Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waiting for Motivation in 2015?

Happy New Year!

As we open a new chapter, I hope you embrass 2015 as "MY YEAR" to create something amazing.

Waiting for motivation is futile.

I'm not quite ready.
Jump in.

 I am uncomfortable.
So what.

But it's hard.
  Push through it.

Maybe tomorrow?
Just start!

2015 is going to be a great year full of success.

With love and affection,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I am particularly thankful that my oldeast and dearest friend, Karen, got a clean path report after her double mastectomy a couple of weeks ago. Happy, happy, happy.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Trust Me, Dear Client

I'm working on a family room for a client.  The client is one of my regular realtors that hires me for all of her listings.

I think I need to come clean that I don't work like the rest of you talented designers.  Oh, how I wish I could compose one of those boards with all the furniture and accessories picked out.

Nope, can't do it.  I have to have an inspiration. So, today I stumbled upon this chair and ottoman.
Jackpot!  I'm always happy when I see trendy upholstery on a classic piece. Check out the print on this chair is awesome.  Soooo much to work from!
 Love the vivid red, blue, black and gray.
Of course, there is white or beige as a background player.
A girl's gotta have curves.  This chair and ottoman have awesome curves.

Then I saw this over-the-top-but-would-be-really-cool-painting-to-go-in-the-room. 
Anyway....I'm sad.  I've already completed three rooms for my client. (No design boards-just trust in my vision--that the both the wife and hubs always loved.)

But, the out-of-da-box chair scared her.  It was my muse for a very wonderful room.  Oh, how I wish she would trust me one more time.  The chair was only one piece in the fabulous room.  Wish I was able to make a design board to show her my inspiration played out.....but can't do it.  Cuz I really don't know until I get there.

But, it would have been some kinda wonderful.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Walmart "STEELS" -- Interesting, Inexpensive Staging Ideas

I have a passion for unusual items that can serve as a staging accessory. "But IT doesn't go with my decor."   That's the point, dear seller! Matchy-matchy is (yawn) boring.  Then they say, "It looks great.  I never would have thought of "that"."

I'm also the queen of bargain shopping.  So, check out these items and prices for fun stuff.

EVERYBODY has a Walmart in the USA!  All of my lovely readers in the United Kingdom and China (thank you very much) also have Walmart.

So here we go with some metal jewels from Walmart:

Walmart  $11.97

I am in love with this Sapphire blue bucket (or 'pail' as BFF, Virginia, drawls.)

What to do with it:  Use it to hold kindling on your fireplace hearth. Roll up colorful towels and display in the bathroom. Try it in a kid's room to hold toys.  Put it in the kitchen with hand towels in it. Place this blue baby on a laundry room shelf filled with cleaning products. Magazines would look swell inside. It would be an ample waste basket or recycle bin. I can see it as a plant container, too.
Walmart  - $10.96 for all 3

Aren't these nesting baskets da bomb?

What to do with them:  These would look mighty cute as hanging organizers! However, I would probably separate them and use in different rooms (more bang for your buck). Put them in the kitchen to hold place mats, napkins, and utensils.  Load one with apples or a plant and use as a centerpiece. Remote controls and cell phones could rest in the small basket.  Place one a shelf to displaying books.  Corral collectibles like seashells or corks inside   Use in the bathroom to hold guest towels and facecloths.  Put the small one in the powder room to hold soap and lotion decanters. Display pretty stationary, markers or mail on your desk in one.

Walmart - $24.89
Hello Handsome!  I heart this though-shaped galvanized bucket!  Some kinda swell for under $25.

What to do with it: Can't you picture wine bottles in it?  Books? Magazines? A plant or two?  How about two mac-daddy big-ole-pillar candles and greenery?  Store paper towel rolls or TP?  Use for wrapping paper rolls in an office? Kindling? A bulky throw?

This bucket would be soooooooo great used for holiday decor, don't you think?  IT IS AWESOME!

I know you have some great ideas to share.  I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 10, 2014

83 is Awesome!

I think only a few times in our lives do we brush shoulders with true inspiration.  Today, I was in an Aqua Aerobics class.  A lovely silver-haired woman was in front of me. She was far out preforming me.  When we did a  stretch and tone exercise she easily locked both hands behind her back and lifted high.  Her arms were very firm and toned. She was never out of breath or out of step.

