Bright ideas for better Lighting

Couldn’t resist the pun, sorry/not sorry! Updated light fixtures are the jewelry that make your home stylish AND brighter — making it more valuable when you sell and more pleasant to live in before you do. Here are some beautiful inexpensive ideas to dress up your home with great lights drawn from the most recent 2 years of making home staging recommendations and design renovations. #lightstyles #bestlightfixtures ##homelighting #modernlamps #sputnik chandliers #kitchenpendants #diningroomlights

family room staging
family room design and staging
Lamps Plus modified swing floor lamp for a modern look
column floor lamp, Lamps Plus
beautiful elegant yet modern table lamps, chrome finish; Lamps Plus
classic pull cord table lamp — ideal for buffets and consoles as well as bedside nightstands; Lamps Plus

Elevate Your Home’s Style Using Inexpensive Trim Molding

An inexpensive way to upgrade and enhance any room’s style is by using strip moulding to create geometrical designs on the walls or ceilings. This adds drama at a low cost — woodworkers or talented handyman can do this. Look at a few examples here to get an idea of the variety of beautiful looks that can be achieved, from simple modern style to elegant intricate decor in any room.

Inexpensive Options for Updating Your Bathroom(s) Prior to Selling

Buyers won’t typically offer as much money for homes that have ugly, old, outdated bathrooms, since they see the remodeling job as expensive (anywhere from $15k for average size 5×8 baths to $50k for large, high-end bathrooms), time-consuming, and messy. Although the return on investment of remodeling bathrooms is typically quoted as around 68%, the time your house sits on the market and the lower offers for houses with “fixer-upper” bathrooms suggests that updating baths prior to selling makes a lot of sense to get a higher overall price.

Companies like American Bath Resurfacing at can re-glaze fiberglass, acrylic, and cast iron tubs in just a day, starting at around $400. Replacing a tub can easily cost anywhere from $1200 to $3000, depending on the weight and type of tub to be removed, the tile work and demo involved, and the plumbing required. Replacing an old toilet can cost only around $300 to $400 with a lower cost model. Vanities run anywhere from as little as $100 to well over $2000 depending on size and type. HomeAdvisor reports the average cost to install a vanity with the countertop and faucets as $1500, BUT for small vanities it may only be a few hundred dollars, not including the cost of the vanity. To keep costs low, shop at the big box stores or on-line at or

Tile work can add up in labor and material costs, but for reselling there’s no need to tile except around the tub and shower up to the ceiling — it’s not necessary to retile the floor or other walls, If the tile floor is out-dated or not in great shape, luxury vinyl flooring is waterproof and can often be laid right over existing tile, instead of having to chip away all the old floor to replace it. Floor & Decor has lots of inexpensive tile and vinyl options, usually in stock. Happy renovating and selling for more $$!

