4 Secrets for Picking the Right Paint Color

Paint color sets the tone for your home. The right color brings everything together in harmony. The wrong color can feel overwhelming and chaotic. Avoid an expensive decorating mistake — using these four tricks of the trade are part of the secret to picking the paint color that’s right for you.

1. Compare Your Choice with the Bottom of the Strip

The color is at the base is the most saturated and allows you to see the true undertone (or color bias) much more easily (e.g., “Oh wow, the bottom color is surprisingly reddish…so that beige I liked at the top of the strip might look kind of pink on the wall!”)

2. Understand How Light Will Affect the Feel of the Space

Evaluate how the light in YOUR space will affect the color. In other words, do NOT choose paint based solely on a color you selected at the paint store/online or because it worked in another house or even in another room!

  • Natural daylight will reflect the truest hues. Southern light is warmer and brighter, while Northern light is cooler and dimmer.
  • Incandescent lighting will bring out the warmer, yellower tones in color.
  • Fluorescent bulbs, though energy-efficient, cast a diffuse, shadowless light that gives a blue tinge to the colors in the room. Warm wall colors (yellow, gold, orange, wheat tones) lose their warmth in older-style fluorescent light.

We recommend using LED bulbs around 3500K when possible to see the truest paint color (to learn why, see our blog post on choosing the right light bulb).

3. Consider the Flow Between Other Rooms

Color should bring the space together with a natural flow. This is especially true in open floor plans, which are typically better suited to one main color throughout the home with some well-placed accent colors in a few places.

Hint: One safe and effective way to add some dimension is to select tints or shades from the same color thread.

4. Try a Sample

Once you’ve narrowed it down, purchase a sample from your favorite paint store and paint a few large pieces of poster board. Hang your paint samples on different walls for a few days and note how the light changes and how it plays with your other accessories. *I provide free 8″ x 11″ color samples to my color consultation clients.

You can also check out SAMPLIZE. These peel-and-stick 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 some of the best, including Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore. 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:

Still need a little help picking the right paint color? Three Bears Home Staging offers affordable color consultations! We also have great color palettes that work for home staging! Ready to set something up? Get in touch!

7 Curb Appeal Tips for Fall

There’s more to fall curb appeal than just throwing a few pumpkins in the front yard. Curb appeal is literally the first impression of your home, setting the tone for the way a buyer views the rest of the house (if they view it all)! You can create a positive first impression with home buyers this fall with these strategic seasonal updates and landscaping tips.

  1. Clean up! Remove cobwebs and wasps nests from the front porch, clean light fixtures, power wash the porch and walkways, repaint peeling door frames, add a new plain bristle doormat. Leafless autumn trees will make any flaws on your home’s exterior even more obvious so power wash siding and repaint if necessary.
  2. Revive the front door. Front doors are a focal point of the exterior, and most take a real beating in the summer sun. Adding a fresh coat of paint or sanding and re-staining gives homebuyers’  a much better first impression. While you’re at it, inspect locks and door handles for wear and update if necessary.
  3. Unclog gutters. A healthy, neat exterior lets potential buyers know home maintenance is important to you. Gutters overflowing with debris give the opposite impression. Remove falling leaves and pine needles from downspouts and gutters for a clean look and to prevent water damage.
  4. Improve lighting. Days are growing shorter so light the way for buyers with ground insert solar lights for the walkways and brighter garage sconces.
  5. Maintain the lawn. Even a dormant lawn still needs care! Add fertilizer, rake leaves, and continue to edge and weed.
  6. Add fall color. Plant colorful shrubs or fall friendly flowers, like mums. Fresh mulch in the beds makes a HUGE impact and adds color and interest.
  7. Limit holiday decorations. Do you really want buyers to see MLS photos of your Halloween-themed home when/if it’s still on the market in December? With that in mind, bypass the scarecrows, hay bales, and spooky holiday decor and focus on seasonal appeal instead. Just a few well-placed pumpkins or mums can be a colorful front porch accessory and a subtle nod to autumn.

Need help adding a little curb appeal to your for sale home this fall? Get in touch with the consultation specialists at Three Bears Home Staging, and we’ll help make it just right!

Scents That Sell: What REALLY Works

Smell Scents That Sell

The right scents are important when selling a home. Clients often ask me, “Should I bake cookies for my open house?” The answer is no. Don’t even waste your time. And here’s the reason…

Complex smells–even pleasant ones, like baked goods and potpourri–probably won’t get you top dollar or a quick sale, according to Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, who authored a study on the effects of aromas in the Journal of Retailing.

