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How to Make Your Home Stand Out During a Virtual Tour

Originally published by Lexi Klinkenberg on Redfin

The real estate industry has been shifting to a digital landscape over the years, but no one expected the digital revolution to happen so quickly. We’re seeing the effects of COVID-19 on the housing market, stay-at-home orders have brought most traditional open houses to a temporary halt, and in-person showings few and far between. But if you’re looking to sell your house, don’t worry, you can still make your home shine online and reach potential buyers without face-to-face contact.

Here are 8 tips to make your home stand out against the competition during a virtual tour and impress potential homebuyers.

1. Enhance your space with the right lighting

Lighting is an essential component when it comes to creating an eye-catching and a camera-ready atmosphere, and this is especially true with a virtual tour. “Your home will look it’s best on camera if you film in the middle of the day. Keep your window shades open and bring in as much natural light as possible to help the room feel larger and look brighter” says Makayla Zurn, the Creative Production Manager at Redfin. “You can even try layering light by turning on lamps and accent lights to create a warm and cozy atmosphere”, says Zurn. “Just be sure to avoid artificial lighting that overpowers the space too much. “

2. Transform rooms with the perfect paint color

Whether you have faded and scuffed walls in the living room, or a bright orange accent wall in your kid’s room, take this opportunity to repaint the interior walls and opt for a camera-friendly shade. This is an easy and inexpensive fix that 68 percent of realtors recommend. “Lighter, neutral paint colors show best in a video while darker colors tend to make spaces look smaller than they actually are,” says Zurn. “If you’re showcasing a room with darker paint it would be helpful to note the measurements of that particular space in the description.”

3. Clear your home of clutter

During a virtual tour, potential homebuyers will try to imagine your home as their own. This can be difficult if you have areas in your home where things have slowly piled up over the years. “Personal items can take a buyer’s attention away from what you really want them to focus on, the features of your home!” says Zurn, “So clear off your kitchen and bathroom countertops, make the beds, and tidy up.” Maybe you have a pile of paperwork in the kitchen, excessive cords in your home office, or perhaps a box filled boardgames in the living room. 

Find permanent homes for items that are sitting out, or donate things you no longer need.  To create a more open and calming atmosphere, try removing an item or two before taking photos and filming.  One trick is to clear off any surfaces, and then add items back one-by-one until the desired look is achieved.

4. Get your home looking spotless

Cleaning is one of the simplest ways to create an appealing interior. Potential homebuyers will be able to detect a clean home from a dirty one, even over a virtual tour. Washing mirrors and windows, vacuuming hardwood floors, deep-cleaning carpets, and organizing your closets are just a few tasks that will make your home look more attractive. Furthermore, the potential homebuyer may even ask the agent to describe what they’re experiencing on the property, including certain smells and the cleanliness of the home. So make every inch of your home shine, from floor to ceiling.

5. Stage for a picture-perfect home

Staging is now more important than ever. Begin staging rooms that could influence the buyer’s decision, including the entryway, living room, main bathroom, master bedroom, and kitchen. Remove or rearrange furniture to make space appear larger, add flowers to the kitchen table for a splash of color, and arrange decor in odd numbers to achieve balance. To help potential buyers picture themselves calling your house home, remove any family photos or keepsakes. Look online for inspiration and tips, chat with a professional stager over video, or consider a virtual staging service. This is a cost-effective service where home stagers use photo-editing software to transform rooms by adding furniture and decor into the photos of your home.

6. Have professional photos taken 

Although additional safety measures are being taken during the Coronavirus pandemic to ensure the safety of you and the professional photographers,photo and video shoots are still being offered. Now, it is especially important to have your home staged and “showing ready” for the shooting, as photographers will not be touching or moving anything inside the homes. The listing photos will be the first thing a potential homebuyer sees of your home and may determine whether they request a virtual tour. So make your home stands out against the competition with professional photos. Real estate photographers know the correct lighting, angles, and minor details that give a much better depiction of the home, capture it’s selling points, and attract the attention of potential homebuyers. If you’d want to showcase your entire property, capture a bit of the neighborhood, or highlight the breathtaking view, consider having aerial photos taken to offer a unique angle of your home.

