A well-chosen word will engage your audience, and allow you to communicate more effectively, and economically. This is an exciting prospect, so every week I pick, and ruminate about a normal, average word that I think is under-appreciated, this week’s word is BELIEF.
BELIEF is an umbrella word: it encompasses opinions, thoughts, hopes, fears, wishes and superstitions. A belief can come from experience, gossip, tradition, information or instinct.
It’s a conviction, an acceptance, a certainty. A belief can be inferred from another’s’ actions, or passed down from another generation. In polite conversation, it’s a way to differentiate another’s opinion from fact.
But at the end of the day, it’s a personal, internal entity that guides external actions.
Some realities may drive a belief, a belief is not necessarily tied to a result, or a reality, in many cases they just exist: Because the NY Giants won the last two Super Bowl matchups with the NE Patriots, one might be led to BELIEVE that Eli Manning is the best QB in football today. Unless one was from Boston, that is. Or Green Bay. Similarly, BELIEVING the health benefits of eating dark chocolate puts it on par with having a salad will not make it so, no matter how fervently I might believe it can.
Respecting the right to an individual’s belief system is part of MY belief system; but in business, remember: I am typically called into a job because someone’s belief is not working out so well: No, buyers will not be impressed by your vintage red flocked wallpaper…maybe lime green is the color to go for in PILLOWS, not the sofa….yes, spend the money to get a LICENSED electrician to install that new lighting….
What if I found out that their mom-who recently passed away-always loved red flocked wallpaper. Or perhaps they didn’t think lime green in pillows would add enough pop. Maybe their son’s friend is ‘handy’, and they don’t know the law, or how to say no?
Knowing, and understanding the ‘whys’ behind these beliefs allows you to understand the their actions, the first step to helping clients find solutions that will work.
The last time I wrote a blog post with the words “Picking Paint Colors” in the title was over a year ago. Since, I’ve written over 100 other posts…yet, per Google Analytics, this post is my #2 all-time draw-only recently nudged out of 1st place by a post about Michelangelo. So yes, it’d seem there is a lot of interest in how to pick a paint color.
But picking the right paint color goes beyond what is trendy, or what works with the sofa. Yes, color is a highly personal expression, but IMO there is way too much pressure to pick THE color. Here’s how to get some perspective, and get you going in the right direction, confidently.
Whispy, fluffy pastels Even in nurseries, colors are more sophisticated, more saturated-meaning there is a solid, dense appearance to the pigment. I agree with the notion that our world influences our color preferences; these days we seem to want our walls to comfort us, our rooms to embrace us.
Any colors you don’t already have in your closet Because we get dressed every day, we tend to be more confident about the colors we like, and what makes us look and feel good. If there isn’t any ____ in your closet, chances are you won’t be happy with it on the wall.
Believing you can imagine how it’ll look from a 2×2 square. Or a 4×4 square. Or those nail-polish sample bottles. Seriously. Narrow it down to your top 2 or 3, then spring for a quart of each, and just put it on the wall. You can always paint it over, and it’ll probably cost you a lot less than having to hit Home Goods after, to buy a lot of stupid stuff you don’t need to try to make a wrong color right.
Thinking this is a decision of a lifetime Paint is the cheapest and the quickest way to change a room. Look-we get tired of things, we all change our minds, and even sometimes we mis-calculate (!!). I’m not saying it’s not an important decision, or that you should just pick anything and hope for the best, but it’s just paint! Make your best choice, and run with it.
Look at magazine pics, cruise through furniture stores as an easy way to try different colors on for size. Quickly, see what looks you’re drawn to. I recommend NOT fixating on the exact color used there, but use it to guide you, give you direction or encouragement to maybe step out of your comfort zone a teeney bit. Again-color will ’read’ differently depending on how big the room is, what was underneath, how many coats, lighting , and what else it’s shown with.
Know you have some wiggle room. When you paint, everything comes down, or gets covered up; it’s just walls with your new color, and can give you all kinds of pause. But it’ll look different after everything is uncovered or moved back, then different again once you start adding other things in. Don’t rush to judgement, play with it, give it a little time. If you find you like the color, but it needs to be ‘cut’ a bit, an oversize mirror or piece of wall art would do the job nicely.
AND-you have a “Plan B” OK, a week goes by, and there is no way around it, you truly hate the new wall color-just have it re-painted. It’s easy, and cheap enough. The hardest, and most expensive work is already done: repairing-priming-trim-ceilings. Just make the decision quickly: have the painter come back one rainy day to cover work they recently did, then you can get on with your life.