He and his co-authors studied 402 shoppers in a home-décor store in Switzerland over 18 days in 2010 and discovered that consumers spent 31.8% more, on average, when the store was scented with a simple orange fragrance versus a complex blend of orange, basil and green tea. Even when compared to stores with no scent, buyers still spent more than in the stores with complex fragrances, but less than in the stores with simple scents.

The same principles apply to open houses, Professor Spangenberg says. In both cases, the aromas may affect cognitive functions in the same areas of the brain involved in decision-making, creating a distraction for potential home buyers trying to figure out what the smell is.

As Spangenberg says, buyers “are not there to process the smells. They are there to process whether this is a place they want to live.”

Keep Scents Simple

Bottom line? If you use a fragrance, keep it SIMPLE, like orange, lemon, basil, vanilla, or pine. These scents are easier to identify, less distracting, and more conducive to spending.

It’s important to keep in mind that no fragrance will completely disguise a bad smell. Most of us have had the experience of walking into a home ripe with pet odors or a particular cooking aroma…and it can be hard to distinguish in your own home. Have your realtor take a sniff-tour of your home and ask for a brutally honest opinion. You need to know the truth now, BEFORE your home goes on the market because buyers will most certainly notice. A professional home stager can work with you on ways to identify and remove odor.

Need help? Get in touch with Three Bears Home Staging, and we’ll schedule a walk-through of your home!

Is Home Staging Tax-Deductible?

As the April 15 tax deadline approaches, I wanted to remind you that in many cases, the cost of home staging may be tax-deductible!

Barb Schwarz, ASPM®, IASHP® and The Creator of Home Staging®, provides the following information:

According to CPA/CFE Rob Unger of the accounting firm Judelson, Giordano & Siegel, P.C., “Home sellers can benefit from home staging, as the fees for staging services can be considered as advertising costs, according to IRS guidelines. Since a home stager prepares your house for potential homebuyers, the IRS considers the service as an advertising expense, as long as the home stager has been hired for the sole purpose of selling your home. The costs of staging are subtracted from the proceeds of the sale of the home and decrease the total realized profit. In summary, the IRS’s position is that Staging costs are a legitimate selling expense for both primary and secondary homes and are therefore tax deductible.

However, it is important to note that if a house is staged and then taken off the market, the staging expenses are not tax deductible.”

One note:  ALWAYS check with your own CPA or the IRS concerning all tax write-offs, tax information, and your own specific home staging expenses to verify whether they are tax-deductible. Your own unique situation may be different, and tax laws CHANGE.

Are you selling a home this year? Need a little help figuring out how to get the quickest and most profitable sale? Get in touch with the home staging consultation specialists at Three Bears Home Staging!

Staging a Home That Buyers Will LOVE This Valentine’s Day

Home staging is about creating a love connection between the property and potential buyers. As the home seller, you have a HUGE advantage: a perfectly targeted, captive audience and an opportunity to make multiple good impressions! Most buyers who come to your house are good prospects. They are actively shopping for the product you are selling, and if they’ve made it inside your front door, your house probably already meets their general criteria.

Each room gives you, the seller, the perfect opportunity to make dozens of first impressions. It’s critical that those first impressions are good ones! Most buyers have trouble seeing past overdone, older, mismatched decor, unusual smells, dirty carpets, and strong paint colors. If the property isn’t in move-in ready condition, they will go down the street and purchase a similar house that is.

Before staging, this high-end home was dark, cave-like and uninviting. Buyers won’t linger long in an environment like this.

Conversely, a home that is open, updated, inviting, that looks and smells fresh and cared for subconsciously invites buyers to visualize themselves living in it!

This is why home staging is critical! By removing clutter, depersonalizing, creating warmth and cohesion — in short, staging the home — you have the power to move the buyer from looking at your house to evaluating whether it could be their home.

A little staging went a long way on this property! We lightened, brightened, and re-arranged to create an open, spacious feeling that will leave buyers saying, “Yes! This is it! This is the one!”

Remember — buyers visit a home for logical reasons (it’s in the right neighborhood, it has enough bedrooms and bathrooms, it’s close to work). But they make OFFERS based on EMOTION! A certified professional home stager from Three Bears Home Staging can help you create a space home buyers will love! Get in touch with us today to schedule your Walk and Talk or Online Home Staging Consultation!

Resolve to Sell! More Quick Tips for Getting Your Home Market Ready

Last year’s “Resolve to Sell” post was hands down our most popular blog post on Pinterest, so with that in mind, we thought we’d follow up with some more helpful tips about how to start getting your house ready to go on the market this year!