Later in the locker room, I saw her sitting in her granny panties and 4" bolster bra as she rifled through her bag for clothes.  I said, "I was behind you in class today.  You are very fit.  I noticed how toned and defined your arms are."  She smiled a sweet, endearing smile and thanked me.

As she she walked out, she looked over her shoulder and said, "I'm 83."

I smiled and replied , "You are an inspiration."

She was walking so fast. I don't know if she heard me.


Really, really awesome.  Go 83!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Why Shrubs Should Come with an Expiration Date

Do y'all have any idea how dated old landscaping can make your property look?  Staging starts with curb appeal.  Buyers have to appreciate your house from the outside before they want to invest time looking at the inside.

Here's the front of the a house I recently consulted on. This is the picture after the the sellers had it landscaped according to my recommendations.  Notice the house looks bigger without the offending shrubs.
S. Brooks
Here's my before picture. The scrubs cover half of the windows. Big no-no. We are selling those windows and the view. Let the sunshine in.  Plus, scrubs look shoddy when they get 'trunky' on the bottom, see-through in the middle, and thick at the top.   Boxwood require time and attention for thinning as they grow. This Boxwood hedge is not attractive. (BTW, never make bushes flat on top.)
Inside of a Boxwood that has surpassed its shelf life. (USDA)

Look at Your Property Through Buyer's Eyes
These sellers have a very large lot.  I walked the seller out to the edge of his property on the street side.  "Try to look at your house objectively.  Notice how the overgrown bushes and trees flanking the front door obstruct the front of your house?  Now, imagine the front of your house without the overgrown shrubs and the trees cut back."

Mr. Seller had a "BINGO" moment!  He was accustomed to seeing the dated landscaping.  He said, "It would never have occurred to me to remove the shrubs!"

High-Five, Mr. Seller.  Good work.

Friday, October 31, 2014

It Really is All About the Shoes!

Happy Halloween, Y'all!
This is Wilma the Witch.  She has been with me a few years.  Wilma is very proud of her shoes.  She loves to make an appearance every Halloween.
Wilma greets all of our Trick or Treaters.  She makes the Moms laugh and the small tikes cry.  (Hate that!)

You goblins, enjoy your Halloween.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sex Sells but Not for Staging

This master bedroom sits in a $2M house on the market.

Dear Sellers,
Yowzer, that is one colossal nude painting.  I do get it!  You enjoy a sexy, provocative painting in your boudoir. She is lovely.  But here is the deal sellers, buyers will only be in your bedroom a few minutes.  We want them concentrating on the size of the space--not checking out the muscles (or whatever) of The Poser in the Painting.

And, speaking of, it appears you do some posing of your own and enjoy checkin' it out in that big ole leaning mirror facing the bed.  I get that too!  But, let's move that mirror for selling, eh?

 You've got lots of furniture in this small room. All the furniture lines the four walls.  We call that "wall flowers" in stager-talk.  Something's gotta give: the huge console in front of the bed, the full size sofa, the mirror, the 2 large bedside tables, the chair, or the chest of drawers next to it.  This room needs breathing space.

"It's the space between the notes that makes the music."

Of course, we have to leave that pretty bed.  But it does need to be tidied up.  Those wanky comforters and covers aren't the impression we want to make for selling. (And, straighten that pretty bed skirt while you are at it.)

If you are familiar with Feng Shui, you will understand when I say the dried hydrangeas have to go.
Dry = Dead.  Dead stuff is bad Feng Shui.

Dead is definitely not sexy in a master bedroom.

Ring, text, or email me dear sellers.  I'll be more than happy to help you staged your $2M master bedroom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ralph Lauren, Oprah and Me

Like most bloggers, it is difficult for me to write when I'm not inspired.  Of course, I have posts that I have written but I can't manage to hit the "publish" button when I'm uninspired.  For me, inspiration usually 'finds me' in other areas of my life.
Lauren by Ralph Lauren

I was watching an old Oprah and Ralph Lauren interview.  She mentioned that one of the first big purchases she made when she started making money was buying Ralph Lauren towels. "NOW I have made it!" To Oprah, Ralph Lauren towels represented "the ideal" of what it meant to be successful.
Brian Procell
They continued to have a very thoughtful conversation about the appeal of his products.  I had to stop the video when I heard Ralph Lauren remark that his brand "is not about fashion".  Ralph Lauren said his brand was about "living".  His goal is to create the dream for people of how to live.  He continued on to say that what differentiates his products from his competitors is the love he devotes to his creations.

