By Susan Rivera, Design Consultant
For those who aren’t familiar with the term “pillow chopping,” it describes a way of shaping pillows. A chopped pillow is achieved by fluffing a feather or down pillow and using a karate chop motion to create an indentation in the top.
This debate has been going on for years now. Is karate chopping throw pillows a trend, or does it actually make pillows look better? Believe it or not…There is no right or wrong answer when making the decision whether not to chop or not chop? It’s simply a personal style preference. Truly, the secret to a nice-looking pillow has more to do with the fabric used to cover it as well as the quality of the insert. The higher the fill, the better your pillow will look — chopped or un-chopped.
If you have silky pillows or pillows with a sheen you can really show off the fabric with a slight chop. The soft dent enhances this luxurious fabric by creating shadows and allowing light to hit the pillow from different angles. Chopping can also make some prints look less uniform and bold as well as give you a more casual look. If that’s the look your going for?
The type of insert your pillow has may help you decide if you want to chop or not. A feather or down insert with a high fill count will look full and plump with or without chopping.
A foam insert is definitely not a good contender for a pillow chop. Pillows with foam filing tend to be more rigid and usually look good without frequent fluffing. If you over manipulate them, in fact, they can get lumpy.
Give it a try, plump up those pillows and give them a nice karate chop right through the center. If you like it, keep it. If you do not like it, just give it a shake and plump it right back up again.
Happy Chopping… or Not?
GOING OUT and staying out...at least until the next recycle...
1. Wasted space in "dead spaces" of the home (nooks, closets and under the stairs)... there is much more consumer interest in utilizing these spaces for storage and additional spaces for decorative display areas for books, pictures and memorabilia...
2. Chevron fabrics, rugs and other textiles... Chevron became so popular so quickly and was incorporated into almost every area of the design plan...it was seen in everything from the baby's nursery to the towels in the master bath and every room in between...it's fading fast and rightly so...it is time for most chevron designs to be put to rest for awhile. No doubt we will see it again as it is based off the classic herringbone design that will always have a place in textiles.
3. Entire sets of matching furniture... although there will always be those that desire to purchase in this way (it is their comfort zone) ...any good designer will steer their client away from their thoughts on this by showing them an alternative way to incorporate other pieces of distinction and interest to personalize the space.
4. Soft window treatments with heavy fabrics, embellishments and tassels... I find the trend is more free flowing lighter fabrics that hang loosely and are not as perfectly presses or stationary...it provides a more relaxed feel in our living spaces and a respite for our "perfectly packaged lives outside of our homes".
5. Framed art with glass...oil on canvas with a slim line floating frame is my preferred choice of art for most of my clients...it is a simplistic way to add a focal point without distraction as well as part of the desire to be more minimalistic.
6. Sofa and loveseat combo... so oversold and over used...when size can accommodate, conversation seating or a custom sectional is always more inviting for family time and entertaining...
7. Faux finished walls and columns... this has been out for quite some time and hopefully stays out with exception to some European/old-world designs where it is perfectly appropriate and beautiful. Enough of attempting to make a 2 story colonial in the Lehigh Valley look like a Mediterranean villa.
8. Wall covering on every wall in the room...and yes the ceiling too! Wall covering has been on the exterior perimeter of choices in design options for walla for years, but recently has made a comeback in a new and exciting way. It certainly has its place when used to accent and enhance the room rather than overwhelm it!
9. French Country complete with the rooster collection... I had fallen victim of this over used design theme many years ago...it no doubt will return in years to come with an altered spin and hopefully less foul.
10. Mirrored furniture...except for one distinct accent piece, I am happy to see this on the outskirts of design. Entire rooms of mirrored furniture is overwhelming and difficult to clean...not to mention the high damage factor from moving, vacuuming, etc. It just is unsuitable for most homes!
11. Wall word decals, stand alone decorative word art and over use of wrought iron art... so over used that anyone who had stock in a company that sold this type of art has to be a millionaire.
12. Whirlpool baths in the master... trending in large master bathrooms are smaller scale floating tubs without jets that are more of an art form than a fixture. In all honesty, do we ever want to fill, clean or have time to sit in those jetted tubs that were so coveted in years past.
13. Too much of one style and finish in a room or entire home... this gives the look of a furniture store vignette...favored is mixing in period pieces or family favorites with an upscaled new finish or textile spotlighting personality and preventing the dreaded cookie cutter look.
14. Metal, plaster and wood animal heads (aka fake taxidermy)... although I still am a fan of some of these decorative heads, they have been over used in the last several years and many times have been placed in inappropriate spaces.
15. Glossy sheen on everyday furniture... today's client is more in favor of a user friendly finish that takes less time to clean, is kid friendly and less formal.
