Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Put a Cork In It

As usual, I find myself with lots of little projects going on and very little time to blog about them. I didn't want to leave you hanging too long, so this hodgepodge of a post will just have to tide you over for a bit.

One thing I'm uber excited about showing off are our fabulous finds from an estate sale we visited on Friday. Normally we don't find many usable accessories for our staging business at such places because most people don't own big chunky accessories. And if they do, they very rarely get rid of them. To luck into a large, stylish/classic item is awesome. On Friday though, we found THREE! Take a look at what we got for less than the price of a Kimberly fern at Walmart . . .

It's difficult to grasp their scale from the photo, but the cloche is 14 inches tall. I didn't measure the obelisk, but I'm guessing it's about 28 inches.

Speaking of that cloche . . . the next time you see it, it will look completely different. Its total transformation is one of those little projects that's been keeping me too busy to write a real blog post.  So definitely check back in a few days to see how I bring it into the 21st Century.

Another project that I am working on is a "gift" of sorts for some of my readers. In the past year or so of touring lots of your homes, we've learned that one of the greatest decorating dilemmas for people is hanging art. Sounds crazy, right? I mean, what could be so hard about hanging art? From what we've seen out there though, a whole bunch of you are having trouble getting it right. That is why I am working on a primer for anyone troubled by scale, composition, color, pairing, grouping, and all the other trouble spots that befall would-be art lovers. I don't want to call it Hanging Art 101, but that's what it is. So stay tuned for that too!

Lastly, the folks over at my very favorite winery in the whole world, Chateau Montelena Winery, asked their Facebook followers what they do with their used wine corks. I've used old corks in a million different ways, but my favorite thing to do with them is this:

Memorable use for old corks
Whenever we have a dinner party, a celebration, or just get together with family and friends, I write the date and event on the cork(s) from the wine we share. Then I toss them "under glass" beneath my favorite cloche.  It is so much fun each year to go back through the corks and recall the good times.

Again, I apologize for this schizophrenic post. It went in a lot of directions, but hopefully you can find some useful information in there somewhere. If not, check back in the coming days to see the transformation of that old timey cloche and my primer on hanging art.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ditch the Dumpy Drapes

Have you seen this photo tip?

If you've spent any time at all on Pinterest, you've seen it. It makes the rounds at least once a week.

I'm convinced that the reason why it is so popular is because it is so true. I am also certain that the people pinning it are not doing so for themselves. They already know that hanging curtains high above the window offers the illusion of height and space to a room. Those who know want you to know it too. They keep offering you a kindly hint, but some of you refuse take it.

When readying a home for the real estate market, this issue is huge. I cannot count the number of times I've had to beg homeowners to ditch their dark, heavy, low-hung drapes because they do absolutely nothing to help a home feel open and spacious. In fact, the wrong drapes can make a room seem sloppy and downright depressing.

Take a look at this client's bonus room.

Those dark, heavy drapes break up the view in a bad way. They close off the light from the window and they make the room look short and squatty.
After some pretty serious groveling to get the homeowner to trust us, we convinced her to replace the drapes with light, gauzy panels hung at least a foot above the window. We promised her that it would lighten the room, give a neat appearance, and offer the illusion of added space. I think we delivered on our promise, don't you?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Your Slipcover Is Showing

I love slipcovered sofas . . . when they look like this:

 And this:

In our business, though, we rarely go into a home with slipcovered furniture that looks like those pictures. Generally when we run into slipcovered furniture, it looks like this:

Furniture like that can be a BIG problem when you're trying to sell a home. A buyer who sees a room in this condition will usually do one of two things. They will leave thinking there is "no way I'll make an offer on that home. It's a mess." - OR - They will make a lowball offer because they don't believe the owners care much for the place.

The thing is, that room is actually pretty clean. So why does it look so dumpy? The furnishings are a bit dated, but even super dated rooms can show as clean and neat. Being of victim of old fashioned taste is not the issue here.

The problem lies with those sloppy sofas and droopy drapes. I believe the technical term for it is a "Hot Mess." When I first saw this photo I started looking around for painters, because it totally looks like there are drop cloths everywhere. The slipcovers do not fit properly and the dozens of pillows trying to camouflage the situation are only making matters worse.

In the past week, my business partner and I have been in two homes with slipcovered furniture eerily similar to the sloppy sofas above. BOTH times, the furniture being covered looked far better than what was being used to cover it. And each time the owners told us that the reason for the slipcover was that they'd gotten something on one of the cushions.

Folks, there are hundreds of products on the market to clean upholstery. If you don't feel like running out to the store, there are recipes on Pinterest for making your own with stuff you probably already have on hand like: rubbing alcohol, peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, etc. If that doesn't work for you either, there are companies that will come clean it for you. And if all else fails, flip the cushion over or drape a cute throw over it until you can afford a new sofa. No matter what, a discount slipcover should almost never be your fix.

The recent epidemic of sloppy slipcovers is not entirely the fault of homeowners. I lay most of the blame on the manufacturers who mass produce those "one size fits most" slipcovers. They are liars. The label should read "This probably won't fit your furniture, hardly any of them do." They should also include language like -- "WARNING: The contents of this bag will never look like the picture. Whatever blemish you are attempting to cover up will be magnified to eyesore status upon placement of this product." They should also warn purchasers that: "Once you spend two hours getting the product as close to resembling the picture as possible, sitting on it for even a millisecond will require another full hour of tucking, stretching, pulling, and more tucking."

So for goodness sakes, if you cannot find or afford perfectly fitting slipcovers with separate cushion covers, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not just settle with whatever you find on the clearance shelf at Kmart. To get a custom look, you're going to have to get customized covers. It's as simple as that.