Decorating FAQs: What Comes First-the Sofa or Rug?

October 25th, 2014

0…or the wall color, or the window treatment,  or …?

Welcome back to FAQs, the series where everyone is treated to quick and specific answers to their questions about their space and their things, The Refreshed Home-style!

Indeed, what comes first?- even decorators wrestle with that age-old question!

Many decorating projects start with a “given”or two. But  thanks to the improving economy, have been seeing a wave of new clients who renovating or just nuking an existing room, or moving into another space with room they never had before. In other words, a blank canvas. ISO a starting point, their question usually sounds something like this:

 “My (insert title of well-meaning, usually female relative) told me to always choose (insert favorite decor element of said well-meaning, usually female relative) first-is that right?”

Experience taught me clients are really looking for an anchor, something on which to shape, and build their own understanding and comfort level. The Refreshed Home was created for just that reason:

  • believing the decision-making process is just as personal as the decision itself
  • to help a client discover their own style, and increase their confidence in decision making while transforming their space

That means acknowledging/respecting clients’ relationship with said well-meaning, usually female relative, BUT setting up a strategy that works for them.  “What comes first?” This Westchester County Decorator’s counsel it to start by defining/finding  the major element that speaks to them the most, often where they see the most color or pattern. 

Working on-site, with resources in hand, we figuratively put that one idea/item on the table-a wall color, the patterned rug, a specific sofa fabric. Together we discuss and fill in the other major elements, so the client is comfortable ‘seeing’ how that  would play out in a complete room.

They may come to realize that say, that red sectional isn’t the way to go for them….but maybe a red wall is!  AND they’ll feel darn confident in their choice of that perfect, magnificent smoky red!!

Other times, we’ll dislodge old ideas/misconceptions that are not relevant anymore: YES, there is a difference between drapes and window treatments.  Linen White is NOT a good default choice for wall color, and NO durable fabrics do not have to  look industrial.

Looking to snazz up your space? Super Bowl party, an upcoming family wedding, or “it’s just time”-The Refreshed Home can help! Bringing a thoughtful approach to the creative process, talk to me today about how we can untangle your thinking, prioritize your thoughts and resources, and help you make your best decisions so you can get on with enjoying your space-and your life!



Coloring Your World: ORANGE You Glad??

October 18th, 2014

imagesCAKXRKVEBesides being a punchline to a child’s’ knock-knock joke (‘ORANGE you glad I didn’t say banana?’)  and knowing there is no word that rhymes with it, The Refreshed Home asks-what do we really know about “ORANGE”?

YES!  The series Coloring Your World is back-some history, psychology and tidbits about the colors that surround us.

Orange is a secondary color, what happens when the primary colors red and yellow are mixed.  It lies in between the two, on the color wheel, on the light spectrum, and IMO on the emotional spectrum as well. 

Orange is bouncier than yellow, but not as intense as red.  It’s yellow’s cheerfulness, but not quite as light-hearted. Substantive like red, but not as edgy. Not as innocent as yellow, or as sexy as red.

Orange is joy and excitement. It is fun times and adventure. It’s heat and warmth,  it’s amusement, and life. 

High energy, after red and blue  it’s the most popular color used on MLB uniforms.

It has strong spiritual meaning, representing transformation to Hindus, and illumination, the highest level of perfection to Buddhists.

The fruit was first known as naranga in Sanskrit, and the color orange was simple referred to as yellow-red, until the early 1500s.

Monet_grainstacks_W1273 In the late 15th C. Spanish and Portuguese merchants brought these fruit tress to Europe from Asia. They later flourished in special greenhouses called orangeries.

Impressionistic painters became big fans of orange/ochre/saffron family.  As shown in Monets’ Haystacks at left, the blues they were all so fond of were crisper, blue-er when shown against orange tones.

Orange and blue are called complementary colors: opposites on the color wheel, they contrast and bring out the best in each other. Tangerine Tango was Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Yearalthough I think a lot of people were done with it by  April.

