3 Easy Steps to an End of Summer Declutter

blog-endofsummerdeclutterI really dislike the word “declutter” — to my mind, it implies messiness, dirtiness, and disorganization. I prefer “simplify and reduce” because it feels less judgemental and more direct (the Google search engine tells me I’m in the minority as far as which phrase people actually search, though). The truth is, even the neatest, most organized of us have clothing that needs to be purged; books we’ll never read again; stacks of paper or kids’ artwork that needs organizing; or maybe even an extra piece of furniture that we don’t love but still have sitting in a corner because we never found the right spot for it. Whether you’re getting ready to sell or staying put, it’s very difficult for people to see the details of your beautiful home when there is too much stuff. “Less is more” is especially true when it comes to staging your home for sale.

As summer comes to a close, take the time to do a little simplifying and reducing. Getting rid of extra stuff is not as hard as it seems — in fact, there are plenty of places that would love to have it and will give you money for it! And when you properly dispose, recycle, or donate your unwanted items, you help keep the Earth a little greener for everyone.

Here is our three-step process for finding good homes for your extra “stuff”:

  1. First, grab three large plastic bins and two trash bags.
  2. Label the bins and bags as follows:Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 12.58.12 PM
  3. Go through the room and ask yourself these three critical questions:
    • Do I love this item?
    • Do I use this item?
    • Does this item fit the style or vision I am trying to create?

If the item does not meet at least TWO of those qualifications, place it in its most appropriate bin.

Store. For those items that you “only love” or “only use annually,” consider storing them. If you’re finding quite a few items in your storage bin, don’t worry! It’s okay to simply store those items to unpack later.

Sell. Craigslist.com, eBay, Facebook, NextDoor, and consignment stores are a great way to sell your more valuable items. Online options generally require far less time and energy than a garage sale.

Donate. Consider simply giving other items to those who need it. List items you don’t want as “free” on Craigslist and Freecycle, and someone will pick it up at your house shortly. You can also donate to the following organizations in or near Katy, TX (some even offer pick up services for large items, such as furniture and appliances):

Recycle. Don’t trash old electronic equipment! These devices often contain valuable and rare metals, as well as chemicals that can be harmful to you and the environment. Electronics should never be thrown in the trash or burned. For old TVs, computers, refrigerators or large appliances, make sure to dispose of them properly by calling your city to see where each piece is best recycled and handled. Best Buy also offers free electronics recycling.

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, we can’t overstate how important it is to simplify and reduce so that potential buyers can see all the beauty your home has to offer! If you need help getting started, give the professionals at Three Bears Home Staging a call at (832) 377-0785 or fill out our contact form here.

Title photo credit:  “Flex Tote – 1K52 – Large – Closet2” by Rubbermaid Products is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Choosing the Right Light Bulb: Watts Aren’t Everything

blog-light-bulbsRemember the old days of picking out a light bulb for your house? It went something like this:

“I need a light bulb.”

Go to store.

Choose between 40-watt or 60-watt bulb.

Go home.

If you were really trying to be fancy, you might get one of those three-way light bulbs for lamps that offered you a bright-brighter-brightest option. Now with the advance of energy efficient bulbs over the last decade or so, it’s no longer enough to simply know the wattage.

As a home stager, one of the most common (and most easily fixed) “boo-boos” I see among home sellers is using the wrong light bulb for the job. Replacing light bulbs can have a big return on investment, not only in terms of energy costs, but in the visual impact it makes on potential buyers — even a subtle change in lighting can make a big difference in the vibe of the room! Next time you’re shopping for the best light bulbs to showcase your home, be sure to check these 4 crucial details:

Type

For homes, LEDs are typically superior all other types of light bulbs because they:

  • have the longest lifespan (up to 10 years or more)
  • more durable (solid structure, no glass or filaments)
  • emit great quality light (available in a range of color temperatures)
  • use the least amount of energy (replacing just one bulb saves about $52 annually in energy costs)

The cost of LED bulbs has also decreased so significantly in recent years that the bulbs pay for themselves in a matter of months.