HAVE FUN! Trust your instincts, and go for it. Seeing the process through to get a look you love will more than worth it, and it’ll make your next project easier!
Astrology is one of those things that has lots of degrees of believing, but thought it’d be fun to take a casual look at the current sign, and some of the decor ideas the stars say they will love. So this month, we wish a Happy Birthday to Taurus!
Taurus (April 21-May 20) is represented by the Bull. An Earth sign, they are solid, and truly planted. Most Taureans would describe themselves as ‘patient’…while the other 11/12ths of the population would characterize them as ‘stubborn’. Ahhh, perspective!
Home-as a place to welcome and put up friends and family-is very important to Taurus. They are a real ‘home and hearth’ personality; a stable group that prefers a serene and consistent environment. They don’t make any decisions before they are ready to, and not too fond of change in general; sudden change sets them off badly.
But don’t get any idea they are sticks-in-the-mud, or anyone to trifle with, either. They are rock-solid in their chosen fields, just without all the drama. Some famous Bulls include sports legends Johnny Unitas, Yogi Berra, Andre Agassi and David Beckham, and Popes Pius IX, and John Paul II. Actors Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, George Clooney; Doctors Sigmund Freud and Benjamin Spock also born under this sign.
World leaders-the good, bad and the ugly-have a strong presence here: Golda Meir, Czar Nicholas II, former PM Tony Blair, Queen Elizabeth; as well as Hirohito, Saddam Hussein, Marx, Lenin, Ho Chi Min. Taurus is second most popular sign of US Presidents (after Leo): Monroe, Buchanan, Grant and Truman…presidential progenitor Prescott Bush was also born a Taurus, does that count for two more??
Grounded as they are, Taureans tend toward the earth tones-warm browns and corals, mossy greens, and neutrals. Picture the matador waving a red flag-you’ll remember bouncy and vibrant colors hold little appeal to Bulls. They are not early adapters-meaning they will not be camping out for the next ipod release, but show they BIG-well, that’s another story. There is no room in their lives for cute, dainty or fussy. They will buy the loft over the seaside cottage, and their choice of furniture will be simple, but of generous proportions.
One in five people will move this year, and 45% of these moves will happen between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If you plan to be one of the 8 to 10 million households that are expected to move this summer, here are some tips that could save you drama, heartache, even some bucks.
A little pre-planning goes a long way. Joe Barone, owner of JB Moving and Storage has been moving Westchester and Fairfield county families since 1985, here are his top tips to help smooth the process:
First-leave yourself enough time: Interview movers as early as possible. Ask about their experience, their range of services, their specialties. What was the most unusual move they ever handled? How do they find and hire workers, and how long have workers typically been with the company? How do they keep a consistent level of quality during this peak time? Ask for, and follow up on the company’s client references.
Make as many decisions about your stuff that you can, before you get quotes. This makes getting accurate, apple-to-apple comparisons easier.
Keep last minute decisions to a minimum. Deciding to leave, give away, store or have delivered to a third party will change your price. Day-of decision leaves you little recourse other than to pay them what they tell you to. Follow up your decisions with deadlines, have a back-up plan, and stick to it. If your sister doesn’t pick up the sofa by X date, it goes to recipient #2.
Get detailed quotes in writing, after a site visit. This will the ‘what, there are stairs?’ or ‘you want us to pack that?’ on-site issues with the crew.
Assume nothing. Especially that you will get ‘a deal’. NYS-DOT does not let these vendors ‘throw in’ anything. In fact, they have to register their fee schedule with the state on an annual basis. Get costs of all packing materials, agreement of what will be put together, installed, etc.
Only hire a licensed and insured mover. Depending on your move, your consumer rights are protected either by a local (staying within your state) or federal (crossing state lines) agency. These agencies license and regulate the carriers. As a consumer, you are on your own if you choose to do business with an unlicensed, uninsured business. Check to see they are members in good standing with both the Better Business Bureau , and the Department of Transportation.
Last-this is my suggestion: Inspired by-some might even say spoiled by!-JB’s own facility and operation-Ask to visit the warehouse. See the operation, check out their trucks. Is it clean, and orderly? Are the movers wearing some type of uniform? In my experience, appearances and condition of equipment are indicative of the operation as a whole, as well as how you and your possessions will be treated.
The Refreshed Home~Because Experience Matters, and Kindness Counts
No matter the ZIP code, the size, or style of the house, there are three design elements that throw homeowners. Last time we covered lighting, today let’s talk about window treatments.
