How to Make Patterns Work for Your Home Staging

Monday, August 19, 2013
Pattern mixing 101: Keep it simple.
This place setting is just squiggles and stripes,
done in members of the blue family 
Every staged home runs the risk of looking plain vanilla ho hum ordinary.

But with the clever injection of some texture and pattern, your DIY staging will hit the mark and win the hearts of buyers.

Texture mixing is pretty simple. Just incorporate a variety of surface treatments and material -- shiny metals, rusted metals, nubby fabrics, silky fabrics, furry fabrics, smooth woods, distressed woods...You really can't overload textural interest unless you're overloading colors as well.

But pattern mixing is a little trickier. You can overload patterns.

Also, when you combine patterns for home staging, it's not the same as mixing patterns for personal decorating.

I'm here to help. Here are a few simple guidelines specifically geared to home staging.

Color Counts 

Keep the color palette of your textile prints simple. Limit yourself to two or three colors per room. The trend now is towards more colorful rooms, more saturated colors, more unusual colors. Don't go there. Play it safe with colors that any home buyer could relate to.

A bed-in-a-bag and a beagle. She loves to
make a nest in my co-ordinated
Waverly fabrics purchased 10 years ago.  
Choose neutrals and pastels that are not distractions on a home tour. Your pattern colors should pick up some of the neutral colors in the room. Choose either clear hues or muddy hues. Choose either intense colors or muted pastels, not both.

Determine the undertones in whatever colors you use. Do they tend toward yellows or pinks or greens or greys? When in doubt, match your colors to a paint chip and ask at the paint store what the undertones are. They have the formula and know the pigments that make up the color, so they can identify the undertones for you. They'll do this even if you are not buying paint.

One goof-proof way to mix patterns is to buy fabrics bundled by a professional decorator. Bed-in-a-bag is an example. Retail outlets and manufacturers deliberately coordinate things like table linens, bath towels, and kitchen textiles to make it easy for you and to sell you more of their stuff. Buy their sets or just imitate the catalog and store displays.

Another way to be sure your patterns talk to each other and don't take over the room is to base your patterns on a single color. For example, I'm picturing a room with creamy draperies edged in pale yellow, yellow floral and chevron stripped pillows, and a yellow gingham upholstered chair.

One of my Pinterest Boards shows color schemes appropriate for a staged home. Visit there for inspiration and ideas when you're choosing colors.

Repetition holds this assortment of fabric patterns together. We see a rich red and
a faded red. The chain motif trimming the pillows repeats the curves of the
paisley pillows. The polka dot pillow imitates the tufted chenille bedspread.
And the gold in the pillows repeats the gold of the brass bed.  Photo: BHG.
A charming, contemporary toile in teal and a mandala-like design
in orange compliment each other beautifully. These draperies don't strike me
as too matchy at all!  Photo: Woman's Day.
You can't go wrong with the classic combo of floral (carpeting), plaid or check (chairs)
and a stripe (draperies). Photo:, by Erica Georges Dines.

Scale is All About Size, Style, and Placement

Mix large patterns with small patterns and something in between. This kind of mixing creates a finished, stylish, interesting look. Mix angular geometrics with curvy florals. Mix ombre, ikat, ethnic, and batik prints and with crisp modern designs. These kinds of juxtapositions delight the eye and bring a room to life.

Spread your patterned pieces around the room, as well. If all your patterns are on pillows clustered on one couch and the rest of the room is showing solid colors, there's an imbalance. Pattern placement keeps the eye moving, and that's what you want.

A lovely collection of subdued blues. The bedspread is
 a block print using a rubber welcome mat.  Photo: Leah Moss
Carry swatches of fabric and paint chips with you when you are staging your home. The mind does not remember colors the way it does numbers and facts. Fabrics really need to be seen in 3-D next to each other for you to judge their likeability.

Restraint Rules the Day

Limit your pattern selections and color choices to three. Sounds boring? Sure. Looks boring? Not necessarily! An uncluttered home looks new and clean.

Remember that you can repeat the patterns in more than one place. A striped panel in the draperies can be repeated on a tablerunner. That's not matchy-matchy. That's just cross pollination.

One strategy to make a room look more intentionally designed than thrown together is to use similar or identical trims on upholstered pieces, window treatments, lamp shades, pillows, and other accessories. Your trim could be something like white cording, a fuzzy fringe, colorful rick rack, gold braiding or patterned ribbon.

Tone down the size of bold contrast patterns. This one trick will help keep your rooms looking comfortable and tasteful. If you're staging a really large room, you'll need some large textile designs, but they can be composed of subtle color variations.

So, don't be afraid of printed textiles. They can help you sell your house! There's plenty of solid color in most rooms to balance a selection of prints and patterns. Just jump in, and follow my guidelines for mixing and matching prints for home staging.

If you want more tips to stage your own home, be sure to order my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It will teach you to stage like a pro!

Don't Be A TV Diva When You Paint Walls

Monday, August 05, 2013
Fresh paint turns buyers on. 
Painting a room is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to get a home ready for selling.

As a professional painter, homeowner and landlady, I’ve painted literally hundreds of rooms.

That’s why it irks me to see people on TV, whether they are hosts of their own design show, DIY remodelers on a reality series, or models in painting commercials, paint the wrong way.

If you follow their lead, if you paint the way TV teaches you, you’re wasting time and money and getting sloppy results.

