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Home stager and interior decorator in northern NJ since 2010. Certificate in interior design from Bergen Community College, graduate of staged homes.com class and Color with No Regrets class through the Decorating and Staging Academy. Specialities are vacant homes and occupied home staging consultations.

Cheap Stagings Don’t Help Sell Homes!

Lately, I see some stagers using low-quality furniture (sorry, Ikea) in their stagings of mid- to higher-priced homes, and the results are a poor impression on buyers. For example, using a tiny bistro table with 2 wire chairs does not add style or warmth appropriate for an eat-in kitchen, in my opinion. Instead, it tells buyers “this eating area is so small only 2 people have room to sit here.” NOT the impression that helps sell a home!
The same goes for futon-style furniture, master bedroom beds without headboards, sofas with skirted slipcovers, cheap-looking end tables, old-fashioned dining room tables, etc.
In staging as in most things in life, you get what you pay for, and if you aren’t at least making the furniture suit or go beyond what buyers expect for the price of the home, then staging will likely not help sell a home faster and for more money. You can use cheap furniture to show buyers where and how furniture will fit, but you are not creating the lifestyle vision that will make your house memorable and desirable so it stands out from the rest!
Ok, rant over 🙂

How to Choose Paint Colors that Work for YOUR Home

According to the Staging and Design Network, “Color is the core of every beautiful room. Yet, it is also the place where more than 60% of design and staging mistakes are made.” I’d bet that we’ve all walked into homes – or seen rooms on-line – where the colors just don’t work with the finishes in the rest of the room, such as the cabinets, countertops, or floors, or where the colors are too intense or too pale and washed out for the amount of light the room gets. Sometimes you can’t even figure out exactly what is wrong with the way the room feels, it just seems “off”, as in these cases:

Paint colors work best when they pick up another color already in the room -- or go with a neutral instead.

Lemon yellow walls are jarring with the white cabinets and brown countertops.

lime green walls don’t work with the yellow-orange of the cabinets

This red accent wall is just too abrupt of a change from the adjacent white wall and is disconcerting to the eye, even though the owners have tied in the red in the throw and a couple of pillows. Red drapes and red in the rug would tie it together much better.

Red accent wall doesn’t work

A search of Houzz.com, the popular design and decorating website, reveals there are about 326,000 conversations about picking the WRONG paint color! Paint company commercials often show this dilemma in a humorous way, with homeowners putting a dozen colors or many shades of a similar color on their wall, and puzzling for hours or even days over what looks best. But it’s not really funny for most homeowners when you spend hours of your valuable time looking through paint chips and painting sample colors on your walls, and then you’re still not sure what color works best with your home’s hard finishes or furniture and rugs and bedding. Interestingly, while there are thousands of paint colors and shades of colors, only about 100 of them are used 85% of the time, according to Benjamin Moore.

This is especially true if you are not familiar with the undertones that exist in almost all colors – including neutrals and whites, which can have yellow undertones (the creamy whites), or blue or gray undertones (the cool whites).

Some of the factors that need to be considered when choosing paint colors:
* shade
* saturation
* undertones
* lighting

* sheen of paint
* what works with the hard finishes in the rooms (cabinetry, flooring, countertops)
* what complements the soft finishes such as furniture, rugs, window treatments
* style and exterior of home

Spending $100 to $200 on a paint color consultation from a color/design expert (depending on size of your house and how many colors you need or want), is an inexpensive investment that can actually save you time and money in preventing color mistakes – even having to repaint entire rooms, which can run several hundred to $1,000 to correct just one mistake.

A designer with color training can eliminate all the “wrong” colors that won’t work with your space, finishes, furniture and lighting, and help you choose what colors look best. She or he is also up to date on styles and color trends, especially important if you plan to sell anytime in the next few years. What colors you are drawn to are important, but what’s more important is avoiding colors that don’t work with what else is in the room. A color consultant will also suggest color flow from one room to another, especially in open plan homes.

