Author archive - Karen GP

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Karen GP

Designing By Numbers

Designing By Numbers

I am often asked  how far, high, amount, etc. things should be placed in a room.  There are some general guideline to use but many factors go into creating a perfect space. The contents in the room, the placement of objects in a room, size of room,  architectural details etc. all play together to make a space perfect.

These tips might help when you are not sure, or find something is not looking quite as you expected.


When hanging a piece of art on a blank wall (no furniture around) the center of the frame should be at eye level- approximately 50-60 inches off the floor.  Above a couch the bottom of the picture is typically hung 6″ above the back of the couch. When grouping pictures of different sizes and shapes in a room on different walls, keep the top of the frames or bottoms level throughout the room depending on objects within the room, and sizes of frames. This allows the eye to easily move around the room. Of course these are only general guidelines but it’s a place to start if you are totally confused.


Light fixtures should hang about 30-34 inches above a table for a standard 8 foot ceiling. If the ceiling is higher add an inch for each additional foot beyond the standard 8 feet. You do not want to be sitting at a table with the light fixture obstructing your view.


Although symmetry can create a calm space within a room, the best way to achieve balance other than symmetry is to work in odd numbers (3, 5, 7 etc. of something) The eye finds this more pleasing.

Speaking of odd numbers, when designing window treatments break the height into thirds also. For instance if you want your curtain to swag on the side of a window have it come either 1/3 or 2/3 down the side of the height of the window.


When putting down an area rug you should consider to have at least 18 inches between the edge of the rug and wall. There are exceptions such as entry ways.

When grouping furniture so guests can comfortable sit and talk place the couch and the armchairs 4-9 feet apart.

Shelving should be open, less is more. Try to keep 30% of the space as open space when adding items. Baskets are a nice way to reduce the cluttered look on shelves.

Kitchen counters… the maximum appliances left on countertops should be no more than 3. Countertops are work areas and they should be kept

Let me know how you have used numbers in helping achieve the perfect room!

Hand-Me -Down / Inherited Furniture- What To Do??

Hand-Me -Down / Inherited Furniture- What To Do??

Many times I go into a house to do a consult and I hear “oh, that piece was my parents”, or “I inherited that.” Followed by “it really is not my style or, it does not fit the space.”  When people downsize or unfortunately pass away, we  inherit furnishing. Many of these pieces are usable in the home spaces, but most people just don’t know how to incorporate them.

floor planWhat to do when the newly brought home piece “does not fit” into the space? If you really love the piece and you cannot find a place in your space, it would be well worth your time and money to call in a professional stager. For a minimal cost they can help you with placement and flow in your rooms.  When the flow of a room is not quite right, subconsciously it can play as a discord  in our minds every time we enter into the room. We forever feel like the newly acquired piece is a misfit, when actually it might enhance the space.


Consider the condition of the piece. For upholstered furniture ask yourself does  the fabric work, does it look tired and worn, are the cushions in good shape? The fabric may looked tired and used, not coordinate with other items in the space, sometimes the seat cushions need to be replaced. The finish on the wood or metal might need some “help.” You can find many products to restore the wood and metal at hardware stores, there is a wealth of fabric on line, or in nearby stores to help get the look you desire. Find a good professional upholster that can help with fabric selection and cushions to reupholster and revive  and harmonize with what you do own.


orginal chairrefurbished chair

Here is a great example from

 Wood pieces can be refinished with stain, wax, painted, varnish, lacquered,  new hardware can be added. Metal pieces can be refinished and painted. Home design stores, magazines, furniture stores can be a wealth of inspiration. The best thing with hand-me downs is the cost- typically they are free, and sometimes better quality .  If you lack the do-it-yourself confidence, call in the pros to help. For minimal cost you will have a treasure to pass on to the next generation.


Home Selling Therapy

Home Selling Therapy

This week I had a fabulous experience with a home seller that reminded me why I love staging so much.

