Category archive - Helpful Solutions

5 Important Lessons Learned As A Professional Stager

5 Important Lessons Learned As A Professional Stager

I have seen a lot of houses through the years being a professional stager. I have learned a lot in those years too. Not only business wise, but also ways that can help people when they are decorating their houses. One thing to keep in mind is that…

Everyone Sells Eventually

As a professional stager I think I have seen it all, and then I go to a house and say, nope never saw this. So here are a few take-a-ways that can help any homeowner when decorating or updating their house.

Measure your room before you purchase furniture, and go SLOWLY when purchasing items. We tend to over consume here in the USA, thinking we need the entire set of something when shopping in a furniture store. When it is time to sell I hear “I can’t give this stuff away!” So consider the essential piece first, place it in the room, get the feeling for it in the room, then and only then add to the room.

when decorating start with a few key pieces and build the room from there

Hire someone, if you are not trained in finishes and color. I have entered into many half a million on up homes only to see none of the finishes correlate to one another. What a waste of money! You builder is trained in construction NOT finishes. The store clerk can tell you what looks good in the store, but has no idea about the rest of your house, your style, light in rooms etc. Hire a designer or decorator that can assist you with these expensive choices. They should be able to tell you why your pink travertine tile you love does not go with Uba Tuba granite. Why the highly veined marble does not go with the trending retro revival backsplash you have fallen in love with.

Look at your house as a whole, not just one room. Many times when I consult a homeowner on their house, there is no continuity from room to room. One room might be filled with over stuffed furniture around the TV and the next room has Victorian tiny detailed furniture. Do one or the other look, but don’t try to do everything under one roof.

When updating, or thinking of changes things, keep in mind the value it will lend to the property but also the aesthetics and how it will enhance the overall look of the house. When looking for items and staying on budget consider what will give you the bang for the buck over all.

kitchen with finishes that are a worthy investment

Keep in mind the focal point in a room. Is it the view, is it the fireplace, are there architectural details in the room that should be played up, or do you need to make a focal point. Making a focal point might be adding art, but make sure the art you add is the right size for the space. Too many times I see mini art on a big wall, not enhancing the room or giving a focal point at all.  Don’t ignor this if the focal point is played up, the room can take on a totally different feeling.

I know I said 5, but this one I need to put in. There is always a way to update the furnishings you have to make them look fresh and current. I have done this so many times when getting a house ready for market, and every time the sellers are amazed. So don’t despair, a professional stager or decorator always have tricks up their sleeves!

Other Good Reads:

How to Make a Room Look Balanced

Designing By Numbers

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


Home Improvements Worth the Investment

Home Improvements Worth the Investment

It’s every home owner’s question, if I improve this in my home will I get a return on the investment… What is the bang for the buck, and which home improvements are worth considering?

Being summer time, it is a great time to consider one of the best investments a home owner can make, upgrading their landscaping. What would that entail? Trees, foundation shrubs, flagstone walkway, bright flowers and a fresh mulch. By adding these to your yard the typical return is close to 100% or higher. It is an investment that will continually grow, get it, continually grow…

While we are on the subject of outdoors a patio or deck is worth the investment also. It not only extends your living space, but will allow you to enjoy all that work you did upgrading your landscape.

A new roof is one that will achieve 100% return similar to landscaping. If you have shingles missing, roof covered in moss, or stains on your ceilings and walls it’s time to consider this investment. It will also help you with your energy bill. A new roof is one thing every home inspector looks at, along with buyers when it’s time to sell, so if you need a new one, invest in it and at least enjoy a dry house while you live there. Adding insulation under your roof is not only saving you on heating and cooling cost it will reap you a 95% return.

