Christmas in July means reflecting on “a few of my favorite STAGING things!”Read More
A few of my favorite things …
A few of my favorite things …
Christmas in July means reflecting on “a few of my favorite STAGING things!”Read More
The Dos and Don’ts of Kitchen Staging
Encourage buyer’s to eat their hearts out with inviting kitchen accessories!
Ask any realtor the top three selling points in a home and I guarantee “kitchen” will always make the list! It seems buyers are obsessed with the latest in backsplashes, current cabinetry and hardware, statement islands and endless countertops. Knowing the “kitchen” will be a top selling point is reason enough to focus your staging efforts on this “living room you can cook in” in today’s real estate market.
The good news is kitchen staging costs much less than a kitchen renovation and while it can’t sell the home on its own, good staging always helps the home put its best foot forward.
So what are the dos and don’ts of creating inviting culinary spaces that will immediately connect with buyers on an emotional level? Probably the number one rule of kitchen staging is “Keep it Simple and Don’t Over-Decorate.” Depending on the size of the kitchen, focus on 1-3 simple vignette areas that showcase a relaxed and healthy lifestyle. Your goals is to make every buyer that walks through the door think “this kitchen is all I need to be the next top chef, enjoy relaxed five-star meals every day, be healthy and in shape and enjoy a peaceful existence.” Read on for more dos and don’ts with finding just the right balance of functionality and décor for a kitchen that cooks up a “welcome home” vibe!
· Leave any dishes in or around your sink (they have homes, can go in the dishwasher, or at least need a good hiding place)
· Leave knives out (they just look … well … too edgy! Ha! I love a good corny pun!)
· Leave dish towels out (who wants to be reminded of washing dishes?!)
· Overclutter counters with all your daily routine utensils
· Keep out more appliances than just a coffee maker or decorative mixer
· Leave crumbs or sticky residue on counter tops
· Put a really tall decorative item on your island or bartop (it will most likely be right in the way when taking a photo of your kitchen)
· Leave mail, kids school work, etc. stacked on your kitchen counter
· Have chargers plugged in everywhere (stash them in a drawer or cute basket )
· Have a bowl of “past its prime” fruit and vegetables out on the counter
· Decorate the tops of cabinets (this just draws attention to the fact that your cabinets don’t extend to the ceiling)
· Leave magnets and photos all over the front and sides of your refrigerator (check out how busy they look through a camera lens!)
· Have a stinky trashcan!
And here’s what you can do to help a kitchen speak straight to a buyer’s heart! (and their checkbook!)
· Keep all dishes and utensils washed AND PUT AWAY
· Keep your knives completely out of sight
· Hide your dish towels
· Put away runners, mats in front of the sink or stove
· Store your small appliances (i.e., toaster, can opener, etc.) in a cabinet/pantry
· Hide your soap dispensers, paper towel holders, drying racks, scrub brushes, etc. from around the sink area
· Remember the “grapefruit rule” of display – only stage using items as large or larger than a grapefruit; smaller items (i.e., decorative salt and pepper shakers) don’t photograph well
· Create a cute coffee bar that makes you feel like you are staying in a hotel
· Use faux green apples, oranges, or lemons in a bowl as a decorative item; they add a great pop of color and look so healthy and happy
· Prop a cookbook on an easel next to the stove. Open it to a beautiful culinary masterpiece – who doesn’t want to imagine they could cook these delectable dishes if they only lived here?!
· Create groupings of “three” with decorative vases, bowls, oil dispensers, etc.
· Incorporate greenery – think small succulents or a bright green plant – it will make the kitchen feel alive
· Stage a wine bar/drink station with wine glasses and an attractive bottle
· Use a tray to anchor a grouping of decorative items
· Reduce the number of items in your glass front cabinets so that there is only 1-2 “things” or groups of “things” per visible shelf area (i.e., a single crystal bowl instead of three stacked together)
· Empty all of your trash and hide your trash and recycling cans before showings
Adding just the right staging to your kitchen might be the perfect way to invite a buyer to sit and stay a while … like forever!
