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Home Staging and Design: Living Room on a Budget

We bought our current home about a year and a half ago.  It was on the market for quite some time and we kept watching the price drop and drop.  Finally we decided to take a look at the property.  The house itself was in great condition and it was actually waterfront property for a reasonable listing price.  It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on with this property upon entering the front door.  Aesthetically the home had nothing going for it.  It was a bachelor pad in every sense of the word.  For me, this was exciting!  We could get a wonderful home on the water for a good price and fix it up the way we want it.  We call it our “Diamond in the Rough”.  By just doing some simple and inexpensive changes, our home is coming along quite nicely.  Eventually, we will be able to do some more extensive remodeling but for now, just painting and using what we have will have to do.

IMG_3185The first room we tackled was the front room just to the left of the front door and foyer.  The seller had the space set up like a billiard.  There was nothing inviting, warm or practical about the space and it did not set a good first impression of the home.

The first order of business was to get the heavy window treatments off the wall and just simply get the room cleaned up.  The molding and woodwork in the home is a beautiful architectural feature, so we simply painted the room to make it really stand out.  We used a nice neutral beige paint, (Behr 7400) above the chair rail and a nice off-white on the chair rail and everything below.  We have used this particular beige color in most of our homes and I love it.  It’s the perfect warm but neutral base color for any room.  When using beige paints, try to stick to one’s with grey undertones so that it doesn’t look too pink or peachy when you put it on the walls.

I ordered a large brown and white striped rug and we simply used the furniture we had to fill in the space.  I can’t stress enough how important furniture placement is.  It’s important that a room is open, airy, comfortable and inviting.

IMG_3342 I wanted to capitalize on the sunshine that spills into the room all afternoon and wanted the room to be as light and cheery as possible.  Using what we brought from our old home, I placed the white armoire and bookshelves on the opposite wall of the room flanked by the windows to create a focal point.   I then chalk painted an old pine coffee table, distressed it and used it with a couple of old rattan chairs I already had on hand.  Some day we will replace the furniture in this room, but for now it’s all about making the most of what we have.  Adding some home decor items, cozy throw pillows and plants helped bring it all together.  We haven’t gotten new window treatments up yet, but I will get something light that will allow for optimal sunshine.  It’s a wonderful sitting room that’s perfect for a cup of coffee and good book or your favorite magazine.

IMG_3177 Remember, don’t be afraid to use what you have if you have a strict budget!  Maybe some paint, updated rug and fresh accessories will do the trick.  We are enjoying our new sitting room and the bright, warm sunshine that pours in each afternoon!  It’s a great quiet place to start the day with coffee or unwind after a long day at work.  Let me know if you have any budget friendly tricks to updating your home in the comments below!


Easy Fall Decorating Ideas


The autumn weather makes me feel rejuvenated and it makes me want to make my home as cozy and inviting as possible. Burlap is one of my favorite fall fabrics, it blends with any decor and is so versatile in what you can do with it. I found a couple tutorials on line on how to do a cute burlap wreath. I’m not very crafty and I have to say it took me a while to put it together, I’m sure much longer than it should have. There are some great tutorials out there and I know it would most likely be easy for most of you crafty folks! The fun part was finding a cute little flower and some fall foliage to hot glue for interest and to match my color scheme. I loved how it turned out and it looked great on my front door.

One of the first places I like to start in my home is to do a quick and simple fall update in the foyer. The foyer is the easiest place for me to start, I really only have a simple foyer table that takes just a few minutes to fix up. I like to bring down my fall decor from storage and just go through it all each year. There are usually items I’m tired of and can put aside to donate. I then put items together by color, trying to just use about three fall tones so that it’s not too cluttered and all the items will compliment one another. I actually do this throughout my home because I like the consistency and easy flow from room to room. In the case of my foyer table, I used decor that worked with the picture and lamps already in place — see easy!! Just some simple fall candle centerpieces worked in with the iron candle holders and metal accessories were all the table needed. I used a green table runner that I can leave in place when I do the Christmas decor, so now I’m already ahead of schedule! Matching fall pieces in with non holiday decor that is already in my home is important so that it doesn’t look as if Fall showed up and threw up everywhere…seriously! I think using subtle tones with strategic placement goes a really long way in decorating.

My dining room was next… I have some super cute plates I picked up years ago at Pottery Barn on clearance that have the perfect fall color palette. A coordinating autumn garland simply placed on the shelf in front of the dishes, pumpkins and a couple chunky weave baskets to bring in additional texture and that’s it! Of course, I love candles and I also found a couple small dried flower arrangements on clearance at Michaels a few years ago so I added them in as well.  Sometimes it takes a while to get it just right but if you stick to just a few coordinating colors and assimilate your seasonal decor in with your homes existing accessories, you can’t go wrong. For me it’s all about the flow.


