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The Bathroom

We begin our day and end our day in the same spot… the bathroom.

Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, the feeling that you get from your bathroom space can set the stage for your entire day.

So why not make it stunning?

This is commonly an overlooked area, especially when it is not completely gorgeous at first glance.  However with a few strategically place items and a little bit of time, you will have a space in which to enjoy your morning coffee or watch your kids brush their teeth; in preparation for your most important day…TODAY!

Staged Bathroom 2Insider tips:

*At IHD we use simple grommet draperies for our shower curtains. Which bring drama and elegance to enhance the grandeur!

*Just by adding plush white towels and inexpensive pretty hand soaps you can dress up your space.

*Clutter is the enemy and anything that is ‘not sexy’ or pretty should be tucked away.  Simple wicker baskets with lids are our best solution for this dilemma.

*Introduce your senses to a small flower or succulent from your front porch in a tiny bud vase.  Or… snip a small branch from your shrub, this will create a lively space where you feel awakened.


Today is ‘special’…prepare for your day in the best possible space.

bathroom 1

Keeping the corners in check…and NO MORE FAKING IT!

While we all know the importance of finding ‘just the right spot’ for the plants in our decorating vision. We are certainly unaware of the possible impacts we are having on the complete scene we are creating as stagers. Plants can set the mood…

As important as making sure the flow of traffic around the rooms makes the most sense and encourages the potential buyer to fall in love with the focal point of the room, whether it be the magnificent fireplace or the panoramic view of the ocean.  It is equally important to keep your 4 corners free of the clutter, including the large fake plants we are inclined to put there by default.

If you are looking to stage a home for long-term, then I guess I can understand the reasons you may have to use ‘FAKE’ plants…however, that is not our goal in staging.  We are looking to warm up a space and encourage a quick sale!  So, use less ‘FAKE’ flowers IMG_3023and plants, unless they are undetectable as fake!

Fresh succulents are your best bet as well as the large greenery from our local California trees are the perfect alternative to fake plants.  These plants last long enough for photographers to capture the beauty you have created for MLS purposes, as well as provide a fabulous backdrop for your realtors during the open house.

A quick trip to your local Home Depot or Armstrong will be just the touch, to warm up a space and bring the green wow factor you may need to enhance your beautiful property.

So…please leave the fake leaves to the ‘yard sales’ and look towards a quick ‘home sale’ with live plants!

Amaya 3 (2)

Block It Out, With Color!

4585-4th-street-053_webA space can be defined in so many ways — by its use, its size, its function. But color can define a space as well, and right now big, bold colors are in! Rich, saturated colors can be used to create excitement, enhance architecture, and define the boundaries of a room with color blocking.

But what is “color blocking?” Simply stated, it’s blocking off big areas with a single swath of bright color. Then doing the same thing in a different color to another part of the space. If you were color blocking in fashion, you might wear a fuschia blouse, royal blue pants, and a neon green blazer for a bold and eye-catching look. Each color defines the body and edges of the garment.

In home staging, the same idea applies. Bright orange walls with an emerald green area rug? Yes! You see both immediately and understand their functions. Royal purple draperies with lemon yellow sofas? What better way to frame a window or offer a seat?

Of course, not every space needs a neon yellow sofa or Home Depot orange walls, but, to achieve the same effect ,you can liven up a space with pillows and throw blankets in bright solids.

So, don’t be shy . . . color block it!

San Diego Real Estate Sells in 24 Hours

san-diego-real-estate-stagingWe recently staged a San Diego home that sold in 24 hours. Why did it sell so fast? It’s a great property to begin with but lots of great properties stay on the market for longer than a day. One major factor,  according to the listing agent, was the staging. As stagers we were able to work seamlessly with the home owners (who didn’t wish to move out of their home during the selling process) to edit, organize, and clean their home in a way that allowed potential buyers to see the property in the best light.

We call this type of staging “Fluff Your Stuff” because unlike traditional staging where a new set of furniture and decoration is brought in to set the scene, we use a listed home’s current contents. With an eye for the real estate environment, we know exactly what to remove, re-arrange, and spruce up to make a place shine.

In this particular listing, among other things, we removed a large couch to make more space, moved furniture away from the large suite of windows to make them accessible, and re-arranged the remaining couch in an elegant vignette. (We also tactfully covered a puppy-chewed spot on the couch with a throw blanket – exactly the kind of thing you might overlook as a homeowner doing your own preparation but that really helps the overall effect). We added draperies to the bathroom to make it feel more spacious and reorganized outdoor furniture to give it an entertainment-forward feeling. We arranged for professional cleaning and window washing throughout. Our overall goal was to bring a spacious feel to the property and reaffirm each area’s purpose.