Here are some rooms that work better:

The gray walls pick up on gray in the countertops for a sophisticated and coordinated look. Notice the crown molding trim color is an atypical choice, but keeps the focus on the detailing of the upper cabinets below.

soft colors with muted undertones work well

lime green walls take center stage, but are grounded by pairing with beige, brown and white to keep the overall effect cohesive.

Tip: Remember to always put up a sample sheet or color on different walls in your room and look at it over 48 hours in different lighting throughout the day. Colors that look pale in a sunlit room will look a little darker and more saturated at night. Paint chips need to be looked at vertically as they will be in the home (or horizontally for floors or decks) Many homeowners forget that when they are looking at paint chips in stores, the lighting is typically fluorescent which has a blue cast. It’s best to look at any samples outdoors or – best of all – in your own home.

Staging Consultations Prepare Homes for Sale to Maximize Value

6b48d__living-room-with-orange-tan-and-white-accentsAre you planning on selling your home? Staging consultations are a very inexpensive way to get expert, objective advice on how to best present your home for sale, on-line and in person. An experienced,trained stager is dedicated to helping you sell your home quickly and at a higher price. The advice I typically provide includes:
* how to maximize curb appeal
* easy ways to make homes and rooms look larger in order to increase perceived value
* the best and most popular paint colors today that work with your home’s finishes (floors, cabinets, countertops, style) and attract more buyers
* tips on how to lighten and brighten your home, which make it more appealing
* how to arrange furniture to create the best traffic flow and best look for photos
* how to use art effectively
* what style/colors of bedding, rugs, towels, pillows, and accessories will give your home the model-home look to increase offers
At Great Impressions Home Staging, the cost of a thorough staging consultation for up to 2.5 hours is only $225, and can even be less in some cases. You also get a written room-by-room list of recommendations at the end of the consultation. Most homeowners choose to stage their homes themselves following this consultation, but for those who want hands-on help, I can usually stage an average size home in a few hours on a separate day by moving furniture within rooms, accessorizing, arranging bookshelves, hanging or re-hanging art correctly and even packing up clutter if you wish.

Paint Colors for Staging

Beige and variations on it such as yellow-beige used to be considered the “go-to colors” for staging a few years ago, but the trend in the past few years has been to use cooler gray colors, which make for a more modern look and complement most rooms and finishes, such as floor and tile colors. And yes, gray does work well with brown, whether in flooring or furniture and accessories.
Gray with blue or green undertones is often used for bedrooms and dining rooms, and is typically coordinated with other neutral colors (white and black) for a contemporary, sophisticated look in urban high-end homes, or for a warmer, more playful and inviting look, with bright pops of color such as blue, yellow, orange, and green. I personally love using gray with blue and green in coastal areas

Sherwin Williams Silverpointe

Sherwin Williams Silverpointe

Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Benjamin Moore Stoningon Gray

Benjamin Moore Stoningon Gray

or Hudson River homes on the “Gold Coast” of New Jersey, such as Edgewater, Weehawken, Cliffside Park, and Hoboken.
When using gray in staging, it’s best to stick to lighter hues to keep rooms looking lighter and more spacious, including these colors:
(Benjamin Moore)
Stonington Gray
Balboa Mist
Silver Fox

(Sherwin Williams)
Mindful Gray
Popular Gray

Plus these Sherwin-Williams “Greige” colors (mix of gray and beige) that warm up a space:

Agreeable Gray
Requisite Gray
Repose Gray

For bedrooms, these choices are perfect because they have a restful blue-gray or green-gray undertone:
(Benjamin Moore)
Alaskan Husky
Sleigh Bells
Silver Satin
Quiet Moments

Silverpointe (pale blue undertone)
Useful Gray (pale green undertone)

Reflection (pale blue undertone)

I’d love to know what gray-toned paint colors YOU have used for different rooms that you love? Let me know so I can check them out and add them to my list!

Budget For Staging In Order To Sell Your Home Quickly!