Shape

Save yourself multiple trips to the hardware store by bringing the old bulbs with you when you go shopping. It’s also not a bad idea to use your phone to take a few pictures of the light fixture. LEDs are now available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but newer technology may mean a slightly different design than your old bulb. Make sure your bulb is a perfect fit by heading out with the right info on hand.

Color Temperature

Color temperature refers to a particular number on the Kelvin scale used to measure the color of light. This is the number that will tell you how  red, yellow, white, or blue the light will appear. Let’s break it down like this:

  • Candle light is nice and orange-y, somewhere around 1800K to 1900K.
  • “Soft white” light bulbs are usually about 2700K. While this is the color temperature of the typical incandescent light most of us are used to, it tends to be rather yellow. These are a good second choice for staging, but not ideal.
  • “Warm White” bulbs are around 3000k and are ideal for home staging in nearly every interior room of the home. LEDs in this range cast a bright light that is still slightly warm, yet fairly neutral, allowing your home’s true colors to shine through and giving you the most consistent results on your MLS photos.
  • “Natural Light” and “Daylight” bulbs can range from 4000K to 6000K and look rather blue. These cooler temperature bulbs usually don’t work well for home staging or residential use, as they’re rather unflattering to skin tones and cast a more sterile, cold light). Daylight bulbs are best used in retail displays, security lighting, work places or garages. Avoid using these bulbs when staging your home or photographing MLS photos.

You can find the bulb’s color temperature, or Kelvin scale number, on the Lighting Facts label of the package under “Light Appearance.”

Lumens

Wattage tells you only how much energy a bulb uses — not how bright it is. Since newer light bulbs use less energy, wattage is no longer a reliable way to gauge a light bulb’s brightness. Instead, we use lumens.

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Check label! Look for the Lighting Facts Label on each bulb package to find the both the Kelvin scale number (under “Light Appearance”) and the lumens (under “Brightness”).

Lumens measure brightness. A standard 60-watt incandescent bulb, for example, produces about 800 lumens of light. By comparison, a CFL bulb produces that same 800 lumens using less than 15 watts. An LED bulb uses only 8 to 12 watts to produce 800 lumens of brightness. You can use lumens to compare the brightness of any bulb, regardless of whether it’s a halogen, incandescent, CFL, or LED.

When staging your home for sale, we recommend the brightest bulbs safely possible, usually around 750 lumens or more. You can find the bulb’s lumens on the Lighting Facts label of the package under “Brightness.”

When you have the type, shape, color temperature, and lumens properly adjusted in your home, it can have a huge impact on the ambience of your home, the quality of your MLS photos, and most importantly, the perception of your buyers. If you need a little professional help evaluating the light in your space before you go on the market, give the home staging experts at Three Bears Home Staging a call to set up a Walk & Talk Consultation!

Title photo credit:  “Bulb” by Vassilis is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How to Stage a Bookshelf

Built-in shelves can be especially tricky when staging your home for sale. When they’re overflowing or crammed too tightly (as many of them are), they give the impression that there’s a lack of space. Use our tips to learn how to stage a bookcase like a pro!

Three Bears Home Staging

On this client’s bookshelf, we arranged items that were similar in type (books) and color (red vases) in a zig-zag pattern between shelves to keep a viewer’s eye moving over the entire bookcase and to provide balance.

