Sunday, June 12, 2016

Top Designer Picks for Home Decorating "Must-Haves"

When you’re planning a room, it’s easy to forget the details. In order to complete the look of a room, and make it feel like your own, you need to invest in some of the finishing touch pieces to add that final design layer. This is where we find a lot of our design clients get stumped, unsure of what to get, or how to put it all together, so we’ve put together a list of our best “must-haves” for every home!

Daisy Pillow Cover by Birch Lane (
Some key elements to completing the look in your home:

Decorative pillows – you can never have too many of these! It’s fun to change them up by season, with warmer colours in the winter, and more vibrant colours in the spring and summer. Don’t be afraid to add a little bling to a room, such as an elegant bedroom, with some jewels on your pillows. And one thing that we absolutely love to do is mix patterns for a more layered look.

Elvie Indoor/Outdoor Lumbar Pillow by August Grove (
Luanna Synthetic Throw Pillow by House of Hampton (

Comfy Throws – these serve double duty at a great accent piece draped over a chair, sofa, or bed, and are perfect for curling up with on a cold night. They’re also a perfect way to add a subtle hint of colour to a room!

Higgin Lounge Throw by Brayden Studio (
Whitney Throw by Birch Lane (

Area Rugs – especially in a gathering room, area rugs will help to “ground” the room and pull the conversational seating together. For larger rooms, area rugs can help to break up the space to create two distinct areas, with separate purposes, within a room. Ensure that the area rug is large enough to extend at least slightly under each piece of furniture in the room, to avoid it “floating” in the room. 

Platinum Venetian Silver Area Rug by Kalora (

Zunheboto Hand-Tufted Light Grey Area Rug by Meridian Rugmakers (

Rugs can also be placed in front of a fireplace to create a cozy place to cuddle up in the winter, while adding some luxury to the space.
Straight Edge Taupe Area Rug by Fibre by Auskin (

Wall Art – if you have a fear of commitment to art, get over it! And no, don’t try to tell me that you don’t want to put holes in your wall – that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do! If you really dislike the holes, you can explore the option of the 3M Command Hooks and Strips. Other artwork hanging solutions can be found in our January Blog “Hang Artwork Like a Pro”. Wall art can range from framed paintings and pictures, to canvases, to metal wall sculptures, mirrors, decorative clocks, and whatever else you want to display.

Aspen Forest 1 Painting Print on White Wood by ParvezTaj (

Heck, you can even hang small accent furniture pieces or accessories on the wall if you want to! Adding a variety of styles of wall accessories will add texture to a room, and help to really complete the space by filling the eye-level areas for a cohesive look and feel.

Sunburst Brass Wall Décor by DwellStudio (

Corner items – we all have that empty corner in a room in our house, and clients are often perplexed with what to do with these areas. They’re often considered fairly non-functional space, though an attractive shelf could fix this.

Corner Shelves by Zipcode™ Design (

63" Display Corner Unit by DanyaB (

Courtdale 71" Corner Unit by Varick Gallery (

But what’s to say that every space needs to be functional, can’t it just be pretty? Create a decorative vignette with a large vase, plant, or other floral display.

Grass and Bamboo Floor Plant in Decorative Vase by Nearly Natural (

Or add some fun boxes or trunks, stacked to add some height.

An old wooden ladder can work great in a corner on it’s own, or used to hang magazines, towels, plants, or other display items.

Large Mirror – These are a great way to reflect light to brighten a room, add the illusion of space, and fill a decorative need in a room, whether hung or leaning on a wall.

Large Rectangular Paneled Mirror with Antique Gold Leaf Frame by Majestic Mirror (
Montrose Mirror by Howard Elliott (

Statement piece – there are really no rules to a statement piece. As indicated in its name, it’s intended to make a statement, and create an impact for anyone that enters the room. This could be achieved by its size, colours, historical significance, or simply its overall uniqueness. It should be eye-catching, and most importantly, something that you absolutely love. It’s not necessary for every room or home to have a statement piece, but it adds a great element to a room, in addition to creating conversation amongst your guests.

Infinity Tunnel Coffee Table by Nova (

Antique Replica RCA Victor Phonograph Gramophone by EC World Imports (

When designing your room, don’t be afraid to add personal elements, and items that make you smile, for whatever reason, to create a room that you’ll be sure to love.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Your BTSH Team: Marina Hermann

If you’ve ever called the BTSH office, you’ve probably talked to Marina. She is the Executive Assistant – a.k.a. the glue that holds the BTSH team together. Most of her work happens behind the scenes, as she keeps the office organized and the team operating efficiently. Her attention to detail and positive attitude have been an asset to BTSH since she joined the company two years ago.