P1050632 P1050628Are you a New Jersey investor or home owner looking to sell quickly and to pull the most money out of your largest asset? Consider budgeting staging into your marketing plan for your home in order to reap bigger profits! HomeGain reports that staging costs typically have an ROI from 300 to 600 percent. Staging properties helps sell them quickly and often close to asking price or even higher! Investors or homeowners with vacant — or non-vacant — properties that aren’t furnished and “dressed” with accessories such as rugs, art, lamps, and decorative items have a nice product that is like a cake without frosting — the plain cake is fine, but lacks the finishing touches that make it look beautiful!

Putting furniture and trendy decor in a vacant home has the following benefits:
* helps buyers envision how best to use the rooms
* maximizes the space and makes rooms look LARGER, not smaller
* creates an upscale lifestyle that buyers remember
* makes rooms look warmer and more inviting
* increases the perceived value of your largest asset so you pull more money out of it when selling
* results in beautiful photos on-line and in flyers or brochures

Most low to mid-priced homes can have 4 to 5 rooms staged for around $4,000 to $5,000 for 3 months, the minimum furniture rental period offered by furniture rental companies in New Jersey. This may sound like a long period of time, but even when homes go under contract within the first few weeks of staging, it typically takes at least 2 months to go through attorney review, home inspections, and mortgage approval. I don’t recommend that the furniture and accessories be removed until close to closing. BUT investors with other properties to flip can choose to have the furniture moved into another property within the 3 months for just another delivery fee (typically less than $300) plus a reduced staging fee.

Budgeting staging costs into selling residential properties leads to quicker sales, higher prices, and reduced carrying and maintenance costs. It’s a win-win formula for wooing buyers and creating beautiful packaging for your home that will move it ahead of the competition!

The Cost Of Staging Vacant Homes

The following article is edited and adapted from an article by Karen Eubank of Eubank Staging & Design in Dallas, TX (www.eubankstaging.com) and is shared with permission.6b48d__living-room-with-orange-tan-and-white-accents. The original blog post is from the blog “Candy’s Dirt” at http://candysdirt.com/2015/12/31/archives-karen-eubank-explains-stage-naked-properties/  

I get many calls every week asking what it costs to furnish a vacant property.

Although the industry rule of thumb is that a “naked” home costs 1% of list price to stage with furniture and accessories, I can only give an approximate average price range until I see the home. The cost to stage a multi million-dollar Saddle River mansion and the cost to stage a $300,000 Springfield cape varies greatly. First, I need to preview the property, which includes photographs, measurements, space planning, and mentally selecting items for the house. The next step is creating the estimate. That process requires selecting specific furniture and accessories, figuring out labor costs and delivery fees. This can take hours, and I and many other experienced (and busy) stagers charge a fee to do this (currently $100 for most properties, credited back for market-ready rehabbed or new-built homes that don’t require any advice on updates, paint colors, curb appeal, repairs, etc.)
Clients are often surprised that staging often costs several thousand dollars over the course of 3 months for 4-5 main rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen, family room or office, master bedroom). This is a small investment in creating a model home look that will impress and wow buyers and typically result in a much faster home sale and a higher selling price! In a typical vacant staging, there are 30 to 40 pieces of furniture, rugs, and accessories used to create an inviting model-home look. Then there’s the labor that goes into finalizing furniture selections, dealing with the furniture rental companies, packing up and delivering 2 carloads of accessories for most homes, placing the furnishings, hanging the artwork, unpacking and installing accessories, steaming the bed linens, and packing up everything at the end of staging. The stager also must wait at the property for two 3-hour delivery and pick-up windows on either end of staging. Tired yet?
When the house sells, the stager returns and goes through the de-staging process of coordinating and meeting delivery trucks, packing accessories and putting them back in the warehouse. This is why most busy stagers require at least one to two week’s notice to stage a property and then to de-stage later.
As Karen Eubank of Eubank Staging & Design in Texas writes, “No one likes a naked house. People buy homes because they make an emotional connection and that’s very hard to do when a buyer walks into a vacant space. Is it always possible to furnish your listings? No of course not. Sometimes sellers can’t afford it, but when you break down the cost versus return, many of them will have that “Ah-Ha” moment and they will make the choice to stage.
Here’s the bottom line: It’s a lot less expensive to stage than to lower the price of the house. Vacant staging is an investment. Check with your tax professional and you’ll find it’s often a marketing expense.”

