Monday, August 31, 2015

Create the Perfect Study Spot in Your Home!

It’s that time of year again! As the end of summer approaches, it’s time to get organized and gear up for back to school. The return to school can help households to return to a routine and schedule. Before your kids start returning from school with schedules for basketball practice, field trips, and after school activities, determine what type of calendar system will work best for your family, and start putting it into action. Whether your prefer the simplicity of the classic wall calendar, or you need to keep your tech-savvy family in sync with a mobile calendar, find the system that works best, and get it into action.

Though your kids may be excited to see all of their friends again, it is doubtful that they are looking forward to the prospect of homework. However, creating a proper, functional study area will help to improve their productivity. Regardless of whether you have an area that can be strictly dedicated to homework and studies, be sure to take the following into consideration, wherever your children set up their workstation:

- Eliminate distractions – This means no television, games, iPads, phones, etc. Avoid being a distraction yourself, ensure that the allocated space is not in a high traffic area where people will congregate and chat.

- Provide the tools of success, and keep them at the ready – erasers, sharpeners, pens, pencils, rulers, glue. If you do not have a dedicated homework area, store these in a portable container that can be easily brought out when needed.

- Create an inbox or mailbox for permission slips and returned tests.

- Provide sufficient task lighting, and add table or desk lamps as needed. Straining your eyes can lead to headaches and fatigue.

If your home can accommodate a study room, there are some great things that you can do to make the space comfortable and inviting:

- Allow for a couple of different workstations, including desks and, if possible, a “comfy area” with a sofa or relaxing chair, or a window seat with some pillows. This will help to encourage creativity and allow for a change of workplace when needed.

- Shelves, cubbies, baskets, and bins are great for keeping tools and materials organized.

- A chalk board and/or white board can help to get the creative juices flowing and work through challenging homework problems.

- Want to keep the art projects off of the fridge? Hang a ribbon or string on the wall between two hooks, and use clothespins to hang and display the latest works.

For more inspiring ideas, check out our Creative Homework Areas board on the BTSH Pinterest.


Did you know that many families can’t afford the simplest back to school necessities? Click here to learn more about helping families in Waterloo Region.

Anselma House and Haven House are two additional organizations that are always in need to supplies for the children that they house, from backpacks to pencils and books. For details on what they need, contact Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What is Depersonalizing?


Family portraits and vacation photos are great reminders of loved ones and special times, so it’s natural to want to surround yourself with happy memories. The key to remember, when selling your home, is that these are your memories. If you’ve ever sold a home, you may have been asked by your real estate agent or home stager to remove all personal photos, but may not have truly understood the reasons for this depersonalizing. In fact, you may be wondering what depersonalizing is!

Depersonalizing, when selling your home, refers to the act of removing anything that tells your story.



So why is it so important?

The product for sale here is your house, not the items in the house, and personal items, especially photos, can be very distracting to your potential buyers. When your buyer sees one of these photos on display, not only is it a reminder that they are walking through a stranger’s home, but they may stop to look at the photo to see if they know the people in it, or the place where the photo was taken. This distraction could mean that they miss out on key features and selling points of your home.



That being said, depersonalizing does not only refer to removing personal photos, but it could also refer to a number of other personal items. Ensure ALL of the following items are removed from the home, before listing it for sale:
-          Souveniers
-          Medals
-          Awards
-          Trophies
-          Collections
-          Your name on a wall (decals)
-          Diplomas



By removing these items, you are creating a welcoming environment, and allowing your potential buyers to fully visualize themselves in your home. Of course, now that these items are removed, you will likely find yourself with some “empty” spaces. While they may not all need to be filled (remember, when it comes to setting up your house for sale, less really is more), it’s a good idea to hang some neutral artwork pieces, and display a few accessories and books to give the home that extra cozy feel.