  1. Declutter. As a home stager, I can say this is without question the number one issue most home sellers face when preparing to sell their homes. Buyers need to focus on the great light, awesome space and beautiful architectural features of your home–not be distracted by your curios and collections! Packing starts BEFORE you list your home. Put away a good percentage of everything in the room in order to create a more clean, open and spacious feel.
  2. Make repairs. Buyers will almost always over-estimate the cost of repairs and may use that to low-ball an offer on your home. Get rid of the buyer’s mental repair list by fixing it yourself! Touch up paint, fix nail pops or tape-and-float cracks, and make sure appliances work properly.
  3. Modernize. Make sure your home reflects trends that are timeless, not fads that are tiresome. Do you have lots of brass hardware that needs to be painted or replaced? Could those wallpapered walls use a facelift? Flip through home decor magazines and see how your home compares.
  4. Clean, clean, clean! The dirty work speaks for itself but is often overlooked because you’ve lived there for so long. Are there cobwebs around the front entryway? Do the windows need to be wiped down? Is there mildew in the bathroom? Are there any cooking or pet smells? Ask your realtor or stager to be brutally honest and listen to their advice–buyers WILL notice!
  5. Improve curb appeal. Curb appeal is literally the first impression and sets the tone for the way the buyer will view the rest of the house. Remember the goal for the exterior of the home is the same as the interior:  a clean, open, sunny and well-manicured look. Read our blog post on how to maximize curb appeal.

If you need help getting started or knowing what to tackle first, get in touch with us to set up an online or in-person consultation! We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead as our business continues to grow, thanks to readers like you. We hope you’ll continue following our home staging adventures in the coming months!

Tips for Organizing and Staging Your Laundry Room

We all have to do laundry. For most of us, it’s not a room we choose to spend a lot of time in. Remember, though, home staging is all about romancing potential buyers–not reminding them of chores or a lack of storage space. Keeping the laundry room clean, bright and organized when selling will maximize its appeal when staging your home for sale!

De-clutter. This is the number one task when it comes to laundry rooms. Often these spaces end up becoming catch-alls for cases of water, boxes of art supplies or a 50-lb bag of dog food, in addition to piles of shoes and dirty clothes. HIDE IT OR GET RID OF IT. If you’re selling your home, you’re eventually going to have to pack up most of that stuff anyway. Clear off counters and shelves, remove hangers — keep only the barest of essentials in this room. Use pretty baskets or boxes to organize what’s left behind.

Clean and brighten. Dust and dryer lint builds up easily in this room. Wipe down appliances and mop floors. Check the walls for scuffs and re-paint if necessary. Also, consider using higher lumens bulbs if the lighting is dim. (Read our post on how to choose the right light bulbs for home staging.)

Check for odor. Who doesn’t love the clean smell of fresh laundry? An easy way to give the laundry room the same fresh clean smell is to use  dryer sheets in between some neatly folded towels (like in the picture).

Conceal dirty laundry. Let’s face it–nobody wants to be touring a home and unexpectedly see piles of dirty underwear. Make sure dirty laundry is completely concealed in the hamper. Have clean laundry that hasn’t been folded yet and no time to put it away before a showing? Toss it back into the dryer and out of sight until you can get to it!

home staging laundry

As a professional home stager, I can tell you the laundry room is by far the number one most neglected space by homeowners when it comes to staging. Buyers WILL open the door to this room, and they WILL make snap judgments about it. A space that feels cluttered with little room to move will not make as favorable an impression as one that is clean and spacious.

Need help getting your space in shape? Three Bears Home Staging can help! We specialize in Walk & Talk Consultations that help sellers get the highest return on investment. For clients outside the Houston area, we offer Online Home Staging Consultations that can help you sell your house faster, for more money. Give us a call at (832)377-0785 or contact us here today to schedule a consultation!

How to Clean Granite Countertops Naturally (and Cheaply!)

Granite countertops are a huge selling point in many homes, so if you’ve got them, make sure they’re extra clean, shiny and streak-free while your house is on the market!

Granite is a natural stone, and to keep it beautiful, you should avoid putting certain cleaners on it. Ammonia, bleach, vinegar, lemon or other citrus should never be used because they have a low pH, and their acidic properties will weaken the seal and etch the stone over time.

Unfortunately, at around $7 per bottle, the cost of commercially made granite cleaner can add up quickly. If, like me, you prefer to save your money and still enjoy all the shiny beauty of clean granite countertops, you can make your own (neutral pH) granite cleaner for pennies!