It was a success. The staging had a strong effect on the momentum of the sale. See more pictures below.

Call us today for all your San Diego real estate staging and home re-design needs. (619) 840 7979san-diego-real-estate-stagingsan-diego-real-estate-staging


3 Real Estate Staging Options | San Diego Staging

san-diego-stagingQuestion: No matter what kind of property you are selling — what is the best way to sell faster and for a maximum price? Answer: By staging it. Staging, like it says, sets the stage for potential buyers. By applying a professional eye, you can enhance what’s best about your property and fix or minimize less desirable elements. The results are usually stunning.

At Infusion Home Design we offer 3 basic levels of service: complete staging in an empty property (with our furniture and decoration), staging in an occupied property with your own furniture (which we call “Fluff Ur Stuff”), and a combination of your own furniture and extra pieces and elements of ours that we add to the staging.

Complete staging:  is our most complete service. You have nothing to do but leave us the keys to your empty property. We assess the property’s most salable elements and then bring in furniture and decoration to enhance them. It’s a purposeful cross between real estate strategy and design, and we do no more or less than is necessary. We always adapt the staging style to the property itself as well as a generalized impression of the style of buyer who might be looking at the property. Our results tell the story: here is a financial snapshot of a few of the properties we have staged in the past 6 months:

Address Listing Price Sold Price Price Difference Days on Market
9680 Jimzel Rd $449,000 $450,000 $1000 Less than 24 hrs
4422 Collwood Ln $318-339,000 $353,000 $35,000 8 days
5476 Redding $638-699,000 $692,000 $54,000 9 days

Occupied property staging / Fluff Ur Stuff: is a popular option that allows you to maximize your property’s saleability without having to move out before it’s sold. There are 2 sub-options in this option. We can assess your present environment and make suggestions as to what you, yourself, can do to make the home or property as salable as possible. Or we can assess the property and do all of the work for you. This option has the advantage of not uprooting you from your home, not disrupting your lifestyle with the delivery of furnishings and decoration, and generally being less costly than the complete staging option.

Combo property staging: is a great compromise between complete staging and Fluff Ur Stuff staging. We assess your home or property’s needs, make adjustments to your current furnishing and decorative scheme, and add anything we have that we know can give your property better odds to sell faster and for the highest price possible.

At Infusion Home Design we also offer additional services that other traditional real estate staging companies do not. We have the expertise to suggest and arrange for upgrades (painting, repairs, landscaping, and more) that can bring a higher return than your investment. We use a combination of real estate market trend awareness and design savvy to bring your property to its full selling potential.

Texture, texture, texture | Letting the Locale Speak

san-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companiesPeople ask, “Where do you start?” Staging a home for sale is a savant cross between deciphering how to bring out the best qualities in a home, and translating them into an experience that a buyer can connect to.

There’s a technique to get started that you can always count on – let the locale speak. There will always be something about a home that tells you “who” it is.

In this particular case, at a recent listing near SDSU in the College area, the front of the house is shaded by a large melaleuca tree. The paper-like bark of the tree and the draping fronds of eucalyptus-shaped leaves speak about the style of the house. (See picture below.)  They are full of texture and Nature’s voice. Strong, natural textures became the directing force in this staging.

For instance, the street-side bedroom was given rugged, loose-weave burlap panels to filter the view from the outside yet allow the natural light to infuse the room. The garden-side bedroom was loaded with bright colors and layers of fabric textures to reverberate the bright light reflected in the mirrored closets. The entire project lent itself easily to natural materials and elements that remind us of Nature — wood, wicker, metal, plants, flowers — whether inside or out. (Click on the collage to see some of the many textures at this staging.) The result is a place that feels in line with the style of the house and the neighborhood. It really feels like a place you’d like to call home. The property said “texture”, and we listened!

san-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companiessan-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companiessan-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companiessan-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companiessan-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companiessan-diego-real-estate-home-staging-design-companies/San Diego Real Estate Home Staging Design/

Top 10 Reasons to Say “YES” to Home Staging

patioQuestion: Should you stage your home before listing it for sale?
Answer: OF COURSE you should!

If the picture above doesn’t convince you (which one would YOU pick?), let us give you our top 10 reasons to stage your home — with IHD — before you list it for sale in San Diego.