7. Highlight your home’s best features

What characteristics of your home attracted you to it in the first place? Is it the new kitchen appliances, extensive breakfast bar, large outdoor space, or simply the open floor plan? Whatever it may be, it’s likely that your favorite features of the home will be what attracts potential homebuyers as well. So, be sure to give special attention to these features in photos and during a virtual home tour.

8. Spruce up the exterior

Enhancing your curb appeal is just as important as sprucing up the interior of your home. A well-maintained landscape, lawn, and porch can make a great impression on potential homebuyers and can add perceived value to your home. Remove any dead debris, mow your lawn, and trim the plants or shrubs lining your property. Consider re-staining your front porch, pressure washing the siding of your home, and adding flowerpots to enhance the entryway. And if you have any outdoor furniture, be sure to stage it as you would with your furniture inside.

Virtual tours are now more important than ever. Be sure to take time and prepare your home for showing just as you would for an in-person tour, and show your home in the best light.

 


How to Improve Your Life When Working from Home

 I imagine that by now many of us are all used to this new reality of working from home and have all our routines and productive habits nailed down. And now comes another question: how can we still have a feeling of sanctuary when we are working from home and staying here almost 24/7?  Here are my suggestions:

  1. Create a very clear boundary between the working and home environment. This can be done by limiting your work area to your home office or den only. Or setting up working hours. After you leave your home office (whatever it is) at 5 pm, make sure to mentally flip the switch of your mindset to the family, relaxation, or entertainment time.
  2. Schedule some time to decorate your space. I am serious – it is very relaxing and recharging. It helps to take your mind away from stressful thoughts and get into a meditative mode. Choose an area, collect decor items, pictures, etc, and let your creativity soar. Once created, you will be surprised how pleasing it is to rest your eyes here in between your Zoom meetings.
  3. Of course, not everyone is interested in home decor. What is your state of flow? You may have one already, like painting or knitting. Or it’s a perfect time to explore your creativity and start a new hobby. Make a list of things you always wanted to try but never had time to. It may even be something as simple as sorting and digitizing family photos.
  4. Create an isolated reading nook in a quiet area of the house. A comfy chair with a throw, a side table with a lamp, a fluffy area rug, and a colourful artwork. Make sure you have some room to put a cup of tea. Turn off your phone and turn on relaxing music. Indulge all your senses and enjoy your tête-à-tête time with a good book.
  5. Rediscover your green thumb. Gardening outside, creating plant vignettes inside, and playing with plants is one of the best ways to destress and bring oxygen and colour into your rooms.
  6. Set your table every meal like it is a dinner party. Use your best party tableware, napkins, candles, etc. You and your family deserve it!
  7. Is cooking your thing? Now you have more time to try or create new recipes. And how often do we make our food look stunning and food-magazine-worthy as well? What a great way to make your dinners special. And if you have kids at home, it is a great time to get them involved.
Enjoy your #stayhome time in your beautiful relaxing home!

 


Working from Home? 10 Tips to Stay Productive

How has your “stay-home/self-isolation/quarantine” experience been this March? If you’re like me and have had your home office for over 10 years, it’s only a small change. But for many, it’s the first time entering the exciting world of the unlimited potential and skyrocketing productivity of working from home. Right??No time spent on putting makeup on, no commute, no lining up for a Subway sandwich. What else… maybe even no shower? and you only need to dress up from the waist up if you’re on Zoom. Then why do we often stare at the clock in disbelief: what?? it’s already dinner time? I know how you feel, because I know it’s hard. This is why I always look for ways to improve the way how I work from home. Here are some tips I find helpful.

