Why Cyan Could Be Your Go-To Color For Staging

Monday, June 25, 2012
A bath staging assortment with a cyan motif.
If you think people on a home tour will pilfer
small items, you're right. I "secured" these
color-coordinated toiletries with a transparent wrap. 
Confused about what colors are best for staging your home? Let's get some  basics down.

The best home staging color schemes are built around three colors.

The first color is a neutral background one, something that anyone could love. 

The second one is an accessory color that closely coordinates with the first. It's either in the same color family, or the same tonality.

The third is an accent color that doesn't have too much drama of its own. It's usually a more intense color, but not too distracting.

Ideally, these same three colors will echo through your home if it is on the market. This kind of planning makes your home look more contemporary, organized, turn-key, and -- most important -- spacious.

Cyan works in any of these roles.

What is Cyan? 

Cyan is a new word to me. If it’s new to you, let me introduce you. Cyan is the color built from equal amounts of blue and green.

If you thought that color was aqua, or teal, or turquoise, or aquamarine, or even electric blue, you’re right. But technically, cyan is the word that printers and graphic artists use for the blue/green pigment. 

In home decor, and particularly home staging, cyan is an out-and-out winner. Especially the paler versions. Because dreamy, soothing, yet lively, cyan is one of those people-pleasing tones that you can count on to offend no one.

While pinks can be girly, and reds be too bold, and browns too iffy, the color cyan has a personality, like yellows, that generally makes people feel good.

One reason is that it’s clean. So, cyan is a perfect color for baths or kitchens.

Cyan looks contemporary because it hasn’t come into and gone out of the trend cycle.

Cyan in clear shades reflects light, and light reflection makes spaces look larger. 

Let Me Show You The Ways

Here are some examples of the magic that cyan can add to your home. 

You can stage any tablescape, countertop or bookshelf around a monochromatic color
scheme for a harmonious look. Cyan ties these elements on this shelf together. 

An otherwise standard living room, sparsely furnished, looks striking because of the interesting
choice of paint color. For staging, this is as dark a wall paint as you want. Photo: David Knox 
The dishware and glassware in the cabinets are cyan, and even though the wall-hung dishes
are classic blue and white, it all works together. Do you agree? Photo: BHG.
Cyan tile is always popular, in both baths and kitchens. Cyan combines well with
many colors, including warm yellows, cool blues, and all greys. Photo: BHG

How Will You Use Cyan?

Think about adding cyan to your color palette. It could be your soothing neutral wall color. It could be your complimentary secondary neutral color for your upholstery, bedding, window treatments, or painted furniture. It could be your friendly accent color for books, lamps, art, pillows, or other props.

I hope these examples will lead you on a search of your home to discover what you may already own that is the color of cyan.

If you decide to paint, you might like Sherwin Williams's Jetstream, or Glidden's Skywatch. Both Krylon and Rust-Oleum.offer spray paints in this family as well.

You can get more advice on choosing colors for home staging, plus help with other decisions you'll be making while you stage your own home. You can download my eBook now for just $4.99, and have this help at your fingertips. Home staging 's easy when you know the tricks and techniques I teach you.

Thrifty Decor: How to Give Rooms a Fresh Look with Greenery

Monday, June 18, 2012

Greenery is a big deal. It's essential in every room of the staged home.

Okay, maybe not the laundry room.

I’ve blogged often about the reasons I prefer silk plants and silk flowers.

Silks are especially helpful if the home you're selling is unoccupied, because they look beautiful without any attention.

But, if you are living in the home you're selling, and you have a yard or garden, it seems a shame not to spruce up your staged home with the real stuff.

Go Green

Rather than traditional floral arrangements, I prefer simple arrangements of greenery for staging. Here are four reasons why.

One. Greenery lasts longer than flowers. It’s less likely to wilt, discolor, or drop pollen. In other words, it will save you time and trouble. 

