Archive for the ‘Do It Yourself’ Category

How to Make a Bathroom Show Better Without a Renovation

June 19, 2012

Are there inexpensive ways to make a bathroom show better when you are selling your home, without a renovation?

The answer is a resounding YES!

In fact, when someone is selling their apartment or house, I don’t recommend a renovation as the buyers would more likely want to renovate for their own tastes and preferences.

So the objective becomes removing the “ick” factor.  What can we do to spruce up and update this space so that the condition and datedness don’t turn off a buyer?  We want to get past the buyer turn-off and at least get the bathroom to a condition where the buyer can move in and live with the way it looks for a few months before they tackle the renovation.

First of all, bathrooms should be CLEAN.  I always tell my sellers to envision a hotel bathroom:  it should be sparkling clean and free of any personal toiletries, shampoos, children’s bath toys, etc. when showing the home.

The biggest impact in updating a bathroom but at a reasonable cost is changing out outdated and/or poor condition:

  • Lighting fixtures
  • Faucets and, if possible, tub and shower fixtures (a friend of mine spray painted her brass fixtures a brushed silver and they looked great and are still holding up two years later)
  • Cabinet door and drawer handles (this same friend spray painted these, including the hinges on the doors)

You don’t have to shop at high-end specialty stores for these items.  Try a Home Depot or Lowe’s.

 

Bathroom Before Updating

 

 Bathroom After Updating

(tiles regrouted, tub recaulked, walls painted, new accessories added)

The next biggest impact is to paint the walls.  Paint always freshens up any space.  But if the tiles are white, don’t paint the wall white. Choose a color that will add some contrast but is neutral such as pale gray or warm beige. And it there is wallpaper, remove it.

And if you are going to paint the walls, consider removing those large, frameless mirrors that span the length of the vanity.  These are dated, and smaller framed mirrors are more in fashion these days.

And if you’re not painting the walls and don’t want to remove the mirror, it can be updated by placing trim around it to give the appearance of being framed.

Then tackle the tub area.  If the tub is in poor condition, or of a dated color, it can be re-glazed by a professional for $400 to $500, much cheaper than removing and replacing the tub.  Often the grout between the tiles surrounding the tub is mildewed or crumbling.  A re-grouting can do wonders and make this area look like you just had new tile installed.  Also, removing old and moldy caulking at the top of the tub where it meets the tile, as well as where it meets the floor and re-caulking can give a fresh and clean appearance.

The sink, vanity and vanity top are additional areas to consider having a big impact if they are dated.  Depending upon the price point of the home you are selling, at the low end you can replace the entire unit for about $500 by buying one at the big box home improvement stores.

Or if you have an outdated oak vanity, painting it in a darker color with a semi-gloss finish, and affixing new hardware will go miles towards an updated look. 

Bathroom Before Updating

 

 Bathroom After Updating

(outdated wallpaper and brass towel bar removed, walls painted, new accessories added)

You can also just replace the vanity top, some of which come with a sink, for a few hundred dollars.

No need to replace the toilet usually, however replacing a well-worn toilet seat is a must!

In some cases where towel bars and toilet paper holders are affixed to drywall, rather than to the tile, these can be changed out as well.

Then of course there are the finishing touches:  new shower curtain and hooks, bath rug, and fluffy bath towels; artwork; matching accessories such as soap dishes and wastebasket; bath oils and soaps placed strategically in a tray or basket with rolled up towels and a loofah or back brush; and a potted fake orchid.  You want buyers to feel like they’ve walked into the closest thing to a spa and imagine themselves enjoying that space.

And before the open house or other showings, make sure:

  • Toiletries, shampoos, used bars of soap are stored away
  • Wastebasket is emptied
  • Toilet seat lid is down
  • Fluffy new towels are out and used towels are in the laundry

© Copyright 2012 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

Paint Color and Lighting: Tips and Information

March 27, 2011

Recently I attended a Color and Lighting seminar for the trade at the Benjamin Moore showroom here in New York City.   As a home stager and interior redesigner, I often recommend paint colors to homeowners looking to “stage to sell” or “stage to dwell”. 

The two speakers were a Color Engineer and the Associate Manager of Color Design. 

Here are some interesting tips I learned from their presentations: 

  • When choosing a color, paint a small swatch against a gray surface.
  • Look at a color vertically against the wall, not horizontally in your hand.
  • Two colors that may appear to match in one light source may not match under another light source. This is known as metamerism.
  • Look for a Light Reflective Value (LRV) of 50% or more in paint to be used for residential interiors.  LRV is the amount of light reflected from a painted surface (0% is the blackest black and 100% is the whitest white).  The LRV for Benjamin Moore paint colors is listed in the index at the back of the Benjamin Moore “fan decks” (available through your paint store or design professional).
  • When choosing a light bulb, try to get a Color Ranking Index (CRI) of 80% to 85% in order to show true and saturated colors.
  • Incandescent light bulbs have a CRI of 100% but unfortunately will be phased out of production by 2014.
  • Halogen light bulbs have the next highest CRI but they too will probably go the way of incandescent bulbs.
  • Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs have a lower quality of CRI – 75%.
  • LEDs are the newest form of lighting but have a very low CRI.  However, they are great for outdoor lighting.