“Before BTSH, I always worked for big, public companies as an Executive Assistant to the President and the CEO,” she said. “I worked for Hewlett-Packard for seven years, then for ARISE Technologies Corporation for 14 years, but I was ready for a change.”

Marina started at BTSH at just a few hours each day, but quickly took on more hours and responsibility as Shauna Lynn recognized that she was capable of handling a much larger workload. Her position was expanded from part-time administration to a full-time executive support role. She now has her hands in just about everything, including organizing the monthly home seller workshops, SLS Academy, Shauna Lynn’s scheduling, coordinating communication with clients, vendors and realtors, and much more.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the help and support that Marina provides. For over two years now, she has helped us to transform our office, which now runs like a fine-oiled machine! She helps to keep everything in order, and ensures that we stay on track while allowing us to do what we do best – designing and staging houses,” said Shauna Lynn, owner of BTSH.

As a side project, Marina and her husband used to flip houses. They purchased run down places, then spent a few months fixing them up to sell at a profit. Because of this experience, she is able to help out with stages, de-stages, and finishing touches on jobs as needed.

“When I saw the job posting for this position, I thought it would be a great fit for me because of my experience in administration, but also my love for interior design.  It was the best of both worlds!” Marina said.

Marina now handles the administration of the entire BTSH office and is a valued member of the team!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why Your Empty House Won't Sell

While it is possible to sell an empty house, it is rare. If you have ever tried to sell a vacated house absent of its furnishings, you have likely experienced this first hand - numerous buyers passing on the home, and feedback that makes no sense to you. What do you mean the bedrooms look small? The living room isn't an awkward layout! Since you have lived in the house, you know how great it looks when it’s fully furnished and decorated, and you understand how each room should be set up. The trick is in helping your buyers to understand this.

Unfortunately, the ability to visualize a space is a skill that not everyone has. In fact, only about 10% of your prospective buyers have this ability to properly visualize a space beyond what they see in front of them. This means when you are selling a vacant home, you’re missing out on 90% of potential market! Vacant homes will often take much longer to sell than a properly staged home (72% longer in fact, according to RESA®’s 2014 survey). Not only does furnishing a home properly help buyers to understand the optimal placement for their furniture, but it will allow them to connect on an emotional level as well. It’s not just about having furniture in a house in order to help buyers to visualize it, but it’s about merchandising the home, and selling the experience of living there.

To do this, each room needs to first be clearly defined. This means showing buyers what the intended purpose and use of each room in the home is, whether it’s a bedroom, an office, a dining room, or a gathering room. Defining this intent, and showcasing this one use for the space, will allow buyers to flow more easily from room to room when viewing the home, without having to stop and think in each room about how they would use it.

What is home staging? Home staging is a complete process for preparing a home for sale. The goal of home staging is to clearly define the space, show proper scale, and create an emotional connection for buyers. This is achieved through updates and repairs, eliminating distractions from the home, proper furnishing, arranging, accessorizing, and essentially, merchandising of the space.

Have you ever ordered an item online, and when you received it you realized that it wasn’t quite the size that you thought that it was? The online site probably gave you the dimensions for the item, but you didn’t fully understand its size from the photo that they provided you with. Now, you’ve probably seen something like this, and perhaps have even done this yourself when taking a photo:

You take a commonly known object, and place it next to the item that you’re trying to show the size of. Now lets take this back to your empty house. Vacant rooms will often tend to look smaller than they actually are to your prospective buyers, especially since 92% of these buyers are first viewing your property online (National Association of REALTORS® 2014 REPORT), and these photographs can be deceptive in vacant rooms. By showing that a queen size bed with nightstands fits in a bedroom for example, or a full size sofa in the sitting room, you’re helping buyers to understand how they could furnish the rooms, and you are giving them an incentive to come and visit the home to see for themselves.

When viewing an empty home online, it is especially difficult for your buyers to connect to the home and feel invited in, and they are less likely to even visit it. Why do you think that homebuilders prepare a model home for their buyers? They understand that their buyers want the experience of being able to walk around the home, instead of just viewing a black and white floor plan. In fact, most homebuilders will tell you that most of their buyers purchase the finishes that they have shown in their model property.

As home stagers, it is not uncommon for the buyers of homes that we have staged to contact us to purchase the items that we used in staging it, or to help them to purchase items similar to those that we used. They loved it so much when they walked through, that they wanted to buy it all!

