Captivate Your Buyers in 2018 With These Home Design Trends

Friday, December 29, 2017
Are you ready for the new year? As a home seller you have to ask yourself, "Is my home ready?"

Although some buyers may not be tuned into current and changing decor trends, many will.

Your home will be compared to what buyers see on reality home remodeling shows and on Pinterest and decorating blogs. Brick and mortar stores will be showcasing the latest in furniture, bedding, accessories, appliances, and window treatments.

Trending styles look young and fresh to the eye, and buyers like being on the cutting edge, rather than spending money on what looks dated

Here are the predictions that come from authorities like Houzz, Trulia and others for what's hot for next year and beyond. Whether you decide to incorporate some of these trends or just one, there's no doubt that you'll entice buyers with your attention to detail. I've narrowed the interior decor industry trends down to the ones that make sense for people with a home on the market.

Instagram-ready decor

One of the reasons people buy homes is to reassure themselves and to signal the world that they are moving ahead economically. Everyone wants to be proud of his or her home, and that means showing it off on social media. 

Now's the time to evaluate how the spaces in your home photograph. Unexpected, beautiful, and functional are three words Trulia's Jay Britto uses to describe what Instagrammers around the world are looking for in their home decor

To get your spaces "upload worthy," get rid of clutter. The camera picks up all the messy areas. Then, make sure the lighting is flattering. 

Both interior and exterior lighting are important for cosmetic and functional reasons. When interior lighting is more than adequate, your home looks bigger and cleaner. What's a beautiful room without good lighting for snapping a picture?

The National Association of Home Builders took a survey and asked people what was important to them in a home. In its current "What Home Buyers Really Want" survey, they found that almost 41% of respondents said exterior lighting was important.

It makes sense. Good exterior lighting can make a property safer by deterring troublemakers, and also by lighting the way on paths and stairs. During the winter months, homes are often in the dark by early evening, and serious buyers will cruise the neighborhood of a home they are interested in. How does your home look at night?

Good lighting, colorful surroundings, a simple composition,
an interesting subject -- these are the elements
for a winning Instagram shot. Photo: Dornob.

Moody hues

White walls may still be a safe trend, but Houzz predicts that more homeowners will be drawn to darker, cooler hues during 2018.

Clean, white kitchens are a classic that may never go out of style, but adding a touch of a trending color freshens the look.

In fact, adding color throughout the home is another prediction on Houzz's list of 2018 design trends. These are the tones they expect to gain popularity:

If you're planning to sell your home in 2018, you might want to try out one or two of these shades to add just a little bit of pizazz to your space.
The dramatic color pops here are limited
to what the buyers don't have to buy. 
They're temporary. But these colors help make the kitchen
more friendly and memorable. Photo: BHG 

Dramatic color accents

Home staging typically focuses on monochromatic color schemes, but if your home is large or lacking architectural detail or scantily staged, some color can add interest.

I'm not suggesting you paint a bedroom dark purple, but adding a statement wall to a small room can make that wall recede and create the illusion of a larger room. Conversely, painting one wall in a large room an accent color can make the room feel cozier.

Because they might want to repaint, buyers will moan over rooms painted unusual colors. But repainting one wall that's a color not matching their preferences is different from painting an entire room. Often, it's a simple, DIY project that can be done after new owners move in.

Adding a dash of intense color here and there might be just what your staging needs to give it the wow factor buyers seem to crave. Look for lamps, pillows, and tabletop decor to hit the stores in eye-popping shades. And ...there's always spray paint for giving boring items a trendy makeover.

Mixed metals

Combining different metals is a trend any frugal home stager or home seller can applaud. Gone is the worry that unmatched doorknobs or lighting fixtures throughout your house will mark it as dated. So, keep your nickel hinges and chrome faucets and oil rubbed brass chandelier. They add eclectic details. And save you money.

Even if you don't mix metals in your more fixed furnishings like lights and faucets, you can add touches of silver and gold to your staging the way Diane Henkler did at her blog, In Her Own Style. She used metallic tape to add shine to her party supplies, shown in the top photograph.

Home decor follows fashion trends and women have been mixing things like silver bracelets, gold earrings and copper necklaces for the past few years. It's a kind of in-your-face-I'm-bold-enough-to-break-the-rules look, and I love it! 
This room includes pieces made from brass, tin and iron.
When mixing metals, it's best to make just one 
of them predominate.The gold-toned frames
and table are the stars here. Photo: styleathome

Sink updates

Almost 14% of consumers report wanting to add a kitchen to their outdoor space, and they'd love a sink to go with it. Lucky you if you have such an outdoor feature or can add it!

Inside, updated kitchen and bath sinks are high up on Houzz's list of 2018 home design trends. If you're looking to really draw in buyers with your kitchen and bathrooms, consider the following:

Concrete sinks
Copper sinks
Stone sinks
Bucket sinks
Trough sinks
Patterned ceramic sinks
The modern farmhouse trend is still a big one, which means those trough sinks could really up your buyer's interest.
Buyers look for spa-like baths that feel
clean and luxurious.
The trends for trough sinks, 
natural materials and  
mixed metals are apparent here. 

