Category Archives: Home Staging

Man Caves for Father’s Day

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In honour of Father’s Day, I thought we’d review some of the most popular Man Cave ideas for Dad. After polling my Husband, my Dad, our staff and a few good friends, we’ve discovered there seem to be 3 main favourite types of Man Cave.

The first and favorite space is always the “workshop”. This is my Dad to a tee! Shortly after Mom and Dad bought their home, many years ago, Dad built himself a workshop in the back. Complete with a furnace, for year round use, a stereo system, and every tool a man could ever want! We gave up trying to buy him tools years ago as he has them ALL!!! This is a space he goes to when he wants a break or feels like being creative. He has been retired for many years but enjoys woodworking and is excellent at his craft!  We have many beautiful pieces both at home and at the cottage courtesy of Dad’s hours in his Man Cave! On a side note, I recently staged a home in St. Clements that has the first workshop Man Cave to rival my Dads’ I have seen! Beautiful Man Cave Space complete with antique auto decals and signage from the auto industry! Also heated space and just a mechanics’ DREAM SPACE!!! I’m a lover of antique automobiles (Thanks to my Dad) so I truly appreciated all the time and work that went into creating that particular Man Cave!

My Husband, Kevin, on the other hand, has his own idea of a Man Cave! Kevin loves pool and darts. His “Games’ Room” has been his Man Cave! We are just in the process of updating it for him. It has a regulation size 6 x 12 billiard table, a dart board, stereo system and a fireplace. I’m adding a beverage/bar center complete with his own fridge, sink and microwave. We are re-finishing the fireplace and adding a TV above the fireplace mantle. Then finishing it off with some nice comfy seating for lounging and watching movies/TV. There is a nice seating area with bar stools and a table to wait your turn while playing pool or darts. He’ll be adding surround sound (which I will usually ask him to turn down lol!)!! His Man Cave is all about relaxing and enjoying the things he loves to do. Way back it also included an indoor hot tub and shower area, but I took that over for an exercise space! We hadn’t used the hot tub for years, so he didn’t mind at all! His décor is all about what he loves, our city, and some of his favorite sports team collectibles. I haven’t yet finalized where we will be putting the poker table, but plan on having one of those as well! This space is all about playing sports with TV/Music in the background.

The last Man Cave that won the most popular was the “Entertainment Man Cave”. Similar to the Games Area except it was all about watching sports! Everything was focused around a Big Screen TV. Everything was designed around watching sports and making the watching “experience” that much better! Everything from a bar or small kitchenette/bar to prepare all the necessary snacks to a fully stocked fridge and bar. A surround sound system; which MUST include all the latest electronic gadgetry! A stock of the latest video games, and of course, lots of comfy seating for lots of friends! Even multiple smaller TV screens if it’s a large space to ensure the TV game could be followed from anywhere in the room. Décor would of course be based on the favourite teams! Hockey, football, baseball, soccer and any others the home owners followed!

Finally the Number One Rule of the Man Cave: Women only allowed when asked! Yes, I know this is hard for many of us women to tolerate but we need to give our men their space. Everyone deserves a place to unwind and relax. They need a place to call their own. One that is designed around them and them alone! I know my sweet man is very thoughtful and works very hard. He is very sensitive to my likes and dislikes and what latest reno/design I want to do around the home and the cottage. He works hard to make me happy. Even surprising me with a huge new deck at the cottage for our Anniversary! He deserves a space to call his own where he can relax and kick back with some buddies! So Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men out there who go above and beyond for their wives, children, and even their parents! The men in our lives are very special and so much loved and appreciated! Enjoy your Special Day!

How Much is Too Much?

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Have you noticed the amount of new builds going up? They seem to be sprouting up in every corner of the city! It really makes me wonder where and when the saturation point is? How much is too much? Do we have the appropriate planning to deal with the additional traffic, requirement for services, basic infrastructure with our dated water and sewage systems; and often crumbling roads? Driving through some areas of the city is worse than 4 wheeling down a dirt road through the bush! 

There are new apartment blocks going up, countless new condo developments; and of course more new homes being built than I believe I have ever seen in my lifetime! Where will all the people come from to fill all the housing? What will happen when we simply have more inventory than we do bodies to fill that inventory? How many builders will go bankrupt? I have already heard of a few who have gone bankrupt. Is it not the government’s responsibility to ensure that they control the production and keep it in line with the demand? I understand that the lure of additional tax dollars can be appealing, but what exactly will happen when there are more available homes than people to fill them? Builders and investors can only finance things for so long before they have to take a loss. A loss means they may not be able to pay some of their sub trades, or they will have to lay off employees. This in turn trickles down through the economy until the market has the opportunity to correct itself, which as we’ve seen in the U.S, can takes years. I for one do not want to see neighborhoods in Winnipeg turn into ghost towns with foreclosures everywhere. 

It is possible that we are geared for a new influx of immigration, especially with the economic and political climate in Alberta. Alberta and Saskatchewan have already seen housing values drop by double digits. For years, we’ve seen increases in Manitoba, however, I know very well this cannot last indefinitely. I love this city and sincerely hope the powers at be are thinking long term and not just at the immediate proposed tax benefits.

