A Pane in the Glass

Windows are meant to be clear. However, sometimes the seals break and moisture seeps between the panes, like in the photo. It can look like a steamy buildup, or worse like a rainy day, and the amount of moisture can vary with the seasons. This may be quite noticeable, and will spell "work" to a potential buyer, so it is therefore worth replacing if you plan to sell.


Sell...ebrate Christmas!

Many people decorate for occasions like Christmas. When staging an occupied home, consider which takes precedence for the owner: to maintain traditions, or to sell? Their answer may depend on the urgency to move. Decorations are not forced on those who don't use them, but generally one wants to create an inviting atmosphere for the buyer, and a home totally void of decorations might seem a bit stark. Use tasteful, well-placed items such as a wreath, tree or accessory in main areas. Avoid overuse of lights and decorations so they do not distract from the property itself, and keep it simple so it is easy to un-stage after the holiday ends.

For What It's Worth

Most people own a few valuables, whether they are irreplaceable keepsakes or expensive belongings. Staging, showing, and selling your home results in a lot more rearranging and traffic than usual, which is important to consider for keeping your valuables safe. To reduce the risk of breakage, theft or loss during the selling process consider the following:

  1. Store or remove valuables prior to staging to avoid damage when rearranging furniture.
  2. Prepack them for the move so they are not displayed during open houses.
  3. Ensure they are adequately insured. Jewelry, for example, may only have limited coverage under your regular homeowners' insurance.


Mixing Old With New

Older items have different lines, materials, features and uses than modern goods. When staging, consider the design more than feelings of nostalgia, which buyers may not share. To avoid making a house look dated (like "grandma's house"), don't feature items from the same time period when the house was built if it is several years old. (For example, shag carpet in a house built before the 1970's could look outdated, even if it was new). However, quaint features in an older home (such as glass doorknobs) can be appreciated if the furniture and decor is modern and appealing, so buyers can see it is by choice that the features are preserved. Similarly, an antique item showcased in a brand new home can add depth and interest to a room because it is unexpected.
An antique lamp displayed with some newer items.
Jewelry from the past (a lady bowling in a dress) on a new sweater.
Blonded wood, an eye catching stain technique from the 1950's.


Torn But Not Forlorn

When staging, you might encounter small tears in fabric or seams in need of repair. Although the example shown is clothing, this could happen on drapery or a cushion. When you don't have the supplies or time to mend a seam by re-stitching it, fabric glue can be used to make the repair. Just apply the product lightly and hold the fabric together for about 3 minutes until the glue begins to set, then allow it to dry. (Test first on an inconspicuous area if you are uncertain whether the glue will work on the fabric).
Before: torn seam

After: seam is repaired without stitching 
Example of fabric glue. 


De-Coat That Entrance!

As seasons change in Canada, entryways get filled with a mix of summer and winter clothing. To keep things tidy and entryways functional, it helps to move clothing you will not use for the upcoming season into a separate closet or storage area. Reduce the amount of clothing so there is adequate space for everything you use.
Before: Many coats clutter an entryway as winter approaches.
After: Not "staged", but organized storage areas are more attractive to buyers, and more functional for homeowners.

Old Furniture May Not Be Vintage

Furniture can really influence the look of a room. Outdated furniture can draw attention to the age of an older home, and a vacant home is difficult for buyers to envision furnished. Empty rooms can also seem stark and uninviting. A quick way to bring modern furniture into a home temporarily is to rent it. Furniture rental companies look after delivery, set up and removal, and the opportunity to rent on a weekly basis makes this choice affordable. You also have the option to purchase the furniture if you like using it.
A living room can receive an updated or more upscale look with rented furniture.
Nice furnishings make vacant rooms more appealing.


Underpainting: It's Like Underwear for Art

This painting involved a technique called underpainting. Some benefits of underpainting are:

  • base colors can peak through the brushstrokes of the upper coat, providing visual interest or enhancement of the top color.
  • colors beneath can create visual shades and highlights in the top color.

Essentially, paint is applied as a ground, before the final product is applied over it.

This often occurs inadvertently when painting walls. Shades of paint on a wall beneath make brush or roller strokes more visible, and may reflect a different color through the topcoat. Unless you want to feature the brushstrokes and the color beneath, as some finishes do, most people use primer or extra coats of paint to make them less visible.
The underpainting in this picture was yellow beneath the green, green beneath the red, and orange beneath the blue.