Pattern on pattern

A long time ago in a galaxy not that far away, pattern on pattern was a fashion taboo. Now mixing prints has made it to the list of top 2018 home trends.

Contrary to popular belief, mixing patterns doesn't need to be gaudy or too obvious. Bedrooms and living rooms are obvious places to start. Consider perking things up with a well-planned placement of pillows on a bed or sofa. I've written a simple formula for how to mix different fabric patterns and the also about how to decorate and stage with patterns. 

Juxtaposition of patterns isn't limited to prints and textiles. Surface textures count as patterns. For example, putting an ultra-fluffy throw blanket over part of a smooth duvet cover, or silky pillows on a velvet loveseat can give the impression of mixed patterns. And if you have a rustic twig chair and you set it on polished concrete, you've mixed patterns.

Natural materials

Materials given us by Mother Nature rather than the lab will be making waves in the year ahead. Think bamboo, cork, and reclaimed wood flooring, rattan furniture, hand-thrown pottery and handmade paper lampshades, living plants, concrete and natural stone countertops, and metal lighting fixtures.

Even if you are not planning any remodels before you sell, there are decorating changes you can make to add natural materials to rooms.

When you incorporate natural substances, you've given your home timeless style. Also, recycled and natural materials are usually more ecologically sane (greener).

Tips to remember

An estimated 63% of potential homeowners believed 2017 was a good year to buy a home. With these home design trends in your pocket, you could make 2018 another excellent year for buyers. And yourself! Try one or two of these ideas out for yourself and I think you will discover the results will surprise you, not to mention warm the hearts of buyers.

Get more advice on how to stage a home by downloading my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It comes with my money-back guarantee that you will learn countless ways to make your home sale profitable.

Top Photo: InMyOwnStyle; Photo below: Jonathan Rachman

Furniture Facts: The Bedroom Bench

Monday, December 18, 2017
Are any of your bedrooms lacking some personality?

Have you staged them to appeal to the masses by removing all those beloved furnishings that made them unique and memorable?

Let's bump it up a notch by adding the luxurious touch that a bedroom bench brings to the scene.

The addition of a bench at the foot of the bed can add that bit of flair that's lacking.

And the best part is a piece of furniture that adds so much to a bedroom doesn't have to bust your budget. There is no shortage of DIY versions you can choose from on Pinterest. If you look at what IKEA offers, you'll find a dozen basic benches for less than $100 you can customize with upholstery or trim or paint.

Sample some benches

These photos will get you started thinking about what style works for your staged bedroom.

Here's the classic and classy foot-of-the-bed bench --
tufted pastel velvet that begs you to sit down.

The curvaceous legs emphasize the old-fashioned,
feminine look. Photo: Giannetti Home  
Leather-covered seating on rectangular metal legs 
creates a more masculine bench.

The metal repeats itself under the 
nightstand. Photo: Zoe Feldman Design
A soft and shaggy topping on this simple bench
adds more texture to this bedroom.

Homestaging can mix decor styles
and still look pulled together. Photo: Terracotta Studio
This eclectic mix of furnishings features a rustic bench 
at the foot of this tailored

bed. Matched dressers and lamps add some 
formal balance. Photo: Martha O'Hara Interiors 
Another Martha O'Hara bedroom, this one with a
streamlined windowpane check
upholstering the simple bench for a retro look. 
The bedroom bench isn't always at the base of the bed.
It can appear in a corner, under a window, or like
this one, centered on a rug to the side
of the sleeping area. Photo:One Kings Lane.
Isn't this an inviting scene? The bedroom bench is 
sometimes a sofa or loveseat.
This side table is the perfect companion. Photo: Ivory Lane
A chest often stands in for the bedroom bench. This antique makes
the room less pretentious. Chests like this
give you handy storage space, too. Photo: Ginger Barber
Someone's not afraid of mixing patterns. The clean lines
of all its furnishings keep this bedroom from
looking fussy. Photo: Andrew Howard Interior Design
There's a bench for every decor style. See-through furniture like
this Lucite bench is ideal
for homestaging. The geometric print cushion gives it
some structure. Photo: Kelly Golightly

Here's the kind of bench that makes a dramatic statement. 
Its sinuous lines and 
print cushions make it the room's 
focal point. Enrika Bonnell Interiors

There's no rule that says a bedroom bench can't be two stools. 
These beautiful square upholstered

seats will never go out of style. Photo: Timber Trails Development

Poufs and ottomans substitute for benches. They're economical to buy 
or make, fun, versatile, and trendy. Photo: Brook Wagner Design 

When you stage with bedroom benches, you can leave 
them bare like these X-stools,  style them with a throw, 
stack them with books, or add something like a hat. Photo: Chango & Co.

Get the look, get the book

I hope these photos of bedrooms have sparked ideas for you to use when you stage your home. For more ideas you can use to sell your home fast for a price you like, download my $4.99 homestaging eBook and get the advice and encouragement you need.

Five Steps to Painfree Homestaging

Friday, December 15, 2017
"I'm not fixing it up for the next guy!"

That's a common expression I've heard from people preparing to sell their home.

I don't consider home staging "fixing it up." Staging begins after you've done all the minor and major repairs your home needs.

