Archive for September, 2010

Be Your Own Home Stager

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Be Your Own Home Stager |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe phrase “Dress for Success” has a different meaning in real estate than it does in other businesses.  You know that before you put your Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Parkland County or Edmonton area home on the market, it’s important to clean it thoroughly, get rid of clutter, and make minor repairs.  But these days, in order to sell your home in the shortest amount of time and for the best price, that’s not going far enough.  The next step is home staging.

What is home staging?

Home staging is literally setting a scene and creating a mood – transforming an ordinary house into an attractive, welcoming home that any potential buyer might envision himself living in.   The key is universal appeal.

Secrets of home staging

Home staging doesn’t mean erasing all evidence of the people living in the house, but it’s important to remember that how you live in your home and how you sell your home are two very different things

Differences show up in the number and type of things on display, the size of furniture and how it’s arranged, and in the general state of cleanliness and tidiness.  This is one situation where “good enough” probably isn’t!  A perfectly staged home is going to resemble more a suite in a 4-star hotel – before a guest unpacks! – than the homes most of us grew up in or currently live in.  With that in mind, here are a few things to know about home staging.

Update.  The simplest and least costly upgrades, besides paint, include light fixtures, taps and faucets, door and cabinet hardware, switches and switch plates, and drapery and window treatments.

Be Your Own Home Stager |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam Neutralize.  Neutral colors for walls and floor coverings are best.  People must be able to visualize themselves and their own possessions in the home so the decorating must serve only as a backdrop.  Neutralize also means keeping things generic:  “middle-of-the-road” décor, furnishings and accessories.

Clean.  Really, really clean; mother-in-law clean; brand-new-home clean….!

Edit People must be able to see the space, not the stuff in the space.  Corners must be visible, rooms must appear to be open and airy, closets need to look spacious and unfilled, and so on.  This may mean that typical home sellers have to dispose of or pack up for off-site storage 30% to 80% of their possessions.  For example, your kitchen counter should be as close to cleared off as you can make it, with maybe just a coffee maker and toaster to suggest its functionality.  In the bathroom, remove all personal care items, cosmetics and the like from the counter, leaving perhaps just a fresh container of liquid soap next to the sink.  And so on.  Tip Take a photo of a room in your house.  Chances are the “too much” factor will be more evident in a picture.

Depersonalize:  Small numbers of family photos, personal memorabilia and items connected to hobbies are fine.  What isn’t fine is anything that detracts from a potential buyer seeing himself in the space.  People don’t want to look at your toothbrush or razor in the bathroom, dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, or piles of clothing on the laundry room floor, for example.  In other words, the place must not look used.

Tidy:  Whatever items are left after possessions have been edited need to be arranged as neatly as possible.  This means not only things readily visible but also everything in closets, drawers, cabinets and other storage spaces in every area of the house, including the garage and outdoors.   As always, the point is to make spaces appear as roomy and functional as possible.

 SensBe Your Own Home Stager |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twyname it.  I’ve heard that 75% of the buyer’s decision is affected by the first 5 seconds through the front door.  Sight and smell are going to be the most important senses in that first impression, and their impact is instantaneous.  Never underestimate the effect of the sight and smell of fresh flowers!

 Light it.  Remember that home staging is about creating a mood.  Warm and bright will sell your home.

Suggest.  Of all the “secrets” of home staging, this is the most important.  Suggest a feeling of hominess and coziness by arranging a few pieces of furniture, such as a pair of modest loveseats and a couple of smallish tables and lamps, in an appealing vignette which will make the buyer want to be a part of it.  Add some accessories such as colorful cushions, a throw in a soft fabric, a couple of classic books or a tea service or a potted plant on a side table with a lamp turned on.  Keep the number and size of items small to trick the eye into maximizing the proportions of the room.  The phrase “less is more” is the very essence of home staging, employing subtlety, simplicity, refinement and classic design.  Everything in a space is there to highlight the best features of the space.  Tip Visit a store like Ikea and study the room vignettes.  These are perfect examples of home staging.