Switch It Up

Often the light switch is the first thing you reach for when you enter a room. Most rooms have other focal points, and light switches just blend into the background. A bathroom may be one area where you feature a unique switchplate, because the room is small and fixtures are noticeable. For staging, however, remember that the contents of rooms leave when you move. So if the switchplate matches the decor/contents, consider replacing it with one that suits the room itself.

Before: Decor switchplates tend to match the current owners' belongings and taste.
After: A new one was chosen to match fixtures in the bathroom.

Old Lights, New Lights

It's easy to overlook light fixtures that we see everyday. However a potential buyer is likely to notice them because they are usually sold with the property. A new light fixture can reduce the ability of insects and dust to accumulate in the glass, and give the room an updated look. Older fixtures, such as the one pictured, are often replaced with affordable flush mount lighting.
Older fixtures tend to swivel, and collect dirt.
A new light updates the room.


'Hard To Get Rid Of' Water Stains

Hard water stains make a bathroom look grungy. Once they build up, many people use muscle and gritty cleaners to remove them, however there is an easier way. Acids break down hard water stains, and given a little time the stains will simply dissolve. Vinegar is a popular choice to use, but another green alternative is lemon juice which smells nice and works well. 
Simply saturate paper towel with lemon juice and place it over the stain. This helps it to cling, and keeps it wet longer. Let it dry, check the stain, and rewet again if necessary until the stain dissolves or loosens sufficiently to easily remove it. Although it requires time, it is easy and effective.
1. Before - a hard water stain.
2. Cover with paper towel, saturate with lemon juice overnight.
3. After - stain is removed, silicone remains.


Staging With "Fluffy" (Name Changed to Protect The Innocent)

As a cat owner, it's hard to imagine your cat being anything but adorable. When it comes to staging, however, they do pose challenges. Here are a few to consider:
  • Fur - hairballs, shedding, and buyers with allergies ... need I say more?
  • Claws - If you want to rent furniture or accessories to enhance your property, you will be liable for any damages such as scratch marks.
  • Litterbox - well, at least they USE a litterbox, but these can pose an unattractive problem due to smells, tracked litter, and - let's face it - litter boxes just aren't pretty.
Do consider these issues when staging. A house may be the most expensive personal item you ever sell, so it pays to get the maximum value by making it very attractive to buyers. Finding an alternate location for your cat(s) during open houses, and perhaps until you sell, might be a worthwhile investment.

Details, Details...

 Homes have areas more prone to dirty buildup around baseboards and vents, and the bathroom is one of these. Steam, hair, body oil, soap, hairspray, lotions, all these contribute to the gradual build up of grime. Also, brighter lighting and smaller quarters can make it more noticeable in a bathroom. Potential buyers only spend a few minutes looking through homes for sale, so target detailed cleaning to the areas it will have the most impact, such as the bathroom.
Before - hair on the floor, dirty buildup around the edge and inside the vent. These details may be overlooked in regular cleaning because they build up gradually.
After - buildup removed beneath edges and inside shines from a clean reflection. A small detail, but gives a better impression of 'clean' to a potential buyer.

"Out Damn'd Spot!, Out, I Say!"

Pet stain before
This famous quote makes me wonder if Lady MacBeth had dogs. They can certainly be a source of unwanted spots! Here are two clean and green products that are very effective at removing stains from carpets.

The first is club soda. Look for a brand that only contains carbonated water and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), because extra ingredients reduce its effectiveness for cleaning. Schweppes brand works well.  Just spray on, then absorb with a towel as the stain disappears, it's that easy.

After removal with club soda
However, some carpets do not enable club soda to work, because the weave holds in moisture and spreads the stain instead. For these, hydrogen peroxide 3% may work better. You can spray it on and leave it to dry, and it will begin to fade the stain immediately.  However the fading action may also change the colour of some carpets, so test first on an inconspicuous area. If only Lady MacBeth had known, it also works quite well on blood!

Pet stain on woven carpet - before.
Pet stain immediately after hydrogen peroxide 3% applied.


Adore A Door

Sometimes homes aren't built exactly how we'd like, but can be adapted to our needs. For example, a bedroom built near an outside entrance, but with a wall between, could be turned into an office by the addition of a door. You can still return this room to its original use as a bedroom, if the door allows for privacy. In addition, a room can be brightened by adding a door with glass in it to let more light stream through.  This is usually easier than adding another window, and allows more natural light in.
New door added.
After Paint.


