Monthly Archives: April 2014

Staging a Home Requires Time and Planning

LR3after2kr LR3after3kr LR3KIRbefore LR23krbeforeThere is a tremendous amount of space and color planning that goes into a stage job, long before we ever arrive at the home to set up. We take into account traffic flow patterns and windows, as well as the main focal point of the room upon entering. Then we must design around any existing furniture in the room, before adding our design elements. The room design is all planned around these main features.

The first thing we look at is the layout and the best furniture placement to showcase the space. Sometimes a sectional simply works better than multiple pieces and other times, the reverse is required. Each room is different and each room requires its own unique layout. 

The next part of the design that must be considered are the colors. What colors are the walls, flooring, and ceiling? What are the colors of the existing furniture pieces and how do we best plan a design that uses the existing colors and brings in that small accent color that makes a room stand out? Choosing the right accent color is very important. Too many different colors in a room can be overwhelming for any space. It’s critical to have just the right proportions of main color, complimentary color, and accent color.

Lighting has a huge impact on how a space is viewed. It can be light and bright or dark and shadowed. Mood lighting or accent lighting can have a fabulous effect on a room. Bathrooms should be bright. Task lighting such as under counter lighting in a kitchen can make a great space seem amazing!! 

Finally, all the small accents and details that make a room look incredible must be planned out to the last detail. What do we place in that empty corner? Which walls require artwork or mirrors and which ones should remain bare? What areas require an area rug and which do not? What do we use as an accent on the table? These must all be the right proportion, color and style to suit the home and its décor.

Everything about a stage job is planned out to the last smallest detail, long before we arrive on stage day. Most of the work has been completed before we arrive. Once all items are selected, they are wrapped and packed for transport and moved to the location. If we are moving large furniture, and furniture rental is required, we must find the right furniture and arrange for rental and moving for the stage date.

When we finally arrive at the stage location, home owners are often surprised at how quickly we set things up. We have every accessory and piece of furniture planned to the last detail. The setup is the easy and fast part! Depending upon the size of the job, it can take anywhere from a few hours to 4-5 hours to set up on site. However, when you include the movers, we often have between 4-5 people working on the basic set up, and 2-3 completing the accessorizing. That is anywhere from a minimum of 4 man hours to 20+ man hours on site for one job! When you add the design and planning time that takes place before and the packing and de-stage time afterwards, it’s easy to see how the hours add up. 

The planning, design and prep phase of any job is almost always equal to or greater than the time on site. Making it look simple and easy comes with experience. However, the reality is that good design takes time and lots of planning! 

Importance of Staging a Vacant Home





We are often asked if it is critical to stage a vacant home. The answer is simple.  Yes, yes, yes! Most people are very visual. Think of the saying… “I’ll believe it, when I see it!” People often need to “see” something for it to make sense of it.  That is why staging vacant properties is so critical.

When a room does not have furniture, the eye is drawn to the nearest object. If this is a window or doorway – that will be what the brain registers. Then the question becomes, will my sofa, or television fit in that space? If there is any uncertainty, your home moves down on the priority list. 

Sometimes it can be as simple as having windows with lower sills – people are often concerned about placing their furniture in front of a windows and having the sun discolor the furniture over time. If you have the home staged, as professionals, we can arrange furniture to ensure these do not become objections or concerns to potential buyers.

Another common issue is with open concept areas, how do you use the space?  With open concept design, staging is even more critical for vacant homes. Furniture is all you have to define the use of specific areas of an open floor plan. It becomes even more important to designate the “function” of a space for a family. Many people look for a formal dining area as their family grows and matures. If an open concept has the space, a formal dining area is a huge selling feature! Showing potential buyers that there is space for a beautiful table and 6 chairs while still having a beautiful open concept sitting area is a huge selling feature. The same space may leave them wondering how to place furniture and if everything will fit if they see it unfurnished.

