Category archive - Helpful Solutions

Selling Your Kitchen

Selling Your Kitchen

For buyers, kitchens are extremely important and weigh more heavily on the final decision than the other rooms in the house. To ensure your kitchen astounds buyers, prepare your kitchen before selling.

  • Begin by cleaning every single surface- ceiling counters, cabinets, counter tops, walls and floors.
  • Organize your cabinets – you will be thankful you did this when moving day comes. Any outdated foods through out. Group like things together. Edit extra mugs, glasses, pots, utensils etc. Clean out the drawers and shelves and replace shelf paper.
  • Matching appliances is a huge plus, if they are not new, or only one is new, consider replacing the others so they are all the same finish. Make sure the surface of all appliances are clean and spotless.
  • Clean the appliances inside and out, clean stove each and every grill, clean fridge out, and wash the surfaces so they are sparkling clean, and fresh – no old food odors here.
  • Buyers will look inside your dishwasher, make sure there are no funky smells. Yes although we use our dishwasher to clean everything it needs to be cleaned too. Clean your filter first – soak it in warm soapy water to remove all residue on it.  Then run 1 cup of white vinegar through your empty dishwasher on the heavy cycle. Sprinkling baking soda in the bottom of your dishwasher overnight, then run it through again empty.
  • Your sinks are similar to your dishwasher they need to be clean and free of everything. If your faucet leaks or looks worse for the wear, replace it. Using baking soda and vinegar in the drains to deodorize and clean.
  • If you have wall paper – remove and paint. If you have paint and have not painted in the past year, freshen up the walls with a new coat of paint.
  • Lastly add the finishing touches of décor; keep it simple but make it feel like home. Touches that speak home resonate with buyers.

Extra hints:

  • Remove trash prior to showings and make sure your garbage can is not highly visible, try and tuck under a cabinet if possible.
  • If you have pets, have a plan when you show your house where you will be putting all the pet “equipment” not every buyer likes pets.
  • Kids? Yup same idea, have a plan as to where you will be stashing the papers, toys etc. so that the clutter is not visible when showing.

Other good reads:

Paint Terms – What They Mean

Key Kitchen Improvements That Will Reap You Profit

The Hub of The House | The Kitchen


Lighting a Room in Layers

Lighting a Room in Layers

Lighting in a room can not only illuminate it but the fixture itself can pull the room together, allowing it to be a statement. Lighting can be tough though, because to find the right fixture is not necessarily an easy task. I help many people with their décor needs, and the light in the room is one more element that has to have serious consideration.

When I help clients, I look at their lighting fixtures. Why does it matter? Lighting is like a hair or clothing style, it can really date a room. A new light fixture in a room can transform it from ahh, to OOOH! When you are selling, lighting, if it looks like it from an era long ago gives the impression that probably nothing else in the house has been taken care of or replaced when needed.

Having the proper illumination is also important. You not only need a light for the ambiance, there is also the need for task lighting and accent lighting. Who knew right?

Ambiance lighting lights the entire room, think of it as general lighting. It’s the light that you use when you flip that switch to enter a room. These can be chandeliers, flush mount fixtures, recessed lighting or pendants. They will be in every room of your house, typically in the center of the room close to the ceiling. Knowing the right size and height will ensure you have the proper lighting for that room.

Next consider task lighting. This is to illuminate an area when you are reading, grooming, cooking etc. These can be a table lamp, sconce, under cabinet light, floor lamp, pendant or recess. Consider the amount of light the fixture will provide. LED lighting is becoming very popular due to less energy used while providing the right amount of light. LED lighting is not only in task light, many manufactures are using it in all styles of lights to save you money!

Last would be accent lighting to use through a room. It highlights a specific detail in a space, such as a beautiful piece of art, or accessory, and highlighting architectural features. Wall sconces, recessed light, track lights are all examples of accent lighting. I have seen it used to highlight a tray ceiling in a room, or attractive crown molding. Using sconces on either side of a fireplace draws your attention to the mantle. Accent lighting is that little surprise in the room that gives it the luxury feeling when done correctly.