Now before you roll your eyes and moan- I HATE DRAPES !! (And yes, I know you are doing that!!)-let me ask- did you actually read the word “DRAPES “? No, you did not. But this is where-and why-so many get stuck, so let’s understand this first.
Windows were made of wood frames, with a single pane of glass; perhaps with another, slide-down panel as a storm window. In the winter the wood contracted, causing drafts; while summertime light cooked rooms unmercifully, and fabric covering the window was the fix.
SO-while building materials and practices have improved greatly in the last 40 years, most people don’t think about their window coverings that often. So ”DRAPES”-what many of us grew up with-is the vision most revert to…but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Windows are a part of the walls, the biggest surface in any room.As such, they can be huge problem-solvers, but they also possesstremendous potential to change the chemistry of the rest of the room…which is why I am so passionate about giving them their due.
Most folks most make one of two mistakes: they are 100% focused on the color, trying to hit the exact shade of ___, or totally obsessed with function (PRIVACY! GLARE! etc). The best choices include both, but fabric and color choices abound, so here are some of the factors I consider first:
Function: What is needed? Privacy, light filtering, or sound absorption? Temperature regulation? Or “just” frame a great view and add some drama?
Size of windows/room: Like when you shop for clothes-you look at the overall proportions, and the right amount of fabric and detail to flatter your body; same thing for windows. A triple window should have more fabric around it than a single window; a valence could be perfect in a kitchen, but be totally under-whelming in a LR or DR.
Natural Light: Amount, and direction-bright sunlight will fade blue and disintegrate silk in short order. Cool colors will do little for a room whose main exposure is northern.
Surroundings: Are there radiators, baseboard elements or A/C units? Pets that will find new window coverings entertaining? Young children with potential safety issue to consider? Homes with heavy smokers, or enthusiastic cooks might do best with minimal fabrics, so as to not absorb/retain all the odors.
Aesthetics: Need to add interest, offset the monolithic sectional, frame the view, or just have the luxury of being pretty?
Budget: Impossible to adequately address in this venue* but a few things to consider: almost anything can be created and installed with the right people, but more and more the home stores are carrying really nice, ready-to-install options as well.
What you like: Yes, that matters too!
Even in homes I’m preparing to sell, I always consider the windows. Counter-intuitive, yes. But fresh, basic, updated treatments already in place for a new owner is a problem solved, and value added. It elevates the value of a room…a dining area becomes a Dining Room.
And nothing says welcome to the 80′s like vertical blinds. I have two jobs going right now where we took them down, and replaced them with soft-pleated shades in a gentle off-white. Rooms are immediately livable, and easy enough for new owners to frame the window with a color/pattern of their choosing, at their leisure.
Here is another project I did last year.
After being on the market for almost a year with little traffic and no offers, the 2.0 version sold the first day it was back on the market.
Sure, we did other things, but the windows were huge, it was what faced you when you first walked in. I added the blue stationary panels to call attention to, and frame the view of the Hudson River. They also added definition and purpose to that end of the LR, presence and balance to the DR. Panels and hardware, both windows. about $250.00 at BBB. Did I mention it got a full asking?
While it doesn’t have to be a complicated process, it is a unique one, and difficult to address in the 500 word comfort level experts say blog readers prefer, but dear readers, I’m not going to leave you ‘hanging’ (sorry, couldn’t resist!!)
* IF you are still flummoxed, call me! (Yes, I do windows!) But if you wouldn’t mind your windows and situation being a blog topic at another time, still contact me directly and we’ll work it out. Meantime, hope this helps you see your windows more confidently, through new eyes.
FIRST, DO NO HARM: When It’s Personal, And A Stager Isn’t The Answer
Being able to create a pleasing aesthetic is mistakenly thought to be the most vital of tools a Stager can possess. But as a physician evaluates and determines the best treatment option for each patient, an effective Stager does the same: looks at the big picture, and uses their knowledge and experience to evaluate, set a strategy, and even say NO when appropriate.
Home Staging is anything you can do to better it’s standing in the market, so it will sell quickly, for the best price. Sure, everyone wants a property that looks great-and I love to be the person to do just that-BUT if there are holes in the roof, a basement full of mold, or other signs of neglect show there are bigger problems to deal with, and that’s an obvious NO.
Slightly less obvious NOs: When the goals, time required, costs or the sellers expectations do not match. A owner ambiguous about selling, or unrealistic about the market. Agents who are removed and not encouraging about the process. Sellers who really want to get their decorating ya-yas out. Agents who are are “verybusy”, and have a stable of old, old listings with bad listing photos.
