When and How to Use Them
Accent walls give interest and break up the monotony of a space by infusing color, pattern or texture to the wall. They can be used in entry ways, just opposite the door, creating a dramatic and memorable entry. Or sometimes they’re used in the bedroom to anchor the wall the bed sits on. They’re great with infusing the homeowner’s personality into the space. Accent walls can be made with paint, wall coverings, or textural elements. Really the sky’s the limit.
If you’re staging your home for sale, its an entirely different story. So far, I’ve never recommended anyone to create an accent wall to make the room more appealing for their sale. There’s a few reasons for this. Let’s go over some of them.
Accent walls represent the Seller
Accent walls really represent the Seller’s taste and personality, which is great when the Seller is living in the home, but not so great when you’re trying to sell it. Rule #1 of selling a home is to depersonalize it. In order for buyers to envision it as their home, remnants of the seller’s taste and personality just reinforces that it’s the seller’s home, not the buyers.
Distracts the buyer's eye
An accent wall in a room is exactly that … an accent wall. It’s meant to pull your attention away from other elements in the room and commands you to pay attention to that wall. When you’re selling a house, you want buyers to be able to move their eyes comfortably through the space. Unless the room is expertly staged and styled, an accent wall will stop the natural movement of the eye, disrupting the cohesion, balance and harmonious feeling in the space. Creating harmonious spaces is what makes people and buyers feel good in a space, which in turn motivates buyers to submit offers.
Color could turn off some buyers
Once you paint or install an accent wall, you’ve now narrowed your pool of potential buyers because an accent wall is by its very nature a color and style choice that you’re affixing to the house. You’ve now limited the buyer’s interior decor choices dramatically as they’ll be limited to decorating their home based on that accent wall, or they’ll have to paint over it or remove it. In today’s market, many buyers want turn-key and don’t want to be bothered with a can of paint, especially after the exhausting task of buying/selling and moving.
And color can be a strong factor for many people. A certain hue, tone or tint could be loved by one buyer, but be a serious turn-off for another.
For these reasons, for staging I typically recommend painting over accent walls to make it cohesive with its surrounding walls. The mood and focal point will be created using furnishings, art and decor, which aren’t fixed items of the home. Any color disconnect with the decor will be less harmful than a color disconnect with an accent wall.
Improper use of accent wall
Many times I see accent walls used improperly here in Hilo. Used improperly, they could subconsciously devalue the house in the buyer’s mind. Buyers typically don’t know what’s wrong with a room when they’re standing in it, but they’ll instinctively know that something doesn’t feel right. And by the very nature of an accent wall, it’ll be the elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. If it’s off balance, or used improperly, buyers will feel the room is awkward and not harmonious. Thus for staging, unless you’re guided by a trained and experienced stager, Seller’s should paint over their existing accent walls to match their surrounding walls.
When can I use an accent wall?
If you’re not selling your home and want to create interest, drama or a certain mood in a room an accent wall could be an option for you. The accent wall becomes the focal point and backdrop for whatever is fronting that wall, so keep that in mind. The rule is a wall that doesn’t have any breaks in it like doors, windows or other openings, would make a good candidate as your accent wall. IF there are windows, they MUST be symmetrically placed on the accent wall to achieve balance and harmony. If not, choose another wall that fits these parameters or abandon the accent wall intention and use other means to create your ambiance.
Can the accent wall rules be broken?
All design rules can be broken, but keep in mind that very few designers can break the design rules and do it well. So its best to stick to the rules unless you really know what you’re doing. And remember, what you see in a magazine shot isn’t the whole story. You can’t fully see and feel how that one shot of the room relates to - or balances with - the other side of the room unless you’re standing in the room. So use the accent wall rules to guide you if you want to add a wall of drama.
I was terrified!
I had a Hilo staging job a couple years ago where the accent wall broke the rules. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to calm the disharmony in the room. To make matters worse, the accent wall covering was a very busy pattern. Painting over it simply wasn’t an option for the Seller. Therefore I used color to create the cohesion in the room and balanced the accent wall with a large piece of art over the fireplace. For the MLS photo, I cropped out the portions that would show the bad accent wall design issues. The end result? Check out the photo below. Do you think it turned out alright? Balanced, luxurious, inviting? Thankfully my terror ended with a happy seller as house sold in 15 days.