Yes! Yes! Yes! I shouted to no one.  That is exactly my philosophy!

I, too, endeavor to create the dream for people of how they will live in a house.  And, yes, while if sounds perfectly OK for Ralph Lauren to say he puts love in his products, it probably sounds pretty cra-cra for me to go around saying it.  (I just had a vision of me telling realtors that I am different than other stagers because I put love in my staging. HA! I can see their eyes rolling.)

There is a lot of competition for products and services.  I think Ralph has hit 'it' on the head.

The following quote has been pinned on my bulletin board for 20+ years.  I am so sorry that I do not know who wrote it. I wish I knew who to give credit to. 
How do you define work?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Visit from the Chair Fairy

Worthing Court Blog
This is a true story--for real.

I was reading blogs one night and stumbled onto Worthing Court Blog.  Suzy bought two chairs from Pier 1 for her living room redesign.  I fell in love with these chairs!  I am a big girl and like a chair that is ample for curling up in.  The upholstery print was divine!  All the colors I use in our house.  Oh! I had to have it!

I hit Pier 1's website.  This Chas Armchair in Blue Meadow was priced at $499.  Errrr.....I lusted this chair but that price was waaaay out of my league.

Pier  1

I am a Craigslist junkie. I scour it constantly for staging, clients, friends, and, of course, moi.  (You know where this is going, right?)  I did my last CL scan before bed -- that same day.  Thar She Blows!  MY CHAIR!  It was listed on CL for $150.  I mean, what are the odds?  I emailed the owner immediately.

She only lived a few miles away. Kismet! Off I drove to make the fetch.  Ms. owner of the Chas Arm Chair, Angie, works a Pier 1.  Angie explained that she had purchased lots of furniture from the store and Hubs was putting the squeeze on her to start weeding some of it out. Allow me to help you, Angie!
Here's my 'new' chair in my bedroom.  Love, love, love her!  Perfect for using my laptop, watching TV, and Cowboy uses it for putting on his socks.

I got her for only $100!  Yippee Skippee.

Thank you, Chair Fairy!

PS-- She is on sale at Pier 1 for $429. right now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Staging from My Written Report

Isn't this a pretty house?  Theses sellers requested my Consultation Report for their house going on the market.  Thought I would show you with their Living Room before and after.

Living Room After
This is the only 'after' picture that I have of the living room. It may look sparse but the changes make a much better impression than the original arrangement.  The sellers had a large brown leather sofa and club chair. Nothing against leather, but it is considered casual furniture.  The occasional chairs and small table are great for 'living' but not for 'selling'. (I continue repeating, 'staging isn't decorating'.) The bay windows are the selling feature of this room and they must to be featured.

You will also notice the seller exchanged their brass lamps for a lighter (in color and size) pair.  Love, love, love the extra large painting they placed over the sofa. I suggested a large picture and boy did they deliver! The painting balances the windows and the cathedral ceilings.  It will make a dramatic statement me from the adjoining foyer and front door.  I always use books for staging.  The sellers used two on the end table (closest to the windows) to tie in the colors from the picture.

The sellers had the white fabric sofa in an upstairs Bonus Room.  I suggested it be moved to the living room.  The white fabric sofa looks more formal in the living room than the leather.
If I were staging, I would have put a small glass coffee table in front of the sofa.  Glass coffee tables are great for selling because the create the illusion of more space.

I also would have added many big, colorful pillows.

When I write a report, I give the sellers my recommendations of items to add, edit or rearrange.  Of course, it is their discretion how to use that advice.  I've received many questions about using my reports to self-stage. 

I will continue to show examples for the DIY crowd!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Musings: Forgive Me for Not Forgiving?
The value of forgiveness celebrated.  All the gurus and great spiritual leaders discuss the power of forgiving.  I'm a good Christian girl, but to be honest, I've always had a challenge about this particular tenet.  I struggle with the concept of forgiveness.

I am forgiving of small offensives.  Small offenses being things that happen (or are said) with no intention or awareness of hurt or wrongdoing.

But have a difficult time with the reprehensible: molestation, animal and child cruelty, adultery, murder,-- you know the MAJOR sins.  I've seen all the shows with the mother who forgives the drunk driver that killed her baby.  The forgiving man sent to prison for years then released after DNA tests prove his innocence.