To set up an appointment for a Paint Color Consultation, contact me at donna@designedtoappeal.com.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

Bookmark and Share

About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

 
  Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List iconSubscribe to Monthly Newsletter  
 

Tips for Living in a Staged Home

February 12, 2011

So you’ve had a professional home stager come to your home that’s for sale and you’ve implemented everything that he or she recommended to get your home sold fast and for top dollar.

You’ve removed your family photos so that buyers can imagine themselves living there rather than feeling they are encroaching on your private space.

You’ve decluttered and have discarded, donated, given away or stored off-season clothing, extra furniture, toys, files, papers, books, magazines and other items so that buyers will feel like there’s adequate storage in your home.

You’ve organized your kitchen cabinets and closets so that buyers will get the impression that you are a homeowner who really takes care of the home.

But now what?  You’re thinking “We live here.  How can our home possibly continue to look like it’s show-ready all the time?”

Well, relax, it doesn’t have to look show-ready ALL the time, but there are some things you can easily implement so that you can become show-ready at the last minute.

  • Now that you’ve pared down to what is necessary for living in your home for the next few months, this is not the time to be buying more toys and kitchen and electronic gadgets, etc.

  • Don’t shove everything you don’t want to be visible into kitchen cabinets and closets at the last minute.  Buyers will open every drawer and door unless it’s a piece of furniture.  Remember, we want buyers to think that there is adequate storage and you are an organized homeowner.
  • Purchase a basket or box with a lid that you can put keys, today’s mail, bills, calendars, unread newspapers, etc. into and keep it in an out-of-the way place such as a shelf in a closet, or in an appropriate place, like on a desk.  Besides eliminating a cluttered appearance, doing this will also protect your privacy.

  • Buyers don’t want to see your toiletries or hairdryer on the sink vanity in the bathroom.  If you don’t have a closed cabinet under the sink in which to store these, purchase baskets to store these items.

  • Buyers also don’t want to see your half-used bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and soap bars in the shower or bathtub.  Think “hotel”.  Would you want to check into a hotel room and find that? Purchase one or two of those plastic or metal shower totes with a handle so that you can easily put all of these items into it and store away under the sink or in a linen closet.
  • Your home stager most likely recommended that nice, new and fluffy towels be displayed during showings (remember, think “hotel”). So, you have two options:

                      – Keep the “nice” towels, neatly folded, on the towel bars, and hang your towels on a hook or hooks on the back of the door. Remove the latter and put in the washing machine or laundry bin prior to a showing.

                     – Fold the “nice” towels neatly and then roll them up.  Store them in a linen closet or under the sink.  Then prior to the showing, remove your daily towels from the towels bars; then unroll and hang up the display towels.

  • Since children only play with probably 20% of their toys, and you’ve pared them down (the toys not the children) at the suggestion of your home stager, make sure you have storage bins or chests in which to put these items.  They make for a much neater appearance.

  • Whether you’re selling your home yourself, or have enlisted a real estate agent, pets and all evidence of pets, need to be removed before a showing. Not every buyer is a pet lover, and some are allergic to pets, so for these and other reasons, take the pet and food bowls, leashes, beds, litter box, toys, cages, etc with you if possible or bring to a neighbor’s, friend’s or family members’ home while yours is being shown. 
  • If you make the beds and fluff up the pillows every day, you don’t have to scramble at the last minute in case you get a call that someone wants to see your house.
  • If you and your family get in the habit of putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher immediately after using them, this makes for a much quicker last minute clean up of the kitchen.
  • Another suggestion is to take a laundry basket and walk through the home and put everything in there that you don’t have room to store away.  This works best for a home in the suburbs rather than for a city apartment. The laundry basket can be stored in the basement or garage.

There are many other things that should be done prior to showing your home.  Keep an open house checklist handy so that you know exactly what to do.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

Bookmark and Share

About the AuthorDonna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons.  Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has.  Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

 
  Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List iconSubscribe to Monthly Newsletter  
 

DIY Home Staging Returns 299% of Your Investment

January 18, 2011

Low cost, do-it-yourself home improvements produce a significant return on investment when a home is sold.

HomeGain just released the findings of their survey of 600 real estate agents nationwide to determine the top 10 low-cost (less than $5,000), do-it-yourself  home improvements for people getting their home ready to sell.