Top 10 Staging Mistakes Sellers Make

1. Vacant Rooms – Did you know? Only 10% of buyers can visualize a space! Vacant rooms appear smaller to potential buyers and raise concerns regarding furniture placement. Don’t lose out on 90% of the buyers – stage it!
2. Self-Staging – With access to so many resources with tips for selling your home, including TV, the Internet, and DIY books, it’s easy to misinterpret the information provided in these resources and apply these techniques incorrectly. Every home is unique and should be staged as such. Certified Home Staging Professionals are trained to deal with all types of challenging rooms and have the solutions to help your house make a lasting impression.
3. Dark rooms, out-dated frilly or “fussy” window coverings, broken or “colored” blinds are all turn-offs to buyers. The preferred window treatments for living rooms and bedrooms are to-the-floor simple drapes, kept pushed to the sides for all showings and photos. If your room lacks good natural light, add modern floor or table lamps and keep them turned on for all showings. Light and bright sells homes!
4. Bare Walls – Many properties lack wall decor. Homeowners commonly suffer from a fear of commitment – to artwork. Afraid to put holes in the walls until they find that “perfect piece”, they find themselves years later with an incomplete room. Wall furnishings help to pull the room together and provide a warm, “cozy” look and feeling. Pictures of nature appeal to the most people. Anything personal should be removed.
5. Staging AFTER Listing – You reach the greatest number of buyers within the first 2 weeks that the house is listed on the market – be sure that you make the best first impression possible by showing your house at its absolute best from the beginning.
6. Too Much Furniture – When selling your home, less really is more. Ensure that furniture and other items are not interrupting the proper flow of the room. Too much furniture will make the room look smaller.
7. Odors – It’s often difficult to detect odors in your own home, but if you have pets, previous moisture damage, or smoke cigarettes or cigars in your house, these lingering odors will raise red flags with potential buyers. Avoid covering these with artificial air fresheners and instead work to remove the source. Remove pets from the property during showings at least, fix damaged areas, air out the house, paint the walls, and smoke outside. Charcoal and fresh ground coffee placed discreetly in attractive containers, even in vases with faux flowers, and refreshed every several days, can go a long way towards eliminating odors.
8. Poor Listing Photos – If your Realtor does not include professional photography as a part of your listing package, consider investing in this yourself – 90% of home buyers shop online first! Make sure your home is properly staged and prepared for photography. You’ve worked hard to set up your home to sell, be sure that this comes through with quality photos as well.
9. DIY vs. Hire a professional – Realtors, mortgage brokers, lawyers and home stagers all have the training and skills needed to help you with your home buying and selling needs. For updates or repairs, hire a skilled trade professional such as a plumber, electrician, or general contractor. DIY has its place, but when it comes to selling your largest investment, it’s best to leave it to the pros.
10. Cleanliness – When listing your home for sale, ensure that it is white glove clean before your first showing.

Selling Your Home During the Holidays

It’s that time of year again to light the menorah or trim the tree. If you play your cards right, the holidays can be a great time to sell your home; there’s less competition in the market and home shoppers are highly motivated.

Even with less competition, it is important to stage your home in a way that will appeal to the masses to attract the most potential buyers to your home, even if it means changing your personal decor for a while. If you’re looking to sell your home during this busy time of year, making your home festive while also keeping it show-ready is a delicate balance. Try these tips to keep your home in the holiday spirit while on the market.

1. Be Tasteful At The Curb
Curb appeal is the first thing that potential buyers notice about your home. Keep the tinsel, multicolored lights and those blow-up characters in storage. Remember that neutral decor has mass appeal and, when in doubt, keep it simple.

The entrance to your home should be understated. Try using white lights for elegance. Keep to a simple color scheme to highlight your home’s exterior colors. Use natural elements like pine cones, seasonal flowers and greenery. Don’t forget to hang a seasonal decorative wreath on your door or windows.

Remember that potential buyers will be driving by your home at all hours, even if they don’t have a showing scheduled. Keep your lawn cut and clear of leaves, keep your driveway and sidewalks free of snow, and sweep off your porch more frequently than you might otherwise. You want to be sure that your home looks extremely well-maintained from the street.

2. Light Up Your Home
With the days getting shorter, it’s important to focus on your light sources. You will want to have good lighting on both the inside and outside of your home. Since it gets dark before dinner time, many of your home showings will likely be after dark. Have a bright porch light so potential buyers can clearly see the front door and the key to get in. White twinkle lights add a festive touch and help to provide a little extra lighting.

When buyers or guests approach the house, having all your interior lights on illuminates the home and lures them inside to a warm, inviting atmosphere. If you have a home showing during the day, keep the curtains open to let in natural light. A well-lit home allows potential buyers to see your entire space and appreciate every detail.

3. Holiday Style Should Enhance Home Style
Every home has an architectural style – specific features that characterize a home – and you should include that style in your holiday decor. Before you put up the holiday trimmings, make sure they match the home’s theme and color scheme to avoid any distractions.

If you have a traditional home, classic decorations will accent better than contemporary decorations. Midcentury modern homes should be paired with vintage decorations. Keep holiday decor in line with your home’s style to best accentuate the selling features of your space.

4. Seasonal Vs. Religious Decor
While Thanksgiving is commonly celebrated regardless of religious beliefs, Chanukah and Christmas are connected to their respective religions and excessive religious decoration could be a turn-off for interested buyers.