Other good reads:

Light by Numbers

Demystifying LED Lighting

 


Art Gallery Wall

Art Gallery Wall

Art is essential for every room. It not only makes it feel homier, but it gives life and personality to a room. How do you hang a collection of pictures on a wall to create a gallery that looks good? Proportions, colors, and frame styles all should be considered to create the gallery wall that awes.

Consider doing a gallery wall of similar subject. The subject can be a collection of coins, butterflies, silhouettes, mirrors, places that you have visited or lived, use your imagination. Using your children’s art you could create a gallery of all one medium such as all drawings, all paintings etc. If you have favorite art pieces consider tying them together by color, by using a common theme on your first gallery, this will help create the balance you are hoping to achieve.

Another way to tie your art together is to use the same type of frame. Either all the same size shadow box type of frame, rectangle frame, or canvas.  Using different sized frames but all with the same finish, will create a relationship between the various pieces to make your gallery feel harmonious. It allows the eye to focus at the art that is being featured.

Spacing is essential when you are creating a gallery wall to make it feel balanced. Just randomly hanging pictures will probably not create the symmetry that you are hoping to achieve. Typically it is easier if you are using the same size frame throughout your gallery. Here find the center point of your wall and then measure a few inches between each frame keeping them level in rows and columns.

 If you are using various sizes of frames then you will want to pay attention the sizes of art placing them to balance one another. This tends to be a more challenging type of gallery but can be very beautiful. The key to using mixed sizes, and if you feel so inclined mixed objects, is to keep a fairly even horizontal line between objects, or to use one large object in the center and build around it.

 

There are various guides online to give you ideas of different layouts that might work with the pieces of art you have, to create a gallery. It’s fun to play around with it and make a huge impact in a room! Send me some of your art gallery’s that you have created!

Other Good Reads:

Piecing a Room Together That Works

5 Simple Ways to Cozy Up Your Home – Inexpensively

5 Basic Steps to Creating Fantastic Displays


Kitchen Design

Kitchen Design

Clients ask “if I were to renovate my kitchen what should I do?” First off, I would never recommend someone to do just before selling your house. If you are planning on staying a while, three or more years, then it should be a consideration if you find that your kitchen is dated.

According to polls taken, and trends sighted in design magazines, white kitchen cabinets are still very popular. It goes to show you that light and bright is typically the choice of many. Counters that are of a hard surface like quarts, natural stone are still desirable by the majority, but other surfaces such as stainless or concrete have their place in today’s designs.

Smart technology is now being incorporated into appliances to bring convenience into our lives. The question I always hear is, “should we have all stainless appliances?”  Stainless has been popular for years, but at the Architectural Digest show last year, many of the manufactures were featuring black appliances. So I would not be surprised that stainless takes a back seat for a while.

The key when redesigning a kitchen is to ensure it will serve your needs first, and it will not look dated within five years time. Here I searched the internet for kitchens I find to be clean, classic, and very tastefully done that will endure the test of time for many years to come.

The white with soft gray cabinets are classic. Note the use of different materials for the counters. The open style is nice for family as well as entertaining.

If you are not hooked on white cabinetry but still like the painted look of cabinets, this soft taupe color is a great neutral that goes beautifully with the quartz counters. The color trend of gray is still around but greige is a nice blend of both gray and browns that tend to be warmer.

The classic wood cabinets here bring a warmth to all the stainless, again a mix of counter material. If you choose wood cabinets consider a shaker or smooth panel look, they will continue to look in style for a long time.

You can never go wrong with the classic black and white in a kitchen. The gorgeous soaring ceiling of course makes this space feel welcoming and open.

If you are considering building or updating a new kitchen, classic will always be in fashion. Incorporate shaker style cabinets, simple and clean. Neutral colors for your back-splash tile and counters. Stone counters are the preferred material for kitchens. If you need to put your “personality” into the design, choose one item to do the talking, do not make the back-splash, counter, cabinets, lighting and floor all stand out; pick one.