  1. To give the gift of vision. Many home buyers lack the ability to imagine a property’s potential when faced with an empty space. They may feel a sense of detachment and fear when trying to project themselves into a place where nothing is familiar. By staging your home we create scenes that buyers relate to, and give them a concrete way to truly SEE what life might be like in this potential home.
  2. To give the gift of a faster sale – to yourself! Staged homes tend to sell more quickly than homes that aren’t staged.
  3. Spend a little, gain a lot. In most cases the cost of staging your home is more than returned to you in the form of a faster sale and much higher offers. Statistics vary but many sources point to the National Association of Realtors’ statistic that the average staging investment of 1-3% of the asking price generates a return of 8-10%!
  4. You have better things to do. Chances are you have some (or a million) better ways to use your time at this busy conjuncture in your life. Take this straw off the camel’s back and let us take care of the job of prepping your home and creating the strongest sales conditions possible.
  5. Experts are raring to go. A mechanic fixes cars. A teacher imparts knowledge. A chef prepares food. Every profession has its experts who understand the nuances and art of what they do. Us? We are experts at home staging. We see immediately the strengths of your property and know how to leverage them in the most efficient way possible. Take advantage of our expertise. Also, we love what we do!
  6. We know real estate. In addition to being great stagers we are also licensed real estate agents. We know the market and we know what sells. We understand buyers and anticipate how a home might best attract the most and the best offers.
  7. We’re not sentimental. Selling a home often involves a lot of emotion, and although we are definitely human we don’t get sentimental about preparing your home to sell. We look at the world through sales-colored eyes. YOU might like to leave Aunt Greta’s penguin statue made of clam shells on the front step, but we think one day soon you’ll thank us for stopping you!
  8. Tip the odds in your favor. Maybe you’ve got a scheduling imperative and you NEED to sell asap. Maybe there are a few elements in your home that won’t necessarily inspire potential buyers. Whatever the situation, put all the chances on your side by creating the most appealing package you can with a beautifully staged home.
  9. Your online photos will stand out.  A well-staged home catches the eye in online real estate listings, especially in a sea of unstaged ones.
  10. Did we mention we love our jobs? Working with a team that loves what they do cannot help but bring great energy to the experience of selling your home!

Fruits of the Summer . . . And Vegetables, Too!

Infusion Home Design  (66 of 201)Summertime is all about abundance. Gardens explode with gorgeous colors. Vibrant red tomatoes. Deep green zucchini. Electric green apples. Especially here in San Diego, the edibles of summer provide us with the perfect way to accent a room, and, best of all, they aren’t expensive! All you need is a plate or a bowl and a quick trip to the market (or your backyard).

A few tips to liven up a space with a fruit and/or vegetable centerpiece:

1) Choose fruits and vegetables that will last. Apples, artichokes, even watermelon. Avocados? Not so much
2) Mix and match them in one big bowl, or use them singly as we have here in this photo
3) Use them in more than just the kitchen and dining room. Living rooms, outdoor spaces, even bathrooms.
4) In a few weeks, rotate them out and bring in more of the season’s offerings.

Outside Spaces Need Love, Too

Infusion Home Design  (71 of 201)Don’t forget that when staging a home the outdoor space is as important as the indoor space. This is especially true in San Diego, where outdoor living is an expectation.

Now, we all know that most outdoor furniture comes in basic brown or black finishes, which is just fine . . . as a starting point. BUT it’s your (and our!) job to add color! Pay close attention to the surroundings of the home. What is the landscaping like? Is it eco-friendly with rocks and succulents? Lush with greenery and flowers? Use these surrounding colors in your staging. Splash bright pillows on the patio furniture. Bring in more plants in colorful pits. Even adding a simple croquet set can bring in vibrant pops of color.

San Diegans love their outdoor spaces . . . help them see those spaces in new ways!

Makes Yours Stand Out!

With the San Diego for-sale inventory at an all time low there are more buyer’s than sellers!

Staged homes sell faster and for more money!

IHD offers amazing results.  We use emotion and show off each and every homes most appealing features.

We are offering amazing discounts for the months of October, November and December!

Call us for a free estimate!


Top 10 of 20 Mistakes When Staging – Continued

11. Don’t add personality. Now is not the time to bring in your unique style into the home. Staging is all about de-personalizing the space, and creating more of a luxury hotel or a Model Home look that will appeal to most everyone.

12. Don’t neglect the outside spaces. With outdoor entertaining becoming more and more popular with each year, the importance of these areas should not be overlooked when selling the property. A neatly groomed front yard and a cozy and comfortable backyard can turn some lookers into buyers instantly. So mow the lawn, plant some blooming flowers, add some outdoor furniture and you’ve created an outdoor oasis that buyers will instantly imagine themselves enjoying for years to come.

