There were 60 smiling, excited faces with little noses pressed up against the windows of the bus. Some were wearing colorful plastic sunglasses, many carrying faded threadbare towels, chattering excitedly, and bursting with energy and anticipation as they disembarked from the bus. We had precious little people in our care and we were leaving nothing to chance, so we had Mauritian Marine Patrol protecting them from the ocean, and a police force presence in plain clothes on the beach. We gave them a day to remember.
I don’t remember exactly how I got involved with a charity called Caritas Mauritius, but I suddenly found myself offering to create a school playground for them. The happiest little pre-school I’ve ever seen, built using 2 shipping containers and staffed by wonderful caring teachers. Behind the school was a small farm which served as a refuge for abused women. They worked in the fields while their children went to school. Caritas Mauritius served as a sanctuary for women in the village of Triolet, an overcrowded, lower income part of the Island.
My immediate thought was that this would make a perfect community service project for high school seniors. I contacted a private high school on the Island and offered the seniors the prefect opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Their teacher helped rally 14 teenage volunteers, and we organized a weekend work party with food and drinks for the workers. We solicited donations of old tires and paint, as well as a jungle gym and slide. We bought curbstones to paint and demarcate the pathways and the sandpit. We were all set, or so we thought…
News of our fabulous beach parties had spread and the Manager of Caritas asked if we could reward the young volunteers with a party. So back we went to the swimsuit factory for more swimsuits and towels. The kids chose Kentucky Fried Chicken for their lunch. Another very special beach party for 8 young boys and 1 little girl to reward them for the all the hard work they put into their neighborhood school that weekend.
Our main motive in home staging is to present a curb that is so appealing that it will have potential buyers screeching to a halt and clamoring to view your listing. Actually, housing inventory is so low here in Seattle right now, that buyers are doing that anyway, but we do want buyers to get so excited that they’re willing to increase their offers, just to get the home of their dreams.
The best time to wage war on weeds is right now, at the start of Spring. While you’re about it, you’d best select a method that is earth friendly and won’t harm your family and pets. A lawn that looks like a luxurious edge to edge carpet is certainly something we strive for when it comes to curb appeal.
We’ve long been proponents of using straight white vinegar to kill weeds, but those dandelions can be very persistent, and so we do want to put extra effort into having them disappear forever. Best to select a tool that burrows right down as far as possible to the bottom of the tap root. Fill the hole left behind with straight white vinegar. The secret to keeping dandelions at bay – is to have a healthy, robust soil. This will make it resistant to the invasion of weeds.
With the focus on lessening our use of pesticides, comes a proliferation of nontoxic and earth friendly fertilizers. Do some research on the best product to use based on the type of grass you have planted and the area where you live.
Another fast growing trend especially areas prone to drought is synthetic grass. There are a variety of types available from our favorite hardware stores, as well as companies who will ‘lay’ the rolls of rather realistic looking lawn. We have also discovered companies who will spray paint your dead grass with a non-toxic vegetable dye. So now there should be no more excuses. Hopefully this year, we’ll see every for sale sign will stand in front of a luxurious, weed free lawn
Vegetable Dyed Green Coloring Spray For Dead Grass
October already – how did that happen?
Summer was Spectacular. Our dream to spend our birthdays in Italy, became a reality and our love for swimming in the ocean had us exploring different villages on the Amalfi coast. Hubby and I have just enjoyed a trip of a lifetime.
First stop Maori. Slightly off the tourist track, we relished morning dips in that marvelous Mediterranean ocean, Italy in August was hot as hell. Our days were filled exploring the village and savoring delectable pastas, pizzas and wines. We spent romantic, lazy days, absorbing the culture of this little gem of a seaside village. The exquisite old palace grounds, now a library and municipal building were host to a classical piano recital which we were privileged to enjoy, under an exquisite fresco ceiling.
Praiano became our base camp as we traveled to Ravello, Positano and Amalfi. The delightful Island of Capri where throngs of tourists crowded the glorious cobbled streets and roadside café’s savoring Italian delights. The scorching summer heat had us relishing the superb selection of gelatos and granitas. Around every corner on that coast was artistic experience, be it the exquisite detail the in churches, or the museums and art galleries, or the display of local produce.
I splurged on fabulous handmade Italian sandals and shoes that feel like butter on the feet. We feasted on the splendiferous sights of delightful villages that appear to be attached with glue to the coastal mountainside. I reminisced of my days as a home decor buyer, as I salivated at the sights of exquisite ceramic pieces. Thinking that I need to find a reason to go back to Italy more often.
Any Stagents out there want a staging inventory shopping trip to Italy with a side of shoe shopping as an added attraction 🙂
As was recently featured by Houzz, there is a new breed of artificial flowers so realistic and so beautiful that one feels compelled to touch them, or at least get up really close to establish their authenticity. We’ve all seen them, over the years, exquisite floral arrangements that last forever, or do they?