In the demand to capitalize on the building boom, there are certainly issues with quality control in the build process. I’ve spent the last 20 years in homes all over the city and dealt with houses built in the 1800’s and homes built this year. When building homes becomes a production line to maximize revenue instead of a dedication to a craft as old as time, quality slips. Some of the things we’ve seen in new homes (less than 5 years old) include severe stress cracks caused by ground settling around man-made lakes. Fill and soil are trucked in to build these areas but it takes time to settle; if piles are driven into an area that has not completely settled, according to the Structural Engineer my client hired, pockets of air can cause these areas to settle and effect the supports of the new homes being built. There’s no way you will know whether there will be a problem until one occurs. Try selling a home with structural issues when buyers have so many other homes to choose from. The only one to lose is the Home Owner. 

Earlier this spring, we went into a new build to stage for an out of town investor. We always bring a steamer along for linens and drapery so we had to turn the water on. When I turned the main water valve on in the basement, I always check all plumbing throughout the home, habit after my years in property management. Well this one home had multiple plumbing leaks! One toilet feed line was leaking with a steady stream, I turned off the shut off valve to the feed line and mopped up the water quickly! Another toilet was running constantly! In addition, there was leak in the kitchen sink drain! OMG! Unbelievable!!! All I could do was inform the owner – there was no way they could show the home for sale in that condition.

While we were on location staging another home, cement trucks kept backing onto the corner of the yard and washing out the remains of their cement from their shuts and dumping the cement remnants all over the home owners’ yard. It was a corner lot with forest behind, and the property markers with flags were clearly visible! The truck drivers were well beyond the property markers and clearly on private property! We counted 5 trucks the day we were there! Maybe I’m old school, but I was taught to respect other people’s property, whether they were around or not! Remember the good old golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I wonder how happy these guys would be if someone dumped concrete remains all over their back yard? Why in the world was the Development Corp responsible for the area even allowing this? Just speechless! Yes, I took a picture and sent it to the home owner. They had a right to know.

Last week I was asked to provide an estimate for staging a home that was a show home when it was bought a few years back. There is beautiful flooring in the kitchen, unfortunately it has a section where it has all separated and it has gaps no less than ¼ of an inch around each section of laminate!! This was a high quality floor! The only way this could happen was a structural issue or incorrect installation. I expect this from cheap $0.79/laminate not from high end flooring in a new home! We’ve had other cases where clients have wanted to replace carpeting in newer builds and when we pull up the carpet we find all sorts of garage under the carpet or underlay, anything from food wrappers to cigarette butts to just building debris! Really?! No one can take the time to clean before you install the carpet? Speechless!!!! In another case, the stucco is cracking and falling off the rear of another “show home” in a different part of town. The same home has an issue with frost building up inside the bedroom of the lower level. Seems there is an issue with a gap between the top of the foundation and the plate that supports your wood frame construction and attaches it to the concrete foundation. The fully finished space has to be taken apart to the cement to correct the problem….

Building was once a time honored craft. It was done with care, attention to detail and pride. There are many builders who run their businesses on these sound principles and deserve our thanks and your business. However, there are many who are in for the short term because they see the potential to make a buck while the market is hot. Then there are those in between, with good intentions, but not always there to see when someone makes a mistake or cuts corners. If you are dealing with someone who really cares, they will inspect and correct the problem when they determine it was their responsibility. However, I have heard of well-known custom builders who will brush off home owners’ concerns as something minor or somehow “caused by the home owner” until the 1 year warranty period is up, then once the home owner turns to the New Home Warranty Program for assistance, their hands are tied because it is beyond the 1 year warranty period! Strange thing is – it’s always the same builders who do this! I guess it’s part of their customer service “business plan”. This happened with another client of ours, a super nice guy, kept having problems and without seeing it, the builder kept telling him to “try this” then “that” etc. This went on for years until our patient client began to lose patience as he was still having problems. After waiting months for the builder to send someone to inspect a problem, he contacted the New Home Warranty Program a few weeks after his 5 year warranty had expired. Although, it was an issue that would have been covered, they could not help him as the warranty expired. The builder then demanded a retainer of a few thousand dollars for them to send someone out to even inspect the problem. 

My advice to buyers, if possible, pay attention to what’s going on in the development before you buy. Ask to walk through the site on a regular basis if you are custom building or looking for a home in a certain development. Know your warranty expiration dates, and if you are not getting an adequate response to your written concerns with the builder, contact the New Home Warranty Program without delay. A Builder’s responsibility does not stop when you move in, it continues until all terms of the contract have been met and extends throughout the warranty period.

Finally, how much is too much? I already see houses sitting for sale for months and months before a desperate home owner will ask us to stage to help it sell! If we are already seeing people who are feeling desperate with carrying the cost of vacant new builds that are not selling now, what will happen to the market when we add thousands more new vacant homes? When do the planners at the City/Province step in to responsibly allow for moderate growth without saturating a market and sending us into an abyss of vacant unwanted homes?