The commitment to first doing no harm requires taking a long and broad view of all the circumstances. Here are two unexpected NOs I have come across, and how I handle them.
When there is a very serious, or terminal illness within the household
The idea of focusing on getting a property ready for sale at this time can be a welcome diversion. Sometimes it’s seen as motivation toward getting better, sometimes a coping mechanism, and others, it’s a race against time.
On paper, honorable intentions all; but all too soon the reality of the situation become paramount. Added stress, expense, and pressure to make decisions is not needed. I have lived this story before, with my own family, and with clients. Buyers can pick up vibes from a house. Incomplete, or haphazard projects tell people more than you may want them to know. So in this case, instead of no, we talk of first things first, postpone til it’s a better time, and I keep in touch.
If there is a messy divorce going on in within the household
If it is civil-to-amicable, and we all feel we can focus on the task at hand, then YES, we can get some things done-but communication is key. But in my experience, rarely does a badly divorcing couple want to wrangle with properly preparing a house for sale. More realistically they want to wrangle with each other, and I’d just be another way to (inadvertently) help them do that-so I’m out.
The Refreshed Home believes in keeps the focus on what CAN be done, and where there’s a will, there’s a way. So I’ve coached REALTORS, using their pre-listing photos or video- we frame out what to say, and what to do. This way the message gets through, but there’s not another person causing distractions, or mucking things up.
TOMORROW: Toile-Fest, and “Retro” bathrooms!
The Refreshed Home~Because Experience Matters, and Kindness Counts
Who doesn’t love spring? OK allergy sufferers aside…who doesn’t love spring? There is just so much going on, and so much to like about this time of year.
One thing I’m seeing and hearing a lot about are pet adoption events. Pet stores, volunteer rescue organizations, even vets are promoting pet adoption.
Pet adoption is an act of true compassion. Done well and responsibly, I think it’s a wonderful idea, as there are SO many animals, with SO much love and comfort to
give and share.
Animals end up in a shelter for a number of reasons, but one big one is a pet owner making an impulsive, uninformed, or unsuitable choice in t
he first place, which is why I love this book so much.
No matter your age, or your level of experience or familiarity with the canine species, you will learn something from
Carol Lea Benjamin has been writing about dogs for decades. Easy to see it is a lobor of love. Much of her early work is about dogs from shelters. I found this book at the local library about 10 or 11 years ago; I have since bought and given out probably 2 dozen copies as gifts.
See, here’s the thing-when you finally make it to the shelter, in your mind, you think you have made the hardest decision. You get there, and you are goo…just so are ready to scoop up the first wriggling bundle of fur so you can romp off into the sunset together. After losing Maggie Mae in 1999, we were three years in between dogs, and my arms literally ached to hold, and snuzzle with a dog again, so I know the feeling.
The Chosen Puppy is less than 90 pages long. A paperback, it’s about $10.00, unless you buy a used copy online someplace. It is sweet and short and common-sense advice on how to interview, choose, and train a shelter dog of any age.
Suitable and interesting for readers of any age, no complex terms, and lots of cute pencil drawings, reading it before we made the trip to it was an INVALUABLE guide when our moment of truth arrived, and in the ensuing months as we were training our sweet Bella Blue.
If you have a friend-neighbor-relative-client who is contemplating adopting a dog-get them this book. Spring is house-buying season, so if you know a dog is in the future of a new homebuyer, it makes a great housewarming gift. And while you’re at it, might as well check out, even pass on the links of these local shelters: Pets Alive in Elmsford, and the SPCA in Briarcliff. You’ll be glad you did.
The Refreshed Home~Because Experience Matters and Kindness Counts
Roger Mucci, an online pal from Active Rain created this contest for it’s members…inspired by the Academy Awards, he challenges members to pick their favorite movie, and draw a parallel between that, and some part of your business. There have been some great entries so far, but here is my choice.
In 1991 Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks starred in a sweet, wise, and poignant movie called Defending Your Life. Quick set-up: It’s modern-day LA, and Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks’ character) meets a sudden demise. In a blink, he finds himself riding on a tram, in a place that is a cross between Disneyland and Club Med. It’s Judgement City, where eveyone goes after they die.
The premise is we get numerous lifetimes to work past our defects, and evolve to our highest calling; and at the end of each lifetime, the life is examined, and one’s progress is evaluated. And oh yes, while awaiting his own evaluation, Daniel meets, and falls hard for Julia (Meryl Streep), who is also there to have her life evaluated. Despite the serious subject matter, it’s a clever comedy. REALLY.
