Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Slob's Guide to Home Staging

Okay so I've alluded to the fact that I'm lazy in the past, and, of course, by "allude" I mean I have been brutally honest about it.  I'm sure this will come as a surprise to...someone out there, that laziness is probably the number one contributing factor of sloppiness.  Probably.  I'm basing that purely on logic, but I'm not really great at logic so let's just say I made that up (but it sounds legit right?)



So to most of the population all of these will just make a ton of sense, but to a sloppy girl such as myself (or my children) sometimes we need things spelled out for us.  The number two contributing factor to overall sloppiness is...wait for it...the suspense is killing me...CHILDREN! Boom!  That my friends was the sound of a huge truth bomb!  My kids are the worse...at cleaning.  They are pretty much the finest and brightest in every other respect, and I love them dearly which is why I'm still harboring their filthy selves up under my roof.  That and because I'm required to, by law, but mostly the love thing.

So, anybody else find half eaten bowls of mac and cheese hidden under the couch because when I told them to take care of their dish that was what made sense.  Don't even get me started with what I find in the couch.  This Studio C skit is what I think of every time I have to put my hand into the cushions.  That is a scary, gross territory and I am afraid to venture into it.  The couch stuff is just the tip of the grossness iceberg that is my children.  They seem baffled that I would flip over trash on the floor...let me be clear here, ITS ON THE FLOOR!  They can't imagine why potential buyers wouldn't be ok with them leaving panties on the floor, and don't even get me started on the bathroom.   They also can't imagine WHY  I would demand that all the dishes are washed before we go to bed.

Long story short my kids aren't loving my new pro-active keeping the house near a constant state of readiness.  I love it.  I mean holy beautiful house batman!  Why were we living like slobs before?  I want for our house to be ready to be shown at any given time with-in an hour.  Although, my awesome realtor wrote it into my listing that we need 24 hours notice because we flipping live here.  So here it is ladies and gents my guide to be a sloppy housekeeper selling a house.

1. Take out the trash.  One of the last things I do before I walk out of our house about to show is take ALL the trash out.  Nobody wants to smell your funky junk, or see what kind of garbage you have.  So take care of it prior to a showing.  I'm usually an advocate of leaving it until the trash can is full so as not to waste a perfectly good bag, but for this I take a large lawn and garden bag and just dump all the trash can contents into one bag.   Bam, waste problem solved!

2. Turn on the lights, and I mean ALL of them.  You only get one chance at a first impression.  You need to wow them from the time they walk in the door, and keep them interested the whole way through.  I always thought lighting wasn't that big of a deal.  Which is sad since Señor Hotness has worked in the world of lighting for most of our marriage.  When we redid our Texas house we really put a ton of attention into our lighting.  That was the upside to living with a lighting professional.  He knew what we needed, and where we needed it.  It was heavenly.  It was then that I became a fan or proper lighting.  Your home will never look as good as it does when it is well lit.  Light bright spaces are far more appealing than dark areas.  So deal with the energy impact and turn on those lights.

3.  Make sure your window coverings are open.  I know that those window coverings are really wonderful for privacy, but if you've got views use them.  Show them what they have the potential of looking at if they decide to buy your pad.  This is also one of the last things I do before I have a viewing.  Natural light is also an incredible plus.  It brings some of the outdoors, indoors, and helps all the rooms with windows feel bigger.

4.  Give everything a last minute shine.  I have begun to utilize the full power of the horde in home staging.  It is my tween's job to clean all three bathrooms, and it is the moody seven year olds job to get out the furniture spray and give all the tables in the house a good wipe down.  I personally like the Pledge multi-surface for this.  Remember you aren't trying to do a deep cleaning.  Ideally that would have already taken place, and you are just maintaining the cleanliness.  The multi-surface spray is awesome because it also works with leather, and I have her give the family room sofa and love seat a quick wipe down as well.  The teen or I usually give the kitchen that last bit of sparkle.

5.  Make your beds when you wake up.  If you are making your bed when you roll out of it then that is one thing you aren't having to address when you get the call that someone wants to come take a look.  Its easier to straighten up an already made bed then it is having to feverishly make 5 beds.

6.  Make sure your house smells good.  Here is where things get tricky.  What you think smells good maybe super gross smelling to someone else.  So I have a scentsy warmer in the kitchen with a mild smelling wax in it.  The rest of the house gets spritzed with Febreeze fabric refresher.  I have the teen or the tween go through the house after we have finished.  Starting at the top, and coming down and give the sofa's, curtains, rugs, beds and closets a quick spritz.  I'm not talking about them drenching them down.  That would hit potential buyers with a wall of smell so strong their toes would curl.  It takes a practiced hand, but a gentle few spritzes to each room makes a room smell fresh and not at all over powering.  Make sure that you pick a more neutral scent.  For example I personally prefer a fruitier tropical scent, but I know that doesn't appeal to everyone so my Febreeze scent is fresh linen.  It is a gentle scent that smells of fresh laundry which as everyone one can attest is pretty much the best smell on the planet earth.  For the closets that tend to smell like a nasty foot I did get odor eaters because nobody wants to smell someone else's gross foot smell.

