Monday, November 28, 2011

Have you ever......(staged your own home?)

Even though it is the Holiday season, many people are still trying to sell their homes. Always a daunting process, I thought I would share some ideas, hopefully made easier from a more personal perspective.

Several years ago, I was faced with the possibility of selling my own home. During the process, I had to get several Realtors in for assessments. One of them told me that it was a wonderful old house, and would appeal to a quirky owner (the thought of 10 cats and a cupboard filled with an infamous canned food, beloved by Monty Python, came to mind) and the other, was not shy in saying that my house was cozy (small) and shabby (without the chic).

What was good, is that it gave me the chance to see my home through the eyes of someone who saw it from a very different perspective. Some of it seemed quite harsh, but truly, they were giving me the reality of the housing market, and I learned a lot from talking to them:

The first thing I learned, was that selling a house is about filling the needs of as many people as possible, not about how much you love the crooked staircase and your quirky gargoyle collection. It is no longer about you, it is about a commodity.

The second thing I learned was to be realistic. eg. A mansion, in a not-so-good neighborhood, no matter how much money you put into it, will probably never get you the return that you hope for. Likewise, a small home will always appeal more to couples or young families looking for a “starter” home.

Depersonalizing was the next lesson. Not a bad word, it just means that you have to edit what you have, so that the house is the main event. Family photos and “stuff” are a distraction. At the very least, keep mementos corralled in one area, not spread all over the place.

Clean it up - the outside and the inside. Buyers are fickle; first impressions can prevent someone from even wanting to look inside (put garbage cans, broken Halloween decorations and green hosepipes in the garage).

Also, a house that is tidy looks bigger, welcomes you in and makes you want to see more.

Make your home feel cared for. Open the curtains, fluff up the pillows and let in the light. Water your plants, and get rid of ones that are past their prime.

Every room should have a purpose. Spend some time making sure your rooms look like what they are supposed to be (computers in the office, baskets of clothes in the laundry room, television and photos in the family room etc). A spare room that is filled with “leftovers” puts people off – it needs an identity.

If you want to fix things prior to the sale, be wise in your choices. Many states have mandatory inspections, and you may have other things to repair that are far more important (and expensive).

Finally, your home should smell good. At the absolute least, change the kitty litter, empty the garbage and open the windows (no air-freshener please!). If you can, bake something in the stove or light a natural scented candle. Make people feel at home with these favorite, comforting scents: Apple pie, cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, chocolate chip cookies….

Lovely, airy photograph from: http://www.softlineonline.com/blog/?m=201104

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

100th post!

It seems like a special kind of wonderful, that on my 100th blog posting day I got a nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award! I was asked to share seven things about myself, and then nominate others as well.
So, without further ado, here are seven things that you may, or may not, know about me:

- My upstairs bathroom is painted entirely in chalkboard paint (my daughter and her friend's draw and write on it all of the time). I also have a wall in my TV room that is entirely covered in chalkboard paint.
- My toaster says "TOAST" on the front of it (I have had it for over 10 years, and it still makes me smile every morning).
- I worked at the United Nations, in NYC, for three years.
- I cut and color my own hair all of the time; sometimes it is quite disasterous, but I do it anyway :-)
- Pencils are one of my favorite things (hate pens).
- I own a black jeep (it makes me think of New Zealand, where I grew up - the above composite photograph, called "Sheepsail" is by Ted Scott, it is one of my favorites).
- I am a ridiculous romantic; constantly dreaming, planning new things, head in the clouds...

Here are a few of the blogs that I read, and would nominate:

Beautiful Living Style (observations on life, style and the bits in between)
The Lettered Cottage (interior design - pretty and practical)
Rooms Reborn (interior redesign - more great ideas from Ann Anderson!)
The Happiness Project (no explanation needed - always a good dose of happiness when you need it)
Mind the Beginner (thoughts on life, and being better...)
Pink Miles (pink observations on running a family and a marathon)
New Light Redesign (interior redesign, decoratively speaking)
Jane Pollak (entrepreneurial inspiration, and a mental kick in the bum when you need it)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Warming up!

Apparently. I don't handle the cold very well. During the recent 5 days without heat we became nomads, eating at friends homes and roaming the town to buy large cups of hot chocolate. By the end of day five, me, and my disposition, were not at their prettiest!

When the electricity finally came back on, I knew that I needed to create an emergency plan, and, far more importantly, redecorate my home for Winter!

So, with a blissful weekend all to myself, in my warm home, this is what I plan to do:

Bring in the Red: Psychologically, it reminds us of fire, so I will add a few red things. A blanket is perfect, it will keep me warm and look warm when I'm not using it.

Create layers: Give myself license to add (even more) accessories. Add extra pictures on the wall, pillows on the sofa and cram books into any bare shelves that need to be filled up. More things will absorb the cold, and make it feel cozier. (I will declutter in the Spring).

Rearrange my Furniture: Any excuse to move my furniture is a good one. I will create closer, more intimate groupings where I can. Making sure there are tables for drinks, and lamps to read by. Think comfort - would I want to sit in that space, curl my feet up and read a book? Why, why not?

Add plaid, of course: Love it or hate it, it will always evokes a feeling of log cabins and warm days by the fire.

Find more lamps: Will go to second hand shops, looking for lamps (checking that they are safe to use, of course) or, might even buy a couple of inexpensive ones from discount stores. Change the shades if I need to, or re-paint the bases. Don't underestimate the impact of a lot more lighting, especially in Winter when the days are shorter.

Put my glass away: I love glass, but it is cold. I will minimize the amount of glass in the house, and replace it with pottery, children's art, books or something more substantial and dense.

Light candles: Seems obvious, but these are not just for decoration; the flame emotionally warms us up, and gives off a tiny bit of heat. I love to put small, metal-cup votives into my best china cups (especially good when you have a power outage) and scatter them around the house. Those delicate little cups have a translucency that will make the entire cup glow when you put a small candle in them, plus, they are safe and easy to carry around because of the handle. Buy some at a thrift store for a couple of dollars.

Well, with my weekend planned, I will sign off, and get started. Maybe you will be inspired to do the same...