Keep your religious decor to a minimum and show your spirit with seasonal accents instead. Seasonal decor could be snowflakes, greenery, winter branches, wrapped gifts, ornaments, owls or reindeer.

Try not to use decorations that are too personalized, because buyers will have a hard time picturing themselves in the home. This is not the year to display all of your kid’s pictures with Santa. Keep it simple and remember that you have no idea who your buyer might be or what they might like, so go for things that are universally likeable.

5. Reuse Current Decor
If you plan to put out a bunch of holiday decor, you really should remove some of your everyday decorations to keep the space from getting too cluttered. To keep your holiday decor simple, plan on using items that you normally have lying around your home. Reuse lanterns, candlesticks, vases or bowls, cake stands, picture frames and other accessories, but dress them up with festive trinkets to change the look of the piece. Less is more on house showings.

For example, place ornaments inside the lantern, add pine cones in an apothecary jar or wrap a colorful ribbon around the bottom of a clear vase with seasonal flowers. If you have a lot of framed photos, consider temporarily swapping the photos with holiday wrapping paper for a subtle festive touch. Small accents are really all of the holiday decor that you need when selling your home.

6. Pay Attention To The Color Scheme
When adding holiday decor in your home, you’ll want to think about the current colors you are displaying. While silver and gold go with any color, Christmas bright red can clash with your light blue walls or be too bright for an earth tone color scheme. So, use colors that will complement the palette rather than be an eyesore. Try to have your colors blend in more than you usually would.

When in doubt about what will look best in real estate photos, take some photos yourself. Before the official photographer comes over, snap a few pictures on your phone. Look at them – or better yet, show them to someone who does not live in your home – and note what draws your eye. If the holiday decor is overwhelming, you need to scale it back. You want your home to be the star of your listing photos.

7. Accentuate Your Home’s Positive Features
When staging a home, it’s important to make focal points stand out. To do this, avoid blocking beautiful views, cluttering up the shelves or mantel, or hiding any other unique features in your home.

Don’t display large collections of holiday decor. Rooms filled with decorations can feel smaller and collections distract from features of your home. You want potential buyers to walk away remembering your wonderful home, instead of only remembering your overwhelming Christmas village.

Choose a few specific areas of the home to decorate and key accents to show off those highlighted features. If your house has a high ceiling, accentuate the space with a tall, narrow tree tastefully decorated to showcase the space. If there are arched windows or doors, highlight the shape with garland. Keep holiday decorations simple and let your home really shine.

The Big Picture
Remember – home buyers are not buying your stuff. If your holiday decor is overwhelming or distracting, they may not be able to see or appreciate the home underneath. And don’t forget Christmas decor will “date” your photos quickly after the New Year, so even suggest your photographer avoid taking photos of the Christmas tree or menorah altogether and remove your wreath from the front door.

Originally published on For Sale By Owner at

Christmas decor should be tasteful and minimal for selling homes — I’d even remove the presents and stocking to keep it pared down more.

Stage Your Home To Sell

Selling Your New Jersey Home Soon? Here Are Some Unique Tips to Sell It For More

If you sell your home in Morris County, Bergen County, Hudson County, Essex County, Union County, Passaic County – or anywhere for that matter – preparing it to look its best takes some effort and usually some minor expenses that can give you a very good return on investment – in fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, often a 6-10% higher sales price.

Typical staging steps include thorough cleaning, moving furniture out and around between rooms or within rooms, decluttering throughout (which gives you a head start on packing up everything anyway to move!), painting walls or sometimes cabinetry to be more appealing to buyers, and making repairs and updates.

Here’s an article I was interviewed for by Redfin that lists some other, more unique ways to improve your home’s value to buyers:

How to Stage Your Home to Sell

June 2, 2020 by Lexi Klinkenberg

If you are thinking about listing your home for sale and moving to Dallas or Atlanta, now is the right time to start getting your home staged properly. Staging is much more than just cleaning and decluttering your space. It emphasizes the beauty of your home and shows it in the best light, giving potential buyers a great first impression of the space they could call their own. We had experts in the field share their tips with us on how to stage your home to sell.