I'm pretty sure any and all of these can be found in the Fly Lady manifesto of home cleanliness, but for us mere mortals these are learned behaviors.  I will say I am in love with our clean house, and much to my children's horror have declared that this will be a new way a living for our family going forward whether we're selling our house or not.  These are all great ideas that will help elevate your home when it is shown to buyers.  You want to grab, and keep their attention from the first time they walk in the door.  You want potential buyers thinking about how great their furniture would look in your home, and how they would use all the spaces themselves.  You want them to be thinking about living happily ever after in their home so that you can move on, and create your own happily ever after in your new home.




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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Staged to Sell: Minor Changes to a Magnificent Kitchen

One draw back to our house was the kitchen.  It was a super swanky kitchen for the 1970s, and looks like I probably got a facelift sometime in the 1990s but on a whole it isn't generally what buyers are going to be looking for right now.  When that happens you have to play up your strengths, and make your weak areas fall to the background. 

So first things first...


This is a picture from our homes listing when we bought it.  I was super excited when I saw this because of the double ovens, a large pantry, and brick floors.  The things I wasn't as excited about was the mauve counters, and finding out that the bottom oven didn't work.

So we didn't opt to try to have them fix the oven, but after I moved in I called the appliance repair guy only for him to tell me that they don't make parts to fix my oven.  New double ovens are super pricey.  So I turned to the internet to diagnose and/or find refurbished parts for my oven.  I found out that the code sign that flashed was because the motherboard was going bad, and needed to be replaced.  I also found a company (fixyourboard.com) that fixes motherboards for discontinued ovens.  So for $200 our ovens were once again fully functional.  Which was a way better price than the thousands we would have been looking at otherwise, and the ovens aren't so dated that they look awful.  That match the space, and now they work great.

Fix janky oven, check!  The next item on the chopping block was the trash compactor.


The classiest feature of this thing was the massive dent in the front, and the fact that it too wasn't functional.  Add to it that I really don't like trash compactors, and this think was not going to go through any kind of a overhaul.  It was just going to be hauled right up out of my kitchen.



Which left behind a perfect trashcan sized hole, but the inside of the leftover cubby wasn't finished.  See the nails poking up along that one side, and how the edges were worn and gross looking?


Then there was this!  When the dreamy brick was added they didn't bother to address the back two inches of the trash compactor cubby.  Which I find super uncool.


So I had some bead board wallpaper left over, and I applied it to one side.  It was paintable so I was able to paint it to match the cupboards.

Then to address the missing floor I had Señor Hotness make a false floor with a few planks of high quality maple flooring that I bought at a thrift shop.  It wasn't enough to actually floor a room so it was a perfect use of it.  We used 1 x 2's to create raised foundation for the planks to rest on, and I simply laid the planks in and trimmed them out.  Then we bought some angle trim to trim out the scuffed opening, and to finish off the floor edge.  And...


Bam!  Not looking bad, huh?  The maple flooring looks super awesome there.


If we were staying I would have had Señor Hotness add a shelf to the top of the cubby for cutting boards or something. This however gives a buttoned up, finished look to this cubby like it was always meant to be this awesome looking.


Then I added a bit of trim around the dishwasher area to give it a little more of a finished look.

All the trim was adhered using liquid nails. because I was finishing these areas up while Señor Hotness was on the road.



Which brings me to another point.  CLEAN UP YOUR CRAP!  I found a lot of stuff like this.  Honestly standing up, and working around in the kitchen this isn't really apparent.  When listing your home for sale you want to make sure that everything is spotless.

Have you ever heard that ugly people need to have a great personality because they can't afford to alienate people with an off putting personality too.  Well a dated kitchen can't afford to being messy.  Its already dated the last thing it needs is clutter turning people off to the space even more.

When I started scrubbing the kitchen cabinet I realized that lots of areas that I thought were bits of food were actually chipped paint.  When we bought the house the cabinets were already painted.  So I took one of the cabinet doors off, and had it color matched at the store.  This was awesome because paint fades over time, and I was able to match the exact tone of the current cabinet color.  Meaning that I could get away with spot painting the chips, and not having to paint all of the cupboards just because of a few chips.