Fun with Fall Decor

Fall has become easily one of my favorite seasons to decorate my home.  Using cues from the natural elements of this time of year is my number one priority when decorating my home.  The warm colors of autumn are so inviting, it’s a great time to take advantage of the beautiful shades of oranges, golds and browns.  I can hardly pass by a pumpkin patch without stopping to take a leisurely stroll, inspecting the alluring bounty of it’s perfectly plump gourds. “Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by paying attention to what we already have.” – unknown In the spirit of being content and using what nature has blessed us with and what I already have, I put together some simple fall arrangements as well as using the colors of autumn to dictate my accessories in each room.  Here are a couple of examples of what I did…

Look around your yard

Last year my hydrangea was absolutely going crazy into the early part of fall.  I was able to pick some of it’s last beautiful bounty and incorporate it with some other fall finds.  The pumpkins were purchased from a local farmer’s market but I never find myself in need of pine cones.  We have a gigantic loblolly pine that is not my preferred species of tree but it provides us with free pine straw and endless pinecones, I am thankful for that!
Ater collecting my backyard treasures, I dusted off an old wooden bowl I had stored away and placed it all together for a welcoming display in the front room of our home.  I found an old burlap table runner I wasn’t using and cut it down to fit on my coffee table. Last fall I painted an old pine coffee table that we bought when we were first married, many, many, many years ago… I used good ole’ chalk paint and did some quick distressing.  I was very impressed at how much I liked the finished product.  


For my fireplace mantle, I just cut some overgrowth from my Heavenly Bamboo Nandina bush that had started to turn gorgeous dark greens, browns and reds at some of the tips. I flanked the distressed picture frame with the clippings.  I then placed pinecones and a few berries throughout the foliage.  There is no right or wrong way to do it, I just placed the leaves, pinecones and berries to make a festive mantle that took me all the way through Thanksgiving.  And it was FREE!  It’s so fun and easy, just take a little nature walk and collect some of the following things your may find in your yard.
  • Pinecones
  • Berries
  • Pines straw
  • Dried flowers
  • Limbs and twigs
  • Any kind of greenery
  • Produce from your late summer or early fall garden
  • Leaves
  • Nuts
Don’t be afraid to just plop these natural elements in a repurposed jar, with a candle or as a simple centerpiece.  Part of the fun is going through old containers, vases and jars I have stored away to repurpose.  It’s a great way to be creative and an activity to do with little ones that will get you outside on a nature adventure!!!

Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie

The nights are starting to get just a touch cooler around here with fall upon us. It’s not quite cool enough to dig out my cozy sweaters and wrap a scarf around my neck but I am dusting off some of those seasonal recipes I love to make this time of year. Chicken pot pie is one of those dinners that seems to be a hit with everyone’s palette in my family. I love making it, but I do cheat a bit to save on time. For me, using a rotisserie chicken from my local grocery store is the way to go!!! That thing is seasoned perfectly, cooked and ready to be shredded up. My other time saver is using Pillsbury brand prepared dough. Don’t try those generic brands, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to roll that gummy stuff out…just stick with tried and true Pillsbury, it’s the best and easiest to work with. Lastly, I just pour those cute little frozen peas right into the hot mixture, there’s no need to warm them up first, the rest of the warm ingredients do the job for you. This recipe is so creamy and delicious, it’s the quintessential comfort food. Serve with some mashed potatoes and a fresh side salad, your family will love it and you!

Chicken Pot Pie

Pastry for double crust pie (I use pillsbury prepared crust..shhhhh)
1/2 C onion chopped
1/2 C carrot chopped
1/4 C butter
1/3 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
2 C chicken broth
3/4 C milk
1 10 oz package frozen peas
3 C shredded rotisserie chicken
garnish with parsley

Prepare pastry in dish and set aside

In a saucepan saute onions and carrots in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, sage, thyme and pepper. Add the chicken broth and milk all at once. Cook and stir continually until thick and bubbly. Stir in the frozen peas and chicken and heat until bubbly. Pour chicken mixture into a pie pan that has been prepared with the crust. Add the second layer of crust over the top and seal the edges, discard any extra crust. Using a sharp knife, make four slits in the top. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Create, Home Decor, living, real estate

Staging your home using your Five Senses

If you are ready to put your home on the market, here’s a simple checklist you can run through to optimize your homes beautiful features. There are the obvious things like making sure your home is clean and tidy!!! You may want to hire a professional stager or simply ask a friend who has a good eye for furniture placement to help you arrange each room to showcase its size, function and livability. So, now that your home is spotlessly clean and your furnishings are staged to impress there are actually some additional and easy things you can do to really make your home stand out.

