Archive for the ‘Home Staging’ Category
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Okay, I am not going to launch into the misery of the housing market right now. What I will say is that competition is fierce for the sales being made. If you want your house to sell, you absolutely must do all you can to prepare your home to show it at its very best.
So what changes should you make to your property before you sell?
And what should you leave alone?
1. Kitchens: This is not the time to do a major kitchen remodel. You will not get your money out of it and it’s too late for you to enjoy the new kitchen. But you can make updates that count and will really appeal to buyers. Paint older wood cabinets that are too old to appeal to buyers looking for contemporary style and too new to appeal to buyers looking for historical properties. 1980′s oak is not vintage and it’s never coming back in style! White cabinets are more popular than ever, so painting your cabinets white is almost a no-brainer. If you have brass colored cabinet hardware or the hardware is cheap looking – replace it. Satin nickel or oil rubbed bronze continue to be the most popular and your choice depends on the rest of the kitchen finishes. Only replace the counter top or sink if they are in bad condition or not a neutral color. Remove wallpaper and paint a fresh, current color on the walls.
2. Bathrooms: Again, this is not the time to do a major remodel.. But you should update outdated bathrooms as much as possible. Attractive, up to date lighting fixtures and hardware are relatively easy upgrades that make a big difference. Again — get rid of brass and replace with satin nickel or oil rubbed bronze. It can also be worth it to replace the vanity and sink with a current style if yours is outdated or is in poor condition. Replacing a builder wall-to-wall plate glass mirror with a beautifully framed mirror is another simple and affordable upgrade that appeals to current buyers. Only re-tile the tub surround if the tile is in poor shape or not neutral in color. Remove wallpaper and paint a fresh color on the walls.
3. Flooring: If your carpeting is not a neutral color or it is worn out or stained you need to replace it – period. Do not even THINK about leaving it and offering a carpet allowance. The very sight of a worn, stained, or colored carpet is a deal breaker for buyers. The only buyer interested in a home with a worn, stained or colored carpet is a professional house flipper. They will scoff at your carpet allowance and offer you a low-ball price so low it will take you a week to get your jaw back up off of your worn, stained or colored carpet.
Kitchen Flooring especially takes a beating. It is often a different flooring than the rest of the house, so replacing it can be affordable and go a long way toward making the kitchen feel new and fresh.
4. Entry: Your front door needs to look wonderful! Remove screen or storm doors from your front door. If your door is a beautiful one that is just in need of paint or stain, then freshen it up that way. But if you have a front door that doesn’t even look pretty painted, it is worth it to install a new front door. Check out this blog I wrote to see before and after photos that show just how big of an improvement a beautiful front door can make.
New Front Door & Exterior Paint Color Selection: Just Two Changes Make a Huge Difference
5. Paint: Remove wallpaper, and paint any room that has beat up looking paint or that is a color which will not have wide appeal to buyers. It does not matter how tasteful – cheerful – cute – beautiful – vintage – _________ (insert your glowing adjective here) you think your wallpaper is. Having wallpaper — ANY wallpaper — will seriously reduce the percentage of buyers that will consider buying your house.
Is the exterior paint on your house in poor shape or a dated color scheme? Tan with forest green trim? Dark brown with tan trim? White with brown trim? Or perhaps a strong color? Bright yellow? Bright blue? Then you need to paint your exterior also. Exterior paint colors can be tricky to select. A a paint color consultation will help you get it right the first time. When I give exterior paint color consultations I take into consideration any stone or brick on the house, your roof color, and the neighbors’ house colors to be sure that yours will look attractive.
For a little help on interior paint colors to select when selling your home check out this blog I wrote.
Tags: Bathroom, color, Design Tips, Flooring, Home Staging, home staging portland, Kitchen, Lighting, paint, portland home staging
Posted in Bathroom, Colors, DIY, Design Dollars, Design Tips, Flooring, Home Staging, Kitchen, Lighting, Mistakes: Avoiding & Fixing, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Friday, July 16th, 2010
I read a lot of blogs. Most of them are Interior Design blogs, but some of them are on other topics of interest to me. One of the blogs I like is called The Calm Space and the topics are about Happiness and Serenity. Yesterday the writer, Vitania M. Liscio posted an article that is all about using what you already have to redecorate your home and freshen it up. It fit my sentiments exactly! After all, my work in Interior Design is really all about helping my clients be more happy with their homes. It isn’t all about buying new stuff (although that is fun!). But if the things you already have can be arranged, changed and displayed to improve the feel of your home, then that’s a great way to get started on making your surroundings the best they can be. Plus, she gives great tips, so I thought I would share it with you.
