Monday, August 31, 2015

SUNDAY MUSINGS: Modern Granny Doesn't Look Like Wolf-Granny

I'm typically all spiritual and such on Sunday.  But today, Granny-Wolf reared her ugly head and got me worked up.  You know what I am talking about -the Whooping Cough commercial?  Other than hating the concept of Granny's head exchange with the Big Bad Wolf, I have another bone to pick.

Why do ad agencies continue to project the frumpy-granny stereotype?  I'm a grandmother, many of my friends are grandmothers, many of their friends are grandmothers.  In 2015, Grannies don't look like the commercial Granny.

We don't have faded hair, pulled back in a dowdy bun.
We don't wear windshield readers.
We don't wear a two-toned grey cardigan sweater twin set.
We don't wear long dismal grey straight skirts.
We don't wear ugly, grey loafers.
We don't sit in our woefully sad, dark, monochromatic house, on ugly furniture with heavy drapes with drawn sheers
We don't have a knitting basket on the floor and needles in our hands.
 Listen up ad people!  Your ad is just wrong.  Wrong-y Dong-y Wrong...



Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Budget Wedding that was Rich on Love

Jennie and Ben
Karen's son, Ben, recently married.  Karen is my oldest and dearest friend.  I was at Ben's birth and he has called me, "Aunt Linda", for 29 years.  Jennie is a sweetheart and definitely gets a thumbs up.
The Wedding Party
In this era of wedding extravaganzas, there was no showboating at this wedding. Ben and Jennie created a unique and personal wedding. Jennie's young cousins had their own ideas of how they would participate. They were superheros in capes and fairies with tiaras. For a beach wedding, Ben and Jennie figured khaki shorts and blue golf shirts were perfect for the Groomsmen. The Bridesmaids wore coordinating long blue gowns. There was no wedding planner, no rehearsal, no rehearsal dinner, no photographer, no wedding cake.  There was a minister, a gorgeous day, and 130 people that loved them.

Budget? It was shoestring at best. These two resourceful kids relied on the help of friends and family to pull it off. Jennie got a floor sample gown on sale for $200 courtesy of  Karen. Karen also supplied the veil. It was a family heirloom worn by 6 past brides. Jennie's favorite movie is Safe Haven. She wanted to get married at the same romantic waterfront in the movie. Uncle Rob, retired Town Manager, provided the venue in Southport, NC. Friend Joe, brought a pig cooker and smoked pork butts for the reception. Ditto Uncle Neil with chicken.  Karen, her sisters and the brides' aunts, etc. made all the other fixins: mac & cheese, slaw, green & baked beans, etc.etc. There was a bounty of delicious food. Jennie and Karen made over 200 cupcakes. Uncle Bill installed a full sound system and provided all the music.
Karen and Ben's Mother/Son Dance
Cowboy and I helped too. We picked up and hauled soft drinks, wine and beer from a distant store freezer, up 3 flights of stairs. to the reception hall. Check out their ingenious idea for icing the drinks.
"Pick Up" a drink

I ironed the grooms' wedding outfits: long sleeve shirt and slacks for the ceremony, golf shirt and shorts for the reception.  I also cleaned a bunch of old pictures and mementos for a Memorial Table.  I'd never seen a Memorial Table at a wedding.  Jennie's mother died of cancer several years ago. The table was a lovely tribute to her mother and other relatives that had passed. 
Cowboy, Groomsman Mike and Me Installing Runner
The biggest challenge happened at 3:10PM.  The attendant for the venue mentioned to Jennie that Yes! she could have a runner.  Huh?  "The other lady said runners weren't allowed."  Dial 911 Runner. Cowboy and I jump in the car to get the runner. Success!  We then NasCar-ed to the hardware store for a hammer and tacks. Return, unroll, install. The wedding is scheduled to start at 4:30PM.  There is no time to tarry.

We finish the runner at 4:10PM.  We run to our nearby B&B.  Somehow, we tag team quick showers, towel off, and dress. I attempt to apply makeup. It refuses adhere to my still-red-and-moist-from-the-heat face.  My hair is sopping from perspiration but there was no time for blow drying.  I throw on my dress, grab my pocketbook and say, "does this look OK?" Cowboy laughs, "I think the zipper goes in the back."  Crap. Backwards. Turn dress. Go.

