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

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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

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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

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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. 

 

Designing Functional Floor Plans

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There are a multitude of tools available online to assist with planning functional floor plans. However, there are a number of factors that need to be considered before planning a layout.

Who will be using the space? Is this a family space for members of the family to congregate and/or entertain? How many people will typically be in the room at one time? Do we need to provide seating for all of them? For example, in a great room or main living area we are usually required to provide seating for the members of the family, as well as having adequate seating available for a certain number of guests. This requires anywhere from 6 – 10 easily accessible areas for seating/entertaining in the given space. Whereas in a bedroom, this is typically a private space that may only require seating for 1 or 2 people. Who will be in the space dictates our space planning.

The next important consideration is how will the space be used? Is it an entertainment room, watching TV or movies, visiting with friends, or is it a music room for practicing and studying? Does a larger room require a separate area to have a piano area? Is there a desk required in the bedroom for homework and studying? Quite often we must plan for more than one type of usage in the space. All requirements of how the family uses the space must be taken into consideration when designing the floor plan. 

Natural traffic flow patterns exists within any given space. Particularly if a room has more than one doorway or access to another room – a traffic flow pattern is often created as this frequently acts as a pass thru between other adjoining rooms. The natural traffic flow pattern must be kept open and free of obstacles. This is particularly important if it also acts as a means of egress to an exit in case of fire safety. Designing a furniture plan that keeps a minimum of 3’ width walkway clear of obstacles is not only smart, it is also safe in case of emergency!

Next we need to consider any natural focal points in the room. This could be anything from a large picture window, to a fireplace to a TV. The focal point is often (but not always) tied to the main function of the room. Typically your furniture placement is designed to maximize the use of the focal point in the room. Seating is often planned for TV viewing or seating is planned around the fireplace in a sitting room for visiting with guests or for the home owner to read while enjoying the fireplace. 

Finally we get to the selection of furniture and final placement. Now that we have determined the natural traffic flow patterns and focal point, we can plan the furniture placement in the remainder of the room. We need to determine the actual measurements of the remaining space, so go ahead and get out your tape measure. It is critical to ensure you measure your space before you select furniture. It is always a good idea to draw out the space using the perimeter walls of the room. ¼” = 1’ is standard scale for residential drawings and is consistent with most graph paper. So draw out the space, include where your windows and doors are located. Make sure you draw in your focal points. Then you can see exactly what space you have left to plan any seating arrangements. It is critical to know what space you have available before you shop. This is when you want to begin to designate multiple functions into different areas of the room. For example, if you have a seating area with TV but also need a 6 seating dining table, you will plan a division in your open space using your furniture placement. Just make sure you know what space you have to work with, length by width. Always ensure you leave adequate walkways around furniture for easy access.

Now you are free to shop for furniture. I prefer to shop on-line first. It helps narrow down my selections and gives me the exact dimensions of most furniture pieces. This way I can plan exactly which pieces will fit and which need to be ruled out because they do not fit. Remember, furniture can be too large but can also be too small for a space. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a piece at the store getting it home and finding it just doesn’t look right in the space. That is why space planning for any room is critical. Take some time, get a nice cup of coffee or tea, grab a tape measure and some graph

Managing a Design Budget

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Every design project has a budget. Some are firm budgets with little to no flexibility, while others have a considerable amount of wiggle room. Budgets are a crucial starting point for any project. It is critical to have a budget in mind before you start a project, and to clearly communicate this budget to your designer.

Unfortunately, some people are reluctant to give me a budget, or they want me to give them a number. Reality is that I can re-design a bathroom on a shoestring budget or completely gut and re-do the exact same space for tens of thousands of dollars more. The materials and design we choose is dictated by your budget! What do you want? Do you want a jaw dropping room that makes a statement at every glance? Or do you just want an update to your existing space? Both can easily be achieved, the difference is your desired plan and your budget!

Once we have the budget finalized, we begin to plan the design layout or floor plan. What if anything, is staying in the space? Are we re-using furniture, flooring or lighting that you recently acquired and still love? If so, we need to know so we can incorporate these items into the design and allow more room in the budget for other items. If we do not need to replace flooring, that can be a significant savings especially on a smaller budget. It is also imperative that we take the remaining items into account when planning the design. We need to ensure the new design blends well with the existing style and color scheme of items to remain. So let us know what you want to remain in the space, or use from other areas of your home before we begin planning the design and allocating budget dollars.

