The Art of Staging -- A Practical Approach to Wall Art

Remove personal. Keep personality! 

Definitely one of the first rules of staging is "take down all personal photos" ... those snaggle tooth elementary school pics, the smiling clan wearing mouse ears, and the beautiful wedding party gathered to celebrate your big day. Those are personal. They make your home "yours." And they communicate just that to someone walking through the front door for the first time. Someone whom, if you are serious about selling your house, you would like to see the house as "theirs"!

That being said, it can be overwhelming and daunting when a professional home stager or realtor walks through and says "take it all down!" Selling a home is difficult enough without adding stress (and expense with all new art!) over how to redecorate ALL of your walls. So where's the happy medium?

Take a good hard look at your personal mementos, for example, the silver antique spoon collection hanging in the dining room. Yes, it is personal, but it is also appropriate dining room "art." It adds personality without being specific just to your family.

And your son gazing out from the top of Enchanted Rock? Well what better way to say "buy this house and you'll be on top of the world?!"

Or what about the backlit shadow print of your three-your old and German Shepherd gazing outside. Also, personal, but again adds interest and personality to your home. It communicates a message that "our home is so relaxed and happy, giant dogs and small people live in harmony gazing longingly out to our beautiful street." (Okay, maybe you didn't really get all that from one photo but it does communicate peace and tranquility -- two emotions that a buyer should feel when they check out your marketable digs.)

Another good one I recently saw was a cool wooden collage board of destination and "action shot" photos ... river rafting, rock climbing, and fishing. Great focus on the scenery in all the photos! Very small smiling faces. Message received? Check out how adventuresome this house makes your family! 

Finally, one home I was in had a huge wall covered in antique black and white (presumably of family members) 8x10  prints of vintage smiling faces hung in a collage setting. While they were personal in nature, the overall effect of so many together in such similar styles gave a loving, homey feel to the room.

So before you panic over where in the world do I store 16 tubs of giant wall art and photos, put on your art critic hat. If the focus of the print/painting/etc. could have an objective vibe, don't sweat it. Leave it up. Let it communicate the peace, adventure, tranquility, and comfort your house has to offer. Because who doesn't want their home to feel like that? Certainly not a potential buyer. 

5 Tips for Holiday Staging -- Yes it can be done!

"Selling a home during the holidays." Just saying those words garners a special sort of sympathy ... homes don't traditionally move quickly in late Q4, how in the world do you keep your house clean with the extra layer of holiday "clutter", and lastly (and most importantly to someone who counts the days until "decorating season") can I still decorate and celebrate the seasons or do I have to maintain that sterile, non-festive but clean home look?

No need to look and feel like a scrooge. If you follow a few simple guidelines, staging during the holidays can be done tastefully and can even enhance the buyer's holiday buying experience --  catapulting your property to the top of their list!

1. KISS the holidays hello! -- One of my son's favorite saying is KISS ... Keep It Simple Stupid! And while I don't condone calling any homeowners (or your 8h grade peers for that matter) "stupid," I do think the slogan provides a good basis for your decorating plans. In other words less is more for the holidays. Think a simple classic wreath on your front door as opposed to the full-on garland around the entry. A single strand of white lights around the roof line instead of icicle trim on every hedge and a Frosty inflatable.

2. Cozy up with color! -- Earthy browns, oranges, and yellows in the fall. Or vibrant rich hues like emerald green or royal purple near Christmas and New Year's! Accent pillows and warm throws in these palettes can add just the perfect pop of color to warm up your living room or a sitting area.

3. Make sparks fly! -- Well not really, we don't want any emergency calls to the fire department. But if you do have a fireplace with gas logs or a fake one, and its a cold day, "fire" (pun intended!) that baby up! Who doesn't dream of sitting down to open a few presents on a comfy sofa near a cozy fire? Of course if you live in Central Texas where it could be 30 but could also be 80 in November and December, use your fireplace wisely depending on the day.

4. Go with a theme! -- If you desire to put up a Christmas tree and have wrapped gifts, make this the year you go for the unexpected. As hard as it might be, put away the construction paper rudolph ornament, and the hand cut snowflakes created by your kindergartener. Keep your tree and its ornaments uniform, in colors and a style that complement your decor, and tastefully sparse. If your living area is traditional with warm hues, an evergreen tree with white lights and red and gold ornaments is perfect. Top it off with just a few wrapped gifts done in complementing red and gold paper and ribbon, or perhaps burlap wrap with a plaid bow. If you are more of a modern minimalist, choose a table top white tree for your dining room complemented with a few silver ornaments and silver and gold packages.

