Ebony and Ivory: The Ultimate Color Scheme

Monday, May 30, 2011
Home staging calls for some pretty but simple props.

One easy, fast, and thrifty formula for turning a collection of mismatched junk into pretty props is to pick a color scheme and go with it.

Here's my example 

I chose black and white as my colors. When in doubt, this is your default color combination.

Call it ivory, cream, oyster, bone, alabaster, ebony, midnight, charcoal, inkwell, or any other descriptive tags paint companies want to dream up.

I didn't start my tablescape with anything especially striking or attractive. As you can see I used just a bunch of odds and ends I gathered.There was nothing that made them look like they had a future together.

Step One

First I taped off the parts of the lamp I didn't want to get spray painted white -- the bulb socket and the cord.

I always use white lampshades, so that was all set. I sprayed the lamp, and while it was drying, I brushed the pumpkin.

I actually staged this tabletop last autumn, and only recently discarded the pumpkin  -- six months later -- for showing signs of mold. I can't think of other vegetables that would hold up as well, but plastic fruits and vegetables are always in season!

Step Two

I brushed the woven box with the same white latex semi-gloss paint I used on the pumpkin.

I used black and white wallpaper samples from the book I discussed here. It's a snap to cover books. Just measure, cut, and fold.

Step Three

I spray painted the blue metal box and the brown planter, using black. Every stager needs a stash of black and white spray paints.

Then I went hunting for a black and white print to hang behind my new vignette. Classic black and white shots are everywhere -- notecards, postcards, magazines, old photographs, gift shops, catalogs, even newspapers. Your frame can be simple, like what I chose, or ornate. Your magical color scheme makes it all work together.

You can do this

In no time what was a fairly ugly assortment of odds and ends came together to form a sophisticated and pleasing vignette.

Make sure your collection has a variety of shapes, sizes and textures.

There are plenty of other budget-friendly ways to add style to your home when it's time to sell.

When house hunters look at homes, they usually look at lots of them. Make your home be the one they remember and want.

My $4.99 home staging eBook can help you uncover the best in your property, and show it off for buyers.

Download your copy 

Let your staging begin today. It's easy when someone who's been there already can show you the ropes. My book will help you sell your home faster and for more money. Turn your home into cash. I show you how.

Seven Secrets to Making Silk Plants and Flowers Look Convincing

Thursday, May 26, 2011
If your home could talk, would it say to a prospective buyer, "I've lived a pampered life. My owners give me the best of everything. All that you see here is fresh and new and of the highest quality?"

One simple way to get that message across is with greenery.

And I'm not talking labor-intense houseplants.

I'm talking silks.

Don't be turning up your nose. Here are ways to make silk plants look better than their factory origins might indicate.

Go For Variety

Vary the containers you use. Look for baskets, vases, wooden boxes, clay flower pots, vintage vases, new vases, ceramic cachepots, hurricane chimneys, glass fish bowls, metal bins, or whatever else you think adds to the character of your home.

Vary the style of plant material as well. Don't be afraid to mix cut silk flowers with silk plants. You might have a vase of silk tulips in the bedroom, two silk topiaries in the foyer, and a fake cactus in the bathroom.

Silk plant styles come and go, but unless you are staging something for a very hip market, like a New York City penthouse, a Hollywood mansion, or a St. Martin beach house, you're safe with most styles available in home stores today.

Surface secret

Another way to use fakes convincingly is to cover the surface with something natural.

My favorite is sheet moss, but I also like sphagnum moss. Both really work to ground the plant and add a realistic touch.

I also favor smooth river rocks to cover the surface under a fake plant. Look for other natural materials like sand, shells, pebbles, and lichen.

The containers

Next, use good vessels for all your fake flowers. In fact, a rule of thumb might be that the less you paid for your silks (hello, dollar store), the more expensive your container should be.

In my photo, this beautiful crackled glass bowl holds an inexpensive bunch of silk blossoms.

