7 Ways to Add More Romance to a Home’s Decor

Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day this week. But a romantic flair to warm up your home design may very well be in style year-round.

In fact, one-third of homeowners say they intended to renovate their master bedrooms to create a more romantic or intimate space, according to a 2015 survey of more than 1,500 homeowners conducted by Houzz, a remodeling website.

How do you achieve a more romantic style with your décor? Here are a few ideas.

1. Fluffy pillows

The more pillows on the bed, the better. Decorative pillows can add a softness to a room. Read tips from stager Audra Slinkey from the Home Staging Resource: How to Use Pillows in Staging


2. A lush Rug
A faux sheepskin rug under the bed may add a touch of luster to the flooring.


3. Whites and pastels
Softer colors can add a more romantic vibe. Pristine white mixed with soft pastels may add warmth to a bedroom. Try whites or pastel bedding and accessories up against a slightly darker wall color for just the right contrast.


4. Fireplace
Illuminate a space with the glows from a fireplace or candles.


5. Flowers
Fresh flowers can spruce up any room in the house–and as an added bonus they often bring a pleasant scent too. Even small bouquets can still make a statement.


6. Chandelier
Add in more glam in the bathroom with a crystal chandelier that can reflect the light and bring a little sparkle.


7. Intimate outdoor spaces
You can get romantic with your landscaping outside too. Set a scene with a small table and chair set, greenery surrounding, and strung lights to create a cozy spot to unwind or dine.

Source: Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Georgia’s Most Common Luxury Amenities

When high-end property owners want to spruce up their homes, the renovation projects they tend to gravitate toward include pools, bars, gourmet kitchens, elevators, and amenities suitable for waterfront houses, according to a new study by Homes.com. The real estate portal’s research team culled sales data to analyze how homes vary regionally in terms of features, size, and price.

The top three features luxury homes nationwide have in common are a pool (36.5 percent), bar (22.7 percent), and gourmet kitchen (12.6 percent).In Georgia, it’s kitchens. The following is a breakdown of each state’s most popular features in million-dollar homes.


Source: Homes.com

Hot Home Trend: Florals Are Dressing Up Interiors

Consider adding more floral patterns into your staging. It’s bold and trendy, home designers say.

Floral prints are seeing a revival in home design, according to the design community on Houzz, a home renovation and design platform. In fact, they are calling florals one of the hottest home design trends of 2018.

But its re-emergence in interiors does come with a twist this time around. Floral designs in contrasting colors is trending. It can make a big statement and can be an eye-popping pattern to jazz up a space.

“Forget low-energy patterns and think botanical references in high-contrast colors, such as black and white, or teal and gold, and over-sized blooms,” Houzz notes in its forecast.

Floral patterns of roses, peonies, and lilacs are popular in wall art, throw pillows or bedding, rugs, or furnishings. It can feel vintage, and add a little flair to an otherwise neutral staging palette.

Source: Posted in Home Trends, by  on February 5, 2018

The Forecast: 2018 Trends in Staging

Home staging has gone mainstream and is now widely used to make a home more attractive to potential buyers. According to a 2017 survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, a majority of real estate professionals believe staging increases the sale price of the home anywhere from 1 to 15 percent.

But even if it doesn’t increase the value, most agents agree that staging reduces the amount of time the home sits on the market, which is music to any seller’s ears.

Not all homes need a dramatic makeover, but most homes will benefit from at least a thorough cleaning and culling.

“Staging and preparation can include as little as some fresh paint, but in most cases we also landscape, replace dated light fixtures and hardware, and in many cases refinish hardwood floors, replace countertops, bathroom fixtures, etc.,” says Nicole Kennedy, a home staging expert in Piedmont, Calif.


Read on to learn what industry and design trends we can expect in 2018.

More real estate agents get on board

Lori Matzke, founder of HomeStagingExpert.com, provides home staging workshops around the country in addition to running her own staging business in Minnesota. She’s noticed an increased interest and involvement of real estate agents in the staging process.

“Back when I started staging (in 1999), agents were not interested; they didn’t want to have one more thing on their plate,” Matzke says. “My classes are now 90 to 95 percent agents. I think you’re going to see a lot more agents learning about staging and how to advise their clients, because more and more homeowners are demanding that.”

That doesn’t mean agents will be doing the staging themselves, but they will have an eye for what is needed, and will facilitate the interaction between the seller and the stager. “It really helps the homeowner to have an educated real estate agent,” says Matzke. If the agent has prepped the seller about what needs to be removed and cleaned out, it makes the stager’s job faster and cheaper.

Complete vs. partial staging

Staging can range from small efforts like decluttering to a complete move out and refurnishing. Complete staging of vacant homes is a growing trend, according to Matzke. Whether it’s new or model homes, or the seller has moved out, many stagers today only work with vacant homes.

In the booming Bay Area housing market, Kennedy says buyers are accustomed to short sales cycles, so having the home primed and ready is expected.

“Fewer than 10 percent of homes I stage are partial–where we keep some of the furniture and belongings, edit out and add in where needed,” notes Kennedy. “This can be challenging because the staging has to fit in with existing styles and pieces, but it can make more sense to sellers who are staying in the house through the sale.”

Matzke says the complete staging trend isn’t limited to hot real estate markets.

“It’s been trickling down into smaller markets, not just in the larger metropolitan areas,” she notes. The ubiquity of staging on HGTV shows has probably made the idea more palatable to sellers and agents across the county.

Embracing a personal touch

One of the golden rules of staging has long been to keep things neutral to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. But stagers are increasingly adding a little more design, style, and color to the home.

