The showstopper for me at this year’s Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York was Stikwood, ultrathin wood planks that have an adhesive backing that sticks to just about any surface, creating the look of what would ordinarily be a costly piece of décor.
“I love the smell of wood, the feel of wood. I love everything about wood,” owner and founder Jerry McCall says. “But I’ve always been a bit upset about how wasteful it can be.” The master woodworker came up with a product that would give consumers the look of rustic, reclaimed wall paneling, using as little of the natural resource as possible. Read more
During a staging consultation in Warwick Grove, I had the honor of walking through the home of George and Nancy Younes as they prepare their home for sale. After a few comments of, “You made that?” I knew I had a column’s worth to share.
Surrounding yourself with things that you love is what makes a house a home. Seashell and beach glass from beach vacations adorn a mirror. A collection of handkerchiefs, once framed, becomes a work of art. The laundry room pays tribute to the family business. Check out Nancy’s handy work as she explains the story behind the craft. Yes! Their home is for sale.
The shell mirror is a collection of shells and glass collected from Fire Island, NY and Florida beaches. Happy childhood memories of endless walks on the beach hunting for sand crabs, and splashing in the warm pools formed during low tide. Looking at the mirror brings back memories of ferry rides, crabbing at night off the ferry dock, clamming in the bay, walking barefooted with the red wagon on the boardwalk. My siblings and I often painted some of the shells collected and sold them at the dock to visitors. These memories were enjoyed by a second generation and continued after our parents retired to Florida with its beautiful beaches.
The many handkerchiefs belonged to my husband George’s mother. They were given to her as gifts from her many business clients over the years. As a resident buyer in the garment industry she purchased merchandise for clients both domestically and overseas. She really was the E.R.A. before the “Feminist Movement” became a household name. Our recollection of her was always in a dress, heels, hat and gloves. “Hankies” were always in her handbag. These beautiful handkerchiefs are displayed in the frame and adorn the wreath.
My husband and I owned two Laundromats in New Jersey for 15 years. Nancy’s Wash and Dry Cleaning was our flagship store in Little Ferry, NJ. Sunrise Wash & Dry cleaning was in Palisades Park, NJ. George was so proud to say that he put my name in lights, not on Broadway, but on Washington Avenue. At one time we were the largest in Bergen County. I thought it would be a nice tribute to our hard work that I adorn our laundry room with memorabilia of that time in our lives.
I belonged to a small craft group called the “Crafty Critters”. We four women met in the evenings to work on various projects that we sold at numerous “Juried” craft shows. Items included ribbon & grapevine wreaths, ornaments, birdhouses, hand decorated mailboxes, and garbage cans. We made our own version of the cabbage patch doll. The eyes were embroidered, the body was sewn and stuffed & hair was created with yarn. Each were dressed and assigned names. Of course our kids got dolls as well.
Ten years ago I started my own business. Like anything worthwhile in life, being a small business owner has its ups and downs. Being the first person in this area of the Hudson Valley to offer professional Staging took a lot of convincing. It still does.
Organically, I was meant to do what I am doing. As a young girl, I loved rearranging my room. In high school, with a strong interest in art, I remember designing a room for a project. My teacher said I was a natural.
One thing I truly believe, when something is meant to be, it will be. The universe has a way of grabbing your attention, providing endless opportunities. Thankfully, I listened.
It would take years before I studied interior design. At 39, I went back to school on a part time basis. The Sunday New York Times somehow ended up in my home and I read an article on Real Estate Staging, I registered for training. Soon after, I trained to learn Redesign.
In 2005 I started my business. A reporter wanted to do a piece on my unique services. Problem was, I didn’t have any clients yet. Not wanting this opportunity to pass up, I suggested the paper run a contest for a room redesign. The editor loved the idea.
Based on photos, I selected the winner and ended up on the cover and centerfold of the Home section. I made suggestions for every contestant over the next few weeks, which turned into my Claudia’s Corner column. Today it runs every other Sunday in the Times Herald Record’s Home Section.
At the last minute, I was asked to fill in as a speaker for a Hudson Valley Builders Association meeting. The idea of public speaking terrified me. The late Jean Rowe, past executive director, would not take no for an answer. She wanted a power point, which I never did. She told me to find someone to show me. My children showed me.