Three Basic Choices in Wood Flooring
Flooring: the foundation of a room
Floors make a huge impact on a home, both aesthetically and financially. Think of your floors like a pair of shoes — its the foundation of the look you’re rockin’. If you’re wearing a Christian Dior dress with a pair of rubber slippahs…. that look isn’t pulled together! We're in Hawaii, so the Christian Dior dress gotta go and put on beach shorts and shirt to complete the ensemble! You can think of your floors in the same way. They’re the foundation of the home’s look. Floors can either be a very trendy look (which drastically limits the other finish choices you’ll make for the home) or a classic look like a great pair of jeans that coordinates with everything.
There’s many factors when considering flooring. On the design aesthetic, if you choose a trendy floor you should be prepared to replace the flooring in 10 years or the home will look and feel older than it is and you’ll be locked into basically one look. If you choose a classic floor its like a great pair of jeans that can be dressed up with a jacket or dressed down with a tank top. A classic floor is a great foundation that works with your home’s decor giving you beauty for many years. Flooring isn’t easy to replace or upgrade. It is possible but expensive to do. So this is a choice you want to be confident will meet your needs and demands both now and in the future. Per John Dupra of Revel Woods Fine Hardwood Flooring, “Flooring is a long-term decision that is not easy to change; like a really expensive tattoo for your house. It’s not something you want to choose hastily, or the sort of thing you want to do on the cheap lest you pay in the long run.”
When to Choose Flooring
Your flooring should be chosen very close to the beginning of a project if possible because its so foundational to the space. Because of flooring’s structural and aesthetic significance its also not wise to penny-pinch and save money on this line item at installation. Your savings will be realized years down the road in durability and elimination of constant floor repairs or replacements. A good placeholder budget number is $12/sf which would include materials and installation. That’s a little on the high side to give you some wiggle room for unwelcomed surprises.
Different types of Hardwood Flooring & Finishes
There are three basic types of hardwood flooring: Solid Wood, Engineered Wood and Wood-Look Products (laminate, pergo, vinyl plank, wood-tile all fall into this Wood-Look category).
There are basically two types of wood finishes: On-site or Factory. Also referred as Unfinished or Finished. On-site finish means you’ve bought unfinished wood and once installed your installer will apply the sealer and finish coats on-site. Because of this, the finish is more customizable in both color and sheen. There is no beveling between planks so you’ll have a truly flat floor. It will still require sanding and it does introduce chemicals into the home which could linger before fully aerating.
Factory means you’ve bought the wood with the sealer and finish coats applied at the factory so your installer only needs to install the wood and its ready to be walked upon immediately after installation. This also means there will be no noxious chemicals lingering in the home. A factory finish is typically more durable due to the controlled environment it was applied in. There are multiple extra finish options you can choose from too, such as smooth, wire brushed and hand scrapped, but some kind of bevel is required and thus you won’t have a truly flat-floor look on a factory finish.
Solid Wood Flooring
Engineered Wood Flooring
Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll discuss the common factors in sourcing wood flooring which includes climate, subfloor, lifestyle and aesthetic. By then, you’ll know if you should choose the rubber slipper, Reef slipper or anything in-between! Until then… a hui hou!!
By: Ulu Poepoe
UP Staging & Design
What is the goal of Hilo sellers?
When is it advantageous to stage a listing? There's no cookie-cutter answer to this. Engaging your client in conversation and asking some key questions, such as why they're selling, is the best way to determine what their goals are. Once you have a better understanding of their goals, you can determine what steps are necessary to help them achieve it. As you know, there are a million and one reasons why sellers need or want to sell their property, and zeroing in one their goals can help you service them more effectively.
Here are some points you can consider when evaluating if you should have your listing staged or not.
Look at Seller's Goals - Start by asking them why they're selling. What circumstances lead them to this decision? For instance, a seller has taken ill so they're selling to move in with daughter in California. This helps you understand their goal of a quick sale. Or a seller wants to downsize as they don'[t need a large house anymore although they're still helping the kids with college tuition. This helps you understand their goal of maximizing the equity on their home.
