Thursday, April 9, 2015

Playing House at the Kitchen Showroom!

When I was a young girl, I used to love to go to furniture stores or kitchen showrooms where my younger sister and I would play house while Mama and Daddy did their shopping.  We loved pretending that the kitchen displays or the living room settings were our own homes and we could have played for hours in there!  I will never forget the first time I staged a condo for a real estate developer.  At the end of the day, after I had set up the entire condo and stepped back to make sure the finished product was perfect, I felt a very familiar feeling of satisfaction.  It was the same feeling I had as a little girl after spending hours setting up my "house" and arranging everything just so.  I really didn't care so much about playing house, once my house was finished.  The fun for me was setting everything up!  Often, when I close out a job with a client, I will sign my email with something like, "It's been a pleasure working with you!".  But what I really want to write is, "It's been a pleasure "playing" with you"!  I have never gotten the nerve to write that for fear that my client may think I am a little strange.

Recently, I was hired to play house in two kitchen showrooms:  one in Graham and the other in High Point.  I really enjoyed staging these kitchen displays.  Many of the fixtures and finishes had already been selected.  I did help with some of the paint colors, and choosing some of the backsplash tiles, but mostly, my job was to make these kitchens look like someone lived in them!  So much fun!  Below, are a few photos from some of those kitchens.  These photos were taken with my iPad, so the quality is not great, but you will get the idea:

Installation day!  Many of the dishes, cookbooks, and small appliances I used
were purchased from Goodwill or consignment stores.
The Entry Before:  I had them remove the dated pediment from above the opening
at the end of the alleyway and enclose that opening so we could hang a nice piece of art there.
The Entry After

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Design Gift

I recently completed a fun office makeover for a young professional couple.  The wife emailed me in December and asked if I would redesign her husband's office at a local university.  She planned to surprise him for his January birthday.  This would be the second design project with this sweet couple, so I was excited for the opportunity to work with them again.

As you can see in this photo from our initial consultation, the husband  brought in  items that he planned to use for decorating his office, but just never quite got around to arranging them:

My first job was to assess the space and gather information from the client so that I could suggest what items should stay, and what needed to be removed.  The office had recently been painted, so we would work with the existing color.

The husband's wish list was short:  he wanted a small conference table for student meetings and a new, comfortable desk chair.

After taking the necessary measurements and snapping a few photos, I was ready to get to work on the design plan!  

Once we agreed on the plan, I began sourcing the items we needed.  My first stop was The Red Collection, one of my favorite consignment stores, where I found most everything we needed at great prices!  I shopped Craigslist and found the remaining items on my list.

One month after our initial meeting, I met the wife again for the installation! This is the surprise her husband found when he returned to his office (Happy Birthday!):

Most of the accessories that you see throughout the space were his.  I found the desk chair and the small 36-in round table in the foreground, at the consignment store.  The two banker's chairs were found on Raleigh Craigslist from a lawyer's office who was remodeling.  I picked up the succulent plant on his desk from a design studio.  We removed one bookshelf and moved the remaining two into the recessed area behind his desk, which was a great space saver!
I found the credenza and the lamp at The Red Collection consignment.  The framed art pieces all belonged to my client, so I just needed to find the best way to display them.  A gallery wall above his credenza was the perfect solution!
The small 36-in round table and the banker's chairs are working beautifully for teacher/student conferences.  The rug is another Red Collection find.
 I picked up the live plant on the table from Lowes.  
My favorite  part of this project was the reveal!  I wish I had turned on my camera as soon as the husband walked into his "new" office!  His happy reaction is just one of the reasons  I love my job so much!  He was beyond excited and I hope this makeover will add a little cheer to his workdays! 

I am looking forward to working with them both again next month as we  begin Phase 2 of their own home design project.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Catch-Up Post!

It has been such a long time since I posted anything on this blog, I really don't know where to begin or which projects to share first!  I think I will begin with my latest project that I completed earlier in the week, and work backwards from there.   First, let me update you on what I have been up to for the past several months!   I have several projects I am working on right now and they are all interesting, in their own way.