To this day, I think fondly of Jean Rowe and how she pushed me out of my comfort zone. The presentation was a success. I don’t remember much of that night due to nerves but I do remember what Jean said to me after the presentation. Jean hugged me and said, “You did an outstanding job! It was informative with a lot of photos. These builders are visual so they needed the power point, which is why I insisted on it. More importantly, you held their attention. I watched the crowd and every one of them was listening to you.”
A few years ago, I was asked to teach a staging class last minute, the scheduled instructor pulled out. With a busy schedule, I found myself agreeing to teach a 6-hr class and putting together another Power Point. I now teach at multiple locations and have shortened the length of time of the class. These classes are geared for the home seller before they put their home on the market.
It was an honor to be nominated by the NJ Chapter of The Real Estate Staging Association and ended up winning 2011 Professional Stager of the Year in the Northeast. Entering on my own was not even on my radar.
The best parts of the last decade are the people I had the honor of working with. There is nothing more personal than working with someone in his or her own home. I would repeatedly hear, while preparing their home for sale, “We should have been living like this all along”.
During a few recent classes and consultations I find myself repeatedly saying, “Cream always rises to the top” referring to homes for sale. The success rates are quite real and tangible if you know the formula of how to properly market a home for sale.
A special heartfelt thank you to all who played a part in this journey and to the many opportunities that presented itself.
Staging instructor: Christine Rae
Redesign instructor: Ann Anderson
Reporter, Times Herald Record: Deb Botti
Former GO Home and Features Editor, Times Herald Record: Karen Harris
Past Executive Director of Hudson Valley Builders Association: The late Jean Rowe
My Power Point Instructions: Aston & Preston Jacobs
SUNY Ulster Kingston Continuing & Professional Program Coordinator: Linda Corsones
NJ Chapter of RESA: Fondly known in 2011 as the Jersey Girls plus 1 (I was the plus ‘1’ from NY)
~~~ Definition of Staging: The act of preparing a home for sale in the real estate marketplace. The goal is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property quickly and for more money.
Definition of Redesign: is using what is in the home to create a fresh new look.
(Featured in the Times Herald Record on March 22, 2015)
My last column was about spring inspiration. It felt as if it would never stop snowing. Spring has arrived and it is finally warming up. The white stuff is melting away. Next month will be my 10th anniversary in business. Look for observations and lessons learned in an upcoming column.
One thing I will share is how much some of my clients have inspired me. There are some very creative people out there and I am honored to work with them.
Mark Lassen first took my House-Life Connection class in Newburgh at the Desmond Campus. He returned with his wife, Sheila, for my Staging Tips class. Sheila shared with me how much Mark enjoyed my House-Life class and started applying what he learned to their home.
The Lassen’s hired me for a staging consultation. We walked through their beautiful home and I made a few suggestions in a few rooms. We ended up rearranging their living room furniture to create a more comfortable arrangement for TV viewing, fireplace enjoyment and views to the back of their beautiful property. More importantly, the new layout created a more welcoming space to guests who enter from the front door.
Many rooms have competing focal points, which is usually the fireplace and the TV. In the Lassen home, the TV is next to the fireplace on an art easel. This was such clever way to mount a TV instead of the typical media cabinet.
How to mount a TV to an Art Easel
“We saw the TV easel combination in a high-end furniture store. It caught our eye as fitting in our house well but it was quite expensive. After all we had the TV and all we needed was an easel. We definitely wanted oak and we searched many artist supply shops and Internet sites. When we found the right one it only required a small amount of modifications to securely mount the TV to the easel. The TV had all the connection points since all of the flat screen TVs are built to be wall mounted”, says Mark.
Less is more
“One thing is true, reducing clutter in one’s living space reduces the clutter in ones mind. Our philosophy for our next home, wherever that may be, is that less is more. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. We enjoyed the feedback and look forward to applying our revised “vision” of how to market our house and an improved way to live in it without clutter!”
“While PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, the captivating 2014 color of the year, encouraged creativity and innovation, Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.
From the reaction I saw in my Facebook newsfeed to commentary on various posts, you would think the color world is going to crash around us leaving wine stained marks on our rugs and upholstery. Seriously? Why all the hate?
Every year I share the color of the year in my “Claudia’s Corner” column in the Times Herald Record. And every year I share this advice, ignore the trends, especially if you don’t like them. But if you do like the color trend, stock up while it is available.