We hustled back to the venue. Whew! The wedding had not started yet.  I scamper to the restroom hoping to apply some waterproof mascara. (Waterworks at weddings, you know.)  In runs Jennie with a bridesmaid holding up her dress. Like any bride, her nerves caught up with her.  From the stall, she pleads, "Please, talk to me, Linda!"  I managed to talk the bride off a the ledge.  What a precious memory!  She's cool.  I'm mascaraed.  Let's get this party started.
That is me jumping up to give applause. 

This wedding is very, very special.  It is truly their wedding.  There is no pretentiousness-just happiness. There was so much love that it was palatable.  It took a village, but they pulled it off. How refreshing to witness and be part of something so wonderfully organic.  --Namaste.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jeff Lewis Says It Best

"There are people with really, really horrible taste.  My job is to save them from themselves."
Jeff Lewis
"Flipping Out"/Jeff Lewis Design

One of the benefits of being a Stager is that I don't have to please anyone.  My staging is based on the ideal approach for presenting a house to sell.  I am grateful that I have never heard, "We don't like it." (Of course, they only have to live with my staging the limited time their house is on the market.)

Sometimes, staging clients hire me to decorate. "I love your style!"  I think, they think, that they love my style.  With staging, I can be bold. (Peacock feathers, anyone?)  It so perplexing that  when I use the same approach for decorating they seem to choke. Huh? But, I thought you, 'loved my style'?

And ya know, since it is their home, they want to help.  Oh my goodness the bargains they find for me to incorporate in their decor!
  
It is difficult to be diplomatic when something sooo not-kinda-wonderful flies out of that shopping bag.  Press mute NOW.  But, my mind is screaming, "IT IS SO WRONG!"  Like Wrongy-Dongy wrong.

Then comes their scrunch-face plea, "Well, it kinda goes." 

There's no "kinda" with style!

While Jeff Lewis has a plethora of personality dysfunctions, I admire his design aesthetic and vision.  How wonderful it would be for a client to give me carte blanche on a decorating project.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Give A Warm Welcome for the Return of Wallpaper!

Robert Redding's Hampton Court
I've been working with a staging client that asked me to help her with paint colors for her new house.

Jennifer loves color! Her previous house had neutral wall colors (of course, a plus for selling).  She intends to be in the new house for a very long time and wants it to reflect her style.

I suggested 3 different shades of blue/grey for the common areas (BM's Night Mist, Grey Wisp, and Imperial Grey). Her office is a bright blue (BM's Tranquil Blue), the Master Bedroom, Guest Room and her Spiritual Study are a serene blue--BM's Wythe Blue. Her kitchen is kicking it with a bold coral/red/orange color: Valspar's Samari Fusion.

We had difficulty finding 'the' color to use in the dining room.  I asked Jennifer if she had ever considered wallpaper.  She was in!  We made a decision for the Dining Room to make a statement.

Look at the GORGEOUS wallpaper that we selected for the Dining Room!  The beautiful peacocks will be installed above the chair rail. I'm sure it is not every one's cup of tea but we were both wild for it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Staging & Spirilizing

This was a fun house to stage.  Check out the architecture!  This is the view from the front door as the buyer enters.  It definitely has the 'wow' factor.

 Here is a picture of this grand family room before staging.

I wanted something dramatic on the back wall.  The position of the electrical outlets limited the kind of artwork that could be displayed.  Aren't these metal and wood ornamental pieces perfect?

Love me some big bright pillows on the sofa and chaise!  The red pillows really pop in real estate photography.  I added a small glass top coffee table for some visual interest. The glass top and open base  'disappear' instead of eating square footage.


Those black and rattan chairs have been with me since my early days of staging.  They are the most versatile pieces that I use for staging. These chairs adapt to any decor!

