TV armoire repurposed into a child's craft center.
Like anyone, I get sick and tired of my stuff. From wall color to accessories to furniture, sometimes I just want a new look. For as many times as I’ve looked around my house and wanted to change everything, if I dished out the dollars to do it, I’d be broke—or up to my eyeballs in credit card bills! So, I do what my mom taught me. Reuse, recycle and repurpose.
When we were growing up, my mom made bubble solution from dishwasher liquid; covered school books with grocery store paper bags; salvaged my dad’s jeans by covering holes with patches of material from older jeans; made Halloween costumes from leftover, hand-me-down material; and wrapped kids’ gifts in Sunday funny papers. My mom would come up with all kinds of great ways to reuse, recycle or repurpose materials.
I can’t say that I’m as creative as my mom was, and still is, but I try. My creativity usually comes out of a need. There’s a mess on my countertop, so how can I organize everything? Or I have a project with no budget and I’m forced to find style and function in what a client already owns. I immediately look around to see whether something can be repurposed.
You may be surprised at what you find around your house that can be used for a purpose other than for what it was originally intended. Keep an open mind and think about function. If you need storage, look in your attic, garage and around your house, and question how an item might be used to store your articles. If you’re looking for an accessory, look in your closet, cabinets and drawers, and determine whether the shape, size and/or color of the objects may work in your space.
Don’t discount pieces too quickly. Sometimes a little work, like a coat of paint or some light renovation, can create something that is completely different from the original. If you need some instruction, there are plenty of ways to find it, like youtube, Pinterest, or home improvement stores. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Your new item may not only be a functional part of your home, but it may also become a wonderful conversation piece!
Wine is nice, but it’s only a temporary escape from the madness. Do you have a space in your home where you can go and blow off some steam, hide from the kids, or just sit still and relax for a while? My mom called it her “sanity room” and it was a screenporch off the back of our house where she would go to get away from us for a while. It wasn’t fancy, but being a stay-at-home mom until we were both in high school, she loved her little area where it was peaceful, quiet and where we weren’t. Although I work full-time (and a half), and sometimes feel that I don’t see my kids enough, there are days when I need to escape, too.
Before I had the kids, I would find times when I was alone and… lonely. I have to laugh because now that I have a family, sometimes being alone is all I want! But I’ve found my own sanity room. And it happens to be my screenporch, too. I bought some inexpensive furniture, curtains and accessories, and my dad painted it for me. It still needs a little more work, but it’s my favorite place. I can honestly say that it’s the only space in my entire house that doesn’t have someone’s toys or dirty clothes in it. It’s my space and I won’t tolerate anyone messing it up! (Cat hair is a different story. My cats love it as much as I do.)
Find your sanity room, whether it’s your bedroom, mudroom, basement, or a corner of that unused living room and make it your own. Surround yourself with things you love and it will become the relaxing oasis that you need when things just need to slow down.
Many homeowners resist when their Realtor broaches the subject of staging the property. Why? Mainly because they don't fully understand what staging is, why it is done, or what the benefits are. I've put together some talking points for Realtors in order to more clearly explain what staging is, what is involved in staging a home, and why all homes should be staged.
Client: What is staging anyway?
Realtor: Staging is the process of preparing a house for sale by caring for all of the details, accentuating the positive attributes of the house, while minimizing any challenging areas, and creating a warm, inviting space in which buyers will feel welcome and "at home."
C: My house is fine. It doesn't need to be staged.
R: Every house can use some level of staging. Even if it's just some touch-ups, updates, or little details that will make buyers fall in love with your house. A staging consultation with Functional Home Designs is only $150 and you would get the professional advice on what are the most important changes to make in order to ask top dollar for your house.
C: Staging is expensive and I don't want to spend any money on a house I'm not going to live in.
R: When you sell your car, you clean it, maybe replace windshield wipers, tires, or other parts that may be worn or broken so you can sell it for the highest price possible. Otherwise your asking price must be lower to take into account any repairs needed. It's the same idea when you sell your house–but on a much larger scale. When your house is properly cared for, buyers will see it as being well maintained and move-in ready, and its perceived value will go up.
C: I'm going to clean my house, clear out the closets, and take all of my family pictures down, like everyone says to do.
