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Creating Beautiful Vignettes

Creating vignettes is probably the most fun part of my home staging work. If furniture and artwork is the dress for the room, then vignettes is the jewelry. They create visual appeal and draw attention to the most important parts of the room I want to highlight and emphasize their charm. For example, a beautiful countertop, a stained glass window with a great view, a fireplace with vintage tiles, a newly renovated relaxing bathroom. Or take attention away from the elements that are not very desirable to be seen: an unattractive view, a low ceiling area, old fixtures, etc.
 
Vignettes are one of the most important parts of staging design.
 
Vignettes are seemingly easy to create by following the rules. Some of the rules are: collect items in odd numbers with various heights and textures; match some parts of the vignette to the colours present in the room and the house; make sure the scale of the vignette works with the scale of the surrounding pieces of furniture and artwork.
 
However, in real life I found that the best vignettes come out by breaking those rules and just going with intuition, with a gut feeling of what looks right.
 
Furniture and artwork also can become a part of a vignette, and they are great to fill empty spaces to show the scale and suggest a function of an awkward layout. Outdoor vignettes work well when there is a lack of landscape design.
 
Using unexpected or quirky items in a vignette creates a memorable experience and makes a lasting impression of a home without overpowering its main features, and especially when a home does not have a lot of features to remember.
Vignettes are a fantastic staging tool, the possibilities are endless, and if you are preparing your house for sale, do not forget to incorporate them in your decor.
 
When you are just starting, follow the rules I mentioned above. Use 3 items of different heights and create asymmetrical groupings. Even though symmetrical vignettes seem to be easies to create, they are tricky ones to make properly, and you may end up with static compositions. Try a painting or a framed photograph as one of the elements and draw the colour from it.
 
Inexpensive items work just as good as pricey ones, so do not invest in decor items from Chintz right away, but start with items purchased on a garage sale or an antique store. I included a few photos of my vignettes for you to get the ideas. Perhaps you can make even better ones.
 
The main thing, have fun with it – good luck! And feel free to contact me if you need help.
 

 


La Biennale di Venezia: a Dream Comes True

A trip to Venice is always such a treat but this year it was very special for me.
La Biennale di Venezia is one of the most famous and prestigious art exhibitions in the world, founded in 1895. I first heard about it when I was in school and I put it on my bucket list back then. And this year (it’s the 58th Biennale) I am lucky to check it off and my dream came true!
 
The title of the exhibition this year is “May you live in interesting times”.
«The title of this Exhibition could be interpreted as a sort of curse – stated President Paolo Baratta – where the expression “interesting times” evokes the idea of challenging or even “menacing” times, but it could also simply be an invitation to always see and consider the course of human events in their complexity, an invitation, thus, that appears to be particularly important in times when, too often, oversimplification seems to prevail, generated by conformism or fear. And I believe that an exhibition of art is worth our attention, first and foremost, if it intends to present us with art and artists as a decisive challenge to all oversimplifying attitudes.»
 
We do indeed live in challenging times and I saw it reflected in the artworks presented at the exhibition. Some of it I saw as apocalyptic, dark, and desperate, and some as happy, hopeful, and full of light. There are 89 countries who presented their art this year and it was impossible to see it all in one day. But almost everything we saw was thought provoking, challenging the traditions and fashions, and overall, extremely entertaining. I definitely recommend attending this special event if you are in Venice and even making a special stop on your travels.

 


Creating mood with focal points

When I do home staging consultations, I often see beautiful rooms where the best features are hidden or obstructed. That means, they do not fulfill their function as a focal point. Focal points are necessary for every room to draw buyers’ attention, guide them along the house, and distract from negative elements. Focal points is one of the main marketing elements that sellers have in their arsenal of home staging tools. Positioned and emphasized correctly, focal points create positive emotions, enhance balance, and help define functions of the rooms. Which in turn helps buyers feel good about the property even though they may not fully understand why.
Every room should have at least one focal point, no matter how small. Some rooms have more than one. It is usually when one of the elements is a natural feature, like a gorgeous view, and the other is added, like a painting.
Common focal points include fireplaces, kitchen islands, chandeliers, and vignettes.
Some already exist in the house, and some need to be created. If a room lacks character, the easiest way to add it is to hang a beautiful bright picture, add a large vase with fresh flowers, or replace the light fixture. A beautifully styled bookcase will make a great focal point in a family room, an office, or a den.
Vignettes made of decor items like vases, sculptures, and books, make wonderful focal points. Make sure you use large items, with various heights and textures. Groups of three items are classic, but it’s OK to break this rule and experiment with different number of objects.
What does not make a great focal point? Huge TV screen is just a black rectangle with heavy visual weight and does not add any pizzaz. It’s best to position it in a way that it is not the first thing buyers see when they enter the room.
If you have an unpleasant view from a window just opposite the entrance to the door, it is best to create an alternative focal point with dramatic artwork or vignette to draw the attention away from the window.
Make sure that the focal point is not obstructed. On the photos below you can see how buyers walk into this room and face the back of the sofa. It takes away from the focal point and creates a subconscious message “stop here, you are not welcomed to this room”. By adding a large piece of art to the fireplace, removing the sofa and opening up the room, a welcoming feeling was created and an invitation to the buyers to envision themselves enjoying a conversation around the fireplace. A feeling like that will stay with the buyers and will help them make a decision about buying the house.
After the sellers made the changes, the house sold fast. Thank you, focal points!