Without giving away too much of the plot (seriously, you have to see this movie!) the parallels to home-selling, and to my business are many.
Judgement City is the house being on the market-strangers evaluating it, is it good enough to move on (be sold)? As Daniel is questioning, rationalizing, defending and agonizing over his various actions-or inactions-I see homeowners re-living their past decisions; as he is sweating out the process, trying to figure out what is the ’right’ thing to do or say —you guessed it, sellers as they wait for offers, contemplate price reductions, or negotiate.
One of my favorite scenes is early on, where Daniel’s ‘advisor’, Bob Diamond (Rip Torn) acclimates Daniel to his new surroundings and the process, and explains the affect of fear-it strikes a chord, every time.
Meryl’s Julia is a wonderfully relaxed and evolved person. She is genuine, happy and at peace with herself. She enjoys most everything about every day, including one of Judgement City’s best perks-great food, that you can eat all you want and not gain weight.
She is delightfully un-self-conscious, and not above giggling at herself. Last, she also cares very much for Daniel. Sees the good, understands the fear, respects and accepts him, while allowing him to come to him own realizations.
This business brings out my inner Julia. On the days I don’t feel like Julia, I aspire to be like her, and to share that with clients… yes, even without the -all you-can-eat-without gaining-weight-thing.
Most everyone thinks the main focus of Stagers and Decorators is on THINGS. While there is nothing inherently wrong with THINGS-having them, or wanting them, they are just vehicles. The Refreshed Home believes that for all that a home means, and does for us, there are larger considerations.
Genuinely good design does not exist in a vacuum, it has got to serve the people who use it and live with it. Sure, there are basic principles, but guiding someone to their best choices does not involve any one standard, one look, or a price point. Like Julia, The Refreshed Home is big on what is real and what makes you happy; on peace of mind, and on getting past the THINGS that hold you back-so you can truly enjoy your space….like Julia is enjoying her pasta in this clip.
The last few weeks have got me caught up in, and really excited about the current mood in our market.
While buyers are still approaching this decision with caution, they want more than a price point. Things have evolved. They are daring to dream. They want to be happy. Simply, sellers who get that, and take the time to do their best in preparing their property for sale will get their properties noticed.
The Refreshed Home is budget-conscious, but not budget-driven; a big part of what I advise my sellers on today are easy and reasonable ways they can attract, and engage buyers.
Yesterday I wrote about how to best prepare a vacant property for sale. Just about all of that-including the seller having the right mindset!- applies to properties that are occupied, so please read, and use those points to build on. Here are some other easy, low-cost, high-ROI ways I use to amp up an occupied space:
CLEAN.Sorry, just can’t say that enough. Everything starts after CLEAN.
Have the right attitude OK, this also bears repeating. The last few years have been difficult for most everyone. But make the decision to put your story aside, and create the most welcoming atmosphere you can. Accept you have this responsibility. Keep the focus on what you can do, and do the best you can. Buyers will pick up on it all
Hang some appropriate art on the walls. No more bare walls! Borrow art if you have to. And stop fretting about the walls. PLEASE! Repairing and repainting a few holes in the wall when you sell should be the least of your troubles.
Let there be light! Ceiling light is diffused within 2-3 feet of it’s source, buy tabletop/end- table lighting to creates a warmer, more inviting atmosphere. A well-lit room seems bigger. All BIG PLUSES for those who have years of deferred entertaining plans. A deductible expense* against profit when you sell, AND you get to take them with you! *Consult your tax professional to see what is applicable in your situation.
Get them outside. If you have any outdoor space at all, you are losing money by not playing it up. Colorful annuals on the deck, a bocce set on the lawn, a new net in the existing basketball hoop-with an inflated ball nearby!-will draw, and engage buyers. If you’re doing an Open House, set up snacks and cold drinks OUTSIDE if possible.
Bring in some life. An airy fern in the bathroom, or stir someone’s romantic inner chef with several small pots of herbs growing on the kitchen windowsill. Force some bulbs as a fresh centerpiece, be the first one on your block to have those pansies out. And a goldfish makes everyone smile.
Don’t forget the bookcases. Being well-read is a an appealing luxury, and the physical presence of books bring soul into a space. Hit a thrift store, or an upcoming Book Sale at the local library, and load up on some noteworthy tomes. Biographies of interesting people, exotic travel, and the classics are always good choices.
Every market, every property, and every seller has their own circumstances. Projects are successful when they are maintained, and involve a project that is priced and marketed by a knowlegable REALTOR. Need more ideas-or help implementing them? Call or email today-I would love for you to be my next success story!