Finally, no home is perfect! Home staging is never used to hide imperfections, we always recommend clients make repairs, but if a client does have any nicks in the walls or damages to the flooring, with nothing else to look at, these become very evident and the focus of what the buyer sees! Staging the home, shows how a home can look, even with the imperfections, making the imperfections a much less significant issue.

At this time of the year, furniture & décor are flying out the door fast. If you know you plan on staging your home in the near future, it is critical on contacting your staging professional a few weeks in advance. When we know your job is coming up, we can plan the best design for all projects we have on the go. I have many pieces of décor that will work beautifully for someone, but there are some that simply will look better in some spaces than others. If I know your project is coming up, I will hold back the pieces that will make your home look that much better. If I do not know, I might very well have just staged a home with décor, the day before that I could have used for you! A different color scheme could look just as nice for the other home, and I could have saved those pieces for your home – making it that much better! 

Finally, not all furniture styles work in all spaces. This time of the year, the selection can become minimal, so again, give us notice. I would rather be able to make it look fabulous with the proper advance notice and planning, rather than just good…. or better than it was. If we have the time, we can plan a fabulous design and make it look amazing! We will always do our best with what is available – but advance notice, just ensures we have that much more to choose from! 

One final note, if we have seen the home while in the process of getting it ready, and you plan on painting after we have seen the home, ensure we know what walls will be painted and in which colors. When we plan our décor, it is critical to know the wall colors to ensure we have the proper contrast so the real estate photos look as good as they possibly can. This is another reason why notice is so important. We need to ensure the furniture will show up well against your wall colors. A white sofa just doesn’t look the same against a white wall… but it looks fabulous against a grey or taupe wall. With proper planning you will have a space that Buyers can’t wait to make their own!

Creating Beautiful Outdoor Living Spaces

cottagereardeck patioseating pooldeck seating areas

I’m certainly no deck builder, but I have designed a number of decks over the years. There are a number of questions that you need to address in the initial stages of deck design in order to ensure a beautiful space that accommodates all the ways you plan to use it!  Who will be using the space and what will you do there? BBQ, dining area, sitting area, sun tanning, play area for children? Take everything into account, then draw out your space to make sure you have enough room.

At our cottage, we have a beautiful sunroom facing the water. We get a beautiful breeze with the windows open and best part – NO mosquitos! However, we do not have an area where we can sit outside and really enjoy the sun. One of our plans this year is to extend the small deck beyond the sunroom to the opposite side of the house. This would give us a sunroom that is 240 square feet with an added outdoor deck that is approximately 500 square feet. This would be if we do nothing more than build out to the far opposing corner. 

My plans for using the space are simple. We need a nice outdoor BBQ area and a nice dining area on the deck. I would also like to have a nice seating area where we can sit and relax with our children, family and friends. So we need to have no less than seating for 8 and maybe 10+. So I’ll plan out and create a sitting/ lounging area, a BBQ area and a dining area. I’m considering adding a pergola over the far area, not so much for shade, although my husband will want shade, but as an added decorative feature. Once I draw out the space, we may even have some room for some built in seating along the perimeter…..All that’s left now is some planters for flowers, which anyone who knows me, knows is a must! I love my summer flowers! We still have an alternate dining area in the sunroom if weather or mosquitos require we move, but we can now enjoy the outdoors and with our short summers, we try to make the most of the nice days!

We also plan to build a smaller porch/deck at our main entry. This would only be about 6’ feet wide and about 20 ‘long and would provide a small seating area. This is more to dress up the entry to our cottage. The stairs were old and needed replacing when we bought it last year. Rather than just replace the existing stairs and landing, I wanted to create something that would add to the character of the home, and create a more welcoming feel. What’s more inviting on a country home than a nice covered porch with some outdoor seating off to the side? I have designed a beautiful deck/porch that will give our cottage tremendous appeal and a beautiful sitting area. 