My last bit of advice is to dress a space for its intended purpose.  For example we never used the breakfast nook as a breakfast nook, but when selling a house people may not be room changing weirdos like us so I needed to make a change.  Bonus points if you recognize this table from a previous blog post.  So they may be expecting a breakfast nook to be...a breakfast nook.

These are the official listing photos that were taken by our awesome neighbor and local photographer Kevin Beasley.  What do you think?







Not looking bad, right?  The things that I couldn't change were the counter-tops, but by making sure everything was super clean and had a finished look to it that doesn't seem quite so heinous anymore.  Now you are able to truly see the bonuses of the space.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Staged to Sell: Formal Dining Room

When decorating a home for yourself you can do any wild and crazy thing you want.  That is your space.  When staging, you are decorating to appeal to the masses.  Embrace your personal style.  Unless your personal style is ugly then you need to change everything.  If your style is trendy thats fine so long as its a current trend.  


Unlike this dark and dated dining room (say that five times fast).  This room had great bones, but was suffering under a pound of pretentious design, and an unfortunate flat paint job.  


The first order of business was remove the stuffy, fluffy curtains.  I don't mind an overly formal space, but this was the 1990s overly formal space and it just wasn't working anymore.  That and my home is a large home, and perfect for a large family.  A room that is both beautiful and more child friendly makes better sense for this home.  So keeping that in mine I decided to ditch the curtains.  They were very high quality draperies, but the pattern and overall look made the room feel dated.


Another bonus I didn't realize we would have is how much bigger the room would feel after we ditched the drapes.  I debated putting something a little more minimal back, but decided against it in the end.  The bay window already had nice blinds.  So I decided, in this case, less was better.


This is the only picture I have of the paint change.  We painted right over the maroon with Benjamin Moore's Wythe Blue in a semi-gloss finish, and by we I mean that our sister missionaries and fabulous young lady from church did almost all of this for me.  The color is a super relaxing and beachy blue, and with the semi-gloss finish making it way more washable and kid friendly.  I would also like to confess that my new paint pants are my christmas pajama pants that I cut off.   They are fun, sturdy and not sporting a gaping hole on the left butt cheek much like my old paint pants.

I understand that not everyone is a fan of the shine you get with semi-gloss, but this is the dining room that is lite by a single light source in the ceiling so the glare is minimal.  Its also completely worth it for the ability to wash the spaghettini sauce that might end up on the wall when your kid knocks over her plate when you refuse to pile a full cup of parmesan cheese on top of her noodles, or so I would image.

image courtesy of google
Speaking of light sources.  The light fixture looked like a classical shabby chic design, but then dripped with crystals.  Giving it a super awkwardand confusing feel.  It made me think of someone you see that is obviously much more suited to wearing sneakers trying to pull off a stilletos for the first time. 



 Ours needed a little bit of a rework.  Originally it was dripping with crystals, but they never really looked like they were meant to be a part of the fixture.  So much like the shoe problem its a pretty easy fix.  So we removed the dangling crystals (I reused them for another project), and with about 5 minutes spent the light fixtures identity issues seemed to be fixed.


My next step was then to dress the walls.  The first thing I hung was this dreamy big mirror that I bought at a thrift shop for $18.




Then I followed that up with the vintage distressed window (that was actually part of a group of 4) that I bought at a garage sale.


Then I hung this fun mirror on the wall.  When we lived in Mesa Arizona many moons ago (like 13 years ago) we spent an afternoon in Nogales Mexico just looking at all the cool things in the tourist shops there.  This was my one and only purchase, and I still love it.


The I decided to make this little arrangement of fun plates and saucers.  I got the frame from a garage sale (with the windows).  The saucers I've bought here and there over the years.  Mostly garage sales and thrift stores.  I didn't pay more than a quarter for any of them.  The silver platter I'm pretty sure in a former live was a dollar tree tray.  It looks so good here though. 



I love the small cracks that these have.  It makes them feel like they have a history.  I feel like the basis of a shabby chic style is to highlight the imperfections.  So with these plates I used a sharpie marker, and liberally scribbled all over the front.  I then removed the excess with a cotton ball of rubbing alcohol.  It leaves the marker color behind in the find cracks, and removes it from everywhere else.  I love it.


The full impact is pretty impressive.  Bonus points if you remember when I refurbished this awesome dresser a few years back.




I kept things simple in here.  I made sure that all the decor I used was complimentary to the other rooms that this is open to.  I love it way better now, and I feel like it is much more appealing to potential buyers in the current incarnation.  I'm just bummed that I put off doing this for so long.  Why did I allow the ugly to hang about for so long?  I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.