The Refreshed Home-Where Experience Matters, and Kindness Counts
Do The Best You Can: “Secrets” To Get Your Vacant Property NOTICED!
I get a lot of calls from owners of vacant properties, and agents representing them. (Presumed) cost is usually the main reason they are vacant. First I assure them that preparing a property for sale doesn’t always mean bringing a truckload of furniture in.
My position is that there is always something that can be done to better a property. Success is when you can do the best with what you have. It starts with the right attitude; and ideas coalesce after a realistic assessment of abilities, budget and expectations.
While it’s absolutely true that if nothing changes, nothing changes; I see so many shoot themselves in the ….ummm… listing by their assumptions.
I’ve said it before, and will say it again: Preparing a property is not a silver bullet. Nothing else will matter if a property is unrealistically priced, not maintained, badly or ineffectively marketed, or isn’t made readily available to be shown.
Our market does not reward obvious DIY projects, or work done on the cheap. BUT-it does appreciate your genuinely doing the best you can do, with a commensurate price. Happily, there are numerous, thoughtful things that will make a difference.
In order of importance, my favorite ways to inexpensively, effectively elevate a vacant space:
All surfaces clean and in good repair: walls, floor, windows. Vacuum, dust. Wash windows. Run some vinegar and baking soda down drains, through clothes and dish washer cycles for a sweeter smell.
Water in toilets that are not being flushed can evaporate, leaving nasty hard water deposits. Keep toilet bowl swisher/cleaner at the ready.
Fresh color on the walls/ceilings. Color will fill a room really well if there is no money for furniture or art. Also it adds presence and perspective to listing photos.
Take a look at some of the light fixtures. You can get a lot of snazziness for less than $50.00…A 40′s gray bathroom becomes ‘retro’ ; a cool new entry fixture gives buyers something to look at, and a reason to linger.
Consider hanging ready-made window treatments. I know this is WAY counter-intuitive, but take a look at some other listing photos. Windows are one of the hardest things to figure out what to do with. Simple, stationary panels in a standard size framing a window at around $100.00 per window total (rods, hardware and panels) calls attention to the window, the view, adds big value for most buyers, and puts your listing head and shoulders above the rest.
TOMORROW: Making More, Out Of Less: Best Inexpensive Fixes For An Occupied Property
A singular word can be very powerful. Doesn’t have to be extraordinary, either. There are SO many words available to us, sometimes we don’t hear them anymore. That’s one of the reasons I do this series, to focus on all that a single word can be. The word I’ve chosen this week is QUIET.
Instinctively, the first images that come to my mind are harried parents, or a library. Both cases admonishments, a forced condition. But today I’d like to ruminate about QUIET as A CONCIOUS CHOICE.
In a career-in a life-heck, in a WORLD where you get ahead by the number of connections, and degree to which you are connected to them all, QUIET would seem to be counter-productive. It’s hard to turn off the noise, and slowing down the flow of adreneline feels awkward.
Years ago I was having a conversation about meditation…actually, I was doing most of the listening, I just didn’t get it. Still remember the look on her face when I said based on her description, didn’t see any difference between that and sleeping!!
QUIET is a DISCIPLINE. Talk and activity fills time and space, and QUIET is about LISTENING, and BEING OPEN. Open to others, open to ideas, or just open to whatever is waiting in the wings, that you might not have noticed because your head was full of noise.
Professionally, I know I can get to the heart of the matter with someone sooner when I am quiet…people tell you the most amazing things when you let them!!
Sometimes quiet is confident, but sometimes it is fearful, but I think it is always about suspending your inner noise, and having trust or faith is someone, or something outside yourself. At the very least, QUIET brings me back to center.
It’s not an accident that this word came to me today, during this special, solemn and joyous shared holiday weekend of Passover and Easter.
In my personal life I am not a big joiner of group activities. Partially because my schedule doesn’t really permit it, but sometimes I just really like doing things myself.
One of my semi-annual rituals in recent years has been helping physically prepare my church building for the Easter and Christmas holidays. Now, because I’m a decorator, you might be thinking I’d be placing flowers and hanging wreaths and such. It’s be a logical guess, but it’d be wrong.
Father Tim works with Mary Ann and Catherine Amodio (of the most amazing third-generation Amodio’s Flower and Garden Shop fame) and their staff, to make the magic happen. Me? I vacuum after. YUP.
After the church is fully and beautifully decorated, I show up and vacuum. The mindless, repetitive motion, as well as the white noise of the vacuum clears my mind, while making conversation all but impossible. This ‘quiet’ time in this beautiful peaceful space takes me out of the stupid stuff every time.
