, and buffalo checks. Stage your mantel and hearth if you have a fireplace. Scent the air with a diffuser using winter fragrances such as pine, cinnamon, and nutmeg essential oils. 

Natural woods, a cozy layout, a faux bear skin rug, and 
oversized gingham bedding make this room feel warm and snug.

To keep your decorating chores and cleanup work to a minimum, choose winter embellishments that last beyond the December holidays. Look for natural elements of the season like evergreens, pine comes, dried berries, and spice potpourris or pomanders. Combine those fuzzy, knobby, and textured fabrics with some animal skins that are stylish year-round as pillows and rugs, but look especially suitable in winter.  

Textured fabrics and faux furs can be placed over chairs,
beds, or sofas. They can be folded into stacks on
the hearth.They can be used to cover seats or pillows.
And they can cover the floor or be layered over other
rugs or carpets. Photo: unknown source

If you live where winters are snowy and muddy, and you expect buyers touring your home to take shoes and boots off, provide disposable booties and have a place to sit near your entrance. Any coat hooks or cubbies that are part of your mudroom or foyer should look uncluttered and attractive. It's a tall order in a household that includes children, but it's still doable if you stick to what's essential for outerwear.   

Your hallway bench can be primitive or fancy, 
simple or ornate, small or roomy. It's just a sign
of courtesy to people visiting. Photo: Love Grows Wild.

A wintery wreath is a must on your front door or near your entrance, and possibly in the kitchen or entry or a bedroom as well. Buy a finished one, or buy a basic one and personalize it yourself, or DIY your own greenery wreath from a basic form, as I show you here. 

This mostly artificial wreath from The Wreath Depot will last for many years if stored properly after winter is over. 

Get the look, get the book

No matter what time of year you plan to list your home for sale, it's never too soon to plan your staging and other prepping ahead of schedule. Download my home staging eBooks for nuts and bolts advice as well as can-do inspiration for DIY projects that increase the perceived value of your home. 

Top photo: kellyelco.com  

Roundup of Best Autumn Staging Tricks

Saturday, October 02, 2021

It may not be "sweater weather" in your part of the country, but autumn usually means people are ready to get cozy and relax more indoors. When you are selling your home in the fall, you should be ready to cash in on people's nesting instincts.  No matter what style your home reflects, there are easy staging techniques that get people in an autumn frame of mind.

Colors and textures rule the day

When you're staging your home this fall, imitate the way you dress yourself for the season -- typically in soft, textured layers. Of course, you needn't replace major furniture pieces to achieve this look. Bedding, towels, accent pillows, countertop vignettes, baskets, mantle decor, books, table settings, and artwork all can help create that vibe.  

This previous post gives advice on seasonal colors and what maintenance issues are important in autumn. 

Autumn curb appeal is easy to create. There are plenty of natural materials like dried berries, autumn leaves, pumpkins (real or fake) and potted chrysanthemums available everywhere. Here's an 11-point checklist of what you can do outside to make your home look better in autumn.   

Reminder: fall's quintessential colors aren't necessarily dark or muddy. Warm pastels can definitely be part of your autumn color palette. Think of pale orange, soft ivory, and cafe au lait. 

Keep your colors on the warm side for fall. You probably
already own some decor that is perfect! Photo: Joss and Main

Cozy feels good 

Smaller homes might have an advantage over more spacious homes at this time of year. Sure, every home buyer has certain space requirements in mind, but if your home is more of a bungalow or cottage style, you can cash in on that appeal. 

Larger homes can still create areas that feel intimate such as a reading nook tucked on a staircase landing, a chaise lounge in the bedroom, a bar cart added to the living room, or layered rugs in a dining area.

If you're stumped about how to make your home feel cozy, ask yourself what makes you feel secure, calm, and relaxed in your house now. Determine what elements create that impression. Is it extra throw blankets? Soothing colors? Stacks of books? Plush pillows? Chairs pulled up close to each other? Natural wood surfaces? Luxurious fabrics? All of these things work well!  

Small touches here and there are all you need to make your
home look in step with the season. Photo: Country Living 

Lighting secrets 

With days getting shorter, some people who come to tour your home may be viewing it in artificial light rather than natural lighting. Check that you have sufficient overhead and accent lighting and make sure agents showing your property have easy access to lamps and wall switches. You might want to put some lamps on timers or leave lights on if you expect a showing. Use warm light bulbs rather than cool bulbs. 

Here are more tips from a previous post about staging for autumn, including both interior and exterior decor, and advice about outdoor lighting.

If you don't knit and want a throw to add a seasonal touch to
any chair, look to Etsy for handmade blankets. The Knitting Space

Appeal to all the senses

Scent plays a role in how your home is perceived. If you want your home to smell fresh, make sure it's deep-cleaned, and that all sources of strong smells are routinely removed -- whether pet aromas or cooking aromas, or indoor trash. 

Artificial scents can physically bother chemically sensitive people, so I encourage you to use essential oils that are derived from natural sources rather than laboratory duplicates. Essential oils can easily be used in a diffuser. You can create autumnal, natural, dry or simmering potpourris using ingredients such as citrus fruits, cloves, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, coffee, and herbs.     

If you want more inspiration and ideas for fall, visit my Pinterest Board for Autumn Decor. You'll find over 70 photos with links to DIY projects and more. 

Mixing real props from nature (like this wood slice with bark),
 combined with artificial props (like these decorative pumpkins)
makes a more interesting display. You can also mix old with
new decorations, or fancy with rustic.   

Get the look, get the book

For ways to improve the value of your home on the market, be sure to check out my three home staging eBooks. There's my basic primer that gives you all the formulas, schedules, and techniques to help you in every step of home staging from beginning to end. I've also written a 55-page pdf that gives you 15 different DIY no-sew window treatments specially designed for homes that are for sale, and an eBook on how to arrange furniture in a staged home. 

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