  1. Your work environment is very important and its’ aesthetics plays a significant role in how much you enjoy your work. I surround myself with beautiful objects that also have special meaning: artwork, photos, etc.
  2. The lighter the better! Natural light keeps you awake, so pull up those blinds. Add some extra light with a table or floor lamp. I also have a Himalayan Salt Lamp sitting on my desk. It supposedly changes the charge of the surrounding air by producing ions that have health benefits. This may be a myth, but I like it.
  3. Make space work for you. Optimize your desk, its drawers, and all storage areas. Put all your office supplies where they are easy to reach and have some logic to it. Have a place for everything and follow your rules.
  4. Add some greenery – this is often overlooked and I do not see a lot of home offices with healthy plants in them. But they make such a big difference. They clean the air and create a nice spot to rest your eyes and feel calm during a break.
  5. Speaking of breaks: get up and go for a walk. Come back energized and full of energy. Schedule your breaks so that you have at least 2 walks a day. So helpful in today’s stressful situation.
  6. Establish the rules, for yourself and your family. Set up your office hours and let your family know that if the door to your office is closed, you are at work. If you do not have an office with a door, use headphones to send the same message.
  7. Use productivity apps. The ones I like are Tomato TimerA-Tracker, and Todoist. Calendar blocking works well for many people too. These apps help stay on track, know where you spent your time, and remind you to take active breaks.
  8. Schedule your lunchtime and stick to it. One of our strongest distractions is the fridge. Have your meals planned and portioned, and remember that sugar and too much caffeine are not your allies for a productive workday.
  9. Enhance your environment with aromatherapy. Many essential oils are well known for their properties of improved focus and concentration: vetiver, lavender, cedar wood, rosemary, peppermint, lemon, cypress, patchouli. Have a diffuser quietly working for you in your office.
  10. Find a productivity buddy. This is kind of a last resort but it may help you if anything else fails to keep you productive and accomplish all your daily goals. You can check-in with your buddy at the beginning and the end of the day and report on your wins and challenges.
  11. Bonus tip: pat yourself on the back and celebrate your success! Look at what you have accomplished at the end of the day rather than what you failed to do. Have a glass of wine with your honey, take a relaxing bath, FaceTime a friend, just make it meaningful and fun.

 


Staging Your Master Bedroom fro Success

The Master Bedroom is the most important bedroom to show when you are selling your house. You want not just to show it, but to show it off. Remember, your potential buyers are looking for their ideal imagined lifestyle. They may have a perfect life right now and a happy marriage, but maybe not. But regardless of their present situation, you need to show them what is possible in their new house. The feelings you want to evoke when they walk into your master bedroom is romance, love, luxury, relaxation, elegance, calm, spotless. Think about your most romantic night: perhaps it happened in a posh hotel? This is how you want your master bedroom look, that’s your goal. And if you think that this is impossible, or very expensive, or needs a complete makeover, you are wrong. Here are a few tips on how to achieve this goal.
 
  1. Paint. Hopefully, your bedroom is already painted in a colour that promotes relaxation: soft light greens, beige, blue, or grey. If not, consider re-painting it. This is a small investment that will bring a big return.
  2. Create balance. Make sure that most of the settings are symmetrical. and well-balanced. According to Feng Shui principles, it is very important to create a feeling of a balanced equal relationship. Nightstands, lamps should be matching. Add some decor items in matching pairs.
  3. Define the function. I said it before, and I will say it again: the room function is very important and should not be combined. Especially in the master bedroom! No computer desk, please. In addition to the bed, if space allows, create a small sitting area with one or two comfy chairs which will serve as a lifestyle element and buyers can visualize having a cup of tea there while reading a book before bed. Make sure there is enough room to walk around it.
  4. Add some sparkle. A large floor mirror reflecting the light is the best. A chandelier with crystals will make it look so luxurious. Do not go overboard though, this is an easy one to overdo.
  5. Dress the bed. Use your best white linens (or buy new ones – you deserve it!), fluffy duvet, and lots of accent pillows. The colours of the pillows should be coordinated with other colours in the room – in artwork and accessories. Cover the box spring with a coordinated bed skirt.
  6. Add artwork and accessories. It is a good idea to add some pictures that promote relaxation or create a feeling of romance. A small tasteful picture or decor item with the word “love” works really well.
  7. Create a focal point. Place the bed in a way that when someone enters the room, it is the first thing they see. The focal point is very important, and it should be unmistakably the bed.
  8. Add window coverings. They should blend with the walls. The windows should not take attention away from the bed, so avoid patterns and bring or dark colours. Simple blinds are totally fine.
  9. Bring flowers. Nothing says “romance” more than flowers. Put a small vase of fresh flowers or a small potted flowering plant on the dresser or a side table.
  10. Clean spotless. Needless to say, you need to clean the room before every showing. Remove all clutter, everything from the floor, magazines, stuffed animals, family photos, and anything that may have your names.
 