 


How to live comfortably in your staged home

When I do my staging consultations, I sometimes hear: “but we need to live in this house while it is on the market!” The funny thing is that the sellers often say it even before I made any staging recommendations. For some reason, many sellers think that staging their house will cause major inconveniences. But in reality, it is rarely so.
 
Here are some points that will help you understand how the process of living in your staged home can be stress free.
 
Relax.
You did everything that you possibly could to prepare your property for sale and now it is in the hands of your trusted Realtor. And the Universe! Think positive and know that your perfect buyer is on the way.
Most likely, during the staging process you had to remove and pack up a lot of items and it now looks and feels more spacious and harmonious. Enjoy these feelings, and take a mental note that this is how you want to feel in your new place too.
 
Take photos.
After the house is staged by a professional stager, many things may not be in those places where you originally put them. Because they were moved and placed for a specific reason, it is important that they stay there. Of course, you may need to move something to accommodate your lifestyle. Don’t stress about it. If you take photos of all areas where changes were made, it is easy to put things back as soon as you know that you have a showing coming up.
 
Exercise good habits.
Or start developing them. Put things back as soon as you finished using them, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, fold away your clothes, etc. It’s also a good time to teach your kids to clean after themselves. If you have young kids, get a basket for the toys and ask them to put the toys in the basket as soon as they finished playing. And remember to remove the paperwork from your desk. Before you know it, everyone in the family has a habit of keeping their stuff neat and organized.
 
Have your checklist ready.
I always give sellers an open house and showings checklist. It is a very handy way to get your house ready when you are planning for an open house or if you have a showing coming up on a short notice. Chances are, after a couple of times of going through the list and performing the tasks, you will feel confident and will be ready to show off your house in just a few minutes.
 
 

 


Give Your Kitchen Some Love

Spring is traditionally the season when we love to clean, declutter, purge, organize, and detox. When I think about where to start, the kitchen comes to mind as it’s truly the heart of the home and everything starts here: lovingly preparing meals for our families, interacting with friends while getting ready to entertain. Lately, it has also become popular to use the islands and nooks to set up a place to put your laptop and enjoy a cup of coffee while checking email. As a result, it can become very busy, cluttered and even dysfunctional.
If you decided that you had enough and are ready to enjoy a nice place to cook, entertain, and relax, then use these guidelines. And if you are thinking of selling your house this spring or this year, it’s never too early to start. You will enjoy your beautiful kitchen and be ready when the time comes to put your house up for sale.
 
Sort by function.
Nothing is more stressful than trying to locate things when we need them. Especially when we’re searching through the things we don’t need! Start by going through your cupboards and eliminating duplicates, things that don’t belong, or are hardly ever used. Make sure you have a designated spot for things you use daily and toss or give away the rest. Do the same with the food items. Remember, even small cupboards will look large when they are 1/3 empty. The buyers will definitely open each and every one of them to see if their stuff will fit!
 
Choose what to display.
A wonderful thing about kitchens is that you can choose what to keep inside the cupboards, and what to display. A lot of kitchen and food items are very pretty and can serve as decor items and become part of the design. Use open shelves to showcase the pottery you bought at a local market, and fill a wooden bowl with root vegetables or colourful tropical fruit. If you have designers’ pots and pans, they can be displayed on hanging hardware. However I do not recommend it when you have the house on the market as it may distract the buyers from seeing the best features of your kitchen.
 
Create a flow.
It is very important how easy it is to use the kitchen and navigate between its functional parts. It is important in order to minimize the daily stress but also to show your potential buyers how they can enjoy using the kitchen. If you have some free standing furniture, it may interfere with the flow and give your buyers an impression of not enough storage or prep space. After you declutter your cupboards, it it it probably possible that you can get rid of extra furniture. Also, if you have a breakfast area, make sure that it is set up in a way that allows easy access in and out. Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than bumping into chairs or corners.
 
Bring freshness from the outside.
I said it before and I will say it again: one of the easiest ways to make people happy (and that includes your family members and your potential buyers) is bringing nature inside. Put a large vase with fresh cut flowers on the kitchen table and a couple of pretty potted plants on the window sill. They will bring a smile to your face every time you enter the kitchen and it will make it more welcoming for the buyers.
 
Happy staging and decorating!

 


Use flowers in home staging to wow the buyers

I really love flowers. In fact, I am a bit crazy about them! You can find them everywhere in my house.
Flowers bring so many positive emotions to our life and excite almost all our senses. And now, every corner store has them on display – why not take advantage and use them to decorate your house for spring?

Front door – as you approach your entrance, the flowers say “welcome home” and put a smile on your face.
Foyer – flowers look great on a console table or a window sill. If your foyer is dark or small, flowers will create an instant “upgrade”!
Office – I always keep a small planter with bright blooms by my computer. Just as I take a break from staring at the screen, I look at them and… ahhhhh…and I smile!

Dining room and kitchen – dining table, kitchen countertop, window sills – chose one or fill them all. There is no limit, in my opinion. It is difficult to overdo flower decor in your home!

And if you are preparing your house for sale, I cannot emphasize enough how important flowers are for staging! The main goal of all your staging activities is to create strong positive emotions about your home in your potential buyers and all your activities should focus on that. Plant flowers on your front lawn and by the front door for a happy first impression. Put a vase with fresh cut tulips or blooming branches in the foyer to say “Welcome home!” Put a small vase on a dresser or nightstand in your master bedroom to create a feeling of love and romance. Add a small planter to your desk to make it look less officey and more homey. Skip the placemats and dishes on your dining table and put a large bright orchid instead – it will last long with low maintenance and will give your dining room a luxurious look. Happy staging and decorating!