Two. Foliage is less distracting –- and that’s important in a staged space. You want buyers to notice the persuasive selling points of your home rather than a bunch of blooms that take over the room. 

Three. Natural greenery goes with any interior color scheme. While you may not have enough of the perfect color blossoms to carry you through the summer selling season, there’s always something green growing.

Four. Green leaves look refreshing. I love flowers, I have my own cutting garden, and I keep fresh cut flowers in the house from spring until fall, but when it comes to adding a living, vegetal quality to a room, nothing beats well-groomed greenery –- either a plant or a simple cluster or foliage.

Almost any plant gives you something to work with.
 This bud vase holds the strappy leaves of daylily plants,  
and the glass pitcher above 
holds Euonymous clippings from landscape pruning.

The container

Simplicity is what we’re talking about here.

To make that simple cluster of greens extra refreshing and upbeat, I like glass containers. 

Nothing matches the clean impression that glass gives.

Whether it's that spa-like vibe you want in bath or bedroom, that spotlessly clean feeling in a kitchen, that sophisticated mood in the living room, or that  uncluttered sensation in the foyer, glass is your go-to floral container.

Glass vases will never clash with a room's color scheme.

And they won't steal the show from the arrangement itself.

Here are some pointers to make your greenery in glass even more successful as props in a staged room. 

My advice is to use real glass, not plastic. Real glass looks clearer and reflects light the way plastic doesn’t. Crystal is good too, but I always discourage people from displaying anything too valuable in a home for sale. 

Be sure to clean your glass until it glistens. Scrub it with a magic eraser, rinse it well, and dry it with a microfiber cloth to remove spots and stains. 

Here's another tip: Fill the container only half full. People feel good when they see the surface of water. It’s a flat and level surface, so it’s grounding. Clear water builds trust; it sends a subtle message of transparency.

Choose only unblemished specimens. Since, without flowers, there won't be a riot of color and textures, each stem, leaf, or blade of grass should be as near to perfect as you can manage.

These branches of Photina I cut from a hedge on the edge of my yard didn't look
like the sole makings of a striking arrangement, until I removed the leaves.

These are the same Photina branches. Don't be afraid to remove parts of plants
to focus exclusively on more interesting parts. A fishbowl makes an ideal container. 

No yard or garden of your own? No problem. Most florists will sell assorted greenery like ferns and single stems of tropical plants. If you regularly buy floral bouquets for your home, remember to save the greenery after the roses or lilies or daisies have lived their lives. 

Be bold. Try placing one leaf from an elephant's ear plant or a branch of long needle pine in a glass vessel. Chances are it will look downright elegant. 

Get the look. Get the book.

You can stage your home on a shoestring and you can do it yourself! I show you how in my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. Download it now and start staging today. Every home is staged, whether intentional or not. Stage yours to win a buyer!     

Make a Washable Cover for Your Dog's Bed

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The cushion cover with a flange is easier to
sew than one with piping on the edge.  

When you have pets and your home is for sale, you have additional challenges to keep your home show-ready for buyers.

I blogged about selling a home when you have pets, but I didn’t mention animal bedding. No, not staging it all fancy, just keeping it clean.

My dog Misty has a bed in every room. When the one in my office started looking depressing, I decided it was time for a renewal -- a new slipcover.

I made the slip the same way I made the flanged pillows I blogged about earlier this week.

This cover will be easily removable because of the envelope back. The flanged edge makes it less crucial that the pattern matches at the side seams.

I know Misty appreciates her new bed cover. Heck, she appreciates everything. Everything but baths.

