How to Improve Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Let’s be honest — we don’t live in our front yard so we have a tendency to overlook the many cobwebs, grease stains, and water stains that accumulate there. But never, ever underestimate the importance of curb appeal to a potential buyer. A buyer’s critical eye will not miss a detail, however, especially when they are standing on the front step waiting for the Realtor to open the door.

Curb appeal is literally the first impression and sets the tone for the way the buyer will view the rest of the house. When staging your home for sale, remember the goal for the exterior of the home is the same as the interior:  a clean, open, sunny and well-manicured look. Use these home staging tips to maximize your curb appeal and make the best first impression:

  • Keep the yard green and trimmed.
    • Mow and edge regularly (weekly).  A lush, green, weed-free lawn gives the impression that the home is also well-cared for. An overgrown, dried out yard gives the opposite impression to potential buyers.
    • Trim bushes and hedges (no shagginess).
    • Add fresh bark or mulch to flower beds.
    • Remove or replace dead and dying shrubbery.
  • Declutter the yard.
    • Get kid toys, empty flower pots and garden equipment out of sight.
    • Hide trash cans. Roll up the hose or remove it entirely.
    • Keep the driveway clear of extra cars as much as possible (park down the street).
  • Clean, clean, clean!
    • Power wash the porch, sidewalks, driveway, front door and the siding if necessary (this makes a HUGE difference in many homes, making them look fresher and, thus, newer).
    • Remove mildew and cobwebs from eaves.
    • Clean and shine all windows and light fixtures.
  • Make investments in updates that have high impact.
    • Freshen up the front door and garage door with a new coat of paint.
    • Add two to three flowerpots of matching color to help dramatize your entrances. Don’t overcrowd the entry way, but give it just enough warmth by adding something everyone loves–flowers.
    • Replace any outdated brass light fixtures in the front of the house. Use iron, black, rust or brown.
    • Invest in a new oversized, natural bristle doormat. This is an inexpensive way to give the doorway a larger, cleaner feel.
    • Add a bench, rocker or bistro table and chairs to help buyers imagine themselves relaxing out front.
    • Replace or update the mailbox if necessary.
    • Update or add house address numbers under lighting. This also helps to ensure buyers and Realtors can find the house!

Standing in front of your home with critical “buyers’ eyes” is always difficult for any home seller, but it’s critical in the success of the sale. Don’t take it personally! This is business–try to think of your house as a product that you must market in the best possible way. How do you think your house compares to others in the neighborhood? How about in home decorating magazines? Drive around the neighborhood to assess and compare the competition.

Still need help getting your home market ready? Contact Three Bears Home Staging here to schedule a consultation. We can help get your home market ready!

 

How to Accessorize a Coffee Table, End Table or Nightstand

Not sure which decor to use to accessorize a coffee table? Stuck on how to style an end table or nightstand? The possibilities are endless, and there are no hard and fast rules, but the goal is to always keep basic design principles in mind while using accessories as tools to express the homeowner’s style (redesign) or to freshen up and neutralize the room (staging).   Use these tips to find decor to accessorize any coffee table, end table or nightstand for your home staging or redesign project:

coffee table end table nightstand decor
  • Use groupings in odd numbers (three to five pieces is ideal).
  • Vary the heights of items used (small, medium, and large) to keep the eye moving. A popular staging trick is using a small stack of books to add extra height to an accessory!
  • Incorporate organic elements (plants, branches, sea shells, flowers, wooden bowls) to bring the outside in.
  • Layer your accessories.  It’s okay to let a lamp cover a portion of the artwork or to layer art elements.

Accessorizing for Staging vs. Redesign

For staging, choose neutral decor for the coffee table, end table, or night stand that updates any setting without showcasing a hobby or profiling the owner (while your home is on the market is NOT the time to display your collection of sports memorabilia or unicorn figurines). For redesign, however, it’s all about the homeowner and surrounding them with the things they love (NOW you can bring out that collection); use unique items that add character, such as something purchased from a trip, and group around it.

Need Recommendations?

We’ve compiled a FREE design board and clickable shopping list of some our most frequently recommended products for DIY home staging accessories, from pretty lamps and trays to realistic-looking faux botanicals — all available with one click from Amazon. Use it as inspiration to shop for your own coffee table, end table, or nightstand decor… or you can order directly from the list with just one click!