Happy staging and decorating!

 


17 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House

Originally published by Ryan Smith on Redfin

Selling your house can be both exciting and stressful, especially if it’s your first time. Regardless
of why you decided to sell your home, there are a number of pitfalls you can easily fall into,
making your home selling experience less than ideal. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the
most common home selling mistakes people make so you can sell your home knowing you
have your bases covered. 

1. Underestimating the cost of selling your house
While you should ultimately profit from the sale of your home, many home sellers forget about
the costs associated with selling a house. For starters, you should expect to use five to six
percent of the total sale price of your home to cover the commissions of both the seller and
buyer agents. For example, if you sell your home for $300,000 you could wind up paying
upwards of $18,000 in commission. 
Furthermore, this hefty cost doesn’t include possible concessions homebuyers might want you
to make during the negotiation phase, such as making repairs suggested by a home inspector.

2. Not budgeting for your move
When you consider the moving process, you have two options: hiring a moving company or
borrow your buddy’s truck and doing it yourself. 
By hiring a moving company, rather than doing it yourself, you’re getting someone who will
pack, move, and then unpack your belongings. This means that a full-service mover can be well
worth the investment when you’re preoccupied with all of the other tasks associated with selling
your home. Not to mention, when you hire movers your belongings are insured so you’re
covered if anything breaks.

3. Selling a house you owe more on than what it’s worth
If you still have a remaining balance on your mortgage, you’ll most likely use a portion of the
sale proceeds of your home to pay off the existing mortgage. Make sure you don’t owe more on
your mortgage than what your house is actually worth or you won’t make enough money on the
sale to pay off your mortgage. The best option is almost always to wait on selling your home so
that it can build more equity. This way you can sell your home and buy a new one without
having two mortgages at the same time.

4. Pricing your home incorrectly
If you price your home too high, your home may fall into the seller’s limbo, sitting on the market for
what feels like an eternity. On the other hand, if you price too low then you will likely sell your
home quickly but you risk missing out on a significant amount of money. 

The first step to understanding how much your home is worth is utilizing an online calculator.
Afterward, meet with your real estate agent to discuss a good pricing strategy for your home.
They will look at other comparable properties in your neighborhood that sold recently as well as
bring keen insights into what the housing market is currently doing. Together, you’ll determine a
good starting price as well as a pricing strategy that will incentivize buyers if your house begins
to sit on the market for too long.

5. Skipping a pre-listing home inspection
Selling a house is stressful enough, even when everything goes right. But if a homebuyer hires
an inspector who catches an issue like mold, pests, or a cracked foundation, then your stress
levels will multiply as you risk losing a potential sale entirely.
Given the affordability of home inspections, there’s not much reason to avoid them. Getting a
pre-listing home inspection will put your mind at ease as you’ll either know that your home is in
sound condition or you’ll be able to tackle problems before homebuyers have the chance to
bring them up during the negotiation phase. If an issue does arise, you can either fix it or you
can let buyers know and then make a concession during the negotiation phase by reducing the
price of your home accordingly. 

6. Not refinishing hardwood floors or cleaning your carpet
If you’re reading this at home, look down. How do your floors look? Even if they don’t look
terrible, there’s a pretty good chance they’re starting to show their age. Since potential buyers
are going to be inspecting every aspect of your home, you should start thinking of refinishing
your hardwood floors and cleaning your carpet.
The best time to have your carpet cleaned or hardwood floors refinished is right before you
stage your home. Since you’ll already be moving most (or all) of your furniture to either a new
home or a storage unit, this is a great time to get your floors done and make them a selling point
to potential homebuyers.

7. Not staging your home for a quick sale
The main point of staging your home is to allow potential homebuyers the chance to picture
themselves living in your space. They get to see a home with furniture and art that’s arranged in
a way that highlights key features of your home, rather than an empty house that echoes every
sound. Staging your home pays off too as 21 percent of agents told the National Association of
Realtors that staging a home increased its’ sale price by as much as 10 percent, making it a
worthwhile investment. 

