What Your Realtor Won’t Tell You (But Your Home Stager Will)

Ever wondered what your realtor won’t tell you? How they really feel about your home?

Advising clients how to prepare their home for sale can be a very sensitive conversation. Most homeowners tend to be (understandably) emotionally attached to their homes and furnishings. Telling a homeowner that something in the house is a distraction and could negatively impact the perceived value can be a very hard conversation to have.

That’s where it’s handy to seek the advice of a professional home stager. Our job is to understand the homebuyer market and (kindly) give you honest, objective feedback on your home’s “buyer appeal.” We help homeowners highlight the positive features and find solutions for the negatives.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I come from a family of real estate agents (and have many, many realtors as friends and clients). As such, I am privy to all their grumblings about difficult homeowners, as well the praise for clients who actually listen to feedback and make the job easy.

Want to hear a few of the top things your realtor won’t tell you because they’re either too nice or too nervous? Read on…

“Your house is too cluttered.”

OMG, what a mean thing to say! How dare I??? I dare because I want you to sell your home. It can be really hard for potential buyers to appreciate how great your house is when you have too much stuff. Even beautiful, decorative stuff can just be “too much.” How we live in our houses on a day to day basis (surrounded by the things we use and love) is typically very different that the way a home should be presented for sale. You’re moving anyway, so start packing. Read our 3-step process for how to simplify and reduce the “stuff” in your home when preparing for a sale.

This home features an amazing, high-end gourmet stove…that is darn near impossible to see or fully appreciate because there is too much day-to-day clutter and “decor” around it.

“A furnished house will show better…but maybe not furnished with your stuff.”

Fact 1: A room staged with furniture looks larger and more appealing than an empty room. It helps buyers identify the room’s purpose and proportions.

Before: What is this space? After: Ah, it’s a spacious bedroom and sitting area!


Fact 2: The wrong furnishings can have a more detrimental effect than leaving it empty. Ideally, your home shouldn’t be empty when potential buyers visit, but that doesn’t mean it should be full of your stuff, either. Nor should it contain weird groupings of badly staged leftover pieces. (That big empty room with a couple of random dining chairs and a sad plant in it — I’m lookin’ at you.) If your realtor has told you to empty out your house, it’s possibly (likely?) because your existing furnishings are not doing the place justice.

Before: Nice furniture, but the placement is off and the dark colors make it feel small. After: Updated, lighter furnishings open the space and make it feel bigger, increasing perceived value for the buyer.

Good staging is essential for a quick, profitable sale. A professional stager can help find solutions to issues that might otherwise kill your sale, like bad lighting or a terrible view. They can help you find the most effective ways to use the furnishings you already have, or they may suggest bringing in rental items to replace them.

“It smells funny in here.”

This is one of the hardest subjects for many real estate agents to bring up because they feel like they’re accusing the homeowner of being dirty. But the truth is that are a whole host of issues that can contribute to a home’s unique odor. Some families cook with especially fragrant spices. Perhaps an elderly pet is having accidents in the home. Maybe a particular air freshener is the culprit. And very likely you’ve gone “noseblind” to it. My point is that even though your realtor may feel awkward pointing it out, potential buyers will still notice and you need to address it. Have a trusted friend do a smell test for you and read our tips to keep your house smelling fresh.

“Fix it now, then list it.”

“Move-in ready” condition is extremely important, especially among Millennials, one of the largest demographics of homebuyers. Many have saved for years to buy a home and do not wish to invest in thousands of dollars worth of renovations. Your realtor probably won’t tell you to delay listing. But if your home has issues and you can afford to make the repairs, do it! Doing so can decrease your home’s time on the market and increase your final sales price. Sure, there are buyers willing to take on a home that’s not up-to-par. But those are also the buyers who tend to make low-ball offers.

Remember, your real estate professional won’t judge your home based on how friendly you are or your taste in decor. Their job is to determine the marketability of what you’ve got. By offering constructive criticism about your home, they risk offending you and damaging that relationship. They may even lose you as client. Find a good real estate agent you trust and listen to their advice (and don’t shoot the messenger). After all, you both want the same thing — a faster, more profitable sale! And if you’re still worried about what your realtor won’t tell you…get in touch with us.

How We Can Help

Three Bears Home Staging is here to help sellers make their homes “just right!” Take a look at how we’re helping homeowners all across the country. How can we help you?

online home staging consultation 60

Online Home Staging Consultations

We specialize in positive, empowering one-on-one home staging consultations that help homeowners earn more money and a faster sale.

Online Staging Course for Home Sellers

Prefer to DIY? Enroll in our self-paced, online course Easy DIY Home Staging for Home Sellers™!

Read Our Book!

In her newest book, HSR certified home stager Vannessa Rhoades walks you through the process of staging your own home. Available in paperback on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited.

Budget-Friendly Home Staging Decor from Walmart

Are you staging your home on a budget? It can feel more than a little overwhelming. My clients on a tight budget often worry whether they’ll even be able to find beautiful decor options to show off the home they’re selling.

Fortunately, this is where big box stores, the Internet, and a great home staging resource (like us!) can help homeowners complete the look and market their homes for sale in a beautiful, affordable way.

budget home staging
Beautiful home staging decor doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make a “for sale” home look its best! Take a look at some of our budget-friendly finds from Walmart.

