Monday
May 30, 2016

Styled, Staged & Sold

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Bringing you the latest home and design trends.
Updated: 10 weeks 6 days ago

7 Ways to Get Your Luxury Listing Ready for Twilight Photos

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 02:00

By Julie Legge, real estate photographer and videographer

Got a new luxury listing this spring? Consider a twilight photo session to supplement your professional interior pictures. Marketing the property with pictures taken at dusk is an excellent way to highlight exterior features such as upgraded landscape lighting, pool lighting and outdoor living spaces, conveying an alluring and welcoming glow that invites interested buyers to learn more about the home.

As a real estate photographer who loves to take twilight photos, I’ve compiled the following tips to help real estate professionals work with their sellers and photographers so the session can go smoothly and produce a great result.

1. Lighting: Someone who is familiar with the interior and exterior lighting and the pool features should be present at the photo session, whether it be a home owner, real estate broker or caretaker. Arrive early to turn on all interior and exterior lighting, including landscape and pool lighting. Be prepared to turn off any lighting upon the photographer’s request. For example, some flood lights can be harsh and detract from the desired effect.

2. Pool and water features: Have the pool cleaned of debris in advance of the session. Turn on pool lighting and water features where desired. Please note that turning on water features may make some of the surrounding hardscape look wet in the pictures; if you want a consistently dry hardscape look, plan accordingly.

3. Outdoor living features: Consider lighting fires in outdoor fireplaces. Remove grill covers — if the grill is in good condition.

4. Outdoor furniture: Remove covers from outdoor furniture and add chair cushions. Straighten pool and lounge chairs and arrange any side tables. Consider staging any tables with clean rolled towels and refreshments. Open pool umbrellas where they will not block important views.

5. Landscaping: Add flowering or green plants to empty planters and remove dead plants. Turn off yard irrigation and do not water flowers less than two hours prior to the photo session as driveways and patios that are partially wet or partially dry may not be optimal for pictures. Arrange for professional lawn care to occur at least a day prior to the session. If appropriate, replace mulch or other landscaping enhancements.

6. Other exterior tips: As with a daytime photo session, park vehicles in the garage with the garage door closed, or park on the street away from the front of the home. Pick up any toys from the yard, i.e. plastic children’s toys, balls and soccer goals. Sweep porches, patios, driveways and front walkways if necessary.

7. Advance preparation is key: Remember that the time window for twilight photos is short, so the property should be ready for photos in advance of the appointment.

As always, talk to your photographer about the property’s features and get additional helpful tips from her as you plan the session. If you need visual inspiration, check out photos of luxury homes in magazines or online, or see my online portfolio of twilight photos.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Legge is a professional real estate photographer in Charlotte, N.C. She’s photographed 1,000 homes for real estate brokers, builders, home stagers, and interior designers, and she coaches beginning photographers. Visit her web site: www.charlotterealestatephotos.com.

3 Surprising Paint Colors Home Owners Hate

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 02:00

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Home owners say they like color in their homes but they definitely have some hesitations in using it to decorate their spaces, according to a new survey by Better Homes and Gardens of nearly 400 home owners.

The survey found a general consensus that these three colors, in particular, home owners remain the most hesitant about in their decorating:

  • Orange is “WAY too loud for me.”
  • Red is “too overpowering.”
  • Green is “too institutional.”

The survey found that 58 percent of respondents say orange is the color they are least likely to decorate with, followed by black (43%) and violet (42%).

So what do they like? Sixty-two percent of respondents say they are most likely to use shades of blue in decorating when it comes to color. However, in general, most home owners say they prefer neutral interior walls and pops of color through accessories and furnishings.

If they were to use color, home owners say they are most likely to use it in the family or living room (63%), kitchen (53%), and bathrooms (52%). The areas where they are least likely to use color are in the foyer (36%); dining room (24%), and adult bedroom (24%).

Home owners show some of the most willingness to use color for their front door. Forty-eight percent of survey respondents say their front door is painted a color – such as blue, green, red, brown, or gray.

Home owners may be hesitant about color because they just can’t decide on the right color. Twenty-four percent of respondents admit to having no eye for using color, and 40 percent say they fear that any color they did choose they would quickly grow tired of.

FOR THE COLOR PHOBIC …

Color, however, can transform an otherwise dull, forgettable room into an eye-popping, memorable one (in a good way, when used correctly!).

Accessories and accents may be less of a commitment for those scared of color. Sixty-percent of respondents say that adding throw pillows and blankets is one of the top ways they could bring color into a room; flowers are another way.