Today, for instance, I began the day by ordering furniture and accessories for Client #1, who have been a lot of fun to work with.  They moved into their 1970s Ranch-style home in August and decided to call me in to basically set up their new home.  They needed help sorting through what they already owned and deciding what to keep and what would not work for this new home.  We also chose paint colors, selected art, and ordered new furniture to mix with some of what they already owned.  We have repainted every room in the house, except for two bedrooms and the kichen (the kitchen is going to be completely remodeled this summer).  We chose fabric for window treatments in the dining room, and ordered a new dining table and chairs for that room. We also put a new rug and light fixture in there.  However, we were able to use some beautiful art that the clients already owned, along with a couple of beautiful antique Asian-styled lamps, and two matching antique bachelor chests.  I ordered matching Moroccan-style antique gold mirrors to go over those chests today.   I spent most of the day with them on Saturday styling their bookcases, hanging art, and rearranging furniture.  We just received word today that their new sectional sofa I ordered for their family room will be delivered tomorrow!

By lunch time today, I switched gears to focus on Client #2, a family from out of state, who purchased a second home in North Carolina where they plan to retire one day.  I started working with them as soon as they purchased their mid-century modern home with its gorgeous view of the golf course.  We have slowly. but surely furnished the home from top to bottom; including everything from rugs, art, and lighting, to accessories, bedding, and window treatments.  I have really enjoyed working with them as we focussed on designing one room at a time!   Right now, we are working on the custom window treatments for the great room and office area.  The fabric for the great room was actually ordered from England, and delivered to my house today!  It is beautiful and I can't wait to see it hanging in their home!  I somehow managed to load the heavy 50-yard bolt of fabric into  my car and deliver it to my workroom, where the drapes will be custom made.  I still need to order all of the hardware for hanging the drapes.  After lunch, I researched landscape architects in the area to recommend for their exterior spaces.  I found two excellent candidates, and I feel that either one they choose will be well-qualified to beautify their property.

Another item on my to-do list today was to  deliver a beautiful grasscloth  wallpaper to my wallpaper hanger for a new-construction project I have been working on since July.  He will be hanging this handsome paper in their library tomorrow.  This excited young professional couple should be moving into their new home by the end of this month, at which time we will begin shopping for furniture and other items they will need.

Client #3 is a project that was begun last spring for a professional photographer and her young family.  When it comes to design, this energetic client is always open to trying something new and way outside the box!  We installed beautiful window treatments in her family room and completed a fun outdoor living space for her last summer. We were just beginning her media room last fall when we had to put her project on hold because she had become so bombarded with shooting family Christmas portraits and weddings, that she did not feel she could do justice to the decorating decisions that needed to be made.  She called this week to say that  she is ready to resume design plans for the media room!  I stayed up way past my bedtime last night,  preparing a new presentation for that space.

Those are just some of my projects that happen to be on the front burner for this week.  There are several other big projects that are at various stages, and are not requiring my immediate attention, for now.  Earlier in the week, I staged a home that I will be sharing with you in today's blog post.  For the past several weeks, I've enjoyed designing a Mama/Baby room for preschool children and their mamas!  There are just a few unfinished details to complete before this project can be photographed.  Stay tuned for a recap of this fun project, along with pictures!   I also recently completed two kitchen showrooms in Graham and High Point, NC that I plan to share with you soon!  In January, a former client hired me to surprise her husband with an office makeover for his birthday.  I wish I could have videotaped this university professor's  priceless reaction at the reveal, but suffice it to say that he was very happy with his new office!  I will share the befores and afters at a later date!  In fact, I have not blogged about the dramatic transformation to their own home!  We completed the first floor of their home in July, and I will begin working on their upstairs later this month.  Finally, I am looking forward to sharing pictures of a sunroom I designed for some dear friends last fall.

This coming Friday, I am scheduled to meet with the regional manager of Marsh Kitchens to discuss the upcoming Home and Garden show in Greensboro, where they will be displaying three kitchens for the show.  They have hired me to stage the three kitchens.  Needless to say, I am excited about this new project, and I expect it will move to the front burner after our Friday meeting.   In other exciting project news, I heard from a former client today who just  purchased a beach property in  North Carolina, and would like me to help decorate it!  I am excited about decorating a beach property, and will share pictures when we've completed this fun-in-the-sun project!

