Taking Photos Now For Spring Listings

We are working with several forward-thinking sellers right now.  These ambitious home sellers are photographing their outdoor spaces now, while they still look gorgeous, so they have these important shots before they list in the spring.  For those of us who live in New England, we know spring can be a bit of a misnomer.  Spring is often just more snow and slush.  So instead of having photographs that look like this:

Our clients will have gorgeous photos that look like this:

or this:

Think about the difference this could make in your listing photos!

Why Not Staging Cost This Couple the Sale

I have conversations with home sellers and Realtors daily about the benefits of staging.  I have seen sellers reap the rewards of simple changes like painting and de-cluttering.  I know it makes a difference but recently I lived the experience while helping my parents shop for a home. My parents had found a home they loved and were going back for a second showing.  It needed some renovation work so they asked me to tag along. We met up with their Realtor and the seller's Realtor at the home.  Here is how it all fell apart for the sellers.

1.  We pull up and I notice the garage door is not hanging properly.  We go into the garage and it is like an episode of hoarders.  Certainly, it is spacious but I cannot really tell what condition it is in for all of the "stuff".  When we get close enough to the door we realize the cables have broken...it is simple repair.  We think "ok, no big deal".

2.  The seller's realtor greets us at the side door and informs us we cannot go in this door because the owner's have left their dog penned up in that room.  Bad plan sellers...you never want to inconvenience your buyers - especially those there for the second time.  We go around to the front door, our trip there shows us that these people also do not keep up their landscaping.  Everything is over grown and weeds abound.  We arrive at the front door and literally have to squeeze through because the sofa is placed almost directly in front of the door blocking entrance and exit.  As I walk in I realize the heating grate in the floor is destroyed from having furniture dragged over it.

3.  The first thing I notice is the destroyed carpet with an area rug over it.  Not clever at all.  A steam clean would have done wonders here but instead their "camouflage" just alerted us to their carpet sins.

4.  The next thing I notice is that normal-sized furniture will not fit in the front living room.  They made this clear by jamming too much furniture in and blocking every door and window possible.  All they did was illustrate that the room is hard to furnish.  Another really bad idea.

5.  The next thing I notice is the clear water damage in the dining room ceiling.  It is obvious water came in and leaked down by the chandelier and over to two recessed lights.  I ask the seller's realtor and he says he never noticed it before.  I promise you, that is impossible.  He says it must have been from the fire in 2004.  I'm sorry, did you say FIRE?  It has been almost ten years and the sellers couldn't fix the damage from a fire?  Now we start to wonder what else they didn't fix.  See here is where staging helps, had they actually fixed the damage and painted the ceiling again, that can of worms would have never been opened.  Now we are really on the lookout for other damage.

6.  The list really goes on and on - more water damage in one of the upstairs bedrooms "cleverly" hidden by a series of art hung on the wall, broken glass all over the basement floor (really? that is a problem if someone gets glass in their foot), items in storage that were just thrown in haphazardly, lots of cracks in the walls including one wall that was almost shattered by the furniture in front of it..... I could go on for hours.

So here is where the problem comes in.  All of these items these sellers chose not to fix were out there right in the open, this made us wonder what we were not seeing that needed to be fixed or that was ready to fall apart.  The other thing that was extremely hard to miss was the fact that these people had absolutely no regard whatsoever for anything they owned.  They did not maintain or take care of anything.  If they have no pride in ownership of anything then clearly they were not maintaining their home as it needed to be throughout the years.  The result - we ran.  Interestingly, we went to that home with my parents fully prepared to make an offer.  We then made a last minute change of plans to view another home they had seen before.  We went and it was immaculate.  The walls were perfect, the floor was perfect, it was clear there was pride in ownership.  My parents bought that second home and moved in this past weekend.  That first home?  It is still on the market.....

Great Style…From Target?

We specialize in the luxury market...most of our clients are homeowners whose homes are valued at $1mil+.  Because of this we have really become experts in finding gorgeous decor items to style these homes with.  At the end of the day though, we love finding stylish items at wallet-friendly prices.  It feels like such a win.  Currently, we love the Threshold collection from Target.  Though it seems hard to believe, Target really has a winner with this collection.  Here are a few of our faves from this line.

Gorgeous!  We love this bedding.  It has such a retro feel and the bird pattern is not too much.

This is such a find!  We always feel that beautiful mirrors are not easy to get without breaking the bank.  This one is stylish and inexpensive.  Win!

We love draperies.  We really believe that window treatments can make or break a room.  The problem is they can be so pricey!  These are so budget-friendly and are super stylish to boot.  This was our favorite color combo but there are four more to choose from.

We love that throw pillows are getting away from the boring old solids and stripes.  We also love mixing patterns and textures and this one is just such a great way to liven up a sofa or a bed.

A lot of our design clients have small children and want a rug but not the large price tag that usually comes with a rug.  With children and pets running around you never know what will end up on the rug.  With a stylish rug like this and a small price tag, you don't have to worry!

Lamps are another accessory that can really get pricey.  $250, $300 for a lamp.  Yikes!  These are such gorgeous lamps and nobody will ever imagine you got them at Target.