Or, for those who want to try some paint but are unsure of a palette, Better Homes and Gardens offers some help. BHG just released its Color Issue, along with its annual Color Palette of the YearHere are their top picks for colors for 2016:

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

  • PINK: Use it as a neutral paired with blues, blacks, and metallic accents. (Example: Benajmin Moore/Gentle Blush 2084-70)
  • BLUE: Try this midtone blue, which offers a “big, gregarious personality.” (Example: Pittsburgh Paints/Smoke Bell PPG451-5)
  • GRAY: Show off a classic and contemporary look. “The popular new kid on the color block isn’t going away anytime soon.” (Example: Dunn-Edwards/Foil DE6360)
  • GREEN: Mix it with a hint of silver to give a space a modern retro vibe. (Example: Ralph Lauren Paint/Smoke Bekk RL1599)
  • ORANGE: Love it or hate it, an energetic orange can pack some serious punch. (Example: Sherwin Williams/Tango 6649)

 

Design Trends to Watch in 2016

Mon, 02/22/2016 - 02:00

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

What are the hot trends to look out for in 2016 in home design? Here are a few predictions from the remodeling and design site Houzz on some of the big trends to expect.

Contemporary Kitchen by Brooklyn Architects & Building Designers Maletz Design

1. Two shades of kitchen cabinets.
The upper cabinets may be a white or neutral but then more designers are trying out deeper colors or wood tones for the lower cabinets.

 

Mediterranean Dining Room by Dallas Interior Designers & Decorators CDA Interior Design

2. Formal dining rooms are back.
More home owners are opting to keep the dining room and not turn it into an office. The formal dining room is expected to get more attention this year.

Mediterranean Dining Room by Dallas Interior Designers & Decorators CDA Interior Design Mediterranean Kitchen by Geneva Kitchen & Bath Designers Past Basket Design

3. Multi-purpose kitchen islands.
The “workhorse” kitchen island is about more than just adding workspace in the kitchen, but also for adding more storage, prep sinks, and a way to add extra seating.

 

Beach Style Powder Room by Austin Photographers Kailey J. Flynn Photography

4. Mirrors that make a statement.
Medicine cabinets are heading out and now wood-framed, modern, or vintage mirrors are adding more style to bathrooms.

 

Rustic Kitchen 5. “Barely there” kitchens.
Kitchens are fading into the backdrop as the open layouts infuse more seamlessly into the living room or other spaces in the home. Aiding that trend, more kitchens are featuring open shelves to add to that openness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitional Sunroom by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators Tom Stringer Design Partners

6. Sunrooms are hot.
Houzz identified this as one of the top dream spaces for home owners. Some home owners are finding ways to even transform tucked away corners in their home into a sunroom with a few chairs to relax near windows.

Traditional Kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Sutro Architects

7. White kitchens dominate.
White kitchen walls and cabinets and even countertops is a trend with staying power, Houzz predicts. To add some splash to the all-white kitchen, designers are adding touches of color through the tile floors or floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

Transitional Powder Room by New York Interior Designers & Decorators Chango & Co.

8. Powder rooms get more bold.
Wall coverings are getting punched up in powder room, that include everything from custom graphics to textured walls. Also, designers are mixing in ornate chandeliers or furniture-like pieces to add some more pizzazz to these spaces.

 

Farmhouse Entry by Roxbury Architects & Building Designers Haver & Skolnick LLC Architects

9. Farmhouse style guides the entryway.
Farmhouse style is catching on, particularly for the mudroom. Simplicity in the storage solutions and durable materials are taking charge.

View the full 25 list of trends to watch in 2016 at Houzz.

2016 Colors of the Year: Soften Up Your Staging Hues

Mon, 02/15/2016 - 02:00

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Think pink for 2016. Pantone voted two colors — Rose Quartz and Serenity — as this year’s colors of the year, a nod to softer color tones that are expected to gain popularity all yearlong. It’s the first time Pantone has voted two colors of the year.

“Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Rose Quartz and Serenity replace the earthy red wine of Marsala, voted the 2015 Color of the Year by Pantone.

This year’s colors dare you to get in touch with a softer side in your staging.

“Whether on their own or combined with other shades, the pairing of Serenity and Rose Quartz bring a feeling of calm and relaxation into the home environment,” Pantone notes in its release. “Like a serene sunset, Rose Quartz encourages reflection on one’s surroundings while Serenity, a transcendent blue, provides a naturally connected sense of space.”