After the floor plan/layout is approved, we begin to make decisions on the large and most expensive pieces. These are normally your more permanent and high impact items; cabinetry, flooring, appliances and large pieces of furniture. Typically items that are purchased with long term usage in mind. We also must allocate budget dollars for construction labour costs. I usually advise my clients to get what they really want when it comes to these items. You’re most expensive, time consuming, and permanent selections should not be compromised if at all possible. You would rather do the renovations once. It’s easier and less work to upgrade secondary items than to go back and change major design choices.

Then we begin to blend our main design choices with other selections. Paint colors, should only be chosen after major permanent items like flooring and countertops have been finalized. Countertops – again if it’s not in the budget to do granite, laminate is an option that can be easily upgraded at a later date with minimal mess and cost. Accent tile – if not in the budget, can easily be added later with minimal cost and mess. Nice lighting fixtures; high end faucets; and fancy knob pulls can all often be added down the road. These secondary choices are all items that can be upgraded if there is more money in the budget. Depending on where the most expensive items come in, we can often find something that is more mid-range for secondary items until more money becomes available to upgrade. This is where it is critical for the Home Owner to communicate what is their top priority when allocating the budget. If granite countertops are a must, but accent tile and a high end faucet can be added later, then that’s how we allocate the budget. 

Then we move on to the final details and accessories. This could be artwork and décor, accent pieces, area rugs, small furniture etc.  Whatever is required to complete the initial design. We have considerable flexibility in the budget here as well.  I can find area rugs or artwork for $5000 or $500. It’s all based on what is most important to the home owner and their budget. Once we have finalized these items we can then see if there is any room left over to upgrade some choices. This is where we might find that instead of the mid-range faucet, we can choose the high-end faucet. Or we do have money for some really nice accent tile instead of the lower cost option we had selected! This is the time when we review the selections we’ve made and upgrade where necessary and where the budget allows to complete the final design to the home owners’ specifications. 

One small note about labour costs; it is always crucial to keep a contingency budget for “unknowns”. Once we open a wall – we may find we need to move or upgrade plumbing or electrical; there may be additional work required that could not be seen until the wall was opened up to expose the “hidden” secrets behind. I try to allocate approximately 10% of the budget for this. As the project moves forward, I can re-allocate that amount if we have not run into obstacles by upgrading to nicer material selections. So I usually have a first choice and a second choice for certain materials – depending upon the budget. This way there is complete transparency for the project budget and the home owner is usually covered for any “issues” that may occur from the original budget. There is nothing worse than having to go back and ask for more money, so I try to budget conservatively with what they give me originally. It’s so much more pleasant to go back and say, we have some extra money – how would you like to spend it? 

Happy planning and happy renovating!

 

Design Planning for Beautiful Spaces

kit1 kit2 kit3 kit4So often I am asked to assist with on-going renovation projects that have already begun. The design selections are made from materials that are available and can meet the required delivery for the project to move forward. This always saddens me. If time for proper planning is spent before the project starts, you end up with a much more beautiful space completed with products and materials you really love!

When design choices are made as the project moves along, you are limited to the delivery schedule of the materials. So if you really love that flooring, or that particular appliance, but the delivery is 8 weeks away and your contractor needs it in 3 weeks – you are often forced to settle for something that is a 2nd or 3rd choice. Certainly not the best scenario when you finally get to do the renovation you’ve been dreaming about for years!

Another scenario is changing your mind part way through a renovation and removing or altering the design. This is simply a waste of precious renovation dollars. Once you have the finances in place, it is critical to ensure you have your design plans also in place, before the first hammer swings! This way your dollars are spent making your design a reality, instead of spending the budget twice on the same area because you changed your mind because you didn’t like it … this is where 3D drawings really help a design project and save money. You can see the finished space before any construction starts, that way you can change or alter designs on paper or in the computer long before it starts to cost you BIG dollars to make those changes!