 

Staging “Rules” for Rental Product

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Planning multiple jobs on an on-going basis can be very tricky! For the last 2 weeks we have had a new stage job every day with additional de-stages either before or after that days’ stage. As I write this my team is de-staging one and staging another and then heading over to de-stage a 3rd property a few blocks away we were just informed had sold last night. Sometimes I feel like a conductor coordinating which furniture pieces will “dance” off to the next number of locations all around the city. However, that is only the case if they will “work” with the style and look of the next house we are staging.

In this past week we have staged an older 2.5 story turn of the century old character home, a brand new 2 story new build, an open concept new build condo and a 1950’s bungalow that has not been updated in a few decades. All very different designs and furniture/accessory requirements!!! I always pay particular attention to the furniture and décor required for each job. If I do not have the right furniture in stock, I will rent the “right” pieces to complete the appropriate design for the space. This is usually very straight forward and easy to do. However, at this time of the year, the right pieces can be a real challenge to keep in stock or to out-source! We’ve purchased a crazy amount of new stock for the new warehouse when we moved and still there are times when we are struggling to find the right pieces. Our rental supplier is also ordering in more pieces every few days and as soon as they come in they are gone! It’s just that time of the year! Everyone is crazy busy with this spring market!

Rental costs of furniture and accessories is based on a percentage of the retail cost of the item. If a client wants all designer high end furniture that costs $60,000 – $70,000 for a new build with a full finished walk out basement – the cost for high end furniture for a home this size is significantly more than for a 2 bedroom condo. I can provide very nice looking furniture and accessories at a retail cost of closer to $35,000 – $45,000 that looks amazing but drops your rental costs by nearly 50%. However, if the client specifies high end, that is what I will quote. Incidentally, when we rent high end furniture, the furniture company insists on using their own movers to protect their furniture from damage, but will only move their furniture so that often doubles your moving costs. 

Occasionally, clients want to hire a stager but want to choose the furniture and accessories and design the home themselves. I find it very interesting when we have inquiries from people who want to go through my pictures and pick and choose the furniture and accessories they want. Then they want me to provide an estimate for them on said selected items, reserve the furniture for them (*with no deposit) while they make up their minds whether they will be staging at all…. Then if they decide to proceed a week or 2 later, they want the items they selected and the home staged ASAP. This is simply not possible. We cannot hold furniture without a deposit, particularly at this time of the year, it’s just much too busy for us to take those pieces out of circulation without a confirmed job. Go through my pictures will tell me what style you would like, but if I have to out-source the furniture, and wait for a client to decide, the furniture could be long gone on another job or sold before the staging client decides if they like the pieces. On the other hand, trust me to do my job, which I am extremely good at, and I can source the items to give you the look you want and reserve the items once I know the job is confirmed and leave you with a completed and beautifully staged home!! The more time we waste going back and forth the more difficult it becomes to get all the pieces in question.

If you wish to specify the furniture and accessories you wish to purchase, but do not purchase them, some furniture stores may reserve it for 24-48 hours, but will often sell it if a paying customer wants it today. Quite often they require a deposit to hold items. As I have found with my decorating clients, if you order a large number of specific (item and color code specific) furniture and accessories at a furniture store, there has NEVER been a time when I could have everything ready for pick up tomorrow and I have commercial accounts set up with larger furniture companies in the city! There is always a wait of a few days for stock to be pulled at the warehouse to 3-6 weeks for spec furniture to arrive in the city. Just because they have it on their website or on the showroom floor doesn’t mean they have it in stock. That is no different for myself, just because it’s on my website doesn’t mean I have it in stock today at the warehouse.

Incidentally, I also do not allow clients to “shop” at my warehouse and transport my furniture themselves. I hire a professional mover to ensure my furniture is protected from weather and damage. I would never allow clients to throw my furniture into the pack of a pick-up truck no more than any other furniture rental company allows their rental furniture to be transported by clients in this manner. It quickly causes damage to the furniture if it is not properly wrapped and covered.  Let’s not even consider rain or splashing from mud puddles! Sorry!  Not happening! 

If you are impressed enough with a Stager’s portfolio and quality of work to hire them to do the job, then let us do what we’re good at! We design and decorate rooms that make people pay attention! If you liked what you saw enough to call us, then trust us to make your home just as gorgeous! If you want a high end look, but not necessarily the high end price, let us know so we can share the options with you to give you the look you really want at the price you are comfortable with! If you have a tight budget, let us know and see if we have any options for your budget.

To Stage or NOT to Stage? How Much has NOT Staging Really Cost You?

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Should we stage our home or not? This is always a huge dilemma for sellers. It is an investment and an expense in getting your home ready for sale. Is staging really necessary? Some of the most common hurdles we face are sellers who “already have furniture” or believe “it shows the space better vacant”. However, study after study (including one done here in Manitoba a number of years ago) shows us that staged homes DO sell faster and often for a higher selling price than non-staged homes!!!

Staging is all about customizing a design plan to your particular space to BEST showcase that space to potential buyers. You may have furniture, but how much furniture do you have, are there too many pieces? Is it the right scale for the room? Does the furniture layout showcase the room properly, making it appealing to buyers? What subconscious message does your furniture placement send to buyers? How we live in a space is very different from how we show a space for sale! 