It’s important to consider how you intend to use a deck before you build. If you want a shady area make sure you do not build in an area that has full sun all day. Pay attention to how the sun travels along that side of the house. Do you have neighboring buildings or trees that block the sun? Will this change how you use it – or maybe change where you plan on locating it! Maybe instead of building it to the right of the patio door, after watching the sun you find the left side of the patio door has both sun and shade which allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds! One word of caution, if you are in an open area that can receive a lot of wind, patio umbrellas are not always going to work as a means of providing shade. You may wish to plan a small shade feature if your deck is in a full sun location. Our pool deck is in full sun, and we can only use the patio umbrella on days with little wind, otherwise I’m chasing the umbrella across the yard! A sight I’m sure my neighbors have giggled at more than once!

Don’t forget to plan for winter storage. I plan our decks with cedar fence skirting which allows me to use the area below the deck (and sunroom) for storage! It’s the perfect place to hide the Christmas yard ornaments in summer and yard furniture and planter pots for the winter. For security sake, remember to always have a locking mechanism to protect your belongings when you are away.

The options for yard furniture seem almost limitless and can fit pretty much any style and budget. So have fun, enjoy decorating your new space. Make it uniquely yours! There are no rules on decorating outdoors spaces except to make them fun and functional! Enjoy! One word of caution, if you are in an area with trees that lose seeds, you may want to consider furniture covers to protect your furniture from stains from seed pods dropping from overhead trees. As an alternative, take your cushions in when not in use to protect them.

The transition between your yard and your deck should be appealing as well. Even if you are not a gardener, a small area with landscape fabric to prevent weeds from sprouting, and a few small shrubs with an appealing mulch will make the transition look fabulous! It’s low maintenance and creates that visual distinction between yard and deck! If you’re like me and look for any reason to plant more flowers, then get out your perennial books and start planning your next flower garden! Besides, it is so much easier to cut grass around a garden than to have to trim around the deck! 

Our living spaces are an extension of ourselves and our families. Creating beautiful outdoor living spaces need the same time, planning and attention to detail that our indoor spaces receive! So dream it, plan it, build it, and enjoy!

How to Prepare for Major Home Renovations

bar unit

Having just recently experienced the chaos associated with renovations, I thought I might share some of my lessons and hopefully save others some stress!!! There is a lot more to planning renovations than planning the design and materials! Sure that is the “Fun Stuff” but we have to deal with the practical side as well. 

Whether painting, installing new flooring or taking down walls, we need to prepare our space before renovations can begin. All those shelves, and hidden storage places we all seem to find, need to get cleaned out! If you can take some time before the renovation starts and go through all the “stuff” that has accumulated for years; it’s a lot less that you will need to store while renovations are happening. So take some time and sort through your CD’s and DVD’s. It’s getting close to the perfect time for a garage sale, so keep what you can’t part with. However, this is the perfect time to sort through those items that you don’t know why you’ve been keeping all these years! 

Items you want to keep, pack away so they don’t get damaged in a room separate from where renovations are occurring. Between drywall dust; materials, ladders, and all the tools necessary to complete a renovation, there is usually just no room for your other belongings. So pack them away and keep them clean and safe.   

This is also a perfect time to go through what you are keeping and begin planning where you will place it all once your renovation is complete. We had wall units that stored more stuff than I could imagine! We are retiring the wall units for new furniture that has less storage, so I have no choice but to be selective with what we keep. We are also getting a new bar unit that will accommodate everything we need for entertaining; which means we don’t need the wall units. As you determine what you need to keep, it also helps you find the “right” new furniture that will not only look great but accommodate your storage needs and your lifestyle. This really helps in planning the new updated design for any space! Renovations is a great time to de-clutter your life and get back to basics! 

If you are anything like me, having our home upside down with things packed in boxed is very difficult! I like things in order and clean. I find myself cleaning every evening, knowing the drywall dust will be back the next day, but I feel better for a few hours! My husband can’t stand stuff in his space and wants to keep “his” areas clear, so he just piles more stuff in other areas – you can just imagine the battles happening – and then we laugh about it all! We’ve watched our clients suffer through the renovation process for years – now we’re getting “pay back!” All our clients reading this can enjoy a good laugh at our expense!  We all need to make some compromises during renovations and realize it’s just short term frustration. The pay back is a beautiful space that will function perfectly for the whole family! 