13. Don’t neglect the refrigerator and the pantry. Go through your entire fridge and pantry and get rid of any old and expired items. Thoroughly clean the entire fridge and pantry from the inside out, and then neatly organize only fresh produce and food items back in. Make sure that there aren’t any odors when you open the fridge. A good tip to remember is to leave an opened box of baking soda in the fridge. Baking soda absorbs odors and prevents them from interacting with each other.

14. Don’t neglect the closets and the storage spaces. According to a recent study, 86% of buyers said storage was one of the most important items on their wish list. When you move, you are going to have to pack anyways, so why not get started a bit earlier and do something that will benefit the sale of your home at the same time? Purge through all the clothes and linen closest and other storage spaces, get rid of anything that hasn’t been used or worn in over a year or two, pack away seasonal items and only keep the essentials. It will make the closets and storage spaces appear a lot more spacious if they are not crammed with clothes and other things. Attract more potential buyers with an organized home by installing closet design organization systems in lieu of cabinets

15. Don’t neglect the laundry room/area. Often the laundry room or area becomes a catch – all place for all the odds and ends that you couldn’t figure out where else to store. It is time to address this issue and de-clutter. Make sure that the only things that are left are laundry related and are neatly organized.

16. Don’t neglect the garage. People are looking to buy space, so having your garage piled with boxes and other items will make it look smaller. Store all things off premises if possible. If you can’t find a friend or a relative to ask to help out, there are other storage solutions that are affordable these days. The investment will pay off in the long run.

17. Don’t neglect the basement. Most of the time the basement is a place for all things unfit elsewhere. Excess furniture, clothes, books etc. Pack whatever you’ll be taking with your to your new home away in boxes and arrange the rest in attractive seating or lounging areas. Poorly maintained basements can leave a bad overall impression on an entire house.

18. Don’t keep your photos and knick-knacks out. Buyers are there to potentially find their dream home, and it would be impossible to try and imagine their own lives, when they’re surrounded by constant reminders that this is someone else’s house. So eliminate anything that will cause buyers to be reminded that it’s not theirs, since you want them to feel at home and envision their own family enjoying the space.

19. Don’t list your house if you’re not ready. It is truly false economy to rush and list your house if the house is not ready for showings. Instead invest the time and money to prepare your house to be viewed and judged from all angles, and then watch it be snatched up in the first few showings, because people will fall in love with it, when they see how well maintained the house is.

20. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It can be an overwhelming and daunting task to know exactly what to do and how. A professional stager will provide you with the knowledge and expertise to transform your home into a Show Home, which will be invaluable to the success of your home’s sale. Depending on the scope of the project the investment in staging can cost you anywhere from $300 to $5000 dollars, and it will certainly be recuperated after your house sells. And remember one last thing, your first price reduction will probably be more than the investment in preparing your house to show at its best!

Source: Design & Stage, 8/22/09

Top 10 of 20 Mistakes When Staging

Home staging is quickly becoming a necessity and an integral part of selling real estate. Gone are the days when staging was simply an option; in today’s tough real estate market proper staging is the only way to set your house apart from the competitors down the street or in the same neighbourhood. Overall, staging follows some simple and proven techniques to maximize the appeal of your home to the greatest number of buyers. However, despite the theoretical simplicity of the staging concept, there are quite a few common mistakes that undermine the success of staging and a potentially successful sale of your home.

Here are top 20 common mistakes that sellers make when preparing their house for sale. You should keep these in mind if you’re thinking of or getting ready to sell your house:

 1.  Don’t neglect the clutter. What might seem like clean and organized to you, might not translate the same to others. Make sure to tour the house top to bottom by enlisting a friend or the help of a professional stager that will give you an honest opinion about what needs to go and what can stay.

2. Don’t do any major renovations.This is not the time to splurge on expensive renovations and replacing all appliances. Smart investment dollars can go a long way in creating the desired, updated look. Sometimes simple things like adding an attractive backsplash in the kitchen, replacing the faucets, light fixtures, hardware and door handles, and painting the walls a warm but neutral colour can go a long way. To finish of the look, it is important to bring in attractive accessories that will compliment the rest of the space and add warmth.

3.  Don’t block light & views. Natural light is extremely important and blocking it off with heavy curtains or bulky pieces of furniture is false economy. Especially if you’ve got attractive views, instead of hiding them – make them the focal point, and see the positive result it has on the buyers.