Do you need a little help accessorizing your home? Three Bears Home Staging can help! Take a look at our home staging and redesign consultation services!

Lunar New Year Feng Shui Staging Tips for Your Home

The Lunar New Year is a time for bidding farewell to things that no longer serve us and welcoming in a new, prosperous year. Similarly, when staging a home for the real estate market, it’s important to remove elements that detract from the beauty and functionality of a space and instead focus on the positive emotional connection created in each room of the home. This is where Feng Shui can be a huge help!

The art of Feng Shui follows this practice. Feng Shui is a “living art form,” designed to move energy (chi) and create balance in the environment. By creating balance in the home, a person responds to the dwelling on a molecular level – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – thus achieving the health, happiness, relationships and prosperity they desire by living in harmony with their environments.

Unfortunately, too many times I have read advice where using Feng Shui in staging contradicts the fundamental staging principle that the room must appeal to the most number of potential buyers. I prefer a more practical, Western approach to the basics of Feng Shui. There are wonderful truths to incorporate into staging work using Feng Shui, while others (like hanging crystals in the entry) just won’t work at all.

**(Please note:  Feng Shui–whether Flying Stars, Ba-Gua, Form School, or intuitive–is an ancient Asian art and science that requires many years of study and practice to become proficient. Thus, please regard these tips simply as guidelines. Feng Shui is FAR too expansive to summarize in a single blog post!)** 

feng shui staging

Interior

If chi, which is the vital energy that flows through all things, can’t get in and move around, chances are the home interior will feel stale and flat. It doesn’t take much to liven up the chi in a home, encouraging it to flow smoothly throughout the space. Simple changes in the selection, color, and arrangement of a seller’s furnishings can help the space come alive!

  • Minimize and remove clutter. Welcome chi with a spacious looking home.
  • Be careful the flow to and from a room is not blocked by furniture.
  • Only pictures in hallways – no furniture. A few exceptions might be if the hallway is extremely large and needs movement – usually not the situation.
  • No shoe racks FILLED with shoes or hat/coat racks FILLED with items by any door.
  • No more than five pots hanging on a pot rack in the kitchen.
  • No knives on the kitchen counter; nothing sharp or pointed anyplace in or around the home.
  • Doors should not squeak or stick, have broken handles, or loose latches.
  • Minimal books and bookcases (judgment call) and leave some shelves clear.
  • Limit accessories to three on tables.

Exterior

The main “mouth of Chi” enters through the front door of the home, circulates through the interior and exits through secondary doors and windows. Since chi follows the same pathways that people use, make sure there is nothing obstructing those passages, thus blocking chi. Some of the things that can block chi from entering into the home (AND are staging no-no’s) include

  • Cracks or uneven paving stones in a cement path leading towards the front door.
  • Overgrown bushes or tree branches hanging in the path (cut them back).
  • Inadequate lighting.
  • Unstable steps, decking, or handrails.
  • Outdoor clutter (garden hoses, toys, bikes, and broken outdoor furniture and pottery).

Following the practice of Feng Shui can contradict some of the staging know-how with which we are so familiar. So walk the fine line and know that buyers’ emotions and mass appeal come first when it comes to staging.

Need a little help make your home flow well for potential buyers? Take a look at the services we offer! Three Bears Home Staging specializes in occupied home staging, both online and in person, helping homeowners get a faster sale and higher profit!

How to Avoid 3 of the Worst Clutter Traps When Selling Your Home

If selling a home is on your to-do list, eliminating clutter may be one of the most important New Year’s resolutions you can make! Here are three of the worst clutter traps I typically see as a home stager, and some tips on how to avoid them.

clutter selling home

Closets

Closets are a fantastic place to store all our extra stuff for day-to-day living, but clutter in the closet can hurt you when selling a home. Buyers touring your house WILL open closet doors, and 90% of them will not be able to envision spacious storage potential if your closets are crammed full of stuff.

  • Go ahead and pack away seasonal clothing, organize hanging items by size or color, and get things off the floor. This is especially important in master bedroom closets.
  • Take the time to go through your pantry as well, wiping down shelves, straightening labels and tossing out anything that won’t be used.