How to avoid “stage” fright
Preparing to have a professional stager join your home selling team
You’ve decided to sell, hired a realtor, settled on list price, and now your realtor says “let’s call in a professional stager!” Immediately your blood pressure spikes! Selling can be stressful enough; who needs or wants a professional decorator coming in and critiquing your design style, judging you on the number of kids’ trophies you have displayed, turning up a nose at your overstuffed closets, and suggesting you pay an exorbitant amount of money on stuff you will never need again that only looks good in a house you are trying to ditch, right?
WRONG! The truth is a good stager can be your best friend and actually make your life easier as you prepare to sell. A good stager can help clients make livable choices that will get the most bang for their buck. For example, gorgeous ceramic candlesticks may look beautiful staged on a coffee table sitting on a hardwood floor. But if three children under 10 and two huge dogs live in the home while it is on the market, this will not be a practical staging decision unless you are looking for an excuse to rid yourself of the candlesticks.
So how can you get the most out of your 1-2 hour visit with the stager, make your home show like a model while still living there, and not have to double up on Xanax to live through it?
Here are five steps you should take BEFORE your visit with the stager. (Insert panic because the stager comes tomorrow … relax, if you can at least think through these things in each room, you and your “new best friend” can have a much more productive visit.) He/she will outline steps you should take AFTER. With the initial prep work out of the way, those steps will help you focus on how to update each space so it stands out in photos to draw buyers in, improve overall room flow, use furniture and décor to optimize focus on the architectural elements of your home, and create emotional connection points that speak to a buyer’s heart instead of just their checkbooks.
STEP 1 – Mentally divorce yourself from your home. Realize someone else is going to live there so when buyers walk through the door, instead of seeing immediate evidence of where you went to college, how happy you all looked at Disney World, and that your daughter’s favorite color is obviously pink, let them see potential. THEIR family’s potential. That means neutralizing your entire home by removing all the personal … photos, trophies, monograms, religious symbols, hunting trophy mounts, political references, and anything that tells your story. Go ahead and pack this up. Having this out of the way will save you and your stager a step. The two of you can then work together to fine-tune your efforts to the best possible presentation.
STEP 2 – While you are packing the personal, do some additional decluterring. The majority of us could stand to remove about 50% of what we have shoved on shelves, crammed in the corners on the floor of the closet, and spilling out of the laundry room. (If you are in the small percentage of people reading this who are successful at keeping these areas neat and clean, my hat’s off to you. You and I should probably talk. I may “have a friend” who needs a little help!)
STEP 3 – Focus on the floor level and use the grapefruit rule when working to declutter and decorate. In closets, buyers want to see that your home has ample storage. One way to give this impression is to clear off the floor level and the top shelves so viewers can see all the way to the back walls. This gives the allusion of LOTS of extra space, a must-have on most buyers’ lists. The “grapefruit rule” will help you when cleaning off bookcases and visible shelving. If something is smaller than a grapefruit, it will just increase “visual clutter” in a photograph. So add those small collections and extra pieces on shelves to your packing list. Leave just 1-3 larger things per display shelf. (This is not necessary for closet shelves so don’t freak out about how you can only live with three pairs of shoes instead of the 25 currently stacked precariously.)
STEP 4 – Rent a storage unit. You have plenty you can put in there … extra furniture, boxes of kids’ schoolwork, winter clothes (do you even really need those in Texas?!), the treadmill (do you honestly use it every day?!) … basically all the stuff you cleaned out in steps 1-3. Your stager will also let you know if there are furniture pieces, rugs, extra chairs, or other larger items in your home you should consider storing.