I encourage my clients to finalize their design long before the renovations ever begin. Our 3D design process allows us to complete the floor plan with furnishings and accessories along with all the materials you would like to use. You can see in full 3D “walk through” exactly how your space will look before you do anything. This is the time to change the paint color, or the appliances, or the flooring if you find you really do not like it. This gives you a realistic look at your new space, tweaking it, until you are completely in love with the space.

Once the design is finalized we prepare the budget based on the materials selected. The budget is taken into account in the initial design stages. Obviously I will not use exotic hardwood flooring in the design if your budget only allows for a mid-range hardwood floor. However, the beauty of 3D design is once you have your budget finalized, if you find you have some wiggle room and wish to upgrade flooring, it’s a simple click away to see your space with that gorgeous exotic hardwood flooring you’ve been dreaming about!

Once we have the materials finalized, then we begin to address the timeline. When is your contractor planning on starting? When does he require the various materials on site? What is the lead time required for the various materials? I usually try to order a little in advance to avoid delivery delays. This allows your project to move along, with minimal delays, with the materials you really want!

The final result, is the beautifully renovated space that you have always dreamed of! So when it comes time to begin planning your BIG renovation, take the time to plan the design and materials before you start demolition. In the end, you’ll be grateful and rewarded with the perfect new space for your family to enjoy!

Virtual Home Staging & 3D Room Design

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When designing any space it’s important to have a strong visual representation before you proceed. Drawing a basic floor plan is critical to ensuring your best layout. Our new 3D Design Services allow us to fully design a room, from floor plan right down to the exact artwork and area rugs on the floor, to the exact flooring and paint colors! This will give you a wonderful representation of your finished space before you ever start your renovation. As an added bonus we are also able to provide a complete materials/labour estimate to coincide with our design, a fabulous tool to help you budget and plan your renovation!

There has been some real interest in 3D Design and Virtual Home Staging.  This is a simple transition from 3D design. We simply design the same space the way we would for Home Staging purposes. We show off the homes’ best features, and can realistically re-do any flaws in paint, flooring or dated décor! For example, if you have a dated home, many home buyers shy away from a home requiring extensive renovations/repairs. Unfortunately, buyers always presume the cost to be significantly greater than what it actually is.  With our 3D Virtual Home Staging, we can not only give them the full effect and 3D Picture images of a complete new design, we can also provide an actual contractor estimate for all materials and labour costs. We can even include the furniture and décor costs if they really want “that” exact room! 

3D Virtual Home Staging allows you to sell the dream of what a home can become by showing buyers exactly what and how to make it happen! Let’s face it – if they are working with a specific budget (as all buyers do) and they see a home they love but it’s at the top level of their price range, then they see yours and see they can turn that home into the same dream home and still have money left over…. Well sounds like a popular HGTV show to me!!

Virtual Home Staging is not only for the dated home. Vacant homes have always been at a disadvantage for marketing. Buyers really have a challenge visualizing how to layout furniture in many areas or seeing if their furniture would even fit! This is often why vacant homes do not sell as quickly or command the same price as well displayed or staged homes. Virtual Home Staging can easily solve this problem. We can easily provide both floor plans for furniture layout as well as the complete 3D virtual Staging pictures of each room! Complete with beautiful décor and a functional well planned layout – it’s the next best thing to actual staging! If you have a limited budget, it is your best alternative!

Virtual Staging is also an excellent option for revenue or rental properties. Quite often when showing rental properties, they simply do not look as good as when a home owner is selling their own home. The Home Owner is motivated, the tenant is not. Virtual Home Staging can again provide the beautiful pictures of what the space could look like, as well as a full materials and labour quote required to turn it into the exact space on the images! Again, you are no longer selling the existing space – you are now selling what it could be! An added bonus, is they know their costs before they buy!

So the next time someone considers Home Staging but has a limited budget or has a tenant and cannot show the space at its best, consider virtual Home Staging. Whether renovating or selling, 3D Design can easily show you the finished look!