In addition to working with my regular design clients, realtors often call on me to offer staging consultations for their home sellers. I also use my own furniture to stage their unfurnished listings.  Last summer, I had three homes staged at one time with my own furniture, and they all sold within a couple weeks of each other!  Moving three sets of furniture within a couple weeks just about did me in!  As you can imagine, staging a home involves a lot of heavy lifting, and is very labor-intensive, so I decided to par down my staging inventory to one set of furniture instead of trying to keep up with three sets.  I have sold most of the furniture and accessories for the other two houses.

Today, I want to share before and after photos from the cute bungalow that I staged earlier this week.  I only installed the furniture, art and accessories.  I did not select any of the flooring, tile, or other finishes that you will see.  The house actually goes on the market tomorrow!  As you will see, staging makes a difference! 

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

Living Room Fireplace Wall Before

Living Room Fireplace Wall After.

Living Room Sofa Wall Before

Television wall in the Living Room.

View just inside the front door before.

Same view after staging.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Stormy Staging Experience!

Recently, North Carolina was hammered with an unusually heavy snowstorm that left most of us snowbound for a few days!  Rare snow events of this magnitude happen here in central North Carolina only once or twice each decade, so I relished every moment of this one!  I thoroughly enjoyed spending that first snow day relaxing on my sofa and watching the snow fall for an entire afternoon, into the evening hours!  The following day, my son and I sledded with our good friends for most of the day and again, by candlelight, that night!  What fun!

However, today's blog is about a storm of a different kind that I experienced just a few days prior to that beautiful snowstorm.  It began on a Friday afternoon, when I received word that my proposal to stage a home in our town had been accepted, and I would be expected to have the home ready for photographing by the following Friday.  I spent most of Saturday feverishly shopping for furniture, art, accessories, and rugs. Then, on Sunday morning, rumors of a big snowstorm moving in on Thursday began to circulate, and I felt a little uneasy about finishing the job in just four days, but I remained fairly confident that I could finish on time!  By Sunday evening, however, the forecast was changed to snow on Wednesday, and suddenly, I had two short days to finish shopping for furniture, moving everything in, and setting up the house! To say I was more than a little nervous about how I was going to pull this one off, is a gross understatement!

I am certain that, under these snowy circumstances, the realtor and the homeowners would have understood if I had postponed the staging until the following week, but I wanted to be able to enjoy this rare snow event!  I did not want to have even one thought concerning the how-to and the what-if challenges that are part of every installation that I complete.  I felt if I put my nose to the grindstone, I could get this job done in time to enjoy the impending snow days with my young son!  So, for the next two long days, I shopped, painted, arranged, rearranged, hammered, and drove many miles back and forth between Raleigh and Greensboro, determined to get the job done! And at 10:00 pm on Tuesday night, I put the finishing touches on the house and vacuumed my way out the front door, feeling completely exhausted, yet relieved and satisfied that I had given my very best effort to finish the job.  After a quick trip to the grocery store, I made it home just in time to savor every beautiful moment of the next two snow days!

Here are the before and after photos from that stormy staging experience:

Master Bedroom

 Master Bedroom Before
The headboard, nightstands, lamps, bench, and framed art were
consignment store finds.

Master Bedroom After
The Bachelor's Chest was a nice Craigslist find.
I purchased this lamp from Target.

The Dining Room

Dining Room Before
Dining Room After

My friend helped me paint these dining chairs and reupholster their seats.  I got them for a great deal at my favorite consignment store.
The table was from a wholesaler in High Point, NC.  Tuesday Morning had just received a shipment of rugs on Tuesday morning, and I snatched this navy trellis pattern one for a song!

The Family Room

Family Room Before

Family Room After

The chairs, the table, and the lamp are great consignment finds!

The sofa and the framed art were more great consignment finds!  The coffee table
and the side table were purchased from a High Point wholesaler.

The Sunroom

Sunroom Before

Sunroom After

The Reading Room
 Reading Room/Office Before

Looking back through the window as I headed home!
Reading Room After
The chairs and oval table were purchased
from the consignment store.  Baskets were a fun Tuesday Morning find.
The console table was from High Point.
  Hobby Lobby had a half-price sale on
their posters, making nice, inexpensive artwork!