  • Pack away 50% of what is in your bookshelf.
  • Remove any paperback books, as these appear less attractive and sophisticated than hardback books. Hint: Flip book jackets on hard cover books and recover books with the plain white side facing out. Alternatively, you can turn books backward so that the spine is facing the back of the wall and the page edges are facing out. Both methods create more visual uniformity on the shelf.
  • Vary the stacking of books, both vertical and horizontal.
  • Group accessories in odd numbers — usually 3 to 5 pieces
  • Push the books to the back of bookshelf to create more space.
  • Organize accessories from tallest to shortest, but try and keep books at even heights.
  • Add organic elements, like plants, wooden bowls, shells, or accessories with natural textures.
  • Arrange items that are similar in type or color in a zig-zag pattern between shelves to keep a viewer’s eye moving over the entire bookcase and to provide balance.
  • Use one or two large accessories vs. several small accessories give a more spacious feel and will generally photograph better. Using pieces larger than a grapefruit is a good rule of thumb.
  • Remove any family photos or accessories buyers can use to profile you (no references to your hobbies, interests, political or religious preferences) – when in doubt, take it out. *Remember, this pertains to staging — if your home isn’t for sale, you can make your shelves as personalized as you want!
  • Remove anything resting atop your bookshelves as it gives an already tall piece more height and disrupts the balance in a room.
  • Consider balancing a bookshelf on one side of the room with a tree on the other side of the room.

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Do you have a favorite tip or trick you like to use for staging shelves? Comment below! And if you need a hand staging the bookshelves in your Katy, TX home for sale, we can help! Give the home staging experts at Three Bears Home Staging a call or contact us here for more information on our services.

7 Budget-Friendly Ways to Give Today’s Home Buyers What They’re Looking For

blog-give-buyers-what-they-want1Home owners are sometimes reluctant to invest money when putting their home on the market. Sooner or later, they’ll be moving out anyway and extensive renovations often only increase home value by a fraction of the project’s costs.

So why bother?

It’s simple: doing nothing could cost you far more in the long run than the small amount you’ll spend doing simple home-improvement and prep projects. It could mean the difference between multiple offers that increase the selling price, and a home that stagnates on the market while you continue to pay mortgage and utility costs.

To maximize your selling and renovation budget, pay attention to features that will make your home more attractive to today’s potential buyers:

 

  1. Add new “jewelry” to important rooms. Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive rooms to remodel, but a full-scale renovation isn’t always necessary to show a home in its best light. Less expensive updates, like replacing cabinet hardware, faucets, or lighting or adding a fresh coat of neutral paint, go a long way toward creating spaces that feel modern and clean.
  2. Add flow. The majority of today’s homebuyers prefer open floor plans, a feature that’s especially hard to come by in older homes. Before putting your home on the market, reduce the amount of furniture in your house — put it in the garage, off-site storage, take it to a friend’s house, move it to another room — to create an open flow between rooms and the feel of more open space in the home.
  3. Add light. Ample daylight is highly desirable among most home buyers. Remove heavy curtains or draperies, trim shrubbery or trees that may be blocking light, and move furniture away from windows to let the sunlight in.
  4. Update technology and energy efficiency features. Today’s buyers are growing to expect app-driven technology and energy efficiency in their homes. Adding features like a smart thermostat, USB charging ports, LED lights, ceiling fans, or security systems that can be operated from a smart phone are small investments that may give you an edge as a seller.
  5. Create a home office. Telecommuting is still on the rise, especially in suburban Houston, TX communities like, Katy, Sugar Land, and Cypress, making a dedicated home office space essential for many buyers. Consider turning a fourth bedroom into an office or use a small desk, lamp, and a chair to create the feeling of a separate space in a larger room.
  6. Use professional photos. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 90% of all home buyers begin their home search on the Internet. A fantastic online photo presentation is essential to bringing those buyers to your front door. Photos should be plentiful, well-lit, and ideally, shot by a professional real estate photographer with a wide angle lens. And for heavens sake, DECLUTTER AND CLEAN UP BEFORE THE PHOTOGRAPHER GETS THERE! I dare you to go online right now and see how many listing photos you can find with piles of toys, fast food bags scattered on kitchen counters, and toiletries strewn across bathroom sinks and showers. There’s nothing worse than multiple photos of badly staged rooms, and sellers who do this are LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE.
  7. Stage it. Don’t underestimate the influence of HGTV and Pinterest with your potential buyers. Home decor-related websites and tv shows permeate the market, and today’s home buyers want the current trends. Sometimes even small changes, like adding a few modern accessories, can help your home appear more contemporary and up-to-date. Getting feedback from a professionally certified home stager can reap huge benefits in terms of learning the best (and worst) ROI updates and additions you can make to your particular home.

