Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Staging Stinks!! Quite literally - sometimes it really does!!

Homeowners and probably most Realtors that use a Staging service to help sell their home really don't think about the behind the scenes process.

I, like a lot of Stagers, do own some inventory that I can use to Stage my own listings or rent out to the homeowner.

We can take something like this:

And make it look like this:

Success - the place looks like a model home and is SOLD!!
When it's time to collect all those items - pull on your rubber gloves!!

ANY fabric items (accent pillows, cloth napkins, fancy towels, tassels, window treatments, etc) ALL have to be either washed, steam cleaned or professionally dry cleaned! Those items in particular take on the "essence" of the home they were placed in.

Any glass or other decorative items are washed either by hand or dishwasher or wiped down with Clorox or Lysol wipes (that even includes any wax candles used).
Small furniture pieces and lamps are also given a once over.

Everything is kept in closed trash bags until cleaned. Once cleaned, it's all stored in sealed plastic tubs - ready for the next house.
We Stagers DO NOT want to store away someone else's funk - and we want to ensure the next home receives properly cleaned items.

Stagers - do you add a cleaning fee in with your service? How do you ready your stash for its next use??

Sharon Goetz
Keller Williams Realty
Realtor, Stager, Certified Interior Decorator

Sporting a NEW Look

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Got any DIY projects going on at your house lately?

Well, meet my ottoman. This was INDEED in need of a new look. It was a Pottery Barn purchase a couple of years ago. Great size to just throw your feet up on or act as an additional seat, if needed! The once regal looking cranberry velvet is stained from some over-zealous cleaning of pet accidents AND speaking of pets, the corners are all frayed.

Chose a "Sunbrella-type" indoor / outdoor fabric for the re-covering project. It's rather indestructible (or so they say)...

Here's the piece that will become the new cover.

Here's how it looks in the room now. This piece also works in the guest room. Was happy to get rid of the reddish color - makes for a more unified space!

AND - it's been cat-tested and approved by the choosiest of felines!

I have enough trim and fabric left to fashion an accent pillow.
The fabric and trim were purchased from JoAnn fabric -- ahhhsome July 4th sale.
Both items were on sale for 50% off!!!

Have YOU ever made a slipcover. This one could have been much fancier. I have a wonderfully fuzzy small throw I plan to drape on top for some added texture in the room - that is when the current "fuzzy" decides to get down.

Happy DIY-ing!


Thursday, July 7, 2011


I have seen some truly beautiful outdoor spaces lately. They are truly an extension of the home's living area!! AND, can't get enough of those outdoor fireplaces!!

Fire Pits
A fire pit is much like an elaborate version of the rock ring you made for a campfire as a kid. They can be permanent or portable. The cost for a stone or brick pit varies depending on design, but a portable metal dish on a stand can be found at stores such as Smith & Hawken and Summer Classics ( or for as little as $100.

If you opt for a permanent pit, consider making it at least 24 inches in diameter, but 36 inches is better, giving you more room to build a good fire. As an inexpensive alternative to a custom-built pit, consider using a 24-inch-long section of large concrete pipe. Flip it up on end, and sink it partially in the ground. To find a concrete pipe supplier, visit

An outdoor fireplace is just like one inside. You have a firebox, chimney, flue, and hearth. Because they are constructed just like an indoor fireplace, they often must meet local regulations. And, unlike portable fire pits and chimineas, you can build outdoor fireplaces into a wood deck. (Check with your local building official and fire department about any codes governing outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, or chimineas.

A full-blown outdoor fireplace is the most permanent and expensive option. They can cost from $5,000 for a prefabricated unit and surround to $10,000 or more for masonry. Because they are the most expensive option, these structures are often designed to complement the architecture of a new house or addition.

Until recently, the only option for an outdoor fireplace was masonry. But as popularity grew, companies such as Heat-N-Glo ( started offering less costly prefabricated outdoor fireplaces. With durable stainless steel parts, they stand up to the elements. The structures are available as wood- or gas-burning. Prices for the firebox start at around $1,500, not including the surround, chimney, or any site work.