8. Forgoing professional real estate photos
With the advent of cameras on smartphones, everyone likes to think of themselves as a
photographer these days. Even though that picture you took of your dinner last week looked like
it could be featured in advertisements, you’re still probably not ready to take your own real
estate photos. A real estate photographer will make sure that your home looks great when you
list it because not only do they have the equipment, they understand the angles that best sell a
home. 

If you have a large home, a stunning view you want to show off, or a large amount of land, you
may also want to consider having aerial photos taken of your home. The views that drones are
able to capture are impressive and can help show off your home in a way that will make sure it
stands out from other houses in your area that are on the market. Even better, drone technology
makes this option more affordable than ever before, allowing you to get a lot more bang for your
buck.

9. Trying to sell a poorly lit home
You want to show your home in the best light, so take the time to really gauge the quality of your
lighting by closing your curtains/blinds and looking at each room as though you’re a potential
homebuyer. Make a note of any rooms that are poorly lit or just seem dark and then call an
electrician so that you can have some additional lighting installed. 
Even worse than a poorly lit room, however, is when the lights don’t work at all. Sometimes the
light bulb is just burnt out, while other times the socket itself is in need of repair. Consider calling
an electrician before you begin showing your home to make sure it’s shining its brightest.
Potential buyers (and your bank account) will thank you for the investment.

10. Not making your home energy efficient
If you’d like to spend less on your utility bills, you aren’t alone. A study by the National
Association of Realtors found that 33 percent of homebuyers see high-efficiency HVAC systems
as an important factor when looking at a new home. If you have an older home, you should look
into either retrofitting or replacing your HVAC unit altogether as your current system might be
using a lot more energy than it needs to be. This will ensure that you have a system that is
meeting your home’s needs, while also lowering your utility bill.
If you’re committed to energy-efficiency then there are a few extra things you can do. These
options include making sure your home is properly insulated, ensuring that you don’t have any
leaky air ducts, and buying a smart thermostat. Whichever route you pursue, having an energy-
efficient HVAC system will make your house stand out from the competition. 

11. Not cleaning your house before trying to sell it
Most of us would probably be lying if we said our homes weren’t overdue for a good cleaning,
so don’t forget to check this box before listing your home for sale. There’s nothing more off-
putting during a home tour than realizing the house is dirty, and potential homebuyers may
wonder what else you’ve been neglecting. By hiring a professional cleaning company, you’ll
guarantee that not only is your home spotless but that you’re going to make a great impression
on homebuyers when they tour your house. 

12. Not addressing the exterior of your house
Over the years, your home’s exterior has taken a beating from the elements. With everything
mother nature throws at it every year, the paint on your home’s exterior and the stain on your
deck have likely lost a bit of their luster. So before listing, be sure to pressure wash your house first.

In addition to making sure your house looks its best in the listing photos, you will also
enhance the overall curb appeal when buyers eventually show up for a tour. 
In addition to pressure washing your house and deck, you can also take the time to pressure
wash your garage door, fence, patio, driveway, and any walkways you may have. 

13. You never got around to repainting
One of the first things a potential buyer will notice when they pull up to your home is the paint. If
you want to make a good first impression, then you’ll need to ensure that your home is painted
an inviting color and that the quality of your paint job is top-notch. While the job of repainting
your house might take a few days, the value of painting your house before selling will be well
worth the effort.  A recent study found that painting the exterior of your home has a 51 percent
return on investment. 
Don’t stop with the exterior though! We’ve all seen some pretty questionable color choices on
the walls of homes. If you happen to have lime green or bright purple wall, you’ll want to
repaint them to be a more buyer-friendly neutral color. Doing so will make it easier for buyers to
be able to picture themselves living in your home as it makes them think of your walls as a blank
canvas.