IF you are observing anything this weekend, I wish you a glorious time of it. If you are not, may you find and enjoy some quiet on your own. And as always, thanks for reading.
It’s an axiom we’ve all heard countless times, “less is more.” Oft-credited to mid-century modern architect Ludwig Mies van de Rohe, history in fact points to 16th century painter and poet Andrea del Sarto as first to have uttered the phrase (just an interesting factoid).
Anyway, while we can all pretty much agree it’s universally applicable regarding perfume/cologne application, and cranky children on airplanes, it’s a wide open field that’s subject to personal taste on a whole lot of other things.
Except, I might argue-in houses that are for sale. I know, I know, blasphemer! Going against the Mothership (HGTV). And yes, I call myself a Stager (well, sometimes I do…) Just let me pull out my soapbox and explain why it’s true: sometimes, less is…well, just less.
Recent months have shown, both in anecdotal stories and in sales figures that buyers are coming out of the root cellars. They are taking off the tin-foil hats, and they are talking about, looking at, and buying houses. And now that buyers know it’s OK to feel good, they are trending to also wanting nice. Warm. Personality or character. Heart. Life. Energy.
Often our homes are a reflection of what is going on in our life. I can usually tell an owners’ story just by looking at listing photos. And it’s not by special Stager-powers, either-just plain observation.
I think we have heard ‘de-clutter, de-personalize’ for too long. A denuded house is not a prepared house. White walls, little or no decoration, bare windows, dim lighting, a brown lawn, are all sad and uninspiring. It looks like the owner has given up.
Buyers could infer there is a real ‘need’ to sell -i.e. illness, a death, or other hardship in the sellers’ life, inviting low-ball offers. They could also perceive a take-it-or-leave it attitude. And just for the record, picture-perfect, obsessively fuss-ed with, or overly orchestrated spaces can feel intimidating, or fake and brittle.
None of this is appealing to people who are tired of waiting to be happy. Bottom line, buyers might not want to see all your stuff, but they do want to see some stuff. They don’t want to know your story, they want to see what their story could be.
Don’t discount the warm-and-fuzzy side: knowing you cared enough to do their best to make the house about their dreams counts. Don’t believe it? Ask your agent about feedback from showings of under-prepared homes.
Happily, there are lots of easy and reasonable ways you can make the best of your property, whether it’s vacant, or occupied.
In most of my adult life, buying a home had been a positive experience, a step up, a move forward, a choice to feel happy about. Even down-sizing was about lifting a burden of too much house, and freeing up time and funds.
Sellers and REALTORS-you are in a position to fulfill a buyers’ dream. IMO this is a time of great opportunity, and NOW is the time to be in front of this trend. Turn off HGTV, put your misgivings aside, and have this conversation today. Buyers want to be happy, have the house that buyers want.
The 11th Annual Architectural Digest Home Design Show is history, but much of what I saw will not be forgotten.
So this post is a managable size, have a few pics, but all the links to this years’ favorite artists and their art. Take a few minutes and check them all out. Prepare to be delighted, but also inspired. as much of what you’ll see can be customized.
Lighting fixtures as art Lovely, sculptural fixtures. It genuinely made my heart happy, for lighting is generally so neglected by homeowners to start with. And why NOT have art suspended from the ceiling? Elizabeth Lyons’ pressed glass medallions , J.David Taylor’s bubble fixtures and Aquas from Barry Entner were just mesmerizing.
Hands-on Met Raymond Finan last year, and came away feeling I met a true artist. Specialty wood pieces made in his shop in Vermont, his attention to detail and proportion is precise, but not fussy or over-orchestrated. You just feel good looking at his pieces, and you know he loved making them.
Free-form, dimensional pieces as wall art I really, really like the idea of wall art not being confined within two sets of parallel lines. I remember Jamie Harris’ floating bubbles from a few years ago; enjoyed Kaiser Suidan’s Next Step Studio with their fun-fun jacks and cubes, and the organic shapes from Cocobolo Designs . Great first impressions for an entry, or for adding flair to long hallways; PERFECT for commercial applications.
Countertops Yes, have more fun in the kitchen! Trueform Concrete’s surfaces are not new, and not just rectangular-but I keep forgetting how cool (and organic/durable/hygenic!) they are. Ditto for ThinkGlass‘s take on things, just loved the feel and look of them both.