Whether you shop there regularly or not, there’s no denying that Walmart has some fabulous deals for anyone working with a tight budget. Their online selection has grown tremendously in recent years as they’ve expanded into the home decor marketplace. Heck, even with access to tons of industry resources and fancier stores, many professional home stagers occasionally head to Walmart for deals on basic decor essentials!

Take a look at some of these budget-friendly home staging decor essentials you can get a great deal on at Walmart

Nestl 3 Piece Duvet Cover Set

A beautiful, relaxing bedroom is an important consideration for many home buyers. Neutral bed linens appeal to nearly all buyers so invest in a new duvet in a clean, neutral palette. Just slip your existing comforter inside this duvet cover and add some fresh fluffy pillows to the matching shams for a gorgeous new look that buyers will love!


60″ Black and Gray Rectangular Cotton Throw

You know home stagers love a good throw blanket. They add pattern, texture, and color to a space and can make a bare couch feel cozy and inviting. This one is a steal (and it’s machine washable)!


Woven Jute Storage Basket

Home stagers also love baskets. They add both texture and beauty to a space, but best of all? Baskets hide clutter in plain site while giving you easy access to needed items! We especially love this one.

Designer Clear Glass Apothecary Jars, Set of 3

Apothecary jars are one of the most versatile, budget-friendly DIY home staging props you can use. Just fill them with whatever suits your color scheme and style. Adding them to a bathroom? Fill with cotton swabs, cotton balls, or bath salts. Need a little color in the kitchen? Add beans, faux fruit, or pasta.



Airomé Porcelain Passive Diffuser, Succulent

Unpleasant odors will drive buyers right out of your home. That’s why we love using diffusers. Just add a little essential oil, like citrus or peppermint, and your diffuser will provide a continuous clean, fresh scent without the worry of lighting a candle. And this one does double duty as an adorable piece of accent decor!

White and Black Stone Pot with Faux Aloe

Plants add drama, warmth, color, and visual interest. Artificial plants are especially useful in spaces that have little to no natural light or in a home that will be vacant. If you invest in faux plants, varieties that mimic the look of specific live plants, like air plants or succulents, like this aloe.

Accent Pillows

New accent pillows are an easy way to add color and texture to your bed or sofa, and Walmart has a huge variety available online. We love this one paired with a darker couch.


Large, Neutral Artwork

One of the most needed items I see in my consultations is the need for some large, neutral artwork. Many homeowners have beautiful artwork that is just too small for the scale of the space. Other have very personalized pieces or family photos adorning the walls. Remember, the goal of home staging is to showcase your home (not your family, interests, or belongings) and appeal to the widest audience possible. Invest in a few neutral pieces, like this one, to give your home a more upscale, designer feel. How pretty would a couple of these babies be hung side by side above the sofa?


Large Mirror

A properly place large mirror can instantly add light and visual square footage to any area! I find them particularly helpful when used as an accent above an entryway table or in a dining room.


Decorative Trays

Decorative trays an amazing staging tool for the homeowner who is living in the house while it’s for sale. Used as a marketing “hook,” trays are an effective way to draw a buyer’s eye to features you want to highlight, like a gourmet kitchen island or spacious bathroom countertops. But the best part is that they’re super easy to move! Just pick it up when you need to use the space, and put it back in place when you want the room to look decorated. Read our blog post for tips on how to use trays and then order one for yourself by clicking the button below.

table lamp

Table Lamp

Your lamp style can instantly update or age a space. If you’ve got a couple of itty bitty lamps on your night stands or a 30-year old lamp with a dusty pleated shade hanging out in the living room, consider swapping them with this one. Add the right light bulbs and enjoy your new, updated look!


Geometric Tabletop Sculpture

Styling a bookshelf or accessorizing a coffee table can be oddly challenging. It helps to invest in a few beautiful, inexpensive pieces of decor to add visual interest to your display, like this geometric sculpture.

Need More Help?

We’ve got you covered! Take a look at all the ways we’re helping home sellers around the country! Whether you’re selling a $70,000 condo or a $3 million estate, every home can benefit from being properly staged and prepared!


online home staging consultation 60

Online Home Staging Consultations

We specialize in positive, empowering one-on-one home staging consultations that help homeowners earn more money and a faster sale.

Online Staging Course for Home Sellers

Prefer to DIY? Enroll in our self-paced, online course Easy DIY Home Staging for Home Sellers™!

Read Our Book!

In her newest book, HSR certified home stager Vannessa Rhoades walks you through the process of staging your own home. Available in paperback on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited.

The products on this blog have been independently selected because I like them. Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links, meaning, if you choose to click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you and is paid 100% by the merchant.

Outdoor Home Staging Decor from Amazon

Staging your outdoor space with the right decor can pay off in spades when it’s time to sell! According to the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Staging report, 63% of buyers ranked staging outdoor spaces as “important” or “very important.”

Buyers want an outdoor space that adds “visual” square footage to the home. They want a space with room to relax and entertain friends. The challenge, however, is that most home buyers have trouble visualizing the full potential a backyard, patio, or deck can offer when those spaces are left empty.

When staging this area, keep your decor neutral and tasteful (i.e., no toys, mobiles, flags, banners, wind chimes, garden gnomes, gazing balls, twirly wind things, religious references, beer signs, funky artwork…do you see where I’m going with this?…) Outdoor areas in a for-sale home should have mass appeal, while still feeling relaxing and inviting.