Here are my seven favorite tips for getting the best painting results with the least effort.

1. Prep is Everything

No one on TV mentions preparing a wall for paint. Even if the room has been painted recently and looks smooth, sanding all the walls with a pole sander knocks down any dust and lumps. Sanding gets the surface ready to accept new paint. Patch and sand and then spot prime as needed.

If you made lots of repairs or are changing color, a primer is a good intermediate step. Talk to the experts at your paint store about covering the old color with the new one you are buying. Careful prep is what makes the difference between a pro job and an amateurish attempt.

2. Get a Handle on It

Once in a while, a television camera catches a glimpse of a professional painter working in the background. Chances are the pro is doing it right. He’ll be using an extension handle on the roller frame. Meanwhile, the show's host starts rolling paint in the middle of a wall, holding the stubby roller handle. Oh, my aching wrist! 

Please don’t roll paint onto a wall holding just the paint roller handle. Give your wrist, arm, back, and shoulder a break, and use your whole body to support the work of rolling. Face the wall, stand with feet apart, one foot slightly in front of the other and keep your back straight when rolling.

Even a broom handle screws into a paint roller handle. If you're painting a room so small there's no room for a simple extension stick, it’s okay to hold the roller. Otherwise, stick with a stick.

Once you use a handle, a screen and a 5-gallon
 bucket, you'll never go back to dinky trays.  

3. Keep a Clean Can 

I frequently see blogging tutorials and television remodelers dipping a brush into a gallon paint can. Do not paint out of the original paint can.

Work out of a clean, empty 1-gallon can or work bucket. That way, when you’re done painting, you can return the unused paint portion and you'll have a clean can with a clean lip and a clean label to store the leftover paint in, clearly indicating the brand, color, finish, and any other specs that will come in handy when it’s touch-up  time.

4. The Truth About Tape

I laugh when I see televised rooms trimmed with blue tape all around all the windows and doors. This is usually an unnecessary step. Wake up, people. The 3-M company loves bloggers to endorse these products!  You're wasting your time and money.

Spend your money instead on good quality paint and you won’t be dripping and splattering. Baseboards might be the exception if your paint is likely to drip on them.

A good angled 2-inch paintbrush and a steady hand are faster. Practice painting a straight line in an inconspicuous area. Use long strokes and keep your arm partially extended instead of putting your face up close and dab-dab-dabbing. Cut in the room first, and then roll walls. Make sure you cut in wide enough, especially around the top of the wall, where it meets the ceiling. Get a good 4- or 5-inch band of paint up there, so your roller doesn’t get paint on the ceiling. 

5. Way to Roll

Instead of pouring your paint into one of those silly flat trays, pour it into a 5-gallon bucket with a painting grid in it. This is the professional method that saves bending over. And there's less chance of kicking over your paint.

Load your roller generously and remove excess using the grid. Start by rolling the wall in a "W" or "M" motion, then use long, up and down strokes. Do not lift the roller from the wall. Start your first stroke with an upward motion, because if you roll down on the first stroke, the paint can puddle under the roller and run down the wall.

If your roller drips or smears instead of rolling across the surface, you’ve put too much paint on it. If it leaves skips or you have to press to get the paint to apply evenly, you’ve put on too little.
My favorite gloves are breathable, but
palm-protected, like these nitrile-coated ones.

6. Dress for Success

TV stars paint in high heels and halter tops. You, on the other hand, need to dress right for the work.

Keep an outfit just for painting. I recommend pants with pockets so you can wear all your helpful tools. Consider buying a pair of painter's overalls if you do much painting. Keeping tools on your person saves steps and saves time. It’s frustrating to have to stop and hunt for a damp rag or your square of sandpaper. Keep a rag and an old brush for dusting in your back pocket, a 5-in-1 tool in another pocket, and sandpaper in another pocket.

Wear closed-toe, comfortable shoes that will protect your feet and keep them happy all day. Your old sneakers might be a good choice. You’re bound to get some paint on your shoes. You want reliable support and safety, so going barefoot is not an option. 

Wear cotton, latex, neoprene, or nitrile gloves that will keep paint off your hands and save cleanup time.
Pole sanding. A dust mask like
this will protect you
from  dust, but not from
paint solvent vapors.

7. Dropcloths Matter

Don’t use plastic dropcloths. I know it’s fashionable for DIYers to recycle shower curtains or unroll yards of plastic sheeting, but almost anything is better than plastic for a dropcloth. Why? Because paint doesn't dry quickly on plastic, and you can easily track it around. Instead, use a purchased canvas dropcloth. It doesn’t have to be large. A 4- x 15-foot  "hall runner" dropcloth is versatile, economical, washable, and will last for years. 

Saving money? Then old rugs or carpet scraps, cardboard, or bed sheets (two or three layers thick) will usually provide all the protection you need.  While painting, pay attention to what you are doing, and check your soles before stepping off the drop cloth onto carpeting or flooring.

But wait. There’s More.

Now that I have sounded off on one of my pet peeves – common painting mistakes – I hope I’ve enlightened you about the best way to add new paint to your walls. You are welcome.

If choosing a paint color is difficult for you, I have written posts about paint colors and how to choose them. 

Download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Fast and for Top Dollar, so I can give you more advice on staging your own home for sale. It comes with my money-back guarantee that it will make your staging easier and your home sale more profitable. You can start your smart staging today!

Top Photo: Apartment Therapy

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