When showing a space for sale, we want to optimize room size and function. How you place your furniture and what furniture you have makes a huge impact on both the function and perceived size of a room. Too many pieces of furniture in any space will make that space appear smaller. Having a welcome open and welcome furniture placement with adequate room for natural “traffic flow” through the room will leave buyers impressed and interested. Having a closed furniture placement often turns buyers off and gives the impression there isn’t enough room for their “stuff”. Does your furniture placement invite or turn away buyers?

Using a bedroom or dining room for a dual purpose by placing a desk in one corner has now changed the function of the room and made it appear smaller just by having the additional furniture pieces required for the “office” space to function. Add the clutter and computer lines and wires and suddenly it simply doesn’t look too appealing any more. An in home staging consult will take between 1-2 hours and usually costs in the range of $150 – $250 and will give you a complete step by step guide for how to get your home ready for sale, including furniture placement and suggestions on everything from basic repairs to updated light fixtures and where to buy the necessary items to best showcase your home yourself! Complete value for a few hours of your time and a few hundred dollars!

When it comes to vacant spaces, I cannot count the number of times a client has decided to “try” to sell without staging it first, only to have no luck and then stage a few months later. There is only one problem with this approach. Real estate is very much a timing game. When you list, what competition do you have? How many other homes are on the market in your neighborhood in your price range? Are those homes staged? If average DOM (Days on the Market) are 34 and you list in mid-May, then wait 5 weeks or so and realize you may need to stage, by the time you book and furniture is moved in and pictures are taken and the home is re-marketed you’ve lost an additional 2 weeks. You are now in July and all your buyers have either purchased or are leaving on vacation! The Winnipeg market always picks up in March, April, May, June and then slows down over the summer and picks up again September and into the fall. If you are gambling that buyers will be able to “see the space” the reality is that most buyers CANNOT visualize rooms in their head. Most people have a very hard time determining if their furniture will fit in a space. This is the single most important reason that staging has become such a prominent and permanent part of the Real Estate Industry! It’s also the same reason most restaurants have photos of their main menu selections on most menus! Buyers want to SEE what they are buying! No they are not buying the furniture but they are buying the space and want to SEE how they can use the space! 

I cannot count how many times someone has decided to sell a vacant home only to come back a few months later and stage. What they don’t consider is how much those few months cost them…mortgage costs, utilities, taxes, insurance – all these add up. If you try to sell vacant wait for a few months, then stage, are you really ahead financially or did you just cost yourself a few more months of expenses? Add to the mix the time of the year you are listing, and Presentation and timing are critical in getting those offers. It’s the typical law of supply and demand, if you are part of the excess supply and there are simply not enough buyers (demand) and your home doesn’t make the short list, how much has NOT staging really cost you? Then when you finally stage the buyers have slowed down and you are left trying to appeal to a much smaller pool of buyers because you chose NOT to make the effort when there were more buyers, what has it cost you? 

Finally, although we do not see bidding wars as frequently as in past years, a number of our staged properties have sold in bidding wars already in 2015! In all these cases, timing and presentation were critical in getting those OVER list offers in a matter of days! So, the question becomes, what will NOT staging cost you?

 

 

Book Early to Ensure the Best Stage Possible

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As we get into the busy time of year for staging, it is critical to ensure you book your stage job as far in advance as possible. It happens every year, we submit an estimate to a client and they will “get back to us”. In the meantime, we have a numerous clients confirm and book jobs. Once a client has confirmed a job, and ONLY after we have a deposit, do I reserve furniture and décor for that project! Everything is on a first come first served basis. 

Although we have an extensive assortment of furniture and accessories some spaces require a certain color or a certain style or color of furniture to make the design look best. It is critical to ensure we plan a design that is consistent with the character of the home. We cannot use contemporary furniture/décor design in a very traditional character home or vice versa! It simply looks wrong! When buyers are looking for a traditional character home – that is what they want, a traditional character home. If they wanted a new contemporary style of home, they would look at a different style of home that was more contemporary. It goes without saying that an “updated” traditional home can have significant updates that remain true to the original architecture and style of the home while still updating the home quite tastefully. You can quite successfully blend a traditional with a more transitional style with fabulous outcomes. However, when you cross the line from traditional to totally “mod” – it just won’t work. 

This leads to how we plan the design when staging a home. Not all furniture and décor will work well in every home. We have to take into account everything like wall length to ensure we can properly fit a sofa, loveseat, chair or table in the right spot. We need to ensure there is adequate traffic flow walkways for buyers to comfortably walk through the space without furniture brushing against them. These are all critical aspects of any successful design. It is crucial to a great design to use the right furniture style in the correct size and proportion to properly showcase the space successfully!

The next consideration is color. If the walls are white or off–white using a white sofa simply will not show as well as a darker color. It’s the color contrast that shows a space so well in photographs. If the walls are a darker color I prefer to use lighter colored furniture if/when possible. If the walls are lighter, then I usually try to use darker furniture to ensure we have adequate contrast in the photos to catch buyers’ interest and make them book those showings! A room just doesn’t look as appealing in photos when everything blends together and gets lost in the photo. 