To add to the realism of these blossoms, I've added gel that imitates water. Available at any craft store, faux water makes the flowers look like someone was just there arranging them -- an important consideration when your property is staged but unoccupied.

Readers of my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, know the high value I give to silk plants. They add irresistible vitality to a room. If you doubt the value plants of any kind add, do your own experiments with adding and subtracting plants and flowers, and you will see the difference.

I always emphasize that your greenery needn't be the finest quality, especially when seen from a distance, such as on top of a bookcase or on the ledge above a bathtub. Typically, house hunters spend 30 minutes or less walking through a home on the market. Relax. Your budgeting secrets are safe.

Add Companions

Another way to keep the faux greenery from looking phony has to do with what you put next to these arrangements. Surround them with class --  other objects that have a stylish look of their own. Suddenly, the whole grouping looks expensive and tasteful.

This pretend orchid sits in a real terracotta pot, on an antique music box of burled wood, in front of a large, beveled edge mirror, next to colorful, matched candlesticks. Decor props as well as people are judged by the company they keep.

Clean Up

One mistake that homeowners are sometimes guilty of is thinking that faux plants require no care. In fact, the cleaner your plants look, the more they will contribute to the room's overall appearance.

So my fifth tip is to clean your plants regularly.

Most silks can be rinsed in the tub or gently hosed off out-of-doors to bring them back to "life" occasionally.

The containers that hold your fabulous fakes need to be smudge-free and dust-free as well.

At least they don't beg to be watered every few days!

If you do have a green thumb and a collection of houseplants, make sure they are healthy and clean as well. The reason I don't recommend staging with real houseplants is that often they are in less than perfect condition, or in their dormant state.

Yet, if you have a shelf of beautifully blooming African violets in your kitchen, a collection of gorgeous indoor succulents on your sun porch, or a large and healthy potted palm in your living room, they can become an important part of your home's staging.

Often indoor plants are large, but sometimes they are small and insignificant. Find a new home for these little guys. Big is better with almost all staging props.

In fact, when in doubt about the size of a fake plant for staging, supersize it.

A large plant can fill an empty corner, bring life to a dreary hallway, or add color to a plain bathroom.

As long as you aren't crowding the room, obstructing a good view, covering up a focal point, or creating a tripping hazard, I say, the bigger the better.

One current style that's easy to imitate is a stem or two of oversized tropical foliage in a large glass container, with or without some fake water, or with some rocks or shells to weight the vase. It's a very carefree, young look.

Add Something Old

My final tip is to incorporate some age. Let your container have some patina. Many decorators suggest that every room needs a touch of something old.

Adding a vintage or distressed clay pot, metal urn, concrete planter, classic ice bucket, worn wooden box, antique wastebasket or old-fashioned wicker chest that's been around awhile, adds interest. It keeps the room from looking like you pulled it all together with one trip to T.J. Maxx.

Slight distressing on this old clay flower pot makes the one dollar fake ivy more acceptable than if it were in a cheap plastic container. I've covered the floral foam in the pot with stones gathered from the beach.

Don't be shy about dressing up your staged home with some inexpensive artificial plants and flowers. Done right, they add the perfect element of freshness and even drama that's essential to a home for sale.

Get more of my helpful advice on staging your own home by downloading my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It's a $4.99 pdf bargain, that comes with my money-back guarantee.

My Five Favorite Websites That Help You Stage Your Home

Monday, May 23, 2011

When you're preparing your home for market, you're probably going to want some inspiration to get you going and some encouragement along the way.

Everyone needs fresh ideas, even the best designers, decorators, and professional home stagers.

I don't care who you are, it's always fun to see what's new! These are the sites I like for a kick in the pants when it comes to homestaging ideas that are exciting and still practical.


Although it's aimed at young, metropolitan apartment dwellers, Apartment Therapy can educate you in what's new and inventive no matter where you live or how old you are.

