Monthly Archives: December 2013

Home Staging is Like a Wonderful Dessert…

During a seminar on Staging last week, a participant was surprised to learn Staging was more than “making rooms pretty”. The best analogy I could come up with was to think of it as baking and decorating a fine dessert! Let’s face it no-one goes into a restaurant to order a plain slice of cake with no icing, drizzles, ice cream or decorating.  They want the wow factor! The fundamental elements are what actually make the cupcake. The flour, eggs, milk, butter and sugar, are necessary. It’s the filling or substance – chocolate pudding, vanilla cream, or jam centres, etc… that make it desirable. The decorating on top is what makes it stand out and look pretty but the substance is what the customer really wants and what they order and buy!

When Staging a home we must first address the fundamentals. The home must be de-cluttered. Remove all excess from all the rooms, placing items in storage, if necessary. Complete any basic repairs that have been left incomplete, leaking taps, ripped screens, etc. Then we make sure it is clean, from your light fixtures to your baseboards to windows. Everything must sparkle!  Each individual room must have a distinct purpose and furniture layout to best support that rooms’ function. This would be similar to the flour, sugar, milk, butter and eggs in a cupcake. It’s the basics and alone tastes and looks alright.  Unfortunately, this is where most people stop when listing their homes for sale. Even if you stage with décor and accessories at this point – your home can still be missing the real substance – what the customer really wants, orders and buys!

Professional Home Staging takes it to the next level. We look at the substance of your home. What updates are common in your neighborhood.  If most homes in your neighborhood that sold in the last few years have had their flooring updated, and your flooring is now 30 years old, then that is something we should consider to make your home highly desirable. If other homes have updated kitchens and baths and yours hasn’t been touched in years, it’s time to consider basic updates! No – you most certainly do not have to do complete bath and kitchen renovations. But updating can be as simple as a new counter, paint and flooring. We focus on lower cost updates that provide the biggest return on investment. This year alone our clients have seen returns from a minimum of 200%+ to more than 500% of their update costs! This is the substance that sells! This is the vanilla cream filling in that glorious cupcake! This is what the customer really wants, what they are looking for and what they are willing to pay more for when they find it!

Once we have the home de-cluttered, cleaned, rooms with dedicated functions and the home properly updated, then we complete the decorating.  Think of the final placement of furniture, décor and accessories as the sprinkles, drizzles and cherry on top of the most magnificent dessert. However, it is critical to the final presentation of the property to have the fundamentals mixed together just right, and have the right amount of updates and substance before we accessorize with décor. If the basics and substance of the dessert are not appealing – no amount of sprinkles or décor can make an unappealing dessert look good. Think again of a cupcake – maybe it’s chocolate but it’s over cooked and didn’t rise properly and has no filling. Then you cover it with icing and sprinkles – at first glance it may look ok but upon closer inspection the customer sees it’s not light and fluffy and has no real substance! They no longer want it. If you give them a chocolate cupcake that is light and fluffy, with fabulous vanilla cream filling, with beautiful butter cream icing and sprinkles and drizzles on top… there is just no comparison to the first unappealing cupcake! 

That is exactly what Professional Home Staging is all about! We first address the fundamentals, the substance and then the final WOW factor to make your home one of the most desirable homes in your neighborhood! On a personal note, my daughter just came into my office – her observation – “Mom, I think you have Christmas baking on your brain!”  You may very well be right, my dear!  Time to get my baking completed! 

Happy Holidays everyone!

How to Buy the Right Furniture for Your Space

I can’t count the number of times I hear someone say – I bought it on sale then when we got it home – it didn’t fit, or didn’t look good, or was too big for the space, or wouldn’t fit through the door….  Buying furniture is an investment.  The larger the piece of furniture the more attention to detail you should be taking prior to the purchase.  There are a number of critical factors to consider before you even leave your home.

