Real Estate Agents Find Value in Paying For Staging Consultations


This gallery contains 8 photos.

More agents are offering to pay for staging consultations to their listing clients as a value-added service that results in better photos and faster home sales. The popularity of home staging continues to rise and is becoming more standard, especially because younger buyers expect homes to look move-in ready. Continue reading

Flipping My First Investment House: The Adventure Begins


old kitchen in flip house

After too many years of watching the various “Flip or Flop” HGTV shows, I’ve finally taken the plunge  – with a group of other investors –and am flipping my own investment house — it’s exciting and scary at the same time! The property is a 1300 sq. ft. 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath cape cod in Dumont, NJ. Demo started yesterday, and work should be going on for probably close to 3 months (thanks, holidays!)  Here are photos of the kitchen and baths as they were yesterday, before demo.

I will update the (slow) progress in this blog, and detail where items are purchased and their cost. Fingers crossed this flip works out, but I know it will be an educational experience at the very least!

One of the bathrooms that is being ripped out and redone.

One of the many pink bathrooms of the 50s and 60s — soon to be updated.

Fall Decorating Trends for 2017

pumpkin planters using soil and succulents — you can use plants like mums as well of course

dramatic fall planters

metallic fall decor

Some beautiful and easy decorating ideas to do this fall that celebrate the traditions of harvesting pumpkins, gourds, and flowers in novel, but still classy, looks. Let’s spread joy and beauty where we can find it! Follow-up post to come shortly featuring fall interiors.

classic front entry for Fall, courtesy of Craftberry Bush,

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, 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 ( 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  

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!