Sunday, October 3, 2010

The emotional buy

While we may like to believe that we are making a purely rational decision, for most of us home purchasing is a process driven by emotion. We are buying a future and need to connect to the home on a personal and emotional basis. Home sale design enables that connection – color and texture create an emotional response, while furniture placement helps buyers envision how to use the space. In an empty house, one’s eye is drawn only to the perceived flaws. Home sale design accentuates a home’s features, enabling one to imagine settling in and living a life there.

This was the philosophy of Jan Sewell, a long time real estate agent and staging icon in Seattle.

Jan Sewell

Jan past away this past week and has left many of us with a hole in our heart. Her talents and generosity will be missed terribly. A successful real estate agent since 1993, Jan was perhaps best known for her staging business. She elevated staging to what we know it to be today - elegant, fun, personal, of quality; and through her keen eye and big, happy heart created spaces that benefited everyone-seller, buyer, agent. You always knew a home staged by Jan was going to show in the very best possible light.

My posting today is to honor Jan and the business she created. She would have liked that! Anything to help sellers accomplish their goal.

There are a number of reasons to "stage" a home. You can use a professional stager, or implement some of these tips and do it yourself. Either way, I hope these ideas inspire and delight, whether your house is on the market now, will be soon, or you just want to edit your living space.

No.1/stay true
Staging should always be tailored to the character of the individual property and to the most likely potential buyers. 
Color, texture and style combine to create the Nantucket feel I was looking for in this New England style Saltbox I listed a few years ago.

No. 2/edit, edit, edit (and then edit again)
If you are still living in a home, stagers can provide consultation services to help you to determine furniture placement, accessorize, and most importantly, help you edit. A good rule of thumb-have only three-four pieces of furniture in each room. For example, in each bedroom you would have a bed, nightstand, chest of drawers or bench, and an accent chair. Limit the amount of items you have on the table tops to one-three items maximum. Remove personal photos.

Note: there are only three items on the nightstand.

Note: only three pieces of furniture in this lovely master bedroom, the oil painting was borrowed from my den as it was the perfect compliment to the wall color...if all else fails, borrow, you'll get it back to them soon enough!

The dining room of this charming Ravenna Bungalow was pared down to accentuate the open floor plan. The mirror reflects 'space' and the open weave metal chairs take up less visual space than traditional chairs.
For the kitchen, remove counter top appliances....if you must, keep one or two at the very most. Make sure you add flowers or a bowl of fruit, a nice cookbook. Everyone likes a clean kitchen!

No. 3/don't let rooms echo
If life has sent you packing, then the need for staging is critical. It is very difficult for most buyers to visualize spaces without furnishings in them, not to mention rooms feel cold and no one likes a house that echos! Fully furnishing a vacant home can be very expensive, an alternative is to furnish only part of the home-the main floor for example. If you go this route, make certain you accessorize all the bathrooms and the utility rooms-a few nicely folded towels, simple painting, a rug to soften the feel, and a smelly soap does the trick for me.

Furniture can be added by a stager or, another option - renting, either way, furnishings bring life to an empty home!

No. 4/create the vision
Many of Seattle's older homes have rooms that don't quite make sense for the way we live today-staging these rooms for a usable purpose adds value to your home. 
An odd shaped room in one of Seattle's historic homes was designed as a young girl's bedroom-count the number of furnishings-un, deux, trois-parfait!

These savvy clients of mine needed to eek out another sitting area so they placed their dining room furniture in an area of their living room and staged the "designated" dining area as a sitting area off the kitchen. They ended up with three distinct areas rather than two.

No. 5/don't forget the loo (and other necessaries)
By simply adding fresh towels, a small rug, simple painting, and some smelly soap you transform a cold space into a valuable asset. Remember bedrooms, baths, and kitchens are the major search items.

Adding canisters, wicker basets, and flowers in a pail add life and charm to an otherwise utilitarian room.

No. 6/merchandise the closets, cupboards and china hutch
Editing doesn't stop in the obvious areas, you need to go deep. Simplify your china hutch and bookshelves by keeping to one color or collection. It could be all white creamware, or polish pottery. For books, box away paperbacks and let the hardbounds shine. If the colors are too varied, flip the books around so the spine is against the wall...this will create a more unified look to the shelf. Add a knick knack here and there, but watch your scale....nothing too small - it will only end up looking messy.
Jon Rosichelli is a stager I use quite a bit, for this home he highlighted the walls of built-ins without making the room too heavy. Jon first started in the staging business under the brilliant Jan Sewell.
Color and texture play a big part in the emotions of buying but I am going to have to leave that for another day...I am now inspired to pick a room, dust off the knick knacks, and edit just a bit. Until next week,

la chasse au bonheur!

In all my postings, my goal is to provide inspiration and insight into home ownership, real estate, and to provide valuable resources.

Jon Rosichelli
Rosichelli/Mendoza Home

1 comment: