Is it more important to stage or paint?

October 14th, 2010

I recently had a client who had a home that was listed but was not selling. I went to do a consultation and found very little wrong with the house except that it had faux finished (patterned paint technique) walls in different colours EVERYWHERE (along with nail holes from having removed all the family photos). It was so soft and neutral in the entrance/living/dining that I even dismissed it. But as I progressed through the house and found it in different shades in every room I changed my mind and decided I detested it in the entrance/living/dining. This is exactly how a buyer would feel. A little bit of something “not great” is acceptable. Too much of it is a turn off.

At the end of the consultation, the gentleman of the house was a bit upset. He told me that the agent told him I would be able to come in and add some pillows and art and make it look good. He didn’t want to invest in painting the whole house. He said he would only do one or the other. “Should I paint or stage?” he said. 

I explained that although the house wasn’t staged perfectly, painting would give them the biggest bang for their buck. I felt that the faux finish throughout the house was turning people away, not the lack of trendy accents, pillows or art (the home was properly de-personalized and showed correct room functions and  furniture layouts). While working on a budget, although I would have loved the job, I recommended painting was a more important than staging in this situation.

Up next? More contemporary condo’s in Hamilton!


September 13th, 2010

I staged a beautiful model home last week. The target market is for retired/seniors aged 55-75, down sizing from their larger family home. Prior to staging, the on-site agents were getting feedback that the units were too small and potential buyers couldn’t visualize the space to allow a living and dining room.

The agents convinced the owner to stage the unit across the hall which is the same layout (but inverted) as the sales offiice. They had open houses this weekend and here is what the agent had to say.

“Feedback was Fabulous. One woman couldn’t believe that our Sales Office was the same design as the Model that you staged….That’s exactly what we needed. It really shows the space beautifully. One person thought the Master Bedroom in the Sales office was small and was amazed at the size of the room with the bed in it in the Model. People are so visual.”

Do you think the model looks larger than the sales office? It is amazing how placing the correct sized furniture in a space can make it look larger. The sales office has far less furniture in it but it still looks smaller!

Up next…What is more important? Staging or Painting?

Is a kleenex box an accessory?

September 10th, 2010

Most people are surprised that there are several items that I do not consider acceptable for staging.  They wonder why I ask them to put away the dog bed for showings. Or they insist that the Kleenex box is accenting the room because it is the right colour. Here are some more things that I do NOT consider an accessory:

  • Water cooler-unless there is a PERFECT spot for it, it will take up space and look out of place.
  • Pet food dishes-don’t remind the non-pet buyers that there is a dog living in their future house.
  • TV remotes-put away in a drawer for showings.
  • Wii equipment-yes including a perfectly set up rock band set. Unless it is a designated games room, it will take up valuable space.
  • Stereo-unless it is tucked away nicely in a built-in, stereo’s take up valuable space.
  • Kitchen dish towels hanging on the stove or fridge handle-even if they are colour coordinated, it reminds people of work.
  • Dish cloth folded neatly over the sink-who wants to be reminded of washing dishes when they are viewing a home for sale.
  • High chair-takes up valuable space.
  • Tooth brushes, hair brushes, perfume-no one wants to see other people’s personal items.
  • Shower items such as 3 razors, 7 bottles of shampoo, 4 bars of soap-de-clutter your shower.
  • Stacked toilet paper rolls-are NOT decorative accents.

Sometimes I may sound harsh with all my details but eliminating these items can make a huge difference in the overall impression of your home. How you actually live in your home to how you want your buyers to envision themselves living in your home are two very separate realities.

 Up next…I’m staging a Stone Gate Model Home in Ancaster tomorrow!

Vacant Staging Specialist?

August 9th, 2010

People have an EXTREMELY hard time visualizing a space without furniture in it. In fact, only 10% of buyers can visualize furniture placement and the scale of a room. Vacants are cold and lack emotion, colour and style. Even if the story is a good one, say a couple that is getting married, the empty house still tells the potential buyer a sad story. Why?  Because it LOOKS sad when a house is empty or mostly empty!

I have several flippers who use me for every one of their properties. I also have a few builders/developers that stage their models while they sell the rest of the units/homes. And, of course, I have some of those happy and sad stories of homeowners who call me directly to stage their vacant/semi-vacant home.

I am, by far, staging more vacants than lived-in homes. I have staged so many lately that I feel like I have become a VACANT STAGING EXPERT!

I love staging vacants! They are fast, usually easier and always end with a dramatic result. Keep em’ coming!

Up Next?


July 7th, 2010

UCDSS recently completed an exciting and large condo job. We staged six vacant units in a contemporary/urban style renovated condo in downtown Hamilton. With help from the savvy developer, they sold out before we were even done the job.

It was a great experience to work on a job of that size under a short, aggressive deadline. I am proud to have been involved with “Film Works Lofts”.

Up next…I’m becoming a vacant staging specialist!

Room Function is SUPER Important!

June 22nd, 2010


Sometimes room functions need to be determined so the potential buyers don’t have to stand there and guess what the room is suppose to be (guest room? office? exercise room?)

The most important thing is to take the guessing game away and give every bit of usable space a genuine function. I had an agent suggest putting a freezer in a 3′ x 6′ room off of a kitchen. Not a bad idea, but not very original or valuable. We ended up with a small desk, chair and laptop in that little room. Perfect for looking up a recipe or checking email!

It is often those determined, useful spaces that make the house stand out and sell quickly!

Up next…Condo fever!

Dangerous NOT to stage!

May 3rd, 2010

I just staged a sweet, little, old house in Hamilton that sold in 1 1/2 days at 99% of the asking price! I love it when that happens! I am so happy for the home owners (and the agent).

They spent under $1000.00 to showcase and the results were huge! When I went back to de-stage, they showed me pictures of the house they bought since they had sold theirs. They put themselves in a great position to be able to purchase firm by having the peace of mind that they already had their house sold.

I always wonder what would have happened if they didn’t showcase their house? It’s a dangerous thought…

Up next…I’m becoming a vacant staging specialist!

Sometimes I am just a Project Manager!

April 24th, 2010

The last 3 of my design jobs have been clients who are in houses that are too small for their lifestyle and family. The main reason they called me is because they had so many space issues they just didn’t know where to start.

A surprisingly big part of my job as a design consultant is being a project manager. I basically give the client a list, to use as a guide, of what THEY need to do and what I will be doing for them . I find that people like to scratch things off a list and I often get excited emails from them saying “I did this, this and this from your list!!” All of this eventually leads them to the satisfying end result of their new, organized, up-dated space.

 Sometimes I guess I am just a project manager!
Up next… latest staging success!




Yes, I sell blinds and shutters too!

April 20th, 2010

Last week I attended a product knowledge seminar at Hunter Douglas Window Fashions in Brampton.
I have been selling blinds and shutters for over 18 years. It is a fast paced industry and I can’t believe how much I learned even though I sell myself as a blind specialist!
Hunter Douglas is one of my favorite blind suppliers and I always love to learn about their new and innovative products they are introducing for the year!
Up next….sometimes I’m just a project manager!


April 12th, 2010

2010 Readers Choice AwardI am proud to announce that Universal Concepts Design and Staging Solutions was awarded the Hamilton Community News Readers Choice 1st place Diamond Winner for Best Interior Design Business for 2010!!! Thank you for your support!

Up next…Updating my knowledge-window coverings seminar