 4 .  Don’t paint with dark, intense and custom colours. Now is not the time to bring in your personal taste to the table. Choose a nice, neutral and warm colour, such as any of the following families: beige tones, grey tones, or light blue or pale greens. You’ll be surprised at the transformative effect a few coats of fresh paint will have on your space!

5.  Don’t take it personally. When you make the decision to sell your house, you have to realize that now is the time to emotionally detach from your home and think of it as a product. The same way that products in a store are marketed, your house will have to be treated with the same marketing strategies in order to secure a successful sale. It can be a very emotional and difficult time letting go of your beloved home, but you have got to keep the bigger picture in mind, and think that you will create more amazing memories in your new house.

6.  Don’t stay at the house during showings. It can be quite awkward and uncomfortable for buyers to have you around, as they will not feel comfortable to voice their honest opinion in your presence. Make sure to leave the house for all the showings and trust that the realtor will do a proper job at showing your house.

7.  Don’t leave your pets around during showings. This goes along the same lines of not taking it personally. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone loves animals, and some people might either be allergic or afraid of them and therefore, some will even refuse to walk into the house, knowing there is a certain creature in there. So take them away on a mini adventure during showings, and make sure that all the pet odors have been eliminated as well.

8.  Don’t think the house will sell itself. Real Estate is like a game in any market, and especially in today’s market conditions, you have got to implement some preparation strategies if you want to sell quick and for maximum profit. So de-clutter, de-personalize, clean, make all the small repairs, paint if you have to and overall create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Make sure to take some attractive photos for online listings, as that is the first step most buyers take when starting their search. Read this post and learn How To Take Magazine-Style Photos for Online Listings.

9.  Don’t over-stage and over-accessorize. It is easy to get carried away when decorating, but the thing to remember is that there is a huge difference between decorating and staging to sell. A few, well thought out accessories in key places is all you need. No need to fill the tub with bubbling water and sprinkle bath salts in order to create a spa feeling. Instead, a few candles, fresh towels and minimal bath accessories will do the trick!

 10.  Don’t buy all new furniture. If you current furniture pieces are not working because they’re outdated and unattractive, there is other ways of going about it. You can always ask to borrow friends’ or relatives’ furniture for the time being, or rent furniture items while you’re selling. The problem sometimes can also be that there is just too much of big and bulky pieces, and a simple rearranging of key pieces and removing the rest will make all the difference.

To be continued…

Source: Design & Stage, 8/22/09

5 Verbal Staging’ Statements Sellers Should Make

1. Do Tell: Anything in or around your home that is ‘new’ (or nearly so). To a buyer, seeing features, amenities and appliances described as new-ish creates several connotations beyond the dictionary meaning of the word:

That said, you should actually avoid using the word ‘new’ – unless something has been installed since you’ve moved out, and has truly never been lived in or with. Better to specify ‘recently remodeled,’ ‘installed this year,’ or ‘updated in 2011,’ to avoid legal problems later.

Think broadly when you’re thinking about how to apply this advice – work with your agent to determine whether to call out anything that’s new-ish about your home, whether that be appliances, a recent kitchen remodel, paint or landscaping. For that matter, look beyond your home with this point, to anything new in the neighborhood that might be relevant to buyers-to-be, like a new school, park, subway station, shopping strip or Farmer’s Market.

2. Do Tell: Your home’s dominant features. Ask yourself: what’s the very best thing about this place? Then ask again until you have maybe a handful of items. That handful of things may contain great fodder for your home’s marketing materials.

If you have to choose, prioritize features that (a) visitors to your home often comment on, and/or (b) that you have immensely enjoyed while living in the place. And think outside the box: consider things like the light, the floor plan flow, the amazing block parties, the Zen you achieve sitting in your garden, the smells and sounds and the nearby attractions you haunt. (Did I already mention the neighborhood Farmer’s Market?)

3. Do Tell: Anything that’s exceptional about your home – the things that differentiate your home from the competition. Is your home larger or does it have more bedrooms than the average home in your neck of the woods? Is your lot bigger or more private? Is your home a ‘regular’ sale in a sea of short sales, or the lowest priced listing in your super-chic subdivision? Does it have panoramic water views in an area where most homes overlook a canyon? No rear neighbors where most properties are surrounded?

What you’re looking for is not something to exaggerate into a stunning selling point; rather, the goal is to find something that’s unique about your home relative to other nearby or competitive properties.

4. Do Tell: The features your home has that you know buyers crave. If your home has uniquely compelling features compared with its competition, then say so. But even if your home’s features are not so unique, if it has some nuts-and-bolts features that give it wide desirability for a large segment of buyers in your area, it behooves you to express and emphasize them.