~~photo is of one of my paintings displayed in a penthouse I staged~~
So, how do I redecorate my own home with what I’ve already got? Well, I enjoy painting as a hobby, plus I buy a lot of inexpensive and colorful art for my work in home staging. When I need a change, I rotate my art, bringing out pieces I haven’t seen in awhile and putting others away. It is an easy way to change the whole look and color palette of my home without having to buy anything new.
Interior Designers usually refer to this rearranging and re-purposing of your furniture, art and accessories as “Re-Design” and it’s one of the services I offer. One great bonus is that this is a very sustainable way to redecorate because you don’t have to find a place to get rid of your older things. It’s also a thrifty way to allocate your design dollars.
Do you love the idea of re-designing your rooms with what you have, but just can’t imagine where to start? After living with your belongings in one arrangement for so long, it can be tough to imagine them any other way. A fresh pair of eyes can be very helpful. If you’d like help with re-designing your space, pick up the phone and give me a call. I’d love to help! 503.816.4394
Tags: decorate, Interior Design, redecorate, redesign, the calm space, Vitania M. Liscio
Posted in Art, Cool Ideas, DIY, Design Dollars, Design Tips, Fireplace, Home Staging, Interior Design, Sustainable style, redesign | 1 Comment »
Friday, July 9th, 2010
Chandeliers are bullies!! There — I’ve said it! When there is a chandelier in your dining area, you’re immediately stuck having to center your table under it — or ARE you? When it comes to dining room chandeliers, do you ever wonder “Why did they have to put that THERE?!!” This past month alone, I’ve had 4 clients all with the same problem. The chandelier in the dining room — or dining area in an open floor plan — is placed in a spot that forces them to put a table in an awkward spot. Here’s what we are doing in each case.
The first client has a chandelier and a large window in their kitchen dining area which don’t line up. If they center their table under the chandelier, it is noticeably out of alignment with the window, and vice versa. So, since it’s easier to move the chandelier than to move the window, we’ll have an electrician move the j-box about 10″ over to the correct position and use a large, simple ceiling medallion to cover where the old location was.
Client #2 has a large, ornate, dark bronze colored ceiling fan in her dining area. If she centers her table under it, then the table and chairs are smack in the way of a heavily used traffic flow area to the back door. The table really needs to be about 18″ further away from the door area. Since the client really needs a ceiling fan my recommendation in this case is to change to a much lower profile “ceiling hugging” version in white to match the ceiling. That will really minimize the visual of the ceiling fan, allowing it to become a non-issue in the placement of the table. The client is going more contemporary in their decor, so this kills two birds …
Client #3 had a tiny eat-in area in their kitchen with a door to the garage that opens into the kitchen. Centering the table under the chandelier meant that the door would hit the table when it opened. The client was thinking of swagging the chandelier chain, which is certainly a viable option. But that would really call attention to the ceiling and the fact that the whole business (table-chandelier) has to be off center. Since the client already had a 3-light track fixture at the other end of the kitchen, I suggested installing a matching 3-light track fixture instead of the chandelier. Now the table can be toward one side without any off-center visual issues, plus they are able to light the table and put a spotlight on wall art.
Client #4 just bought a new condo. They have an open plan kitchen/dining/living room. There is a nice large niche with a bay window that is a natural spot for the table. But of course, the chandelier has been placed too far into the room so that centering their table under it will mean that it is too close to one of the pathways into their kitchen area. The rest of the room has recessed can light fixtures, so this time we will retrofit a ceiling can light in place of the chandelier (which the client didn’t like anyway).
Is there a chandelier in your life giving you trouble? Give me a call. For all 4 of these clients, I came up with a solution that fit their particular situation on my initial consultation.
Tags: chandeliers, dining area, Dining Room, dining table, furniture placement, Lighting
Posted in DIY, Design Tips, Dining Room, Home Staging, Interior Design, Kitchen, Lighting, Mistakes: Avoiding & Fixing, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Are you living with a kitchen that has seen better days? I certainly am! My house – purchased almost 5 years ago – was built in the 70′s and the kitchen had not had updates of any kind. Eventually I will remodel. But when I do, it will be the kind of remodel that includes knocking down walls, moving windows, adding an exterior door and will cost tens of thousands. Business is getting better all the time, so hopefully the day is not far off when I can have the sleek and modern kitchen of my dreams like this beauty by Bulthaup.
Maybe you are living with a kitchen that is outdated, or even a new construction home with a kitchen that is bland and boring. If you aren’t ready for a full blown remodel, it doesn’t mean you can’t inject a fresh feel into your kitchen and do it affordably. In the meantime, why not make some quick and relatively inexpensive improvements that will make your kitchen more enjoyable and livable for now?
Today I’m sharing 5 ways to freshen up your kitchen without a remodel. These quick and lower cost improvements are also great for people who want to make their home look it’s best before putting it on the market.