I salute these folks! These people have super-human powers in my book.  Forgiving folks are evolved souls.  They are angels walking on earth.

I think there needs to be a different vernacular for mere mortals who grapple with the whole forgiveness thing. Here's my deal: I believe in release. I release people of  their wrong doings.  Release beats allowing their actions to invade my thoughts and distract me from all of the wonderful things to experience in life.
How easy is forgiveness for you?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Online Staging

I've received questions about how my e-consultations work.  The seller sends me pictures of the rooms in their house.  I write a detailed report give suggestions of how it should be staged.  As with my all my consultations, it us up the the sellers to take my advice.  (More details are under "Services",)

Here is a dining room that has been self-staged.
Dining Room Before

Dining Room After
The sellers did not want to go to the expense of replacing the wallpaper.  See how removing the center leaf and positioning the table on diagonal makes all the difference.  They also added a live fern as a centerpiece, per my instructions.

Family Room Before
Family Room After
This room had too much furniture in it.  The sellers edited the furniture.  I also asked them to make an unobstructed path from the French Doors to the back door.

This coffee table had to go!  The huge coffee table literally 'eats' square footage.

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom After
I recommended new bedding, a large picture over the bed (moved from another room) and remove the window valance and treadmill.  The other night stand (under the window) was added to the right side of the bed with a matching lamp.
I'm like a proud Mama when I see seller's follow through on my suggestions.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Road is Paved with Philosophy

Happy Friday!

I was summons for Jury Duty this week.  My number was selected, I passed the interview and was seated.  This was my third stint on Jury Duty.  This week I was "Juror #12".

I always find the process intriguing.  The juror interviews are long and tedious. Probably 60 people answered a battery of questions from the Judge and attorneys.  There was one juror that stood out to me.

"What do you do for a living?"  Attorney
"I pave highways."  Juror
"What is your passion when you aren't working?"  Attorney
"Philosophy.  I have been a student of philosophy since I was young."  Juror

At break, I made it a point to sit next to this older gentleman.  I asked him how in the world he withstood the heat of working with asphalt and temperatures so high. He told me his methods of staying hydrated and watching is electrolytes.  He went on to tell me that he didn't work as hard as the other men.  He had developed a work pattern based on his 5 senses.  He knew just exactly the number of strokes he needed to make to get the asphalt the required depth and density.  "Lots of men work themselves to death--especially the rookies--going back and forth and back and forth."  He worked with efficiency rather than effort.

Then I asked him about his passion for philosophy.  I can't begin to paraphrase all of the scholars, classic and modern, he quoted.  We had a discussion about physics.  He enlightened me on solving problems by applying numbers to possible solutions.

My head was spinning.  I was overwhelmed by all of the knowledge this man shared with me in such a short amount of time.

He told me that he made a decision early in his life to find a job that only required seasonal work where he could be outside.  He could pave highways for 4 months of the year and have the remaining 8 months to devote to his study and the application of philosophy--application being his 'philosophy walks'.

How lucky was I to meet this gentleman?  I met someone who orchestrated and was living a true Authentic Life.

Always make time for your passions.  Even if it is the road less traveled.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

FAQ: Have You Ever Staged a Haunted House?

Happy Labor Day, everybody!  A long, leisure weekend awaits us!
Nightmares Fear Factory

Here's my story du jour.  Virginia's house for sale has had offers.  The best one was just this week.  The buyers made a reasonable first offer and my friends countered in kind.  Everything was going along swimmingly!

Yesterday, the potential buyers requested a third tour of the house before they countered.  The buyers were in the driveway when V's next door neighbor drove by, stopped, rolled down her window and shouted,

"You don't want to buy that house.
It is haunted!"

Our neighbor thought her remark was very clever and totally fun, fun, FUNNY.

All the buyer replied was, "You must be a neighbor."

The haunted house remark happened yesterday afternoon.  No counter-to-the-counter has been received.  Way to go neighbor!  The buyers probably weren't scared of the house but scared of our neighbor.

I can stage a house for it to sell but there is no work-around of stupid remarks.