  Highly visible, orange is a good choice for safety, to be seen and be found. It’s worn by athletes and astronauts, and often prisoners in jail.  Used for traffic cones and construction signs, also the real color of an airplanes’ “black box”.  One reason the Golden Gate Bridge is painted that vivid “international orange” is to be more visible in fog.

Buddha wore orange to signify his signing off on his old life and his commitment to being a monk. It is the national color of the Netherlands> why the official flag of NYC has an orange stripe, a nod to the Dutch settlers.

  • It’s a happy color and could work well in a creative space. Great for a child’s’ playroom, but you’ll have a hard time getting them to nap in an orange bedroom.
  • Truer oranges, through the red tones could all be a good choice for a restaurant, as they stimulate the appetite, and are associated with things that taste good.
  • Even if you strive for calm in your surroundings, orange is a potent pop of color and energy against opposites like blues and greys,  or neutrals like creams and khakis. Start small, with a few pillows or a piece of art; you can always turn it up more if you like.

Now-ORANGE you glad you know more about this color?!


What’s All This I Hear About Domestic Violence and the NFL??

September 14th, 2014

Domestic Violence in the NFL? La-La-La-I Can't Hear You!The bigger they are, the brighter they are, the harder they fall….the pendulum has swung mightily in the last 10 days re: Ray Rice and the issue of domestic violence.

It’s not news-OR any more wrong than it’s ever been, but now that the proverbial finger is being pointed at Roger Godall I think we need to look at the other 4 fingers that are pointing back to all of us.

He protects the interests of the people he works for…the people who make money from $10.00 beers, $70.00+ jerseys for kids, and absolutely insane ticket prices…so they can attract the best…to get more money….to build the best…to make more money…etc. (Best seats for even the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars command north of $400, it’s $1200 for the Broncos, and you don’t want to know about the pricing in MetLife stadium.)

But they charge those prices and make that money because they can, because we, the people are willing to pay for it.

I DO like football (TOM!!!!) >the sport as well as the social event that breaks up miserable winters here in the northeast. But maybe we should each take a look at our own part in what we do to over-glorify hundreds of pounds of muscle and bone smashing into each other? Channeling Louie from “Casablanca”can we really be  shocked, SHOCKED! to hear violence on the field comes home at the end of the day?

This is not a simple problem, or sadly, not a new one. Thanks to technology, Ray Rice is just the one who’s ended up in the spotlight. But I bet if each of us dialed it back a bit, and remembered to stay horrified past this news cycle (ie throughout the season, ESPECIALLY during the holiday buying season), it’d be the start of some real change. How about we give it a try?

Two of My Staged/SOLD Properties This Year Were FSBOs!

August 30th, 2014

imagesCAXV8RT0Compiling my YTD business numbers, surprised and gladdened to realize I had a new category of properties to track-FSBOS!

FSBOs-For Sale By Owner-are properties sold without the representation of an agent or brokerage. There may be a few reasons a seller chooses to go this route, but not paying sales commissions is almost always a big part of it.

Getting a property sold in Westchester County  is much more than 2 parties agreeing on a number, and for the record, The Refreshed Home never, ever recommends a seller go it alone. I actually dedicate a good amount of time in the Staging classes and workshops I give to explaining the agent-seller relationship. But, like any of my suggestions, they are just that, suggestions; ultimately clients make their own choices.

In recent years FSBO properties were both plentiful and panned: sellers often priced by need>not their market, and were rarely of the mind or ability to make the property look its best,  a deadly combination in a down market.

Realtors had numbers on their side, too.  NAR reported  9% of homes sold in 2013 were FSBOs, but the typical FSBO sale of $184K was still 14% less than the agent assisted sale of $230K – i.e. a net sale of $216,300 after deducting 6% sales commission.

Now, about that surprised and gladdened part about these two houses being’s much more that just being part of good numbers. Like crocuses in early March,  this Westchester County Home Stager sees it as a  harbinger of continued good things to come for sellers, buyers and YES< REAL ESTATE AGENTS in Westchester County-namely buyers and sellers doing what it takes, and the return of balance, reason, and reality-based transactions.