1. Lighting: Just a few improvements in your kitchen’s lighting can make a dramatic impact in how warm and beautiful it looks and make your kitchen more functional. Under-cabinet lights are available in both plug-in models you can install yourself or hard-wired versions that will require an electrician. Getting ones that have a low and high setting means you can set them to bright so you can see to cook, and then turn them down to a soft glow for ambience when you are entertaining. This is especially nice in open plan homes because it makes great accent lighting. Placing them toward the front of the cabinets gives the best light over your work area. In the kitchen below, the under-cabinet lights cast a beautiful glow on the tile backsplash and light the countertop beautifully making it easy to see what you’re doing.
Updating ceiling light fixtures is another quick way to improve lighting. Removing an old dropped-ceiling fluorescent fixture and replacing it with track or spot lights gives a more contemporary look and better light. If you have higher ceilings in the kitchen, consider a chandelier to replace a nondescript ceiling light or ceiling pendants above a breakfast bar or kitchen island.
2. Backsplash: Changing your backsplash is a quick way to add interest or color without all the work and expense of changing out your countertops. In the kitchen below, the single row of 6″ x 6″ glass tiles adds shine and complements the color of the painted cabinets. Although glass tile is not cheap, you don’t need much to do a simple backsplash like this.
via HGTV, designed by Beth Haley
This beautiful stainless steel backsplash below is done in peel & stick tiles that require no grouting. They are carried at Lowe’s and are manufactured from 60% recycled material. When adding a new backsplash, take care to choose a material that relates to something else in the kitchen. The glass tiles above relate in color to the cabinets. The steel tiles below relate in finish to the cabinet and appliance hardware.
3. Paint and Paintings: Giving the walls a fresh coat of paint in a new color will give you an instant transformation. But an even easier way to add color and interest to a kitchen is to add art. Just as in other rooms, be sure to use art that is large enough for the wall to really make an impact. In the 50′s kitchen below, the bright orange countertop didn’t go well with the gold linoleum. This home was going up for sale and the client didn’t have the budget to change flooring or countertop. So the large colorful art with oranges, golds, reds and greens pulls together the disparate colors in the room.
You can incorporate art even when there isn’t much wall space. Inexpensive printed giclee canvases are easy to wipe clean, so they can be placed anywhere. Here I used art above the backsplash and below the wall cabinets to add a bit of color to this bland kitchen. Colorful accessories continue the color scheme.
4. Flooring: Kitchen flooring takes quite a beating. If your kitchen flooring is looking shabby, and it is different from the rest of the flooring in your house as is often the case – then changing it can be a relatively inexpensive project with big results. If you have old wood floors that are beyond refinishing, consider painting them. Painted checker board patterns are popular, but the kitchen below is very contemporary. I know this is unusual, but the dramatic black floor and charcoal wall work well against the white cabinetry and yellow tile behind the stove with a bright yellow chair as accent. Light colors like soft aqua or muted yellow-green work well in a kitchen too. Again, just be sure to relate the color to other finishes in your kitchen.
Other great flooring options are cork, or Marmoleum. Cork and Marmoleum both come in tiles and can be handled by an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Linoleum comes in a great range of patterns including ones that look like stone. Installation of the large sheet material is better left to a pro.
5. Hardware: If you have that shiny brass hardware from the 80′s – RUN – DON’T WALK, to your nearest hardware store! Your cabinet drawer pulls and handles and kitchen plumbing fixtures are like jewelry for your kitchen. Updating them is like getting a new tie to wear with your favorite suit, or a new necklace to wear with that classic dress you love. And just like a new tie or a new necklace, new hardware will change the look of your kitchen equally as effectively. But before you are tempted to pick the cheapest ones you can find — let me say this: hardware is something that you touch everyday. It should feel good in your hand and be of a good quality.
Choose a style and finish that works with the rest of your home. With thousands of styles available, you can create any look you want — from simple traditional or contemporary styles — to highly decorative statements. Although it is possible to successfully mix metals in your kitchen, the finish should relate to other things in your home such as your light fixtures or other metals found in adjacent and visible rooms. In the first two photos below, these simple hardware styles complement the style of the cabinetry. The turquoise glass knob echos the color of the aqua glass inserts in the cabinets, while the ornate tree shaped pulls work well with the elaborate leaf design carved into the wood.
With so many choices available, it can be overwhelming. But just choose one of the above five steps to get started. For most people, the kitchen is the heart of the home, so making it more appealing will give you a big payoff in enjoyment for yourself — or in speed of sale if your house is going on the market.
If you still aren’t sure which changes would be the best for your kitchen, I can help you decide your first step. Give me a call or email me today to set up an in-home visit or online consultation.