Tabletops and Counters

Tabletops and counters should not be completely stripped (you don’t want it to look too sterile), but keep decor strategic and minimal.

  • Store all kitchen appliances under the cabinets (yes, even the coffee pot!).
  • Dish soap and sponges should go in a plastic bin under the sink.
  • Remove all personal hygiene products and appliances from bathroom counters.
  • Add a simple potted plant and a few books to a nightstand, a bowl of lemons to the kitchen counter, or a dish of pretty soaps near the bath sink for a homey, but uncluttered feel.

Bookcases

Bookcases are notorious clutter traps when selling a home and can be especially tricky. When they’re overflowing or crammed too tightly (as many of them are), they give the impression that there’s a lack of space.

  • Pack up most of your books, leaving some stacked vertically and some horizontally with space between groupings for a more pleasing visual effect. A few knick-knacks are okay, as well, but don’t put an entire collection of tchotchkes on display.

Bottom Line?

Start packing NOW, before you put your home on the market, and don’t spend money moving the items you can trash, donate, or sell! If you need help figuring out where to get started, we can help. Contact Three Bears Home Staging for a consultation.

Resolve to Sell! Quick Tips for Getting Your Home Market Ready in the New Year

With the holidays now behind us, it’s time to plunge into a new year with new goals and expectations. If putting your home on the market is part of the plans you have for the new year, it’s important to remember a few basic tips for preparing your home (even for sellers on a modest budget):

sell home new year
  1. Clean up the exterior! Power wash the siding, decks, porches and driveway, add fresh mulch to beds, mow and edge the lawn, and remove decorative lawn ornaments (Even if you love the garden gnomes and reflecting balls, remember that potential buyers may not. Pack them up before you put your home on the market).
  2. Consider new paint. Most houses need at least some touching up, and many need a complete color overhaul.  Professional home stagers are skilled color consultants and can provide expert advice (even when the seller does not plan to professionally stage).
  3. Begin packing NOW–before the home goes on the market. I cannot over emphasize the importance of de-cluttering if you plan to sell your home in the new year. You may even consider renting a temporary storage unit to hold boxes and extra furniture. Eliminating clutter can make even smallest home feel more spacious and orderly to potential buyers.
  4. Clean. A clean house gives potential buyers the impression that the home has been well cared for. A dirty, cluttered space gives the opposite impression. Most professional home stagers will ask buyers to have the home thoroughly cleaned prior to staging and regularly while the listing is active.

If you’re planning to sell your home in the new year and need help getting started or knowing what to tackle first, contact us for a Walk and Talk Consultation. If you’re outside the Houston area, we offer Online Home Staging Consultations as well!

Trying to Figure Out a Furniture Arrangement That Works?

Furniture arrangement can be incredibly aggravating. Has this happened to you? You decide one weekend to rearrange your living room, so you begin to move every piece of furniture to the places you had planned in your head. Only to discover they don’t fit, or you totally hate the way it looks. Maddening

Or perhaps you’re moving to a new home and can’t begin to fathom where you’ll put your huge book case or how you’ll align the furniture in a room full of windows…

furniture arrangement
furniture arrangement

Instead of going in circles with lots of sketches and heavy lifting, let the experts at Three Bears Home Staging plan out your furniture arrangement first! With our e-design services, we can create 2-D and 3-D room furniture arrangements that allow you to visualize the pieces precisely where you want them. We can also help you find something new for the rooms where your old furniture just doesn’t work anymore.

Take a look at our e-Design Packages, including options for 3D and 2D furniture arrangement renderings or learn more about how the e-Design process work here.

Have more questions? Get in touch with us!

Make Your House Smell Great with Easy DIY Simmer Scents for Autumn

Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to make your house smell great? Bring in the warm, comforting aromas of fall by simmering a few household ingredients you may already have on hand! Autumn inspired simmering potpourri recipes are an easy and inexpensive way to make your house smell seasonally fresh using common household ingredients and WITHOUT the use of harmful chemicals! Because they’re so subtle, they’re especially useful for anyone planning to put their home on the market soon — research shows that potential buyers can find overly complex fragrances too distracting. These natural fragrance recipes are light and clean, a great way to make your house smell welcoming to anyone who visits this fall!