If you sense your home needs some updating, you'll see what others are doing to spruce up their digs.

Some projects are whole house remodels and some are single room do-overs. The format is brisk, breezy, and easy to navigate.
Frank Ponterio via Desire to Inspire


It wasn't that long ago that only Realtors knew what houses sold for. Pre-Internet, MLS listings were published (on paper!) periodically.

This giant, bound book was sequestered in brokers' offices, available for viewing only after you hooked up with the Realtor.

Now, we have Zillow. With a few keystrokes you can discover what homes are selling and renting for in your neighborhood.

View photos, and see actual selling prices, not just asking prices. Zillow will help you get real about your home's price.


For endless interior decor and architectural eye candy, visit Desire to Inspire.

You're bound to come away with plenty of ideas, although the site is not geared to home staging per se.

One unique feature is that you can submit photos of your problem room and ask for reader solutions. Be sure to mention the fact that you are staging your home, not decorating it.

Apartment Therapy


Only the organizationally gifted (you know who you are) don't need advice when it comes to turning chaos into order.

And, have you noticed, the organizing aficionados love to share their best ideas?

My favorite place to harvest these ideas is Unclutterer. You'll find the archives to be a treasure trove of hints. And you can sign up to get a regular infusion of info about products and methods to simplify your home, your office, your life.


This site is one of my favorite places to check the pulse of the real estate industry.

It's a part of Houzz's Garden Web/Home Site. Real estate pros, home sellers, home buyers, lenders, investors, newbies -- they all contribute to the lively discussions.

It's easy to search for what you want to learn. If you join, you can post your own questions and answers, and reel in a slew of opinions and advice. Immensely helpful.

While there, check out other Home Site forums, like Cleaning Tips, and Organizing the Home.

Of course, if you are homestaging, you will need my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It's your best staging bargain at just $4.99!

Designstiles via DesiretoInspire. 

Top Photo: Apartment Therapy

A Color Consultant Tells How to Pick a Paint Color

Thursday, May 19, 2011
We have a guest post today. I asked Donna Frasca, a color specialist from Charlotte, North Carolina, to tackle a topic that interests most people who home stage -- what color walls should be.  And now, here's Donna...

Choosing color for your home can be a challenge. I can show you where to place color and also offer you some color suggestions. It's really as easy as A, B, C, D, ... and maybe E. 

When I design a color palette for my clients, I refer to the interior as a 'tree'. The foyer is the trunk which is the core of the home and the rooms are the 'branches'. This is like a 'color map' which helps my clients visualize the layout of their home instead of being so overwhelmed with color placement.

The foyer is usually a neutral color such as the one you see (A) above. Most of the foyers where I live in the south Charlotte area are very open and continue up to the second floor. Keeping that in mind, a light, neutral color seems to work best.

I also like to put the foyer color in the hallways. Most hallways that I've seen have very poor lighting thus having a tendency to be shadowed. To compensate for this, it's best to keep the color here fairly light.

In most cases, the dining room is to the left or right side of the foyer. Now again, most of the homes in Charlotte follow this type of layout which is also called an open floor plan. Don't have a home with an open floor plan? That's ok! You will still have an entrance way and hallways where your (A) color will work.


I find that many of my clients ask for a red dining room but be careful with this hot hue - it's tricky to pick and to paint. Red will make a striking statement in your home but keep in mind, it's a typical choice to choose red and can be a dated look. Stick to something fun and updated as I pointed out with the warm gray shown as color (B).


Now based on this open floor plan, the Living room is going to be surrounded by the kitchen, foyer and dining room. Knowing that, the color you choose for this room has to coordinate with those surrounding rooms

This warm hue (be careful not to get too gold. A warm, creamy color like I have as color (C) will look great with a gray and it's also an updated look. If you choose the wrong gold, it can be a throw back to the 70's.


Great example of an open floor plan.