Other good reads:

Key Improvements That Will Reap a Profit | Kitchens

Kitchen Trends for 2015 and Beyond


This House Sold for $50,000 Over Asking

This House Sold for $50,000 Over Asking

This house sold for $50,000 over asking price! How, you may ask in this market?

Let’s look at a little history.
The client asked if I could come to her home for a consult when she found out I was a professional stager. As we walked throughout the house and I gave her suggestions on every room; the repeated comment from her was “are you sure?”

Based on the direction I gave, she took it upon herself to hire the painters, do a yard sale to remove clutter, moved furniture, updated bathrooms, had the curb appeal taken care of, and worked diligently completing the extensive list. I was insistent not to list the house until it was ‘market ready’. Two months later she called and asked that I help her with the finishing touches, which we did. She wondered if she could ask her agent to pay for the staging she had me complete. My suggestion… ask, all they can say is “no.”

Much to the agent’s dismay, she hesitantly agreed. She did not feel any money paid for staging was worth it. I politely begged to differ. The house was photographed and listed. Then to the seller and agents surprise, the house went into a bidding war catching $50,000 over asking!

The beauty for the agent, although they felt their investment was “way too much” was that they did not have to get involved with the nitty-gritty of preparing the property. It was staged properly allowing all buyers to see the value.Which in turn reaped the agent a 500% return on her investment, and preserved the sellers equity! Yippee for them. Is investing money to get a 100% or higher return, too much money to invest when selling? I ask you.

Moral of the story… staging does pay, literally! Having a professional stager help prepare your properties is smart business.


According to “Pinterest” 2017 Trends

According to “Pinterest” 2017 Trends

If you are a Pinterest follower, and who isn’t? You can get the best recipes, DIY and decorating ideas! Currently they combined the trends they have been seeing. Some of these will definitely translate into décor trend guaranteed. Wondering how? Here is how Design Solutions KGP sees it:

Navy is the New Black:

A few years back I noticed navy coming on strong. It is so rich and of course pairs well with the gray neutral trend that we have been seeing. Blue tends to be the most popular color out there so of course navy should take center stage. When I first suggested navy to clients to update their décor many quickly accepted the idea and the results were stunning. Of course navy can be considered a great neutral in itself, think of how you wear your jeans with just about anything- and those are navy. This trend will become more popular I am sure throughout décor. Depending on what you add to it can create a totally different look.

Which brings me to the next trend Bell Sleeves:

If you grew up in the 70’s you remember bell bottoms, bell sleeves and the hippy- now we call Bohemian look? Bohemian has been popular for a while in decor when Ikats and Suzani prints took us by rage in the early 2000’s. These new feeling prints caught many designers eye and from there the Bohemian style blossomed. Many may say it is a little eclectic looking, but it definitely is a style to consider when updating décor. Think of clothing styles, we buy and try new styles as they come into fashion. You should consider the same for your home. There is a way to decorate so your style is classic and everlasting, but sometimes it’s fun to have a room that sports the recent trends to make it feel fresh and new. A simple pillow, addition of a plant, new color on the walls,  an accessory or even art can accomplish this. It’s something to consider.

Lastly another trend that I think is important for all of us to consider is our health.

In our homes and in our lives we are striving to live healthier and more consciously which is a very good thing. We are more aware of our environment, more conscious of the items we bring into our homes. When clients are selling, one of the first thing an agents will tell them to do is “declutter” or reduce the overall footprint most of us have existing throughout rooms in our house. I have been asked to do workshops on how to declutter to achieve better mental health. If our homes are our sanctuaries then we should consider what we bring in and what we put into them, as our bodies. Feng Shu is a great example of this.

So as 2017 embarks upon us there are changes we can make in our homes that can feed us positive energy to improve our lives. If you are considering changes for 2017 I would love to hear about them and how they impact your lives for the new year!