Do you have suggestions for budget-friendly renovations for home sellers? Comment below! If you need some help getting started, give Three Bears Home Staging a call at (832) 377-0785 to schedule a Walk & Talk Consultation . We can give you feedback that will put you on the right track for a faster sale and a higher profit!

Title photo credit:  “Holding phone with iPhone app on screen” by www.yourbestdigs.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How to Make the Bed for Home Staging

How to Make the Bed for Home Staging

How to Make the Bed for Home StagingBeds are the focal point for most bedrooms, and your objective when staging it is to create a space where potential buyers feel invited to relax and would be comfortable sleeping. Think luxury hotel room!

To give your bed that layered, high-end hotel look:

  • Remove bed linens that are dated, worn, too bright or too heavily patterned.
  • Bed-in-a-bag options are an easy solution and available at most big box department stores. These sets typically include the duvet, bed skirt, pillow shams, sheets, and accessory pillows.
  • Opt for neutral color bedding, preferably solids or with minimal patterns. Not only does it give the room a more cohesive, high-end feel, it shows up much more favorably in your listing photos.

Steps for Staging a Luxurious, Layered Bed

  1. Iron the bed skirt and place it on the bed. I prefer a simple, tailored bed skirt cleaner lines as opposed to a fluffy dust ruffle (which can look too feminine).
  2. Apply the fitted sheet as usual.
  3. Apply the flat sheet next, making sure the “right side” of the flat sheet is down, facing the fitted sheet. Tuck in the sides, leaving a couple of feet untucked near the head of the bed (you’ll fold this back at the end to make the bed feel more inviting).
  4. Spread your bedspread or quilt across the bed, leaving the top edge about a foot away from the headboard. Now fold your flat sheet back across the top of the spread.
  5. Fold your duvet or comforter in thirds and spread across the bottom of the bed. Alternatively, you can place the duvet the same way you’d lay a bedspread/quilt in the previous step.
  6. Place your pillows in the proper order:
    • 2 Euro pillow (3 for a king) in the back against the headboard
    • 2 standard-size pillows next
    • 1 to 3 decorative throw pillows in the front layer
  7. Drape a blanket across the foot of the bed to add a little color or contrast

These are guidelines — not hard and fast rules for every bed. Play around with your options and find the solution that works best for your room and bedding. Making a beautiful bed may be a bit of a pain while you’re trying to sell, but it is a MUST for your listing photos and when showing the home. Show potential buyers just how luxurious and restful your bedroom(s) can be by making the bed look extra inviting! And if you still need help, contact Three Bears Home Staging to set up a Walk & Talk Consultation for your home before you list it!

 

9 Neutral Paint Colors Home Buyers Love

9 Neutral Paint Colors Home Buyers Love | Three Bears Home StagingI hand-painted a gorgeous mural of a tree in my old house. It was fabulous. And when we decided to sell, I cried bitter tears as I painted over it with a boring shade of khaki an inspiring neutral color. So why did I do it? Because I was not willing to bet thousands of dollars of home sale profit on the possibility that I might find a buyer who appreciated my tree mural. What I really wanted was a quick sale and a high profit. And I knew that when selling a home, the walls should act as a backdrop, not as the focal point.

This is what a neutral color palette does. It helps homebuyers from all walks of life picture themselves living in the house. It helps them emotionally connect with it and see it as their potential HOME.

The tricky part is finding the right neutral color. Not every neutral works for every house. So where do you start?

>>First, you need to understand how light will affect the feel of your space. A room with southern exposure receives different light than a room that faces north. Even the color of your light bulbs will affect the way your paint looks. *Hint: When selling, opt for soft white bulbs instead of daylight.

>>Secondly, assess the fixed elements in the home, like cabinets, tile, flooring, counters, hardware. Is it a cooler palette (blacks, blues, grays, silvery metals, espresso-colored woods)? Or is it a warmer palette (browns, golds, natural wood tones)? The color you choose should accent these elements or you risk creating an off-balance feeling in the room.