  • Surprised and gladdened because both properties were nice, average houses in areas where there was a reasonable amount of comparable  inventory, and buyer interest/activity. Neither would be considered a trophy or luxury property; each had been lived in, but maintained.
  • Surprised and gladdened because combined, their average price of $659,250 is impossibly close to the 2Q median selling price for single family homes in Westchester County of $651,250, and well below the average of $874,026.
  • Surprised and gladdened because their average DOM was about 1/4 of Westchester County’s average of 142 days.
  • Most of all, because I got to know the parties involved pretty well during this process-I am uber-gladdened-but not surprised!-to know that 4 sets of  nice, average, reasonable people worked out all the practical logistics of these sales, and are now quite happily getting on with the rest of their lives.

How you buy or sell-and at what price is your business. My business is to help you make your best decisions, so you will have the best and most options, to move on and enjoy your next adventure.

Will Staging consults for FSBOs be sweeping the nation? Not likely, but how cool is it that it proved to be a viable and successful option for some sellers in my little part of the world??


Selling, buying, or staying and fixing up?  Coop or condo; an estate, divorce, distressed, or  FSBO sale, downsizing or upsizing;  a home or an investment property?

An interactive consult will help you untangle your thinking, make the most of what you have, and get you going in the right direction. The Refreshed Home is Westchester’s most innovative source for specific, realistic and reasonable solutions for your buying, selling and decorating needs.  Talk to me TODAY about how I can help make your space work better for you!




Buyers Can`t Buy It If They Can`t Find It

August 24th, 2014

Prosepctive buyers always talk about looking for a house, but could they be talking about your listing, literally?2014-08-23 14.45.47

Problems with actually finding a listed property happens a lot more often than you might think, in both rural and urban settings. Many communities and HOAs do not allow broker signs, and GPS is imperfect, reception can be sketchy in all sorts of areas.

The Refreshed Home looks at ALL aspects of preparing Westchester County properties for sale, and yes, that does include making sure the property is easy to find, because buyers can’t buy it if they can’t find it.

There are communities I work in where buyers buy expressly for the privacy,  NOT  to be easily found. If that is your property and your buyer, your agent will know the best way to proceed. But if your property and buyer will fall into the other 99%-where being easily find-able counts,  take this  Westchester County Home Stagers’ counsel:

The Approach

We rarely notice what is familiar, why such simple and obvious things get overlooked. Next time you’re on the way home, slow down, really  look at what buyers will see as they try to find your house.  What catches your eye? If it’s your gnome collection, trash cans on the side of the house, or holiday lights anytime between January 15th and November 30th>that will hurt you.

Regular readers know I push yellow flowers.  It’s the highest visibility color, and represents hope, optimism and change>all happy thoughts. Use that to direct buyers,  draw them to the proper entry, even signal where the lockbox is. Very helpful if there are a few visible entrances, or you’re on a corner lot, with the driveway on one street, with the front entrance on another.  Deer tend to be averse to marigolds and mums, but natural repellents can ensure longevity.

Street signs

  • Are they pointed the right way>or still reversed, courtesy of a local prankster  from three Halloweens ago?
  • Are they there at all?
  • Are they  readable and unobscured? Glad I’m not trying to sell a house on this street!!

House numbers

DSC03937If you have a mailbox at the curb, have big new contrasting-even reflective- numbers  on each side.

If it’s a corner property with the driveway/walkway on the other  or on a road that changes names,  the street name on the mailbox and numbers on the garage wouldn’t hurt, either.  Bright yellow flowers at the base will increase the visibility

Days are getting shorter-whether on the house, a light post or a free-standing sign: is your house number in obvious place(s)? Are they well-lit, and large enough to be seen from the road?

If you live in an apartment or multi-residence property, are all the things that will get agents with buyers in, and to your door in place, and in good working order: a clearly marked directory, a working intercom, etc.

Getting In

Big fences, overgrown shrubs, shared driveways, un-obvious walkways, and agents’ favorite-where the *#%! is the lockbox!-will all cool down a buyers’ interest while you all try to figure things out.

Home Staging makes it easy for buyers to say yes…but buyers can’t buy it, unless they can find it!

Coloring Your Wold: YELLOW-Letting the Sun Shine In