Other good reads:

2017 Predicted Popular Colors


Possessions and Stuff

Possessions and Stuff

With the New Year we create resolutions, and one I know for many is to remove some of the clutter from our lives. The question that arises when you encounter some of the stuff is “I might need this…” How do you decide if the stuff is a valuable possession or just clutter?

 

My mother in law is in a position where she needs to downsize from her house to a smaller one. To give you and idea, she is a lover of “things” as I call it. She would rather take the last $5 in her wallet and spend it on items she has no use for at a yard sale, then to fill up her car with the needed gas to get home. Hey, everyone has their priorities.

But now when we talk about her about selling her home, she is in complete denial that any of her “possessions” need to be edited, or given away, or sold, because she might “need them where ever she ends up.” This brings me to how we view our “stuff.” Possibly this will help you identify what is necessary to keep, and what is clutter.

First you need to identify what the stuff really is and why you have it. We in the United States tend to navigate toward the material possessions, although studies keep popping up stating that the trend is going towards a life that is more simplified for everyone. If you are not there those changes are a big step.

In May I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal titled ‘Possessions.’ It comprised of small interviews with famous people about their possessions. Some of the points they made were …” A person’s character is much more important than the stuff they own. Still, it’s natural for people to collect the things that reflect their character.” And …” my favorite possession isn’t as tangible as a pair of heels or a purse—it’s imagination and my ability to inspire.” Although we own objects, the important thing to take away is to understand the importance of the possessions we own. If they will continue to contribute to our lives in a positive, meaningful way then they are worth keeping. If not, it is something that can be removed to give you more space in your life for significant possessions.

Let me know if you have decided to review your possessions; which did you keep, which did you edit?

Other good reads:

Being Organized Do I Have to Be OCD?

Organizing | Out With The Old

No Brainer De-Cluttering


Organizing | Out With The Old

Organizing | Out With The Old

With the holidays behind us and the New Year approaching everyone likes to make a few New Year’s Resolutions. The best way to approach resolutions, and being successful at them is to not set your goals too high or too big. As my mother use to say “inch by inch life’s a cinch, yard by yard life can be hard.” Being organized can help accomplish the simplest things and allow you to feel more positive. Here are a few suggestions to try:

1. Clear Clutter

Start small in one room, kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom pick a drawer to start, each week clean one. I have found that sometimes when I am just chatting with friends on the phone I can get a drawer organized by the time we finish our conversation- albeit over a half hour, it gets the job done without feeling like I could be doing something better. Once the drawers are finished move to the closets, and keep going throughout the house- if it takes a year so be it; but you will feel more at peace once everything is in order.

2. Out with the Old

We all tend to hang onto books, medicines that have expired, clothes that are not in fashion any more, etc. you know what I am talking about. This is the time to pick one of those things that you know have been accumulating and you have not addressed in a long time. There are many things we can remove if you really think about it. Move them out of your home, donate to charities things that you think they could use. A clear living/working space is a clear mind.

3. Clean and Update

After you clear your clutter, rid your home of old items, and organize your room, make sure you clean the room. Dust the cob webs from the corners of the ceiling, clean the flooring, evaluate the room- do you still have your 1980’s style wallpaper borders up in the room?  It’s time to update, it can be as small as adding a current accessory or updating your bedding, maybe a new current color is in order for the room- mauve, tangerine something different and fun. This is a great way to bring positive energy in. 

 4. Identify Things That Rob Your Time

Evaluate what your current situation is, routines, schedules, and goals. Learn to limit and adjust those things that you know are robbing your time that prevent you from living a productive and fun life. If you need to set a timer when you are on Face book, surfing the web, or emailing buddies, watching TV, playing Wii, set limits. Once you organize your time, limit those things that rob your time, you will find that you can do more than you ever thought!