Here is another shot of the Living room. Notice how you can see other rooms from standing in this one spot. Take that into consideration when choosing color. You also have to know where to start and stop the color. You can see here how I labeled the walls for placement. This warm, creamy yellow will look great beside the neutral foyer and of course we all know that gray and yellow look great together but they have to be the RIGHT gray and yellow. 

Let's move to the kitchen. I think I see a nice warm green for that room.


There are many factors to consider when choosing a color for your kitchen. Keep in mind the undertones of your flooring and cabinets. Do you want them to have the same undertone or to have more contrast? Let's say we are staying with the warm undertones therefore going with this this green hue. 

Caution: Be careful here! Your kitchen color has to coordinate with your living room color since these rooms flow into each other. Like the way the green and warm yellow look together? Ok, let's recap.
  • Do you like this palette?
  • Do the colors flow from room to room?
  • Is there enough color?
  • Is there too much hue for you?
  • Will these colors match your flooring tile, carpeting or wood stain?


I added an additional color (E) if you have an office on the same floor as these other rooms. See how they look great together? Other than the foyer color, feel free to mix and match these colors into the room of your choice. The thing to remember about the RIGHT color palette is that they will ALL coordinate with each other so you CAN mix and match. 

Thank you, Donna for being our guest poster today, and supplying a simple formula for color selection. Donna specializes in JUST color, particularly homes with open floor plans such as the house in this post. Readers can follow Donna at her website at http://www.decoratingbydonna.com/.

Open House Checklist. Ready, Set, Go!

Monday, May 16, 2011
The jury is still out on whether open houses really sell homes, but if your Realtor suggests it, and you've staged your home, why not go for it?

Use this handy checklist to get ready to show off your home.

The Flyer 

Have printed hand-outs that list the amenities you know your home has.

Don't count on the Realtor to list all your delicious and accurate stats and features.

Work with your Realtor on this one to come up with something that sells the property by listing advantages instead of just data. "Enjoy resort-style living in your professionally designed backyard," instead of "Pool, patio."

    The Pens 

    Encourage your Realtor to distribute pens so people can make notations on the handout. It's easy for buyers to lose track of personal opinions after viewing a number of homes. You want them to remember what they liked about your home. I've used National Pens.

      The Details

      Be as specific as possible when advertising your home's features on the hand-out. Name brands, models, and years. "2009 Whirlpool Quiet Action Plus model Dishwasher" looks better than "DW." Even if what you are describing is nothing unusual, the fact that you are giving specifics makes buyers think there's reason to brag. It builds confidence.

      The Signs

      Have plenty of directional signs so that people can find your open house. Balloons help. Don't be afraid to put the open house sign up 6 days in advance, one that says, "Open House, Sunday, 12 - 4."

      The Ads

      If the Realtor gives you the go-ahead, promote on Craigslist and in any local papers. Ask if the open house will be promoted on the Realtor's website.

        The Freebies

        Provide bottled water and wrapped mints. People love to get something for nothing. Sweet drinks and food can cause spills that stain.

          The Book

          Make sure people who show up sign a guest book, including their email address and phone number. Your Realtor can follow up with visitors. It also discourages pilferage.

            The Precautions

            Lock away or remove all valuables if you have not already. Remove prescription medications from the home. Like I said, people like getting something from nothing, and maybe bottled water isn't what they are after.

              The prepping

              Of course, your home will be staged to be at its absolute best -- clean, uncluttered, and looking and smelling great. Need help? Download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, for all my best tips and techniques on getting your home staged to sell.  

                Do You Own a Problem House or Are You the Problem?

                Thursday, May 12, 2011
                The home shown in this photo is owned by a seller interested in attracting a buyer and striking a deal. That's obvious at a glance.

                Has your home on the market not sold as quickly as you thought it would?

                Perhaps it doesn't compare to typical homes in your neighborhood for DOM.

                Maybe you haven't even had any serious offers. If so, it's time to take a look at why.