Maybe staging a house sounds like lots of work and expense.

Maybe just the thought of selling and moving makes you tired.

Maybe no one is offering to help with the process.

Maybe the last time you tried to sell a home it was a nightmare.

Maybe you're worried about getting enough money to move to the home you really want. And maybe you aren't sure you can find that home!

Let's look at what you can do to smooth the process and take the sting out of getting your home looking great when it hits the market.

Step One: Plan ahead

The smartest home sellers are the ones who realized as soon as they moved in that one day they would sell. The average American stays 13 years in a home, even though people expect to stay much longer. The "forever home" is almost a myth.

As soon as you decide to sell, list what needs to be done. Have a schedule, Make a budget. Get estimates. Start educating yourself about things like market prices and decor trends. This is the step that will save you heartache and money because it minimizes impulse actions and uneducated decisions. You have time to shop around for that perfect drapery fabric at a great price or to locate the handyman you've always wished for.

Step two: Decide what stays

Choose your best quality pieces and mix them 
up with flea market finds.Stage  
to make the space look simple 
and fresh like this one from City Farmhouse. 
There's no sense cleaning what isn't staying for you to use to home stage, so before cleaning, pare down to what's important. This step will make cleaning, packing, and moving easier.

Judge every piece of furniture and decor accessory on its functionality and its ability to impress a buyer. Is that end table really necessary? Does it serve a useful purpose? Is it attractive?

And, most importantly, does it make the room look better?

Keep all the furnishings that you love and want in your next home, and that will contribute to successful home staging. Store temporarily the things that you love and want but that don't earn their keep as staging essentials.

Step three: Decide- What to DIY

Carpeting has to be clean and free 
from any off-putting
aromas in order to please 

buyers. Photo: Mohawk
Doing work yourself is home staging's biggest money-saver, and I always encourage sellers to do whatever work they can if they need to keep expenses down.

It makes sense to pay for help if you have the kind of job that pays way more than what you will pay professionals to do work in your home, whether cleaning, carpentry, painting or any other trade.

Determine early in the selling process what jobs you will do yourself and what you will farm out.

If you enjoy the satisfaction of doing your own prep work, rent a carpet shampooer if you don't own one, and refresh your carpets. If you can't sew but you would like to, make your own no-sew window treatments. If it saves appreciable cash, paint your own furniture. If you want to have fun with a DIY project create your own artwork.

Remember that too many DIY projects can lessen the perceived value of your home. If you don't have the skills to do the job right, get someone qualified to do the work.

Step four: Recycle and Repurpose

Runner-up to home staging's biggest money-saver is finding ways to reuse what you own and what you buy second hand. 

Teach yourself to be a thrifty buyer. Being a re-purposer calls for imagination, so be open-minded and flexible. 

Can you style that old television armoire as a bar cart? 

Does the outdoor furniture your neighbor wants to throw away need just a coat of spray paint to make your patio staging come to life? 

Be humble.     

Wherever you shop, whether at garage sales, local stores, or online, look for bargains. Ask for discounts. Use coupons. Wait for sales. Stick to a realistic budget. 

Step Six: Spend where it matters

Find an exterior house cleaning 
service if your roof looks nasty. 
Dirt and mildew can be removed 
without damaging the shingles. 
Photo: Rose  City Pressure Washing   
Do repairs, then stage.

A house that needs repairs is appealing only to investors and flippers who hunt for a steal.

Spending some money to fix and stage your home will attract serious buyers who want move-in ready and are willing to pay for it.

Your home doesn't need to match all the state-of-the-art housing trends. But it has to be free from major repairs and obsolescence.

Hire a plumber to fix leaks, faucets, and toilets that don't work correctly. Pay an electrician to repair dangerous or horribly outdated electric systems and fixtures. Get an HVAC company to make sure your system is efficient. Repair the roof if it leaks or looks bad.

These are the infrastructures that matter. Assertive buyers will ask for a discount off your asking price for, say, a new roof. And their estimate of what a new roof costs will be higher than what you would spend for a new roof. That's just how negotiations work.

So, do repairs first. Then stage to impress buyers. For more tips to help you painlessly stage your own home to sell it fast for a price you like download my $4.99 eBook now.

Landscaping Your Modular or Mobile Home

Thursday, December 07, 2017
If you own a mobile or modular home, you know the advantages of buying and living in one.

They're affordable, energy efficient, and well-designed for today's lifestyle.

When it's time to sell, you'll face the same challenges owners of conventional homes face. Your home has to look good from the outside as well as the inside.

But landscaping around a home in a mobile home park is not like landscaping a site-built, two-story Colonial on a one-acre lot.

For one thing, the land under the home is probably leased -- not sold with the home -- and the lot is probably small. The park will likely have restrictions on what you can and cannot do on the property.

But if your single wide or doublewide is situated on a generously-sized lot you own instead of on common ground, you can take on landscaping projects with a larger scope. Either way, curb appeal is just as important as when a conventional home goes on the market.