Effective Staging Must Use Current Styles and Colors!

Lately, I’ve been very surprised to see some photos of vacant house stagings in NJ that show shabby-chic, traditional, too-large, or ornate fringed furniture. Frankly, some of it looks like it came from garage sales or from the 1990s! If you’re hiring a stager to either shop for new bedding, carpeting, light fixtures, etc. to update and upgrade your home, or especially for providing furniture and accessories for your home, you may not be aware of what the current trends are, but your stager MUST be for the staging to be worth the money you spend. Traditional furniture doesn’t work for most properties (outside of homes for the elderly), and in our NJ market, very modern furniture doesn’t work either, except in some newer, smaller condos along the Hudson River. Transitional furniture — which falls in between traditional and modern furniture styles — is by far the most popular style today, with its clean, un-fussy lines that buyers prefer. (Check out my vacant staging portfolio to see transitional furniture.) The size and scale of the furniture is also vitally important to enhancing rooms, especially the typically smaller rooms seen in many newer “flip” properties or townhouses and condos. Large, over-stuffed furniture makes rooms look cramped, out-dated, and generally unappealing. Colors matter too — black, red, green, and brown upholstery is mostly out-dated, while gray, white, beige or light gold are much trendier choices that buyers will relate much better to. Shots of either soft, spa-like or brighter colors — teal, all shades of blue, light to jewel-toned greens, orange, even navy — or metallics (silver, gold, bronze) in pillows and accessories are also trendy looks that can help your home look up-scale and current. Again, your stager should be matching the color choices not only to the rugs and furniture but to the wall colors and finishes (hardwood floors, cabinetry, countertops, light fixtures) in the room or adjacent rooms. So be sure the stager you use knows what works in today’s market, your area, and for your demographic. Staging is an investment that will only pay off if the end result is effective!

Hire a Stager to Help You Rent Furniture/Accessories When Selling

Do you have empty rooms or rooms with old or shabby furniture? You can rent furniture and accessories through a furniture rental company that will significantly update the look and appeal of your home, especially if you have furniture more than 6 or 7 years old.

If you don’t want to pay a stager to spend several hours in your home bringing in and styling their own accessories, bedding, lamps, florals, towels, and decorative items, but you want help figuring out what furniture and/or accessories to rent and where and how to place them in your home, call me at 201-390-4649. For a $100 consultation for 4-5 rooms, I take all needed measurements as well as photos of existing wall colors, carpeting, columns, angled walls, etc. so that I know what size, upholstery choices, and number of pieces will work best in each room.

For just $50 extra per room, I can provide you with a specific list and photos of furniture, area rug and accessory recommendations from one of 2 or 3 local furniture rental companies. I can even make the initial contact and arrangements with them, if you wish, or you can contact them directly, but you will sign the contract with them and take delivery and direct the furniture placement.

7 New Jersey Home Staging Tips

21903424_361290f88fWhen you are preparing your house to sell, follow these 7 Simple Steps:
1) Clean it thoroughly or better yet, have it professionally cleaned. A clean home, just like a clean hotel room, is critical to impressing buyers! Don’t forget to clean carpeting and floors as well as around faucets and tile grout and around all light fixtures and window sills.
2) De-clutter your home of all knick-knacks, papers, toiletries, small items on floors — including shoes, baskets, dog beds, dog toys, fish tanks, excess items on countertops.
3) Remove excess furniture and/or re-arrange furniture to highlight the best features of your home (large windows and fireplaces, for one). Especially be sure not to block those selling features with furniture, treadmills, large lamps, etc.
4) Remove fussy, frilly, dark, floral drapes and valances or any other heavy window treatments. The only fabric window treatments that are in vogue these days when selling are simple to-the-floor lightweight panel drapes pushed to the sides of windows to let in as much light as possible.
5) De-personalize both your decor and your paint colors. Stagers know what colors are currently popular and neutral enough for buyers AND which ones will work best with your home’s finishes (floors, cabinetry, countertops, tile, and all the non-movable items). Eliminate themed decor, such as western, country, beach, tropical, southwest, etc.
6) Update light fixtures, hardware, bathroom fixtures, appliances where needed (stainless steel is still very popular in kitchens, and brushed nickel or chrome are still the leaders in bathroom faucets). If your competitors’ houses all have granite or marble countertops instead of formica or Corian, then yours should too!
7) Last but actually FIRST to buyers who drive by your home is to spruce up the curb appeal! Paint or clean the front door and trim as needed. Adding a new large door mat, new house numbers, mailbox and large pot(s) of either evergreens in winter in New Jersey or flowering annuals in the summer will attract buyers’ eyes and make a great first impression!