A chiminea is perhaps the original outdoor fireplace. Traditional versions are manufactured from clay, like a pot, and can be very fragile; newer types are made from metal or iron. Chimneas often come in two components: the base or bowl where the fire goes and the neck or chimney. Because they have a small chimney, smoke is directed upward and out of your face. Once a staple of quirky roadside pottery shops, chimineas can now be found at garden shops, home-improvement warehouses, or online at Web sites such as Basic chiminea models begin at around $130.

Before burning your first fire, insulate the bowl with 3 to 4 inches of sand or fine gravel. For clay chimineas, burn small fires the first five times you use it to keep it from cracking. If you live in a colder climate, store it in a garage or other protected place for the winter. Metal or iron chimineas can be left outside year-round, but one warning if you're opting for this style: Don't purchase a circular metal version with mesh sides and a solid top and bottom. Although the smoke escapes from the sides, the solid top and mesh sides get extremely hot.

Outdoor Fireplace Tips
Chase away the chill in the coming months with the addition of a fire pit, chiminea, or fireplace to your backyard. These options allow you to spend more time outdoors with your family as cooler weather arrives. But remember to be safe so you can enjoy them fully.

Place a portable fire pit away from the house, tree branches, fences, or anything else that might be flammable.
Never use a portable fire pit or chiminea on a wooden or covered deck.
Just like indoors, never burn chemically treated wood.
Metal fire pits and clay chimineas can produce a lot of heat, so don't try to move them for at least a day after the fire is out.
Never use gasoline or other flammable liquid to start a fire. Use kindling, newspaper, and dry logs instead.
Don't leave any type of fire unattended.
(Derick Belden - Southern Living Magazine)
(Photos courtesy of HGTV)

Have you seen any great outdoor spaces in your area lately?
Planning your own oasis?

Know anyone who is planning on a "moving" experience - please ask them to call Selling Homes by Design for a no-obligation consultation on home selling and buying!

Recipe for Preparing YOUR Home for Sale!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recipe for preparing YOUR home for sale!

I recently gave a seminar on "Preparing the home for sale". There are plenty of 1st buyer seminars out there - but there seemed to be a void when it comes to educating sellers (1st time sellers, in particular) - Here are some excerpts from that seminar...

Today’s Buyer:

Today’s buyer is savvy and well informed. They are looking for a turn-key home – not a fixer-upper.

Homeowners face a difficult challenge in selling their home in today’s market. The home must stand out – it must be memorable!
Sellers can only control how the home is priced and how it looks. Sellers cannot control the market, competition or interest rates.

The second most important incentive sellers can offer, after an appropriate price, is presenting a home that can compete with a model home. The biggest mistake that sellers make is that they will give up $50,000 to $100,000 in price rather that spend $20,000 to put in a new bath or a new kitchen with granite counters. Buyers don’t have the time, money or imagination to do these upgrades, so they prefer a home that’s already upgraded. When it comes to upgrades, Buyers then to think in thousands, seller tend to think in hundreds.

According to Remodeling Magazine, when you consider its value at resale, a home improvement project typically costs only 20 to 25 cents on the dollar.

Curb Appeal: Your home’s first impressions begin even before the front door. Your home must have appeal from the street. If it doesn’t appear welcoming on the outside, buyers will either keep on driving or form negative opinions before they come in the front door.

Stand across the street, then look at the property from each corner – is the landscaping overgrown? “If you can’t see it, you can’t sell it!” Add color to beds and plants of varying heights. Add fresh mulch or ground cover. Remove any dead plants and cut back all shrubs to window height. Clean all debris and moss from roofs and gutters.

Look at the condition of the lawn. Does the mailbox need replacing? What about the shutters and the window screens? And just how welcoming is your welcome mat? Does it say “Go Away” or “Attack Cat on Duty”? Then you might consider replacing that.
When choosing a door mat – the wider the better. This gives the impression of a wider entry way.

Upgrades that provide Return On Investment:

Buyers look for and appreciate updated kitchens and baths. These are the remodels you stand to gain the largest payback on! Spend your money on the rooms that have running water as a general rule. A buyer is likely to subtract literally hundreds of dollars if they see a dated bathroom vanity with 70’s faux marble top and chipped sink. A small, new furniture-style one piece vanity popular with buyers can be purchased at any home improvement store for about $100.00. Such an update provides value.

For bathrooms, inspect all tile, grout and hardware. Clean or repair grout. Use vinegar to remove soap residue from shower heads and shower doors. Look at the floor ~ tile in a neutral stone look can be a very cost effective update.