The Appeal of Mobiles  

Because its underpinnings are concealed nicely and its landscape has matured, 
this mobile home looks more like a conventional house  Photo:
People buy manufactured homes for different reasons. The most common one is economics. Single folks, young couples, retirees, and anyone tired of renting a house or apartment, are more able to become homeowners than if they went shopping for a conventionally constructed home. Mobiles are priced low because they are constructed in one-fifth the time and at half the cost of site-built homes. The builders don't have to hassle with weather delays and the entire building process is more efficient.

Some people buy mobiles when they learn that manufactured housing assembled in a controlled, factory environment uses fewer materials and generates 35% to 40% less waste than comparable site-built units. Yes, mobiles are "greener."

Unique Landscape Challenges

For a mobile home to look competitive in the real estate market, it needs to look, well, not too mobile. In other words, its wheels and axles, if they are still in place, need to be hidden. Make your skirting look as strong and straight as possible. The right skirting can make a manufactured home look more permanent and valuable.

If you plant shrubs near the skirting allow enough room so things like ductwork and plumbing can be reached. Sometimes maintenance people, or you, need to crawl under your house.

Another spot that needs cosmetics is the hitch. If it is not removable, can you conceal it with fencing, lattice, or a planting that covers it? Some people cluster a grouping of container plants or a raised bed built of blocks around the hitch.

Here is an example of a sidewalk extension using 
concrete pavers. You can make an 
entrance garden wall 
from concrete blocks. The wall leads your eye
to the front door. Photo: MobileHomeLiving
Mobiles tend to look boxier than conventional homes. Having a porch, patio, deck or other "bump-out" helps to break up those boxy lines. But shrubs, either in the ground or in large planters, are another way to help soften the straight lines of your home and anchor it to the surrounding land.

If the space that surrounds your home is small, don't consider it a deal-breaker for buyers. Many will welcome a tiny lot for its low maintenance appeal. If privacy is an issue, lattice panels or 4- to 6-foot fencing might be your best option. It may not need to be a solid, continuous fence, since the illusion of privacy can be enough to create the sense of a private, outdoor space.

Make Your Entrance Important 

A common mistake homeowners make when they design their front landscape areas is to put all the interesting plants in the wrong location. When you're deciding what to grow where, add color and texture where you want people to look: your front entrance.   

Why? Because a well-designed front garden will make visitors and buyers feel welcome and curious about what's inside.

Your entrance area doesn't have to be large or extravagant. In fact, it should be simple but interesting. Incorporate some curved lines when you outline a bed. Aim for or a clean-looking border for a raised garden by using concrete blocks. Use an uncomplicated color scheme when you select shrubs and flowering plants.    

This retaining wall allowed the homeowner to hide skirting and give the look of a solid foundation. The gravel mulch, mature shrubs, 
solar lights and colorful annuals are all easy to care for. 

Containers are perfect for entrance gardens because you can easily maintain them while your home is for sale. If you have existing beds, you can add potted plants to these gardens to keep them looking colorful no matter what the season.

When you choose containers that 
match each other, 
they look cohesive.
Installation and upkeep are easier. 

And you can take "your garden"
with you when you move. 

"Often the idea of mixing containers into gardening is not even considered. If you have potted plants, chances are they're on your porch or patio, but blending those into the landscape design is quick, easy and makes landscaping on a budget simple," writes Kalley Y. on The Clayton Blog.

Typically, homeowners can get a 100% ROI on the money spent on a home's curb appeal. So it makes sense that any improvements you can make to your modular or mobile home's landscape is money well spent.

Install Hardscape

Statistics say that the landscaping industry is set to experience an estimated 5.9% annual growth through 2019.

If you are beautifying your yard to improve your home's value, adding hardscaping is one easy way to do it. When you add things like wide steps and a landing, or a deck, or a concrete path, or a patio to your outdoor space, it's as good as adding actual square footage in the eyes of most buyers.

Concrete pavers surrounded by natural rock give this
winding path its personality. Photo: StyleEstate
Hardscape has the advantage of being quick to install, whether it's DIY or a professional job. Hardscape looks good from Day 1. You don't have to wait for it to grow the way you would for a flower bed or tree!

Build An Entertainment Spot

Another type of outdoor home improvement that can bring in significant ROI is creating an entertainment space.

A fire pit is the perfect way to start any entertainment space, It also makes an ideal centerpiece in the landscape.

There are countless ways to construct your own fire pit, but consulting a professional can often produce luxurious results that yield a higher ROI.

Stage your entertainment spot with some matching outdoor chairs to make it look more inviting. If you have a view, capitalize on that by putting seating where people can enjoy it.

Unless security is a problem, an outdoor dining area can be staged with table, chairs, benches, plants, lighting, and an outdoor grill. When they are shopping for a new home, buyers like to envision how they will entertain.

Favorite Tips 

A  fire pit is a magnet to people touring 
your property. Make it even more 
special by adding seating 
and colorful cushions. Photo: BHG
When you add paths, make them direct people around your property so they can appreciate it from every angle.

Try to have some unusual elements in your landscape, some surprises for visitors, like a small fountain, a collection of one kind of potted plant, a jumbo shrub in a half barrel planter, or a birdbath tucked into a corner of your lot. You don't want all the same plants and landscape features that all your neighbors have. 