SIGHT: So, we have addressed the cleanliness of your home… I can’t stress how important this is! No dirty dishes in the sink, laundry laying around…neat and tidy!! Aside from a clean home, that first impression is tremendous. Make sure your front entrance is welcoming to prospective buyers but don’t overdo it! I love pinterest as much as the next person, but don’t let seasonal decor take over and be distracting to the buyer.
Front door: you may want to see if your front door needs some freshening up. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint and possibly a brass kick plate or new knocker. Sweeping and removing cob webs will go a long way and show your buyers that your home is well cared for, it’s surprising how many people don’t do this easy step. Adding a wreath is always a great way to welcome guests but stay away from a monogramed lettering. It’s important to help buyers feel like they could see themselves living in the home and monogramed anything will not help with that! Symmetry is your friend at the front entrance. Use a couple nice planters on either side of the door with nicely shaped shrubs and maybe add a few flowers in the mix for some color…but DON’T OVER DO IT!

Foyer: Open up your foyer as much as possible by removing too many furnishings or knickknacks. Make it bright, open and airy. This is the first impression of the inside of the home. A simple foyer table with a couple of lamps and a potted plant or candle is sufficient.

Family Photos: So, I know many professionals recommend removing family photos from your home when trying to show it…I agree…sort of. For me, I actually like seeing a few family photos here or there. To me it makes the home feel…well…homey. Again, DON’T over do it, but a sweet family picture here or there never hurt anyone.

LIGHT: For crying out loud…let the sun in! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when I see pictures of a listing on zillow or walk into a home and it is dark and dreary. Pull back your curtains, open up your blinds and let some vitamin D in your home people!!! Of course, you want to make sure your windows are clean and free of spider webs but please don’t be afraid of the light. It will make your home show so much better and feel so much nicer.

SOUND: Ok, so I hope I haven’t scared too many people off at this point. If you are still reading this, thank you! The rest of the senses will be much easier if you have already done the above recommendations. One of the things I enjoy when I go through a model home or attend our area’s homearama, showcasing several new homes, is when they play (very softly) some smooth jazz or some kind of music that makes me want to relax and hang out there for a bit. So why not do it in your home? The key is softly! This will also help if you live in a noisy area or you hear a lot of traffic or possibly if there is construction nearby. Plus, who doesn’t love smooth jazz?

TOUCH: This one is a little tricky because you may not be thrilled about people going through your home touching all your stuff, I get it. BUT, try to include throw pillows on your furnishings with a variety of soft textures and a cozy blanket thrown over a chair or at the end of a bed. Again, it’s all about making people feel like your home is warm and welcoming and they would want to live in it. Additionally, you will want to make sure your surfaces are not dusty, that’s not pleasant to see or touch.

TASTE: The sense of taste is actually a fun one. If you want prospective buyers to linger a bit and really get a feel for the loveliness of your home, provide some tasty treats. A pot of fresh coffee, bottled waters, fresh fruit or cookies will be hard for anyone to pass up.

SMELL: I left smell for the end because I think it is the most important of all of the senses when showing a home. You could have the most beautifully decorated and clean home in town, but if it stinks then…well… you’re just in trouble. Now, if your home is clean and you’ve worked hard to shine it up and make your rooms sparkle, then you are probably ok. But, there are some things that can make even the cleanest of homes smell bad. One of the worst offenders are our little furry friends. We love them, but they stink bad sometimes.

A note on candles: A candle or two placed strategically in your home can be nice if you are having an open house but they can be problematic if using one too strong or if there are children that could burn themselves. Some people may even have an allergy to a specific candle scent. But I say don’t be afraid to use them, just be extremely cautious and use a subtle clean scent, you don’t want it to seem as if you’re using the candle to cover up something bad.

Baked goods: If you are providing a snack at your showing or open house, try baking it right in your kitchen so that the wonderful smells permeate the home. If you don’t like to bake, just buy something at the grocery store that you can simply throw in the oven and viola… you’re house smells like an inviting coffee shop and you have something nice to offer your buyers.

Open up the home: if the weather permits open up some windows and let some fresh air in, nobody wants to hang out in a stuffy room. If you have celling fans, use them to keep air flowing as well.

Upholstery: if it smells like fido, you may need to get it professionally cleaned or invest in some furniture coverings and try to keep pets off the furniture. It may be time to throw away a few of your smaller rugs in bathrooms or laundry room that are not smelling great and are showing too much wear and tear.

A bit obvious but important enough to mention: make sure all toilets are flushed, trash is taken out, dirty laundry picked up and washed or placed in a covered hamper and if you smoke…STOP it’s bad for you…or just do it outside. Pets should be crated and left in a low traffic area while the home is being shown.

Wow! I know this all seems like a lot and honestly it’s not even a comprehensive list BUT it’s some of the most important aspects of showing real estate. Our homes are our biggest asset and it’s important to make them shine! Make your home a memorable and comfortable place where hopefully the buyer will have a great first impression and very positive experience. Happy Selling!