Misty's bed in the office is an upcycled loveseat cushion. She likes it for
its roominess and cushy comfort, so there was no need to replace it.
My beagle is camera shy. Like lots of ladies, she does not enjoy having her picture taken.
I am so jealous when I see photos of other people's dogs happily posing for their photo ops.  
Misty -- she's getting ready to bolt here -- won't care if geometric patterns go out
of style. This bed should keep her happy for a long time; it has a familiar scent,
but I can easily remove it and pop it in the washing machine.  
It goes without saying, I hope, that the staged home you and your pet share will smell fresh and clean. Dog beds aren't usually a problem in that regard, but litter boxes can be. Be diligent, because the scent of animals, even to animal-lovers, can be a deal-breaker.
Do you want other tips to help sell your home? Download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. Then, follow me on this blog and on Twitter, and join my Facebook Group page, so I can hold your hand until your home is sold! 

Misty would rather be walking the beach, smelling dead stuff, than sleeping.

The Easy Way to Make Your Own Decorator Pillows

Monday, June 11, 2012
You say you want sassy-looking pillows? But you don't want to invest much money in them? As always, DIY is the answer.

You're smart to include pillows in your arsenal of props if you're home staging.

Pillows can give a bland room some texture, color and personality. They add the finishing touch that bumps a room's style quota up a few notches. Plump and pretty pillows can soften the look of a room, making it feel comfortable and welcoming –- important goals when you stage a home.

Bigger is Better

For pillows to have impact, they need to be large. I like pillows for staging to measure at least 18 x 18 inches. I like the covers to be removable for washing or replacing with a different cover. I like them to look as luscious as the versions I see on designer's online portfolios, and in the shelter magazines. And I like them to be easy to make so I can whip them up on a whim.

But I don’t want to shell out much moolah for them.

So, here is how I make pillows for staging.

Use drapery or upholstery weight fabric for pillow covers.
Prewash the fabric to prevent shrinkage later.

To Save Money

Make the pillow insert yourself from recycled fabrics, like pillowcases, sheets, or towels. Bed pillows that have gone flat can be washed, taken apart, and the stuffing used to make new throw pillows. Free. 

For the pillow itself, you can buy gorgeous remnants and upholstery samples at discount prices in most fabric stores. Another source of cheap fabric is second-hand stores, including the blankets, curtains, and even shirts and dresses sold there.

If you have enough fabric to cover the front of the pillow, save money by using something less expensive for the back. 

If you’re an experienced sewer, you can piece together scraps of fabrics to make patchwork pillows that look stylish. Patchwork doesn’t always mean looking like grandma’s quilts.

And, my favorite money-saver is to stuff the pillow insert with junk mail or old tax returns that you’ve run through your paper shredder. This free filling holds up well, has a good loft and weight, and has no off-odors. Trust me; my dog even sleeps on a bed I made that’s stuffed with shredded paper.

Today's Lesson

I’ve chosen to demonstrate the flanged pillowcase with an envelope back, because it fits all my criteria. It’s easy to make, and the flange gives it some style without the hassle of stitching piping into your seams. Besides, flanged pillows are on-trend right now.

All three of these pillows started with a simple insert, filled with shredded paper.
The two back pillows are made from white burlap, surprisingly easy to sew.

Make the insert 

Decide how large your pillow will be. Make the insert a few inches smaller, because for a flanged pillow, the insert fills only the center, plump part of the pillow, the part inside the flange.

How wide the flange will be depends on the size of the pillow and the weight of the fabric. The smaller the pillow and the floppier the fabric, the narrower the flange should be, from ½ inch to 1 inch. For a large pillow or a stiff upholstery fabric, the flange can be wider, up to 3 inches. I decided on a ½-inch flange for this pillow.   

Cut the fabric

For a pillow insert that measures 19 x 19 inches once finished, cut two squares 20 x 20 inches, to allow for ½ inch seams all around.

Since I was recycling an old bath towel, I just folded it in half crosswise, and trimmed it so that once the seams were sewn, it would measure 19 x 19.    

Once three side seams are stitched, fill the insert with shredded paper. When you think you have stuffed it enough, add some more stuffing for good measure. Then hand stitch that last side seam.

It took almost one whole grocery bag of
shredded paper to fill my 19 x 19-inch insert.  
Use a slip stitch to seam the fourth side of the insert.