Choose the plants that front your skirting to be ones that keep their leaves all year long. No bare branches allowed up close to your home!  

Plant what thrives in your region of the country. Don't try to grow desert-dwelling cactus in states with humid summers. Don't try to grow heat-loving tropicals in northern states with long winters. 

Add color in broad sweeps. Avoid the polka dot effect of spreading various flowering plants in beds scattered across your property. Help people focus on your home. That's  what you are selling. Also, a complicated landscape looks like hard work to buyers who don't enjoy yard work.  

Finally, leave some areas of your yard as places to rest the eye. You can count on mulch, gravel, groundcover plants, or whatever kind of grass does well where you live, to create areas that are restful and easy to keep looking good year 'round. 

It's true that manufactured homes are often harder to renovate inside, but landscaping is a sound investment and can work wonders to enhance the best features and aesthetics of your modular or mobile home.

If you are selling any kind of home, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your way to a more profitable sale today.

Eco-Friendly Updates that Impress Buyers

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Today's home buyers are smart buyers.

And that means they are looking for smart features, including earth-friendly materials and products.

It's no wonder an eco-friendly home is desirable.

It's a healthier place to live. It's economical because it reduces water and energy costs. And, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from knowing you're reducing your personal carbon footprint.

What eco-friendly attributes does your home have that you can boast about when it's time to sell?

Think Green

According to HomeAdvisor’s 2017 True Cost Survey, homeowners spent nearly 60% more on home improvement projects that year than they did the previous one. And while there are countless improvements you can make to your home, some of them deliver more bang for your buck than others. 

Some green upgrades-- like a tankless water heating system, solar panels, and construction materials from renewable sources --  might be so pricey they aren't going to return your investment unless you continue living in the home long term. As a home seller, you need to think more short term.

Three of the most economical and environmentally sane investments you can make when you're planning to sell are improvements in your HVAC  system, your kitchen, and your landscaping. These improvements are clearly visible so they earn you bonus points from buyers.

Improve Your Heating and Cooling  

Although not the most glamorous or visually appealing upgrade, improving your home's heating and air conditioning system prior to putting it up for sale is an enormous selling point.

If your home was built more than 10 years ago and still has its original heating and cooling system, it's not energy efficient. Home buyers are often wary of older homes, and outdated HVAC is one of the reasons.

Your Realtor can point out to buyers that the new system will substantially reduce the average energy costs by as much as 20%. That means lower utility bills and a decreased carbon footprint -- both tempting selling points in any real estate transaction.

Other energy-saving perks that can impress buyers are a programmable thermostat, double pane windows, and non-toxic blown-in insulation. Depending on the condition of your home and the local market, it could be worth your money to add extras like these.     

Update Your Kitchen

A recycling center doesn't have to look messy.
Photo: Sarah Steinbery Designs.
Are you that homeowner who says, "I'm not going to fix up my kitchen for the next owner?" That's short term thinking of the wrong kind.

DIYNetwork reports that "If you plan on updating only one room in your home, it should be the kitchen. Large, open kitchens have become the social hub of the modern home. High-end touches like granite countertops and energy-efficient stainless appliances are the gold standard in modern kitchens."

Don't be the seller who underestimates the ROI you can realize when you install upgrades like new countertops and Energy Star appliances. Realtors and other experts across the board agree that a kitchen remodel done right can return between 80% and 85% of your actual cost. Compared to other remodeling projects, that's a handsome return.

Of the 93% of homeowners who are updating countertops during a kitchen renovation, most are aware of buyers' preferences and are choosing natural stone materials. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it's durable, non-toxic, sanitary, and always attractive in a classic way.

Other green upgrades to your kitchen are a low-flow faucet; floors made of cork, sustainable hardwood, or bamboo; an under-the-counter water purifier; a recycling area; and a convection oven.

Rethink Your Landscape

No home seller can ignore the importance of curb appeal. The way the front of your home looks can determine whether driveby home shoppers are interested in your home or not. Landscape can make the difference.

A professionally designed landscape will incorporate varying textures, shapes, and colors.

You don't have to spend a fortune, but hiring an experienced landscaper to design a custom plan for your front and backyard spaces can make all the difference in your home's appeal to potential buyers.

If you plan to keep some of your yard's existing landscaping elements, a professional landscaper should be happy to work with you to develop a unique plan, one that buyers will appreciate for its good looks and its eco-friendly features.

You want your landscape to be based on plants that don't demand lots of water to look good and stay healthy. You also want it to be easy to maintain. It should not require ongoing applications of toxic chemicals or excessive use of power equipment for its upkeep.

Fortunately, there are plenty of plants that require little or no upkeep. Some of my favorites are Variegated Ribbon Grass, Thornless Common Honeylocust, and Grey Owl Juniper shrubs. These are the kind of plants that let you -- and that next owner -- enjoy the benefits of a beautifully landscaped yard without the chore of yardwork and maintenance.

Central to the idea of sustainable and healthy landscaping is the notion that what you plant is suitable to your climate. Growing tropical plants in the desert is just one example of poor ecology. To learn what kind of landscaping is appropriate to your locale you can contact your county extension service for free literature and online advice.