My aversion to fake flowers began many years ago. I clearly recall seeing a plastic flower arrangement on a ball and claw coffee table in my grandmother’s living room. The petals were a hard plastic, an insipid faded color, and they were devoid of any floral aroma. I remember touching them and then noticing that my finger was covered in a thin-film of dust. I recall being both fascinated and horrified all at once. Why would anyone want to display fake flowers?
Born a nature lover, I have early, vivid memories of strolling through our garden, stopping to bend down and sniff the perfume of the flowers. This was definitely one of my favorite pastimes as a child. I’d go from flower to flower, deeply inhaling the perfume, with a smile on my face, marveling at the miracle of nature.
Over the years, I remember seeing artificial flowers at odd intervals. The arrangements that had the most impact were ones encased in plastic domes displayed at the local florist, specifically for use on coffins. They were faded pastel in color. Again, I was struck by permanence of those plastic flowers. Why, I thought, not bless the deceased with the gift of fresh flowers.
Even though today we have moved way beyond the era of ugly plastic flowers, as an interior designer I’ve always maintained my strong dislike for any artificial plants or flowers. In my eleven years of educating Real Estate Agents on The Power of Staging®, I’ve only ever advocated the use of fresh flowers, specifically orchids. I love the white ones as they’re stylish, inexpensive and available all year round, but a few close encounters with the latest exquisite man-made flowers has made me rethink the fake stuff.
Together with the growth of the home staging industry over the years, we’re seeing many more man-made recreations of nature. On a practical note, artificial flowers and plants are easier to maintain because they require no attention, last infinitely longer than fresh flowers and therefore cost a lot less.
OK, so I’ll concede, let’s use the flowers, trees and rocks for as long as they really look great, but let’s dispose of them when they start to look tired and they lose their fresh clean appearance or become a resting place for dust and cobwebs. Use artificial plants when staging a home, but please resist the temptation to display fake artifacts like sushi or fake cupcakes in your staging.
Fifty shades NOT to paint …
As Stagents we’re not too governed by the latest décor trends, mainly because we’re not interior decorators. It is however important that we keep our finger on the pulse of décor trends, and follow them to a certain degree. This will ensure that our staging projects remain fresh and current. Bearing in mind one of the primary principles of home staging is to present a clean, tidy house that is in a good state of repair. Visually a home looks and feels it’s best if it is airy, bright, and light.
I’m happy to report a shift in the décor trends, specifically in paint colors and the fact that they are definitely getting lighter. Now I would hope that Stagents are never tempted to suggest dark colored accent walls to their staging projects. Aside as being out of our realm of expertise; how could we select an accent color on behalf of a buyer who hasn’t yet bought?
So when selecting paint color to show a home off looking its best, keep the paint colors light and neutral. Most important of all, afford the new homeowners the opportunity to make their new home their own, by presenting a neutral canvass onto which they can add their personality, and without the inconvenience of having to repaint over a dark accent wall.
Contemplating Spring, especially after one of the most brutal winters in history might seem absurd, but here in the Pacific North West, seasonal allergy sufferers are already itching, scratching and sneezing, and blossom trees are in full bloom. All I could do to express sympathy with those living in the USA and Canada and who are still freezing under numerous feet of snow, was to plant white Primroses. Having never lived in a snowy area, or experienced life being ‘snowed in’, I found myself wondering just how creative agents might have to become in order to highlight curb appeal in a home that is encased in snow. Stagents know all too well that necessity is the mother of invention. This picture proves that point ….
Happy 2015 to you
Home staging advice, lists and guides abound, with lots of emphasis on declutttering, cleaning and decorating. One important factor I feel gets omitted in all this feedback is repairing. Presenting a home that is in a good state of repair shows that the home has been well cared for and nicely maintained.
I’m talking about repairing what the eye can see, not necessarily going into the crawl space or dealing with electrical wiring and plumbing. Encourage the seller to repair leaky faucets, cracked or broken tiles and burnt out light bulbs. These are factors that will greatly affect the way the home presents.
While I understand that it’s winter and our energy is best spent on indoor projects, we cannot and should not ignore the exterior of the home. Broken fences, fountains and water features should definitely not be the sights that greet picky house hunters.
Sellers listing their homes for sale during the holiday season, should follow the same rules for home staging. Follow the essential 5 steps of staging, in the usual recommended order.
First declutter, then depersonalize. As always it’s important to repair and replace whatever needs replacing and repairing so as to show the home in it’s best possible condition. The most important step is to clean the home till it sparkles. Decorating is the final step, by adding a classy and minimized amount of holiday decor. Take this opportunity to accentuate the positives and minimize the negative features of the home. Happy Holidays !