Brushed nickel is still the finish of choice – just updating simple knobs and towel bars can give a bath a fresh look. Go with a spa-like motif and invest in neutral towels, shower curtains and accessories ~ you can always take them to your new home. Keep bath products to an absolute minimum. Clutter undermines all your hard work!

Everyone knows a kitchen can sell a house! While it’s true that stainless appliances and solid surface counters such as granite are the #1 choice of buyers, your budget may not permit. Laminate counters with a solid surface "look" can give an updated feel if you cannot afford granite.

If you can’t replace appliances; ensure they are squeaky clean and in proper working order. Wash cabinets to remove any grease build up and consider replacing hardware. Backsplashes and under cabinet lighting add additional value to a kitchen. Tile backsplashes are inexpensive and can be installed by any do-it-yourselfer.
Remove “stuff” from counters, above cabinets and top of fridge – it shouts “Hey, this kitchen has no storage!”.

Remember, glass front cabinets and hutches are for display – not storage. Use them accordingly. Take all magnets, artwork off the fridge.
Lastly – look at the flooring.

The New Neutrals of Paint Colors:

Paint is THE most cost-effective investment you can make! The new neutrals add warmth and definition to a space. It can define a focal point such as a fireplace or view.
It can make your home stand out from the rest in your neighborhood.
These new neutrals are derived from colors in nature – think sand, mushroom, wheat!
Tans, honeys, and sages sell!

“The way you live in your home and the way we sell your house are two different things.”
Staging is a concept developed 30 years ago by Barb Schwarz. Although the process has been around for some time, it’s just now gaining popularity in our area. Staging uses proven guidelines and techniques to prepare a home for sale.
When I do a Staging consultation – it is a detailed process of going thru each room, taking notes and pictures, looking at the ceilings, the walls, doorways, flooring, furniture and its placement and accessories. I come back with about a 20 page plan made specifically for that house.

In every room, stand in the doorway and look thru the eyes of a buyer. What do you really see – pack everything you can live without while your home is on the market. This includes any family photos, collections of any kind, guns, swords, hunting trophies and religious and political items. The buyer needs to “picture” himself living there, with his things.

Dining Room Before Staging:

Dining Room After Staging:

Your closets and cupboards should be pared down to half of their current contents. I suggest that all the hangers in the closet be the same.

Truth is, buyers lack imagination. “They only know what they See, not the way it’s going to Be!” That is why each room must have a defined purpose, must be clutter-free, Q-Tip clean and rid of excess furniture and personal items. This includes the kitchen counters, laundry space and all bathrooms. Buyers want to purchase square footage – not your stuff.

Show off all the space in your place!

Have you ever had your home Staged for selling? Are you a D.I.Y'r and can tackle some updates yourself?
Thinking about a NEW beginning - give a call to Selling Homes by Design to get the process started with professional Staging and Realty services! 703-679-1712


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


You finally realized that hiring a professional Virtual Tour company to photograph your property was a great move. Next step is to prepare your home so that it looks appealing to potential buyers who will be looking at your home online? Think about “staging” your home, or in other words, setting the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property.

To be really effective, you need to look at both the outside and the inside of your home. Here are 3 tips to get you started with the inside of your home:
1. De-clutter. This is one of the most important things you can do. It might be easier to think of de-cluttering like this – you’re moving anyway, so why not start packing now?
Pack up everything you don’t need and store the boxes out of sight in the garage (or consider temporarily renting a small storage locker).
2. Organize your closets – put similar colors together, pants together, skirts together, shirts together etc. Why? Because it will make the closets look bigger. (Really.) An organized closet appears bigger, and you want your closets to look as spacious as possible.
3. Make your home look like a model. You want to de-personalize as much as possible so potential buyers can imagine themselves and their own belongings occupying the space in your house. That means minimizing – putting away everything you don’t need or use. Clear off kitchen counters as much as possible – stash all those appliances you don’t use, and put miscellaneous small clutter in a few attractive baskets or boxes
And the biggest tip of all? Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you submitted an offer on your house?
Proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.

Interested in selling YOUR home? Consult with Selling Homes by Design for a no-obligation meeting to discuss your home and our professional realty and Staging services!

(preparation information provided by The Murphy Group of Keller Williams