Crest Road |  Del Mar, CA mediterranean-patio

Our Favorite Outdoor Staging Decor Finds on Amazon

To help you get started, we’ve put together some of our favorite home staging decor and accessories that complement almost any outdoor space. Use this list as inspiration when you head out shopping or grab these items on Amazon with just the click of a button!

outdoor staging decor

Nicole Miller Patio Country Danica Area Rug

Adding decorative floor coverings is one of the easiest ways to elevate any entertainment space, including patios, decks, and screened in porches. This outdoor rug is durable and beautiful. Its easy-to-clean polypropylene material is low maintenance and won’t scratch your deck surface.


outdoor staging decor

Patio Porch Furniture Set

Invite potential buyers to sit and relax for a bit on your fresh, clean patio furniture. This set is made from a strong steel frame and waterproof PE rattan wicker. It’s also easy to assemble and guaranteed not to split, crack, fade, rot, or deteriorate.


outdoor staging decor

Hello Coir Fiber Doormat

Keeping your house clean while it’s on the market is the name of the game. This natural coco coir doormat provides the perfect surface for potential buyers to wipe their shoes before entering your home.


outdoor staging decor

Outdoor String Lights

I recommend these with caution — not every backyard or outdoor space can pull off string lights. In some cases, however, they can be the perfect accent, especially if buyers will be viewing your home in the evening hours. These Edison bulb string lights are made of high quality material and waterproof technology, safe, flexible, and practical.


outdoor staging decor

LED Solar Landscape Spotlights

These landscape lights are a great way to highlight your garden, pathway, fences, wall, and other outdoor features. Because they’re solar powered, they’ll charge during the daytime and automatically run from dusk till dawn.


outdoor staging decor

Premium Steel Patio Bistro Set

If you’re moving soon, spending a lot of money to stage a small patio area may not be realistic. But take a look at this budget-friendly bistro set! With a powder coated steel frame structure, this set is rust-resistant and perfect for outdoors. This set is also super easy to set up, fold, and move. No assembly required! Add a pot of beautiful, lush flowers or set out a tray with a pretty vignette, and you’ll have buyers swooning!


outdoor staging decor

Rustic Outdoor Throw Pillow Covers

These pillow covers compliment a variety of home decor styles and add a punchy pop of texture and contrast. They’re easy to clean, too — just throw them in the washing machine if they get dirty!


outdoor staging decor

Kurrajong Farmhouse Medium-Sized Artificial Potted Plants

I love live plants, but when you’re putting a home on the market sometimes it’s simpler and more reliable to use high quality fakes. This beautiful faux potted plant is set in a rustic handmade concrete pot and is the perfect organic touch for your outdoor patio furniture. (I would not recommend using these in an uncovered space since the weather will eventually damage it. But they’re perfect for home staging, decorating for a get-together, and other short term applications!)


outdoor staging decor

Pouf Ottoman Set of 2 with Storage Table

I love these — perfect to use as patio decor, fire pit seating, outdoor chairs, and poolside seating. Made out of durable, rust-proof, all-weather polypropylene resin for exceptional durability (unlike real knit).


outdoor staging decor

Galvanized Metal Serving Tray

Just add some pretty glasses and a few bottles of San Pellegrino sparkling water to remind buyers that your backyard patio is perfect for outdoor entertaining. You can also add your favorite pillar candles or beautiful decorative orbs to create a fun centerpiece for your outdoor coffee table.


How We Can Help

Home staging doesn’t have to be expensive and over-the-top; it does, however, have to show potential buyers that your home could be theirs. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to start, we can help!

online home staging consultation 60

Online Home Staging Consultations

We specialize in positive, empowering one-on-one home staging consultations that help homeowners earn more money and a faster sale.

Online Staging Course for Home Sellers

Prefer to DIY? Enroll in our self-paced, online course Easy DIY Home Staging for Home Sellers™!

Read Our Book!

In her newest book, HSR certified home stager Vannessa Rhoades walks you through the process of staging your own home. Available in paperback on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited.

The products on this blog have been independently selected because I like them. Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links, meaning, if you choose to click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you and is paid 100% by the merchant.

How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors

When it’s time to choose exterior paint colors for your home, you have to be patient and lay a little groundwork. There are a number of factors that can affect the outcome of your color choices. Sometimes the colors you love and what will work on your home are two separate things. Choosing a great exterior paint color palette is a combination of listening to what your home is trying to tell you and, if possible, infusing some of your personal preferences along the way.

1. Assess the Fixed Elements of the Home

Assess the fixed elements of the home, i.e. the features that won’t be changing anytime soon. For most homes, this includes brick or stone accents, the grout, roofing shingles, event walkways or sidewalks around the home. This can be a great starting point for color selection since there are a variety of hues within the building materials.