A house that is not properly furnished will distract buyers, thus disrupting this natural flow. Buyers want to easily flow from room to room in a house. In an empty house, each room requires additional time (and energy) to discuss the proper use, the size of the room, what will fit, what won’t fit, and where to position it. They’ll then need to attempt to visualize what all of that will look like, which is challenging to 90% of the population. Making your buyers do this much work usually leads to a longer time on market, price reductions, and a whole lot of avoidable stress on your part.

Help your buyers connect with the home by having it professionally staged. This will help to answer all of your buyer questions, so that the only question remaining is how soon can we write up an offer? At Beyond The Stage Homes, we specialize in staging your vacant home. We offer the largest independent inventory selection in the Region, with great rental terms (ask us how to get your second month of staging rentals for FREE)!

Did you know? The investment in home staging is always less than the first price reduction. In addition, an investment in home staging means less time on the market, and therefore lowers your carrying costs for the house.

Contact Beyond The Stage Homes today to find out how to get your property sold!

Ph: 226.240.0766

Monday, March 14, 2016

Light It Up!

By Jen MacEwen

Light it up, make the switch!

How many times have you noticed those (ahem…) beautiful builders choice old-school ceiling lights in hallways, equally questionable pendants above a kitchen island, and/or an underwhelming dining room chandelier?

I’ve been there, I’ve lived with these lighting selections for a time, but once I settled into my space and got a feel for how I lived and worked in it, I formulated a design plan, and finally upgraded!

Lighting has come a long way in affordability and design in the last few years. The wide assortment of styles and equally attractive price points has made switching out to upgraded lighting an easy choice.

In the past, lighting was viewed as more utilitarian than an integral part of a design plan. For me, lighting is the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae… well, you get it! I love great lighting and take joy in selecting the perfect pieces to add that little bit of interest, bling, whimsy, whatever that space is calling for!

While there has always been a wide variety of beautiful selections at your local lighting stores, price points were usually pretty intimidating. If you were looking to add a light as a focal point, it was more likely for a formal dining room where you needed a bit more drama. These days, however, look no further than your local home improvement store for current, and affordably priced selections for all areas of your home, as shown below:

Consider looking for a fixture that adds and serves double duty by adding pattern to your ceiling and walls when lit. The pattern projected from this kind of light (whether intentionally or otherwise) can serve as a beautiful focal point as shown on the ceiling below. A few years ago, I purchased a large pendant light from a popular furniture store that I lovingly referred to as my “dandelion light.” To my surprise, when turned on, the light reflected through the large flower-shaped ends, making the walls display a wallpaper-like pattern. This was simply a happy accident, but any quality lighting store will be able to assist you in finding such a showstopper!

While I’ve been known to break a few rules, these are some great guidelines for proper lighting placement (unless you prefer to not see the person across the table!) Generally, chandeliers should be 30 – 40 inches above your dining table, approx. 12 inches narrower than the table and always centered in the middle of the table… oh, my OCD! Lastly, if your ceiling is over 8 ft tall, add 3 inches to the hanging height per additional foot of ceiling height.

If we need to get into the nitty gritty of the way lighting affects the feel of a room, another design tip is to add three layers of lighting; ambient, accent, and task. Let’s clarify these three types specifically…

Ambient refers to general lighting, mainly ceiling type lighting, that work to serve as the main lighting for a room and more of a utilitarian application. Secondly, accent lighting refers to fixtures that provide that extra bit of warmth to a space by adding an extra layer of light (specifically, floor and table lamps), it also can serve other purposes such as highlighting art, accessories, or other room features. This is my favorite type of lighting, as this layer makes things feel that much more cozy and inviting while also bringing the design to another level (and/or allows the clients own design personality to come through). Lastly, task lighting is the final layer that serves the specific duty of offering additional light needed for completing tasks such as kitchen prep or homework. This type of focused lighting can be provided as under cabinet lighting and desk lamps. All three of these layers serve specific purposes and are equally important in good design.

Dimmer switches are another great way to add interest to a room. They can help to control the intensity of a light, allowing you to adjust it as needed, whether dimmed for a romantic dinner, or full wattage for the best visibility during cleaning. This simple adjustment can make a big difference in the ambiance of your home and can work wonders by adding a touch of warmth when needed.

I couldn’t complete this blog without mentioning a specific part of lighting that has recently been a point of contention between the masses (well, maybe only us designers). The energy saving, eye fatiguing, cold feel of energy efficient bulbs compared to the less environmentally friendly, warm glow of the incandescent lightbulb. There's nothing worse than a beautiful lighting plan complete with the blue light of an energy efficient bulb! Luckily, advancements are being made with these bulbs and the way they light, and I'm happy to say I have stopped stockpiling the old incandescent kind (my closet is full!).