R: That's a great start, but not the end. There are lots of other things you need to consider as well. A professional stager will be able to consult you on colors, lighting, furniture/traffic flow, updates/changes, repairs, etc.
C: I'm going to rip out my kitchen (or bathroom) and do a complete update. I'm also going to tear up all of the carpet and install hardwood floors. I know that making these changes will allow me to ask for much more than we originally agreed upon.
R: Taking into consideration the market, your competition, and your target buyer, a stager and I can work together to determine what update/changes make sense for your house. You want to be sure that you are making appropriate changes and that the investment you make will be returned properly with the sale.
C: My house will be vacant so buyers will be able to see how big it is.
R: Leaving a house vacant isn't always the best solution. With empty rooms, there is no frame of reference. What is this room used for? I can't tell if my furniture will fit in this space. The space feels so cold. When a buyer has unanswered questions or feels uncomfortable, they are likely to walk away. A professional stager can work with you to determine just the right touches for each space to make it the warm, inviting home that buyers are looking for.
As a Realtor, your job is difficult enough. Let me free up some of your time by taking the responsibility of working with clients to prepare their homes for sale. It's what I love to do
A professional real estate agent is skilled at conducting a competitive market analysis, researching and determining the proper asking price for your home. It is your job to ensure that your home is WORTH every penny of the asking price. Staging will play a big role in that. By properly staging your house, you present it as having high value and create an emotional connection to buyers.
Without proper pricing and staging to underscore your home’s value, it may sit on the market longer than you would hope. Take into consideration how much it will cost you each month in carrying costs, not to mention a possible price reduction, before you begin to lose any potential profit you would have made.
Carrying costs are the expenses you incur each month to maintain the house, and include your mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, etc. They eat into your profit margin with every month your house sits on the market. Here is an example of how it works:
Example: Assume your asking price is $300,000 and your monthly expenses are:
Mortgage and insurance $2,000
Monthly carrying costs $2,650
If unsold, the first price reduction is typically taken 30 - 60 days after the house enters the market. How much of a price reduction would your Realtor suggest? 5%? 10%? 20%? On the lower end, we’ll use 5% for this example, which would be a $15,000 price cut.
So if your house were on the market for 2 months, you will have lost:
$2,650 x 2 months = $5,300 + $15,000 = $20,300 AND your asking price would be lowered to $285,000.
Add $2,650 for every month your house stays on the market.
Staging your home wouldn’t cost nearly that much! Why wouldn’t you do everything possible to make your house stand out among the competition and increase your chances of a quicker sale? Do the math. Staging just makes sense.
As the weather begins to warm, we tend to feel more energized, are more likely to spend time outside, and start to plan new projects. Additionally, spring has historically been a very busy time of year for the real estate industry. If you are one of the many homeowners who is planning to sell a home this spring, there are some things you can do now to prepare.
Now, more than ever, homeowners understand the importance of showing their homes in the best possible light when listing them for sale. With a very competitive housing market comes lots of inventory and, therefore, lots of competition. Preparing a home properly so that it stands out among the competition is critical. Homeowners sometimes need months to complete a laundry list of projects before a house is ready for sale. It’s a big job and very time-consuming, but well worth the effort.
According to HomeGain’s 2012 survey of home improvements, the refinements that made the top five are: cleaning and de-cluttering; lightening and brightening; repairing electrical and plumbing; landscaping; and staging. Addressing these low-cost/no-cost items has proven to bring in the highest return on investment of all improvements that can be made.
Many a homeowner has argued against spending money on a home they will be leaving, but investing a little money up front will bring in more on the back end. Buyers tend to perceive a home that is clean, well cared for and updated to be worth more money. The goal is to attract as many buyers and the highest offer possible.
Cleaning and de-cluttering is imperative. The home must be sparkling clean. Hire a cleaning service, if needed, but be sure that every space is tended to, from ceiling to floor.
De-cluttering is a great way to begin the process of moving. Pack away anything that you won’t need until you move into a new space. All collections should be stored, and the home should be cleared so that the living space is maximized. Now is also a good time to donate or toss any items that will not move with you. There are several services that will pick up materials free of charge.
To lighten and brighten a home is to give it life. A dark home portrays a dingy, depressing space. Be sure that each room, closet and hallway are well-lit. Buyers walking through will inspect each area and bright areas will show a more energized home.