Look at Market Conditions - Is it a buyer's market or a seller's market? Staging helps in both markets, but understanding its depth can help you determine if staging is right for your client. For example in a buyer's market, the above goal to achieve a quick sale is difficult. The market is saturated and home prices are low. In this scenario, staging can help shorten time on market while maintaining a strong dollar, even in a buyer's market.
If we look at a seller's market where inventory is low and prices are high, the goal of maximizing the equity on the sale can be boosted even further with professional staging.
Buyers can visualize themselves living there - 9 out of 10 people have difficulties visualizing themselves in the seller's home. Its difficult to look past the seller's personal items. If the home is vacant, its still difficult for buyers to see past an empty space and imagine their furniture, their lives, there. The size of the room becomes difficult to see when its vacant, making it hard for buyers to know if their furniture will fit in the space. If buyers aren't able to "see" themselves living in the home, they'll be far less likely to submit an offer to buy. Look at your listing. Is it represented in its best light to help buyers see themselves living there, with a lifestyle they aspire to?
Buying is an emotional process - Buyers who don't establish an emotional link to the home typically aren't as motivated to submit an offer. Professional stagers know how to target the buyer and help them get emotionally involved in the home, increasing the likelihood of an offer. Manufacturers hire marketing companies to merchandize their products, making them more appealing by getting you emotionally involved in the product. They know how to make you want something even if you don't need it. Look at the classic example of the Coke commercial with a beautiful bottle of Coke dripping wet on a hot summer day. You can almost taste it. You become emotionally involved in it because you can taste the coolness of the Coke. These are subtle merchandizing techniques, and effective. That's why a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl costs millions. Merchandizing works. Professional stagers use merchandizing techniques through design, color, the home's architecture, decor and furniture placement to create that moment in time, like a scene on a movie set, to merchandize the home and help buyers become emotionally involved in the home. Staging converts a listing from a home to a commodity by merchandizing it to appeal to its buyer demographics. Although it may sound cold on the surface, selling a home is, in most cases, the seller's largest transaction. Employing proper merchandizing tools to maximize your client's asset value can be the link needed to help buyers make that emotional connection.
Eye-catching MLS photos - Beautiful photos on-line is the new curb appeal. Its essential to have beautiful photos that'll capture a buyer's attention and motivate them to request a showing. A property doesn't[t have to be a luxury home to photograph beautifully and look gorgeous. This is proven time and time again through effective staging and photography. Look at your listing. Is it presented well so it'll look great online?
You only have 1 chance to make a first impression - Studies have found that buyers form their first impression just seconds after walking in the front door. The rest of the time spent in the home they use to justify their first impression, whether that impression was positive or negative. Walk through the front door of your listing. What's your first impression? What catches your eye first? Is this the first impression you want buyers to experience?
As you can see, not staging only works to help drive traffic to your listing's competition! Professional staging creates great online presentations, drives buyer traffic to the home, and brings in offers. Consider your seller's goals and ask yourself if professional staging can help you achieve them for your client.
Its about being
The "hot house" on market
Its highly likely the largest transaction you’ll ever make will be the buying and selling of your home. You can stand to gain a lot, lose a lot, or break even. Real estate is market-driven, but there are things you can do to increase your likelihood of a successful sale. The 2 critical keys to understand when selling your house is 1) price it right 2) market it right. When these 2 keys are aligned correctly, you will sell your home quickly at the strongest dollar.
For today, let’s look at key #2) Market it Right. Marketing real estate is broken down into Internal and External marketing. External marketing is about the exposure the house gets to draw prospective buyers to your home for a showing. Once we get them to the showing, its the efforts of the Internal Marketing that will influence the buying decision.
Your first marketing efforts should be made on Internal marketing which is the preparation of the home and property itself. This would include repairs, upgrades, decluttering, cleaning and staging. Most people understand why repairs, decluttering and cleaning are necessary. As for staging, all things equal, 2 identical houses side-by-side, buyer’s gravitate to the staged home, and will even pay more for the identical but staged house. A staged home not only looks better than other homes on market, buyers view staged homes as “well maintained” and “move-in” ready. Professional staging creates harmony, balance and ambiance in the space, helping buyers feel at home. Dialing in on your internal marketing will help make your house the hot house.