No one says you MUST use a color. No one says you MUST follow a trend. Classics neutrals are always in. Shades of Gray continue to be popular. But guess what, not everyone likes gray, which is a neutral. And not everyone wants to live in a tone on tone creamy blend of whites and grays. Some find that look very cold. After awhile it all start looking the same. Pops of color are a way of adding a bit of flair and personality to a space, whether it is on the walls or in decorative accessories.
One of the best comments I read on a blog regarding Marsala:
“I am so over all the GREY everywhere. Yes, it’s mod, clean, and STERILE. Every white subway tile with grey marble counter room I see makes me feel like I am about to enter the morgue and be embalmed! Bring on Marsala! “
There was even a comparison of Marsala to the color Mauve. Mauve? Really? I lived through the 80’s and remember mauve. This color is definitely not mauve.
Dramatic and at the same time grounding, the rich and full-bodied red-brown Marsala brings color warmth into home interiors. Whether in a flat or textured material, or with a matte or gloss finish, this highly varietal shade combines dramatically with neutrals, including warmer taupes and grays. Because of its burnished undertones, sultry Marsala is highly compatible with amber, umber and golden yellows, greens in both turquoise and teal, and blues in the more vibrant range.
Marsala for Interiors
Complex and full-bodied without overpowering, Marsala provides a unifying element for interior spaces. Add elegance to any room by incorporating this rich and welcoming hue in accent pieces, accessories and paint. Marsala’s plush characteristics are enhanced when the color is applied to textured surfaces, making it an ideal choice for rugs and upholstered living room furniture.
Nurturing and fulfilling, Marsala is a natural fit for the kitchen and dining room – making it ideal for tabletop, small appliances and linens throughout the home. The hue will be especially prominent in striping and floral patterns found in printed placemats, dinnerware, bedding and throws.
Let’s look at the past decades and their colors of the year…
If we can survive Honeysuckle (a Barbie like pink) and danced our way through the year of Tangerine Tango, this Marsala color is a refreshingly warm and cozy change. It is probably the most realistic color in the above list. I know I will not only be eating it (I make a mean chicken marsala) but wearing it as well (I don’t mean by spilling food on me!). This color is sure to make its way into my closet and home. Let’s all take a deep breath and get over it.
There are people you meet that keep popping up into your life. There are no coincidences and sometimes you just have to acknowledge and appreciate the connection. Stephanie Uszenski is one of those people.
We first met when I was selling a kitchen hutch on craigslist and she purchased the hutch. Years later she attended a “Fall Back In Love with Your Home” presentation I did at the Hudson Valley Builders & Remodelers Association. Thanks to Facebook, we became friends. A short time later she was having difficulty selling her house, I asked to see the listing, made suggestions, her house sold.
Last month Stephanie took a day off from her job at Millspaugh Furniture in Walden to attend my “House-Life Connection” at the Desmond Campus of Mount Saint Mary College. That is one of my fun classes where we discuss Feng-Shui and how to clear the energy of your home by burning sage, also called smudging. She mentioned how she was always hesitant about doing it but after taking the class she was willing to give it a try.
“I had a negative association of the concept of saging but I am open to new ideas. Your presentation was so clear, and made sense. I did each room from corner to corner. Although I didn’t experience some of the changes in smoke intensity where there are pockets of negativity described in your class, as the fourth owner of this house I was glad to remove any “unknowns”! My house felt ‘dark’ from neglect. The previous owner did not take good care of it.
Later that day
“No one was aware of what I did. When we arrived home, we had our typical chaotic day immediately running to soccer practice which I also coach, rushing back home to finish homework, make dinner and get ready for bed & the next day! It went very, VERY well even with four teen and tween girls!”
Walking into the house the next day, she reported that the house did feel ‘brighter’, like she washed the windows and the walls. “It definitely feels ‘clearer’ in some way and things seem to flow more smoothly. Thank you for the encouragement to try something outside my comfort zone. “
Without sharing too much detail, this had been a rough year for me. Through our friendship, Stephanie made the following observation, “You can be a spokesmodel for the tagline, “never let them see you sweat”. Whatever you went through, you handled it with grace and poise. It’s admirable”.
When the going gets tough, I get saging. I personally do not do it all the time, just when I feel I need it and for the New Year. It is a reassuring feeling to know, at any point of your life, no matter what comes your way; you can have a fresh start. You just have to clear the air.
We have all heard this phrase “Everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes we have no control over certain situations. There is only one thing we can control and that is ourselves. In the business world, as service providers, we work with many people with many different personalities and moods. And yes sometimes the different moods and personalities can be packaged into just one person!