                Could it be that your attitude or personality style is part of the problem? To determine if you are an obstacle to a quick and happy sale, ask yourself if the person you see in the mirror has any of these six personalities. Be honest.

                Ms. Leisurely

                You're in no rush. You want the real estate market to bounce to where it was and then some before you become a serious seller. Moving seems like so much work, and you don't want to "give it away!"

                My advice: If selling isn't a necessity, staying in place might make more sense. Review your reasons for selling.

                Rita Reluctant

                You're not even sure you want to move. You're not crazy about the locale you're relocating to. You want to cry when you think about leaving your neighbors and close friends. You're dragging your feet, not decluttering, cleaning or staging. Offers that come in you don't take seriously, and maybe your significant other or family members aren't on board.

                It's time for re-examining the big picture. An unmotivated seller has a difficult time attracting and locking in a buyer.

                Mr. Unbudgeable

                This photo is from an actual 
                MLS listing. Does it look like 
                the owner is serious about selling?
                Does it look like the home has 
                been taken good care of? You decide.

                You stay at home when your Realtor shows your house.

                I don't know one house hunter who thinks meeting the seller at the initial walk-through is an advantage. Quite the contrary. It's a distraction and it's inhibiting. One of a Realtor's roles is to be the liaison between buyer and seller.

                Develop a plan -- a place to go when your realtor brings a prospective buyer.

                Ms. Indebted

                You have so much money in your home that you can't lower your asking price. Or you have other debts to pay.

                Can you schedule a consultation with someone whose opinions you respect? Realtor, accountant, mentor, parent, adult child, financial advisor, banker? For now, houses aren't the cash cows of years gone by.

                If you can't afford to sell your home, perhaps you can rent it out. Or, you can bite the bullet, and settle for less money than you want. Staging will help bring a better price. If it helps, remember that in this market, you can still buy a lot of house for the money when you move. And to take the sting out of not getting the return you expected, remember that you had a place to live all the time you owned your house. Everyone has to pay to live somewhere, unless they stay in grandma's basement.

                Mr. and Ms. Unprepared

                You haven't staged because you don't have the time or money or energy. You haven't exactly become your Realtor's best friend because you make it cumbersome for her to arrange viewings, or you don't pick up on her repair and staging suggestions.

                There is plenty you can do to enhance your home that does not take money, time, or energy, Become part of your listing agent's sales force, and take the advice she gives. You are paying for the expertise.

                Suzy Secretive

                You have not spread the word to friends and colleagues that your home is for sale. You won't agree to a for sale sign in front of your home.

                Sometimes the best sales leads come by way-of-mouth-advertising. Your neighbors and others will know soon enough that your property is for sale. Get out of the closet and become a seller.

                If you really want to sell your home, you may have to examine some of your own motives and behavior patterns. If you sense any obstructions of your own creation, set about changing them and I think you'll see a difference in market reactions and ... a purchase offer?

                There may be other barriers between you and your buyers. Read my ebook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar, to benefit from my experience buying, staging,  and selling homes.

                When Not to Stage Your Home

                Monday, May 09, 2011
                You love your bath. But will 
                others take a liking 
                to your back tiles? 

                "Why didn’t we do this sooner?” That’s what many people ask after they have staged their homes for the real estate market.

                Living in a staged home does have benefits. Housecleaning is easier and faster. The interior feels larger and brighter. Your decor is more stylish.

                But I can also think of three very good reasons why making your home a showplace isn’t smart unless you plan to sell soon. 

                1. Fight to Preserve Your Sanity

                Living in a staged home can make you nutsy.

                Your kids don’t have all their toys. Your luggage is at the storage unit. You loaned your husband’s recliner to your brother. In your pretty, staged kitchen you don’t dare leave dishes in the sink. In your luxurious master bedroom you won't leave a pile of unfolded laundry on the bed. You start to feel like your homelife is on constant alert because the realtor may call and want to show the house.

