Roadside Gems

Being thrifty allows us to reuse, repurpose, and recycle.  For me, it’s not only environmentally responsible, it’s rewarding and very relaxing.  I consider myself a pretty thrifty person.  A gift from my Mom. She can take trash and envision an exquisite treasure.  She can see the finished product before it’s started, has a terrific eye for color and always has a collection of shabby finds ready for a makeover.

My favorite finds come from the Salvation Army, Goodwill, estate auctions and of course, on the side of the road.  Some of my finds are priceless, especially in light of re-emerging retro styles.  Several of my favorite staging pieces come from piles of what most would consider non salvageable.

If you’re not thrifty but would like to be, great inspiration can be found at one of my favorite blogs:

Better After – the best of your before and afters.


Fresh Flowers

Source:  The New York Times – April 25, 2012

Q. Is it worth spending money on flower arrangements for an open house?

Flower arrangements for open house.

A. “If you spend $200 on flowers, in the grand scheme of things, compared to the amount of money that you’re selling your apartment for, it’s totally worth it,” said Lisa Lippman, a senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens in Manhattan. “Flowers just make a place look lived in, in a good way. It makes it seem like somebody cares about the home.”

Flowers can also help ensure that buyers’ olfactory senses aren’t offended.

“They give a fresh smell,” Ms. Lippman said. “It can potentially cover up an animal smell, stale smell, mothballs or whatever.”

Sandra de Ovando, owner of the New York floral design company Ovando, said she often creates arrangements specifically for open houses.

“Flowers can make an apartment more appealing because they bring a space to life,” she said. “People can relate to how they would feel in the home, because it’s warm and intimate.”

Just don’t go overboard.

“All the flowers for an open house should be simple; I’d do bunches of flowers,” Ms. de Ovando said, adding that she often prefers using only white flowers. “I wouldn’t really do anything too complicated, with designed pieces.”

The flowers should enhance the surroundings, she suggested, not steal the show.

Ms. de Ovando suggested putting one bunch of flowers in the foyer and another on a coffee table in the living room, at the very least.

“If there’s the budget for another, I would also do something in the kitchen,” she said.

To get the most for your money, she recommended using seasonal flowers whenever possible. In the spring, that might mean hyacinths and peonies.

“For summer,” she said, “I love gladiolas, because once they open you get so many flowers, and it’s such a big impact.” In the fall, she likes large mums, and in the winter, amaryllis.

If you want something fragrant, she recommended lilies or hyacinths. But for open houses held over consecutive weekends, she suggested orchids, because “they’re a little more long-lasting.”

As for how much you should spend, Ms. de Ovando advised that the cost of the flowers should reflect your home’s asking price. That means your budget could range from $200 to $1,000, she said, depending on whether you’re trying to sell an entry-level apartment or a more luxurious home.

And if you’re just doing a simple arrangement, Ms. Lippman pointed out, it’s possible to do it yourself.

“It depends a little bit on how good you are at arranging flowers,” she said. “But you can go get daffodils or tulips and put them in a couple of vases.”

The payoff for the extra bit of effort is clear.

“If you see an apartment that looks really neat and put together, with flowers on a couple of tables, it’s just much more inviting,” she said. “Even in an apartment that needs work, it makes a difference.” TIM McKEOUGH

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The Notebook

Every time I watch The Notebook I can’t get enough of the scenery.  Here is a treat for fellow Notebook lovers c/o Hooked on Houses and some interesting movie mistake Bloopers as well.

Hooked on Houses

The Notebook - Noah's House


Back to the Spreadsheet

Youngstown/Lewiston, NY

A great riverfront house in Youngstown. Note to self - keep appropriate footwear in vehicle at all times.

Spring Home Staging in Western New York is in full swing.  Several open projects have me resorting back to my spreadsheet system.  A problem I welcome.

This week was all over the board.  It was primarily consumed with designing and packing for a vacant. The painting is complete, the color palette is hot and the design is coming together nicely.

Interestingly, I’ve seen an explosion in the number of requests for exterior color consultations.  The “artsy” neighborhoods in Buffalo are a favorite.  The older homes have quite a bit of gingerbread and architectural detail.  They allow for a little more creativity with making funky color choices.

By now, we all know staging a property is such a smart investment!  It works and it does send the message of a well cared-for home. That series of first impressions highlighting your home‘s features, allows the buyer to feel at home, not in your home.  The before and after photos tell the story.  Eventually, I’ll spend a day editing and uploading pictures.  Until then, the Staging itself is the priority!

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Uppercase Living & The Home Staging Source


Uppercase Living The Home Staging Source

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve become an Uppercase Living demonstrator.  The thing is, I’m constantly telling clients they should remove their Uppercase Living sentiments and paint.  Staging your home to sell is depersonalizing so your home appeals to the broadest amount of potential buyers.  Uppercase Living is clearly personalizing.  I now can immediately offer the sentiment replacement for your new home…… or perhaps add to your collection during Redesign projects.