Focus on the main neutrals and identify which undertones they have (and don’t have). For example, a stone pattern may have flecks of tan or blue-gray that you can find on a paint color strip and work into the color scheme.

choose exterior paint color

2. Look at Your Paint Samples Outside

Look at your color samples outside, next to the house, at varying times of the day. DON’T just buy a bunch of paint based solely on what you saw online or a chip you only looked at inside the store. You can purchase small quantities of sample paint and apply it to wooden planks or posterboard…

OR you could make your life way easier on yourself and order re-usable peel-and-stick paint samples online! Check out SAMPLIZE. These paint swatches are far more affordable, easier to use, and kinder to the environment that traditional cans of paint. Plus, they offer paint samples in lines from Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball, and Home Depot. Here’s why I like them:

  • Your samples generally arrive in just 1-3 days
  • They’re far less expensive than brushes, rollers, pans, and cans of sample paint.
  • No clean-up. No waste.
  • You can re-position and re-use them.

Click below to visit their website and order your samples:

3. Consider Your Exposure

When exposed to natural light, paint tends to look a lot lighter than it does on a little chip, especially on a large surface. Not only that, your exterior paint can look dramatically different from one side of the house to the other depending on the light.

Think about which side of your home faces the road, which side most people will see, and which side is most important to you. For most folks, it’s the front of the house (but not all — some people have elaborate backyards or homes that don’t really face the road). Exposure refers to the orientation of that most important side of your house in relation to the sun.

Generally speaking, if you live in the Northern hemisphere…

  • Southern-exposure: Mid-morning or mid-afternoon is the best time to evaluate your paint colors on the south-facing side of a house. Paint tends to look lighter on southern exposures so make sure your color isn’t too light, making the paint look washed out.
  • Northern-exposure: Paint colors tend to look more true to the sample on north-facing sides. Avoid selecting a color that is too dark.
  • Western-exposure: Colors will look brighter and warmer in the afternoons with an almost golden-orange light. Colors will look rather flat in the morning hours. Select a paint color bright enough to withstand the drabness of mornings yet won’t look washed out in the bright afternoon light.
  • Eastern-exposure: Color will look much brighter in the morning. By afternoon, colors will have a more overall gray cast created from lack of light (similar to a Northern exposure side). Choose colors that won’t look too washed out in the morning, but are not too heavy for the afternoon.

4. Understand How Shadows and Texture Affect Exterior Paint Color

Paint will look a bit darker in places where heavy landscaping or trees block direct sunlight, as well as portions of your home shaded by overhanging architectural features. For homes that have a heavily stippled, stucco finish, expect the color to appear a bit darker than painting the exact same shade on a piece of smooth siding.

Trimmed to Perfection traditional-exterior

5. Understand How Sheen Affects Exterior Paint Color

When it comes to sheen, or finish, there’s a bit of trade off between washability and texture enhancement. In other words, shinier paint is easier to clean, but using it on a really textured surface can be a bit garish. Generally speaking, you want to give more heavily textured areas a lower sheen paint (but not necessarily flat or matte, which is difficult to clean). Save shiner finishes for smoother surfaces. A higher sheen will also feel brighter (more saturated) than a flatter finish (which is what is typically on paint chips).

These recommendations are based on how paint typically acts on these surfaces, but may vary depending on what part of the country you live in (high heat or humidity, for example). When choosing exterior paint colors, check with the experts at your local paint store to find out what sheens work best in your environment.

  • Cement, stone, or brick: Eggshell or low-lustre finish. Anything shinier will likely be too intense with all the texture of masonry, but either of these finishes will be easier to clean/hose down than flat or matte paint.
  • HardiePlank, wood, or vinyl siding: Eggshell or low-lustre finish. If the surface is super smooth you could go with a satin finish, but make sure it’s a good quality paint.
  • Doors, trim, shutters: Satin.

This client wanted to update the color scheme of a gorgeous older home she’d just purchased. The trim got a fresh coat of crisp white paint and Sherwin-Williams Salty Dog applied to the doors and shutters for a more modern, beautiful pop of color!

Most Common Mistakes When Choosing Exterior Paint Color

  • Overlooking the color schemes of surrounding homes. Choosing a color palette that doesn’t go with neighboring homes is just bad news for everyone. Select a palette that harmonizes with nearby houses or sets itself off in a sophisticated, yet understated way.
  • Not taking into account the landscaping. Flowering bushes and gardens and color-changing trees should complement your selection. Homes with an abundance of trees and shrubbery may appear darker from all the shade.
  • Not considering the elements of your particular environment. For example, my clients who live in Texas experience a tremendous amount of heat and sun exposure, which tends to fade bright colors (particularly reds) more quickly. Clients who live in coastal neighborhoods tend to use brighter, more playful palettes for their homes, whereas homeowners in HOA-monitored neighborhoods in the suburbs often have tighter restrictions on the color schemes residents are allowed to use.

We Can Help!

Are you struggling to choose exterior paint colors? Or interior colors? We’d love to help! Three Bears Home Staging offers color consultations! Watch the video to see how it works or click below to get started!

one room paint color report

One Room Paint Color Report | Virtual

Need help choosing the best paint colors for your room? Then this is the (virtual) service for you! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for you. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Click below to learn how it works or to get started!


exterior paint color

Exterior Paint Color Report | Virtual

Ready to give your home exterior a fresh new look, but feeling overwhelmed with the decision? Get a little virtual help from the color experts at Three Bears Home Staging! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for your home’s exterior. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Read below to learn how it works…

Trending Home Decor: Black Accent Wall

Black may be the “new neutral,” but it’s always been a designer go-to for injecting energy and drama into a space. My stepmother, who has a great eye for design, has told me for at least 25 years to always have “a touch of black” in every room. If you’re looking for a simple way to add trendy black into your home, a black accent wall is one of the most versatile ways to do it. It’s a fun way to add a modern, edgy vibe to a space without committing to a specific color.