The problem at this time of the year becomes furniture availability. If someone waits until the last minute to book a stage job, then their design will, by necessity, be drawn from a pool of limited furniture that is available right now. Quite often at this time of year, I will have clients call to say they are “ready” any time for a stage and preferably sooner than later. The more notice you can give us the better the design will be. We can almost always put a design together quickly to meet those print and advertising deadlines, however, we may not have the best furniture available on such short notice. If the seller provides us more notice, at least a week or 2, it is much easier for us to reserve the furniture for their job because we know those pieces would work so much better in their home. Those pieces might be the exact right dimensions to show the space that much better, or possibly a much better color with the paint they have on the walls… it’s all about putting the best collection of pieces together to maximize the design of that particular space. Sectionals can be extremely difficult to get in the right color and the right size for a space.  So, often I could have used a piece had I only know the week before instead of using that piece in another job. I want to provide the best design possible to my clients at all times! We’re always designing multiple places at one time so there’s usually a few collections going in the warehouse – one set aside for address  “A” and the next for address “B” etc. Given that extra notice, it becomes that much easier to ensure we use the right pieces to showcase your space in the best way possible! So book early and the chances are, your design will be that much better!

 

Just Do It RIGHT the First Time!

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I always meet people “looking” for a deal. They are thrilled about the cheap labour they found for repairs and then complain because their home isn’t selling and they don’t know what to do! When you are getting your home ready for sale and it has stiff competition from other homes in the neighborhood that is not the time to take advantage of a cheap kijiji labour offer! You get what you pay for! 

I cannot count the number of people I’ve met who grudgingly go through the time and expense of completing minor maintenance and repairs to get their home ready for sale. Then decide to use the cheapest possible labour they can find. A bad paint job will look just like what it is – a bad paint job and even worse, one that the new buyer will have to re-paint if they buy your home. I even heard of one client who would drive across town to pick up her cheap kijiji painter because he didn’t have a vehicle. He only showed up when he could and it took more than 3 months to complete touch ups that could have been done in a few days by a pro … but hey it was cheap labour!

If someone does not know how to do things, they will often do a job below what is expected. Often times, some of these jobs need to be fixed or re-done before the property can finally be listed. So, what exactly did you save??? Or did it cost you more to do, then have it ripped out and re-done properly by someone who knows what they are doing?

Poor workmanship and costly repairs is one of the main reasons buyers will walk away from a home. Flooring incorrectly installed, gaps in flooring, ripples in carpet not kicked out smooth, basement flooring incorrectly installed that sinks to an uneven surface below when you step on it…. Flooring on stairs can be tricky to install and can look horrible if done poorly! Paint that leaves distinctive roller marks or worse is only one coat of paint and the color below can be seen through because the painter only put on a thin single coat of paint. If you have one small area that may not have turned out well, that’s not enough for most buyers to walk away. However, if there are issues everywhere they look, that is often cause for most buyers to say “enough”! I’m not interested in buying a “project”.

I cannot stress the critical difference between doing a job well and one that is very poorly done. One leaves buyers with the impression of a home very well cared for that they are anxious to purchase. The home that was done on “the cheap” looks like no one gave a hoot! The first thought in a buyers head when they see such poor quality workmanship is “wow, they really didn’t care much about this place did they?” The second thought, “Gee I wonder how bad things are that I can’t see” – like the electrical? Plumbing etc.? Probably had someone’s friend in who didn’t know what they were doing because it was cheap – or worse they did it themselves and this place is just waiting to go up in flames!? I’m outta here!” Is this really the message you want to send potential buyers?

The main purpose of completing maintenance and repairs is to get a better price for your home and make it more desirable to buyers. There is a big difference between spending enough to get a good job and just spending the bare minimum to say you did the work. If you are not prepared to do it right, just don’t do anything at all. Sell it as a fixer upper and know that you are selling it as a project for someone. At least then the Realtor can sell it as a fixer upper and potentially create interest among investors looking to make money on doing the work themselves.

I cannot count the number of times sellers have told me about the “deal” they got from some “guy” and when I see the workmanship I’m not surprised. I believe it was the “guy” that got a deal by actually convincing someone to pay them good money for some of these catastrophes they call renos!! Then the sellers become unhappy home owners who were so proud of their “deal”, but cannot understand why they can’t get a single offer on their home. So, the deal that saved you $1000 – ended up costing you an extra 3 months selling time and you had to drop your price substantially. That was mortgage payments X3, property taxes and insurance X 3; utilities X3; inconvenience of showing your home; etc. ….So, what exactly did you save by using this cheap labour “deal”? Even staging will never hide a bad reno job, and it should never be used in this way. Staging is about making a place look better NOT hiding someone else’s poor work or bad decisions. So if you decide to do what needs to be done, please do it right!

What’s Your Inspiration?

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Every great design has a starting point. Where we take our inspiration from depends on a number of different factors. Anything from the purpose or function of a space, to paint colors, to our own individual experiences and preferences all influence our design decisions. The one thing I’ve learned is not to be scared to try something. Let your personality shine through and have fun with a space!

