Roundup of my Favorite 2012 Posts

Monday, December 31, 2012
A front door in Charleston, South Carolina, welcomes the new year. 

I chose to feature these posts based on how helpful they would be to you if you have a home for sale. Is that you?

Let's start with getting it organized. In January I wrote about the dozen rules that help organize your home.

In February, just in time for Valentine's Day, the blog featured a post on capturing the hearts of buyers -- how to win buyers, seduce them, appeal to their senses, and not let them forget you.

One of my March posts had to do with window treatments -- curtains and drapes that require no sewing, all designed especially for home staging. I wrote a $5 eBook of 15 tutorials for No-Sew Window Treatments. Why let your windows go bare when it's time to stage, and why give your valuable window coverings away to the buyer?

During the following month, April, I wrote about the most important things you can do to help sell your home. This story is packed with helpful statistics, experts' advice, and shortcuts. You're bound to get some new ideas for simple home improvements.

Since I get more questions about furniture arrangement than any other topic,  May's winning piece has to be Handy Formulas that Make DIY Home Staging Easy. You'll find measurements, ratios, formulas and other space and sizing tips to make rooms look and feel more comfortable. Bookmark it!

Painting furniture is another hot button topic around here. I collected my favorite tips in a post for one week in June, and I concentrated on the most common mistakes made when DIYers paint furniture. I'm a professional painter, so I gave you all the insider secrets to get the job done quickly but expertly. The DIY Adventurers Blog liked this post so much they featured it on their site.

Although it may not be an option for you, many people are considering the pros and cons of renting their homes until they can sell them. I researched and opined about this topic in July. There's lots to weigh before making a decision.

I could have called my August article, The Five Tricks Professional Stagers Use, something like All You Really Need to Do to Sell You Home. It's that succinct and helpful.

The white-on-white color scheme, done by Sarah Richardson. One blog post I didn't feature
here but that I suspect may help many DIY stagers decide on
paint colors, is my advice on an all-white color palette. 

In September, I attacked another common problem -- mantel staging, and I listed my smartest steps for staging a mantel that actually helps sell your home.

Does your home have some Wow Factors? That's the question I asked in an October post. Wondering what wow factors are and which ones might be do-able for your home, your market and your budget? See my advice and illustrations.

My favorite post from November is called Ten Tips to Improve Your Autumn Curb Appeal, but no matter what the season, you'll find pointers here to improve the way your home looks all year long.

This past month I concentrated on decorating and protecting your home for the holidays. I so enjoyed making the tabletop Christmas trees I wrote about, that I am going to call that one my favorite December post. In a home on the market that needs to look festive but not crowded, these adorable tabletop trees fill the bill.

Is selling your home and moving on to your next adventure part of your plans for 2013? Then take a moment to download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It's over 150 pdf pages of illustrated tips and techniques, checklists and formulas, to take the work out of staging your own home. Kick off the New Year with staging that works!

Are You Inviting Trouble Into Your Home?

Monday, December 24, 2012
At holiday time, it's good to review the issue of home safety, especially if you have a home on the market. I wrote about protecting your home from thieves during the winter holidays two years ago, and decided to revive that post because I think it's as important as ever.

Happy Holidays, from me to you and your family. Best wishes for a New Year when all your dreams come true.

This Season's Darling: The Tabletop Christmas Tree

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
“How do I decorate my home during the holidays?” That's one of the most common questions home sellers ask at this time of year.

The simple answer is, “It depends.” It depends on whether you usually celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah in a traditional way.

It depends on whether children live in your home, and how nostalgic you are.

It depends on how uncluttered you want your home to look.

It depends on what your personal taste is, how much space is available in your home, how big your budget is, and what your schedule looks like.

One thing is for sure: there's always room and some money for a tabletop tree. It's seasonal, but non-denominational. It's decorative, long-lasting, and fashionable. No matter what style your home reflects, you're bound to be able to buy or DIY a small artificial tree for the holiday season.

I’m talking about the tabletop trees that measure less than 18 inches – cute little things that bring a touch of color and maybe even humor to the smallest space. Spaces like a bath vanity, a foyer table, a bookcase, mantel or nightstand.