STEP 5 – Repair and refresh. If you have a toilet seat that is broken, a hole in the sheetrock from your door knob, scuffed paint, missing or broken tile, etc., etc., etc., get all of those things repaired! Your stager is going to tell you to anyway. Left undone, those are definitely things a buyer will notice. Their very next thought will be “well if this homeowner didn’t take better care of the xxxx, what else did he/she neglect?” That mentality will not be your friend when it comes to negotiating your best possible price. Refresh by focusing on the front door – a coat of paint will help it pop and make buyers excited to come in and see what lies ahead – and the front patio (fresh flowers, no empty pots, get rid of cobwebs in light fixtures, etc.). Also look at landscaping that would improve the look of your front yard and have your windows, home interior, and carpets professionally cleaned so they all sparkle.
In short go watch some HGTV and do your best to “stage” it yourself before the professional ever comes through the front door. You know a lot more than you think you do in terms of what will make your home sell. After all, you fell in love with it! If you can incorporate all you know first, then when your professional stager gets there, they can leave you with a list of special touches that won’t break the bank but will help you earn top dollar and help your home really stand out against competition.
If you are looking for a certified home-staging professional to help you through the process, give us a call. Again, “I have a friend!”
Happy home staging!
5 Steps Straight to a Buyer’s Heart
Stage “Emotional Connection Points” Just Like the Pros
Close your eyes. Imagine sitting in a cozy chair reading a book by lamplight next to a crackling fire. Sink into a giant ocean of bath bubbles taking in the smell of lavender and rosemary as candles cast shadows on your bathroom wall. Venture out to your back patio to sip wine and watch the sun set as you wind down your day. Now imagine you walk into a house for sale and can immediately see yourself in all three of these scenarios! Can you say S-O-L-D?!
The secret is in the emotional connection these pictures paint. The idea of relaxing at the end of a long day, spending time indulging in fantasy through literature, or taking in the beauty of our world without having to say “hurry up, it’s time to go” speaks to our hearts. It brings a sense of calm, a sense of peace, the idea that our lives will somehow no longer be as busy and chaotic as they normally are if we spend time in this place.
Spoiler alert … home stagers know this and we plan accordingly. The tray on the bed with coffee mugs and a book? The wine glasses and cheese tray on the kitchen counter? The basket of fluffy white towels in the master bath? These “vignettes” as they are called are not by accident. They are purposeful. They tug at a buyer’s heart and make buyer’s “emotionally connect” with a space they are touring. In other words, they help buyer’s visualize a serene and tranquil life in a property they are viewing.
So how can you create these emotional connections in your own home as you attempt to entice buyers? After you have done all the “standard staging stuff” – de-cluttering, removing personal items, stashed cleaning supplies, and optimized furniture and accessories to create a spacious and open interior -- try adding these five vignettes to really tug at those heart strings.
1. Entryway– Add a fresh welcome mat that says “hello” or “home” or something of the sort to subtly plant the thought “this could be my new digs” along with colorful, welcoming flowers ideally in blue or yellow. Afterall who doesn’t like thinking they have an amazing green thumb and can grow these if they live there?!
2. Kitchen– Create a welcoming coffee bar for guest. Think coffee maker, cute canister for coffee beans, a catchy sign (“I like coffee with my cream and sugar”) and a couple of matching mugs.
3. Living Room– Turn that arm chair into a reading nook. Stage it next to a floor lamp, drape a cozy throw casually over the back of the chair, and place a basket of magazines within reach. Get crazy and leave a magazine with a beautiful layout (think Travelmagazine island vacation scene or Architectural Digesthome furnishings) open on the side table.
4. Back Patio– Place a tray with wine glasses, a pretty bottle, and small succulent or candle on a side table under a covered patio next to two side chairs.
5. Master Bath– Think of five-star hotels or your favorite spa. They all have those lovely fluffy, white robes and lush white towels. Make your master bath feel the same with a basket full of NEW (these are cheap and worth the investment! My favorites come from Target.) fluffy white towels placed on the counter or by the tub along with some cute soaps and a loofah or bath salts. Know what spas and luxury hotels DON’T have? Mismatched towels! So if you put the basket of white ones on your counter, be sure you take down the old threadbare colorful ones hanging on your towel racks! Whatever is featured in the bathroom should look consistent and match!