Once your internal marketing is ready, it’s time for your Realtor to focus on External Marketing. These efforts can include conducting open houses and broker opens. Your Realtor’s networking is a critical function within this sales process. Also posting your house on MLS, Zillow, print ads and other real estate platforms are part of external marketing. Technology has made beautiful photos online critically important as today’s marketing platforms are largely online.
As you can see, staging influences the effectiveness of both internal and external marketing efforts. Rolling up your sleeves to work on reflecting your home in its best light before listing can help you maximize the dollar on your sale.
As Hilo’s staging experts, here’s our list of recommended first steps to transform your house to be the hot house of your neighborhood:
1. Start purging and packing. Buyers have a hard time seeing past Seller’s “stuff”. They can have difficulty seeing, or feeling, how a room is because their senses can be inundated with the Sellers items. It prohibits them from envisioning their own things in the room. Without them visualizing themselves living there, its harder for them to feel motivated to submit an offer. If they do submit you risk it being a lower offer than if the house was lookings its best. Start your declutter process by making a throw pile, donation pile, and packing pile in each room. Pack/purge everything you won’t wear or cook with in the next 6 months. Look at it like an extended vacation, and pack everything else except what you need for your extended vacation. Also, depersonalize your house by removing personal things like photos, diplomas and religious items as they remind Buyers they’re walking through YOUR house, not their potential home.
2. Clean, clean, clean. Nobody wants to buy somebody else’s dirt. Literally. Clean everything. Once you’ve decluttered by packing and purging, clean every crevice, every ceiling, wall, floor, window, light fixture, fan, door knob, cabinet, mirror, inside the appliances, and behind them too. Everywhere. Sidewalks. Mailboxes. Clean. No spiders, roaches, cobwebs, dust, stale odors, stains, pet stains. None of it. Clean it all. Overwhelmed? Have a cleaning party with friends, or hire a housecleaner to get it done.
Those are the two biggest, heavy hitting items above. At the very least you should do those two - albeit huge - things to prepare your house for market. Whether you do it before you list, or after, it will need to be done before the new Buyer takes possession. So you might as well receive the biggest benefit of doing it before you launch the listing since it can help shorten time on market as well as strengthen the dollar on your offer.
The next few items add the finesse to take your house to the next level:
3. Furniture placement - Keep walk pathways clear within the home and avoid placing furniture close to doorways which will make rooms feel cramped.
4. Kitchens and bathrooms - can be freshened up with new cabinet hardware and paint. Choose modern colors (greys), whites, off-whites, to appeal to target buyer demographics. You can even paint laminate countertops using melamine paint! (make sure you sand and primer, or hire a professional to do it).
5. Show off closets - by creating ample space in closets. Excess furniture, sports equipment, toys, clothing, and just “Life Stuff” should be donated, discarded or ideally boxed and stored off premises before you launch listing.
6. Windows - Consider removing curtains. Oftentimes they hold onto dust and odors. If you must have curtains, consider solid, light colored curtains to help the room appear as large as it can be. Dark colored and printed curtains will help visually shrink the room and make it feel smaller than it is.
7. Towels - Invest in “showing towels” to be used only for your showings and open houses. A great inexpensive way to make your bathroom feel fresh.
8. Bed Linens - All beds should have “show linens”. Fresh clean sheets for all beds, and simple blankets or comforters (only the keiki bedrooms can get away with busy and loud comforters). All beds should have fresh, evenly fluffy sleeping pillows (not old pillows whose batting has seen better days).
These are the basic preparations to ready your home for market and are the beginning steps of staging. No staging can be performed successfully without the first 2 steps of packing/purging and cleaning. To really wow! prospective buyers and be the hot house on that buyer’s list, consider incorporating a professional stager with your team. Professional stagers are trained to create well-balanced harmonious rooms which help the home “feel like home”, that buyer’s can aspire to. They also use color, decor and psychology to target the home’s buyer demographics, similar to Coke displaying a bottle of coke, dripping wet on a hot summer day. You can almost taste it...
Why leave money on the table? This is one of the largest transactions you’ll make. Start the steps to transform your house into the hot house, maximize your dollar and have a successful sale.
Check it out...