Costs of Renting Furniture for Staging Your Home

Using Rental Furniture To Showcase Your Home


One of the most common questions I get asked is “How much does it cost to rent furniture?” Usually callers are asking about having me choose the furniture for 4-5 main rooms – occasionally all of the rooms — in a vacant house, but sometimes they want me to select just a few pieces for an occupied home to replace shabbier or outdated furniture or fill in an empty room.


So here’s the rundown for typical rental costs based on a typical 3-month rental period:


Room                                                                           Typical monthly cost


Kitchen                                                                      $100

Dining room                                                             $100 – 150

Living room                                                              $200 – 350

Family room                                                             $200 – 300

Master bedroom                                                      $250 – 300

Extra bedrooms                                                       $150

Although rental companies WILL lease for one or two-months, the higher cost they charge for such short-term leases is the same as the cost of a 3-month rental. That time frame actually works out well when selling your home because even if a staged property gets an offer in the first week or two – which often happens – the attorney review, inspection, mortgage process, etc. typically takes another 2 months anyway. I always recommend keeping furniture (and my accessories) in place until as close to closing as possible, just in case a deal falls through at the last minute.

Furniture companies also charge a one-time delivery fee of about $260, and a one-month security deposit, refundable at the end of the lease.

Of course, you can rent furniture on your own, just keep in mind that:

A) As part of every vacant staging consultation ($100 credited back upon hire for staging), I photograph and measure the rooms to figure out the best placement for furniture for making rooms look spacious and inviting.

B) it’s time-consuming to browse websites or visit stores to select quality furniture within a specific budget.

C) You need to make sure you select the right style for your target demographic (buyers likely to be interested in your property).

E) You also need to consider colors and patterns that are on-trend AND work with the paint colors, cabinetry, countertops, flooring and other finishes in your home.

F) Because of my 5-year relationship with the two large furniture rental companies in northern NJ, I get discounts or can negotiate for better pricing that I pass along to my clients to save them money.

G) In addition to furniture, every home needs accessories such as art, lamps, rugs, pillows, throws, bedding, towels, and decorative items such as bowls, florals, vases, trays, etc. I carry hundreds of accessories that add warmth and create emotional appeal to make buyers connect with your property.

Ideally, you should rent furniture BEFORE listing your house and before the real estate agent has professional photos taken of your home . Placing appropriately-sized and styled furniture shows buyers the best use of rooms, adds warmth, makes rooms actually look MORE spacious, highlights the best features like fireplaces, windows, and built-ins, and generally makes a house irresistible to buyers so  you will get the highest offers and the most money out of your home as possible!








Before staging -- vacant open living/dining room

Before staging — vacant open living/dining room

After staging - furniture shows buyers best way to use this open space
After staging – furniture shows buyers best way to use this open space

Before staging -- open but small living room

Before staging — open but small living room

After staging - how to blend the space into one cohesive room

After staging – how to blend the space into one cohesive room

Before staging -- small master bedroom scared off buyers

Before staging — small master bedroom scared off buyers

After staging, home got offer in a few days -- buyers could see queen bed, dresser, and nightstands fit into room.

After staging, home got offer in a few days — buyers could see queen bed, dresser, and nightstands fit into room.

Long tunnel like living/dining space confused buyers

Long tunnel-like living/dining space confused buyers

Staging added warmth, color, and eliminated buyer confusion!

Staging added warmth, color, and eliminated buyer confusion!