If people buy homes in your area because of its great school district and family-friendly activities, then mention the big, level backyard; the play structure and the fenced/covered pool. If your target buyers are looking for chic, car-free, urban living, talk about the Whole Foods Market and the gym on the ground floor of your building and the multiple public transport options within spitting distance.

Here’s where it’s good to mention any such features your home has that you know buyers in your area tend to look for that may be pleasantly surprising to those who just see your home onliner. This may include the actual size of very large rooms, the fact that you have a living room and a den, or all the amazing built-ins and customizations you’ve had professionally installed in your kitchen, closets, office, workshop, craft room or garage.

5. Do Tell: Incentives, extras and details that make the transaction easier or more favorable than a buyer would expect. If you or anyone else is providing any sort of bonus or incentive that promises to make the transaction even a small amount less expensive, smoother, easier or faster than the norm in your area, call it out!

This may include:

  • HOA or closing cost credits paid by you (or your bank or relocation company)
  • Personal property you’re willing to leave behind (i.e., furniture, electronics, yard equipment)
  • Your willingness to finance part or all of the sale price
  • The fact that your listing is not a short sale or foreclosure – or anything else of this sort.

Because you’re probably not nearly as well versed in what area buyers expect from a transaction as your agent is, this is one particular area in which you should look to your agent for strategic counsel.

Insider Secret: Keep in mind that prospective buyers may only see a few lines of your home’s description online, and may not be able to see everything that would go on a flyer, or even the detailed or agent-only remarks that local agents can see on MLS listings. So after you talk with your agent about which of these ‘verbal staging’ points to include, it’s important to actually view your home’s online listings to ensure that buyers can actually see the important points.

Source: Tara@Trulia.com, 5/15/2012


7 Steps to Avoid a DYI Disaster

Some of us figure out our talents early in life; others take longer. But for the majority of us, those talents have nothing whatsoever to do with the construction sciences, so to speak. Nonetheless, tight budgets and hours of home improvement television watching, shelter magazine perusing and Pinterest board-fixating have stirred up the jones to do-it-yourself in many a homeowner.The widespread perceptions that contractors charge exorbitant amounts and are difficult to manage have only increased the sense that doing home improvement projects ourselves seem like the way to go. The fact is, there are many home project that are fun and smart for a home owner to try their hand at. But DIY project veterans (myself included) can attest: DIY is by no means the no-brainer way to get every type of home project checked off your to-do list. In fact, a bad project can turn your experience of your home from an exciting project to a mortifying money-pit in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, whether your home improvement project goes swimmingly or scarily is well within your control from the very beginning – and hinges largely on making the right decision for a given project about whether to hire a contractor or go it on your own. Here are seven questions to ask yourself as part of that decision-making process, in order to avoid a DIY disaster:

1.  What’s the project?  Define the project, in writing, as completely as possible. This will equip you from the very start to outsource some or all of a project that is beyond your skill set, rather than running to a contractor in a panic in the middle of a project (when you’d certainly be charged a panic premium price). Depending on your aptitude level and the time you have, what seems at first glance to be a highly DIY-able room refresh with paint and new wood floors can snowball beyond the realm of reasonable DIY-dom if you add in a lighting or plumbing project. To do this, sit with your project, your magazines or your Pinboards for a few days, weeks or even months, keeping a running list of the things you want included in your project as you live in your house and your desired post-project lifestyle changes come to mind.

2.  Does it require permits?  Generally speaking, electrical, plumbing, major renovations, erecting new walls and structures and adding square footage are all projects highly likely to require permits. Hint: if you use the word “gut” when describing what you’re planning to your friends and relatives, chances are good you’ll need a permit. If you’re not sure, a quick website visit or phone call to your City’s Building Services or Building Permits Division should clear things up. Building code requirements can be exceedingly arcane, and the process of applying for and obtaining permits if you’re not well versed in them can be tedious, stressful and time-consuming. It can also be full of unsuspected pitfalls, like doing one home improvement that triggers a City requirement to add a slew of new outlets or a new sewer line. Call the city and/or talk to a couple of licensed contractors as soon as you’ve fully defined your project – but before you’ve started any work – and get a good sense for whether it will require permits to stay in good graces with the City. Cities are required to grant permits to homeowners, but the more complicated the permitting process gets for a given project, the more sensible it becomes to have a professional contractor or at least a professional permit expediter involved to avoid running afoul of the city, incurring penalties for unpermitted work and to maximize your ability to get an increased resale value for your home as a result of the upgrades.