Another big improvement is Hardwood Floors. They are classic, timeless everyone loves and desires them. So if you have them and are noticing they’re worn, not looking the best, give them some TLC have them refinished and reap the return when you sell. If you don’t have them and want to replace your flooring you currently own, you will gain about 90% return on the cost.open living room space to outdoors with hardwood floors

So for doing one or all five of these improvements, for the money you invest, you will get just about every dollar back in value; now that is a better return on investment then the stock market! Here the National Association of Realtors broke projects down, along with the satisfaction or “Joy Score” of getting the project completed:

home improvement projects that are worth the investment

Other good reads:

2017 Home Trends

10 Home Renovations That Are Worth The Investment


Composition of a Good Photo

Composition of a Good Photo

Every agent knows that having high quality photography helps a house look better when it is listed.  If the composition of the photograph is not desirable, no matter how high quality the photo is, it still will not look great. That is why staging before professional photography is so important. The key is to favorably impress buyer’s perceptions. You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so stage first, photograph second and you will have a winning combination.

What Makes a Good Photo

Here is an example of some of the photo’s I have taken of before and after, but have also included a key photo- how the bedroom looked when the house was first listed and did not sell. The bedroom is nice it shows it is spacious, but it does not give a very luxurious feeling. The seller had me consult with them to see what and how I could enhance the rooms throughout the house. They saw my portfolio and realized the difference staging can have. Although they were a little apprehensive at first as we transformed room after room, and they saw the results they knew it would work.

how people live bedroom not staged

staged bedroom in Orange County NY

The final photo reflects what buyers want, they do not want to see how people live, but the life style they might have when they buy that house. As you can see the first photo the room is filled with furniture, not giving you too much of a warm fuzzy feeling. But then we changed, the composition of the room, also known as professional staging, and took photos, the architectural details of the room shine. The house received a lot of traffic and sold quickly.

So, not only is the photo important, so is the composition of the photo.

Other good reads:

Photography and Staging | The Listing

8 Reason Why Your House is Not Selling


Photography and Staging | The Listing

Photography and Staging | The Listing

Recently I was on a webinar that an agent recommended to me. The host was talking about the importance of photos for all listings. Being high resolution, professional shots. I decided to peruse the MLS and see what Orange County NY listings were looking like.

What makes a great picture?

Some agents are great with the high resolutions shots, but they unfortunately lose out because although the pictures are done by a photographer, the composition obviously is done by the home owner/agent which does not make the shot look professional. Wha, wha, they fall flat. The composition being the way the room is styled. Staging is marketing a house to its fullest potential. It’s not only cleaning, decluttering that is the obvious that should be done before listing. Would you put your used car up for sale without detailing it? Obviously no, and your house is a much larger investment then your car! Staging is making sure the house’s features stand out to attract a wide range of buyers.

dining room staged and photographed to attract buyers

Online Marketing

Today buyers, more than ever before are searching for their next house on line before they even call an agent. If they see that a particular agents listings are represented well with beautiful photographs, and emanating a lifestyle that buyers want, they keep that agent in mind. They keep that house in mind and also request to view it. Smart agents know it is important to stage a house, and offer it as part of their listing services. The Agent/Professional Stager/Professional Photographer are a team that create a marketing setting that will make your house stand out above the competition.

To be honest I believe the agent thought the webinar was about general marketing. But marketing is all about location, promotion, price and product- the house. If the product is not desirable it will not sell. Staging can take a not so beautiful house and turn it around that will sing to buyers “come live here!” So if you are considering selling now, or in the future, professional staging and photography should be included in the entire process to ensure you have a desirable product for the market you are selling in.

If you would like more information please feel free to connect with us via our newsletter, or through social media we have lots of tip to share!

Additional good reads:

Minimal Interior Design | Why Staging Works

What, Why, When | Home Staging


Selling, Who to Hire First

Selling, Who to Hire First

You’ve made the choice to sell your house, now what? Who should be the first person you connect with?

A Professional Stager

What did you say? Shouldn’t they come after the real estate agent? No, and let me explain why.

