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Curb Appeal | How to Impress

Curb Appeal | How to Impress

Ok you decided you are putting your property on the market and over the winter you have been preparing your house. Now that spring is here how about the outside, does your curb appeal impress? What can you do to spruce up the look of your house?


1.      Take a look at the shrubs and bushes around your property, are they cut back so you can actually see the house? Are they trimmed enough so the light can come in through the windows? Are they looking lush or are their bare spots throughout the bush, dead or broken off limbs? If so trim them back so they look lush, and healthy, make sure they frame the house and not overwhelm your house.
2. The lawn; do you have a well established lawn that comes up green and beautiful during the growing season? If not have the soil tested to see what you might need to amend the soil to help the grass come in rich, and full and green. Through the growing season make sure you maintain the lawn by keeping it mowed, patch any bare spots, fertilize and water when needed.

3. Beds that complement the foundation shrubs and bushes. I know many times I see people have taken the first two steps and forget this one. The beds around your home help bring character and charm to your property. By adding colorful annuals you can bring real life to the outside of your home. Annuals give you big color through the growing season in the summer months. Check with you local nursery which plants thrive in your area.

colorful landscaping in beds and along walkwakes

4. Walk ways and driveways are gateways into your home. Make sure they are in good repair. Replace lose stone on the driveway if it has been washed away due to snowplowing or rain. Repair your walkways so no one trips or stumbles. Although to some this may seem like an unnecessary expense it is not. When a buyer sees these things in disrepair they may wonder what other problems lurk within the house.

5. Lighting is one of the easiest I think to update a home. Many times we move into our homes and hate the builder fixtures but never do anything about them. This little investment can make a difference. If you have good proportioned sized lights outside, notice I said proportioned sized lights- many times lights are too small for the area they are to light, make sure they do the job they are suppose to. Also they should be clean and free of cob webs, glass is not broken, light bulbs working.

Be aware that you have less than 10 seconds to make an impression on a buyer. Make sure they don’t turn away but want to go further and explore the house of their dreams!

Other links:

Welcoming Entrance

Quick Inexpensive Curb Appeal Ideas


TV Renovation vs. Realty

TV Renovation vs. Realty

So you think you can renovate your home like they do on TV for the costs they always state? No such luck!

The reality of reno TV is not really reality according to a report in When they checked with contractors to break down the cost of one of the episodes that aired featuring a renovation of a 1200 square foot basements into a full furnished three- bedroom suite including stainless steel appliance, the cost differed quite a bit from the estimated $55,000.

Here are the costs by line item that the contractors estimated were true to their market.Tv reno vs. reality

As you can see the cost is almost double of the estimated $55,000. When you call for an estimate of a project and balk that the price is too high realize you are not on a TV show. Can you save some of the cost yourself? Of course you can if you do yourself, and you should consider doing some of the items you know you are able to do well, by yourself to maintain a reasonable budget if that is your concern. But if you have no idea, or know that it will not turn out as a professional can do, then it is well worth the money to invest having someone help you complete the project. It is similar to asking yourself if you can put a band aide on a cut, or can you do the stitches yourself. Look at the project and be honest with yourself. Knowing the time and the challenges that can occur when doing a project, it is worth every penny to hire a professional when doing a project beyond your own scope.

So in recapping realize that everything you watch on TV is not reality– wow! That when a professional gives you a quote think about the work that goes into the project and honestly ask yourself, can I do it better and for less. Most likely the answer will be spend the money and hire the professional.



10 Low Cost Tweaks to Help Sell Your Home

10 Low Cost Tweaks to Help Sell Your Home

Cabin Fever- Spring Spruce Up

Cabin Fever- Spring Spruce Up

OK this has been one L O N G winter here in the east with the temperatures barley getting above freezing most days and the snow…I am getting a little cabin fever.  I can only imagine everyone else is feeling the same after seeing people’s status updates on G+ and Face Book.

Well, to help with that and get your mind off of the cold Design Solutions is offering a free workshop at the Albert Wisner Library in Warwick, NY. The main focus of the workshop will be ideas that are inexpensive, but give you a big return on the little effort and money invested. We will also set you in the right direction with things that are trending in the interior design world and ways to incorporate them into your décor.

So if you are getting Cabin Fever and are ready to spruce up you space for spring please join us February 27th at 6:30. I know they appreciate people registering before if you can.

Bring a friend and I hope to see you then!

Being Organized Do I Have to Be OCD?

Being Organized Do I Have to Be OCD?

Being organized does not mean that you have to be OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), really! It does help that when you are trying to get organized, spend some time in one room setting up a system that you can maintain on a regular basis. Once you have organized that room you will feel calmer and probably like entering the room. Where do you start?cluttered room

I will suggest to my clients to start in one room that they feel always seems like chaos to them. It could be an office, toy room, kitchen, a closet or simply the entrance way into your home.

Once you identify the one room to start with, identify what is driving you crazy about that room. Is it that you have no storage space, no place to put items, it is the catch all for everyone’s else’s stuff, or too much in one room that is taking up valuable time when you need to find something? Once you identify the problem it becomes easier to address how to correct it.