I had visited the sellers a couple of weeks prior to get an understanding of what their goal was and a budget they felt comfortable with. We toured their home and I could tell that they did have pride of ownership, it just currently was not apparent. I went to my office and drew up a plan.

Two days before we were to stage I contacted the home owner who said “I don’t know if I am ready for any of this yet.” I explained that as long as the key items we discussed would be addressed we would be fine. They hesitantly agreed.

I arrived and the concerned look on their faces told me they were uncertain. As I entered the house I had a plan in place and the sellers were ready to help out still feeling, I believe, a little overwhelmed. I explained that selling is tough, it can be stressful and emotional, and you feel like there is so much to be done, but that the house will be buyer ready when we finish. Being ready to show at a moment’s notice will be worth the work we were to embark upon, they agreed to that and we got to work.

Due to the size of rooms and furniture we moved furniture around, and I got to work setting the rooms up to allow buyers to visualize the house as one they wanted to move into. As I finished the first room they were thrilled and became energized to keep plugging along after seeing the difference that was made. We continued through the house, bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room and kitchen. We moved more furniture as they continued to pack items they were ready to move to their next home, organizing and de-cluttering rooms. We added art and accessories to unify the spaces together  and arranged the rooms to allow sellers to connect to the property.   We downplayed the features that were not as desirable and emphasized the beauty that buyers expect in a home. The living room became a open warm space to entertain, the Family room a great place to gather around TV and play a game, the master bedroom a sanctuary to relax in. Check out the results!

The staging day came to an end, the seller could not believe the results and said that it was beyond her expectations. Their stress was lifted because they knew they had made the right decision and the process was a lot easier than they originally expected. They felt confident that their house looked great and would convey better than the competition.

Although there can be stress selling a home, these home sellers felt that home staging was a little like therapy.  Having a solid plan and seeing it unfold to transform spaces  that highlighted the beauty of the home was inspiring to them. A professional home stager has an objective eye to  help transform spaces which these buyers loved and gave them the confidence that they needed.

I LOVE my job!

Money/ Earth Day

Money/ Earth Day

Earth Day is here, we try hard to save energy, be green , recycle, try not to pollute our Mother Earth.  Sometimes it is easier to talk about, think about then really do. Here are some facts about going even a little green in your home to help save some money.

For every $1 you spend on home improvements to decrease annual energy bills, the value of the home increases by $10 to $25 dollars.  So you say big deal, but if you translate this to a 3000 square foot home these numbers can translate to a $8,000 to $25,000 increase in the market value according to The Appraisal Journal. Utility bills are one of the higher expenses in most houses. Some green improvements can lower those bills by as much as 20 to 30% that could be a considerable savings for anyone.

dollar sign

Simple things like insulating your pipes, adding insulation to your attic, weather stripping windows and doors can start saving you money. Of course if you own an older home doing more aggressive up dates like tankless water heaters, and more efficient air conditioners can help save a lot of money. It’s something to consider if you are feeling the pinch of escalating utility cost of your house. It’s also wise because when you decide to sell your home, these improvements will be looked at quite favorably.

Now that’s money in the bank, for being Green- I like that, don’t you?

14 Home Staging Tips to Sell Quickly

14 Home Staging Tips to Sell Quickly

A quick video outlining fourteen important tips for every investor and home seller.

The points Frank speaks about will bring value to the home and help a property sell.

Such As:

  • Staging helps you separate your property from the rest by standing out in the market
  • Staging gives buyers a great first impression which is what they will remember and most likely come back to after looking at many properties
  • Pictures on the MLS will look better, and stand out getting more buyer traffic which is what you need when selling in today’s market where 90% of buyers are now searching online first.
  • Staging allows the buyer to visualize the rooms better, they also know what the buyers in your market like so they will improve the appearance of your home to stratify buyers wants and desires.
  • Not sure of the expense of hiring a professional stager? Consider if you can be objective enough to create an ambiance in your home that a buyer would fall in love with. If you do not have the ability to be objective a Professional Stager is worth every penny.