14. Selling a home with a yard in need of some TLC
The other way to make a great first impression is by wowing potential buyers with your yard.
Start by cleaning up anything that may be cluttering your yard, porch, or pathways (things like
gardening equipment or a child’s bicycle). Then you can move onto mowing the lawn, weeding
your garden, and planting some new flowers. If your yard has a damaged pathway, you may
also want to think about fixing or even replacing it as well. 
If these touch-ups seem like a lot to tackle while you’re trying to sell your home, don’t be afraid
to hire a landscaper as the cost is well worth it. A study by Turf Magazine found that a home’s
value tended to increase by as much as 10 to 12 percent after making upgrades to the
landscaping.

15. You have mismatched appliances
Maybe your black stove died a couple of years ago and you replaced it with a brand new
stainless steel one. Or maybe you swapped out that white kitchen faucet you always hated with
a copper one that caught your eye. Either way, the result is mismatched appliances. While it
won’t necessarily impact the overall sale price of your home, many homebuyers are going to
find the mismatched color scheme off-putting, so consider making some changes before you
sell. 
The best way to proceed is to decide which kitchen appliances are your favorite and base the
color scheme off of them. So if that fancy new stove you bought last year is stainless steel, then
make sure your other appliances are too. Luckily, many appliance manufacturers offer discounts
if you purchase multiple appliances with them at once.

16. Lingering during a home tour
Nobody likes a lingerer, especially when they also happen to be the owner of the home you’re
currently touring. If you don’t leave the home during a showing, then potential buyers feel
awkward as they attempt to discuss what they like and dislike about the house. You also
prevent your listing agent from being able to do their job to the best of their abilities as you’re
naturally going to want to answer any questions the buyers have rather than leaving those
questions to your agent. So instead of staying in your home during a showing, try taking the
opportunity to go shopping, run errands, or visit some friends instead. Your agent will thank you.

17. Taking a Lowball Offer Personally
Regardless of your reasons for moving, the fact that you’ve probably lived in your home for
years means that you have a lot of strong feelings attached to it. So when you receive a lowball
offer, it’s natural to be offended. 
Instead of walking away, send them back a counteroffer that you and your real estate agent
think is fair. If they really are interested, then you’ll be glad you didn’t let your emotions get the
better of you.

 

 

 


2020 Decor Trends

1. Colour-Pop Kitchens.
If you are tired of all-white kitchens, you are not alone. It looks like the era of them, which started in 2010, is coming to an end. The trend in 2020 is to choose one or several elements, like the kitchen island, kitchen wall cabinets, or base cabinets in daring colors, like dark red, bright yellow, green or navy blue.
 
2. More is More.
Scandi style that has been gathering fans for many years, is taking a back seat. In 2020 we are going to see the return of an over-decorated look, going all-out with layers of fabric, colourful artwork, and mixing patterns and prints. More rugs, more pillows, more everything. Go ahead and go crazy – maximalism is back!
 
3. Olive Trees.
If 2019 was the year of the dramatic fiddle leaf fig, 2020 will be the year of the much subtler olive tree. Instead of blooming bright green, these trees are a more sophisticated sage. Although this ancient species is typically an outdoor plant, they are becoming a popular choice for indoor gardeners, especially in modern country homes. With its delicate, soft green leaves and thin grey branches, an olive tree will make an elegant statement.
 
4. Florals
The thought of flower-power wallpaper make many people flinch, but 2020 might be the year they want to revisit florals with a new approach. Floral wallpaper has been around for years but this year it is becoming much more modern. Larger scale, bolder colours, metallics – all are a particularly good choice in bathrooms and foyers.
 
5. Pantone 2020: Classic Blue.
The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is Classic Blue (a navy shade), which means you can expect to see a lot of the color in the new year. It’s very versatile and sophisticated. “Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era,” says Pantone. This colour is intended to inspire a clear, peaceful mind.