16. Accent walls and individual rooms each with it's own distinct color and personality...there is a gravitation toward a more minimalistic palette that is non conflicting providing an "easy on the eyes" backdrop for focal point art and accessories!
Trends will come and go as sure as the sun rises and sets each day. Some trends will have staying power and others will leave the design scene as quickly as they come. It is up to the designer to access new trends and how they will work within the architectural details of the clients home and how they will incorporate the clients personality and lifestyle. There are few "real" rules in the design world that cannot be broken under the right circumstances and in the right way for the client's benefit!
Most of you who know me, know that I am the ultimate planner. Normally by Thanksgiving, the house is decorated, my shopping is complete and the gifts are wrapped...This past year however, our family has faced some unexpected challenges and I have had to take on additional and unfamiliar responsibilities that have left me longing for 24 more hours in a day!
I was feeling the pressure...
Early this week I received a call from a previous client of mine who has been battling cancer for the last several months...sadly, because of her prognosis, she informed me that she had donated all of her Christmas decorations to a needy family thinking she would no longer have use for them. I was drawn in by the sadness of it all...the physical, mental, and emotional things that she has had to endure over the course of the last several months...still unsure of the end result. She asked me if I would be willing to help her by planning, shopping for and decorating her home (as soon as I could) in the hopes of boosting her spirits. Despite my hectic schedule..."no" was not an option...although, my heart said YES, my mind was spinning over how I (the ultimate planner), would be able to accomplish everything necessary in such a defined and short time period...After a brief discussion on the type of decorations that would make my client "feel good", I began the quest for what I hoped would be the perfect decorations to lift her spirits...Several days later, I arrived at her home with an SUV of Holiday decor, excited to begin. When I arrived, my client was not feeling well and asked if I minded if she went to bed while I did the decorating...so I tiptoed through her home decorating in silence...hoping, but questioning whether my small part would be enough to encourage her even a little bit...
the next morning I received this message...
"Thank you so much for all your efforts in trying to make this a Merry Christmas for me. I love it! My home and spirits are brighter and I actually feel some energy this morning, so thank you for making that happen. The house really has a whole new feel and I am thankful for that!! It is truly magnificent and I thank you for that!'
So many times, we miss the opportunity to give the best gift...our time and talents to help those who need us (when they need us)...the gift of a listening ear and a call to action are gifts that we all can give not only at Christmas but, all throughout the year...
Instead of asking "what did you get this Christmas."
Maybe we should ask...
"What we can give this Christmas..."
Although I am not a huge fan of most greens, I have fallen in love with Benjamin Moore’s 2015 COLOR OF THE YEAR…Guilford Green. Its description cannot be presented any more accurately than in the words of Ellen O’Neill Creative Director at Benjamin Moore.
“Guilford Green is a neutral that’s a natural. A silvery green that works with, well, everything. No worries. No second thoughts. Just a brush, dipped in a can, whooshed on a wall, and a whole lot of happily ever after.”
These colors are here to stay and sure to be remembered by all who view them…So, take a trip to your nearest provider of Benjamin Moore paints and pick up a can of Guilford Green…your friends and neighbors will be “GREEN WITH ENVY” !!!
We love fall...the spectacular weather and fall colors are mesmerizing...but here in the northeast, most of us in real estate are wary of the fast approaching winter weather. It’s challenging enough to maintain a “show ready” property during temperate weather...but snow, salt, cinders, and lack of vegetation, can cause even the most attractive homes to look like they need some TLC! If your’e feeling blue...cheer up! Statistically winter showings are fewer...but don’t be discouraged...typically this is a quieter time for the real estate market and unlike spring, where many folks are “just looking”...winter showings are all about “buyers” who need to purchase.
SET2SELL Home Staging & Design has some home staging strategies to help you take advantage of the seasonal opportunities in those challenging winter months...
CLEAR ALL ENRTY WAYS & ACCESS AREAS
Keep steps, walkways, and driveways free of snow & ice...use sand/salt to ensure your buyer’s safety...but remember, sand & salt can wreak havoc on your floors...so prepare your home for winter traffic by investing in a new doormat/carpet for inside and out. Talk with your agent about posting a small neatly printed and laminated card asking buyers to wipe their feet or remove their shoes...your potential buyer will appreciate the care you have taken with your home.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
One of the biggest turn offs to a buyer is lack of light...pull up the blinds, open the draperies, and turn on the lights...add accessory lighting if necessary...remember to plug accessory lighting into wall sockets that are live when the switch is turned on. This prevents real estate agents from having to find and manually turn on “each” light. Keep all under counter and built in lights on...many times they have hard to locate switches. Use technology to your advantage...set timers for obscure lighting, especially if you will be out for the evening. Always leave exterior lighting on from the hours of dusk to at
least 9 pm...many potential buyers drive by properties in the evening after work prior to making an appointment with their realtor.