Tending to any electrical and/or plumbing issues helps you to gain the confidence of buyers. Any repairs or improvements that can be done before listing will be portrayed as a positive in a buyer’s eyes. As any improvement that is made, it will reinforce the fact that the home was well-maintained.
The outside of the property is just as important as the interior of the home. It is buyers’ first view as they drive by or drive up to the home. A clean exterior with lovely landscaping and a welcoming front entrance draws the buyer in with a positive first impression.
Having a home inspection is a wise decision as you prepare your home for sale. A home inspector will uncover any major (or minor) issues that may become a problem. Having that information at your disposal will give you the opportunity to address those issues before a buyer’s home inspector finds them.
Hiring a professional home stager is a great way to get an objective view of your home as well as some great advice. A professional stager looks at your home with “buyer’s eyes.” She will also assess the home’s positive attributes and consult you on making the changes or improvements that will accentuate those positives, while playing down any less than ideal features.
Selling a home is a big undertaking. It is time-consuming and can be stressful. Allowing yourself ample time to properly prepare alleviates some of that stress. Focusing on the improvements or repairs that will be most profitable takes some time, but is never a waste of time. Remember, a little investment up front in the areas where it makes sense will bring the best return in the end.
Source: HomeGain.com, Inc.
There are many ways to market homes for sale, but in this age of technology, it is imperative that your online presence is front and center... and fabulous! The fact is that the vast majority of home buyers are first searching online. According to Realtor.com, in one month alone, the site had more than 370 million pageviews in searches and real estate listings. On the site's mobile app, over 272 million photos were viewed in that month. That comes to more than 6,300 photo views per minute! And that is just one of the many forms of digital media that is available to you.
The first couple of weeks on the market are the most crucial. First, buyers must be able to find you. When they find you, the listing should "wow" them. If a buyer sees your listing and dismisses it, you may not get another look. So, in order to maximize your online presence, and get that second look, a showing, and even a sale, here are some tips:
1. Price it to sell. It goes without saying that making the sale always comes down to the right price. When selling a home, price is THE most important factor. The home must be priced competitively for the market, so it is wise to do your homework and have a competitive market analysis performed. A consult with a staging professional can help a homeowner identify areas where repairs or improvements can be made that would ensure a high perceived value for the asking price.
2. Get professional photographs and/or a virtual tour produced. We've all heard the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." With most buyers looking online for their next home, it is imperative that your listing photos are of the highest quality. They should tell a story–one that resonates with buyers and creates an emotional connection, so much so that they just HAVE to follow up on it. This is also where professional staging can help create a story by ensuring that the attributes that are important to target buyers are highlighted.
3. Target your marketing efforts. Understand who your target buyer is. Would the home appeal to a young family? Empty nesters looking for a second home? A single? While you cannot call out a particular segment of the population, you can certainly speak to your targeted buyer in your marketing efforts. Using keywords, offering incentives and touting the positives of the property that appeal to this particular segment may strike a chord, pique interest and hopefully evoke a response from them. For example, young families may be interested in the proximity to the schools, but empty nesters may want to hear more about the home's one-level living.
4. Go where the buyers are. Once you understand your target buyer group, you must engage with them where they spend their time. MLS, Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow are great sites, but don't discount other venues that cater to specific groups like parents, singles and travelers. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter can also be used to reach would-be buyers.
5. Make it easy to find you. The last thing you want is for a potential buyer to pass over your property because it's difficult to find your contact information. Be sure that it is clearly displayed in all of your marketing materials. A simple link to your website or e-mail can be attached to any online marketing piece.
The digital age is here. Don't fight it. Use it to your advantage and stay ahead of the competition!
Credit: 24/7 Wall St., Thirteen Ways to Sell Your Home in 2012, April 24, 2012.
Have you ever seen a photo of a room and wished that you could crawl into the pages and live in it? We all want our homes to look and feel luxurious, like they do in magazines and on TV. But who has a small fortune to put rooms like that together?
Designing a beautiful room doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. And I love to figure out ways to create a FAB (Functional, Affordable and Beautiful) look like those of celebrities.
Check out the photos below. The room on the left belongs to an actor. It looks like a really cozy place to spend some time. I love the rustic, yet high-end touches. Just for the fun of it, I've put together a more affordable version of the room that mixes both rural and metropolitan styles.