Make sure your entryway stunning 

Make sure your entry is absolutely amazing! This sets the tone for the potential buyer throughout the rest of the tour. If they walk in to “blah” then they are already anticipating “blah” going forward, but if they are wowed the moment they walk in, then they are already set up to be excited to see what’s next. –Amy Lou Interiors

Make your home stand out from the competition 

In this era of online-everything, sellers need to be sure to make their home pop. Buyers now only venture out in person to their top 3 properties, so make your home stand out. Try rearranging furniture, buying a few new pillows, strategically placing pieces of art, and having some tasteful decor will do wonders for a space. Staging, followed by excellent professional pictures is the perfect way to take a house from Blah to Ooh La La. –Ilana Weismark, Ooh La La Home Staging

Staged spaces must accomplish the following: the function of each staged room is obvious, the staged rooms are editorial to make for eye-catching, and interesting photography and staging must be on-trend to get potential buyers excited to make an appointment to visit the property in person. Staging a property requires an experienced eye for design and function yet even the best staging can fall flat with poor photography! –Christine Masur, Nest Home Staging & Design

Swap out old light bulbs for new ones 

More than anything else, buyers are looking for space and light. I always recommend sellers swap out the light bulbs in their lamps, chandeliers, ceiling and wall lights.  Try to find the old school 100-watt incandescent bulbs.  Or if you have to use LED, then find the 100-watt equivalent and keep the kelvin at 2700 so the light feels more natural.  –Manhattan Staging 

Create a positive emotion for potential buyers 

The best home staging should make you rethink selling your home. That’s how you know potential buyers will be smitten as well; home buying is an emotional experience.’ Beyond the Box Interiors 

The goal is to create a positive emotion that allows others to feel connected to the space without feeling uncomfortable, cramped or jarring.  So the palette should be fairly neutral, with some personality in the accents and artwork.  The furniture and rugs should be neutral and the right scale to allow flow into and out of the room. Lastly, the paint colors, flooring, hardware, and fixtures can play a key role in presenting an updated look for your home to appeal to today’s’ buyer.  –Gail Dunnett, CEO, Studio D

Optimize your storage space 

Buyers want storage space. To make sure you are optimizing the space available in closets and mudrooms. A good rule of thumb is to remove 50 percent of the contents of a closet, if possible. Another tip that makes a closet appealing to potential buyers is to color code the clothes, shoes, and accessories that are remaining. This says to buyers this home is organized, there is plenty of storage space and the home has been well-maintained. –Jennifer Walker, Pearl Street Home Staging 

Deep clean and declutter 

Deep cleaning and decluttering to lighten up the appearance of your house is the most cost-effective way to have your house look better both online and in-person showings. Prep your house by using your own decorative accessories or purchasing a few new ones to create a few lifestyle moments that can capture the attention of potential buyers. Once they emotionally connect, the house is sold. – Claudia Jacobs, Claudia Jacobs Designs

Don’t forget about curb appeal 

Spruce up curb appeal when selling your home by adding dark brown or black mulch and shrubs around foundations and lamp posts. Replace broken or rusty mailboxes and house numbers so that they match with the house or trim color. Keep garbage cans, hoses, tools, and other lawn paraphernalia out of sight, and seal coat the driveway if it has cracks or looks weathered. –Amy Bly, Great Impressions Home Staging 

Make small repairs 

Take care of any small repairs namely those that you can do yourself. Fix leaking faucets, replace caulking, freshen up and repair tile grout, repair the walls, fix cracked or broken windows and damaged window screens, and replace burned-out lightbulbs. –Premiere Home Staging + Design 

Remove rugs 

Remove rugs from any room except your living room or family room, especially any smaller throw type of rugs. Although your home may not be as cozy looking, the buyers are buying the floors and they want to see them. Additionally, being able to see more of the floor makes a room look larger in the online photos. –Maggie Setler, Pittsburgh Staged Homes 

Rearrange furniture to balance the room 

Remove or rearrange furniture so that the room feels balanced and potential buyers can move freely from space to space. Furniture and décor should be the same style (traditional, transitional, modern, etc.) and the same color scheme so the spaces are cohesive which naturally gives a feeling of peace and calm. –Leslie Causey, LC Home Staging & Redesign