How to Manage a Renovation Project

After BeforeManaging a renovation project takes a lot more than good organizational skills. It also takes a wealth of knowledge and experience for things to run smooth. If you have a loan, you need to come in on time and on budget. Having the right people in place, to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, is crucial to a project moving along at a healthy pace. It’s equally critical to ensure they have the supplies they require to complete their job. If you, as the home owner, are managing the project, this responsibility falls on you. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me they plan on managing their own renovation. I also cannot count the number of times these same people have come back to tell me it cost them more money and took much more time, and they’d never do it again. 

If your renovation requires a permit, the City usually requires detailed drawings to be submitted well in advance. This requires planning and complete understanding of the timelines involved. Slight deviations from the plans are acceptable, major changes can easily put you back at square one and cause significant delays. That’s why it is so important to have your design, drawings, material selection, and contractors planned in advance. Basically, know what you are doing, and who is responsible for doing what, before you lift the first hammer!

Time is a huge factor in any renovation.  Quite often, many home owners seriously underestimate the amount of time it actually takes to manage a project. The biggest question I’m asked, is “How do I find good contractors?” References! Talk to everyone! One of the biggest distinctions I’ve seen is that when a Project Manager or General Contractor is involved and a problem occurs (problems arise on jobs – it’s how they are handled that determine the success of the project) someone always wants to blame someone else – drywallers wants to blame the framer, painters blame the drywaller, etc…. . For the average home owner, this can become overwhelming. You need to be on site supervising!  How are you to know who is telling the truth, who’s at fault, or what went wrong. Then you have time delays for fixes, and additional costs for someone to make modifications…it can easily add up and eat into your renovation budget and your work day!

When a G.C. or P.M. is involved, they have dealt with this many times and can stop this situation before it starts. Many of their contracts are written in such a way that a sub-trade is responsible for ensuring their work commences, only when the trade before is completed to their requirements. Once they begin, they have deemed the previous work to their standard, and now accept responsibility to the next stage. This applies all the way down the line. G.C. or P.M. will typically hire the same sub-trades job after job, so each is fully aware of the next one’s expectations/requirements for the job to progress smoothly. The G.C. or P.M. is there daily to ensure this occurs. A home owner may be present, but may not be aware of how something should be done. Couple this with independent contractors, who often have never worked together and are unfamiliar with what the next requires, and you have a recipe for disaster! Mix in a contractor who sees the opportunity to take advantage of a home owner and make some extra money, insisting something needs to be removed and done ”right” by his guys, and there go your hard earned renovation dollars …. This is why references are so important. 

I was at a clients a few weeks ago as she was getting quotes from a contractor, before he was even hired, he was “warning” her he was not prepared to accept responsibility for his work because he didn’t do the job before, he’d have to up-charge her to make it “right” if it wasn’t done right, a few red flags???!! A trade can come in and tape and mud drywall, but if it was not installed correctly, chances are the screws will pop, and the seams will crack. If the home owner is managing the project, it’s up to the home owner to ensure the drywall is installed correctly before it taped and mudded. Is your knowledge base adequate to be comfortable doing so and knowing the job is done well before the next trade proceeds??!! This is the risk and responsibility you take when you manage your own project.

Another huge cost is delays or modifications that occurred because of an incomplete design plan. You plan for a shower but not exactly knowing what type. There are countless models that require different plumbing solutions. You decide you want a shower with multiple body jets as well as the overhead rain shower head, but have already roughed in basic plumbing. Then you are paying to re-do the plumbing to accommodate the change in your plans, waiting for new custom materials to come in, etc. This can then delay other trades, and push your entire job back by weeks – leading to delays and additional costs. This is why it is so important to have the plan completed well in advance. You also have the products and their specifications for installation there well in advance so the tradespeople are able to read the specs and complete the work according to manufacturer specifications the first time. You coordinate the work once and pay for it once. It saves a tremendous amount of money and time.

There are always small obstacles to overcome with any major renovation. Even though I am in the business, when it comes to things I have no experience with, I hire a professional. We’re doing renovations in our home. Installing gas inserts in our wood burning fireplaces is part of the overall plan. It’s not my specialty, so we’ve hired this out. I’ve used the company before for my cottage and was very happy with their work. It’s well worth it to me, to know things are done correctly the first time. It’s one part of the overall design plan. Step by step, systematically, all the parts of the design plan will come together perfectly!