Monthly Archives: July 2014

Staging Beautiful Homes

Dining Room Eating Area eatin69before Living Room P1080792 P1080796

Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of staging a number of beautiful homes. It’s interesting that these home owners still call me in for assistance. They have a wonderful sense of style and color selections, yet they still want a Professional opinion. So what can I offer someone who has a great sense of décor?

Furniture placement is something that evolves in a lived in home. Even if you have elegant, modern furniture, it may not be in the right location to showcase your home at its best. When we “live” in our homes, furniture gets re-arranged for how we live and it becomes such a part of us that seeing it objectively can be a challenge. By the way – I have a very hard time having an objective in my own home. I always bounce ideas for my home off my colleague for a second opinion! An objective set of eyes can come in and say move this over here, this should be in that room and let’s remove this piece completely and re-arrange the balance to showcase the focal point of the room to perfection! It’s a few “tweaks” that can completely change the look of the room in moments and make a huge difference in those online pictures and upon first impression when perspective buyers walk in the room!

Color plays a huge role in the overall picture and first impression. It’s just as important to have the right colors as it is to have the right colors in the in the right places. Quite honestly dark on dark colors will simply not show up in a photo. Light on light colors will not show up in a photo. If colors tones are too similar they tend to blend together so it’s hard to see where one object starts and the other object stops. This is not good for photos. I work with professional photographers who have me set up display suites for photo shoots. Object definition is very important in the photos to best identify the key features of the room. A dark sofa against a dark wall simply wouldn’t photograph well, whereas a light sofa will completely “pop” in the photo! This layering effect of objects in the photograph must continue from the furthest point, usually the wall – to the final accent piece of décor that is closest to the camera. Having definition and color contrast of the objects in the room in the photo is what creates those fabulous photos that generates the interest and brings those buyers to your door!

Texture also plays a key role. There are simply a lot of mirrors, glass, clear plastic and metal furniture on the market right now. It is so important to be aware how these textures impact the room, both in person and in photos. Having a glass or plastic clear see through table with a white wall behind will make the table fade right into the wall and be barely visible. Now there are times when this may not be a bad thing. Quite often older homes have had features added after the fact such as patio doors, usually by the kitchen table. There is a ceiling mount light fixture that requires a table, but in the photo we may wish to highlight the space with the patio door and minimize the space as an eating area – using a glass table so it doesn’t stand out quite so much is a perfect way to achieve this effect. Using a solid table would define the space with the solid table as an eating area and the patio doors may not even be consciously seen by viewers. It’s all a matter of brain psychology and learning how to manipulate the area to showcase what you want to and minimize things you don’t! 

When it comes down to it, hiring a professional, even if it is for nothing more than a consult can take your home from nice to “WOW”! In many cases, using the same things you already have in your home, but just a little differently than you have in the past! So even if you have a great sense of décor, getting a second opinion is a little extra help that we can all use from time to time. After all, most professionals will get a second opinion, so why not you?

Happy Clients have Good Manners

AFTER BEFORE

I recently met with a client who was getting her home ready for sale. She was quite outspoken and straight to the point! I just love honest people! So it shocked me when she began complaining about the work she had done by a contractor. My initial thought was that he was obviously not doing a good job! So I was stunned when I asked her what he said about her concerns and she responded that she had never told him! Why not??? He did the work a number of years ago. So why didn’t you address those concerns with him then? She had no answer but continued to complain about him. Is it fair not to say anything to the service provider? … And then continue to complain to other people for years after the fact?

This is where alarm bells go off. There are many types of clients.Most are fair and reasonable. They treat you well, if they feel that you have treated them well, fairly and they are happy with your services. I always ask if my clients were happy with the project, and if they had any concerns or questions. Sometimes we set something up in a certain way because it showcases a specific feature of the room better, drawing attention to a key selling feature. Occasionally a client, who is not accustomed to their home displayed in this manner, or that particular furniture plan is confused, so I’ll explain the logic behind our selections. They almost always agree or at least understand why we do what we do. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of communication to put someone’s concerns at ease.