What is the space?  Measure it.  Yes, take a tape measure and measure it.  Then decide on the furniture pieces you would like in the space.  Are you looking for a sofa, loveseat and 3 piece table set?  Would you prefer a sectional with a square coffee table? Are you in the market for a new bedroom suite or kitchen set?  The Internet makes shopping a breeze.  Almost everything is available online.  I can find the exact measurements for most furniture pieces before I ever see them in the store.  This saves me a tremendous amount of time before I ever get to a store.  Once I have my room measurements, I can then determine which pieces will fit my space and which just will not.  You always want to ensure you leave a minimum of 4-6 inches between your sofa and your end tables or your bed and night stand in your initial measurements.  This allows you to move it closer if you choose once it arrives.  However, if you only leave 2 inches and find the measurements provided for the sofa do not include the upholstered arm on the sofa which hangs over the frame by 3” then you are suddenly too short on space.  It’s always best to leave more room than less.  Try to leave some space between the furniture placements as well – minimum of 18”-24” between the coffee table and the sofa/love seat.  Again, it depends on the dimensions of the room in a smaller room it can be functional and look just fine in the smaller dimensions, in a large space, you can even get away with a larger space – it’s all proportionate to your space and furniture selection.  The important thing is to measure!  Measure your space and measure the furniture you are looking at to ensure it will fit your space!

Something many people overlook is the door.  How do we get the furniture in?  What is the width and height of the door?  What is the width and height of the sofa (or other large pieces)?  If you come to the furniture store with these measurements, most professional salespeople should be able to verify the piece you are looking at will fit.  Is the doorway open for 5’ or more or is there a wall 3’ in front of the door – this will also affect the ability to bring in the furniture.  Take these measurements in advance and you may save yourself the time and frustration (and expense) of having to remove a window to get the furniture into your room!

There are many different colors of wood out there.  Take a good look around your home.  Do you have a lot of wood?  What wood tones are currently present?  Do you intend on keeping these tones?  If so you may wish to ensure the furniture choices you make go well with what you currently have.  If all your flooring, trim work and cabinetry are dark wood tones, buying furniture with very light oak tones may not be the best for your space.  Even if you LOVE the set – it will not look the best in your home.  However, many manufacturers offer different stain colors to choose from that may go better with your space.  The set you love just may be available in a more suitable stain color for your home!  It never hurts to ask.  Again, a good salesperson will be able to direct you to other selections of a similar style, they may offer this option for you.

Upholstery fabric comes in countless colors and fabrics.  Again, it helps to have a good idea of what you are looking for?  Things that may make an impact on your choices are whether you have young children, pets, or you entertain a lot.  Is there a risk of stains and spills, pet damage?  Some fabrics are more wearable than others.  Some are more stain resistant than others.  Some are much more trendy and fashionable.  Think first of the functionality – who is going to use it, then think of the décor and colors.  I can tell when I walk into someone’s home if they are conservative or enjoy color!  If they are conservative (they usually have neutral color tones in their home already), I recommend they choose neutral solid tones for their major pieces of furniture, black, brown, cream, white, beige…all colors that can be easily decorated around but that you rarely grow tired of quickly.  If they purchased an overly colorful piece and they were very conservative – they rarely feel comfortable with it over the long term and often end up asking “what was I thinking?” If you love color and have lots – go for it – you know what you are comfortable with so be happy.  For the clients with more conservative tastes, adding colorful touches can easily be accomplished with accessories like art, throw pillows, throw blankets, décor, artwork and area rugs.  These are your less costly items when your large furniture pieces are neutral tones it’s easy to re-accessorize at a fraction of the cost for a whole new look, whenever you choose. 

Finally, the style of the furniture makes a statement.  Choose a style you love and stay with it.  Whether it’s traditional, transitional or ultra-contemporary, it is critical that all pieces in the space work together.  They must also blend with the architecture of the space. Trying to furnish an old turn of the century character home with ultra-modern contemporary furniture will always leave a feeling of something being just “off” a bit.  Even if it’s beautifully done, it just isn’t right for the space.  Pay attention to the architecture of your space and even take photos to help the furniture salesperson make the right recommendations. 