If you feel that you are lacking storage space, can you build shelves to create more storage space? Using shelving helps sort and store a lot, but they need to stay organized otherwise they just lend to the clutter. Do you have a closet that might be underutilized? By adding an additional shelf or another rod might solve your problem.

Baskets are a favorite of mine to store items in. For one you can put similar items in one and label it for easy identification. They can be decorative or you can get practical plastic tubs to store items. I love that manufactures are now even coloring totes for holiday items, Halloween items etc. Makes it even easier to identify what is stored in that tote.

Everyone’s items that end up in one area, get everyone to pitch in and help. At the end of the day before everyone heads to bed they have to go through the house and pick up all the items, and put away in the proper place. Of course having those spaces organized help them by having a place to put everything away.

Being Organized does not mean being OCD, but having systems in place that can help keep the chaos at bay.

Organizing | Systems to Use

Are You a Piler or a Filer?

Are You a Piler or a Filer?


What am I talking about??!!??

A Piler– you know, the kind of person that has papers piled high up, you think you know where everything because you have multiple piles of them.pile of paper


Or a Filer – as soon as you get a piece a paper it goes into a file either to deal with at a later time or once you are finished with it.

file drawer


Is one better than the other? Not necessarily, it depends on what works best for you and your peace of mind on a daily basis. I find that the best way to get control of the mess that can accumulate is to set up a system, and keep to that system that allows me to find what I need when I need it.

In some areas of my house I have the piles, right now there are piles of left over greeting cards, piles of newspapers to use in the wood stove and piles of bills to be paid. I also have the files of last year’s taxes, current and past clients I work with, files that contain design work and color consults. So either way you choose it, it needs to work for you.

How do you start?

Take a look at those piles and files and what is in them. Sort through everything; yes that means look at every piece of paper in that pile or file.

Create three piles

  1. Keeper that does not need to be addressed every day, but that you need to go back to every so often and keep “like things” together.
  2. Address now, those items that need your attention within a relatively short period, like within the month of time.
  3. The garbage those items that you have hung onto and really have no purpose anymore. These could be receipts from a year ago that have no need for business i.e. the sandwich you might have bought but cannot deduct. Or that instruction manual to the leaf blower that broke a year ago that you threw out, you get what I am saying here. Stay present.

OK so now that you reduced one of the piles it is time to decide what to do with the “Keepers” and the “Address now.” Decide if they have to go into a file and be labeled, or made into a pile. Be careful with those piles though you don’t want them to get too high that you never get to the bottom of them.

Once you set up a system you will find that you feel like your daily routine starting to feel a little more sane. Remember everything that surrounds you exerts an influence on your life. You do not want those things around you turning the energy that you do have, into negative energy. Start small- one area of a room at a time. Set a goal to finish; let’s say your kitchen by the end of the month, and then move to the next room.  As my mother use to say “inch by inch life is a cinch, yard by yard life is hard.”

Keep in tune of your progress!



Organizing and Decluttering a Closet

Organizing and Decluttering a Closet

What a project this always is! Getting into your closets and removing all the things that are cluttering and taking up space; then organizing them, it can be consuming. Think of it this way, by organizing your closet and de-clutter the mess it will help you conserve time later by being that much easier to find things and know what you need. For every down side there is an up side!

colored closet

So where do you begin? Follow these simple steps and you well be on your way to easing the clutter and chaos in your closet. First open the closet doors and take a look at the contents.

Start with taking everything out one item at a time. When doing so create piles.

  • A pile to discard (let’s hope this becomes the biggest)
  • A pile of items you use, want to keep and know you will continue to use
  • A pile of not really sure (we will deal with later)

Pile of clothes

 Now that you created the piles attend to the pile of the items you know you want to keep and use. This one is what you will organize so that you can find things in a closet. Group like things, for instance if you are working in a clothes closet group together all shirts, pants, shoes etc. Then when placing items back in your closet make sure that the “go to” items are easily accessible. So if you have a reach in closet those items that you know you use everyday are front and center. Other items that you do not use as frequently, put toward the outer corners or up high, giving room to the most frequently items.

Along with grouping like things, in a clothes closet you can also group by color which will further ease what you need to find.

Now to deal with the two piles left behind. The one to discard is easy if the items are in good enough condition donate them to Good Will, your local place of worship, or look into local charities. Keep a list when you donate because these items might be able to be used as a tax deduction for you.  Otherwise if the item is not usable, discard it.  No matter what is in that pile it must be removed otherwise those items might tend to creep back into your organized closet.

The next pile, the one you are not really sure of… honestly look at the condition and see if you can possibly sell any of those items locally on Craigslist, local second hand shops, there are Face book Groups that have local yard sales look for them in your area if you are on Face book. Or you can also try selling on EBay. This pile may take a little longer to remove but with effort and time you will be pleased with your results.

Organizing Your Kitchen and Food Part 2

Organizing Your Kitchen and Food Part 2

Ok you have started to organize your kitchen starting on the inside, all your cabinets and drawers are in order now is the time to tackle your food.