Make the pillow covering

Before cutting any of your good fabric, study the fabric. Some forethought and attention to detail at the start of your project will give your pillows that custom look instead of that discount store look.

A well-made, store-bought, high-end pillow will match the design at the seams. A flanged pillow is more forgiving because the flange can hide the fact that your pattern doesn’t line up on all four sides. But, do take note if your fabric has one large design. Center this design.

Cut out the front 

Cut the front piece of your pillow the size as your pillow insert cover, plus whatever measurement you want for a surrounding flange, and an allowance for seams. I made my front piece 21 x 21 inches because my insert measured 19 x 19 inches, and I wanted a 1 ½ inch flange and ½ inch for seam allowance. 

The back of the pillow will be in two pieces, with an overlap in the center so that removal is easy.

I like the overlap to look centered, not off to one side of the pillow’s back. So, I make one of the two back pieces larger than the other, so it can slide under the shorter piece.

When you center the hemmed envelope edge, even the
back of your pillow is presentable, like this blue denim pillow.

I usually figure an overlap of at least four inches. There will be times when your pillow gets viewed from behind, so both sides need to look presentable. You don’t want the appearance of a pillow that has gained weight and is still wearing the same old clothes, underwear peeking out from overstretched openings. So, four inches of overlap for an average sized pillow, and even more overlap for larger pillows.

Cut out the back

First, cut the shorter back piece. Make it as long as the front piece (21 inches in my example). But make it only half the width of the front piece, plus two inches for a center hem. My first back piece measured 21 x 12 ½  inches.
Cut the longer back piece. Make it as long as the front piece (21 inches). But make it half the width of the front piece, plus 2 inches for a center hem and 4 inches for overlapping. My second back piece measured 21 x  16 ½ inches.

This is what your three pieces of fabric will look like. The front piece is
facing up, and the two back pieces are facing down. 

Hem the back pieces

Hem the edges of both back pieces that will form the opening. In my example, that would be one of the edges that measures 21inches. On each of the two back pieces, I turned one edge over 1/4 inch, stitched it, then turned it again 1 3/4 inches and topstitched that. A hem this wide will lie nice and flat. Alternately, you can zig-zag or serge the first turn of the hem.

Attach front to back

With good sides together, stitch the smaller of the two back pieces to the front piece, with the hemmed edge of the back piece towards the center. Then, stitch the larger of the two back pieces to the front, overlapping the other back piece.

Joining the shorter piece to the front first means the hemmed edge will be centered. 
If your fabric has a loose weave, zig zag the raw edges to prevent unraveling with use. 

Trim the corners so they will be crisp and square when you turn your pillow cover right side out. Turn the cover, and press the seams flat. Finally, top stitch around the edge to make your flange. I always pin first, so I’m sure the flange will lay flat and there will be no surprise puckers when I’m machine stitching. If the flange is wider than ½ inch, marking the stitch line with a quilter's pencil makes it easy to stitch straight and even all around. On a narrow flange, you can usually eyeball as you stitch.

Press the fabric at each step of the assembling for a more finished look.
To make it easy to stuff the insert into the case, flip one side of the
envelope back, push the insert into one side, and then the other.
Some people believe pillows should be under-stuffed for a more casual or natural
look. It's up to you which style you like. Both look good with a flanged border 
Here's an example of an under-stuffed pillow. A novelty print makes a fun pillow! 


Stitch something sweet. Top stitch your flange by hand for a dressmaker touch. If you are a quilter, this should be a piece of cake.

Add an accent: Top stitch your flange with a contrasting thread.

Decorate with tim: Sew ribbon, rick rack, ball fringe, or other decorative edging into the edge of the flange.

Give it high style: Add buttons to the four inside corners on the front of the pillow.

Have some fun: Make oblong, and even round pillows, with flanges.