Petra Vorenkamp Design transitional-bedroom

I Thought Accent Walls Were “Out”?

Truth be told, accent walls don’t work for every room. They can distort the visual balance of a space (making all the “drama” feel disproportionately one-sided).

And since this is a home staging blog, I should point out that, for the most part, accent walls are not a great idea for selling your home, either. This is because they are typically too taste-specific and lack the mass appeal needed to successfully entice to the largest number of potential buyers possible. In other words, there’s a decent chance you could unnecessarily limit your buyer pool.

But if you’re not planning to sell your home and you’ve got just the right spot…go for it!

A Mid-Century Modern Apartment Makeover contemporary-dining-room

How to Make a Black Accent Wall Work

  • Pick the right wall. In general, an accent wall works best to emphasize your room’s existing focal point. So, for example, the wall where your headboard goes in the bedroom or the fireplace wall in the living room are often logical choices for “accent” walls. Avoid adding accent paint to random unimportant architectural features.
  • Choose a spot with ample light. Black paint naturally adds visual weight to the space around it, so balancing it out with plenty of light is a must. Ideally, choose a wall in an open area with natural light from a facing or adjacent window to keep the room from feeling too heavy. 
  • Balance a strong accent wall color, like black, with neutral colors on the other walls.
  • Add decor. Your accent wall will be the focal point of the room so don’t leave it empty. Layer in mirrors, art, gorgeous lighting, and other furnishings to give the eye a resting place.
  • Rich wood tones and warmer brass accents work well with black.
  • Incorporate a little texture. Board and batten trim, shiplap, and even stencils can add a little interest.

Mace River Pend Oreille - 2021 Houzz Winner (Entry) contemporary-entry

Black Paint Colors We Like

Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron 2124-10 is a beautiful blend of black, dark gray, and blue with a bit of a purple undertone.

Iron Ore 7069 by Sherwin-Williams is a soft, deep black. It has a hit of green undertone that keeps it from feeling too stark.

Benjamin Moore’s Gray 2121-10 is a gorgeous soft charcoal. Its slight blue-purple undertone gives it a gentle feel while still adding a distinctive touch.

Not Quite Sure About Black?

There are plenty of other deep, rich colors that can add drama and dimension to your space. Navy blue, rich wine tones, dark teal, and eggplant are all fun options. If your home already has a black or gray palette, you might want to add a little balance by considering a warmer hue, like an earthy cognac or mustard.

Domingo Road Great Room Project transitional-living-room

If you’ve been looking for a way to add a little boldness and drama to your room, a black accent wall may be the way to go! Have you tried a black accent wall in your home? Share your experience with us below!

Need a Little Help?

If you need help choosing the right color, we can help! Take a look at the our virtual color consultation packages below:

one room paint color report

One Room Paint Color Report | Virtual

Need help choosing the best paint colors for your room? Then this is the (virtual) service for you! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for you. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Click below to learn how it works or to get started!


exterior paint color

Exterior Paint Color Report | Virtual

Ready to give your home exterior a fresh new look, but feeling overwhelmed with the decision? Get a little virtual help from the color experts at Three Bears Home Staging! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for your home’s exterior. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Read below to learn how it works…

Home Office Ideas for Small Spaces

I’ve gotten a lot of questions from clients struggling with small home office ideas over the past year. When space is tight, simply finding room to set up your home office (or classroom) can be tough. But it’s not impossible — it just means you have to get creative.

Like many people, I’m not unfamiliar with the challenges of working from home. My husband and I have shared a home office for years. And since last April, all three of my kids (elementary, junior high, and high school) have been attending school virtually thanks to the pandemic. Even as I type this, my dog is steadily jumping into and out of my lap with her toy, trying to entice me to play with her. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of organized chaos going on in my house on any given Monday – Friday over the past ten months.

It’s my experience that this type of “organized chaos” functions best when you’ve made efficient use of your available space. Take a look at these inspiring small home office ideas.

Closet Home Office

A closet turned office, or “cloffice” as it’s more trendily known (not sure I’m on board with that name), is a popular, space-saving solution for many homeowners. By emptying a spare closet of contents that could be stored elsewhere, you’ll open up usable space that has the added benefit of doors for privacy.

Contemporary Home Office contemporary-home-office

Or go hog wild and take the doors off the closet — now you’ve got a “built-in” home office space.

Ojai, California Projects traditional-home-office

If you’ve got a huge walk-in style closet, you might be able to simply re-organize and add a desk, like this homeowner did.

Alair Homes transitional-closet

Hallway Home Office

This homeowner took an awkward hallway and turned it into an efficient small home office space by installing floating shelves, like these — what a great idea!

Oakland Modern midcentury-home-office

Nook Home Office

Do you have a little nook somewhere that’s sitting empty or you’ve never really known what to use it for? Here you go — add some floating shelves. Add a trendy desk and great under cabinet lighting for an instant small home office.

The Elwood - Skye Estates contemporary-home-office

Hey…All I’ve Got Is a Wall

Maybe all you have available is a wall — no nook, no closet, just a wall. No problem! This homeowner mounted a floating desk, like this one. This set-up features a drop-down panel for working that’s easy to close and store when not in use.