As I said in Organizing a Kitchen Part 1, if you have food on your floor pantry you have too much and need to either start eating more, entertaining more, stop buying as much, or give some away to your local food pantry! We as a nation tend to purchase more than we can ever consume, like really, what are those people doing with all that food on that Extreme Couponing show anyway?!!?

Ok so how do you get organized with your food? First start pulling everything out of your pantry and look at the expiration dates of your food, anything that has expired goes in the trash. As you are pulling out your food group the packages like a grocery store does, by “like items” all soup together, all cereals together, all pastas together, all… you get the idea. Then edit. I do have to say that those staged selves with multiple of the same thing are beautiful to look at, but really who has that that much of the same thing? Edit your items, make sure what you have in your pantry is fresh.pantry


When placing items back group like things; oatmeal with cereal and pop tarts for example on the same shelf so your family knows where to locate these items, and better yet, knows what shelf to put them back on. This is also helpful because it will make your shopping list easier to compile when you need to. If you cannot remember what you need to purchase you can open up the cabinet door and voila you can immediately see what you are getting low on.

Next move onto your refrigerator, and edit and organize what lurks behind those doorsOnce a week I strongly suggest go through and check all those mysterious packages that have accumulated throughout the week. Many things that have been in your refrigerator cannot be stored indefinably as some might believe. The site outlines safe time limits in an easy to read chart that could be good to print and put on the fridge if you tend to leave food stored for a while.

food safty chart

organized refridgerator








Now that you have organized cabinets, drawers, pantry and refrigerator you are well on your way to a well organized easier to use kitchen. Having problems feeling like you can accomplish this? Contact me, I will be happy to help.

Organizing a Kitchen Part 1

Organizing a Kitchen Part 1

The kitchen can tend to be one room that becomes the collection spot of everyone’s “stuff.”

How do you control all of the mess, and keep things in order and organized in one of the busiest rooms in your home, your kitchen?

If your kitchen counters are anything like mine they are the dropping ground for everything, and I mean everything! My husbands’ tools, my daughters’ dog leashes, my sons’ latest computer part project and it goes on, but you get the idea. In order to have peace of mind I start with the inner parts of the kitchen and then work out. Huh? I make sure that my cabinets and drawers are in order and without a lot of extra stuff to keep my piece of mind.

Remember, if you are limited on space you have to get smart to get organized, going upward always can give you more space to store things. For your dishes, keep the items that you use the most on the bottom shelves and stack like things up, those items you use less keep higher up so they are not using up key valuable space. If you feel things will topple think of getting some cabinet organizers that will add additional shelving that you might need.extra shelves


Another way to get organized in your cabinets is keeping like things together. When we finally renovated our kitchen I said I wanted all baking items next to the oven, while all cooking items over near the cook top. It may seem simple, but believe me, when actually baking or cooking having everything in the vicinity of the task you are doing makes working in the kitchen enjoyable.pot rack



While sorting through kitchen cabinets really be honest with yourself and ask: when was the last time I used this? If your answer was over a year ago, consider giving it away. If it is something you use for holiday entertaining then it definitely can go to the top and back of a cabinet if you know it is a family favorite, or better yet stored in the attic next to that particular holiday decorations that you only pull out for that celebration.

Once you get your drawers, cabinets organized, sorted and in order; next you have to deal with food storage. Food storage in  the pantry and refrigerator needs to be organized too. As I say to many clients, if you have to store your food on the floor of your pantry you have to either start eating up faster, buying less or give some of it to a food pantry, SERIOUSLY!… and this will be for my next blog, ideas for food storage.

Organizing Your Kitchen and Food Part 2

Organizing Your Life to be Easier

Organizing Your Life to be Easier

The title sounds good right? Organizing your life to be easier; but how do you do that with work, family, commitments coming at you from every direction?

We all have hectic lives, I run my Home Staging business in Orange County NY and have a family, participate in clubs and activities on a daily basis; probably much like you, so how can you gain your sanity? The first thing to do is realize what you need to do and how much time it takes to do each item. Realizing how much time additional tasks require will help you organize and prioritize.

keep calm

Having a checklist can help some people keep track of what they have done and what needs to be done. When you have a lot on your plate it is easy to forget things, and then you feel like you get nothing done. Set up a routine by segmenting your day by morning/afternoon/evening and extra tasks. Divide those segments of the day with what you need to do.

An example for the morning would be everything from getting ready in the morning, making the bed tiding up the bedroom, making and eating breakfast and pulling out something for dinner picking up and then collecting items before heading out the door. Do the same for each segment of the day.

Realize what the extra tasks are that need to be accomplished,  theses are the odd jobs that you need to decide when and where to fit them in each day to tackle the extra craze.

Set yourself a schedule if you have to if it makes it easier. I have a friend that goes so far as designating each day of the week for something extra she likes to do for herself. Monday’s she concentrates on her beauty routine because Monday starts with M like makeup, OK little too much for me too, but do whatever works so that the craze of life becomes easier daily.

And don’t forget, although everyone has pressures and you feel they may be putting demands on you, it’s OK to say no if you cannot do something. Be honest to yourself.

Set your goal for 2017 to have an easier life!