Monday, June 8, 2015

10 quick facts about the REAL Shauna Lynn

Shauna Lynn, Owner and Founder of Beyond The Stage Homes, is known for her creative designs, upbeat personality, unique look and style, and of course, her dedication to her clients and their homes. But do you really know who she is? Here are 10 quick facts about the REAL Shauna Lynn, some of them might surprise you!

1. She was in a marching band (and went to band camp).
















2. She was President of the Math club and the debate team in high school, and President of the Business Club in University - first class geek! 
3. She's a crazy cat lady - Shauna Lynn fosters families of cats through the KW Humane Society, plus has two rescue cats of her own. It’s not unusual to have anywhere from 5-10 cats in her house at any given time.





















4. She loves anything peanut butter and chocolate
5. She completed two Tough Mudder’s in 2013 - don’t ever let anything limit you! 
















6. She had a pyrotechnics license in her younger years, and performed a fire show at the classic Inner City Nightclub!
7. She’s left-handed, so she’s always right.
8. OCD - Okay, if you’ve ever met Shauna Lynn, then this isn’t exactly a secret. To further this, she hates yellow highlighters and believes that they fail to properly do the job they are intended to do. Subsequently, she has banned all yellow highlighters from the BTSH office.
9. She had a pet lizard named Soako for several years. He passed away 8 years ago.














10. Her favourite colour is yellow, not pink.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top 10 Home Staging Myths

If you have never hired a professional home stager, you may be wondering what exactly it's all about. You've seen it on all the great real estate television shows, but it's probably too expensive, and isn't meant for your type of house, right? WRONG! Home Staging refers to the entire process of preparing a home for sale, ANY home for sale, and professional home stagers are working with homeowners just like you every day. Here we dispel the top 10 myths about Home Staging


1.  Home Staging is Expensive

Absolutely not! A trained professional stager is skilled at maximizing your budget, whatever it is. When preparing your home for sale, it’s a good idea to plan to spend some money to get your home move-in ready. With the recommendations of a professional home stager, often your largest investment is your time. Accessory and other staging packages vary by stager, but BTSH offers no minimum rentals (with our Home Staging Consultations).

Did you know? Your buyers are actively looking for a move-in ready home, and 63% of home buyers are willing to pay more for a move-in ready home!

2.  A home stager will tell me to remove everything that I have and replace with new stuff

A professional home stager will not recommend adding or removing anything unless they believe that it will contribute positively towards the sale of the house, and will do their best to work with your items wherever possible to achieve the desired results. Often, re-arranging of what you already have can work wonders for improving the flow, and overall appeal of a house to potential buyers! We get it – sometimes it’s just not in the budget to invest in a large staging package.



3.  All rooms should be painted builder’s beige

When selling your home, neutrals tones are best for showing off the space, but your typical “builder’s beige” is not recommended. In fact, today’s buyers are drawn to grey tones more than browns, giving the home a more modern look and feel. Whatever you choose, ensure that you select a neutral shade, and avoid colours that are too light. By choosing a colour a little further down the colour chip, you’ll add warmth and a cozy, welcoming feel to a room.



4.  Home staging is only for vacant homes or homes with ugly carpet and wallpaper

Certainly some homes can use updating more than others, but the truth is that every home can benefit from home staging, and often a few subtle changes can make a significant difference, whether it’s re-arranging furniture, or more dramatic updates and repairs, every home is unique and requires a unique home staging plan. Yes, vacant homes can tend to sit on the market longer than occupied and furnished homes since buyers struggle to make the necessary emotional connection to these homes, But the same can be true for occupied homes that are not styled to suit the target buyer market. Home staging will help to improve the overall flow of the home, and provide the final touches that buyers will be drawn to.

5.   Home staging is a way to fool buyers

Absolutely not! In fact, it’s the complete opposite! Our goal is to provide your buyers with the home that they are looking for. As a homeowner, you are still required to disclose any major flaws of the home that you are aware of. Home staging will help to minimize minor flaws by drawing the focus to the features of the home. As a member of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and the Better Business Bureau, Beyond The Stage Homes abides by a strict code of ethics.