The nest time you hit those Christmas and Boxing Day sales go prepared with the room measurements, rough furniture measurements you need, photos of your room and wood tones.  Don’t forget to measure your doorways and entrances.  This way delivery day will be full of the anticipation and excitement it should be!  Enjoy those Sales!!!!

Kitchen Renovations on a Budget

Everyone dreams of renovating their home at some point in time.  Sometimes we have the opportunity to completely change and make over an area, but is this always the way to go?  Sometimes just updating an existing space is all you need to give you the perfect combination of functionality and current design.  Working with a Professional Designer will help you determine exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals while still staying on budget. 

How does your current space function for you?  The most critical is the cabinet layout.  Does the layout work for you?  Does your work triangle between fridge range and sink work well or is it dysfunctional?  What would you like changed? Do you dream of an island work space/sitting area?  Sometimes as we age, our knees and back age faster. Digging out pots and pans from the back of the cupboard on our knees becomes more and more challenging.   The solution is obvious – pot drawers.  Quite often cabinets can be modified into drawers that can save our knees and backs without having to replace them with new cabinets!  If your space works well for you and is functional but you want an updated look refacing your existing cabinets can save you significant budget dollars.  They can even add those pot drawers you dream of!  Is it a one or two cook kitchen? The top priority is function – we have to make sure the space works well for who is using it, then we make it “pretty”. 

Appliance choices seem limitless and can easily become overwhelming.   Again we focus on usage.  Do you want/need the fancy gadgets because you LOVE to cook and spend your free time baking and whipping up new recipes, and entertaining?  Are you a basic cook who makes the family meals but wouldn’t know how to use the fancy gadgets if you had them?   This makes a huge difference in the appliances we recommend.  It’s critical to find the right appliance for your needs and budget. Do you really need to spend the extra money for a higher end piece if you will never use it?  We could allocate those budget dollars to something really important to you. Where are your electrical and gas connections?  If we are simply replacing appliances, we still need to verify the existing connections so we order the correct appliance.  This may seem like a trivial exercise, but you never know what is behind the wall until you take the appliance out and find out for certain.  I always recommend an electrician/gas fitter verifies existing connections before we order to avoid costly modifications after the appliances have been purchased. 

Once we’ve covered functional issues, I always ask my clients for a must have list and a would be nice “wish List”.  This allows me to allocate the budget according to what is most important to the client.  Basic updates to flooring, lighting, countertops and tile can really impact the final design.  If your cabinets are working but you simply want a fresh look, updating the basics can give you a whole new look at a fraction of the cost.  We look at each of these individually and determine what we have for the budget to update and then go from least important “want but do not need” to the most important “need” item on your list. Once we have taken care of the much needed items and addressed your functional issues, then we have some “play money” in the budget to cover your wish list.  This might be a new light fixture; granite countertops; new flooring; wall tiles; sink faucet; etc…  The beauty of these items is that this is where we can really change the look without spending a fortune! 

Let’s presume your cabinets work well.  You add a few pot drawers and change your knob pulls so your cabinet expense is minimal.  Then you update your appliances. So now you can spend the balance of your budget on counters, lighting, and a faucet; flooring, etc.  Each of these items has a range from budget friendly to luxurious and expensive.  We find the item right for your design and your budget!  The end result is a beautifully finished new kitchen space that you will enjoy spending time in.  I plan the design to allow for future updates to the items on the “wish list” that we do not have money for left in the budget right now.  You would love a fabulous tile backsplash – but your priority is spending that money on getting a double wall oven instead.  No problem, the tile can be added at a later date!  Or you would love granite counters but it’s not in the budget right now. There are some fabulous laminate designs that look like granite, at a fraction of the cost!  They are a wonderful compromise that allows you to update to granite down the road when budget allows, but doesn’t sacrifice the final design in the interim. 

Once we know what your priorities and budget are, we can plan the design to give you a fabulous space! With your priorities taken into consideration, you can plan to update the easy things at a later date but love the most critical areas now. This way you love your space, today and tomorrow! Its budget friendly, functional and looks fabulous!