Have a friend critique your home before listing it 

Have someone who doesn’t live in your house, a real estate agent, stager or even a neighbor whose home just sold, look at your house with “buyer’s eyes”. What do they see that you are missing? Then really, really listen. These people aren’t critiquing your personal style. They’re showing you how to get your house sold. –Cheri Drake, Owner, Sisters Staging

Always have staging props ready to use 

Keep staging props like plush white bath towels, light-colored throw pillows, and white faux orchids in laundry baskets.  Before showings place the props around your home.  Refill the laundry baskets with used towels, dirty clothes, or extra items that you don’t want lying around for buyers to see and take them with you in your car when you leave. –Alicia Herring, Stage My Listings

Work with a professional staging company 

Avoid choosing a staging company based only on price-quality staging pays for itself in better pictures, and then a faster sale and most often, higher price. When choosing a company, look through previous work and read testimonials or get recommendations from your agent. A good staging company will provide a clean and consistent look throughout, that highlights all the best features, and helps prospective buyers envisage themselves in the space. –Distinctive Homestaging

When looking to stage your home to sell follow these 3 tips: spruce up the front entrance as curb appeal is the first impression, put a mirror on the wall inside the front door so people can visualize themselves living there, and have something “quirky” inside such as an animal print or a rustic antique kitchen tool so people will remember the property better. –Gina Newell, Premiere Stagers & Realty
Originally Published on Redfin

This all will make a considerable difference in how appealing your home looks to buyers – and that’s how you sell quickly and get the highest offers! If you have any doubts about being truly objective about how your home looks to buyers and knowing what improvements pay off the best for your neighborhood — hiring a stager will typically get you a much faster sale and a higher sales price. It’s time and money well spent!

Increase Your Home’s Value with Easy Updates and Changes

I tell every staging client that “light and bright sells homes.” Think about what you would be more drawn to — a dark, cave-like room or one with lots of natural light and views? That’s how buyers feel too!
A few years ago when I was home shopping in Morris County, I toured a home for sale where NO lights or lamps were on, all the drapes were closed, and I had to actually ask the homeowner to turn on the lights so I could see where I was going in each room! The dining room was painted dark red and the living room brown – painting these would have been easy fixes to greatly increase the desirability and value of the home to buyers. Roughly 90% of people cannot visualize homes looking different from what they see!

Here are just 6 of the many easy and inexpensive ways I recommend that will raise the value of your home and make it look much better in photos:

• Choose neutral and trendy paint colors that fit your home’s finishes
• Lighten the window treatments (or even remove if privacy isn’t an issue)
• Use slip covers to cover up patterned, dark, out-dated sofas and chairs
* Update light fixtures — get rid of faux Tiffany pendants, Hollywood globes above bathroom vanities, and dining room “Colonial style” lights!
• Buy trendy new bedding and shower curtains
• Add mirrors and/or metallic accessories in strategic locations

Buyers prefer updated homes that follow design trends! I know what purchases to make and advise what works best with each home’s finishes. If the budget allows and the homeowner desires, I am also happy to suggest how to update the fixed items (cabinets, flooring, appliances, etc.) as well to get even better offers! A $250 consultation (agents ask about preferred rates) covers this and many other topics (de-cluttering, styling with furniture arrangements, how best to display art, accessorizing, choosing paint colors where needed, inexpensive updates with hardware or tile — even painting tile — creating better curb appeal, etc. ) and is a small investment that always features a great return on your biggest asset when it’s time to sell.