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Tags: Art, backsplash, cabinet hardware, cabinet knobs, cabinet pulls, faucet, Flooring, Kitchen, kitchen cabinets, kitchen remodel, Lighting, paint, plumbing fixtures, stainless steel
Posted in Art, Colors, Cool Ideas, DIY, Design Dollars, Design Tips, Flooring, Home Staging, Interior Design, Kitchen, Lighting, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Are you selling a small home that is vacant? There is a bonus tip at the end of this article just for you!
Have you moved into a small home, either because you’ve downsized or it is what you felt was best for your budget? If it’s feeling a little claustrophobic, it doesn’t have to be that way. Click here to read Part 1: Top Ten Tips To Make Your Small Space Look BIGGER!
6. Paint Color Tricks of the Trade: Lighter and cool, soft colors like pale aqua, pale blue or pale green all tend to recede and help make a small room feel larger. Conversely, vibrant warm colors like red or orange, advance and feel closer to you, so opt for lighter, cooler colors. Painting adjacent rooms in the same color makes them feel visually more like they are part of the same room. This is especially effective if you have open entryways between the rooms.
7. Monochromatic Color Palette: A serene, monochromatic color palette will go a long way toward making a room feel larger. Highly contrasting color schemes and lots of pattern tend to make the room feel smaller. This doesn’t mean you have to make everything beige! Not by a long shot! Look at these three rooms in shades of lavender, aqua and neutrals.
Besides a monochromatic color palette, the lavender room above also employs a see through coffee table and a minimum of furnishings. Notice there are no side tables. The floor to ceiling curtain panels make the most of the ceiling height and pull all the way back from the windows to expose the entire view.
Although I would like to see all the clutter off the floor, this small room is enhanced by the shades of aqua.
Notice that the single large painting makes the space feel big even though it just accommodates a loveseat and two smaller chairs. The side chair and coffee table are not bulky and have long legs, allowing you to see the floor. Notice also that the pattern on the rug is on the diagonal.
8. Move Away From the Wall: When furniture is all pushed back against the wall, it feels like they are lined up like prisoners in front of a firing squad. Whenever possible, create furniture groupings that are away from the walls and that leave room to walk around them. Keep natural traffic patterns clear and avoid placing the back of a sofa toward the entry. It feels like a barrier to entry and immediately psychologically shrinks the room. In super tiny rooms, you may not be able to group furniture away from the wall, but might be able to angle a loveseat in a corner. This is another great trick to making a room feel a little bigger by directing the eye along the diagonal, which is the longest line in a room.
9. Light Expands Space: A well lit room always feels bigger. Maybe it’s because you can actually see the whole room! Provide lighting in all 4 corners. To preserve precious floor space, consider using track lighting, wall sconces or table lamps instead of floor lamps. Accent lamps pointing upwards and torchiere style lamps wash the ceiling with light and make the most of the volume of the room.
10. Stealthy Secret Storage: Clutter is the nemesis of a small room. But you do have “stuff” and need to keep it somewhere! Choose closed storage over open front storage to keep a room serene. A book case with doors will hide paperbacks & other less attractive belongings. Think floor to ceiling and wall to wall when building in storage units. The long lines don’t break up the room and give you maximum storage space. Find secret spaces like a storage ottoman to keep extra items. Entertainment units that hide all of your dvd’s, cords and audio-visual equipment are a blessing to the small room.
Bonus Tip!! Selling a Small Vacant Home: If you are selling and your property is small and presently vacant, this tip is just for you. PUT FURNITURE IN THE HOUSE!! It is absolutely true that a tiny room will look bigger when furnished than it does empty. If you are looking at the small rooms and worried that they will look crowded with furniture — potential buyers will be worrying about the same thing. A professional home stager — ME of course — will use all of the above tips to furnish your property so buyers will see that it can look beautiful and that furniture fits with room to spare.
For more help with any of these tips for making your small space look and feel bigger, call me today to set up an in home consultation. You’ll be on your way to getting the Look of Large! 503.816.4394
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Tags: aqua, Art, chair, coffee table, Decorpad, Design Tips, Flooring, Home Staging, Jeffrey Bilhuber, lavender, Lighting, monochromatic. colors, paint color, Rafael de Cardenas, small space, storage
Posted in Colors, Cool Ideas, DIY, Design Tips, Furniture, Home Staging, Interior Design, Lighting, Living Room, Space Planning, Storage Solutions, Top Ten, Uncategorized, Window Treatments | 2 Comments »
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
Are you living in a smaller space than you have in the past and feeling a little cooped up? Do you want (or need) to downsize, but you’re not sure how you’ll feel in a smaller space? If you are selling a smaller home, your place could be perfect for those looking for smaller or starter homes. But the very people who are looking for those smaller spaces may have a hard time imagining how to live in them. Whatever your reasons are, I’ve got 10 great tips for making small spaces feel B-I-G-G-E-R!