The total cost of things used to dress this space was less than $50, but the over-all impact made is spectacular.  With a quick color change, and the addition of vintage aged decor this now feels like a warm and welcoming place to spend meals with the family.  Don't feel like you need to give every room a huge overhaul.  Sometimes with the addition of a few key items, and being smart about kicking the clutter you can have a space that will appeal to buyers

So get out there, and make something pretty.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Staged to Sell: The Formal Living Room


A friend of mine told me once that I had a 'rich white people room'.  He said that rich white people always had a room with no tv, but it had a piano.  I'm not sure we fall into the 'rich' category, but I do love that we have a pretty, quiet room where we can welcome guests.  As for the piano, I don't play...the piano is, however, one of the many talents of the awesome Señor Hotness.  When he is here he actually plays at church.  Sometimes he unwinds after the kids go to bed by just sitting down and playing.  It is one of my favorite things ever, and is 100% swoon worthy.


So to start off with the blank canvas we had beige walls, and awesome plantation shutters.


Did I mention our dreamy hardwood floors?  No?  Hey check out those dreamy hardwood floors!  That stain color isn't one I would have normally picked, but I have found its a good compliment to my style and furniture.


Excluding the piano that sits in this room no single piece in this room cost more than $300, and that was the couch chair combo.  Everything else cost $50 or less (or in most cases free).

The end tables I purchased off of craigslist, and they were super janky.  They were one of the first projects that I ever took on.  They have moved several times, and have held together like champs.  The coffee table was a freebie, and the rug is a quality wool rug I got off of a Facebook group for $25.




This is what it looked like for a while.  This picture is a testament to how important the little accessories are to bring a room together.  Sure I have nice furniture pieces, but it all seems kind of boring without lamps, wall hangings and the like.


This was the first find.  We found this awesome antique brass lamp at a local thrift store.  

Have you ever met one of those little kids with a crazy great-grandparent style name?  You look at them, and think why?  Why would you give that kid such an old name like that.  Then you see the kid in with other kids.  You hear how cute it is for the other kids to use the old grandparent style name, and before you know it, you realize that you actually LOVE the old name too.  I present to you the lamp equivalent.  Señor Hotness found this sucker at the store, and fell in love.  I was totally skeptical and judgy about it.  However, the beauty of having a room furnished with a bunch of vintage pieces is sometimes you can get away with mixing it up with vintage decor from different eras.  Once we put it in the room I knew it was a great fit.  Especially sandwiched between my two vintage freebie chairs.


I found these lamps at the same thrift store.


These things are solid antique brass.  I know they are actual antiques because this brass is HEAVY.


I've always hated brass, but I have discovered that I love it when it has that awesome antique aged patina on it.


As always the Pheebs was more than eager to have her photo taken, and it was too cute not to share.


We needed something bigger to store the extra sheet music we had floating around because the bench just wasn't cutting it.  So I decided to grab some of the many crates we have at our house.  So I made a small crate shelf simply by stacking them.  They aren't glued or nailed so when we move we can reuse them as it, or I can reconfigure them some other way.  The top one holds the music, and the bottom one is the perfect size for the garbage can.


How much better does it look after I committed to some wall hangings?  I ended up moving the awesome clock as well simply because Michael likes to prop open the top of the piano when he plays.  Apparently it makes it sound better.


I found this fantastic large S at Hobby Lobby.  This was marked down 50% off the original price.  I loved that it was a fun funky hammered metal finish.  Everything about it was smart and wonderful...except for hanging it.  It hangs by two holes, but they aren't level.  So using a large piece of paper I measured out the holes.  What I forgot to do was then turn the paper over backwards when drilling the holes.  This was the outcome.


Spoiler alert...I fixed it.  It looked so awesome above this vintage table that I got for my birthday.  Eventually I'm going to paint the bottom of the table, but honestly I have been so insanely busy that it hasn't happened yet.  I'm thinking it probably won't happen until after we've moved.  Also the clock looks WAY better on this table.  My mom bought me that clock for my birthday when I was 24.  I have moved it with us so many times, but its never looked as great as it does sitting there.



Above the couch is my faux architectural salvage piece that just adds to the funk and flair of the room.


The dominate color in the room is a turquoise-y blue, but it has splashes of red, gold and the warm browns of my dark stain pieces.  Somehow everything seems to work together to give it a warm and welcoming space.  Perfect for entertaining friends.

So I tallied up the total spent on furniture and accessories for this room, and they came to a grand total of approximately $525 dollars.  I didn't include the cost of the piano, or of any of the furnishings that we've had for years that found themselves back in this room.  I have always been very blessed to find fantastic pieces that are discounted, free, or things that need a little work.  Its not hard to bring together a room on a budget if you are willing to do the work yourself, and put in the sweat equity needed to bring a project home.  So get out there and make something pretty.





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