It's Easy Being Green 

It's not just young buyers or other niche markets that are interested in conserving resources like water and energy, and living in ways that don't harm the environment. If your home wasn't recently built or recently remodeled with environmental factors in mind, you may want to consider some of these renovations.

Environmentally smart home improvement projects can come with big price tags, but if you choose the right ones, you'll see a faster home sale with less negotiating and good ROI.

Top photo: hgtv

Four DIY Ways to Improve Your Bathroom

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Home buyers aren't attracted to outdated properties, and a bath is one room that doesn't age well.

Let's face it. Tubs, showers, tilework, and toilets are not easy to replace.

But some DIY projects for renovating your bathroom don't call for major expenditure, hiring expensive contractors, or securing permits.

If you have some time, doing a DIY project or two can be fun and rewarding. These are some of my favorite ways for a homeowner to update a bathroom.

New Backsplash

One of the most popular DIY projects in recent years is applying your own bathroom or kitchen backsplash. The fact that 87% of homeowners who renovate their bathrooms choose to update their shower, demonstrates the desirability of this DIY bathroom project.

A new backsplash will give your room the appearance of a much bigger renovation, even if it's a simple peel-and-stick project. You can redo the tile in your bathroom, for instance, or purchase prefabricated wood that can be easily attached to the wall with some heavy-duty adhesive.

The shower walls, the tub surround, or the wall opposite the entry door are excellent choices for a new backsplash treatment. In the kitchen, backsplashes tend to go behind the kitchen sink or stovetop, or are used to accent a breakfast nook.

Updating Bath Vanities

Besides fixing your bathroom backsplash, you can also redo your cabinetry with relatively little DIY know-how. Usually a screwdriver is all that you need to easily remove the doors and then switch them out with new ones.

Or, you might want to take the doors off altogether and create an open storage space, a style that's increasingly popular. Changing just the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls is the easiest move for making your vanity look stylish.

Wall Art

Simple framed prints are affordable and tasteful
bathroom art. Photo: Sussan Lari Archtect
USA Today says one of the simplest things you can do in any DIY home project is hanging up new wall art.

You can either buy inexpensive pieces and put them in cheap frames, or you can make your own pieces to add some buyer appeal to any the room. Garage sales and thrift stores are also good sources for second-hand art that's perfect for homestaging.

Bathroom walls usually have limited wall surface for hanging art, but even a small framed print will make a small room look more interesting. With the right art, you can make a huge impact on your space without making a huge investment.


One final way to update your bathroom is to give it a fresh coat of paint. Nothing beats paint for the return on your home improvement dollars. While it's not the quickest DIY project, it's often necessary before listing your home for sale.

Because of the constant use and high moisture levels, your bathroom's current paint or wallpaper probably needs an upgrade as part of your staging, especially if you just added a snazzy new backsplash as well. Buy paint that has mildewcide added, made especially for baths.

If you go with the same color you presently have, one coat will usually cover. But if you're making a drastic color change, you may need two coats. Make sure, however, if your bathroom is tiny to not choose a dark color. The dark color will make your room seem even smaller. Clear, cool, light colors work best for baths. 

These DIY bathroom tricks will help improve your space without a lot of money. If you're ready to sell your home, these are the simple DIY home renovations that will improve your selling success. For more tips to success, download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. 

Top Photo: Milano Carrera

How to Mix Different Decor Styles

Monday, October 16, 2017
I get it. You're staging your home for sale, but when you look around at your furniture it doesn't look like a model home furniture.

No sweat.

You can stage with whatever furniture you already own and still keep to a budget. There's a current trend that will save your butt.

It's eclectic mixing of decor styles. So, smile! I'll show you how to use what you have and maybe add some thrifted pieces so buyers will get the message that your home is stylish and welcoming.

Professional decorators have always used this approach to make their clients' homes look layered, curated, fashionable, and personal. Now it's your turn.

It's easy to mix decor style when you've grasped the basic guidelines.  You'll make that model home look boring!

Four Tricks of the Trade 

One. Enlist the aid of paint. Paint some mismatched pieces of furniture or accessories all the same color. I once staged a vacant home with a collection of second-hand furniture, all of which we painted white. It was a cottagey look that reflected the nature of the property. The white colorway looked completely intentional rather than like a fallback option.

Here's a happy mix of different styles and eras from
Danielle Oke Interiors. Antiques cozy up to modern upholstered
pieces, Asian rattan, and a glass and brass table. 
Two. Stage so that most of the decor of your home fits one particular style. Ideally it will be a style that fits with the character and architecture of your home. Some decorators recommend an 80/20 rule. The formula is 80 percent of your furnishings are one style and 20 percent are random styles.

That's fine if you already know your style, have the furniture to match, and if it's not a style that is off-putting to any class of buyers. Millennials generally don't want traditional (grandma's) furnishings, and retirees, for the most part, aren't fond of a hard-edged industrial look.

Don't stage a girly bedroom on one side of your home and a man cave on the other. Mixing pieces from both rooms will make your home feel less specific and also larger. If your man objects to a fluffy, white rug in his personal space, remind him that's it's just temporary.