Pantone says the colors can be used in rugs and upholstery or also work in decorative accessories, everything from kitchen tableware to candles, decorative bowls, vases, and florals.

“Coupling solid and patterned fabrics, throws, pillows and bedding in these shades provides a comforting respite and feeling of well-being in the home,” according to Pantone. “Incorporating texture enhances the duality and kinship of these hues.”

So could these colors have a place in your staging this year? At Houzz, designers have been showing off how they’ve incorporated the color trends. Take a peek at a few examples.

Bringing in the pink

Spaces by Sacramento Interior Designers & Decorators ComfyDwelling.com Spaces by Sacramento Interior Designers & Decorators ComfyDwelling.com Contemporary Bedroom by Omaha Furniture & Accessories Hayneedle Shabby-chic Style Dining Room Spaces by Sacramento Interior Designers & Decorators ComfyDwelling.com Shabby-chic Style Living Room by Little Rock Interior Designers & Decorators Andrea Brooks Interiors

 

Channeling more Serenity:

Contemporary Porch by Freeport Design-Build Firms Taggart Construction Contemporary Living Room by Quogue Architects & Building Designers Austin Patterson Disston Architects Traditional Bathroom by Southport Architects & Building Designers Austin Patterson Disston Architects Spaces by Sacramento Interior Designers & Decorators ComfyDwelling.com

The Importance of Show-Ready Model Homes

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 02:00

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Is model home building still a smart investment for homebuilders in today’s market? Some builders believe that today’s buyer knows exactly what they want and therefore don’t have to tour a model to help make home-buying decisions. However, only a small percentage of buyers today have any vision. Therefore, builders’ property specs and floor plans alone are usually not enough to convince buyers that a property will fit their needs.

Model Homes Decorated By PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
Builder: Centerplan Communities, Pierpont Hill at North Haven, Bradley & Dayton Models

Our design team created a warm, inviting environment throughout this luxurious model above enhancing the spacious, open floor plan, elegant architectural details and on-trend features targeted to today’s buyers of all ages.

“Models are definitely worth the investment as they are another arrow in a sales manager’s quiver to help allay buyers concerns and build confidence in the product,” says Chris Bennett, builder/president of Centerplan Communities and a 20-year veteran of the construction management industry who has worked with companies such as Toll Brothers Luxury Builders and Fischer Homes. “The home building industry is still one of the few industries where the buyers want to touch, feel and experience the product before they purchase.” If buyers become engaged in the product and can envision themselves living in the space, they will ultimately feel more comfortable making a decision.

In addition, investing in both the design and decor of a model helps builders step it up a notch by appealing to target audiences with specific lifestyles and needs. According to Bennett, “the builder’s familiarity with their target market or buyer plays a significant role in the success of the model investment. For example, showcasing a first-floor master bedroom suite is important if the target market is 50 plus. In addition, young professionals will be attracted to stylish amenities or features such as barn doors, multi-height cabinets, pocket office space, energy efficient construction, LED lighting, under cabinet lighting, and custom kitchen islands.”

Model Home Decorated By PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
Builder: Toll Brothers, Dorwood Model

For this model above, our design team created a coastal living theme targeted to the 55-plus community by incorporating different tones of blue, white and coral along with rustic wood and metallic accents. This theme helps suggest to buyers that one doesn’t have to go south to enjoy serenity.

To summarize, the following are some of the key reasons why we believe investing in show-ready models are as worthwhile as staging vacant properties:

  • Design, amenities and décor are targeted to buyers needs and interests
  • Placement of appropriate furniture and accessories will enhance architectural details, features and floor plan
  • Buyers can engage by touching and viewing details and envision living in the space
  • Buyers will feel more confident about the product and their decision
  • The properties will ultimately sell faster and create more traffic

What do you think? Do you think model homes still have a place in new-home construction?

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to Style, Staged and Sold.

The Importance of Show-Ready Model Homes

Mon, 02/08/2016 - 02:00

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Is model home building still a smart investment for homebuilders in today’s market? Some builders believe that today’s buyer knows exactly what they want and therefore don’t have to tour a model to help make home-buying decisions. However, only a small percentage of buyers today have any vision. Therefore, builders’ property specs and floor plans alone are usually not enough to convince buyers that a property will fit their needs.

Model Homes Decorated By PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
Builder: Centerplan Communities, Pierpont Hill at North Haven, Bradley & Dayton Models

Our design team created a warm, inviting environment throughout this luxurious model above enhancing the spacious, open floor plan, elegant architectural details and on-trend features targeted to today’s buyers of all ages.