1. Fewer Pieces … of Anything! In small rooms, the more pieces of furniture you put in, the more crowded it begins to feel. Think carefully about each piece you put in. If you have a coffee table, will you really need side tables too? It also begins to feel more crowded with lots of accessories on top of tables & shelves. A few nice, large accessories will create stronger focal points and give the illusion of a spacious room. Even with art, which is hanging on the wall, a single large piece of artwork will make a place feel larger than groups of small pictures.
2. Reduce “Visual Weight” of Furnishings: Believe it or not, the style of your furniture is even more important than the actual size. Select seating pieces that have open space under the cushions (8″ or more is good) rather than upholstery or skirts down to the floor. Think “leggy”! Because you can see under the furniture, it doesn’t stop your eye, and the room feels bigger. Glass table tops can be seen through, so they don’t take up as much “visual space” even though they may be just as large as a wood table. No sharp corners on these because it is a bit easier to bang your shins. I’m speaking from experience here. Simple, clean lines are also easier on the eye than very ornate pieces and keep the room looking bigger. I would tell you this even if I didn’t love modern design. I swear!
3. Smoke & Mirrors: Okay, well I was kidding about the smoke. That won’t help you at all. But mirrors are pure magic when it comes to adding the look of large! Consider putting sheet mirror on an entire wall. In a miniscule kitchen I once had, I had mirror custom cut to fit on the wall behind the sink and continued it under the cabinets above the backsplash. It was amazing how much bigger my kitchen felt with the windows on the other side reflected in this mirror. Or you can try standing a large, framed floor mirror against a wall. It will feel like an open doorway into another room, thereby expanding the space. Just remember the one cardinal rule of mirror placement: The mirror needs to reflect something beautiful and bright – not a vacant white wall.
4. Floors – the Foundation for an Expansive Feel: That’s expansive – not expensive! Having the same flooring continue throughout your home will allow your eye to move past the boundaries of the doorways, making each room feel a little bigger. If you have tile flooring, setting it on the diagonal always makes the room look larger than setting it square. This is a great trick for tiny bathrooms!
5. A Room With A View: Opening up any views the room has will improve the feeling of extra space. Window drapery panels should be floor to ceiling and the curtain rod holders should be set at least 8″ to 10″ past the sides of the glass so that when the drape is pushed back, it exposes the entire window and gives the maximum view. Hanging the draperies this way makes the window look larger too. Do you own your home? If you have smaller windows, replacing them with larger ones or with French doors will visually expand your space into the great outdoors. If you don’t have a view, consider a full wall mural of an outdoor scene. A good one can really make you feel like you have more space. Continue reading part 2, tips 6 through 10 … PLUS Bonus Tip For Home Sellers!
Tags: Design Tips, Flooring, floors, mirrors, small space, wall coverings, Wall You Need is Love, Window Treatments, windows
Posted in Cool Ideas, DIY, Design Tips, Flooring, Home Staging, Interior Design, Space Planning, Top Ten, Uncategorized, Window Treatments, windows | No Comments »
Sunday, January 31st, 2010
In part one of this article, I focused on your pet’s safety and well being during the marketing of your home. If you want to be sure that your furry family members survive and thrive during the marketing of your house, please read Home Staging Portland Style: Home Staging Tips for Pet Owners, Part 1 – Pet Safety.
Those of us with pets have special challenges when it comes to making sure our homes are clean, odor free and ready to show at a moment’s notice. Not everyone loves animals the way we do. Some have allergies and nobody likes pet odors! So, although you will do more work than most sellers in preparing your home for sale, and you’ll have to stay on top of odors, pet hair, pet dishes & beds daily, the following advice from a professional home stager who owns 2 dogs and 6 cats will help make the process as easy as possible.
First, buy all new pet beds and make sure you buy ones that have easily removable covers for laundering. Pet beds get smelly over time, so rather than fighting to get an old bed clean, just do yourself a favor and start with fresh new beds. Throw the covers in the wash weekly to keep them clean. That may seem excessive, but many people are highly allergic to pet hair and dander, so washing weekly not only keeps them odor free, but helps to assure that a potential buyer doesn’t have an allergy attack halfway through the house.
Vacuum daily while your home is on the market. Use one of the vacuums that has a hepa filter. As well as the rugs, vacuum your upholstered items,the pet beds and any curtains that collect pet hair as your animals brush past them. I actually bought one of the iRobot brand Roomba automated vacuums. I am amazed how much that helps to keep pet fur at bay, although it does need to be emptied often. I also chose to keep protective blankets on upholstered pieces that were favorite sleeping spots, (for the pets — not me) only removing them when we put the cats and dogs into their dog run and cattery. I laundered them regularly.