5. The power of a first impression! -- Pay special attention to your front door and your kitchen. Holidays make people want to entertain. So put a critical eye on the areas where entertainment flows. What will someone see and think when they get to the front door and leaves are piled in the corners? Or is the kitchen well-lit for preparing those holiday feasts when there are sure to be many cooks in the kitchen?

Don't let your lack of holiday decorations get you down. Trying to sell your home at this time of year can be stressful enough. So give it a good yet tasteful holiday glow to really turn on the charm, and your home might just be the big ticket item flying off the shelf this holiday season!

holiday hearth

Top 15 Must-dos Before a Showing

When it comes to showing your home, you want to make sure it is as dressed up and ready to go as possible. So here are a few tips and tricks from expert realtors and experienced home sellers that will help your property stand out against its neighbors. Use it as your go-to check-list when realtors schedule appointments.

1. Lights and Lamps On -- "All is merry and bright" isn't just a Christmas carol lyric. It is also the key to selling happiness in your home. Make sure all bulbs are working, turn every light on, pull up those blinds all the way, peel back the curtains, and leave on all your lamps. Your house will shine like Christmas giving buyers that merry at-home feeling. 

2. Clean Kitchen -- Sink and counters should be clear of dishes and food items and any spills on cabinets or floors wiped away. Check sinks for food remnants. Make sure trashcan is emptied or has a closed lid (and doesn't smell!). Take all magnets and prized artwork off the refrigerator for instant de-cluttering! Kitchens are one of the top selling points in a home!

3. Cabinet Clutter -- If you are living in a home, chances are you have piles ... of bills, schoolwork, photos waiting to be framed, calendars, receipts, etc. Hide them if you can or at the very least stack them as neatly as possible and preferably on a desk or bedroom nightstand and not on a kitchen cabinet. 

4. Bedrooms -- Make those beds! Crumpled sheets and pillows askew leave a "we are really messy" instead of "come on in" image in buyers' heads. 

5. Bathrooms -- Put those potty lids down! Empty all wastebaskets. Straighten towels and give the mirrors and basins a quick once over. Spots on a mirror or toothpaste globbed in a sink can really turn off a potential buyer.

6. Fido and Fluffy -- Take them with you as you leave the home or leave them in a neighbor's yard. Even the friendliest of pups or the furriest of felines aren't always the most welcoming and endearing especially to a buyer who isn't so pet-friendly. Most dog/cat toys have long since lost their pet store appeal and litter boxes are an instant turn-off so place them as well as food/water bowls out of sight for the showing. Finally take a walk through your yard and if you have to dodge "certain places", clean those up just before leaving. One wrong step in your yard and your buyer might lose interest in the whole house!

7. Doors/Cabinets Easy to Open -- Watch out for those "sticky" handles. If there is a closet that jumps off its tracks, don't be afraid to leave it open rather than risk buyers getting frustrated as they negotiate the doors. Or better yet ... fix it!

8. Doors to the Backyard/Garage -- Leave these unlocked just long enough for the showing. The last thing a buyer wants is to get locked out accidentally while they are viewing your home.

9. Your House Smells Fine -- Or it should! Certainly work to eliminate any profound odors prior to a showing (i.e., litter boxes, trashcans, bathrooms, laundry bins, etc.). However, resist the temptation to improve the smell of your home with a plug-in device or over-spritzed air freshener. In general, the less "smelly" (good or bad!) a home is, the better the taste left in a buyer's mouth.

10. A/Cs/Heat -- Make sure your home is a cool comfortable respite in the summer and a warm cozy retreat in the winter so adjust thermostats accordingly.

11. Laundry Rooms -- Hide those clean and dirty piles if you can! No one has to know you just stuffed a pile of freshly laundered shirts right back in the dryer for safe storage!

12. Laundry Hampers -- Try to keep hampers in bedrooms or bathrooms empty or closed if they have a top that closes. No one wants to see what you have that needs cleaning. 

13. Check Your Green Thumb -- How do those plants look? Make sure any that are wilted or look dry have a good soaking and cut off any dead or dying leaves. If they don't scream "come on in", move them away from your front entry.

14. Pools/Fountains -- Turn on that beautiful fountain! And give the pool a quick once over, removing as much floating debris as possible and putting colorful toys/mats away or stacked around the side of the house. Watch for frogs, birds, and large bugs that have chosen your pool as a final resting place and promptly remove them as well!

15. Focal Points -- You don't have to go overboard cleaning and scrubbing. Just a good tidy up works but focus on the areas a buyer connects with most ... kitchen, living room, master bedroom. Set the stage for a superior showing by showing off these areas!