The 48th Symphony Designers' Show House traditional-home-office

Do you have a small space you’ve transformed into a home office? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!

Need Some Help Making It “Just Right”?

Have you been struggling to get started on your home office space? Need some design inspiration? We’ve got you covered! Take a look at our E-Design Services.

home office ideas

Three Bears offers more than just home staging. With our e-design services, we can professionally design your room with furniture and decor from well-known brands that you can buy online and have delivered right to your door! Click below to learn how it works and see our pricing.

The products on this blog have been independently selected because I like them. Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links, meaning, if you choose to click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you and is paid 100% by the merchant.

Home Decor Gift Ideas

Looking for holiday gift ideas for someone who loves home decor? It makes sense to get them something that will help them enjoy their home! But why spend hours browsing online for the perfect gift? Or standing around feeling confused inside a crowded store (heaven forbid!)? We’ve got you covered!

Take a look at our specially curated collection of holiday gift ideas for the design lover in your life! These stylish, practical gift ideas are easy to order online and have delivered right to your loved one’s door. (We’ve also included a few Three Bears Home Staging exclusive gift ideas at the very end!)

Shop Locally When Possible!

I love and recommend all the items on this list, but really, nothing beats the quality and care you get from a small business owner. Please try to shop local whenever possible! Once of our favorite local sources of custom gifts is DeLeon’s Custom Creations. They make gorgeous customized gifts for friends and family, and they are offering my readers a 15% discount with the code “Threebears” and FREE shipping on orders of $45 or more with code “FREESHIP” so check them out!

…and now…The 2020 Home Decor Gift Guide!

Winter Solstice Candle

If you want a fresh, clean fragrance in your home, this is the candle to buy. Made from eco-friendly soy wax, it has one of the longest burn times on the market. Another bonus: its simple label won’t clash with your home decor!


Umbra Trigg Hanging Planters Vase

Plant lovers will adore this trendy set of geometric planters. Their small size makes them perfect for succulents and other little blooms.


State Spoon Rest

Celebrate your favorite state with these hand-sculpted state-shaped pottery spoon rests.


Wayfair

Dedrick Shaggy Super Elegent Sherpa Long Fur Throw

We are obsessed with this blanket! It’s soft, warm, chic-looking, and washes well. Functional and stylish — what more do you need?


Elegant Mother of Pearl Monogram Serving Tray

Entertain in style with this customized serving tray! Printed in full color, the serving tray comes in two sizes with a black or natural wood finish.


Soft Blue Hexagons Coffee Mug

These gorgeous geometric print coffee mugs are huge with large handles for easy gripping. Microwave and dishwasher safe, and perfect for a (stylish) all-day coffee!


Trieu Wood Rectangle Contemporary Decorative Bowl in Brown

This hand-carved wooden dough bowl adds the perfect touch of rustic elegance to any kitchen.


Skylight Frame: 10 inch WiFi Digital Picture Frame

Easy set-up: just plug in, connect to Wi-Fi, and enjoy! You can even e-mail photos directly to the frame — how great is that?


Moroccan Trellis Area Rug

There’s a reason why you keep seeing this gorgeous rug all over design blogs right now: it’s sooo versatile! Its subtle design is available in wide variety of colors and sizes (this is just one!), and its powerloomed synthetic material makes it durable enough to hold up to everyday use.


Amazon

Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker, Single Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Brewer

This sleek little appliance fits just about anywhere and would be a perfect way to create a luxurious miniature coffee bar right in your bedroom.


Teal & Gold Agate Texture Coaster

Small, but mighty! Coasters are a bold way to bring creative designs into your space—without committing to a large art piece. Add them to your dining table, brighten up the living room and accessorize your next party.


Luigi Bormioli Crescendo 68 oz. Wine Decanter

A sophisticated decanter for the seasoned drinker. Machine-blown crystal glass decanter has a wide base and open mouthed design to enhance the aeration and enjoyment of fine wine.


Amazon

JE Marble Utensil Holder

Ok, so maybe full kitchen renovation isn’t in the budget, but don’t underestimate the impact of beautiful accessories. This marble utensils crock design has an elegant, European vibe that adds style to any kitchen.


Bambusi Bamboo Bathtub Caddy

Do you have someone on your gift list who loves taking long baths while reading a book or watching a program on their tablet? We love this bath caddy tray! It’s a sturdy and elegant bathroom accessory designed just for long luxurious soaks in the tub!


Game Board Trays

Do you have board game lovers on your gift list? These graphic trays are sold separately and come with their corresponding game pieces packed in a velvet bag. When you’re finished playing, hang them on the wall for winning look you won’t find anywhere else!


Dahlia Studios White Phalaenopsis 23″ H Faux Orchid in Silver Ceramic Pot

A beautiful and realistic looking faux orchid that can never die? Um, yes, please! This gorgeous arrangement looks great in just about any room in the house.


Decorative Crystal Wine and Beverage Bottle Stopper Corks

These pretty wine bottle stopper corks make a perfect hostess gift or housewarming gift — elegant and sophisticated.


Looking for More Home Decor Gift Ideas?

Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging

Our book, Just Right! Easy DIY Home Staging, is the perfect gift for real estate professionals and homeowners who may be preparing to sell their home! Available on Amazon in paperback and free for Kindle Unlimited!


