Archive for May, 2008

The 1st Rule of Selling Your Washington DC Area Home

May 26, 2008
Depersonalize, Depersonalize, Depersonalize

We are in the process of staging a wonderful high-end home in Oakton, Virginia. This is the type of home that many people dream of –  it has a sweeping staircase in the foyer, an indoor pool, his and her master baths, etc. What’s not to like?

Well… The current owners have maintained the home very well, but in some areas the decor was quite customized.  This is a very delicate issue to address with home owners.  They need to be diplomatically told that their decor is “style specific”, meaning that the decor reflects their personal style.  This is fine when the house was their home, but now that the house is a property on the market for sale, the decor can no longer be “style specific”.

Attract the Largest Number of Buyers

In order to appeal to the largest number of buyers possible, home owners must eliminate many of their personal touches around the home. It can be a difficult process for homeowners to even determine what needs to be changed or eliminated. Since many homeowners decorate to meet their own tastes and have lived with the decor for a period of time, the decor becomes part of the home – something they would not even notice that needs to be changed.

That’s where an experienced stager is critical. A stager can assist the home owner in identifying the personal touches that may not appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. Then an action plan is developed to neutralize the decor to get read for a quick sale.

Vienna Virginia foyer before home staging

Vienna Virginia foyer after home staging

Involving a stager helps the home owner see their house through the eyes of a buyer, and a good stager will diplomatically and gracefully communicate those “style specific” elements that need to be changed.  This is one of the first critical steps towards a successful sale in this competitive real estate market.
All the best!

The Trained “Eyes of a Buyer”

Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation

Lamps Set the Stage

May 26, 2008

Lamps – Do People Still Use Those?

With the variety of home lighting available in new construction and remodeling, one might thing that lamps are a thing of the past. Also, with less time spent reading at home these days, the traditional use of lamps has declined.
So, when preparing a home for sale, do you want lamps or not. I say, “ABSOLUTELY.” Lamps provide one of the three core lighting elements of any space. Without them, a room can seem out of balance.
The three lighting sources in any room are:
  1. General (also referred to as ambient or fill) light – this is the general light source for the room. It may come from windows during the day and ceiling fixtures during the night or in rooms without significant light source.
  2. Accent – This type of light is used to create focus or drama within a room. It draws attention to a focal point or throws light into an otherwise dark corner.
  3. Task – aka lamps! This is lighting for specific areas of the room, typically associated with a seating area.
A home with just general lighting can look like a warehouse, especially with an open floor plan. Add accent lighting and you have gone from the warehouse look to more of a museum look, but add task lighting with lamps in the living area, and a room becomes warm and cozy.
                       Before        Oakton VA family room before home staging                                      After
Oakton VA family room after home stagingPrior to staging an Oakton, VA home, the only light was general. By adding task lighting in the form of small lamps, the room warms up. Notice the spotlight effect in the “before” photo. The “after” photo has a warm glow to it cast by the extra light from different sources.
When staging with lamps, I always us the reveal type light bulbs (they look blue when they are off). These bulbs really allow colors to pop and cast a nice even soft light. Be sure the lamps do not block the focal point of the room. In the pictures above, the lamps actually serve to draw you eye to the focal point (the fireplace).
Lamps are not a thing of the past. Lamps are classic. Use them where you can!
All the best, 
Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation

Set the Stage with Vignettes

May 26, 2008

Staging with Vignettes

There are a variety of staging solutions for every home and budget. An experienced stager will be able to work with sellers to find the appropriate balance between the cost to the home seller and the impressions of the house created for the home buyer. 

When staging vacants, the industry standard is to spend 1% of the home’s value on a 3 month staging. In the Washington, DC area, that is $5,000 to $10,000. While many clients understand that staging is an investment that will yield far more than a 1% return either through a higher offer from the buyer or less time on the market – or both, some sellers simply cannot make that type of investment.
We work with all types of sellers and understand their needs. A great solution to a tight staging budget is to stage using vignettes. A vignette is a small visual element that provides context to an area.  
Vignettes can be used in secondary rooms, such as basements, kids bedrooms, offices, those odd spaces in kitchens that don’t really have a purpose, etc. Vignettes typically help to define the purpose of the space, but also provide some spacial context to a empty room.
Washington DC row house before home stagine   Washington DC row house after home staging
Vignettes are not recommended for the emotional spaces of kitchen, master bedroom and family room. These rooms sell homes and need the most attention.
When staging with vignettes, there are some classic rules to follow:
  • Always be consistent with the purpose of the room. Do not mix messages just because you have the space. Stage an office vignette as an office; resist the urge to throw that overstuffed chair in the corner just because you can.
  • Follow the “rule of three”.  The human brain is wired to be able to wrap itself easily around concepts, phrases and visual elements that come in threes (“location, location, location” is a good example). When staging, creating vignettes in groups of threes is the fastest and easiest way to present a visually appealing “concept” for a room.  For example, a bedroom may simply have a bed, nightstand and lamp, which is just enough to accomplish the following three objectives: define the purpose of the room, create the essential cozy feeling, and allow the buyer to see spatial relationships.
  • Make the vignette the first thing you see when you enter the room. You do not want a potential buyer to walk into a room and ask, “What is this room for?”, then notice the desk, chair and computer against the far wall. They should be thinking “office” as they enter the room.

Staging vignettes cost less than staging the full room. They define the room’s purpose and add contextual reference points to potential buyers. Vignettes also help buyers see the how they might use those awkward spaces that many newer homes in the Washington DC area have.  

All the best, 
Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation

For Wasington, DC Area Aspriational Home Buyers

May 11, 2008

Go With the Pottery Barn Look

Pottery Barn is considered the pinnacle of design for today’s young home buyers. Take a look at their website and you will see why. Their designs are fresh, unpretentious and modern, yet still have traditional roots. They seem to have found the recipe that speaks to the Gen Xers. One thing the Washington, DC has a lot of are Gen Xers, so we need to know how to position starter homes for them.

What does it take to market to these buyers? In my opinion, color is king here. After all, the only thing that will be left after the home is sold are the colors.
So what can we glean from Pottery Barn’e success and customer research? First, everything is bright – not a dark color in the bunch. Even their dark colors are bright and are used primarily as accents.
A cynical person would say, “Yea, they use those colors to accent the furniture, which is usually white.” Well, maybe… but I think there is more to it than that. Pottery Barn knows its customers well. And it knows that certain colors, along with its furniture, will create a “feeling”. Since the furniture in their display ads is usually white, the feeling is being created by the colors used as the backdrop.
Now I am no psychologist, but it seems to me this is the very same feeling that we want to create for the Gen X home buyer. I call it “aspirational”. It is a sense of what it will be like when “I get there,” where ever “there” might be.
So, if you have a home targeted at the first time buyer, consider using Pottery Barn colors.
“Well, geez! Thanks, Monica. But just how are we supposed to do that, match chip cards against the Pottery Barn web site?”
No, Benjamin Moore has done it for us. They have developed a color pallet especially for Pottery Barn.
Best colors for virginia, dc and maryland
Use these colors for single family homes, town homes and condos in the suburban environments. I am not sold that all of these are the right colors for urban locations, so please keep that in mind.
All the best, 
Preferred Staging
the art of home preparation