Thanks Frank Chen for putting together this video!

Get Your House SOLD!

Get Your House SOLD!

Spring, many people put their house on the market this time of year. If you are thinking of doing the same here are some must do’s to have a successful sale….

1. Create a game plan– Putting your house on the market can be overwhelming but if you have a well thought out plan with priorities it can make the whole process much easier. How do you prioritize? First and foremost make sure all repairs that have been on that “to do” list are done. Then set up a room by room strategy to get it organized and ready for selling.

2. Ask – get honest objective feedback from relatives, friends, neighbors about your entire house. Be open minded, and do not take offense. This is the easiest way to start addressing areas that buyers may find a turn off when touring your home.

3. Think like a buyer – once you get that valuable feedback think like a buyer. Remove yourself from your “home” and begin to realize that it is a “house” that someone else wants to envision themselves living their life in, not living your life in. You need to step back and have a new perspective.

4. Know your competition– check them out online, how do their pictures look compared to yours. Drive by them, what is the neighborhood like? Look at the competition to decide why would a buyer possibly pass over your home for another? Make the list of the positives that your house has compared to the competition. Ensure your list is stronger.

Presentation is a significant part of the marketing when trying to sell a home. Little details can make an enormous difference when people are judging one home over another. Those emotional details can easily motivate buyers into liking a property over another. Think like a buyer and you will be well on your way to selling your house quickly!

Color Trends | Spring 2012

Color Trends | Spring 2012

Looking to update your home but not spend a ton of money doing so? Paint is an inexpensive way to give any room a fresh new look. Adding pops of color that are suggested in the pallets below with accessories can add that special touch to complete a desired look in any room of your house.

Spice Life Room

Benjamin Moore room design using Spice Life color pallet


Benjamin Moore have separated out the colors in categories by Earth and Sky, Eclectic Elegance, Spiced Life and Sense and Sensibility. Check out their web site  to view the beautiful palettes and how to create a room with the colors suggested.




Sherwin-Williams 2012Sherwin-Williams uses Mother Earth to create their color pallet of Neutrals, Reds, Blues and Greens. They tell a story in their videos that explain how these fabulous colors can work in any room to evoke emotional responses that we all look for. Click on their link to see what I am talking about.



Pratt and Lambert 2012Pratt and Lambert relates to our feelings using color through shades and hues that create a mood we desire in rooms. Their Essence, Instinctive, Enough, Echo and Expressive color lines each address a way to create a different look that you can convey in a room. Visit them to get inspired.


The color trends created by these company experts start to give you ideas, getting your creative juices flowing and narrowing down the huge range of color. I love the neutrals mixed with the different saturation’s of blues, greens and reds. I would love to hear what inspires you this season to update or change a room.

NBC 10 How to Sell Homes Faster

NBC 10 How to Sell Homes Faster

“Staged” Homes Sell Faster

Click on the link above to find out why staged homes sell faster. Staging a home can result in 78% less time on the market. If you hire a professional stager you will gain 586% return on investment.

Why wait call today to get some professional advice!

Home Improvement Projects | Inexpensive Updates

Home Improvement Projects | Inexpensive Updates

Home improvement either you love to do it, or hate it.

After being in your home for a while you start to look around and see things that might need some updating or just need a change. Then comes the question of how much is this going to cost me…Here are some ideas to help save you some money or inexpensively get an updated look in your home.
paint canThe biggest change and least expensive thing any homeowner can do is paint (but not necessarily this color!). A fresh coat of paint in a room can make all the difference. If you have done some renovations and you may have imperfections on the wall, go with a flat or matte finish it will hide some of those. When using color or deciding on what color to use, find something in your home to give you inspiration. Maybe it is a color in a printed pillow, a shade of color in a picture, rug, throw or an accessory you have.  Use those bits of color to develop a color scheme to update the room. I suggest to clients that are looking to redecorate a room, or those that are thinking of putting their house on the market to paint at least once every 5 years.