Pet beds need to be out of sight during showings. I have big dogs with big dog beds. I slide my dog beds underneath my own bed where they cannot be seen. If yours won’t go under the bed, or you have a platform bed and they would be visible, then buy a large plastic crate with a lid into which you can toss the beds, blankets, & toys and set the whole business inside a closet. It’s fast and helps to seal away pet hair. You can do the same with an attractive chest which can remain in the room. Fast & easy! For smaller pet beds, think about hiding them in plain sight. Take a look at some of the ideas in these photos. If the entry holes are simply facing to the side or back, nobody has any idea they are pet beds, so you don’t have to worry about hiding them before showings. In fact, these are great ideas for incorporating your pet’s belongings into your home decor even if you aren’t selling your home. I love the contemporary walnut pet bed. And the little doggie murphy bed is a great idea! Click on the photos for their sources.
Empty cans of wet cat or dog food smell horrible. Even to me, a big-time pet lover. Rinse them thoroughly before throwing them in your indoor recycle bin, and remove them to your outdoor recycle bin as soon as possible. Remove all trash & recyclables to outdoor containers each morning when you leave the house.
Pet food bowls should not be left out in the house for showings. Having a dog run or an outdoor cattery gives you a place to keep water and/or food available. To make things easier for myself while my home was on the market, I used paper plates to feed our cats their canned food because I could just toss the used plates in the garbage and I took our garbage out daily. This saved me time washing their bowls and putting them away. You can also put clean pet bowls in a plastic crate with a lid, along with toys & blankets to get them out of sight quickly. By the way, the paper plate idea did not work for my big dogs — they tried to eat the plates, ripping them to shreds. Big mess!
Litter boxes need to be scooped relentlessly. To make it as convenient as possible to keep them scooped, I kept a container right next to each litter box with plastic grocery bags and a scooper inside. If your container is attractive looking, nobody will know what is inside. This made it quick and easy to scoop out the litter box with the supplies right at hand. I just drop the scooped litter into the plastic grocery bags, tie them shut and take them directly to the outside trash. The container with bags & scooper can quickly be placed inside a cabinet or closet if it isn’t attractive. Also, providing the type of litter boxes with lids will keep you from having to do so much sweeping of litter kicked out of the box. Some of them also have a filter in the top to help absorb odors.
You will also want to place litter boxes so that they are not in view even though you have the odor completely handled. One great solution is to keep the litter box in your garage and install a cat door so your cat can get to the litter box. I’ve also used a decorative free standing screen in a corner to hide a litter box from view. The photo below shows one of my favorite solutions to hiding a litter box. This is made from an Ikea chest with a hole cut in one end. It has enough room to house the litter box, plus the clean up tools and other cat items. The open grid design means there is light and ventilation inside for the cats. As long as the litter box is kept clean, nobody will have any idea what it is for. Doubles as a bench too! Other photos show cabinets turned into places to hide beds or litter boxes. Although the skirt around the sink is a little funky for my taste, it could work in a tiny apartment if other options aren’t possible. Besides, I couldn’t resist the picture of her cat “Tony” sitting in the sink. Very cute! Click on the individual photos for sources & details.
(Oh yeah, these photos are NOT from homes that were professionally staged, so you still need to lose the clutter on top of the cabinets and keep the toilet lid down.)
It’s essential to be sure that carpeting does not have any pet odor or stains. If your pet has had an “accident”, the most effective enzyme action odor neutralizer I have used is called “Stink Free”. Great name, huh? This is great for a minor spot here or there. But if you have very much staining & odor, remove the carpet & pad from the affected rooms. Instead of re-carpeting, It would be best to put flooring in such as wood, laminate or tile, that can be easily mopped up in case of any new accidents. Don’t even consider leaving the carpet in and giving a “carpet allowance”. Anyone detecting the odor or stains from pet urine will run, not walk, out of your house.
Outdoor dog runs and catteries still need to be kept clean. Keep a poop scooper, rake, shovel, & trash can right there for quick and easy clean-up. Having a surface that can be hosed down to wash away urine will also make it easier to keep it clean, healthy for your pets and odor free.
I know this sounds like a lot of work — and it is. Been there, done that, bought T-shirt! But having this all organized efficiently and staying on top of it daily will make the whole process easier. In no time at all your house will be putting it’s best foot paw forward and you and your critters can move on to a new and wonderful home!
This post got “4 paws up” from Shirley, Izzy, Leeloo, Bubu, Buzzy Max, Suki G, Zipper Jane, and Otto!