A comfy couch detailed with upholstery tacks and a soft leather chair make up the main seating areas. Matching footstools in rust-orange and gold add a pop of color and extra seating for guests. A distressed table adds a casual touch and some warmth to the space and is adorned with a simple green-hued pottery vase. Complementary throw pillows in more formal patterns add a touch of chic elegance. Lighting is provided by a simple wrought iron floor lamp with a cream-colored shade. (It certainly wouldn't be the only source of lighting in the room.) And a great print of a horse keeps the room from becoming too formal and it adds more of the warm rust and gold colors.
So if you need a change, but are not sure how to put together an affordable look–or just need some help sourcing item–give me a jingle. It's what I love to do!
Do you have a child who will be leaving for school soon? Are you anxious to get into his/her bedroom in hopes of giving it a makeover? It would be fun to give your child a newly-designed space for weekend visits. But I would caution you that it may not be the best idea to make it a complete surprise.
Before your student moves out, work with her to de-clutter closets and storage spaces of clothing and memorabilia. You don't want to make assumptions yourself and donate or toss anything that she isn't quite ready to part with yet. Cleaning out the bedroom will not only give your child a head-start on getting ready to pack for school, but also help in your quest to make the space over.
Moving out of the house can be an emotional time for your child. Holding on to certain memory-evoking items--and even taking them to school with her--can help ease the transition. Putting together scrapbooks, photo albums, bulletin boards and memory boxes are great ways to corral these items and keep them safe. It may be a project you can work on together, or maybe give her as a going away gift.
Once all of the personal items are cared for, you're able to begin the actual transformation of the space. Giving the room a good cleaning and painting will be much easier after it is de-cluttered.
You may be able to eliminate some of the furniture in the room. Talk to her ahead of time about how she will need the room to function and determine exactly what pieces she will need. Will she need more than a bed and dresser? Will she be doing homework and need a desk? A bookcase? A comfy chair?
You will not only be creating a great new space for your child, but also, in a way, helping yourself transition through this next step in her life. Have some fun.
If you look forward to summer as much as I do, you have probably already begun to set up your outdoor living spaces. Despite the very soggy spring we've had here in the northeast, I have managed to clean off the patio, spray paint and set up my dining table and chairs, and set up my bistro set. I'm still a long way from being done, but the season is young and yard sale season has just begun!
I'm changing things up a bit this year and will be looking for some new pieces to add. Making changes or adding to your outdoor entertaining space doesn't mean that it has to cost lots of money. Mixing and matching new, re-purposed and recycled pieces can make a very interesting and beautiful area.
Yard sales and flea markets can be treasure troves if you are patient. Look for pieces with good "bones," meaning that they are structurally solid and have good shape and lines, and ones that are also functional. Look beyond the chipped paint or missing pieces and keep an open mind. Finishes can always be changed (or covered), missing pieces can be replaced, and items do not always have to function as they were originally meant to function.
Below are some examples of pieces that have been reclaimed and restored for the outdoors. When you are looking for pieces, remember to use your imagination, keep in mind your functional needs, and keep an open mind.
As many of us know, selling a house is a lot of work. It means cleaning, de-cluttering, packing, and it also sometimes means funding some repairs and updates before putting it on the market. Although no one wants to spend money on a house that they're not going to live in, it behooves us to make those changes and prepare for the sale properly.
Remember, when you list your home, it becomes a product for sale. And if you think of it that way, you will understand that any product in good working condition can and will, be sold for more money than one that is not. Leaving repairs or updates for new owners will also leave you with less money in your pocket. The price must accurately reflect the need for these repairs because no one will pay top dollar for a house that needs work.
Even cosmetic changes tend to bring in more money to a seller. New bathroom, kitchen or lighting fixtures are relatively inexpensive, but those changes go a long way in updating the look of a space. Paint continues to be one of the least expensive but highest impact changes you can make. Window treatments and other cosmetic changes can transform an outdated space to an up-to-date dream home.
Before you list your house, get a home inspection so that you can address any major issues ahead of time. Talk with a professional, like your Realtor or home stager, about changes you can make that are within your budget and will give you the biggest impact. Don't spend money needlessly, but make the changes and repairs that make sense and reap the benefits in a higher sale price.