                If you’re not focused on the goal of selling your home, it doesn’t make sense to put your household through this routine. Not everyone is habituated to putting away toiletries and making the bed perfectly on a daily basis. We won’t even talk about glass shower doors.

                That's one reason you "didn't do this sooner."

                2. Kiss Goodbye to Personal Style

                Decorating to stage stifles self-expression. It's been said that staging makes a home a house.

                When you decorate to sell, you decorate for others. Staging removes that unique personality you’ve given your house over time, and replaces it with a  more generic look.

                Staging also removes the personal, private and valuable items for the sake of safety, and to help the buyer concentrate on the property, not on who lives there.

                Do you want to live in a home stripped of cherished mementos, family photos, and all the quirky artifacts of a life happily lived? Probably not!

                But if you are motivated to sell, then you have a bigger picture in mind --- the picture of moving on, so the sacrifice is one you are willing to make.

                3. Spend Money for the Wrong Reasons

                If you don't plan on listing your home soon, spending fix-up money now might mean you are throwing money away.
                It’s a bad investment to choose things like paint colors, vinyl patterns, backsplash/sink/countertop/cabinet styles, and even a hardwood flooring stain based on what's fashionable now, but mark your home as dated in the years ahead.

                Medium flooring tones, not 
                dark like this, are preferable.
                Also, you could be wasting money if you improve the wrong parts of your home.

                Ask yourself what is typical for your market, your neighborhood, and your home style. Then, don't over-fix unless you are willing to pay big time for the things you can't live without before selling.

                The cash you save when you rein in your home improvements, could be the down payment on your future dream home.

                Mistakes and Solutions

                So, what can smart and ambitious homeowners do if they want to improve their homes? The answer is, make the right choices.

                Based on my experience and my conversations with Realtors, here are some common mistakes over-zealous rehabbing homeowners make.
                • Combine two bedrooms to make one larger one. Every bedroom, irregardless of size, adds value to your home.
                • Convert a closet irreversibly into a bookcase, mini office, hobby workshop, media center or sleeping alcove. No one ever has too many closets.
                • Make fairly permanent changes that won't appeal to everyone. Examples might be building a wall of narrow shelving to accommodate a specific collection, or connecting a woodstove into a fireplace.

                How to Choose Your Projects

                Instead, put your money where it matters, adding upgrades that almost anyone will love.

                Make choices based not on trends but timeless classics. It’s foolish to spend big bucks on things that aren’t nailed down. In other words, make those homey touches that express who you are, the things that you can carry with you to your next home.

                A room doesn’t necessarily get its personality from expensive crown moulding, custom bookshelves, and a fancy fireplace surround. You can get an equal amount of charm from the same amount of money spent on beautiful draperies, a sofa you love, and an area rug to die for!

                Energy efficient windows, energy efficient appliances, comfortable outdoor living spaces, modern kitchen and baths, low maintenance landscape, and better curb appeal – these are features home buyers are willing to pay for, and that you can enjoy whether you sell or not.

                When you’re making home improvement decisions, steer clear of the trendy stuff, and you’ll be safe whenever your home does hit the market.

                Make changes that have quality built in, so they will stand up over time and still be valuable when you do sell. If you like cutting edge decor, limit your choices to changeable items like paint color and accessories, not aqua countertops, a wine storage room, and a bidet in the bathroom.

                Be Realistic about Your Skills 

                Use professionals where it matters. It's economical to tackle repairs and remodels yourself. But if the end result doesn't look professional, it will come back and bite you at selling time. We call this bootleg renovations.

                Examples would be adding an outside shower by running plumbing out the basement window from the laundry sink there. Or building a porch without proper supports, or a patio that doesn’t drain away from the house. I have seen “homeowners specials” like a garden shed that got its electricity from an extension cord buried six inches underground. Or a washing machine that dumped its wastewater onto the vacant lot next door.