Based upon return on investment (ROI), Home Staging ranked 3rd as the most profitable improvement that can be made to a home, yielding a 299% ROI.  An average investment in home staging of $550 produced a $2,194 price increase.

Home staging as defined by the survey includes adding fresh flowers; removing personal items; reducing clutter; rearranging furniture; adding new props or furniture to enhance room/s; playing soft music; and hanging artwork on walls.  A home staging checklist compiled by HomeGain offers more tips for making the home attractive to buyers so that they can envision themselves living there.

Cleaning and Decluttering ranked number 1, with a 586% ROI.  Almost every real estate agent (99%) recommended this in the survey.

Cleaning and decluttering was followed by Lightening and Brightening which produced a 313% ROI.  Lightening and Brightening include opening windows; cleaning windows and skylights inside and outside; replacing old curtains or removing curtains; removing other obstacles from windows blocking light; repairing lighting fixtures; and making sure windows open easily. 97% of real estate agents recommend this step.

80% of agents surveyed recommended home staging to their clients.  Here are what a few had to say:

“We believe staging is so critical. We own our own staging company and provide a $3,000 staging for free as a part of our listing package.” – Carl Medford, California Prudential Realty, Castro Valley, California

“Staging, I think, is the most important item when selling a home. I usually give my clients a free consultation, so no need to hire anyone. But if they hire someone, I think it’s the best money they will ever spend. You need a neutral party who knows what homebuyers focus on when looking at homes.” – Harry Martin, RE/MAX United, Escondido, California

“Homes that are “Priced to Sell” and “Staged” to look better than all other competitive listings are the homes that are selling in this challenging housing market.” – David Jaffe, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Arlington Heights, Illinois

“I always tell clients to stage. It’s more effective than price reductions and usually costs less in the long run.” – Edward Sullivan, Massachusetts

Here are the full results of the survey:

For more information on this survey, as well as for definitions and homeowner checklists for each improvement, click here.

© Copyright 2011 Designed to Appeal, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Bookmark and Share

About the Author: Donna Dazzo is president and owner of Designed to Appeal, a home staging company serving New York City and the Hamptons. Designed to Appeal helps homeowners and real estate agents sell homes quickly and profitably, by expertly creating an environment that buyers want to live in. Designed to Appeal also helps homeowners not looking to sell with interior redesign, which involves using mostly what the homeowner already has. Donna writes frequently on home staging and interior decorating and design topics.

Follow DonnaDazzo on Twitter

 
  Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List iconSubscribe to Monthly Newsletter  
 

Home Staging New York: DIY Homeowner Gets Quick Sale

July 23, 2010

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on hiring a home stager.  If you are willing to do the work a home stager recommends yourself, then a few hundred dollars investment in a home staging consultation can result in thousands of dollars of return in selling your home and/or thousands of dollars in savings on mortgage, maintenance and taxes as the home could sell sooner than if it had not been improved prior to putting it on the market.

Recently, we received a call from Nancy E. Love, Associate Broker and team member of the Elaine Clayman Group at Brown Harris Stevens to do a home staging consultation at a studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  

She convinced the homeowner to stage his apartment before putting it on the market by giving him this choice:  

“You can stage the apartment and get a higher price or leave it as is and I can aggressively market it at a lower price.  However, when you saw the model apartment in the building in which you bought your new apartment, you fell in love.  That’s what we want buyers to do with your apartment.”

So, Designed to Appeal came in and spent two hours at an investment of only $300 and left the homeowner, Jack LaFata, with a list of things to do and to purchase.  Some homeowners ask us to do all or some of the work, but Jack wanted to do all of it himself.  

So he had the apartment painted, decluttered and put things in storage and went shopping for new bedding, throw pillows, a rug and other items.  He spent about $1,950 on this and $80 per month in storage, so his total investment in staging, including the consultation, was only 0.7% of the list price.  

And it paid off.  The results were dramatic as you will see in the pictures below and he should be proud of himself.  

Jack received a full price offer during the first week at a private showing, but this ended up not going to contact.  He then received an executed contract less than 40 days from the time the apartment went on the market, at 95% of asking price.   

Here is what the homeowner had to say about the home staging consultation:

“Donna’s insight and assistance were invaluable in getting my apartment ready to sell. The apartment feels light and airier now, more comfortable, better flow, more coordinated, inviting, and much less cluttered (I don’t even remember what I used all that clutter for to begin with) I wish I’d have thought of staging the apartment earlier for my own enjoyment.”
 
And here is what the real estate agent had to say about the results:
 
“We have an accepted offer at close to the asking price.  Thank you for your expert staging!  We wouldn’t be here without your professional help.  Much gratitude and praise (from a long time skeptic of professional staging).”
 
 

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved

For more information: www.donnadazzo.wordpress.com


Bookmark and Share