Case in point:  I am working on six open projects right now.  Two of the owners are Uppercase Living fans. One is devastated that the wall should be painted to sell the house as it symbolizes great personal feelings and memories.  A replacement for the new home can be ordered while the old is being removed. As I help clients move in and personalize the new space(s), several new sentiments can be added to reflect a new beginning.  An Uppercase Living customer is a true & loyal fan.  Adding UL to my Home Staging & Redesign business is a natural fit and a perfect way to make a new home a reflection of your unique personality.

Whether you identify with a deeply motivational thought, a beautiful embellishment, a bold image, or a combination of these, Uppercase Living® expressions let you be who you are and let you express that uniqueness in your surroundings.  Orders can be placed directly on my UL website from anywhere in the country.

Redesign a room, add passion and thought-provoking reminders to your current surroundings, or make your new home a reflection of your personality with one of the hottest trends in home decor………. Uppercase Living®


Getting Ready for Market: To Pay or Not to Pay for Staging

Wednesday, March 28, 2012, by Curbed Staff

Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to Up now, does it make sense to pay for staging?

curbedU_3_2012.jpgA picture is worth a thousand words, and since most people start their apartment search online nowadays, it better be a damn good picture. There are many companies in NYC that“stage” apartments for sellers and real estate brokers, meaning that they bring in furniture and accessories to make an apartment feel more like a home, and therefore appeal to a wider range of buyers. It also helps focus on the best features of the apartment byneutralizing a palette and using furniture and accessories that give each room a purpose and work with the room’s dimensions.

“An overwhelming majority of buyers cannot visualize  how the home will work for their furniture and needs when they first walk into a property,” says Kathryn Swift of Swift Solutions Home. This can apply to different sized couches, tables, and most importantly, knowing if you’ll be sweetly dreaming in a queen or king sized bed, which can be hard to see without that representation already there.

So why stage? “Homes that are staged sell more quickly and for more money than empty properties,” says Swift, “And many agents agree that the investment for staging is less than the cost of the first price reduction.” Though you might consider yourself an amateur designer, it might be difficult to separate yourself from your home. “When it’s your home, you place things where they make sense for you. When you’re selling your home, furniture may need to be rearranged or replaced to allow buyers to walk through easily and to get a sense of flow and space,” says Swift.

Any cons? It’s definitely an extra cost which grows depending on the size of your apartment. Also, if you’re staging, it means you have to live with this neutralized home while your place is on the market. If you have another place to crash, it usually makes it easier on everyone. Knowing the basics of how staging works will hopefully give you a better perspective on whether it’s right for you when selling your home.  Curbed University

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Spring Valley Landscaping

Take Advantage of the Early Spring & Update Your Staged Curb Appeal With SPRING VALLEY LANDSCAPING

The aesthetic charm of a house when first seen from the road aka curb appeal is such an important factor in the staging of your house.  Replace your web pictures of a snowy lawn with clean and current snapshots of Spring.  This year, we have such such an early start on cleaning out beds, raking the lawn, pressure-washing, and planning the planting of insanely gorgeous garden vignettes! I can’t stress enough the importance of purging spent shrubs (see portfolio).  If you’re home is vacant it is especially important to maintain a mowed, clean and well cared for exterior look.

In the Southtowns we are fortunate to have one of the best in the business for curb appeal help just a phone call or email away. Spring Valley Landscaping, located in East Concord, has been providing Western New York with quality landscaping since 1997.  From consultation to execution and maintenance, you’ll receive professional support for all phases of your project.

Their service area is focused on:  Springville, East Concord, Colden, Boston, Eden, Hamburg, East Aurora, Orchard Park, and the surrounding areas. They cater to both residential and commercial clients. Spring Valley Landscaping will help you create the beautiful yard you have always desired.  One that will make people want to see more!

Do your vacant listing or your occupied home a favor.  Call and schedule your consultation, 716-560-8079; or send an email to  

Since we don’t want buyers to do a drive-by and keep driving….. put curb appeal at the top of your Spring to-do list.

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NY Times – Rental as Alternative to Foreclosure

Deal B%k – Bank of America Tests Rental Program as Alternative to Foreclosure

by Nelson D. Schwartz

Bank of America said Thursday that it would offer a small number of customers facing foreclosure the option to remain in their homes and rent the property instead. The program highlights how investors are increasingly interested in becoming landlords on troubled properties.


The Lake House


The Home Staging Source - The Lake House


Yesterday, I began a new project.  I’ve staged many, many homes in Western New York.  I’ve really liked many of them.  This house is not the biggest house I’ve staged by far.  It’s not the most expensive but I am completely and utterly smitten with everything about this house.  It is the picture of serenity …… with a private beach, stunning view, an ideal layout, quality craftsmanship throughout, and move in ready to boot.

How I would love to combine my dark brown/black soil that I grow my fields of flowers in, with the sweet sound of the rolling ocean-like waves.  I will post the pictures of the staging transformation.  When this property is listed, I doubt it will last long.  Stay tuned.