Frequently when we are planning a design for a Home Staging project we have to work with some existing features. If the home is vacant, quite often the paint color or material finishes will dictate what would look better and often becomes the starting point for the design. Certain color tones simply work well together and allow us to quickly go from A to B in the design process smoothly. Working with the features of a space will always give you a better finished product than trying to force a design that is inconsistent with the features or colors of the space. You’ll see this when someone uses ultramodern design in a very traditional space. Forcing a design will look exactly like what it is. There is a way to blend certain aspects of different design “look”, but it needs to be done cautiously and very well!

We often stage occupied homes. Sometimes it is with just an accessory package or occasionally with a combination of furniture and accessories. In cases like this we may take inspiration from their furniture, paint colors, an area rug, or even a nice piece of artwork. Whatever color tones draw our attention in the space will always be the starting point for the design scheme. We take what speaks to us in the space and build on it and run with it for the whole space! The beauty of working with a Professional Stager is that we have a wide range of selection of décor and accessories to compliment any color scheme and any “look”. So, if you need a little more of a certain color or theme – chances are pretty good I can find something in our warehouse to expand and complete the design to perfection!

For staging projects we typically like to layer the colors in a space to provide depth and dimension in the photographs. A monochromatic color scheme can look elegant and sophisticated but it can be a real challenge to photograph to show a space well. Very few Realtors use Professional Photographers with the skill to make a space look like it should be on the cover of a magazine. That is why we usually use a small pop of color to provide interest and dimension. It draws the eye to the things we want you to focus on. Just the right amount of pop, in the right color tones that all flow beautifully within a space and buyers are automatically drawn into a room, and through the home simply by their desire to “see more”. In this way a home will sell itself! Too many colors in a space or a blend of the wrong colors create a different reaction. Buyers know something is off but may not be able to put their finger on what. They just know the home left them unsettled.

When designing your own space, take your time to find what gives you the most inspiration in the space. Is it a fireplace? The view? The function of the room like a sunroom? Maybe it’s the paint colors or the existing furniture that you need to incorporate in the design. What does it say to you? What mood does it set? Cooler colors tend to the calming effect. Lots of white can have a sterile effect that some people love and others are uncomfortable in. Warm colors are often inviting and soothing. Bright colors can be lively, exciting and exhilarating. What is the architecture style of the space? Is it turn of the century traditional or sleek and ultra-modern?

What is the function of the space? Is it a space you want to use for relaxing or for exercising? Do you want quiet contemplation or a fun space for the family to hang out that will energize you? How you intend to use the space should influence the way you design it. What furniture must the space accommodate and what color is the furniture? You should choose colors that balance and compliment the other color tones in the space, this includes anything from flooring and paint to the tones of the granite tile or carpeting.

Finally, have fun. If you just love the shabby chic look, then have fun with some fabulous décor to give your space the right pieces. Remember lighting plays an important role in setting a mood so choose your lighting with purpose and design in mind. The right accent pieces in your accessories can pull a space together beautifully. Less is always more in a good rule. An understated space will always have more impact than one that is overdone. The first impression people get of an overdone room is being overwhelmed and not knowing where to look. This leaves people uncomfortable and looking for a way out. So, choose your design with care, with just the right touches in the right place. Something I always do if I’m unsure what I want in a space is I’ll try a piece there for a while and see if I like it. Sometimes it looks fabulous and I love it and it “stays”. Sometimes is grows on me as I rearrange a few other pieces in the space until it “works”. Occasionally it just does nothing for me and I need to try something else. When it’s your home you have the luxury of time to determine if you like something or not. So, take you time and try something new. Stick with your inspiration as your main design scheme. This will keep you on track and true to your plan. 

If you really need some help, bring some photos and feel free to stop by our booth at the Home Expressions Show or stop by for our Stage Presentation on Sunday at 3:00 pm! Hope to see you there! I always find tonnes of inspiration at the show! Enjoy!

Space Planning, Big and Small

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Planning and designing rooms has become so second nature I rarely struggle with the details. However, I have learned that planning and organizing spaces for myself is SO much more challenging! We’re moving into our new warehouse this week and the move in itself is massive, but planning all the storage necessary to exact measurements was a huge job!

I still follow the same principles, what are the “must haves” that you need to plan space for? How much space will they require today and will you be adding to them – so how much space do I need to allow for those items in the future? Designing a space is all about the planning. Right down to the last detail.

I had to plan out exactly what I needed for storage to accommodate all our artwork, accessories, bedding and bath linens, drapery and hardware, furniture, area rugs, etc… I had to build the shelving to accommodate multiple sofa/loveseats – to exacting measurements. Then I allowed for additional storage above for smaller furniture. Artwork shelving, had to be multiple heights to accommodate everything from large mirrors and artwork to small accent pieces. So many details to consider. I also know we’ll need room to grow, so building to accommodate what I have now would not work. It would be so much more difficult to add-on after the fact so we wanted to ensure we built for now and a few years into the future at least!!

This is really not much different than planning a kitchen or bath renovation. What items do you need to have storage for? Do you need easy access on a pull our drawer vs. below counter stationary shelves? Custom height counters for taller or shorter individuals? What do you need to keep handy and readily accessible for daily/weekly use vs. those items that may only be used a few times a year? How much will you be adding to what you have, how much space must we allow for additional items, dry/canned food goods, or hair/skin care products? Some people use just a few and replace when they run out. Other people need to have a large selection to choose from. We need to determine how they need to use the space and then plan the space so it works for them. There is nothing worse than going through the time, effort and expense of a reno to find you forgot to plan for something and now have no place to put it!