  • A Professional stager will look objectively at your house
  • Help you distinguish what features are best to emphasize
  • Explain why and what sprucing should be done to make you house resonate with buyers
  • Suggest improvements that will give you a return on your investment
  • Help you protect the equity in your house by assisting you to insure that the presentation is better, if not comparable to other houses with similar features

The Lived in House

I recently did a consult on a house that was lived in, and I mean lived in. The walls were marked up with nicks from living in the rooms. The floors although wood, were dirty with scratches and marks. The wood work around the doors and doors had pieces nicked off. The windows were hard to see through. The kitchen appliances probably had not been cleaned in a week or so, you get the idea right? The house was lived in. They were not happy with the selling price estamate their realtor had given them. They felt other houses were selling at a higher price for the same rooms, bathrooms and they had put a bit of work in the house over the years. The problem was the house did not present well. If they had a consult first from a professional stager they would have understood what needs to be attended to. Some small improvements with minimal investment can help any seller gain higher profits.

They were lucky to find an agent that knows how important staging a house prior to marketing is. The agent pays for the consult for their sellers because they know the presentation will attract the buyers to take interest.

staging makes a difference when you sell

Protecting Your Equity

A stager has an unbiased eye. We help home owners with all types of houses. Keeping with the style of the house, and the market in mind we give suggestions that will appeal to buyers. Our goal is to get you the biggest bang for any money you invest in the house. Our suggestions are to not only to appeal to buyers, but also consider how to make the rooms appear brighter, and larger. Buyers want to find a house that goes a little above their expectations. Staging helps a seller do that. So before listing, look for a professional stager in your area that can help you prepare your house before it goes on the market, or before you get that estimate from your realtor.

Other good reads:

7 Simple Steps to Staging

What, Why, When | Home Staging

Should a Seller Waste their Time and Money on Staging


Take Your House Out of Hibernation

Take Your House Out of Hibernation

Spring is a great time to consider ways to take your house out of hibernation. Here are four easy, inexpensive easy ways to give you a fresh new look.

Start at the Entrancepainting can greatly improve the look of your house

Your front door is not only the ‘mouth’ of your house, but also the first impression to visitors. Consider the condition of the door and possibly the color. A new color can completely change the look of your house giving it a fresh new look. Consider a new set of lights, or clean the glass on your lights. New door mat, maybe a pretty container of flowers.

Make it Brightbrighten up your decor

Maybe remove some of the warmer colors you used in your décor and add lighter shades, and brighter shades to give more life to your room. If you look at a color wheel and choose a color opposite the primary color you have in the room. If you have a blue room consider adding yellow to give you a new look and a little warmth. Just be careful of the saturation of the colors you are choosing to complement each other. Add lights and fresh flowers too.

Clean the Cobwebsclean everything so the light can brigten spaces

This may be obvious to some, but opening the shades, dusting them off, removing cobwebs, dust from all surfaces will make a room feel good and refreshed and in your mind it will also. That cleaning will make the rooms resonate fresher.

Use your Sense of Smell

Not only clean the windows, open them and let the fresh air flow throughout the house. Consider adding scented potted geraniums or a vase of eucalyptus in your house to give it a fresh smell. House plants are great air purifiers and add to the décor of any room. Don’t have a green thumb? Consider easy to care for plants that require little care.

Other Great Reads:

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

10 Inexpensive Ways to Increase Your Curb Appeal

Designing Rooms that People and Pets Love


2017 Home Trends

2017 Home Trends

Trends. What’s going to be popular, or showing up as popular as decorating trends? After attending the NY Now –which features vendors, and Architectural Digest 2017 featuring everything for the home and highlighted artists, there were reoccurring trends that should be noticed.