Wake Up A Room With ... Coffee!

People use all 5 senses when they visit a home for sale, and a great looking place can still put off a buyer if it has an unpleasant odour.  Even if you eliminate major sources, you may be caught on short notice with a house that needs freshening due to paint or cooking smells. Opening windows may not be practical in bad weather, and traditional ideas like "baking cookies" require time. 

A quick fix is to make a pot of coffee, or allow some to simmer on the stove. Add a little cinnamon or vanilla if you wish. Coffee is an excellent deodorizer: it absorbs, masks or removes many offensive smells. Used or fresh grounds also work in an open container, as do whole coffee beans (especially flavoured ones). Whole coffee beans are also decorative if displayed in a clear container.


It's Interesting ... and It Works Too.

Some things are functional AND interesting to look at, providing a double benefit each time we use them. We want rooms to have a focal point, but if too many items compete for attention it can make a room look 'busy', and distract the viewer. So use such items sparingly to provide interest in a room, the way accessories enhance clothes, and ensure there is a strong focal point with which they do not compete.

Besides being functional, this item has a fun design as well.

Staging For Bird Owners

Birds are enjoyable pets, and exotic birds come in beautiful colours. It's natural to want to show them off, but is it a good choice when you are staging? Here are a few reasons birds may detract when showing a home.

  1. Feathers - and seeds! Even new bird cage designs allow a few of these to find the floor.
  2. Flutters - a surprising number of people dislike or fear birds, and this may distract them from enjoying your home.
  3. Fantasy - When trying to create the image of an idyllic lifestyle, cages suggest 'work' because they require cleaning - even if they are perfectly clean at the time.

When selling, you want buyers to put themselves in your place - literally- and imagine comfortably living in your home. So if possible, try to arrange a mini vacation for the birds in your life when your house is for sale, and enjoy the happy reunion in your new place.


Wow, It Matches!

Choosing things with the same patterns or colours - matching - might be a shortcut to 'pull things together'. However, because it is so obvious when things match, the result can be too simplistic for good design. We want design elements to relate to each other...and perhaps 'relate' is a better approach than 'match' in many cases. When items tie together but are not exactly the same, people enjoy the connections without thinking about them. "Matching" will draw more attention, and for positive effect might be introduced when it is unexpected, or to make a bold message apart from design.

face paint design is fun when it unexpectedly
matches the colour of your clothes.

Dogs in clothes send a message. 
Owners and dogs in matching clothes send a 
stronger "pet lover" message.


A FREE Way to Add Value to Your Home

Most home improvements cost money, but there's a way to add value to your home, make it nicer for you to live in, and maybe even earn a little cash at the same time. Buyers will pay more for organized storage areas. Rearranging your stored belongings can provide breathing room and a sense of order that makes the home more appealing. And selling unused belongings can generate a little spending money for something new.



What Is Kitsch, And Should I Use It?

Kitsch is defined in the dictionary as "art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentalitybut sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way". The effect is something like being tickled under the chin and told "kitschy-kitschy-coo" like a baby ... ugh!

Does kitsch have its place? Sure, because it may evoke a smile among people who appreciate its playfulness or message. When selling a home, however, the tastes of the buyer must be considered in order for them to feel "at home" too. If the charm or humor of kitsch lies in some element of bad or childish taste, then it is risky to believe every buyer will respond to it favorably. They may not be in on 'the joke' like your friends, so it is safer to prepack these items for your next place.


Help for the Cluttered Collector!

Collecting is a fun, but sometimes space or maintenance become issues. We want to enjoy treasured collections without letting them overrun our living areas, because great memories can be associated with items we collect as well as the places we found them. Photos of the collection are an excellent way to do this, whether framed as a collage or shared one by one as a slide show using a digital frame.

Favourite toys and collections can be remembered daily through photos.


Should I Stage With My Unusual Plant?

Plants add a touch of nature to a room and blend with almost anything. Whether an "unusual" plant is a good choice may depend on why it stands out. Is it a unique color, an unusual shape? Or has it just overgrown and become large or spindly? Does it fit in the room - scale-wise and also with the decor? The plant is not the selling feature, so make sure it doesn't detract from the room and adds an interesting highlight.