Although I’m anxious with anticipation to move into the warehouse I’m also quite anxious about whether I’ve remembered to plan for all the storage we will need. My husband is already asking me how long it will take me to “fill up this space?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…. In the meantime, planning this level of detail was excellent practice to keep my planning and design skills sharp! 

Biggest Tip:  When planning what storage you will need, continually look through the stuff you need to store and make sure you’ve got a place for everything. Then go back and double check, and then triple check! Then allow some additional space for growth. After all we all end up accumulating more than what we have, and I know my hubby is right. I will always get more décor and accessories and furniture. We’ll just have to see how long it takes me to outgrow the new space!

What is “Aging in Place?”

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Although “Aging in Place” is a well-recognized term in The United States, it is a relatively new term here in Manitoba. I was fortunate enough to be part of the first class through the Manitoba Home Builder’s Association to complete the course for the “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” (CAPS) designation here in Manitoba. We are only the second province to offer this program Canada wide. So what exactly is “Aging in Place?”

A CAPS Professional recognized the needs of an aging population, today and tomorrow. We are in a society where the number of seniors is growing faster than any other generation. Concerns like home care, extended health care, and assisted living alternatives are urgent topics of planning for every level of government. The CAPS program bridges the gap between the planners and the actual designers/builders and renovators.

It allows us to make small adjustments to building designs and renovation plans to allow the home to become consistent with “Universal Design” principles. These principles take into account the needs of a family at the time of the renovation, but also in the future. It allows home owners, as partners in planning, to make small modifications to renovations plans to allow for anything from a future in-law suite to a potential elevator, and everything in between. This does NOT mean your renovation budget suddenly doubles or triples! It means that as part of the bathroom renovation we may put additional supports or blocking in the walls where you may require support for grab bars down the road, cost of labour and materials at most $10, however, the savings is to you so you do not have to demolish and re-do a shower in 5 – 10 years; it can be anywhere from $10,000 – $20,000!!! That is a significant savings!! In the case of an elevator, if you build stacked closets between floors that are framed for what an elevator would require – it suddenly becomes very easy to install an elevator for someone in a wheelchair – and the overall savings is again, tens of thousands of dollars. The cost in the initials design and building plans is minimal. 

Universal design is built on the principle of planning for the future. Let’s face it, no one knows what the future holds. Everyday someone is suddenly faced with a drastic change in the lifestyle due to a sudden traumatic life event. Be it illness or injury, it can happen at any age, and a sudden event can change your entire life in a split second. You and your family are now faced with the emotional, financial and physical challenges of going on and learning how to adapt to your new life. Well, imagine for a moment that you lived in a home that was planned with universal design. Your doorways were wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The walls had been properly reinforced are required to allow for chair lifts, grab bars, ramps, etc. to allow you or your family member the ability to maintain as much independence as they possibly could. Instead of having to now face a tremendous hardship of thousands of dollars in renovations – you could simply purchase and have the equipment installed and minor modifications made to your universally designed home…what peace of mind would this be worth to you and your family? If you didn’t have to suddenly sell your home and look for a new one, how much would that mean to you? If your elderly parent suddenly became ill and needed to move in with you, could they do so tomorrow? If you had worked with a CAPS professional when you designed your home, or completed your recent renovation, you would be able to accommodate your family member with relatively little modifications and cost for a calm and smooth transition for everyone in the family. Let’s face it when dealing with any traumatic event, there is enough stress on everyone involved, the last thing a family needs is major renovations required urgently so Mom or Dad, or your child can come home from the hospital.

We also plan for medical conditions that are progressive. When you have a chronic condition that will cause your health, mobility and/or independence to deteriorate over time, you should work with a CAPS professional. We can help plan for your requirements for today, tomorrow and into the future. We team with your family/caregivers, the builders, medical team and occupational therapists to determine exactly what your needs are today, what they will be in the future and how we can minimize disruption to your home and life while allowing the modifications to be made that you require, when you require them. It’s all about planning and foresight at the onset so as changes occur in your medical situation your contractor can come in and make that next small change that you need. At the initial planning, maybe having electrical and supports in the wall at the tops and bottom of the stairs, so you can have a chair lift installed for nothing more than the cost of the chairs lift and labour. There’s no need to rip apart the walls or stairs, etc.

Finally, many people think about “Again in Place” as someone who is “handicapped”. Although this is often the case, it also refers to anyone with a mobility issue. Bad knees or hips that may need replacing but cause difficulty with stairs. You have a mobility issue. Chronic arthritis? You may need some modifications to cupboard doors and handles to make things easier for you to open/close. Starting to have a hard time hearing your spouse? Not the “selective hearing” many of us choose to have but real challenges hearing conversations, the TV or in situations with background noise? There are modifications that can be made to ensure at the bare minimum your life safety is protected. CO2 and smoke alarms can be connected to lighting or buzzers that can wake sleeping parents to ensure they have adequate time to escape a dangerous situation! Mom or Dad have issues with falling? Did you know once an elderly parent experiences a serious fall and recovers, the chances of them recovering from a second serious fall and less than 50%? Did you also know there are things that can be done to provide them more safety? Small modification to their home that will allow them to remain in their home longer and more importantly in a safe environment that provides peace of mind to everyone in the family! I know I have issues with arthritis in my knees and am already starting to consider the consequences down the road.