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Sunday, January 31st, 2010
Tips to Help Your Pets Survive and Thrive While Selling Your Home
Here in Portland, Oregon we love our animals! That’s clear from all the “couture” pet accessory stores & doggie day-care centers sprouting everywhere, and even the wonderful “Lucky Lab” neighborhood brew pub with it’s great covered patio where you can hang out and relax with your dog. But when it comes to selling your home, suddenly our beloved four-legged friends become pariahs in their own homes. I have seen the topic of staging a home for sale when you are a pet owner addressed many times. But the article is always about eliminating odors and hiding the pet beds, dishes & toys. One thing I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone address is your pet’s safety and well being during the time your home is on the market. So, Part 1 of this post is about assuring your pets survive and thrive during the marketing of your property giving you peace of mind. Part 2 is about making it as EASY as possible for a pet owner to show their home in it’s best light.
When your home goes on the market, strangers will be coming through – we hope! Having strangers in your home and yard when you aren’t there can be very stressful for your pets and there’s the potential of your pets accidentally getting loose. Although I find most people to generally be courteous and considerate when touring homes, there are few who will make a mad dash to capture a cat or dog that bolted for the door the instant it opened. Also, when a buyer is viewing a property, there’s a lot to capture their attention and they aren’t familiar with all the tricky bits of your latches & locks. It’s very possible that a back yard gate does not get latched properly. I don’t know about you, but my dogs are always testing the boundaries for any possible weakness in perimeter security and would nose it open the instant they thought the coast was clear and be off like a shot. Sometimes potential buyers bring children with them to view the home and your pet can be a real attention magnet. Your pet may be the gentlest and most tolerant animal, but there’s no guarantee that the kids have learned to be gentle. Best to keep your pet out of possible harm’s way.
My first choice for keeping your pets safe is to remove them from the home for all showings. If you are home almost all of the time, this is pretty easy. Have your dog leashes and cat carriers at the ready. Load everyone into the car and make your escape before the buyers get there.
If you work and cannot drop everything to run get your pets when a showing comes up, how can you protect your pets? Here are a few ideas.
My first choice & easiest solution, if you have the funds, is to drop your dogs off at a doggie day-care center on your way to work. Your dog will have fun romping with other dogs all day and you’ll rest easy knowing there’s no chance of your dog getting let out of the yard or having his tail pulled. One recent client of mine lived near her parents, so her dog got dropped off at “grandma’s” every day. Great solution! Buyers will feel more relaxed viewing your property because they aren’t worried about keeping your pet where it’s supposed to be, nor are they worried about being jumped on or bitten.
My second choice for your dogs. Create a dog run, preferably away from your house. When I had to sell my home four years ago, I didn’t have a dog run. Our dogs lived in the house with us, and had full run of the fenced yard. So, when I knew we were putting our house on the market, we fenced off a lower portion of our yard several feet away from the house. Buyers could see the entire yard from the top level, so there was no need for them to go into the fenced off area. The dogs were safe from anyone viewing the house and people didn’t feel threatened by the dogs. There is a lot of good info online about creating a dog run that is safe and healthy for them. When you create your dog run, I recommend either using slightly raised wood decking or synthetic turf on the ground so that it doesn’t turn into a mud pit. Both solutions look great, and are easy for you to hose down. I am including some photos of very nice dog runs. Shelter from sun and rain will keep your dog comfortable in any weather. An extra tall fence will keep kids and grown-ups alike from reaching in to disturb your dog. A nice soft bed and enough room to run around and play lets you feel good about keeping your dog here while you work.
If you live in an area that gets exceptionally cold or snowy, here’s a great idea! My next door neighbors have created an indoor/outdoor dog run by putting a dog door in the side of their garage and actually have fenced off a portion of the inside of the garage where they keep the dog’s beds & water. So, the dogs have access to warmer indoor shelter directly from their outside dog run. You can also buy dog house heaters and outdoor heated kennel pads for use during winter. Use a little creativity and go the extra mile to make the dog run look attractive. It could be a nice bonus selling feature if your buyer has a dog. Blending fencing materials with the style of your home enhances your home instead of creating a visual eyesore or distraction.
If you’re a cat owner, I’m sure you’ve noticed your cat’s lack of enthusiasm when it comes to going for a ride! So although there are perfectly nice cat kennels that are great for caring for a cat while you are on a vacation, the stress to the cat of being driven somewhere everyday may make this not such a great solution in your cat’s opinion.