Be versatile: Choose one fabric for the front and another for the back of a pillow.

Go no sew: Substitute fusible webbing or fabric glue for stitching.

Hack the big guys: Paint an image on the front of your plain pillowcase, copying from something you've fallen in love with online.

All you need is one yard of fabric to change a regular bed pillow into a decorative
accent pillow like this. The striped pillows are made from scraps of fabric.
Getting ready for The Fourth, I made this red, white and blue pillow cover from two
"fat quarters," about 1/2 yard. For outdoor pillows, you'll need foam instead of paper.   

Yes it's a bandanna. In fact, it's three of them. What could be more cute?
Can you see this pillow in a red bandanna with white rick rack? I can! 
If your home is for sale, count on pillows to be part of on your selling team. I hope these instructions encourage you to make your own frugal decorator pillows.

Got windows? My eBook, No Sew Curtains and Draperies to Stage Your Home is just $4.99, and is packed with illustrated tutorials for 15 different window treatments, especially designed for staging.

Painting Furniture? Don't Make These Mistakes

Monday, June 04, 2012

You’ll find a gazillion tutorials all over blogland for painting furniture. I don’t want to repeat all the good advice that is out there.

So, I’m giving you my favorite pointers, based on mistakes I have seen inexperienced painters make when they tackle a DIY furniture repaint.  

Common Mistake  #1:  Not planning ahead

Make a projection 
Have a general  idea of the amount of time you’ll need to take the project from start to finish.

Will it be a one-day affair, or do you need to let paint dry between coats (always a good idea)?  Will you have to stop mid-painting to pick up your children or start dinner?  Will you have to move the project out of the way before it’s dry?

Schedule it right 

Pick the right times; look for the perfect window.

Are the weather and other environmental conditions just right? Painting outdoors on a very hot day means your paint will dry too fast, so that keeping a wet edge will be difficult or impossible. You’ll have lap marks and a rough surface.

Since I don't recommend a Shabby Chic look for home staging,
I wanted my ancient "TV cart" to look fresh.   
Paint to the rescue. I worked in the garage, 
where there is more protection from wind and funny weather.

Spray painting in hot weather means the atomized paint will dry before it hits your target, so you’ll have a powdery finish.

Painting in windy weather means you’ll have dust and other debris in your finish.

Will it rain before your paint dries? Will the paint freeze overnight before it dries?

Gather essentials 

Collect what you need.
A microfiber cloth makes a good tack rag,
and an old brush makes a good duster. 

Many projects are ruined when you don’t have the right equipment or supplies.

Do you have enough paint, and even more than you need?

Do you have the right brush(es)? A paint work bucket (not the can the paint comes in! Pulleeze!)? Paint can opener? Screwdriver to remove hardware? Sanding supplies? Tackcloth? Dropcloths? Any special solvent or other clean-up supplies? Rags?

Common Mistake #2: Poor Prep

Prepping is to painting what foreplay is to sex: the more attention given it, the better the results.


Always sand a piece of furniture. Always. I don’t care if it is laminated faux wood. I don't care if the paint label says "sanding not necessary."

Sanding gives a surface “tooth,” something for the first layer of paint to bite into.

Sanding also removes loose dirt and other junk you don’t want to seal under fresh paint. There might be drips, runs and brush marks from a previous, poor paint job. Sanding minimizes or eliminates these little problems that make a big difference in your results.

Sanding removes the mistakes the 
last painter made, and softens the edges. 
Besides cleaning and smoothing the surface, sanding can soften the sharp edges of furniture to give it a more finished, quality look.

Sanding between two new coats of paint is a good practice, as well. Sometimes the paint you are using has pieces of trash in it (especially if you used your paint can as a work bucket). Sanding between coats removes these minor imperfections, and smooths the surface for a better final finish.


Always clean. If your furniture piece is old, wipe it with a cleaner to remove things like nicotine layers, grease, wax, and embedded dirt. Then, let the piece dry completely.