6.  Home staging is just removing personal photos and de-cluttering

We all know that we need to declutter and remove personal items from a home before listing, but home staging helps to address so much more. A professional home stager will help to create a style plan for your home, and address where to invest your money in repairs and updates. Home staging focuses on maximizing a home’s space, lighting, flow, design and best features, not just decorating the space.

7.  It’s better to list my property first, and call a home stager if it doesn’t sell right away

Always, always, always consider your home staging options BEFORE listing the home for sale! Cliché as it may sound, you really do only get one chance to make a first impression. When your home is listed, you want to be sure that it is ready to show at it’s best, both in pictures and for showings. Any Realtor® will tell you that you get the most attention for your property listing during the first couple of weeks that it is listed – don’t miss out on these key buyers! Home staging is an investment with proven results for selling your home in less time, and for the most amount of money possible.

8.  Staging is just the latest real estate trend

Staging has actually been around since the 1970s, and is a real estate service that is as common today as home inspections!  Showing buyers that your home offers good value is always in style.

9.  Buyers can see past all of my stuff

Here’s a fun fact for you - only 10% of buyers have the ability to visualize a space! This means that only 1 in every 10 people that view your home will be able to look past your things, and see the home’s true potential. Are you willing to miss out on 90% of your potential buyers that walk through the door? Make it easy for them – show them the best way to live in the home by showing optimal furniture placement, and eliminating anything that might distract them from seeing the features of the home.

10.  Home Staging means living in a show home, and that’s just too hard for my family and I to do

A professional home stager will provide you with options and solutions to allow you to maintain the function that you need while your home is listed. In this case, you’re right, it’s not easy to live in a show home, but by implementing your home staging recommendations, you won’t have to do so for long! In addition, BTSH provides you with a detailed list and tips for getting ready for showings, and will provide creative solutions for the things you need every day.


Monday, March 9, 2015

5 things to consider when hiring a home stager


If you are planning to sell your home, you have likely looked into whether to hire a professional home stager to assist with preparing your home for sale. In most regions today, home staging has become a standard practice and expectation when selling a home. With this industry standard comes more selection than ever, and as a homeowner, it can be confusing and over-whelming. How do you choose the company and home stager that is right for you? There are a few key areas that you should address to ensure you find the right fit for your needs:

1.    Review their portfolio! Any home stager worth anything will have a portfolio available for you to view, whether online, or in print. In today’s technology and social media age, it’s easier than ever for companies to showcase their work in a professional manner.



2.    Personality – You are trusting your home to this person, so you want to ensure they are qualified, but it is also important that you “click” with the home stager you choose. Selling your home can be an emotional process, and you want to ensure your home stager is not just someone you are doing business with, but someone you can trust to provide you with the best advice and solutions for your unique home.

3.    Price – This should not be a determining factor in selecting a home stager. Experience and quality service may come at a higher price, but saving a few hundred dollars on home staging could mean the difference between a successful home sale and a house that sits on the market for months with price reductions. Remember that your home is your largest investment, and investing in quality homestaging services will achieve the desired results – a quick and profitable sale!

4.    Awards, accreditations, and affiliated associations – Currently there is no governing body for the home staging industry, and therefore there are no real requirements to setting up a business except the standard business registrations. Most home stagers have received formal training of some sort, so ask what schooling or certifications they have received – most schools offer similar quality of programs, but it is important to receive some form of training prior to opening a home staging business. In addition, memberships of business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau or Real Estate Staging Association can act as good indicators as well. You are hiring this home stager because they are an expert in their field, so you want to have the confidence that they will act professionally at all times.