For 2017 the soft gold tone continues to still popular and showing up in furniture, lighting, and finishes for the house. It is not the brass of the 80’s but a softer look which is warmer. This trend I think will continue because the gray tones are starting to subside, while the taupe colors are becoming more popular, and will continue to trend.

soft gold knobs, soft gold fixtures are trending

Back to nature, things made of wood, live edge furniture, wall gardens and plants all very popular. I have noticed these for a few years and due to their organic nature, they will probably continue trending for a few years. I see this because people are looking for healthy ways to live, more in-tune to their environment. Being connect with the environment they will include these elements in their homes.

feather fabric nature related

Speaking of the nature trends, animals are a big influence with decorative items. Hides, horns and lambskin are big in accessories for the home. This fabric from Coral and Tusk of embroidered feathers would be a beautiful addition to a room. If you want to update a room add a hide pillow or fur pillow into the mix. This trend is whimsical as well as luxurious to the eye.

Both the natural elements and animal influence relate to the bohemian trend that is popular in design. Although I relay it to the 1960’s hippy days of growing up, LOL, it has a fresh flair to it. A little more organic a little less quirky.

boheimian trend in decor for living

Casa Cook Hotel

Deep rich colors are also trending. Think of deep navy, rich emerald green in couches, walls, cabinetry as well as accent pieces like pillows and art are showing up repeatedly. The deep colors are a switch from the dark grays, a little less moody possibly a more optimistic feeling. Bolder colors will be seen in the coming years for home décor but of course mixed with neutrals or softer shades to balance the entire look.

If the last time you decorated your rooms was when you moved in five or more years ago, now is the time to consider something new and fresh to update your spaces!

Some other good reads

Fad verse Trend | What’s the Difference

According to “Pinterest” 2017 Trends


How to Avoid Bad Room Colors When Selling

How to Avoid Bad Room Colors When Selling

When you are selling, the colors on your walls can affect buyer’s. Either buyer’s react by falling in love, or pass up a house based on the wall colors. Yup, bad colors matter. The colors on your walls need consideration when preparing your house to sell. You may not like a more neutral color, but you’re moving, so having freshly painted neutral walls is the biggest bang for your buck because they will leave a more positive impression than crazy colors or worn walls.

Bad Colors

What are the bad colors to have when selling, and what is the best way to prepare your house with color when you put it on the market?

There are bad colors when selling due to multiple reasons. One of the primary reasons are because colors are so very taste specific. While you may be in love with your red dining room, the next person coming into your house might abhor red. When you are selling your house you want to protect your equity. You want to make sure there is not a single reason a buyer would turn away from your house. If you knew it would only cost you the price of a can of paint versus a price reduction in the thousands wouldn’t you opt for the can of paint?Before and After Painting of bad and good colors for selling

What colors are bad when selling besides red? Orange, purple, some yellows and other bold colors. Why? Aside from being taste specific, buyers will find those colored rooms difficult to envision themselves living in them. Many sellers will tell me that’s crazy, a buyer should look over that! A buyer won’t look over the color, they will just move onto the next house. The buyer attention will be focused on the color, not on the size of the room or the attributes of the room. Yes, a professional stager can do wonders to a room when sellers refuse to paint, but once the staging is removed, it is a room with an objectionable color.

Colors that Sell a House

Neutrals are preferred colors when you sell because they highlight the room. Ensure the undertone of the color complements the hard finishes of a room. You could have a beautiful gray color but if the undertones are not complementing the other finishes in a room, it will look off, an off colored room is off-putting.

Color can be used when selling a house, but use it to complement and assist the flow of rooms from one to another. Using color more as an accent, is a better choice then as the primary focus. Buyers are more drawn to a houses features when the colors are neutral, then they will be to someone’s décor. If the two complement one another, not over power, then you have a winning combination.

If you are not sure how to put this all together, or how to find the perfect color for rooms, it is a wise investment to have a professional stager trained in color to come in and review your house prior to selling. A professional stager has an unbiased eye that will help you create your house into one buyers are dreaming of living in.