Three. If you have lots of one-of-a-kind pieces, add some generic textiles, furniture, or accessories to make the decor seem less disjointed and personal. You can always remove the unique pieces for a more stripped-down look, or replace them with more common objects. If your unusual pieces are large -- a baby grand piano, for example -- make it the focal point of the room. Buyers will have a crisp recall of your property after touring a number of homes that day.

Four. Use cross-pollination to bring a room together and keep it from looking like a garage sale. Need examples of cross-pollination? Lampshades and lamps that are similar in color and style throughout the room. Pillows that match. Pairs of furniture, like matching end tables or side chairs. Picture frames across the space of a room that are identical even though the artwork is different.

Here's What Not To Do

Resist the temptation to place all of one style in one room or one area of a room. That's deflating the whole appeal of an interesting mix. If you have a Colonial chest, top it with some batik pillows. If you have a Mid-Century-Modern chair, set it on an Oriental rug. If you have a shabby chic headboard, cover the bed with a trendy geometric patterned duvet.

Starting with an ordinary bedroom and what could be considered old-fashioned furniture,
this room gets its upbeat look from some modern art and ethnic textiles.   
Don't use too many colors. Work with one, simple color scheme for the whole house. This system works well whether we're talking about wall colors, flooring, window treatments, or upholstery. Your color scheme should revolve around three colors.

Wood tones should stay in the same family. All stained pieces could be dark like ebony, a blonde like some oak, or a reddish tone like mahogany, or a light brown like walnut.  Aim for a consistent look in all your stained pieces,  whether flooring, furniture or wood trim around doors and windows. If you have to stain some furniture legs, for example, chances are they will look good in your new home as well. A dark stain gel will cover prefinished stain work.

Why This Mix-Up Is Good Home Staging

It's a great time to be a home seller staging her own home on a budget. Current trends are on your side. Chances are you can tweak the things you live with now, the things that you love (and even the things you don't!).

An eclectic mix is going to reach out to a larger number of buyers because everyone will see something he or she relates to. Your mix-up of styles, done right, will hit all the bumpers. That's pin-ball talk, not automotive.

So, forget the old rules of matching everything. Have fun with your staging. And don't forget to check out my eBooks to see where you need a crash course to make your home The One that sells.

Top Photo: Inspired Room; Photo Below: Better Homes and Gardens

Stage Like a Pro, Even When You're Not

Friday, September 22, 2017
If you are staging your own home you face some challenges that professional stagers don't face.

You probably haven't taken an extended online course in home staging, or even attended a weekend crash-course in staging.

And you probably don't own a warehouse full of spiffy furniture and accessories to tap into.

But when you are a DIY home stager you have advantages the professional ones don't have.

You can use your own furnishings.

You can work with your own timeline.

And you can save money.

You might even have fun and learn some new tricks to make your next home look and function better.

The benefits the pros have don't have to be obstacles to you doing a successful staging of your own property. There are ways you can imitate the results that good professional stagers get.

Imitate the training 

I frequently see photos of professionally staged rooms that miss the mark. I don't want to bash the industry as a whole, but I think that just because someone is accredited by a staging school or organization doesn't mean that she or he has the imagination, experience, talent, energy, connections, or resources to make your home as handsome and sell-able as you could.

Using your own belongings, selectively chosen, to stage your home will save money 
and let you enjoy your home while it's on the market. Photo: Alice Lane 

Having lived in your own home, you know what's both unique and less-than-ideal about it. Most of us know what everyday traffic patterns function best with our floor plans. You probably know from rearranging furniture over time what looks best. You know the rooms that get the most compliments from visitors. You know what you like about your home, inside and out.

By reading my eBooks and my blog, you can zero in on what gaps you see in your staging education. If there are certain rooms that seem problematic, you can do a search right here to read in the archives about how to stage them to sell. Look in the sidebar labels to see what topics interest you.

You can also study my Pinterest Boards, where I've carefully curated images and stories specifically targeted to help DIY stagers. These Pins are not just pretty pictures and impractical or obvious advice. They give you the guidance and encouragement you want, whether inspirational or hands-on tutorials.

Imitate the inventory

So you don't have stacks of dining chairs, rows of dressers, and shelves full of fluffy pillows to dress your home on the market. You have what's worked for you. It probably just needs some editing and some refreshing.

These are the four steps to take to when you are staging with your own furniture.

New slipcovers  and some paint can pull 
together a mismatched dining set. 
Photo: Pink & Polka Designs, where
Kristi makes custom slipcovers in 

Raleigh, North Carolina 


Decide what pieces are the best looking. Most of us have too much furniture.

Choose the pieces that make your home look like it is lived in by prosperous people, not down-and-outers.

Anything that looks like its best days are over needs to go into storage or repaired or repainted or cleaned or sold or donated.


Decide into which rooms these best pieces will go. Don't assume that furniture needs to stay in its present location.

Sometimes a love seat will work better in the master bedroom than on the sunporch. Sometimes a bookcase will look better staged in the front entrance than it does in the already-crowded home office. Think outside the box.