The  tall bookcases flanking the fireplace did not match in dimension. (Why Mr. Builder? Why?) They were a bit challenging to stage.  Too many items and the shelves would have appeared cluttered.  The casing surrounding them is heavy.  However, the height of the shelves is low.  Does that make sense?  The owner said she was at a loss as to what to display on them.

AFTER
Before
AFTER

Before
The brown love seat and purple ottoman were removed.  A small upholstered chair and ottoman from the original decor was moved near the fireplace.  It made for a cute sitting area near the fireplace. Now on to my latest discovery!

Have you Spiralized?

I am having a love affair with my new Spiralizer!  I am a self-professed pasta junkie.  Always looking for a healthy alternative, I thought I'd give the Spiralizer a spin.  Holy Curly-Que! Veggie pasta is da bomb! Zucchini noodles really are delicious with spicy tomato sauce on 'em.  Spiralized yellow squash are succulent cooked in a little EVOO with garlic and parmesan.  Tonight, I spiralized a Videlia onion and sauteed it.  A sweet potato was twirled into spiral noodles and added with a tad of chicken stock. Fresh spinach, goat cheese and a few pine nuts were thrown in for good measure . It was so YUMMY!

Those spiralized savory sweet potato noodles were easy-peasy-quick-n-tasty comfort food to ME.

Cowboy was very suspect and took a pass. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Get the Big Picture for Staging

Oh my goodness, it is hot as a firecracker in Raleigh, NC.  Hope you are managing to stay cool.

Wanted to share with you the importance of large art for staging.  Large, bold and colorful art pops in MLS pictures.  Of course, big art also makes rooms show better.  Below is an office after I added 3 large art prints. 
Here's the office before.  The wall sconces look kind of puny in relation to the rest of the room.
Over the piano, I placed a Geranium print for a splash of color.  It is displayed higher than I would have preferred.  The Kincaid picture it replaced had heavy screws anchoring it into the wall.  I had too many fish to fry on staging day to remove the screws, patch the sheetrock and repaint.
My apologies to any Thomas Kincaid collectors.  I am well aware that his art cost is pricey.  I'm not a fan.  Just sayin'.... I always tell home sellers with Kincaid's (truthfully!) that landscapes don't photograph well.  Also, our target market for this house is a young family.  That buyer gravitates more towards contemporary pieces.

Below is example of one of  my BIG accessories--a ceramic urn and lush peacock feathers.  Folks always seem to be baffled by those dang niches.  "I've never known what to put there."

Ya think?
I love my job!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"That's Not Centered!"


Here is a dining room staging to show you.You know how I'm always saying staging is not decorating?

My first step in staging is to stand at the front door and look at the space through "buyer's eyes".  I do a quick scan of the of everything in my immediate vision.  I concentrate on the area that would be around 10 o'clock, if you were looking at a clock face.  This quick look is what your potential buyer sees when they step into your house.

What does the buyer see when they walk in?  In this case, it is the back wall of the dining room. dining room back wall. The wall was previously void of decor. 

Also, it is important to remember we are selling the architecture. We are selling that fabulous chandelier, trey ceiling, inset lights, and transom door.  So, to play up the architecture I used tall, chunky red pillar candlesticks and candles.  This is to draw the eye up towards the features.

Picture is only to illustrate my point.
You will notice that the picture on the back wall facing the front door is not in the middle.  For staging, it was cheated a bit to the right to look best from the front door.  The ficus tree was pulled away from the wall. (Hard to tell from the picture but it is a bit left of center--for the same reason.)
I moved the dining room table a wee bit to the right of center to create space between the chairs and the buffet. Here's the before picture.
The buffet has mirrored shelves.  I selected accessories that wouldn't 'get lost'.  The majority of accessories are shiny gold or brass objects.  I did not put anything on the bottom shelf.  It gives a less cluttered look and can't be seen above the backs of the chairs.
By the way, when the owner came in for the reveal, she unconsciously pushed the chairs as far under the table as possible as we chatted.  When she finished I laughed and said, "I guess you didn't know I had a reason for leaving the chairs out a bit?  It allows breathing space and makes the room look less crowded."

Oooooooooh! replied the seller.
It's those little things....

Keep cool.  We are in a record heat wave.