 


Prevent Holiday Stress with Houseplants

We hear and say “Happy Holidays!” in December many times a day, but we all know that for many of us this time of the year is very stressful. And if you have your home for sale at the same time, it only adds more stress to your plate. There are a lot of recommendations one can find online about how to reduce stress and make the holidays a happy and joyful time of receiving and expressing love, spending quality time with kids and spouses, being outdoors, while minimizing consumption and the rat race of gift shopping.
These’s one more tip I would like to offer : get a little help from houseplants. I can never say enough about how important it is to incorporate plants in your decor when you have your home on the market. Here’s why:
  • they clean the air, add negative ions, and make your spaces feel happy
  • they bring the outdoors inside, so it doesn’t matter if the weather is gloomy, your home can be still be in bloom
  • they fill empty corners to create a balanced look, give a sense of scale, and can function as focal points
  • they make the space look cozy, inviting, and colourful
  • they can minimize imperfections and draw attention to the important features of your home
And this is how houseplants can help you to deal with the stress of the holidays and keeping your house showings-ready:
  • You can meditate while looking at the plants and noticing their shapes, textures, and colours, and inhale their aroma if you have planted herbs
  • Speaking of the colours, green is the colour of the heart chakra, so by focusing on it you can feel more gratitude, love, and appreciation for everything you have in your life: your loved ones, your home, your opportunities, your gifts. Just like your plants – they show appreciation of your care by growing and blooming.
  • Taking care of plants will remind you to take care of yourself. What will be the activities you can do to mimic watering, dusting, trimming, getting plenty of sunlight, etc?
  • Accept imperfections. Nothing is perfect, including the space you live in. But you do love it, and you can feel positive that somebody else will love it as their new home. It may take some time, but learn patience from your plants, as they grow beautifully without being perfect.
Happy staging and decorating!

 


“Do I Have to Stage My Closets Too???”

When I do a staging consultations for my clients, I sometimes see the following situation: when sellers start to declutter their homes, they take piles of their stuff lying around on the surfaces and jam them in the closets. That way they think that the decluttering problem has been solved and the house or the condo will show well.
However, I always explain that this is not the case! During the showings, 99.9% of the time the buyers will open closets, cupboards, crawl spaces, etc, just to see if their stuff will fit there. And these days, as we all know, everyone has a lot of stuff.
Here is a trick about storage spaces. When they are full, they look smaller than they are, and when they have breathing room, even small closets look decently spacious.
So, what to do? Start preparing for the move. It will benefit your home during showings and you will be well on your way to be ready to move into your new home because a lot of your stuff will be packed up. Collect everything you do not need on a daily basis, or can live without, etc. Seasonal items are a good example. It also a good time to take a closer look and make a decision on what you actually do not want to take to your new place. It’s easier to get rid of it now (sell, donate, throw out) than unpack in your new home and realize: why on earth did I pack and take it with me?
 
A few more tips for preparing your closets for showings:
  1. Remove everything from the floor, including shoes. If you have a shoe rack, only keep the shoes you wear often.
  2. Get decorative baskets or boxes (not see-through) for the shelves and keep all the “loose” items inside. This way you will have an easy access but the look will be tidy and organized.
  3. Invest in good quality hangers (wooden are the best) and keep the consistent look in all closets. No wire dry cleaner’s hangers please! Make sure there is a lot of room to hang more clothes. The rule of thumb: keep them at least 1/3 empty.
  4. Keep the closets clean and take care of the walls inside just as you will for the outside. Clean the scuffs with a Magic Eraser, or paint if necessary.
  5. Adequate lighting is important. Use bulbs with maximum wattage, clean light fixtures and make sure they are not obstructed by bins and totes.
  6. Keep in mind the function of every closet. If the buyers see pots and pans in your linen closet, they will think there is not enough room in the kitchen cupboards.

Happy Staging and Decorating!

 


Warm up the buyers for fall showings

Whether you are getting your house ready to sell, or it has been on the market for some time, fall is the perfect time to warm up the buyers, making them feel cozy and at home. We all know how important feelings are when it comes to making a buying decision, no matter what we are buying. Creating these feelings is easy!
  1. Put together a reading nook in the master bedroom with a comfy chair, a soft throw, a book and a tea set.
  2. As days are getting shorter, make sure to add extra lamps with warm-toned bulbs and highlight the focal points of the rooms.
  3. Set a dining table centerpiece with colourful candles and a large bouquet of fall flowers.
  4. Display vases of fall foliage and bowls of seasonal fruit throughout your home.
  5. Now is the time to turn up your fireplace for showings.
  6. Add luxurious touches to the beds with layers of plush throws and oversized pillows.
Happy staging and decorating!
 

 


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.