“Models are definitely worth the investment as they are another arrow in a sales manager’s quiver to help allay buyers concerns and build confidence in the product,” says Chris Bennett, builder/president of Centerplan Communities and a 20-year veteran of the construction management industry who has worked with companies such as Toll Brothers Luxury Builders and Fischer Homes. “The home building industry is still one of the few industries where the buyers want to touch, feel and experience the product before they purchase.” If buyers become engaged in the product and can envision themselves living in the space, they will ultimately feel more comfortable making a decision.

In addition, investing in both the design and decor of a model helps builders step it up a notch by appealing to target audiences with specific lifestyles and needs. According to Bennett, “the builder’s familiarity with their target market or buyer plays a significant role in the success of the model investment. For example, showcasing a first-floor master bedroom suite is important if the target market is 50 plus. In addition, young professionals will be attracted to stylish amenities or features such as barn doors, multi-height cabinets, pocket office space, energy efficient construction, LED lighting, under cabinet lighting, and custom kitchen islands.”

Model Home Decorated By PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
Builder: Toll Brothers, Dorwood Model

For this model above, our design team created a coastal living theme targeted to the 55-plus community by incorporating different tones of blue, white and coral along with rustic wood and metallic accents. This theme helps suggest to buyers that one doesn’t have to go south to enjoy serenity.

To summarize, the following are some of the key reasons why we believe investing in show-ready models are as worthwhile as staging vacant properties:

  • Design, amenities and décor are targeted to buyers needs and interests
  • Placement of appropriate furniture and accessories will enhance architectural details, features and floor plan
  • Buyers can engage by touching and viewing details and envision living in the space
  • Buyers will feel more confident about the product and their decision
  • The properties will ultimately sell faster and create more traffic

What do you think? Do you think model homes still have a place in new-home construction?

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to Style, Staged and Sold.

Design Trends That Make People say … ‘No!’

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 02:00

By Justin M. Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency

Design trends are just that: trendy. They change from day to day, year to year, and decade to decade. The ones that are popular now won’t be soon. The ones that were popular years ago aren’t now and the ones that were popular decades ago are already back again.

Interior design trends tend to follow fashion trends about three years later. As colors gain popularity in fashion, they follow shortly thereafter in interior design.  The trick is being able to see what are trends and what is classic.  The difference is that classic will never go out of style, whereas trends always eventually go out of style.

Here are some major trends from our recent past that are turning people away from houses:

 1.   Carpet in the master bathroom. The 1990’s brought us so many fine trends, carpet in bathrooms was one of them. The thought was that cold tile on your bare feet was unpleasant. You know what else is unpleasant? Mold in your carpet pad.

2.   Plantation shutters. They are expensive, I know. Every single one of my clients who has them tells me over and over how expensive they are. Plantation shutters were designed for plantations. Hot, muggy places. The shutters were designed to block light and still allow a breeze to come into the house. The issue today is that they still block light, over 50 percent of the light that would have come through a window is blocked by plantation shutters. The fact of the matter is that nobody wants to buy a dark house. If the shutters aren’t there, they won’t miss them.

3.   Curtains over closets. The odds of the next buyer having the same taste in curtains as you is slim. Curtains over closets scream “YOU HAVE WORK TO DO” to your potential buyers.  Do yourself and the buyer a favor, take the curtains down and put the doors back up.

4.   Family, Friendship, Love, Laugh, Dance… BARF! Word art inevitably tells a story of the seller’s life and is distracting to the buyer.  Nobody cares how deep your family roots run, or that this is Emma’s crib. Take it down.

5.  Accent walls. The term “accent walls” is a misnomer, they should instead be called focal walls as they tend to provide a focus point for the room. Unfortunately, as the focal point of a room, they tend to dictate how a room should be set up and what the color scheme should be for the room. If you have a purple accent wall and all of your buyer’s furniture is red, they are going to have to work to remove that paint or more than likely just buy some other house.

6.   “Faux” is french for fake. No matter what language you translate it to faux paint is fake and is as out of style as pleats on men’s dress pants. The overwhelming commonality of all of cultural trends is truth — people want real food made by real people in real time. The time of fake and fast is over. Faux painting will send your buyer away faster than you can say “marbleized”!

7.   Wallpaper. Wallpaper is hard to take down and, again, the chances of them having the same taste as you and having furniture that will go with it is slim.