However, there are always the clients who don’t say anything to the service provider but do not hesitate to speak about the service provider to anyone else who will listen. This is simply inappropriate! I’ve been in business for over 20 years. Most business people genuinely care about the service they provide and want to leave clients happy! Very few business people I have met are not open to questions or addressing concerns their clients may have. However, the client MUST give them the chance to address these concerns. Not giving a service provider the chance to address a problem and then “bad mouthing” them to other service providers, friends, family, etc. is simply bad manners. One thing I have learned is that if the client does this to other service providers, there is a really good chance they will do the same thing to you. Be careful! Reputation goes a long way in a small community. Sometimes, it’s simply better to selectively choose your clients rather than risk opening a can of worms you may never be made aware of, but can affect your business!

I have to say, my heart went out to the contractor. As many of you know my hubby has a Renovations Company and I can only imagine how upset he would be if a client was bad mouthing his company without ever allowing him the opportunity to correct the problem. Without him even being made aware that there was a problem. Again, most people will do their best to make a client happy if they are given the opportunity. It’s much better manners to discuss your concerns with your contractor and give them the opportunity to correct the problem, then everyone leaves happy!

There is always the exception of the rare client who will try to obtain a discount price on the work because they are “not happy”. Again after being in business you can tell these immediately, because they often discuss the “deals” they have gotten on various work around their home. Strangely, it’s never by the same contractor doing the work! They rarely have anything nice to say about anyone they have ever hired. This is another warning that this may be a good client to “pass” on. Unfortunately, not all people are honest and treat others fairly. 

As service providers we can protect ourselves by watching for the warning signs and avoiding those situations. If someone complains about previous Service Providers, chances are good, you may be next in the line. If they cannot find a “good” service provider and always have to get a discount for sub-standard work; chances are they will create the same scenario with you.

Thank you to all my wonderful clients!! Know I choose to work with you and I sincerely hope you are pleased with the services we offer! Remember I am always open to addressing questions and concerns! I would much rather you discussed them with me, than others!

Buying Vs. Renting Furniture to Stage Your Home

Living Room 564MBRafter

At least once a month I’m asked by a Home Owner if it would be easier if they purchased new furniture for “staging” their home or if they should rent. My answer is simple, and always the same! It all depends whether they have already purchased their new home!

If you have purchased your new home and know what space the new furniture will be occupying, then you can shop for new furniture that will work in both spaces. Ensure the furniture you purchase works in both the old and new home in terms of color; style and size! Make sure you measure doorways, as well as the room the furniture will be occupying to ensure it can get into the space and looks good once in the space!

Buying something that will look nice in your old home is important. However, buying something that is the right size, color and style for your new home is much more important. After all in most cases, you only stage your home for at most a few months. Rental cost for a sofa and loveseat is only a few hundred dollars. However, buying a potentially large furniture investment only to find it doesn’t fit in your new home is not only frustrating, but will often end up costing you more in the end. Some clients have told me horror stories about having to remove the main living room window to get their furniture into the new home…. The cost for this is more than renting for staging. Other clients have just determined to sell the furniture (usually at a loss) and simply purchase new furniture that fits their new home! Again, selling at a loss is a more costly option than renting.

Another client had a 2 matching sofa/loveseat sets, one in the rec room and one for the living room of their old home, as many of us do! However, in their new home, neither sofa fit down the staircase! So they have the one set upstairs with the sofa from the other set and one loveseat in the rec room with two occasional chairs. Neither sitting area looked quite right, nor was as functional as it could have been with the correct size and layout of furniture for the space!

Finally there is nothing worse than walking into a room with furniture much too large for the space. The room feels and looks much smaller than it is and gives buyers the impression that it will not fit their furniture any better than it does yours! Sofas and loveseats and sectionals come in as many sizes as there are rooms! If you have purchased a new larger home that will accommodate a larger furniture set but your current home is small, your home will not show as well as it could if you use the larger over-sized furniture!! Buyers want to see the right scale of furniture in the right space. Just because it will work in your new space, doesn’t mean it will work well in your old space! Do what works for the space to get a fast sale and move on!

If you have not yet purchased a new home, then I do not recommend purchasing furniture. Until you see the space it will be moving into – how do you know it will fit? It’s so important to measure the doorways and the height of the ceiling at the doorway. Sometimes, a sofa can go in on its side and be spun into the room if the height is adequate, but not always. Is there a corner or wall immediately when you enter the doorway? Will it affect how you can bring your furniture in? Is there another doorway or patio door that could be used as an alternate entrance? Before you run out to go shopping, make sure your new purchase will be able to fit through the doorway to get into your new (or old) home! 