I guess if Virginia's house is haunted, then I have staged a haunted house.  In 12 years, I have only been in one house that gave me the willies.  The house was gorgeous but it was a vacant house.  I was called in because it wasn't selling.  It was a cold, dark winter day.  Of course, I was by myself.  As soon as I walked in the front door, it felt creepy.  As I walked around taking pictures, I felt a cold chill envelope me.  Okey-Dokey me no likey.  Color me GONE.  When I downloaded the pictures there was something that looked kinda vaporous, grey-white, floaty--sorry, I'm not good a describing 'it'.  I showed the picture to a client and she told me 'it' was an evil entity, to rebuke it in the name of Jesus Christ, and I must never go back into that house.

'nuff said!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meanwhile....More Staging at Virginia's

Hello from beautiful Raleigh NC!  The sun is shining, there is a gentle breeze and it is in the 70's.

Here's the powder room staging.  I'm bummed I failed to take before shots.  The picture is from Z Gallerie on clearance (and it had a small scratch on the frame so there was a further discount).  It couldn't have been more perfect!  Glass candle holders are from World Market.  Silver soap dish is one of Virginia's from her stash.
I added a wee little lamp.  There are no windows so the room shows as dark.  The biggest change was the new tile!! (See the right corner?)  There was dark brown carpet (original to the house! yikes!) before.  After much persuading (damn that StagerLinda and her demands!), it was replaced with gorgeous new tile.  (Mr.V is a tiling machine.  He replaced the tile in 3 other bathrooms too.)

Here are some more before and afters.  I swiped this antique secretary from another room and created a vignette as a quiet place.  It is a great place to compose handwritten notes.  (I do so hope personal notes never go by the wayside.)  It's always a good idea to turn 'wasted space' into 'usable space' for selling.
Landing After Staging
Landing Before Staging
Here is a small bedroom upstairs that was used as an office/guest room.  The primary selling feature of this space is the window seat.  The top lifts to reveal deep storage.  Mr. Virginia took all of the hinges and 83 nails off, cleaned, painted and reinstalled. Great job, Mr. V! If you were decorating you would place a cushion and pillows on to of it.  Since I was staging, the potential buyer needs to see and access the functionality of this great storage unit.

Small Guest Room After Staging

Small Guest Room Before Staging

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Perfect Sofa for Staging

C Homes

There are hundreds of thousands of sofas floating (or stuck to walls) around America.  I say there is one perfect sofa.  This is Jessica deRuiter in her LA home.  I stumbled on her house on the blog Habitually Chic.

Notice the perfect low profile arms.  Many of the sofas I see have huge rolled arms that take up too much space.  What a great neutral!  You can add pillows in different colors and patterns that will make it pop on camera for MLS pictures.Neutral?  Doesn't get more neutral that this lovely shade of white.

Oh that reminds me.....most folks think that all neutrals are the same.  Wrong-y Dong-y.  Check this picture out.  Any one of these neutrals could stand alone.  Mixed together they are don't work.
Raleigh Pinterset
The sofa is pinky-beige, the carpet is yellow-beige, and the ottoman is greenish beige.  Not a good combo. 

Back to The Perfect Sofa...
I like the plain wood legs.  There's no skirt to get in soiled and in the way.  A skirt on this sofa would visually take up more square footage. Being able to see under and around the sofa opens a room.

Three tied back pillows are primo.  They stay in place and don't have to be plumped.  And see how her foot sinks into the cushion.  Awwwww.....feathered cushions...pure luxury.  However, with feathered cushions you need to go first class.  White pin feathers poking through is prickly and unattractive.

What is your favorite style of sofa?
C Homes
 I WANT THIS SOFA!  Anyone know where it can be sourced?
 Happy Friday, y'all!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Stage with Fabulous Fun Fake Flowers

It is the question that is as old as time (talk about exaggeration)....

Should you use fake flowers?

These fun fake flowers were on a distant aisle, low on a shelf, suspended from a wire grid.  Shopping at Michaels, I found these awesome red itty-bitty-teensy faux flowers. They bounced and swayed. Fakes with movement? SOLD!

I brought them home and broke them down.  (Rule #1 for Fakes: don't just take 'em as they come and throw 'em in a container. Take wire cutters and break 'em down to different lengths and groupings.)

I dug into my silver stash and found this FABULOUS silver pitcher.  Look at the detail! Nope, did not pull out the Wright's and polish it.  Too much patina for you? (I am willing to polish it if you folks think I should.)

Here are the leftovers.  Hmmmmm.......what to do, what to do?

Oh!  The price for these fabulous fun fake flowers?
And! I had a 20% off coupon!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!