I went a little crazy this year making tabletop trees for gifts, for clients, and for myself. Along the way I learned a few what-not-to-dos, and discovered some quick and cheap ways to make them look special.

The two conical trees pictured above are the same Epsom salt-covered ones I used in my tabletop display. I just popped a silver ornament on top of each, and set them on matched silver candlesticks for a different look. The felt flower topiary in the fake pewter pot is leftover from the tutorial I did last Christmas. It stored well. I just freshened it with some new sphagnum moss, and a bow in my favorite holiday color.

A dishtowel with beads glued on, some pasta painted silver, and a burlap cone 
dressed in ribbons and pipe cleaners -- each one makes a different kind of miniature 
Christmas tree. And not one of them was difficult to make. In fact, it was fast and fun! 

Make Similar Shapes 

If you’re going to be making more than one tree, I suggest making all your trees somewhat similar. You have enough to do without starting from zero with each DIY project. I used a cone shape for most of my trees. You can buy Styrofoam cones, floral foam cones, or paper mache cones. You can also fashion lightweight cones from cardboard or poster board.

Get Inspired 

Let your materials inspire you. As usual, I gathered up odds and ends and craft supplies from around my house that I wanted to use or recycle. Having a stash at your fingertips prompts creativity. Look for fabrics, jewelry, natural objects, ornaments, paint, or paper that speaks to you and fits with your décor.

Pedestals and bases make a big difference. Try different styles until you find the right one
for your tree. I liked the look of milk glass under my one candy and two ribbon trees. 

Create Contrast

You can mix it up so each tree is unique and interesting. Put a funky burlap tree in a shiny silver planter. Add a glitzy snowflake to the top of a humble Kraft paper tree. Place new with old, rough with smooth, glossy with dull, black with white.

Think Sturdy

If you want your trees to last over time, so you can bring them out again in years ahead, make them strong enough to be packed away. That means nothing flimsy, and nothing perishable that might invite mold or animals. My pasta tree and candy tree are “annuals,” rather than perennials.

Corrugated cardboard (one layer peeled away), felt, and tulle, 
are the makings for little trees. Trees this size make
easy work of decorating a mantel, even a narrow one, for the holidays.  


Look for ways to save money by substituting less pricey materials for what you’d purchase finished at craft stores. I found I could make a paper mache cone by wrapping a store-bought one with aluminum foil and adding layers of newsprint smeared well with school glue. Once it’s hardened, you can slip the $4 cone out, so you have an extra cone (or more if you want to repeat the process).

The driftwood tree is just sticks, glue and shells. The middle tree is sheet moss I
glued to a cardboard cone cut from half a sheet of poster board,

set on a metal candlestick. And the topiary is sea glass glued to a plastic salad spoon stuck in sand-filled hypertufa pot.   

Last year topiaries captured my heart. This year, I am infatuated with tabletop trees. And I’m not the only one. I’m seeing them in all the stores, in magazines, online, and on Pinterest. On my own Pinterest Tabletop Trees Board, I’ve already pinned over 45 of my favorites, and I know I’ll add more. Are you smitten with these little trees? Have you made one?

Let Me Help You Stage

Do you have a home on the market? Have you staged it? No matter where you live or what your home is like, it’s already staged, vacant or inhabited, clean or cluttered – it’s staged! You might as well stage it to sell! Download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, so you can quickly and thriftily improve the marketability of your home for sale.

Design a Holiday Tablescape Perfect for Home Staging

Monday, December 10, 2012
When your home is on the market, the home staging you do during the holidays needs to be festive without being too kooky. Here’s an example of what works. I think my combination of wintry, woodland elements with clean, shiny colors hits just the right note.

I put together this centerpiece for a long table. I centered a strip of natural burlap the length of the table. I layered on the first element – two round mirrors that hinted of iced ponds. I surrounded the “ponds” with a couple of shiny bead garlands and then added black and brown rocks for some contrast.

I wanted some texture, so I pulled out my bag of fake mossy blobs. They look something like small shrubs. For larger shrubs and a different texture, I placed some natural pine cones at each end of the arrangement. 

My two focal points were the deer I purchased. They were gold, and I sprayed them with silver paint. They still glisten enough to make me happy.