As a small side note, I have personal experience with life surprises. Our youngest daughter was born blind, has limited mobility and requires a wheelchair for long distances, is developmentally delayed and would not understand what a smoke or CO2 detector was, and also has a seizure disorder. We had no idea when I was pregnant and it seems we have a rare gene combination that was a surprise to all. She is our sunshine and a blessing in our home every day. However, planning our home so it helps her function independently has been a challenge at times. Life surprises can come at any time, suddenly or over time but as we age, one thing is certain, our bodies change! What was once easy can become a real challenge.

We often tend to think of all the “issues” as normal parts of aging, and they are! As medical breakthroughs continue to happen, our life expectancy also continues to climb. The chances that we will be faced with an “Aging Issue” with parents or ourselves is almost inevitable! However, your quality of life should never have to be compromised as your life situation and life needs change! There is nothing more heartbreaking than a parent being moved out of their home before they are ready or more importantly, before they really need to be! So explore the options! Consult with a CAPS Professional and look at all the options! You may be surprised what can be done! More importantly, providing a safe, easily accessible environment that continues to allow independence is what we all dream of as we age! This is the bare minimum of what we should strive to achieve for any loved one! 

Angie Kendel, Maximum Impact Plus, CSP, CID, CAPS

 

Highlights from IDS 2015 and CGTA Show 2015

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We had a fabulous time learning about all the new great new decor and trends in the building industry coming for 2015. Such an exciting time to be working in the residential design and renovation industry! We have so many new goodies coming for the Staging side of the business, just can’t wait for them to start arriving. I must admit, I got a little carried away ordering! Felt like the proverbial “kid in a candy store”. So many wonderful decor pieces I “just HAD to have!” We were looking for a new warehouse when we left, now the urgency is really there! We need more room for all the wonderful décor pieces!

One of the most intriguing trends this year is LED lighting. We still see every form of under counter lighting. A new trend is a wonderful strip of LED lights just under your countertop. This can be from a cool white to an eye stopping blue. What colors do you want to see and how “fab” do you want your kitchen design to be? There are 2 main places we see this lighting – actually between the counter and the top of the lower cabinetry – or so it appears…hehe – … it’s all in the expertise of the installation but the effect is so COOL! The effect is quite outstanding creating an “other worldly” appeal that is very “new age”. 

The other option for installing the LED lighting is at the junction of the counter and the inside corner of the cabinetry below the seating area of the island. We see this effect quite often in bars, restaurants and lounges and now we are witnessing the slow migration into residential homes. The lighting illuminates the lower side of your beautiful cabinetry on the island, making it look that much better. Wonderful “mood lighting” effect that really creates an interesting focal point and an amazing conservation piece.

Lighting itself has gone from some really neat designs that worked well to works of art that have now become the highlight and the focal point of many spaces. You may spend a bit more on it, but then, when simplicity is the key and you want that wow factor, lighting is certainly the way to go. Understated design utilizes the magic of décor lighting to provide the space with that finishing touch of high end impact! So don’t be scared to look at what’s out there, you may just be surprised by what you find.

Another repeating trend that has only gotten stronger is the “old is new”. Anything retro or weathered and distressed is the way to go. We have seen this in anything from building materials, to décor! Old weathered “barn” flooring, “aged” tile, reclaimed materials for furniture – everything old is new and in hot demand! Of course some always have that unique little spin on it and mix old with a little bling for that real outstanding piece! The amount of furniture and décor that we saw in this theme was overwhelming, so expect so keep seeing more of it at your favourite retail locations and in my designs!

Natural building products are making a huge statement in design. Whether it is metals, natural stone, or woods! Natural is the way to go! We saw large slabs of trees with the bark still on, used as coffee and dining tables, fireplace mantles, chairs, almost anything you can imagine! There was even one vendor at the IDS show featuring prehistoric building materials! Imagine a sink carved out of a “petrified” fossilized tree that turned to stone! Or décor pieces that had fossils imbedded in the piece itself! Nothing seems to be off limits in our quest for “natural” design elements we bring into our homes. Metals are back in everything from showers and baths to wall panels and even in furniture! We saw a lot of copper and brushed nickel and even the odd bit of iron. 

Finally, wall paper, is coming back stronger each year. The styles and color/design options seems to be getting more appealing and versatile. I even saw a home recently that had wallpaper on the ceiling, a common practice in Europe! It really added a warmth to the space versus the standard cold drywall and ceiling paint. If done in the right fabric/texture it can even add an acoustic quality to the space, absorbing sound and making a large space feel more intimate and muffling the echo. So if you are looking for something neat and different for that accent wall, you may wish to consider some wall paper options for your next renovation.

We are so blessed to work in such an incredible industry! Always so many options available to suit any taste and any budget. Our only limitation is often our imagination. It’s always so fun to look at a space and just imagine the possibilities… Enjoy!