E-Design Services

Ready for a room refresh? A gift certificate for our e-design services can be the perfect treat for someone who needs help creating a space they’ll love. Click below to learn more and contact us here for gift certificates or questions!


Color Consultations

The right color can transform a room! Let us help you reinvent your space with paint. We have extensive training and experience with interior and exterior color consultations. Click below to learn more and contact us here for gift certificates or questions!

Fall Home Decor

Fall home decor is all about warmth, coziness, and the comforts of home. It’s also a great time of the year to show off your house to potential buyers. Showcasing the cozy features of your home, like a fireplace or a fabulous kitchen, can really pay off as the weather turns cool.

When it comes to autumn home selling, resist the temptation to go heavy on fall-themed decor. In fact, don’t leave anything seasonal in your listing photos. It’s basically a time stamp that will let buyers know exactly how long you’ve been on the market. Do you really want Halloween-themed photos advertising your house if it still hasn’t sold by January? No way! Buyers may wonder what’s taking your house so long to sell or assume that you’re getting desperate. Don’t give away your bargaining power for a few pumpkins.

Buyers need to focus on the architectural features of your home — not a bunch of hay bales and scarecrows in the yard or ceramic turkeys on the table.  If you’re really feeling the urge, add a few strategically-placed pumpkins or a bit of fall foliage after the listing photos have been taken.

Our Picks for Fall Home Decor (That Also Works for Home Staging!)

Take a look at our curated list of fall home decor from Amazon! These pieces are both seasonally appropriate and neutral enough to work for home staging.


Cozy up your space for fall by adding a soft rug! This easy-to-clean rug has a neutral color palette that integrates seamlessly into any existing décor.

fall home decor
nuLOOM Moroccan Blythe Area Rug, 8′ x 10′, Grey/Off-white

Texture and pattern can help make your sofa feel a little cozier and more inviting. I love this neutral pillow cover. It’s machine-washable, too!


Sungea Farmhouse Black and White Square Pillow Cover, 18 x 18 Decorative Throw Pillow Case Tribal Geometric Tufted Tassels Woven Cushion Cover Accent Neutral Collection for Sofa Couch Living Room

Warm up your space with these pumpkin-colored pillow covers! The pretty decorative fringe adds a nice touch.


MIULEE Set of 2 Fall Decorative Boho Throw Pillow Covers Cotton Linen Striped Jacquard Pattern Cushion Covers for Sofa Couch Living Room Bedroom 18×18 Inch Orange

Add a little warmth and dimension to your mantel or dining table centerpiece with a touch of gold. These staggered height candle holders are subtle and beautiful.


smtyle Gold Candle Holders Set of 3 Candelabra with Iron-3.5″ Diameter Ideal for Pillar LED Candles

Greenery is a beautiful thing to add to the entryway. It’s a nice transition to the indoors. This wreath is neutral enough to leave up year-round but still a festive nod to the season.


CEWOR Artificial Eucalyptus Wreath 20inch Large Green Leaf Wreath for Festival Celebration Front Door Wall Window Party Decoration

I’m not typically a fan of “word” art, but this one is perfect for home staging: simple, understated, and it sends a nice not-so-subliminal message to potential buyers.


Home Sign – Rustic Farmhouse Decor For The Home Sign – Wall Decorations For Living Room, Modern Farmhouse Wall Decor, Rustic Home Decor, Cute Room Decor With Solid Wood Frame – 8×17 Inch

This gorgeous clean-burning soy candle smells like everything wonderful about fall! Though I don’t recommend leaving anything burning unattended (including during buyer home showings), it’s a great candle for setting a cozy mood while you’re home!


Wax and Oils Soy Wax Aromatherapy Scented Candles, Pumpkin, 8 oz

Need a Little Help?

online home staging consultation 60

Online Home Staging Consultations

We specialize in positive, empowering one-on-one home staging consultations that help homeowners earn more money and a faster sale.

Online Staging Course for Home Sellers

Prefer to DIY? Enroll in our self-paced, online course Easy DIY Home Staging for Home Sellers™!

Read Our Book!

In her newest book, HSR certified home stager Vannessa Rhoades walks you through the process of staging your own home. Available in paperback on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited.

How to Remove Mold from Shower Caulk and Grout in One Easy Step

There is something about the bathroom shower of my current home that makes it particularly susceptible to black mold growth – and rather resistant to any efforts to remove said mold. (I’ve conquered it, though, and I’m going to share the secret with you.) I can’t figure it out. The house is only a few years old, well-ventilated, and regularly and vigorously cleaned by me. Mold should hate my bathroom. And yet, it still tends to accumulate at the bottom of the shower walls.

Black shower mold is gross, and if you’re thinking of selling your home, this is an issue you must address if you have it. Bathrooms in a “for sale” home should be white glove clean and feel like a spa. Can you imagine the kind of feelings a moldy shower and bath will evoke in potential buyers? Yuck – a moldy shower is not going to inspire them to pay top dollar or even make an offer.