Recipe for Homemade Granite Cleaner

  • 2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. rubbing alcohol (This is what eliminates the streaks)
  • 3 to 4 drops dish soap (This helps keep the mixture suspended.)
clean granite countertops

To Use

Mix all the ingredients in a 16 oz plastic spray bottle (available at Target, Wal-Mart, and most dollar stores). Shake it up! Wipe all crumbs and spills from counters first. Then spray on granite cleaner and wipe with a soft cloth or paper towel!

Remember, to get top dollar when selling your home, make sure it looks its best–from countertops to windows to floors! Need help? Get in touch with the home staging consultation experts at Three Bears Home Staging here!

Do you have granite countertops in your kitchen? If so, how do you clean them?

“Merchandising” Your Space for Home Buyers

What people actually do and what they dream of doing are often two very different things. For example, not all buyers entertain lots of company… BUT they all ENVISION a lifestyle of entertaining. Interesting, isn’t it?

Home staging is 100% visual merchandising. It is about creating spaces that bring the vision to life — spaces your buyer demographic can dream of or “aspire to.” By staging your home, you help buyers transition from the logical decision to visit your home (because it fits their size/location criteria) to the emotional decision to make an offer (because they can “see” their family living in that home)!

The below chart helps you creatively view the differences between the “vision” staging creates for buyers who walk through your home and the way we typically live!

 Buyer Aspiration Cheat Sheet

Buyers aspire to:Buyers do not aspire to:
• Expensive things like paintings, wood, silver and glass
• New and modern things that signify fresh and clean “updated décor”
• Trends that are timeless
• The good life of travel, entertaining friends, gourmet cooking, wine tasting, espresso drinking and a luxurious, leisurely lifestyle
• Electronically savvy (flat screens, surround sound and laptops)
• Light and spacious surroundings
• Harmonious and updated color combinations
• Cheap things like plastics, particle board or aluminum
• Old and dated items that signify tired and dirty
• Fads that are tiresome
• The boring life of 8 to 5, dreary, plain, vanilla and uninspiring.  (i.e, getting rid of any traces of life or décor)
• Electronically last century (tube TVs, wires galore and big stereo speakers)
• Dark and cluttered spaces
• Clashing, non-rhythmic, half-hearted color choices done on the fly

Hands On Exercise

Grab one of your favorite home magazines or catalogs and flip through the pages.  You will see that every photo is “visually merchandised” to create a longing in the viewer. We want to create that same merchandising vision in every room of your home!

Need help creating that vision? TThree Bears Home Staging specializes in positive, empowering home staging consultations, both online and in person! We teach home sellers across the country how to sell their homes faster and for more money…and we can help you, too! Get in touch with us here!

Summer Home Staging Tips

Set the stage for summer home selling by staging an environment where potential buyers can see themselves relaxing and entertaining in a cool, comfortable space.

  • Turn the patio into an additional “room,” complete with table, chairs, placemats, plates, and cloth napkins. Add a new outdoor rug and cushy pillows to furniture.
  • Set the stage inside for summer living and activities, as well. Add a basket of pool towels and sunscreen in the laundry room. Use sea shells, lightweight fabrics, and woven accents to create a “beachy” feel. Add lots of fresh flowers.
  • Splurge on air-conditioning. Turn on ceiling fans (low setting, though–don’t blast visitors out of the house). Hot, stuffy rooms make potential buyers want to leave. Keep them comfortable so they’ll stick around and check out the rest of the home!
  • Open curtains and blinds before every showing to lighten and brighten your living spaces with summer sunshine.
  • Avoid using the oven before a showing. No need to add extra heat during the summer months.
  • Set out a decorative container filled with ice and bottles of cold water for potential buyers (give your agent a heads-up that you’ll be doing this). Everyone appreciates a cold drink in the heat.
  • Amp up curb appeal to make buyers want to get out of the car and come in. Keep the lawn green and trim. Plant beautiful flowers. Weed beds and add plenty of new mulch. Power-wash sidewalks, driveways, porches and decks.
  • Post high-quality photos of your home in its best staged condition. Many agents work with professional real estate photographers who are experts at capturing indoor and outdoor spaces at their best. Your home stager can work with these professionals to fine tune your online presentation and make your listing “pop.”

Need help staging your home for a summer sale? Three Bears Home Staging specializes in positive, empowering home staging consultations, both online and in person! We teach home sellers across the country how to sell their homes faster and for more money…and we can help you, too! Get in touch with us to get started!