Other good reads:

Eight Big Selling Offenders

Impressionable Colors for Selling

5 Senses of Selling


Home Organization and Decorating Go Hand in Hand

Home Organization and Decorating Go Hand in Hand

Home organization is a crucial element in decorating

If you have organization within your room, it will keep you design looking fresh long after you finished the last touches. Why? Because it will reduce the visual clutter and you can then focus on the design.

I know you think decorating = painting, new rug and new furniture. When considering a decorating plan, one of the first things that needs to be envisioned is how the space will be used and lived in.  One element of design is form and function and how they blend together. The right balance will give a calming feeling when using the room. It is important to do your basic work up front too before you begin. Do your measurements, create a vision board. The room not only has to be pleasing to the eye, but how the space will be used, allowing you simple solutions for storage. Consider the style of your home and look for storage solutions that complement that style along with the décor.

staged living room with shelves for storage and storage cabinets

Storage Solutions

When you have the proper storage solutions it will give your room a more polished look. If you love that polished look you need to have a place to put your things. You know ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ Having that will also probably help you with any extra clutter. If you don’t have room for it; guess what? It’s time to de-clutter and remove some of the things you don’t use any more.

If you do not have the space, consider built-in shelves going upward, this is always an easy solution for small spaces. Consider creating a space with shelves and drawers possibly in an awkward spot like a corner in a room to store some of your things. Having proper organization throughout your house will help with the resale of your house, but also help you now living in the spaces. I recommend baskets a lot to keep similar lose objects together. They make the shelves/rooms appear neater. Keeping things organized also helps reduce some of the stress that goes along with clutter and mess. It is a lot more calming to enter a room that is organized than one that is in complete chaos.

So when you are considering revamping a room and giving it fresh new look, also keep in mind organization solutions so that you can maintain the beauty of your new room for years to come.

Other good reads:

Piecing a Room Together

10 Ideas to Give your House Love

Chi The Energy in Your House


Fad verse Trend | What’s the Difference

Fad verse Trend | What’s the Difference

People confuse fad with trend when talking about fashion or decorating. What is the difference between a fad and a trend? Typically you want to seriously consider decorating a room with a fad. Changing a rooms decor to keep up with fads can be expensive, that is why it is better to look at trends instead.

Fad Verses Trend

Fad according by definition is “something that becomes very popular in a short amount of time, and then is forgotten about at the same speed.” Some fads you may recall are big floral wall paper, wall to wall mirrors, dried arrangements on walls, and carpet in the bathroom. They were popular at one time but when you look back you say “how could we ever think that was nice?!” Probably because at the time it filled an emotional need that made you feel that it was nice, and a good look. Although fads come and go they can still have a place in your decor though.

fad of the times

Then there are trends, a trend is typically based on a lifestyle change, it will be “something that will last for a longer time.” Values and attitude toward the trend are different; they have longevity and are considered timeless. Think of white bath fixtures, neutral color walls, hardwood floors all of these elements in design are and will remain timeless.

trending finishes make this bath timeless

How do you decorate incorporating trends with a little fashion fad and pull it off to look great? There is a balance that comes with a good design. Because home decor can be an expensive, the waves of trends and fads do not move as quickly as in the fashion world. To keep a beat on what works and what does not, it helps to keep in mind that if you are completely renovating a space it is always smarter to go with a tried and true trend for the key elements of the room such as flooring, bath fixtures, appliances and be a little more daring with light fixtures, wall color and accessories since these items are not as costly and can be changed more readily. This is where the balance comes into play to create a great design.

Every year there are trends that designers watch for, these can translate to those tried and true items that have staying power, other trends may not, but those are the elements that can be added as changeable with the times. One thing to keep in mind though, take a good objective look at your home about every five years to see whether the items in your home are what you see in stores, design magazines, TV or TV shows are a few suggestions to keep up with what is current. Changing your paint color, the Tiffany light fixture in the kitchen that use to be popular in the 80’s, or that floral wall paper border might seem quite daring to you but give it a try. The small changes can make a huge impact.  It’s time to move from that fad to a new one that will create more of an “in” look.