 Have a wonderful productive, energetic New Year! Let me know how you do with your resolutions 

Other Good Reads:

Organized… the Happy Balance

Organizing | Systems to Use

Clutter Prevent it Before it Takes Over


5 Reasons to Hire a Home Stager Before Listing Your Home

5 Reasons to Hire a Home Stager Before Listing Your Home

Property Sellers sometimes are on the fence if they should invest any money into staging their house, or leave it “as is.” I have heard the argument that “I have loved my property, as my friends and neighbors, so will everyone else.” What you lose with that view point is that you are not necessarily creating a product that the market wants, or desires, because it speaks of your taste, thus narrowing the market that you could possibly attract and sell to. Here are five reason to hire a professional stager when listing your house.

5. Staging creates a vision for buyers in each room, it allows the buyer to picture themselves in a house, aspiring them to live that lifestyle. If you leave your home with all your decor and personal items, it will not feel like a home a buyer can relate to or see themselves living in. In fact only 10% of buyers can see the potential of a home.

4. Objectivity is necessary to stage a house. A seller may feel that they have done a great job “clearing and de-clutter” per the advice of their Real Estate agent but the problem is a home seller cannot objectively look at their HOME and envision it as a HOUSE that needs to appeal to the masses of buyers. A house on the market is now a commodity that needs to stand out to sell.

3. Expertise in design, is necessary to stage a house. Many homeowners love their “things, decor and color choices ” and believe they are experts. Unfortunately those “things” do not allow the buyer to see the house, they might see the sellers “things” but not be able to look beyond, hence not making an offer on the house. Hiring a professional home stager helps the seller highlight important selling features buyers desire.

2. A home that has been staged first sells about 30% faster than a home that has not been staged. The cost of staging a home on the average results in a 299% ROI (return on investment) for the home owner. The typical cost to stage is usually less than 2% of the listing price of the house. For every month a home continues to stay on the market the sale price will fall around 1% a month, to add to that, the seller has their caring costs (electric, taxes… etc.) which add up month after month.  Simple solution – stage first, and sell faster.

1. Not staging a home only helps sell your competition. If you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, common sense, call a home stager to help you merchandise your home to market it properly the first time! Their objectivity, creativity and expertise will pay off with a faster sale.

Other good reads:

What, Why, When | Home Staging

Should I Stage My Home

 


The Perfect Guest Retreat

The Perfect Guest Retreat

When you have visitors you want them to feel welcome and comfortable in your home. Holidays are in particular, a time when it seems that our front door is like a revolving door! To make your life a little simpler and still make guest feel comfortable and relaxed here are some suggestions to create the perfect retreat for you guests.

Obviously the most important thing is the bed in your guest room. You will want to ensure the mattress is comfortable. Building from a good base is easy with nice sheets. There are many on the market but having a higher thread count does make them feel more luxurious. Natural fibers like cotton, linen and silk “breath” so you are more comfortable throughout the night.

Next add the layers. Some people prefer a fluffy down comforter, while other people like to pile on the blankets. Either works, just ensure your guest will be warm throughout the night. Of course being aware of allergies there are comforters that are hypoallergenic. Pillows should be selected with this in mind also for a guest bedroom. I typically offer two pillows one firm, one soft which will allow your guest to adjust to their liking.

_dsc0791-2wm

Lighting is important in any room. In a guest room having a light that can be turned on when you enter the room with a switch is ideal. Also having a light near the bed for reading that is on a separate switch will allow your guest to read when they retire if they choose, it also prevents them from having to get up to turn off the room light. Some people like to sleep in complete darkness, while others like a little light if needed when it is pitch black. Supply a small night light that has a switch so your guest can choose which they prefer.

Add niceties; when I travel, hotel rooms typically have small bottles of sundries, those that I do not use I will bring home to provide for my guest in case they forgot to bring something. I put these in a small basket for their use. I also will provide bottle water on the night stand along with magazines and books for guests to read.

Providing a few basics in your guest room makes your visitors feel welcome, and you know you will not be running around at the last minute trying to find small items to make them comfortable. A little planning ahead of time makes everyone happy.

Another good read:

Table Settings for the Holidays