The accessories in a room are also something to think about for an inexpensive update. Get some new accent pillows, maybe a new throw or lamp, those small inexpensive purchases can give a big impact most of the time.

If you feel that your kitchen is in need of an update, and you don’t want to do a total renovation, see if you can use the existing layout and possibly just update the cabinet doors, maybe your budget will then allow you to splurge for the granite you love. Maybe a new floor is all your kitchen needs. Objectively look at the space and see if you can work with much of what you have.

Bathrooms are another room that can get expensive to update. Again, can you leave the layout- big savings. Possibly put down an updated tile floor with a larger tile say 12×24 to achieve an update look. Possibly you can find floor models of sinks, faucets, tubs that you have in mind which can save you money. Even just updating the light fixtures can change the feel of the room- especially those builder “Hollywood” light fixture so popular in the 80’s and on! When updating  think of the feeling when you go to a luxurious  spa. The bathroom is a new “retreat” room for many people today.

Keep the 5 year mark in your mind when owning a home. If you have the same window treatments, bedding or pillows, your walls are a little scuffed up, or you still have those posters you hung in college as art, maybe it is a time for a change. These fixes can be inexpensive and make a huge impact in a room. If you have some other idea’s I would love to hear about your home improvements!

Before You List on MLS

Before You List on MLS

Before you have the pictures of your home put up on the MLS here are some improvements that will benefit you greatly and gain a great return.

Home Gain Real Estate Blog posted results from a national survey of nearly 600 agents last year to determine which low cost home improvements will give sellers the advantage in today’s market.  The top five nationwide home improvements are:

  1. Cleaning and de-cluttering ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI / 99% recommended)
  2. Lightening and brightening ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI / 97% recommended)
  3. Home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI / 80% recommended)
  4. Landscaping ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI / 93% recommended)
  5. Repair Electrical or Plumbing ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI / 92% recommended)

Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to be the number one home improvement since the survey was originally conducted in 2003. What does that mean, what does that entail? I suggest to my clients that this is the first step to preparing a home or the market and it is the best time to get packing and organized. It will really save you a lot of time in the long run. Get three boxes one for items that will be moved to your new home,  a bigger one that will be tossed with all the items you have not even looked at or used for the past six months or more, and the smallest of the boxes will be one that you move but holds those items that you really don’t use but have sentimental value (like the first car keys you ever had.) Buyers look everywhere, an organized home will also make it easier for you when you have to have it ready in a snap because a realtor has a showing.

Lightening and brightening means replace all those old outdated Hollywood lights in the bathroom, put 100W bulbs in all the lights in your house, give your rooms light paint colors or a fresh coat of paint. You may have a passion for pine green, but you can paint your new home that same color. Get things up off the floor,  broken window blinds, or outdated curtains off the windows. Now is the time to make your home bright and airy feeling.

Home Staging, this has to do with placement of the furniture, the flow of the room, and how the contents in the home sends a message to buyers relaying an ambiance to the home. This can be difficult for some home owners because they cannot look objectively at their home. A lived in look is not a long for look for buyers. Update pieces of furniture, maybe new bedding and fresh new accent pillows. These are items that you can move with you, so enjoy the indulgence of the update. This is the one area that many homeowners fall short in getting the home ready for the market.  If you do not know where to begin, it is well worth the money to have a professional home stager work within a budget you feel comfortable with to come in and help.

Landscaping and all repairs are important because if you cannot grab the buyer within 10 seconds from the outside, which is all the time you have, they will walk away. Don’t expect  buyers will replace or fix repairs in your home, they will most likely walk away to find a home that is kept up. landscaping

Your expectation to sell your home quickly will be accomplished if you concentrate on the top 5 improvements where they are needed in your home. Your home is now a house that is a commodity that needs to be sold. Make sure you take the best steps to ensure it’s sale. If you have concentrated in these area’s your sure to be on your way to a profitable sale!