Effective Home Staging Showcases Design Trends

Are you thinking of staging your New Jersey home for sale so you get a higher price and sell it quickly? You will get more money if you take time to eliminate out-dated decor and spruce up your home to give it a more modern look. You can inexpensively slipcover outdated sofas and chair upholstery (check out, replace dated or worn rugs, bedding, and pillows, and remove themed decor (e.g. beach, western, Native American, tropical) . Most buyers will not be impressed by country, traditional, shabby chic, or low-end college-style furniture. To elevate your home’s appeal and create a higher-end look, go with modern or transitional furniture and decor. If you’re not sure what’s in style, google sites like Elle decor,, or the blog on Trendy and appropriate furniture and decor may cost you a bit more upfront but WILL help drive more interest in your property and likely get you a higher price. Following home design trends when listing your New Jersey — or any home — is crucial. It’s almost always best to use modern style (except perhaps in certain 55+ communities) and popular colors — such as gray (still a great neutral), moss green, navy or teal, yellow, white — in furniture, rugs, and accessories. Stay away from more out-of-the-box colors like pink, purple, pale blue and anything very bright (except possibly in accent pillows and decor — this is another way a home stager can help you figure out what works best for your particular home, neighborhood, and price point). A more dramatic finished look is always worth a slightly higher investment for a more effective staging that maximizes any home’s value!

7 Advantages of Working with A Designer

1) You’ll get a one-of-a-kind, special look that will maximize your enjoyment of your home.  Designers have access to lots of products and fabrics that are not available to the general public. We notice the details in how to balance colors, architecture, and scale to fit each space. I’ll help you narrow down your style and color preferences, fill you in on new products, current trends and furniture options, while helping you keep within your budget wherever possible.

living room design

2) A designer will help you save time and money by making sure your furniture, rugs, accessories, and window treatments work together and fit your space. One of the most important services I offer is on-line floor plans clients can also edit if they wish. Hiring a designer can help you avoid costly mistakes and help you make design decisions that will increase the value of your home.
3) Designers work to achieve cohesiveness and functionality in your final design — whether your needs include attractive storage or display options, child-friendly or pet-friendly furniture, extra space for entertaining or accommodating overnight guests, a designer will help you figure out your priorities and how to accommodate them to fit your budget.4) A designer will present several (or more) options for each piece of furniture, rugs, window treatments, and accessories, so you control the final decisions and aesthetic — but still make sure everything works well together.
5) Are you interested in a mix of styles, or do you and your partner other family members have very different design ideas? A designer can be a neutral 3rd-party guide to help navigate varying tastes and create acceptable compromises.
6) I can save you time and legwork! It’s not easy to find the time (and patience) to wade through many online shopping sites or stores. I’ll handle and coordinate that process for you and get you samples of fabrics or wood finishes, etc. where possible. I’ll also present design “boards” (typically on-line) for your feedback and approval. You can even choose to shop with me, if you prefer.
7) Designer discounts: I’m sometimes able to pass on designer discounts to my clients as an additional advantage of working with me. 10 – 20% discounts may be available at higher-end to-the-trade stores.

master bedroom

Why Virtual Staging Doesn’t Work as Well as “IRL” Staging

I’m seeing more agents here in northern New Jersey using virtual staging to try to draw in buyers because it’s so much cheaper than “real” staging — typically only a couple of hundred dollars, vs. staging with actual furniture and decor, which starts at about $2500 or more for a 2 month installation for 3 rooms. However, buyers are usually very disappointed when they walk into an empty (and worse out-dated) house that they’ve seen virtually staged on-line, only to see that it looks cold, boring, and even confusing (especially open plan homes) without actual furniture in place. If virtual staging draws buyers in to look at homes because they look so much better and more inviting, the benefit is pretty much lost when they arrive to actually tour the home. I’ve also seen some really poor “furniture choices” and incomplete looks with virtual staging — out-dated dining room and kitchen tables, a couple of chairs only placed into a huge living room, a sofa or 2 with no coffee or end tables, no lamps, no art or poorly placed art, no decor items, etc.  That kind of virtual staging isn’t serving any purpose, and does nothing to increase the appeal of the home.

So even though virtual staging on the surface can save a couple of thousand dollars, the end result will never be as effective as “in real life” staging, where buyers get to ooh and aah over the lifestyle they can experience in person. They can sit on the sofas, beds, and at the dining room table to see how much room there is with furniture in place — something buyers usually under-estimate. They can experience the “dream” lifestyle staging creates for them that makes any house more memorable and desirable than the competition.  In 9+ years of staging in New Jersey, I’ve found buyer reaction to a staged home is always much more positive than to an un-staged home — and staged homes typically sell within a few days to a few weeks, depending on such factors as the time of year, location, and price. ANY house can benefit from staging to get a higher sales price as well.