To complete the tableau, I parked the cone-trees I made from purchased paper mache bases that I painted three different colors. The two smaller paper mache trees I covered with Epsom salts for some sparkle, and the third tree I left white.

What Makes a Winning Tabletop Display?

Here are the elements I keep in mind while assembling any tablescape for home staging:

Make the colors harmonious with the rest of the room. The color scheme of your home should flow from room to room, but Christmas is a time when some extra doses of color are welcome.

Avoid overly religious subjects, or political decor, or any art that might be considered too personal or controversial. People like to do business with -- as in, buy houses from -- people who are most like them. The less they know about you personally, the more businesslike and objective the negotiations.

If the rest of your home is minimally decorated, don't go overboard with tablescapes at holiday time. Your displays should maintain the character and "weight" of your home, and showcase its assets.

Don’t use anything that is too expensive or has sentimental value. Things disappear during home tours. 

Concentrate on shapes, textures, and colors for subtle variety. Nothing should be too distracting. You want buyers to notice the Wow Factors in your home.

Have your vignette tell a story. Ideally, the story helps sell your home by reminding buyers what’s special. It could be the size of the dining room, the romance of the bedroom, or the setting of the home itself.

Do you have a home on the market? Are you planning to sell your home soon? My $4.99 eBookDIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, will help you show your home in the best possible way, by staging it right. You can download the book instantly, and start your own home staging today.

Make a Unique Holiday Wreath for Pennies

Monday, December 03, 2012
A novelty wreath will welcome with whimsy
both home buyers and guests to your hom
Last week I showed tips for creating a wreath of greenery. This week I made a wreath for our boat. The idea came to me when I spied an old life ring taking up space in the garage.

I love re-purposing what's on hand to create something no one else has! 

Wreaths can go a long way towards improving curb appeal. If your property is part of a condo complex that forbids front yard décor, a wreath usually falls within regulations. And it could be one of the things that distinguishes your unit from other units buyers look at that day. 

If you don’t have a wreath on (or near) your front door, and you want one that’s unique and cheap, look around for what you can re-purpose or upcycle. 

A wire coat hanger? A picture frame? A round mirror? Foam core? Plywood? Twigs? Vines? Driftwood? Any one of these are the start of a one-of-a-kind wreath. 

Or, get out your handy glue gun and create the base from what you can scavenge from thrift stores, nature, and around your home. Even something wild and crazy like ping pong balls, plastic plates, cookie cutters, or children’s blocks can make a cute base for a novelty wreath.

Since there was dust and mildew on the old, beat-up life ring, 
I wiped it with a cleaner that has mildew-cide.   

To put a faux finish on the wreath base, I started with one coat of an exterior
 satin house paint, but any craft paint would do as well. 

A good faux finish calls for a variety of colors. I sponged on four different
greens, letting each coat dry before adding the next. 

To replicate the (missing) webbing strips that hold the rope that encircles the 
life ring, I folded this 3-inch wide ribbon in half and stitched it across to make a loop.
The ribbon was long enough to go around the life ring, with a few inches to spare.

I knew the wreath would be viewed mostly from the front, but I didn't 
want to have an ugly seam where the ribbon ends joined, 
so I used dressmaker straight pins to attach the ribbon. 

Once the rope goes on, it starts looking like a functioning 
life preserver. And it would still serve as 
one in an emergency. I connected the ends 
of the rope with duct tape, 
and tucked the joint into one of the loops.  

Once I added some silk holly sprigs and glued on some 
star fish I made from bakers clay, I hung the wreath on the bow flagstaff. 
It makes people smile when they see it! I painted the clay stars 
and gave them a few coats of clear sealer, 
so we will see if that is sufficient weatherproofing.

Update: Seagulls seem to think the bakers clay embellishments are for snacking.  
I'm bringing the wreath home to replace what's left of the starfish with real shells.   

A "statement wreath" like this adds some personality to a property. And I made it from what I already had on hand. Do you have an idea for a DIY novelty wreath? 

Are you selling your home? Have you staged it? My $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar, gives you all the formulas, checklists, and techniques professional stagers use to sell homes. I guarantee you'll learn new tips. I will give you your money back if you are not completely satisfied with my home staging eBook.

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