A funny story, my daughters’ 19th birthday was earlier this week. Our living room was just having the hardwood flooring completed, my dining room is still a storage area for hardwood flooring for the rest of main level, and we were removing all furniture from the family room so we could start the demo in that room next. I quickly realized I did not have a room where family could sit and have birthday cake! That would not do! We had the flooring finished in our living room at 3:50! I had it swept and washed and I was setting up the furniture in our living room at 4:00 and my parents were arriving at 4:30!! Good thing staging has given me experience in making a room looks great in such a short time! Everything was in place and looked fabulous just as they walked in the door! Nothing like cutting it down to the wire!   

Renovations can be stressful but if you take the right approach, and keep a sense of humour they can also be fun and exciting! So make the most of it and have some fun!

Happy Birthday Sweetie! It was a real joy listening to you play piano in the new living room!

Happy Birthday









Learn How to Maximize Your Home Equity At the Home Expressions Show!

kit facing window after kit611afterThe most important question a Home Owner has is how to maximize what their Home is worth. Whether renovating or just doing some updates, the biggest question is “how do I improve without over improving?” No one wants to upgrade more than the home is worth and not get your renovation dollars back when you sell.

The rule is simple, if you have the nicest home on the block by a long shot, pride of ownership is evident but you run the risk not getting your money back when you sell. This is pricing yourself out of the market!   

Every neighborhood has a glass ceiling in terms of top realistic expectant price. This is based on comparable properties that have recently sold in the immediate area in the last 6-9 months. Once you invest more in your home renovations and get above this top price, buyers have the option of looking in more expensive price ranges, which usually comes with a little bigger home in a more expensive neighborhood. So they could spend top dollar for your home, or they have the option of looking at larger homes in a nicer neighborhood for the same price range. Unless they have a specific reason to buy in your neighborhood, chances are they will look at what else they can buy for the same budget. Keep in mind, your home is already at the top of its price range, so an increase in home equity will happen much more slowly with your home than another home, which also becomes a consideration. Another consideration is some very affordable new builds. If they can purchase a new home with warranty or an older home where big ticket items will need replacing sooner, this becomes a factor in their decisions.

The key is to improve your home to the upper end of the price range without over improving!  This is where it is very important to know what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for and what updates they have had. Typical updates can include anything from a new kitchen, updated bathroom, updated and fully finished basement, new flooring, open floor plan, etc. Comparing the homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold and analyzing their updates, allows us to determine how much to do and what not to do. Keep in mind, if you are happy in your home and have no intention of moving any time soon, spending more on your renovations makes sense. Even if you “over improve”, you are doing so for your enjoyment. Chances are over the next 10 – 20 years neighboring homes will catch up with yours and you will be in the top end of the market. But if you need to sell soon after completing renovations, know that you may run the risk of not getting all your renovation dollars back if you over improve. This is a decision each home owner has to make based on their individual circumstances. I just prefer that my clients make well informed decisions!!

Renovations and updates are one very important part of preparing your home for sale. However, the final presentation of your home is equally important! You have to think of the targeted buyer. Who will be buying your home and what do they want to see? What will make them fall in love with your home above all others? Well decorated spacious rooms are very appealing. A room that is well put together will be memorable and appealing to buyers. A room that may have too much furniture or things just not looking right will leave the buyer with a sense of unease. When they think of your home, this feeling of unease will return, and knowing something wasn’t right, they’ll move on to the next home. Staging ensures buyers remember your home and it is on the top of their short list of homes when it’s time to write an offer!

Learn the basics of staging your home for sale or if you want to learn how to determine what to spend on renovations, in order to maximize your home equity but don’t leave money in your home when you sell, come visit us at the Home Expressions Show April 4-6th. We will be hosting stage presentations Friday April 4th at 6:00pm; Saturday April 5th at 3:00pm and Sunday April 6th at 1:00pm.