                When it comes to projects that call for wiring, plumbing, HVAC, framing, and roofing, go with the building codes. Yes, you’ll have to get a building permit in most cases, but at least you will know that what you are doing is safe and will pass inspection not only now but when the home sells.

                Style Your Rehabbing to the House

                Make improvements match the rest of your home. Whether we’re talking about adding a sunroom, replacing a window with French doors, building some custom shelving and cabinetry, or upgrading the flooring, make the changes harmonious with the style and quality of the rest of your home.

                A new window should be trimmed to match the other windows in the house. An unattractive roof line will devalue your home if it looks too much like an add-on. A small house with a different colored carpet in each room is not money well spent. Two mismatched, detached garages don't say "classy."

                An add-on gone wrong, like from the start. visit here for more redneck renovation photos.

                Here's the Take-Home

                Even though selling your home may not be in your plans now, no one knows what’s down the road. Most people think they will stay nearly forever in a home once they move in. But statistics indicate that the average American homeowner moves every seven years.

                A job change, a pregnancy, natural disaster, unplanned major expenses, sickness or an accident, downsizing for retirement, a death or divorce, a neighbor from hell, or even a windfall of money from an unexpected source, can all be reasons to decide to sell your home.

                That will be the time to declutter, depersonalize, and decorate to please prospective buyers.  Until then, enjoy your home. It’s your castle.

                I offer lots more pointers to help guide you through the home staging and selling process in my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It comes with my money back guarantee.

                Top Photo: Photo by James Waddell via Domino

                Make Your Own Decorative Vases for Free.

                Thursday, May 05, 2011
                Free. Don't you love that idea?

                Today, class, we're turning ordinary cardboard containers that you could rescue from your recycle bin, into vases.

                These vases can display real or artificial greenery and flowers -- those finishing touches that every staged room needs.

                My dressed-up cardboard boxes can also stand in for decorative holders in your staged kitchen or bath, like the one at the left holding cooking utensils.

                I'm a fan of cheap props because it means you can pack up your valuable and fragile belongings, and be ready to move when your house sells. If you are staging a vacant house, it's easy to stage with these inexpensive and lightweight props because you can toss them when you're done. No commitment.

                Meanwhile, they look downright pretty.

                Here's What  You Need

                • Rigid boxes with simple lines, like milk cartons and oatmeal boxes. The bigger, the better.
                • A wallpaper sample book. Discontinued books are free at paint stores, wallpaper outlets and from interior decorators.
                • Scissors -- a sharp, pointed pair.
                • Metal ruler.
                • Utility knife or X-acto knife.
                • Surface to cut on, such as a self-healing mat, or a cutting board.
                • White glue.
                • Glue gun and glue sticks.

                Oatmeal Box Vase

                Choose the cardboard container you want to cover. In this example, I'm using an oatmeal box.
                Choose the wallpaper you want to use. Wallpaper companies have already coordinated their lines so you choose two different patterns from one color scheme.

                Choose one wallpaper pattern for the background and one for the border. Or, just go with one pattern.

                Remove the paper you've chosen from the wallpaper book. Use your utility knife, so you get a clean edge.

                Mark the paper to the perfect size, allowing for an overlapping seam.

                Cut the paper with your knife, using the metal straightedge.

                Test to be sure it's a good fit. Trim if necessary. If you make a mistake, it's easy to just choose another sheet of paper with a similar design.

                Test the border strip to be sure it fits.

                If necessary, trim the border by cutting away parts you don't want. This step isn't always called for but on this design, I liked the look.

                Heat your glue gun. Wrap the paper around the box and double check top and bottom alignment. Run a line of glue down the box to seal one edge. Wrap the other edge over the glue. Press with your fingers to flatten, keeping them away from the paper's edge.

                Flip the wallpaper border over on a disposable sheet of wallpaper. Run a line of white glue around the edges of the border.

                Smear the glue around so it goes to the edge.

                Position the border where you want it on the box. Place the best-looking part of the border away from the visible vertical seam of the first layer of wallpaper. You're done!