So take a look at your homes fixtures. Perhaps it’s time to for an upgrade?

For more information regarding our residential design services, contact us today!

Ph: 226-240-0766

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Your BTSH Team: Jennifer Roth

Meet Jennifer Roth, BTSH’s Professional Home Stager! Jennifer and Shauna Lynn met through the local RESA chapter and found a connection right away. They often met outside of chapter meetings and quickly discovered they worked well together. So well, in fact, that Jennifer often helped out with BTSH vacant staging jobs. They ultimately decided that it made sense to combine their efforts, and Jennifer officially joined the BTSH team in May 2014.

Jennifer is a Certified Canadian Staging Professional with a diploma in Interior Design from Sheridan College and has been preparing homes for sale since 2011. She was named one of RESA’s Top 10 Rising Star Home Stagers in North America in 2013 and is also skilled in interior design and decorating, new home construction, real estate, and advertising and marketing. “I just love being able to take a room and transform it into something beautiful,” said Jennifer.

Prior to working at BTSH, Jennifer worked as a deal secretary with RE/MAX, where she processed offers on real estate transactions. She also worked at Peak Realty, where she acted as a personal assistant to a group of six realtors. “Everyone said I should be a realtor. I thought about it, and loved the industry, but wanted to use my creative side more,” said Jennifer. She credits a realtor with bringing home staging to her attention, and as a result, Jennifer started Home Selling Edge in 2011. She worked there until she merged with BTSH in 2014.

Favourite part of her job:
    Finding solutions to help sellers live in staged homes, and seeing the reactions of homeowners who see the transformation after a vacant stage.
Favourite TV show:
    House Hunters
    Love It or List It
Favourite stager:
    Karen Otto
    Red Barrinuevo
Favourite upcoming trend:
    Gold is coming back! Especially in fixtures. Furs are also becoming more popular again!

Jennifer loves contemporary designs like light fabrics, soft textures, clean lines, and metallics. She also appreciates all other design styles, and prides herself on being able to visualize different styles in all kinds of homes, whether it’s traditional, rustic, vintage, contemporary, or more!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why savvy homeowners choose home staging

While home staging is not a new concept (in fact, the industry is actually about 40 years old), it has gained popularity in recent years, thanks to additional exposure through magazines and television shows. There are a number of reasons why home staging works the way that it does, and more and more homeowners are reaping the benefits. 

In this week's Vlog, we explain a number of popular reasons why home staging works, and why savvy homeowners are choosing to stage before they list.

Remember: The cost of home staging is always less than the first price reduction!

Have you staged your home before? Tell about your experience with home staging!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Your BTSH Team: Jennifer MacEwen

Meet Jennifer MacEwen, BTSH’s new Decorating & Design Consultant. During her career with a CD distribution company, she often felt drawn towards interior design. When the feeling became too strong to ignore any longer, she began working at a local high-end furniture company. She then registered for Conestoga College’s Interior Decorating program, and obtained her certificate in 2010.

“Being in the high-end furniture business helped me a lot. It helped me understand the construction and underlying elements of furniture and design,” she said. She also credits working in her mother and grandmother’s home décor store, where she helped out, purchased merchandise for the shelves, and began dabbling in design.

Before coming to BTSH, Jennifer worked in a boutique creating displays and assisting clients to select and purchase items for their homes. Next she graduated on to designing by herself, and made the move to BTSH in September 2015, where she works with design client, assisting with all of their home design needs, from decorating to renovation projects, and everything in between.

Though Jennifer describes her personal style as “contemporary,” she prides herself in her ability to design for anyone and any style. Her personal favourite design elements are clean lines, mixing modern with vintage, using natural elements with shabby chic pieces, as well as the contrast between light and dark while mixing in pops of colour. She’s also all about art! She loves beautiful and interesting pieces, and says that having “wow” pieces are great for every home.

Favourite part of her job:
    Finding pieces that her clients would never have thought to put together.
Favourite TV show:
    Home by Novogratz
Favourite designer:
    Johnathan Adler
Favourite upcoming trend:
    Gold and pastels – Throwback to the 90s (in a good way)!

Jennifer believes that everyone should have the opportunity to come home to a space that they can enjoy, a space they can call their own, and a comfortable place to call home. A proven perfectionist, Jennifer doesn’t stop until you are 100% happy and is a welcomed addition to the BTSH team!  

For more information regarding our residential design servicescontact us today!

Ph: 226-240-0766