Here’s a challenge we did. The home was filled with seller’s items and old outdated finishes that didn’t really show off the great architectural features. The wallpaper was dated and the home had its share of deferred maintenance. We worked with the seller’s existing furniture once the purging and packing was done. Despite the deferred maintenance, great pricing coupled with beautiful staging put the home in escrow 15 days after listing.
The challenge in this before picture the living room didn't reflect the great features the home had. It just felt like a mishmash of stuff and gave little inspiration for buyers.
The solution made the space feel more open, inviting, harmonious and inspirational. The beautiful fireplace and high ceilings are beautifully shown off.
A real estate investor needed guidance choosing the finishes for a newly constructed house they were building in Hawaiian Shores, Big Island, and called us for help. They wanted to create a well-built home balanced within a competitive sales price-point. Creating a classic Hawaii home that can stand the test of time without feeling outdated within a year while providing the new home owner greater value was our objective. We worked with items that were locally stocked in Hilo yet provided gorgeous upgrades such as gas stove, beautiful deep kitchen sink, soft close cabinets, quartz countertops. The master bedroom was painted a warm luxurious grey that beckons you to unwind in. And with incredible extras such as insulation throughout the house, even the hottest days will leave you cool and comfortable.
Once the build-out was completed we were brought back to stage the home for sale. We used decor that complimented the soft elegance and great architectural features the developer built into the home. Listed at $299,000, this home gives you incredibly more for your dollar. Contact Realtor Christi Mallicoat, of RELife Realty, LLC at 808-756-2079 for more info. MLS 614449.
Bombarded with 2018 forecasts? Yes, its that time of year when everyone makes their prediction of the newest decorating fad or real estate market forecast. Speculations abound, like is Kim Jong-un courting us? (or do we believe the oops I pressed the wrong button?!)
But seriously, style agencies have been setting the trends since the early 1960's when Maïmé Arnodin started a column in Jardin des Modes, a French fashion magazine, where she featured pieces she believed would become fashionable in the next season. She unknowingly launched a whole new industry. Today, the most influential style agencies still come from France, but they take their cues from artists, historians, linguists and sociologists as they observe life around the globe and translate that to color and style. An influential color predictor is Pantone. Manufacturers rely on Pantone's color predictions, coupled with other color experts and style agencies, to guide their color selections with fabric batches from blouses to sofas, cars, curtains and drapery, flooring, tile colors, roof colors... well you get the picture. Anyone manufacturing anything wants to make their item sell fast and offer their product in the latest trend color and style. As a consumer you know that's only part of the story. Color may attract you to the product, but it has to perform well too if you're going to buy it.
Do you see how this applies to you if you're selling real estate? Knowing the current trend is important in understanding your customer, but its only one of the keys. Buying a home is typically the single largest purchase a person is likely to make and buyers want to know they're getting their money's worth. Here in Hilo, we're in the grey trend. Its easy to misunderstand what that means when decorating a home or preparing it for sale. Everyone wants to install grey floors. Paint walls grey. Grey backsplashes, grey tile.... But its a misconception that if the trend is grey, then put grey everywhere in the home. And compounding that at the stores the sales people tell you their most popular selling item is the grey thingy over there..... But good design isn't about putting in all the trendy grey things. When selling real estate its about attracting buyers. And attracting buyers for real estate means using good design coupled with the latest trends to help buyers see the homes' value.
If you're selling a home that is stuck in the brown trend, both in color and style, professional staging can help ease the feeling of an outdated home by making the home feel fresh and current. We do this utilizing good design principles coupled with balancing colors within the space.
And one more tip about real estate and the grey trend, or any future trend for that matter. Trends change. So, for the fixed elements of the home that are too expensive to replace within the next 10 years... whenever you're renovating a space and find yourself in the position to choose a new fixed element of a home (flooring, cabinetry, countertops, tile, stone work... anything built-in and fixed to the house) like a great pair of jeans choose finishes that are classic and reflect the style and era of the home instead of trendy. Buyers will love you for it and you'll love it more too.
So be like the Irish and have fun with green! But stay away from green walls unless you have a lucky leprechaun helping you! Happy St. Patrick's Day!
We develop relationships with our homes. Our homes are our foundation and see us through our best and worst times. Experienced Realtors know the emotional and sometimes painful process Sellers go through when they make the decision to sell their home. They are, after all, choosing to break up this relationship.