Outside kitchens Saw Kalamazoo Gourmet last year and was thoroughly impressed. Sure they had a nifty display, but their products, their service, even how they’d start the design process with a neophyte made me a believer. There’s nothing these kitchen’s don’t have, and if you’re going there, these are the people you want to buy it from.
While unheated outdoor space can’t be claimed as square footage on a listing in NYS, a few years from now it’ll still be big value-added, wanna-have feature for a buyer… I sense this will be the next major upscale update.
Soaking tubs This was a nicest surprise of the show, a lovely trend I would like to see more of. Diamond Spas showed contemporary shapes in metal, Sea Otter Woodworks makes handcrafted tubs in wood-teak, red cedar and authentic Japanese Ofuro tubs (so neat, they get their own link!)
Lots of (crafted) glass S&S’s ‘melted ice’ pieces were just so real. Had seen Jennifer and David Clancy’s Landscape Series last year, glad they were back, had lost their info. Hand-blown glass botanticals were stunning in their detail and color, but when lit from within, WOW! My pics don’t do them justice, see their work through link above.
WhimseyBart Niswonger starts out with a serious-enough premise, but he is a man who loves what he does-there is just unmitigated joy in what he designs, and makes, ‘nuf said.
Simplicity It’s hard to say what I most most drawn to at Vetro Vero. The colors, the grace, the classic yet modern lines. Striking and beautifully-perfectly- done, I loved it all.
The organic shapes by Jennifer and Thor Bueno of Bueno Glass could be stacked, or hung as a wall installation. Stone shaped and either silvered, like the old mercury glass-or colored and texturized by a variety of techniques, these pieces could work in a variety of places and circumstances.
HistoryStrawser and Smith is both a manufacturer and retailer out of Brooklyn. Wrote about their melting ice glass creations above, but was so taken by their furniture made from genuine re-purposed factory parts. A chandelier whose framework was a wheel on a band saw, a dining table whose base was from a shop bench; if you can blow the photo up, you’d see “The Crescent Machine Company Leetonio Ohio USA on the base.
Must be Spring, the Architectural Digest Home Design show was in town last week. An annual rite since 2002, the AD show is a top-notch mix of ideas, trends, products and resources. Besides hundreds of booths, there are seminars, and free one to one consumer design consultations by appointment.
I love trade shows-for all the above reasons, as well as the crowds and the atmosphere. I get a quick read on the industry, and there is justsomething so uplifting about being in the presence of so much creativity. This is my fourth or fifth year going, always on the first day, to-the-trade only.
The crowd was nicely mixed: the expected haberdashery with horn-rimmed glasses, sweater sets with pearls, and everything in-between. Because of the unseasonably warm temps, many had their NYC requisite black-pants-and-white-linen-overshirt outfit ready to go, and there was quite an array of bejeweled and otherwise highly-decorated ballerina flats to be seen.
Also some whimsical touches-a gentleman with a permanently airborn necktie -a’la Dilbert, sculpted beards, even an Audrey Hepburn-esque character…all that was missing was the cigarette holder. (You’ll have to trust me on these, it would have been rude to try to get photos).
The show was happy, upbeat, and clever. (I am a big fan of clever). Colors were both clear and bright, and sophisticated neutrals. Lots of purple. (Big, big fan).
Most everything I saw was done well and with some fun, but nothing ostentatious or flashy. Craftsmanship was important. Not overly designed, but thoughtfully designed and completely finished.
Sexy-metallic-organic are still very big. But sexy was smart and sly, low key and quietly intimate. Outdoor lounges au deux were very big-literally and figuratively; textiles had great tactile appeal, and curves were everywhere. Metallic was muted-not shiny or glossy. Think minerals-bits of glimmer. Golden threads or high rayon content to add sheen, and burnished finishes on case goods and accessories.
Best of all, things with an organic, re-purposed or sustainable focus keep getting more fun and polished. This was also a favorite-Green River Stone Company works with actual fossilsestimated to be 50 million years old, that they excavate from an ancient lake bed in Wyoming.
Painstakingly collected limestone slabs are brought to the lab in Utah, when the fossils are recovered and become one of a kind wall murals, backsplashes, tables and counters. Here’s a detail shot, but follow the link above to what their finished pieces look like.
There was a lot of traditional wall art (i.e. flat, and rectangular), but one really fun take were horizontal pieces that replicated a shelf of books and VCR cases. But not just “books”, there were themes-classics, kids, political, travel, you name it.
Painted and printed versions, books add real soul to a home; these were perfect for those struggling with the transition to e-readers, those short on space, or even just looking for big, fun art for a large empty space.