This silver hurricane is so beautiful.  We can only imagine how it looks with a lit candle inside.  On its own, flanking a floral centerpiece, or in a row on a mantel this is going to make a statement.  We also think it would make a great gift. Last, but not least, a beautiful throw.  We love a throw draped over a sofa for a splash of color.  This one will do just that and add a little touch of style.

One Look, Five Sofas

We are always amazed at how much of a change swapping one detail of a plan out can make.  So we decided to put it on paper and show you what we mean.  We took one look that we presented to a client and swapped out the sofa four times.  See the difference just a new sofa can make.

This was our original look.  We love the white sofa paired with neutrals and kicked up with art and accessories.

This was our second visit to this look.  We are currently on a navy blue kick so we were excited to see that the navy really looked great with this look.

This is another great version of the same look.  The warm grey sofa really makes this look feel rich but cozy and approachable.

We love this look!  It has such a Miami feel to it.  This aqua sofa is gorgeous!

And last, but not least, a gorgeous dark grey sofa.  This look is great too...the grey will really pop against the light rug and the oatmeal chairs.

One Room at a Time

Usually  by the time someone calls us for help with a design project they are ready to pull their hair out.  Believe me, I understand the overwhelm they are feeling.  I feel the same way when I shop for clothes.  I can shop for hours and come back with nothing.  It seems my clients make the same kind of progress shopping for their homes. So how do we tackle this sense of being totally overwhelmed?  The first thing we do is work on decorating rooms one at a time.  I actually will not take on clients who will not agree to work on one room at a time.  Why you ask?  Well, when you handle things piecemeal it is harder to see progress.  A new sofa here, a new pillow there, but all the while all five rooms you are redoing at once are still mostly not done.  Then there is the confusion problem....does this pillow go with the living room or Sue's room?  Was I looking for curtains for my room or the dining room?  It is too much to keep track of.  One room at a time keeps you focused with your eye on one ball.  Everyone knows what is going on and what the goal is.  Progress happens faster and the end result is lots of renewed motivation and excitement.  Then the one rooms is done and we move on to the next.  It keeps it fun and fresh.

Is Wallpaper Now a Do?

So you may have heard that wallpaper is making a comeback.  After the last few years helping clients remove their wallpaper and opt for paint, it never occurred to me that there would come a day when we would be putting the wallpaper back on the walls.  Well, get ready, that day is here.  We are just on the outside of this trend but, don't kid yourself, wallpaper is on its way back.  So we decided to take a look at what wallpaper can do for a home.  Here is some of what we found. What do you think?  Are you ready to brave wallpaper in your home?

Decorating with Books

I love books.... I wish I had a chance to read more than I do.  I have, what seems like an endless list of books I want to read.  I also love to decorate with books.  Last night, I was visiting with a girlfriend at her home for the first time and I was struck with total envy - a room where every wall was a bookshelf.  Hopefully, someday, I too will have a room like this.  Until then, I can just drool over hers. Do you have a lot of books?  Wondering where to put them all?  Here are some great ideas!

A Clutter-Busting Challenge

Clutter is a mystery to me.  At the end of the day it is really just "stuff".  So why does it have this magical power over us?  Why do we, as a society, seem to be ineffectual in our attempts to control it?  I wish I had these answers because it would really help my clients who are preparing their homes for sale. What we do know about clutter is that, universally, it makes us unhappy.  Nobody is happy with a home filled with clutter.  We also know that our clients, time and again, tell us they cannot believe how much better their homes look after they have cleaned, purged, and reorganized.  We also know that the process has a snowball effect....the more you purge and organize the more motivated you are to keep going.

We recently stumbled upon a "Clutter-Busting Challenge" that we are fully prepared to participate in and would love to encourage you to do so as well.  The challenge runs through the month of May and is being run by one of our favorite bloggers Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom.  The challenge is simple - get rid of seven things every day during the month of May.  Crystal doesn't specify that you have to throw them out, so get creative.  We plan to sell stuff on EBay, donate, take items to the consignment  shop, give things to friends and family....whatever it takes.  We would love for you to join us on this adventure.  Check out the information on the challenge here and get ready to spend the month with us.

Here is our end goal!!

I Hate Valances

So if I had once pet peeve as a designer, it would be window valances.  Truthfully, I am not sure if I actually hate the draperies themselves or rather the fact that they must be the most commonly misused window treatment in existence.  I have never seen a valance in a home used properly. Most often they are hung too low, block the room's light, and make the ceiling feel shorter.  All these things add up to a room just not feeling right.  Every time we have instructed a homeowner to remove their valances prior to listing their home for sale the feedback afterwards has been surprise at how much brighter the room is.   I hope that the following images will make you understand why they make us so unhappy.

Fun, Fashion, Friday

Fashion and decorating really go hand in hand.  So its no wonder we find ourselves equally as obsessed with gorgeous fashion finds as we do something amazing for the home.  With that in mind we wanted to show you something new from one of our all-time favorite designers.  DVF now has a limited edition kids line at the Gap.  Are you kidding us???  How awesome is this???  Everything is adorable...in fact we want one of the dresses for ourselves.  Check it out and let us know what you think!