A stager's job is to help Sellers in this break-up process. Whether staging a vacant or occupied listing, or guiding a Seller on their packing and prioritizing their repair list, stagers help ease the burden on both Sellers and Realtors, keeping the end result in focus and laying out the path to achieve it.
And what is that end result? Shortest time on market for the strongest dollar possible. The staging magic is in changing the focus of a home from the Seller/homeowner, to viewing the home as a marketable commodity where the focus is switched to the BUYER. While focusing on the prospective buyer, stagers use layout, color and decor to target the buyer and create an ambiance in the home that feels balanced, harmonious, warm and welcoming. These are subtle things that everyone can perceive, but few know WHY they're perceiving it and what influences it. Similarly we often don't know exactly why we fell in love with our mate, and may think it was the initial attraction. Often its the underlying things that spark the relationship, like how he smiles at your silly jokes, or remembers you like dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Its these subtle little things that can have big and lasting impressions and lays the foundation of the relationship. A successful staging does the same thing. It lays the foundation for the new buyer to "see" their new relationship and how beautiful it is.
When a prospective buyer walks into a beautifully staged home, they feel great. They might not understand what is guiding them to this feeling of balance and harmony. All they know is that they've fallen in love with how the home makes them feel. And buyers in love are the ones motivated to submit offers.
And for the Seller, when their home is looking absolutely fantastic, they're proud to hand their home to the new buyers. The pain and guilt of breaking up with their old home is released, freeing them to pursue their awaiting adventure and build a relationship with their new home.
Realtors know vacant homes can be difficult to sell and often sit on the market long. Buyers have difficulty imagining what a space would look like filled with their belongings. Size, scale and layout become challenges in their mind as they view the space. And if the space is vacant, then the challenges are compounded. Add to that, sometimes Buyers don't know how they could use a space, and thus don't see the potential value of a property.
Professional staging eliminates those problems and helps draw in Buyers by giving purpose to the room, as well as warmth and harmony. The furniture and decor is carefully chosen to defend the space and accentuate the architectural features of the home, while drawing the Buyer in, helping them relate to the personality of the home. Here's an example of a vacant space. With no furniture and decor, its difficult to grasp the size and what the rooms is. There's nothing there for us to relate to, or to be drawn in with. Is it a large bedroom, a dining room, a living room? It feels cold and empty
Once staged, you can tell what the room is at a glance. Staging defined the room as a living room, gave it size, scale, warmth, balance, harmony and personality. It created a welcoming feeling that Buyers can relate and aspire to, drawing them into the home and motivating them to visit and even submit offers.
This Ainaloa home was on the market for 2 months when the Seller called us. We staged it and they were in escrow 11 days later at list price!
Simply placing furniture in a room isn't enough to motivate Buyers. Professional staging incorporates design and psychological techniques to help Buyers see the home's true potential and helps Buyers make that emotional leap, the decision, to buy the home.
"Do you think we need to stage our house?" they ask as you're midway through your listing presentation. If you say NO, you're in opposition to the messages given on HGTV and numerous other cable channels sporting real estate and decorating programs. YES means you see problems with their home which could hurt their feelings in this relationship-driven industry. How do you respond to their questions? What do you say?
A simple "We'll send our professional stager to meet with you." will handle it.
That's it! Task completed and now you can move on with your listing presentation. You talk business, you sell your services and land the listing. All questions on condition or presentation can get deferred to your professional stager.
Our initial 2-hour consultation meeting with your Seller bears useful information for your Seller as they prepare their home for market. We use tactful approaches in discussing these tender topics with your Seller. We discuss what they should pack, what can be used for their staging, what repairs they should perform, what walls should be painted and even what color to paint. We career our recommendations to bear in mind their repair budget, yet maintain the focus of converting their home to a house that's market-ready. We go over these details with them so it frees up your time and allows you, as their Realtor, to focus on the actual SALE of their home.
I'm Ululani and have been staging homes in Hilo since 2013. I'm passionate about staging, design, color and photography. I'm also about slow food free of pesticides, chemicals and genetically modified organisms for healthy balanced living for our 'ohana and communities.