Decide which accessories are the most flattering. Once you have located the major pieces, you can add the minor pieces like end tables, coffee tables, side chairs and rugs. Then choose the wall art, tabletop props, lamps, and window treatments that help sell your home by making it look newer, cleaner, prettier, and more stylish.


Decide if you need to supplement any furniture or accessories by buying, making, or borrowing. Here's where a friend with a fresh eye and maybe a  talent for decorating comes in handy. Lacking that, train your eye by studying professionally designed rooms in shelter magazines and decorators' portfolios on their websites. Just by browsing these images you will become a better judge of what needs tweaking or embellishing in your own home. Trust me on this.

Get the look, get the book

Don't let the lack of professional experience or training deter you from staging your own home. Start planning your staging projects and you'll get the results you want -- a home that sells quickly for a price you like. Begin your planning by downloading my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. 

The Magic Words That Turn Buyers On

Monday, July 10, 2017
Most people looking for a home to buy start their search online.

Yes, they drive neighborhoods, but they do their research on the Internet. If they don't see what they want in a listing, you're swiped left.

You can educate your Realtor about what's special about your home-- the things that make you love it. These qualities will help her know best how to describe your property so it attracts buyers.

I'm going to make it easy. Here is my list of seven words that are what buyers want to see and hear.


This term tops the list. Most buyers are impatient to get settled into their new homes. Many of them lack the skills or budget to manage the upgrades they'd love. Give them what they want and you're golden.

If you have unfinished projects -- the garage shelving your bought and never installed, the window treatments you started and never finished, the closets you've been meaning to organize and clean -- start by making a list. When buyers see a home that needs fine-tuning or repairs, they fall out of love with it.


Everyone wants more room. You can't claim spacious if your whole property is tiny, but if the closets or the yard or something else is large, use the magic word "spacious."

If you get unnecessary furniture and personal  belongings off-site, it's gonna go a long way to letting you claim "spacious." It may inconvenience you. It may cost you, but no one ever said that selling a home isn't like running a business, and you may have to spend money to make money.


It isn't just the neatniks out there who get turned on by the word "immaculate." Buyers expect clean. They might have just come from touring a home that was cleaned professionally, or a model home, or a new home, or one tidied up by a professional organizer and then staged to impress. These homes could be your competition.

No home on the market is too clean. I know it takes work and constant attention if you are living in your staged home. Tell yourself it's only temporary. Tell yourself you can do it. It helps if you have a routine cleaning schedule and some help from whoever lives with you.

Remember, declutter first, then clean. Why bother cleaning what is leaving the property?  


Who doesn't want a place of their own that isn't going to drag down their weekends or bust their budget with repairs? It's an over-used expression, so if you're going to claim your home is well-maintained, make it genuine. When you clean your home, do it the way you would detail your car. Better, yet, the way a pro would detail your car. Get into every corner. Polish what should be shiny. Dump the junk.

You can't advertise "well-maintained" if your roof is 30 years old, your wood-burning fireplace has never been cleaned, your faucets are crusty, and your siding sports a layer of mildew.


Not every buyer thinks ahead to what it will take to keep a home in tip-top shape. But more experienced homeowners can spot a maintenance nightmare. The list might include white carpeting, an expansive lawn, a pool, wooden windows, siding, and porch railings that will need painting, and yes, even stainless appliances (not everyone loves 'em, so don't hate yourself for not upgrading).

Sometimes installing a fancy new 
countertop and faucet, plus a fresh coat of 
paint on surfaces can let you claim
"recently updated" in your 
description. Photo: Martha O'Hara
Most low-maintenance features are part of a house's original design. There's not much you can do on a shoestring about not having a brick exterior, solar heating, and a 100-year metal roof, but you can add some visible, low-maintenance features.

You can reduce the size of your turf by increasing the mulched areas. You can have wood windows replaced (or do it yourself if you have some muscle and basic tools.) Look for other after-market features that will make sense for your price point, your region of the country, and your market of buyers.


In your home's MLS description, "new" is a word that stands out. Its definition can be a little loosey-goosey.

Is a year-old refrigerator "new?" Can you call the bath remodel you did two years ago "new?" When is a "new" deck considered old?

If you hired a good listing agent, she will filter the fluff out of your list of amenities. The last reaction you want from people coming to view your home is disappointment after you have set them up to expect what doesn't exist.

One alternative is to simply list the year of the purchase or when the work was done. There are other words that can stand in for the word new. In some cases, "recent" or "fresh" can describe things like paint jobs and carpeting that wasn't exactly done yesterday but still looks great.

Recently updated

When you describe your home in literature, online listings, or conversations, one word to avoid is "repaired" or "replaced." These words indicate a problem existed. The better words are "upgraded"  or "updated." They sound more like the decision was based on trends, cosmetics or simply a boost in quality.

The word "recent" carries some serious weight. Buyers prefer to imagine they are among the first to use the feature, whether it's the shower stall, flooring, or media room.

Unless they are FSBO, most home sellers are not writing their own real estate listings, but you can still feed your listing agent the facts. I've blogged already about how to write a home-for-sale listing that sells.

I've written three homestaging eBooks to help you prepare your home so it will sell fast for a price you like. Download them for $4.99 each to get a headstart on your homestaging today.

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