TURN UP THE HEAT
Make sure the thermostat is a degree or two warmer than average...regardless of how you like to keep the temperature...buyers may have been out in the cold for hours looking at properties. Give them a warm welcome , a cozy memory to take home, and a reason to linger in your home a little longer. If you have a gas fireplace...it’s a nice idea to have it lit...I do not suggest lighting a wood burning fireplace...not only is it dangerous, but most people don’t light fires and leave their home unoccupied.
SHOW BUYERS AREAS THAT CANNOT BE APPRECIATED OR SEEN IN WINTER
Make sure you have quality pictures of the exterior spaces and landscaping that cannot be seen in the winter months. Place pictures on a hall table or in a notebook with a photo of your home on the cover and a caption that reads...INFORMATION ON 123 Any Street, USA...you can also add other pertinent information that may interest your buyer(school bus stop location, distance from nearest grocery store, monthly neighborhood events). Your home shopper will appreciate the information and it may cause them to remain in your home longer.
DON’T OVER DO THE SCENTS
Be careful not to over scent your home...avoid plug in and all other free standing air fresheners...many people are allergic to these scents and over scenting may cause buyers to wonder what you might be trying to hide. Never light candles or bake cookies...it is highly overrated & misunderstood. Although smell is important, your buyer is there to view your home...not to eat and smell Yankee Candles’s holiday scents!
TASTEFUL HOLIDAY DECORATIONS CREATE AN INVITING SPACE
Holiday marketing can give you an edge over competing properties...simple
conservative white lights and a festive green wreath or topiary with a spotlight will strike the right note and give an appropriate dose of seasonal cheer!
SHOWCASE THE INDOOR ENTERTAINING POSSIBILITIES
The winter season is prime time for parties and holiday open houses...show off your entertaining areas with neutral festive decor and florals...make it inviting & cozy... a decorative tray, 4-6 wine glasses and a bottle of holiday wine with some small pine foliage.
OUTDOOR WINTER MARKETING
In the middle of winter, it can be difficult to visualize fabulous perennials, plantings, and outdoor entertaining areas...Take advantage of your outdoor space...A fire pit, outdoor fire place, covered porch, urns, and planters decorated with seasonal greens can help buyers see the potential even in the coldest months...be sure to keep these outdoor areas fully furnished if possible.
WINTER STAGING SET ASIDE...REMEMBER THE BASICS...
Regular home maintenance and repairs are essential regardless of the season.
Cleaning and decluttering are always necessary. Improving curb appeal & tidying up the exterior prevents a buyer from making a negative first impression and encouraging them to come in...turning SALE into SOLD!!!
Your real estate agent has done his/her due diligence and knows where your home should be priced...in a slow market, nothing counts more than pricing your home right! Your real estate agent will check competing listings and recent sale prices in your neighborhood...He/she is an expert...listen to their advice and marketing expertise!
HAPPY WINTER MARKETING!
Good or Bad... "A picture is worth a thousand words." I am sure you have heard this at least a thousand times. The pictures taken to represent your home need to create a story for potential buyers. A story that speaks to them, that invites them in. A story that allows them to create memories in their imagination of what life will be like when they are living, growing and experiencing life in their new home. The online listing is where home buyers will spend most of their time before ever setting foot into a showing.
So in reality, the online listing of your home is the homes' very first showing. Are your pictures helping potential home buyers to create imaginative stories of a memory filled future, or are your pictures quickly encouraging them to move on to the next listing?
Pictures are the portal. The homes' layout and design is the stage. A poorly staged or even an empty home can inhibit the home buyer from creating a story. Let me illustrate this point. Looking at an empty stage in a Broadway theater does not tickle our senses in the least. Fill that stage with professionally designed props, well rehearsed actors, crafted costumes, dynamic and enriching backdrops, mood setting lighting and a musical score, and we become captured in the story.
Is your home staged so that pictures are capturing our target audience, or are home buyers viewing our listings and feeling empty?
Today's market is competitive. To add to the sellers disadvantage, there is a surplus in home inventory. Home staging and real estate design have become essential in elevating your listing above the competition, moving your home from "sale" to "sold."
To get the very most for your home and to have it sell in the shortest possible time, utilize the services of a professional who can take your homes canvas and create a masterpiece.
Gauge your senses as you take a few moments to view some before and after pictures of homes that were professionally staged by Set2Sell and let the pictures do the talking.