3.  Are there health and safety issues?  I’m a big believer that high decks (i.e., decks, balconies and similar structures that are tall enough that a collapse would cause injuries to those standing on it), additions and gas/electrical work are things home owners should rarely do on their own. Now, I’m not saying you can’t install track lights or change a light switch to a dimmer. Rather, I’m cautioning that that if you’re doing work in these categories beyond that level, calling a contractor can avoid a disastrous outcome.

4.  What are the relative hard costs? “ANYONE can paint a room,” I’ve heard time and time again. I’ve done it, so I know this to be true. But I also know that from the first time I got actual paint bids from my trusty neighborhood handyman, I have never painted a room since! In my humble opinion, the money I’ve spent was well worth the time and other resources I saved (see #5, below), and I’m certain they’ve done a better job than I could or would have. Just because you can do a project DIY, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the smart thing to do. It also doesn’t mean that the hard, financial costs of doing it yourself are necessarily much cheaper than hiring a professional. Don’t automatically assume that doing a job yourself is the cheap route to go, or that it will save you scads of cash. Until you’ve actually gotten 3 bids from reputable contractors or vendors, based on the full scope of the job, and have compared that with the cash you’d spend to DIY, you cannot know for certain which is the less expensive way to go. They might qualify for bulk discounts on materials that you can’t get, and you might have to rent a truck, equipment or tools that they already own. In any event, calling contractors out can be educational in terms of understanding every element of the job and troubleshooting things you might not otherwise have anticipated.  So, unless you’re uber-handy and just love to do projects, or know for certain the project will be uber-cheap for you to do, I’d strongly urge you to get a few pros to come out and give you real bids for what it would cost (including supplies, labor, any subcontracting, permits – soup-to-nuts), and compare that to your own DIY cost estimate.  (Hint: I’d also encourage you to add a little buffer on the top of all the estimates – theirs and yours – for unforeseen costs that might arise.)

5.  What are the relative soft costs? Cash is just the beginning of the resources required to get a home improvement project done. They also take time – which some might see as opportunity costs. Ask yourself the question: what could I do with the time I’ll have to spend on this project?  There are also the energetic and emotional resources involved.  Some people simply have sharp mechanical and logistical aptitudes, have the spare time and love to use it bettering their homes and have infinite patience for figuring out workarounds when the project doesn’t go as planned.  And then there are people like me! So, if you’re like me, you should definitely account for that when you’re deciding whether to do-it-yourself or whether to hire your home improvement projects out.

6.  Is it really DIY-able? Remember, the ‘Y’ in DIY stands for YOURself.  The decision whether to DIY or call a contractor in for a job is not based on whether your Dad, your neighbor down the street or Bob Vila made a similar project look simple. Rather, it needs to be made based on your own, personal:

  • skill and experience level
  • aptitude for whatever sort of work you’re completing
  • patience level
  • frustrate-ability
  • spare time available for the job, etc.

If you’re not excited about the prospect of doing the project, and you can afford to have someone else do it, don’t let the wanna-be handypeople in your life talk you into biting off more than you can chew.

 7. What could go wrong?  If your project is uber-simple, like replacing a toilet or painting a wall, there are a limited number of worst-case scenarios which might be annoying and inconvenient, but are far from the end of the world. The kitty-cat wallpaper might be harder to get off than you thought – that sort of thing. But as the project grows larger in scope or more complex, the more potentially disastrous your worst-case scenarios are – and the more costly calling someone in to fix a DIY-gone-wrong will be. Generally speaking, I’m not one to advocate worst-case scenario thinking. But when it comes to home improvement projects, the many moving pieces and relative inexperience of the average home owner suggest that an abundance of caution is just plain old smart. If your project’s DIY worst-case scenarios conjure up visions of bodily harm to your family members, buckets catching the rain or virtually anything caving in think long and hard before you take it on yourself, versus calling in a pro.

Source: Tara@Trulia, 7/18/2012

The Benefits of Home Staging

Hiring someone to prepare your home so it makes a good impression on buyers can pay off.

With the real estate climate making selling your home difficult, home staging can be an effective tool to help seller’s out. You probably know that your property needs to be as clean, clutter-free and in as good repair as possible, inside and out. But you can further distinguish your home from the competition by having your home staged — or window-dressed — for sale.

Professional stagers can see your house as buyers will, and they’ll set the scene so that buyers can imagine living there. They’re likely to simplify or streamline the furniture in a room for better traffic flow and to enhance its spaciousness. They may neutralize a too-personal color scheme or add touches of color or accessories where needed. In vacant homes that feel cold and lack visual landmarks, stagers often bring in rental furniture and create “vignettes,” say, a seating area in front of the fireplace.