8.   Curtains.  See item 7. Wallpaper and item 3. Curtains over closets.

9.   Platform beds and other Feng Shui items.  Feng Shui is the Chinese thought system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy, and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings. It most likely works great in China where most people are acutely aware of the thought system, but in Western culture it just looks like a giant platform bed with a mirror and a stick above it. Your buyer will most likely have no idea why you did it and it will distract from the room.

10. Collections. Using a collection to highlight built-in shelves works well, so long as the collection does not overshadow the shelves themselves. Completely overwhelming a house with a collection or series of collections will overshadow the house and positively or negatively take attention away from the house. Pre-pack these items to proudly display them in your next house.

11. Rounded outside gypsum board corners.  These became popular in the building boom of the 1990’s because they required less time and skill for laborers to mud and tape. This, of course, was a very cost effective way to build homes. However, we quickly realized that rounded corners left us no place to end wall finishes like paint and wallpaper.  Needless to say, the trend faded away and now we have tons of houses with rounded outside corners.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin Riordan, LEED AP, is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency based in Portland, Ore. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Prior to opening Spade and Archer in 2009, Riordan practiced interior architecture and interior construction for 12 years, bringing an esteemed skillset and diverse background to home staging. Since founding Spade and Archer, he has personally prepared more than 2,100 homes for market.

Design Tricks to Transform a Family Room with Wood Paneling

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 02:00

By Charlene Storozuk, guest contributor

As a home stager, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got.

Photo credit: Charlene Storozuk,DEZIGNER DIGZ

I was given free rein in this family room with one exception: The husband insisted that the wood paneling stay. What is it about men and wood paneling? There, I said it.  Maybe I’m stereotyping, but I come across this quite often. Men seem to really like wood paneling; women not so much. This was, however, a very good quality of paneling and it was a redesign project and not a staging job so I agreed to do it. After all, I love a good challenge.

I should add at this point that this family room happens to be in our home. Yes, the stubborn husband mentioned above is all mine. I’m totally OK with him wanting to keep the paneling though. It’s the only thing in the house that he has insisted on. I was able to do pretty much anything else I wanted to in our home, so it’s only fair that he got his way on this one.

The above photo shows what the family room looked like when we bought our home.  The first thing to go was the dated and tired furniture. With that out of the way, next on the list was to replace the orange carpet with a taupe berber.

Next, we had black wooden blinds installed to add drama. (I’ll never forget the look on the sales rep’s face when I told him that I wanted black. That’s OK, I’m sure he’s over it by now.)

Next was to bring in some “newish” furniture. I say that because we bought the sofa, loveseat and chair from a staging client after their home sold.

Then came my favorite part: styling.

Bringing in black accessories helped to add richness and depth to the paneling. I don’t usually place an area rug on carpet, but in this case I made an exception. I think the black rug pulls together the look I was going for. It draws the eye away from the paneling and makes it more of a subtle backdrop.

Installing several pieces of Northwest Coast native art gave the room added character and an organic feel to tie in with the paneling.

A couple of throw blankets and a sheepskin rug were then added to soften up the room and add texture.

Photo credit: Charlene Storozuk,DEZIGNER DIGZ

 

The family room is still a work in progress. There are still three more things left on the ‘to do list’:

(1) Reface the fireplace with floor-to-ceiling black granite;

(2) Paint the baseboards and window trim black and

(3) Build black window box valances for above the blinds.

By the time this room is completely finished, it’s really going to make a statement.

I wanted to share this post with my REALTOR® friends to show you that with the help of a professional home stager there’s hope – even with your most dated and challenging listings.

When we’re eventually ready to sell our home, who knows, I may just leave this room as is. I didn’t think I’d ever consider keeping that darn paneling, but I just might now.  Maybe that’s a bit of a risk, but it’s one that I’ll consider taking. Love it or hate it, it is what it is.

What are your thoughts?  What WOOD you do?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlene Storozuk is the owner of DEZIGNER DIGZ, a professional home staging, interior decorating and redesign firm based in Burlington, Ontario Canada. She is certified as an International Staging Professional, International Design & Decorating Professional, Professional Colour Consultant, and Feng Shui Design Professional. Her work is published in the book “FabJob Guide to Become a Home Stager,” 2009 edition. Storozuk is recognized as a local leader in the home staging industry. She founded the Halton & Hamilton-Wentworth Real Estate Staging Association Chapter and served on the association’s Executive Committee for two years as Regional Vice-President, Canada. Storozuk is a past recipient of RESA North American Leadership Awards for Chapter President of the Year (2007) and Regional Vice-President of the Year (2011).