I’m a big fan of the Sherwin-Williams color palette and quality of paint. That said, here are a few of my top picks for neutral paint colors that home buyers love:

      • 7037 Balanced Beige: This reliable, straight forward color is one of my top picks for home sellers. It’s best described as a taupe with an even mixture of both brown and gray, making it flexible enough to match almost any home. It also has a fairly neutral Light Reflective Value so it doesn’t look brighter or darker on the walls than it does in the paint can. It adds more interest and dimension than the standard “builder’s beige,” but it’s still neutral enough to be appealing to a wide variety of home buyers.

        Transitional dining room design by Atlanta interior designer Pineapple House Interior Design

        Transitional dining room using Sherwin-Williams “Balanced Beige.” Design by Atlanta interior designer Pineapple House Interior Design.

      • 6120 Believable Buff and 6106 Kilim Beige: These colors work well in homes that have fixed elements with gold undertones. This shade is a great choice if you’re trying to complement warm color tones, like golds, browns, and woodgrains.
      • 7015 Repose Gray and 7016 Mindful Gray: Both shades are cooler toned grays that work well in homes with black-toned or espresso colored cabinetry and brushed nickel or stainless finishes.
      • 6148 Wool Skein and 7036 Accessible Beige: These colors are shades of taupe that work well with both warm and cool palettes. have a slightly higher than average Light Reflective Value, which means they do a great job of bringing light into dark spaces.
      • 7029 Agreeable Gray and 7030 Anew Gray: These warm toned grays are exceptionally versatile and hugely popular with homebuyers right now.

Do you have experience with any of these paint colors? What are your favorite neutrals? If you need help choosing a paint color for your home, we can help! Contact Three Bears Home Staging for a Walk & Talk Consultation and we’ll help you choose the color that works best for you!

Title photo credit:  “Paintbrushes” by CARLISLE HVAC is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How to Make Your Bedroom More Romantic

How to Make Your Bedroom More RomanticYour master bedroom should be a relaxing, romantic respite from the chaos of the world around you. Whether you’re staging your home for sale or just trying to create a more inspiring vibe in your current space, a few simple changes this Valentine’s Day can add romance and calm to your bedroom sanctuary:

  • Tidy up. Lots of clutter lying around can be a a source of white-noise type anxiety for some people because it’s a constant reminder of chores that need to be done. Remove the piles of laundry, stacks of books and papers, and other “stuff” piled on nightstands and dressers to create a calmer, more peaceful space.
  • Make it plush. Think upscale hotel bedding–lots of pillows, cozy blankets, and extra soft sheets.
  • Freshen up. Are there weird smells in your bedroom? No? Are you positive? Most of us become “noseblind” to the scents in our own home. Textiles can hold a lot of odors so launder draperies and bedding. Sprinkle carpets with baking soda, wait 30 minutes, then vacuum to remove even more odor. Houseplants are another great way to continually clean the air. Open windows to air out the space. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned, light a scented candle for a little fragrance and ambiance.
  • Examine your lighting. Soft white bulbs are ideal for bedrooms — avoid “daylight” bulbs or fluorescent overhead lighting when possible. Subtle, ambient lighting, like a table lamp, is even better.

And of course…fresh flowers and a little chocolate are always a nice touch!

How to you make your master bedroom a more beautiful, relaxing space? Share with us! And if you’re thinking of selling your Katy, TX home soon, give us a call. Our Walk and Talk Consultations provide home sellers with immediate feedback on how to get top dollar and a quick sale.

Photo credit: Tobias Wutzow via CreativeCommons.org

Three Bears Home Staging Wins “Best Of Customer Service 2017” on Houzz®

boh-all-web-badges-2017Three Bears Home Staging of Katy, Texas has won “Best Of Customer Service 2017” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The 4-year old staging firm was chosen for the third year in a row by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling, and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016. A “Best Of Houzz 2017” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of  their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

Three Bears Home Staging founder and principal, Vannessa Rhoades, states, “Houzz connects millions of homeowners with the best home professional for their project, and we are honored that our work has been recognized among the other talented staging and redesign professionals.”