Source: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Pat M. Esswein, 2/26/09

How Many Cows Does It Take to Make a Sofa?

So where does that leather in your sofa or car come from?  It takes the skins of many cows to make one sofa. That leather from cows comes from cows raised for both beef and milk. Cows raised for beef are fed an unnatural diet chicken feces, rendered remains of other animals, high-bulk grains, and other fillers, including sawdust, until they weigh 1,000 to 1,200 pounds.

Leather is not the environmentally friendly product that the industry has suggested.  The adverse environmental and health impacts of the leather industry are huge.  Animal skin is turned into finished leather by the use of many dangerous mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and cyanide based oils and dyes.   These chemicals prevent the leather from being naturally biodegradable as the industry claims.  Leather products can last thousands of years and the toxic chemicals with which they are infused leach into the environment during that time.   Leather pieces found in Northern Germany were estimated to be 12,000 years old, dating from the Neolithic and European Bronze Ages!

People who have worked in and lived near tanneries have died of cancer from groundwater contaminated by the toxic chemicals used to process and dye the leather.   A New York State Department of Health study found that more than half of all testicular cancer victims worked in tanniers.

Sports use huge amounts of leather. It takes 3,000 cows to supply the National Football League (NFL) with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs!  It takes the leather of 3.8 steers to make the 72 footballs used in every NFL SuperBowl alone.

It is so easy for us to break the chain of separation from nature that has allowed such cruelty to exist. All we have to do is stop buying leather.

IHD Recommends: Our Favorite Staging Accessories

Staging a home to sell quickly is about making big changes with not-so-big accessories. It’s amazing what a little fabric, a little color, and a lot of imagination can do! Here is a list of some of our favorite accessories that make home staging pop:


1) Area Rugs

Whether it’s in the living room, dining room, or bedroom rugs define spaces. Sometimes a rug is even enough to define an entire room! Get a great area rug, grab a few big pillows, and a serving tray and voila! A room becomes a bedroom!

2) Throw Pillows

Sometimes changing the look of a room is as easy as adding (or subtracting!) throw pillows. For just a few bucks you can add a punch of color and a splash of fun to any room.

3) Side tables

Get creative! Any flat surface can be used as a side table? Have a great old suitcase? Turn it on its side and you have an instant and charming side table.

4) Lighting

Lighting changes the mood of any room, and you can change that mood with something a simple as little battery-operated timed candles. They’re inexpensive, safe, and can add the hint of drama every room needs.

5)  Curtains

Keep it sheer, keep it simple. Dressing up a window with a tension rod and white sheers means that, with no tools at all, you can cover a window while letting all the light in.

6) Fabric

From walls to beds to sofas and more, creating a cohesive look can be achieved with a few well-placed pieces of fabric. Decide your style, find your fabric, and use it throughout the room. Add the fabric to a canvas and hang it. Fold it neatly and add it to the foot of the bed. Drape it casually over the back of a chair.

7) Fresh flowers

Who doesn’t love fresh flowers? A bouquet in a vase says it all. Even a solitary bud can light up a room with its charm.


Looking for more home staging tips? Contact us here!

[via REALTORmag]

[image via]

The 7 Staging Steps To Sell In Any Market

In today’s real estate market, homes are competing in an enormous inventory. Your home must stand out. And home staging is the first and best way to make your home shine.

According to Barb Schwarz, one of the founders of home staging in the 1970s, defines home staging this way: “Home staging is professionally preparing homes for sale so that they appeal to the most amount of buyers and generate the highest price in the least amount of time on market.”

But what to do and where to start? Here are Barb’s 7 Steps of Staging to help you out:

• Stand in the doorway of each room, and even outside the home, as if you were a home buyer, and
assess whether every area of the home best conveys what it would be like to live in the home for visitors
to an open house.
• Make a plan, and be open to change. We look at what the purpose of each room is, and what
scene we need to set.
• De-accessorize. Decide on what to pack and what to keep in each room and select which accessories you may use in different rooms.
• Remove unnecessary furniture. Again, less is more.
• Arrange the remaining furniture in the best way and re-distribute those you may be able to use in other rooms.
• Re-accessorize each room.
• Fine-tune each area of the home.

And Barb has some more advice to keep in mind: “The investment in staging is always less than your first price reduction.”

And keep in mind that here at Infusion Home Design, we can most definitely help you out!


(via SDAR)