How to Make Autumn Inspired Simmering Potpourri:

Cut up all your ingredients and add to a small sauce pan or pot. Add water until ingredients float. Bring to a gentle boil, then immediately turn the heat down to a low simmer and enjoy! Add more water as needed, typically about every 30 minutes (otherwise, you’ll end up with the smell of scorched food wafting through the house–YUCK).

Try these aromatic combinations (measurements don’t have to be exact so adjust according to your taste):


Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla, with Pure Vanilla Extract, 11 ounces Bottle, 1 Count (Packaging May Vary)

McCormick Cinnamon Sticks, 8 Ounce (Pack of 1)
  • orange peel, 3 cinnamon sticks, a few whole cloves (these organic cloves smell amazing)
  • sprig of fresh rosemary, teaspoon of vanilla, lemon rind (also known as the famous “Williams Sonoma scent”)

It should probably go without saying, but being the conscientious home stager that I am, I’m going to say it anyway:  don’t leaving anything burning on the stove unattended. Another (safer?) alternative is to simmer the entire mixture in a miniature slow cooker, uncovered on the “Low” setting. We like this one:


Crock-Pot 16-Ounce Little Dipper, Chrome

Save your autumn inspired simmering potpourri mixture in a glass jar in the fridge when you’re done (can last several days). Just reheat the next day to re-scent your home.

If you’re selling your home this fall and need more tips on how to freshen up your home,  Three Bears Home Staging can help! Take a look at our in-person and online consultation services or get in touch with us here!

These products 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 Staging Tips for Fall

Autumn is a great time to sell your home! There are fewer homes on the market (i.e., less competition), and the cooler months offer the perfect opportunity to stage your house as a great place to snuggle up and get cozy for the winter. Use our home staging tips for fall to help you get an offer on your house before the new year!

  1. Keep holiday decor to a minimum — or just avoid it altogether. You want buyers to focus on your great front porch and the high ceilings of your entryway–not a pumpkin patch yard full of hay and scarecrows or a plethora of Halloween tchotchkes.  AFTER your MLS photos have been taken, you can add a few pumpkins or a simple vase of fall foliage adds a nice touch of autumn without being overwhelming. **Don’t leave anything seasonal in your photos. This is basically a time stamp that will let buyers know exactly how long you’ve been on the market — do you really want pumpkin pics up if your house is still on the market in December?**
  2. Create curb appeal. Buyers can’t appreciate what they can’t see so rake up the leaves and trim summer overgrowth. Clean out gutters and power wash siding and driveways. Add flowers that thrive in colder weather, like mums and goldenrod, for a gorgeous pop of seasonal color.
  3. Make it cozy. Create a warm, relaxed atmosphere that encourages homebuyers to stick around and see the house. Emphasize your comfy living room with plush throw pillows and luxurious throws. Use a warmer color palette (reds, golds, browns) as accent colors throughout the house.
  4. Brighten up! As winter approaches, the days get shorter and ample lighting is key to emphasizing your home’s best features. Open ALL the blinds and curtains and turn on all the lights before any showings. Add table lamps and accent lighting to help rooms look larger and more inviting.
  5. Feature the fireplace. Accentuate this fabulous cool weather feature by making it a focal point with your furniture arrangement or by adding a beautiful decor or artwork to the mantel. Use fire with extreme caution. You can simply “set the scene” without actually burning logs and NEVER light candles before leaving the house for a showing–that’s an accident waiting to happen.
  6. Capture the fragrance of fall. We don’t typically recommend strong fragrances for home staging (since you don’t want to alienate any buyers who may have an aversion to a particular smell). With the approach of cold weather, though, certain scents are especially good at evoking an emotional connection in buyers. A subtle cinnamon or vanilla in moderation is probably a safe bet (no complex fragrance combinations). Remember that these scents can also be overwhelming in excess. Take a look at our recipes for autumn inspired simmering potpourris, a simple an inexpensive way to add gentle, natural fragrance to your home.