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Three Bears Home Staging,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Three Bears Home Staging was founded in 2013 and provides home staging services for homeowners and real estate professionals. The firm specializes in Walk & Talk Staging Consultations for home sellers, providing detailed, objective advice for the fastest, most profitable sale.

For more information visit threebearshomestaging.com and be sure to check out the other “Best of Houzz” award winners at Houzz.com.

How to Hygge Your Home in 2017

blog-hyggeThe Danish concept Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah), which can be roughly described as the Scandinavian art of coziness, warm companionship, and little pleasures, has been the “design buzzword” of recent months. Candles, soft blankets, indoor plants, soft furnishings, books, rugs on bare wooden floors and an absence of clutter are hallmarks of the Hygge design style. But Hygge isn’t just about design style–it’s a lifestyle concept.

Hygge is about atmosphere and an experience, rather than things,” Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book Of Hygge: The Danish Way To Live Well, explains. “It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”

If you’re trying to find more comfort and well-being in your own home and create Hygge in your everyday life, follow these tips from Three Bears Home Staging:

  • Share and socialize. Hospitality is one of the most important elements of adding Hygge to your life. Invite neighbors over for an impromptu meal or visit with a good friend over coffee. Making your home a comfortable, welcoming place for you and your guests is more Hygge than creating one that’s “perfect” or impressive.
  • Reconnect off-line. Most of us have been guilty of getting sucked down the rabbit hole of life online — web browsing, social media, email. Ironically, all the electronic “connectedness” can create more disconnection and feelings of chaos in our homes. Take the time to intentionally unplug from the distractions of the Interwebs and be fully present with the three-dimensional people in your life. Play a board game around the fire with your family or snuggle up under a soft blanket with a good book for a very Hygge experience.
  • Create a peaceful environment by eliminating chaos and excess clutter. Surround yourself with home decor that inspire you. In other words, if you don’t use it or love–get rid of it. Commit to removing things you rarely use in order to create comfortable, cozy spaces the whole family can enjoy. When it comes to Hygge, less is usually more.

Share with us:  how do you create Hygge in your home this winter?

Photo credit: Melissa Hillier via Flikr/CreativeCommons 

Tips for Decorating Your Holiday Mantel

There’s no place cozier during the holidays than snuggled up next to a warm fire, even in sub-tropical Houston! Okay, so maybe some of us still have the air-conditioner running at the same time…BUT a festive fireplace is definitely a focal point during the holiday season. Decorating your mantel can be a challenge, so we decided to share a few tricks and tips to make your mantel merry and bright this winter.

  • Use layers. Overlap decor of varying heights to create a more cohesive design. A good rule of thumb is to use a large weighted piece at the back of your design (like a mirror or a piece of large art), then add candles or taller pieces, and finally some smaller filler decor or greenery in front.
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Photo via Whoovie

  • Balance your design by putting complementary decor opposite each other. Your display doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but the items should have similar visual weight, scale, or form. Try placing larger decor on the ends, while centering shorter items (and if that doesn’t work, reverse it!).
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Photo via MidWest Living

  • Simplify color. Use no more than three colors to keep your mantel from looking overly embellished. Since your fireplace is already a focal point, use muted lighting and colors to set the stage for your holiday display.
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Photo courtesy of Ideal Home via Brewster Home

  • Vary texture. Texture and shine add a big boost to a mantel with neutral color. Mercury glass and pops of sparkly gold or glitter add radiance and a little holiday glam.
  • Add a garland. Opt for simple color palette that has variations in texture for a classic holiday look. And make sure it’s the right length:  the dangling ends of the garland should only hang down from the mantel about 1/3 of the way to the floor.
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Photo via Whoovie

What tips do you have for holiday mantels? Share your secrets with us! And if you know someone who’s thinking of selling their home this holiday season, consider a gift of our DIY Home Staging Guide! It’s filled with lots of information on how sellers can sell their homes quickly and for more money!

*Feature image photo credit: www.personalcreations.com