What DIDN’T Remove Mold

When we first moved to our current house, I did a little research and experimented with a number of methods touted to remove mold from shower caulk. I’m sure there are even more (successful) techniques than the ones listed below, but here’s what did not work for me:

  • Saturating the affected area with straight ammonia. This may be incredibly effective, but personally, I detest the smell too much to even try. And since I often use bleach when cleaning I figured it was better just to stay away from this one completely since combining bleach and ammonia produces toxic gas.
  • Spraying with vinegar. This method proved completely worthless for my situation, although I believe it has some merit as a mold preventative. I do love vinegar for glass cleaning though! Take a look at this DIY cleaner I use.
  • Making a baking soda paste with water. I found this only minimally effective on tough mold. Baking soda is a great natural cleaner, though, and the gentle abrasiveness was good for cleaning the tile and some mildewy spots.
  • Combining baking soda and vinegar. Let’s talk about this for a minute because I see this combination recommended all the time online. Baking soda and vinegar cancel each other out. This is just basic chemistry, y’all. Combining baking soda and vinegar produces carbon dioxide (which explains the fizzing bubbles–they’re not actually “scrubbing” anything) and salty water (water is a great cleaner, but come on, we need something tougher here).

What DID Work

I knew bleach would work. The problem, however, was that it seemed to just roll off the walls and down the drain. The bleach needed to seep into place and stay where I put it. I had heard some people soak cotton balls in bleach and leave them on the grout or caulk overnight, and that’s when it hit me: I already had a clinging bleach product in my arsenal.

Toilet bowl cleaner! I squeezed this on the moldy spots and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

After a few minutes the cleaner started to ooze and run a little. I used an old toothbrush to work it into the grooves a bit, especially on the vertical surfaces. I also left the exhaust fan on because the fumes from this stuff are pretty powerful and (despite the claim on the bottle) do not smell like a “cool wave.”

When I came back, the mold was gone! No scrubbing needed! I did scoop up a little of the leftover gel on an old toothbrush to quickly scrub a few spots that looked like they had mold-potential because, hey, I was already in there. After a thorough rinse with plenty of water, BOOM – I was all done!

Check out the before and after:

I have since shared this method with a number of clients over the years. Many actually make a point of calling me back with an “Oh-my-God-I wish-I’d-known-this-years-ago!” kind of reaction (which I love!) I’m guessing any brand of clinging gel toilet bowl cleaner will work, but here’s a link to what I used:


Clorox Clinging Bleach Gel Cool Wave Scent Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 24 Oz, Pack of 2

Use Caution

Quick disclaimer: if you decide to try this method, please use common sense. Make sure your space is well-ventilated. Test a spot before pouring bleach everywhere. Never, ever mix bleach and ammonia. Remember that bleach can ruin your clothing so don’t splash this on anything you care about keeping. Maybe also consider wearing some rubber gloves.

Do you have any tips for how to remove mold in the shower? Share them with us! At Three Bears Home Staging we love teaching homeowners how to present their homes in the best possible light for a faster, more profitable sale! If you’re getting your home ready to go on the market, we can help!

online home staging consultation 60

Online Home Staging Consultations

We specialize in positive, empowering one-on-one home staging consultations that help homeowners earn more money and a faster sale.

Online Staging Course for Home Sellers

Prefer to DIY? Enroll in our self-paced, online course Easy DIY Home Staging for Home Sellers™!

Read Our Book!

In her newest book, HSR certified home stager Vannessa Rhoades walks you through the process of staging your own home. Available in paperback on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited.

The products on this blog have been independently selected because I like them. Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links, meaning, if you choose to click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you and is paid 100% by the merchant.

Finding Sanctuary with Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year

Sherwin-Williams announced Urbane Bronze SW 7048 (245-C7), a color rooted in nature, as its 2021 Color of the Year. As the home becomes the ultimate retreat to help us feel safe and grounded, this warm and sophisticated bronze hue invites designers and homeowners to create a sanctuary in the spaces around them.

color of the year 2021

Urbane Bronze is a rich anchor that grounds the mind in calm and stability with its ties to the natural world. The color is part of the Sanctuary palette from Sherwin-Williams 2021 Colormix® Forecast, a collection of 40 trending hues, which focuses on the need for balance in design this upcoming year.

color of the year 2021

Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, describes Urbane Bronze as a comforting color that draws from nature and brings a feeling of relaxation and serenity. In addition, she explains, there’s reassurance in its sentimentality, with nostalgic ties to design in the ‘70s and ‘90s, but with gray undertones that give it a distinctly modern twist.

This new neutral is bold and understated at the same time and can be used as both a primary or accent color in interiors or exteriors. Paired with natural materials such as wood, stone accents or woven textiles, Urbane Bronze conveys a sense of calm in bedrooms, living rooms and home offices.

color of the year 2021

To create balance and a sense of calm in commercial spaces, combine this hue with elements of biophilic design, including large, light-filled spaces and indoor greenery, which continue to play an important role in the design world.

As more people seek to create a retreat from the world in the spaces around them,
Urbane Bronze SW 7048 (245-C7) is an effective and easy way to deliver Zen in our daily lives.

color of the year 2021

What do you think of Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re looking for help selecting the right paint color for your space, check out our Color Consultation service!

one room paint color report

One Room Paint Color Report | Virtual

Need help choosing the best paint colors for your room? Then this is the (virtual) service for you! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for you. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Click below to learn how it works or to get started!


exterior paint color

Exterior Paint Color Report | Virtual

Ready to give your home exterior a fresh new look, but feeling overwhelmed with the decision? Get a little virtual help from the color experts at Three Bears Home Staging! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for your home’s exterior. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Read below to learn how it works…