So,here’s my first choice for cats. Build an outdoor “cattery”! This is like a dog run, but it has a full ceiling since cats are waaaay better at climbing than dogs. We have six cats and at my last home my husband and I created a cattery on the side of the house where most people would have put their trash cans, etc. We did this years before we sold our home because we lived on a busy road. It provided a safe haven for them to play outdoors. Our cattery was pretty similar to the photo on the right, except we didn’t have a wood floor. We had lots of plants, fresh bark mulch, a tree for shade, garden sculpture and a small fountain for lovely sound. We did our best to make it look as much like an enclosed garden as possible. It was actually very pretty. The whole side of the house was still visible to potential buyers, and they didn’t have to open any doors that might have let our cats escape. The cats had plenty of room to play, shelter from the elements, comfy spots to sleep, and we kept it meticulously raked and clean so there was no odor problem. Whenever we left, the cats went into the cattery. Outdoor heated pads are also available for cats. With a little design savvy, a cattery can be quite nice. I love the one below, left. Very contemporary style!
Because we had the dog run and the cattery, all pet food bowls were kept out there, not in the house, so they had access to food & water with no cat or dog food smells in the house.
If you don’t have space for an outdoor cattery, and it is essential that your cat does not get out of the house, then my second choice for cats, is to have a large crate or cattery in the garage, or (less desirable) a spare room. Again, it should look as nice as possible and be kept meticulously clean. Keep in mind that some people are super allergic to pets, so having them out of the living areas of the house for all showings is really desirable. This is why my first choice is to have these enclosures outside of the house, and second choice is the garage, with last choice actually being inside the house,
If you cannot provide a cattery for your cat, then it’s a good idea to have a kitty door that uses a cat collar with a signal so that only your cat can enter and it can also get back in if someone accidentally lets it out. If your kitty is an indoor/outdoor cat normally, then having a cat door will assure that your cat can go about it’s routine pretty much undisturbed.
So, to sum it up, for your pet’s safety and well being, and because of buyers’ potential for leaving a door or gate ajar, their fear of animals or allergies, the ideal plan is to have your pet in a safe, secure, and comfortable location outside or away from the house.
Pet owners have some extra challenges when it comes to keeping their homes show-ready. Please read part 2 for the EASIEST ways to keep your house looking and smelling it’s very best while living with pets.
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Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Welcome to the first in a series of tips, advice and secrets that professional Home Stagers use.
Home Staging Tip #1:
Clear Those Windowsills!
I often go into homes that have lofty, vaulted ceilings and lovely high clerestory windows that follow the angled lines of the ceiling … only to see the view of the sky cluttered up with lines of sporting trophies, glass bottles filled with colored water, collections of ceramic tchotchkes … you name it. Then I move to the kitchen and see that windowsills are dotted with tiny potted plants, jars, candles and so on. Bathroom windowsills sprout a tacky little row of roll-on deoderants, lotions & tiny air fresheners. In fact, I have been in homes where it seems that every window in the house has something sitting on the sill, or if not on the sill, then one of those little (or giant) light catchers applied to the window with a rubber suction cup. Oh, yeah! Gorgeous!
I do get the magnetic attraction of the horizontal surface. My husband and I cannot seem to keep any table, counter, or flat railing wider than 4 inches free of objects for a period of 24 hours. But considering how much we want light, I cannot understand this penchant for sitting things on windowsills. Any objects sitting in your windows are going to reduce the light. Little objects in the windows stop your eye, therefore interfering with the view. It is clutter!
I have exactly one exception to the “nothing-on-the-windowsill-rule”, and that is a LIVE CAT. No matter how many times you remove a cat from the windowsill, it will sneak right back up there … hopefully knocking all the other little tchotchkes to the floor.
So, be brave … repeat after me … “A windowsill is not a display shelf” … and put all that stuff away or in packing boxes. It may seem empty for a day or two, but soon you’ll look at the window and suddenly see …
Monday, November 16th, 2009
Okay, so this is not about Interior Design. But clients ask me for help with their Exterior Paint choices too. This client has a house in Milwaukee that they are fixing up with some remodeling inside and also were painting the exterior. My client really had her heart set on gray and she is also using grays for her neutral colors inside, so when she asked for help on her color selection, it was really about choosing the right gray. I thought you would enjoy seeing how helpful the free online color selection programs are. This one is Personal Color Viewer® by Benjamin Moore.
Here is the exterior before painting, and below are three of the many grays we considered. You can see what a difference each shade makes. I recommended a paler warm gray because I felt it worked better than the deeper and cooler grays on this wood exterior. Her interior grays are also warm in tone and it made their new front door in a deep iron gray really pop out as a focal point.
In addition to painting the exterior, they upgraded to a beautiful new front door. Here is the After photo of the exterior with the new paint color and the brand new door. I think the door immediately makes the entry feel more upscale and substantial. Check out the close up before & after photos of the door. Although this client is not getting ready to sell their home, when I look at a home for one of my Home Staging clients, I advise making sure that your exterior paint color is fresh and neutral and that your front door is looking great! Many potential buyers would just drive right past a home that has worn paint and an unattractive entry. This home exterior is now appealing and gives the impression of a home that is well cared for.
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