                Milk Carton Vase

                To the right is a picture of our milk carton, all fancied up. I used a yellow wallpaper to wrap the entire box, then glued a border to the top section. This wallpaper border was already trimmed, saving me one step on this vase.

                If you are using a milk carton, trim away the top portion with scissors. Be sure to wash milk containers, give them a bleach rinse, and let them dry well.

                If you want to use your "cardboard vase" for fresh flowers, simply put a glass or plastic container inside to hold the water. For silk arrangements, you may want to place floral foam in the base of the container. I hope you'll have fun creating these free containers to use for staging your home.

                And That's Not All

                Pages from wallpaper books can
                be used for other decor projects like:
                • Cover picture frames.
                • Recover hat boxes.
                • Dress up closet shoe boxes.
                • Decorate trays.
                • Re-do old wastebaskets.
                • Make a fireplace fan.
                • Convert a plain picture matt.
                • Make book jackets.
                • Frame as artwork.

                There are more DIY projects in my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. Download it now and start your staging your home today.

                Five Reasons to Stage Your Own Home

                Monday, May 02, 2011
                I am sure you already have 
                some home staging skills.
                To be honest, doing your own home staging can take some sweat, some muscle, some money, some time.

                But consider the two alternatives.

                The first alternative is that you not stage at all, and so accept less money for your home, and wait a longer time for it to sell. Statistics support this fact.

                The other alternative is to not do your own staging, and instead hire a professional home stager to do the job.

                Folks, read my blog. I am here to steer you in the DIY direction. In fact, I'm pushing you.

                I'm going to venture a wild and crazy guess, and say that you're probably not willing to accept the first alternative, to be happy with less money and wait longer for a buyer.

                The other alternative, hiring a professional, has a few disadvantages. The following five points are my opinions, ones that may not make me popular with the staging accreditation folks, but I can't control my enthusiasm for DIY home staging and my confidence in your abilities!

                One: Save money

                Saving on expenses is probably the big draw for people who decide to do their own staging. Professional home stagers are in business to make money. If you are not afraid to DIY, and you are willing to educate yourself about what makes good staging, you'll get results that pay off at closing time.

                It's true that most staging companies will tailor their services to your needs, and you may even choose to get a kick-start from a stager who will give you a walk-through, consultation, and list of suggestions for a fee.

                What woman doesn't want her own power tools?

                Two: Choose your schedule 

                You can work at your own pace. You can start the process and finish when you like because although staging will make money for you when you sell your home, you don't have to budget the time you invest. Your home staging could begin a year before you call your Realtor, or all your staging might be simple enough to happen in one weekend.

                Three: Use what you own 

                Some stagers make money when they rent furniture and props to you. On your own, you are more likely to use the best pieces of furniture you have. If you choose to make additional purchases, they'll be pieces you want for your next home.

                Learn some new skills, like slipcovering,
                 from Pink and Polka Dot.

                Four: Know your family's lifestyle 

                I don't mean decorating style. I mean lifestyle. You know better than a hired stager exactly what your family is willing to do to maintain the look of a staged home. Buyers don't expect a model home look in an occupied home (although there's nothing wrong with that look), but laundry, toys, toiletries, paperwork, and other "signs of life" need to be limited. No one knows your family's limits like you do.

                Five: Have some fun

                The satisfaction of a finished, well-done project is within your grasp. It's satisfying and gives you a feeling of control over your home's sale. When I am working on staging a home of my own, I feel like I am putting money in the bank. It's immensely gratifying.

                And, you're bound to learn some new skills. These might include painting, sewing, organizing, thrifting, landscaping, framing, and other DIY techniques. So satisfying to step outside your comfort zone and achieve commendable results!

                Get the look, get the book

                I am here to help you. Use my blog for ideas and inspiration. Become a follower. Join my Facebook Group by clicking on the icon in the sidebar. Order my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. You can do this.

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