It’s also important to take into account the layout of both the old room and the new space the furniture will be moving into. Sometimes a sectional will work much better depending on the other focal points and doorways or walkways in a room. Sometimes a sofa or small sectional and 2 chairs will work better. You simply cannot buy furniture for a space until you know what the space is. It can be hard enough to find a home in the right price range and neighborhood without having to worry about getting your new furniture in.

So when getting your home ready for sale, if your existing furniture is too old or dated and you want something new, renting furniture is the way to go. It’s fast and easy! Your Stager will ensure it is the appropriate furniture size, style and color for your space and should have all the accessories to make that first impression, a lasting impression that gets your home sold quickly and easily!

Designing Open Concept Spaces

more space space

Many open concept designs require furniture placement to define the use of the room. The family may require anything from a TV room; sitting room or entertaining space; dining space; or play area for the younger children and a work space for parents or older children. Fitting this all in one space may seem excessive but, it can easily be accomplished with well-chosen and properly placed furniture and accessories. 

We must determine the various functions the space must accommodate. The next question is how many people must it accommodate and what ages are they? How many will be using competing spaces at the same time? Will young children be playing while older ones are trying to do their homework?

To create an effective floor plan, it’s critical to draw out the space. Include all windows and doors/doorways as this will affect your furniture placement. Next, we begin to allocate space to each designated function, the dining area, TV area, and study area ensuring we allow adequate traffic flow between spaces. This also dictates the size of the furniture you can purchase. Consider multiple floor plans; does the furniture still work? This is the time to consider creative use of space. Is there an area or piece of furniture that allows us to double the use of some space? Maybe a desk creatively hidden in a piece of accent furniture? Or storage for toys in a set of coffee and end tables?

Quite often we will have an existing ceiling mounted light fixture for the dining area. This defines the center of the table placement. However, we still have options whether we choose a square, round, oval, or rectangular table. Client preference weighs in heavily in the decision, however, space allowance is equally important. The client may love the idea of a round dining table for 8 but may only have room for a rectangular table due to the placement of the light in proximity to the wall. So we either move the light to accommodate the furniture selection or we select furniture to accommodate the light placement. One rule of design that should not be broken is to always keep a ceiling mounted light fixture centered over your dining table. Something about a light off to the side just doesn’t look right no matter which angle you look at it!

When you have a combination living room and dining room many people choose to visually separate the two areas by using a sofa or loveseat as a divider between the sitting area and the dining area. This visually cuts the space in half, making it appear smaller. Depending upon the placement of windows and walkways; it may be possible to create a more “open” seating plan facing the dining area. This suddenly becomes an entertainers’ dream arrangement! You can easily transition between appetizers in the sitting area to dinner at the dining table and have some guests enjoy after dinner coffee/dessert at both locations, and no one has to crank their neck uncomfortably to be part of the conversation! Everyone is a part of the action in an “open” plan.  The beauty of an open concept design is that you can easily do both! Use furniture placement to separate areas for everyday living and have your “entertainment furniture placement” for special occasions! 

Assuming the kitchen is also part of this open plan, as it is in so many homes, depending on the age of the children, the kitchen island or kitchen table may be a great use of space for after school homework. While parents prep dinner, kids are close by doing their homework and Mom\Dad are available to answer homework related questions. This only works when kids are younger and homework demands tend to be minimal. Once the homework demands increase a dedicated work area will be required. This can sometimes be in a child’s bedroom so they are away from distractions and can concentrate, or may need to be in a more controlled space where they cannot find their own distractions! It all depends on the child and the family! It’s our job to find out what works best for your situation and help you plan your space so its works best for you!

When selecting furniture, the best way to minimize clutter in a room is to have furniture pieces that provide hidden storage. Whether built in cabinetry with drawers or cupboard doors or stand-alone furniture pieces, storage is a must in any well planned space. I have a daughter who still has toys, books and games she uses on a regular basis. When we recently re-decorated, I made sure I selected furniture that provided lots of storage. She has books in a drawer of the end table. Larger more bulky pieces are in the storage coffee table with drawers that have a top that also folds out! Everything is close at hand but quickly and easily hidden when not being used.   

It takes some time to plan a space out for best use and in budget. In the end you are left with a multifunction space that grows with you are your family for years to come.