Be Your Own Home Stager |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAccessorize.  Besides basic furniture appropriate to a given room, professional home stagers add a variety of accessories to hint at feelings or activities associated with that space.  For example:

  • in the kitchen: a large bowl of fresh, colorful fruit; an open cookbook; a new matched set of tea towels and oven mitts
  • in the bathroom: new clean towels tied with ribbons on the side of the tub; a spa basket of scented soaps and lotions on the counter; a small tray of scented candles
  • in the bedroom: new bedcovering and extra pillows; a simple swag of fabric draped above the windows; a small ottoman with an afghan throw; small bedside tables with lamps turned on
  • in the living room: mirrors; potted plants or silk flowers; area and throw rugs; a display of unusual knickknacks in a grouping of 1, 3 or 5 items
  • on the patio or deck: a small patio table and a pair of chairs, with perhaps a potted plant on the table, to suggest a conversational grouping

While all of this may seem like a lot of work, most sellers who take the trouble to stage their homes really do see a better price within a shorter time frame.

 Ready to sell your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton-area home?  Contact me here, email me at, or phone me at 780-910-9669.

Is It Time to Downsize?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

If you are one of those rare people who travels light through life, this article may not be for you.  But if you are like most people, and you’ve been in your home for a while, the thought of downsizing has probably crossed your mind, especially if your family and life circumstances have changed since you first moved into your home, whether in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Parkland County, the Edmonton area or elsewhere.

 There are many good reasons to downsize:

  • saving money on home upkeep, insurance, taxes and utilities
  • unloading some of the “stuff” most of us can’t help accumulating on our life’s journey but which we find we no longer need
  • lessening our impact on the environment
  • simplifying our daily routines to save time for more interesting and enriching activities
  • preparing for a time when someone else may have to look after our affairs and possessions

Is It Time to Downsize? |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamBefore you can downsize your home to a smaller place, you will probably need to downsize inside your home first, getting rid of many everyday objects found there.  This can be extraordinarily difficult.  The truth is that downsizing and de-cluttering often come with a huge pile of emotional baggage.  Making the decision to part with property and possessions you’ve used and loved for a long time, each item attached to memories, can be a wrenching experience.  Sometimes the sheer volume of physical and emotional “stuff” can be so overwhelming that it’s hard to even begin.

Most experts will tell you to start with a small space, like a closet or even a small room.  They suggest you remove everything from the area and sort items into several piles, with the ultimate goal being to throw away the trash, give away or sell things you no longer need or want but which still have some value, and keep only those items you really love and use.  Sounds sensible and simple enough, right?  Most of these experts will also provide you with all kinds of motivational prods to force you to get past your objections (“My grandmother made that old quilt!”  “I might have a use for that tool some day!”), along with questionnaires to help you decide what kind of hoarder you are and which pile something belongs in.

The fact is that none of this advice is going to be worth much until you are sure that you need or want to downsize in the first place.

A thought-provoking article published in the Montreal Gazette (“Boomers upsizing their downsizing plans”) suggests that maybe we shouldn’t be too hasty in automatically assuming that downsizing is for everybody.  Baby boomers once again are doing things a little differently from previous generations.  Some people when they reach a certain age are discovering that it actually makes sense to move into a bigger home, albeit one with a floor plan more geared to their current and future physical needs (for example, a bungalow with an open floor plan rather than a multi-level home), while others decide to keep the family home but renovate it to accommodate changing situations.  There are a number of reasons for this interesting trend:

  • Family dynamics have changed. Children are taking longer to leave the nest, or are returning to the family home after relationship break-ups and the like. There are also many people in late middle age who find themselves raising their grandchildren.
  • Work lives have changed. Some people realize they don’t want to retire in the way previous generations did. Instead they decide to modify their work so that more is done from home. This creates the need for a home work space.
  • Many older adults have the money to continue to enjoy the quality of life that comes from living in a larger private space. This might include making room in the home for hobbies, exercise, more entertaining, etc.
  • Keeping a house rather than moving to a condo or some other kind of communal living space may make good economic sense as equity in homes continues to rise.

So … to downsize or not?  Maybe our reluctance to part with possessions has less to do with procrastination and more to do with the need to make practical, realistic life choices.

If you’ve made the decision to downsize and you are interested in looking at smaller properties in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area, please contact me here, email me at, or phone 780-910-9669. 

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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