These definitely aren’t the only ways you can draw buyers in, but they certainly help pique their interest. When you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to make your home stand out from the crowd, take advantage of these tips from the pros and speak to your buyer’s hearts. Hopefully their hearts speak to their heads and you will all be signing on the dotted line before you know it!
Of course, if you are looking for more professional inspiration and want help getting your house in tip top staging shape, give us a call; we would love to help!
From the Dog Days to Fall Days
Every year when it’s “back to school,” I start counting down the days until September 1. My favorite time of year is Christmas so my favorite season is fall. Fall marks the official beginning to Christmas in my book. Fall decorations, cooler weather, Halloween then Thanksgiving … they are like the appetizers for my main course. The calendar may disagree, but in my book September 1, is the official start to fall and according to people in my household, when I start cooking again! (It is true, I take a “life hiatus” pretty much all summer long … sandwiches for dinner, mac-n-cheese at least once a week, nachos whenever you want … that’s a story for another day!)
It doesn’t take much to start the transition in my house and get everyone feeling in the spirit. If you want to start taking advantage of the coming merriment, here are a few easy ways to “stage” your house so it feels “fall-ish” and starts getting you in the spirit for the most wonderful time of year! If nothing else, when you live in Central Texas and the thermometer is still hitting triple digits, feeling fall-ish gives you an opportunity to at least pretend it is cool outside!
The swimming pool may be closed and morning traffic may once again be tolerable only with a good cup of coffee and book on tape, but don’t let it discourage you as you look back at the dog days of summer. Start celebrating the coming seasons by adding a little fall to your household today! And if you decide you need a little help finding the right “look” to match your own style preferences and current décor, Starfish Home Staging is happy to help!
Curb appeal! That first first-impression a buyer gets when they drive up to your house. Will it sell what is inside? Just as a pretty bow with matching paper piques your interest in a Christmas package, so too will a fabulous front door.
Here are five easy steps to creating a first impression that really sells!
1. A new coat of paint – Weather and time don’t mix well with front door paint and stain. A fresh coat of paint or stain will really focus a buyer’s attention as they make their way up your front walk and give your front porch new life. If you are looking for the perfect front door color try timeless classics like black, charcoal grey, or a medium dark stain. Anything too flashy will be too distracting. While you are at it, add a new door mat that complements the style of your home. Or consider at least tossing the old one which mostly likely is tired and well used by this point.
2. Freshly cut grass – Consider hiring a lawn service to manicure your yard on a weekly basis while on the market. Fresh cut grass not only smells good, but is also very inviting.
3. Mulch, mulch, mulch – Neglected flower beds are overrun with weeds, leaves, misplaced rocks, and an overall dullness. Fresh mulch will add a uniform look and pop as someone scans the front of your house.
4. Sweep the patio, dust the door, and clean the windows – Your house will thank you for brushing the dust out of its eyes. Sweep under that front door mat and behind the flower pots. Get rid of the unwanted leaves, dirt, and dead bugs. Especially if tree pollen is high in your area (like oak is right now in Central Texas!), you will notice your door gives off a yellow/brown/greenish hue. Grab a damp rag and give the entire door a once over. And if you have windows in your front door, make sure to clean them so they sparkle and shine letting as much light through as possible.
5. Focus on flowers – Take stock of whatever greenery may be on your porch. Consider removing all potted plants except for just a couple in uniform pots. Definitely remove any who have seen better days or are needing a little (or a lot!) of love. Use two matching planters and place on either side of your front door with a welcoming and bright hue … bright green ferns, stark white petunias, or brightly blooming Indian Hawthorns. Just make sure whatever you place by your door, you keep well-tended throughout the duration of your sale period. Water regularly; trim away dead blooms and brown leaves. Nothing says, you don’t want to live here, like a host of dead, decaying plant life right by the front door.
Now that you have the buyers' attention and have made a fantastic first-impression, they will be ready to come in and see what more your house has to offer! If you need help getting ready, let me know!
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.
"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!
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!