5.    What is their process? It is likely that you will be expected to do some of the work, so it is a good idea to identify and address what the expectations will be of both you, and your home stager, throughout the duration of the home sale. Ask the right questions, such as what support is available following the consultation, and following staging? What happens once the house is listed? Will your home stager keep in touch and answer your questions? Your home stager should be a part of your home selling team, so it is important to understand what follow-up support is offered, and what fees will be associated with this.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Staging in Canada - A Snow Day Story

Usually, we aim our posts at homeowners that are looking for some tips and tricks of the trade. But not this time! If you have ever dreamed of a career in home staging (in Canada), here’s your chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes.

If you live in Canada, then you understand the true meaning of being prepared for anything, especially when it comes to the weather. But you can’t let a little rain/snow/sleet/wind/extreme heat/humidity or other natural weather challenge stop you, or you would never leave the house! The same applies in home staging - similar to the old mail courier adage - "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” and so goes the home stager to meet and greet clients, delivery beautiful staging furniture, accessories, and more to provide homeowners with peace of mind, and a swift home sale.

During some of the greatest weather challenges, when I hear of my friends hibernating inside to avoid what the outdoors holds, my amazing team and myself are braving these conditions. If given the choice, I’ll take wind over rain, and snow over wind, and extreme heat over extreme anything else. Since we seem to experience more cold snowy days than anything else, we thought we’d share some experiences of what this actually entails.


It was a cold January morning, that started before sunrise (because in January, the sun likes to hide until later in the morning). On this particular day, sunrise occurred at 7:52 am. As the lead stager that day, I arose at 7 am, dressed in my long-johns and layers, and left to pick up our moving truck just before 8 am. My layers are cleverly chosen to include standard socks topped with thermal socks (pink of course), plus black legging style long-johns over my black leggings, plus a t-shirt, long sleeve thermal shirt, a wool dress, and a sweater (I don’t mess around). Then, the real bundling begins with touque, scarf, mitts, jacket, and boots. By the time I’m done, I’m a few sizes larger, but ready to brave the world. Of course, once we arrive at the house and the truck is unloaded, I spend another half an hour unbundling and removing layers before the staging can begin.

The cold and snow may slow us down, but we make the most of it with laughs and gags, and the occasional snowball fight. That day, we found ourselves approximately an hour behind schedule all day, we almost dropped a beautiful ceramic stool in the ice, a couple of graceful slips and slides, but we made it through. The results? A beautifully staged home, some very happy clients, and a long overdue appointment scheduled with my massage therapist.

In addition to the need to keep warm, winter stagings present a number of other challenges. We face frozen storage locks, unplowed roads, driveways, and storage yards (oh my), not to mention icy driveways and dangerous roads. We travel with our salt bags, our shovel, a mini torch, and extra blankets (just in case). But my biggest annoyance? The rented moving trucks do NOT have heated seats.



Luckily, our BTSH vehicles do have heated seats, but that doesn't mean that the stagings using those vehicles go any smoother. Remember last week’s snow storm? I hitched up a trailer to our trusty SUV, shoveled my way to our storage units, loaded it up, and arrived at my client’s home ready to stage. Unfortunately, the townhouse complex they lived in wasn't as ready for the snow as I was, and it hadn't been plowed. A little creative thinking, and some help from my clients, and we got the job done before the photographer arrived. Luckily I had lots of practice climbing snowbanks as a kid, those skills certainly came in handy!

The truth is, I wouldn't trade these staging challenges for any other career. These stories just make you appreciate the “easier” staging projects that much more, and at the end of the day, we always get the job done. If we manage to grab a great story along the way, even better. But, if you’re considering a career in home staging, you may wish to consider relocating to a more comfortable climate.

Monday, January 12, 2015

10 Things Your Home Stager Did NOT Learn From HGTV

We get it, you've watched all of the home renovation and home sale shows, read all of the online articles and tips regarding setting up your home to sell, and you have checked off everything on every home selling checklist you could find, so why would you need to hire a Professional Home Stager? We often hear homeowners say, “I don’t need a stager, I watch HGTV all the time, and I know that I need to remove the clutter and the personal items.”