Always prime. Although many painting projects don’t require it, a primer coat has advantages.

A primer bonds to whatever surface you put it on, so the paint will be more durable.

A primer can fill small scratches and gaps so your piece looks more custom.

A primer gives you a blank slate so you’ll notice repairs you might want to fix.

A primer can remedy discrepancies in paint, so you can apply a water-based paint over an oil- or lacquer-based paint with no fear of it creating “fish eyes” as it dries, or peeling after it dries.

Primers are designed to dry quickly, so don't use a time crunch as an excuse for skipping your primer. Just prime! 


Remove the dust you created by sanding, with a tack cloth, a duster-brush, or a microfiber cloth.

What’s the point of sanding if you don’t get the sanding dust out of there?

Don’t sweep or shake your drop cloth to put dust in the air. Move the project to a clean area, and use a dust-free drop cloth.

Get rid of the extras

Remove hardware if practical.
Casters usually pop right off furniture.
These showed signs of age and paint drips.

It’s usually easier to paint furniture if you can strip it of knobs and handles. While they are off, you can clean or refinish them. I like to leave hinges in place and either tape them off, or paint carefully around them. 

Common Mistake #3:  Inefficiency

Before jumping in, consider the most sensible approach to your project.

For example, turn tables and chairs upside down, so you can paint the underbelly and insides easily. Who hasn’t painted a chair, and ended up with paint-covered arms from painting the insides of the legs last, reaching around wet paint to do it?

Move it 

If possible, elevate your project to make it easier to work on. You’ll be able to see what you are doing and you’ll be more comfortable working without bending over. 

Have a system

You’ll avoid wasted motions and “holidays” if you pay attention to the method you use. Paint smart. Work in a planned pattern that makes sense to you and is appropriate to the piece of furniture.

For example, if you have dresser drawers, remove them from the dresser, paint them, and place them where they won’t be in your way.

If you’re painting a bookcase, lay it flat on a table so you can walk all around it, and follow the same order for each shelf: back, sides, top, then bottom, for example.

Just the way I did when I painted plastic 
flower pots, I started my repaint by 
turning the table upside down.
Have a staging area. Keep your supplies close at hand, and when you use something, replace it in the same pocket or the same spot nearby,  so you don’t waste time hunting for it when you need it again.

This way, you won’t hear yourself mumbling, “Where did I put my rag?!” or “Where's the screws?!” or "Who stole my gloves?"

Clean up

Don't save it for the next day, even if you plan to paint again tomorrow.

Schedules change, plans are forgotten, life takes over.

Cleaning up is part of being efficient, so that the next time you want to paint, you’re ready.

Whether you use a roller, brushes, a sprayer, or spray cans, leave your equipment, including paint, work bucket, dropcloths, and sanding supplies ready for their next job.

Big Benefits

DIY furniture painting can rescue old, inexpensive, or favorite pieces. Even if you are not staging a home right now, knowing how to repaint a piece of furniture is a handy skill any decorator or DIYer should practice. Do a sloppy paint job, and that bargain dresser will still look like a garage sale find, but a careful paint job will upcycle it into a prize to be proud of.

Home staging counts on fewer pieces of furniture than we ordinarily live with. That means each piece has to earn its keep by adding to the style and appeal of your rooms. You can elevate even pathetic hand-me-down furniture into pieces that earn their way, just by painting them the right way.

When I cleaned the casters I discovered they were 
solid copper! I think they added just the 
right vintage touch to this old rolling cart. 
This bedside table has sported a variety of colors
over the years. If I had painted it hastily each time -- with all the drips and
rough spots intact -- it would never look this good, 
as though a new factory finish has been applied. 

Many of these same tips for painting furniture can be applied to other DIY projects, like painting doors, lamps, or cabinets.

For more smart tips to help you stage your own home for sale, download my $4.99 ebook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar and my Guide to Furniture Arrangement.

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