Need a hand staging your home for fall? We can help clients anywhere! Take a look at our online and in-person consultation services or contact us here for more info!

Organizing Your Home for Back-to-School

Organizing your home for back-to-school activities can save your family a lot of aggravation when everyone is trying to rush out the door school, work, and extra-curricular activities. Use these tips to get supplies, get prepared and get organized for the busy school year ahead!

back to school
Display kids’ artwork creatively and inexpensively with clothespins and picture hanging wire.
  • Inventory the wardrobes. Make the effort to pull out the stuff that is worn out, doesn’t fit, isn’t in style or won’t be worn for some other reason. Donate to younger siblings, neighbors, friends or Goodwill. Eliminating the clutter will make figuring out what to wear in the morning a whole lot easier.
  • Streamline the entryway. We all need a place to dump everything when we first walk in. Install heavy duty coat hooks to hang jackets, backpacks and purses. Use baskets for smaller items, like keys and wallets. Kids have after school activities? Keep uniforms and equipment in a separate “activity bag” so they can grab their stuff on the go.
  • Create a dedicated area for homework. Whether it’s a desk in their bedroom, a home office or a desk in the game room, make it age appropriate and keep necessary supplies nearby. Even if their homework space is simply the kitchen table, put together a basket within easy reach filled with pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, a calculator or any other supplies that will keep them seated and focused on finishing their work.
  • Organize your pantry. Keep after school snacks in a designated spot and at eye level so kids don’t tear apart the cabinets trying to find food. Use clear baskets or stacking bins to make pre-packaged snacks easy to see and reach. Keep plastic cups in lower cabinets for younger kids.
  • Display children’s art work in its own space. Personally, I’m not a fan of magnets on the kitchen refrigerator — to me, they make an already busy space feel even more cluttered. But I do enjoy the proud looks on my kids’ faces when I “ooh” and “aah” over their artistic creations. With some picture hanging wire and clothespins, I created a very simple, very inexpensive art gallery in our play room to proudly and beautifully display their creative work!

Do you need help organizing your home for back-to-school madness? Whether you live in the Katy ISD or greater Houston area, Three Bears Home Staging can help! Contact us today to find out how!

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Top 5 Reasons to Professionally Stage Your Home

There are plenty of DIY options when it comes getting your home ready to sell: packing, touching up paint, planting flowers. But there are BIG reasons to bring in a little professional help to stage your home!

Putting your home on the market can be a stressful and overwhelming process, and many sellers are not sure where to start or where to best spend their time, energy and money (e.g., “Is it worth it to repaint this room? Should I go ahead and install granite countertops?”). A certified professional home stager can view your house with the same objectivity as a critical buyer. They are knowledgeable about your local real estate market and the expectations for homes in your price range.

Here are the top five reasons to invest in professional help when staging your home:

reasons to stage
  1. You will make more money! According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of Buyers and Sellers, the average staging investment is between 1 and 3 percent of the home’s asking price, which generates a return of 8 to 10 percent!
  2. Your house will sell faster, which means more money with less headache and stress. A NAR survey found that the longer a home stays on the market, the further below list price it drops.  Homes that sold in the first 4 weeks averaged 1% more than the list price; 4 to 12 weeks averaged 5% less; 13 to 24 weeks averaged 6.4% less; than list price; and 24 weeks averaged more than 10% less than list price.
  3. There is no better return on investment than staging. A 2011 Home Gain Survey of more than 2000 realtors revealed that home staging typically provides a 399% return on investment!
  4. Most home sellers cannot view their house objectively. Remember, buyers will view your personal things in a very impersonal way. If you can’t see objectively, you can’t “package” effectively.  Have a certified staging professional get your home into its most advantageous condition for showing.
  5. Your online photos will stand out among the competition. According to a NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers, more than 90% of buyers search for homes online first before deciding to visit.  Give buyers a reason to drive to your home by having multiple photos of beautifully staged rooms that will stand out among the competition!

Three Bears Home Staging can help you get started! We are professionally accredited and insured, and offer positive, empowering home staging consultations, both in person and online!

online home staging consultation 60

For hardcore DIYers, we also offer a self-paced online course where we teach you professional staging techniques you can implement on your own!

Need more info? Contact us here!