These reality shows have really put the home staging industry in the spotlight over the last few years, and have helped homeowners to better understand the importance of preparing their home prior to listing it for sale. But, while these shows provide the basics of what this preparation involves, they don’t provide the full picture of what it really takes to properly style and STAGE your home in order to evoke the emotional connection that your prospective buyers are looking for.



Your home is one of a kind, and it should be treated as such! You want to stand out from the competition, so why would you use the same checklists as everyone else? Would you clean your own teeth, or would you choose to hire a trained professional to do this for you? Your home deserves the right attention with specific recommendations, geared towards your home, from an expert that specializes in doing just that, in order to highlight your home’s greatest features. So what are these articles and lists NOT telling you? As a Home Stager, these are just a few of the things that we have learned, through our professional training and many years of experience

      1.      Where to place YOUR furniture so that the room remains open and inviting, while maintaining function and flow

This does not mean simply moving all of your furniture to the edges of the room. This means understanding proper traffic flow, as well as the latest furniture styling trends. We will evaluate what should stay, what should be removed, and where to properly position your furniture to optimize flow, eliminate awkward spaces, and highlight the best features of the room.

      2.      Shelf Styling

By far one of the trickiest decorating techniques to master, this is the art of filling the shelves to catch your eye, without diverting your attention from the room. This means selecting the right size and style of pieces to compliment the space and the shelving unit, and understanding the balance between too little and too much.


      3.     Paint Colour selection

Just because a colour is popular or trendy, does not mean that it’s the best one to use for your home. Colours are selected based on lighting, home style, and the colour of the finishes of the home. Sure, we have our favourites, but each colour is selected to best suit the home.

      4.     What local trades will provide you with the best services, at the best value prices

We have spent a great amount of our time forging valued relationships with highly skilled trades to ensure that you receive quality work, every time. We only work with professionals, and often these professionals will provide special discounts to our clients.

      5.     Where to shop for the final touches and accessories that your home needs

We spend more time than anyone shopping for home décor items and finding the best deals, and we can provide you with some direction on this to help you to avoid driving all around town looking for the perfect piece. Of course, you would save even more time if you hired us to provide you with the accessories and accent pieces that your home needs.

      6.     Which updates/upgrades will most benefit YOUR house in YOUR market, neighbourhood, and price range

We not only evaluate what upgrades and repairs would add to the value of your home, but we look at what will help to increase it’s overall sell-ability – upgrades are not worth much if they’re not the right ones to entice your specific buyers. We consulted on a home once that spent a great deal of money replacing their kitchen, but for their target market, their funds would have been better spent doing other repairs to the home and minor updates to the kitchen.

      7.     How to make a bed

Forget what your mother taught you – making your bed before work, and styling your bed to sell your home are completely different! I can’t tell you how often we see this common mistake in listing photos.


      8.     How to utilize a piece of furniture for an alternate purpose

This does not mean putting an end table in an office and calling it a desk. It’s about thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding the right piece, often within your home already, to fulfill a purpose for a room and help to clearly define the space.

      9.     How to enhance your curb appeal

Yes, cut the grass, trim the trees, and mulch the gardens, we know that you have that covered. But there’s likely more that you should be doing. If your buyers are not engaged with the home before they get to the front door, you could potentially lose out on that sale. We are property stylists, and we want to be sure to create an inviting space, inside and out.

      10.    How to maintain function and daily life, while living in a staged home
  
      We understand that it’s not easy to maintain a show-ready home, but we have seen it all and are prepared to provide you with easily implementable solutions to help you to get through the day-to-day. Of course the best part is, in a professionally staged home, you won’t have to maintain it for long before it’s SOLD!

The checklists and tips you find online are a great step towards preparing your home, but a Professional Home Stager can provide you with the specific recommendations that will help you to bring in the buyers and sell your home.