“Staging is becoming a bit more personal and less stale than it has been in the past,” Kennedy says. “It used to be standard to remove all family photos and personal items from the house, but today’s buyers prefer to see a house with a little personality. They want to see a ‘real’ house that they can imagine themselves in and small, personal details that create an aspirational image can help reach buyers on an emotional level.”

Matzke agrees. “It’s becoming trendy for stagers to do a little mixing with vintage pieces to give it a designer look. I think it gives the place more depth and I’m seeing more chatter about it on blogs.”

Following the design trends

While most of the staging do’s and don’ts will remain the same in 2018, our experts expect some new design trends to emerge in many staged homes next year:

  • Color: After a few years in which just about every design magazine is covered in gray, Matzke has a bold prediction: Gray is dead. “People are embracing beige and creamy white again,” she says. “I think that’s good because not everybody’s furniture fits with gray.”

Stagers are also increasingly adding a pop of color or an upscale design element to appeal to design-conscious buyers.

“Adding a pop of color in a room through accessories or artwork is common,” says Matzke. “The two big colors I think you’ll see a lot of in 2018 are dark teal and millennial pink … especially if you’re marketing to first-time homebuyers or a younger crowd, you might want to add those colors.”

  • Floors: It used to be that preparing a home for sale meant replacing old, stained carpet with new carpet, but Matzke says that, too, is changing. “A lot of people are replacing carpeting with wood and faux wood flooring–at least on the main floor,” she adds.
  • Countertops: While quartz is the latest countertop trend among high-end homes for 2018, Matzke thinks most of America will stick with granite next year because of cost.  “Design magazines are pushing quartz, saying it’s going to be the hot trend for 2018,” Matzke says. “And for the really high-end homes they’re probably right, but for a majority of America, I think it’s still going to be granite.”
  • Glam: Although it sounds counter to the rule of keeping things neutral, HGTV and design magazines have popularized a bit of glam. “For a long time you’ve seen people adding a little bit of rustic, heavy metal designs, but now you’re seeing a lot more shiny metallics,” Matzke says. “Even gold–it adds a bit of bling to the house.”


Source: By Mary Purcell, MoneyGeek.com, posted on Styled, Staged & Sold on December 25, 2017

Should You Build in the Winter?

Maybe it has taken longer than expected to find the perfect house, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to build. You find construction exciting and adore the idea of designing a home from the ground up. Surprisingly, an ideally situated plot just landed on the market, and it’s priced to sell. Unfortunately, there’s an issue.

Winter is approaching, and it doesn’t intuitively feel like a good time for building or renovating. On the one hand, you’re concerned about getting involved in a project challenged by cold weather conditions. On the other, you don’t want to lose your auspicious real estate opportunity.

Variables unique to wintertime construction are worth consideration. Below we’ve compiled several things to consider to help you make well-informed decisions and implement effective project plans—even in freezing temperatures.

Sub-Freezing Temperatures
If the thermometer reads below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, any task that requires water is compromised. Mortar used in brickwork, for instance, will not bind properly. If a brick structure is in progress, freezing temperatures may cause cracks to form as water in connective mortar expands. This can significantly damage the structure’s stability, resulting in the need to demolish and rebuild.

Rendering exterior walls, paving with asphalt and pouring cement are also problematic. It’s vitally important to monitor both outdoor and ambient temperatures carefully, as well as future-forecasted probabilities. Delaying projects because of the weather can be costly, but perhaps not as much as having to redo them entirely if caution is not heeded. Some contractors find a happy medium setting up heat lamps or arranging portable fuel heaters. These temporary measures work well, as long as potentially dangerous fumes are vented out, and site electrical wiring supports added wattage.

Other cold weather strategies include use of materials developed with year-round efficacy in mind. Precast concrete, for example, is cast and cured in a temperature-controlled factory setting. From there, materials are shipped straight to construction sites for installation. Concrete panels for walls, flooring, beams and planks are guaranteed for strength and durability, as well as fire resistance.

Extra Safety Considerations
Contractors who work in winter bundle up. Extra layers of clothing, bulky jackets and insulated gloves all lend distinct safety concern to any cold weather project. Not only does added padding slow laborers down, but it also increases the potential for accidental clashes with running equipment and valuable materials.

Snow and ice onsite present another challenge. Extra time to shovel out and sufficiently warm up machinery takes its toll on overall productivity, while great care must be exercised to avoid slip-and-fall injuries.

Projected time loss, however, should be reviewed in comparison to cost. Many bid contracts that reflect lower pricing to secure work during the slow winter months. If your deadline is not urgent, consider saving on labor-related fees. As long as site safety remains the focus, together with flexible completion requirements, it’s a win-win.

Early Nightfall
Diminished daylight is an inevitable winter trademark. If proposed tasks take longer than expected—perhaps due to weather conditions or even the slow pace of bundled-up laborers—and require closure after nightfall, spot or floodlights may be needed. Again, this is a question of potential added cost versus overall bid, as well as all-important electrical support.

Batten Down the Hatches
Early nightfall presents site-specific security risks. It is not uncommon for expensive machinery to be parked in the lot overnight. Metal scraps, hand tools and boxed appliances awaiting installation are easy enough to stow away in storage trailers, but large equipment and piles of heavy material remain outdoors, open to the possibility of criminal damage and theft.

Contractors can minimize such threat with a number of strategies including employment of overnight security guards, arranging for webcam surveillance and placing motion detector floodlights in strategic locations.

Move-In Ready
Consider broadening your definition of what constitutes move-in ready. If your preliminary home structure is up and passes inspection, you can move in. Put decorative touches such as exterior paint, fence installation, gateway erection and property landscape on hold for warmer months. By that time, after living in the house and familiarizing yourself with its flow, you may have a completely different vision altogether of how you’d like the outside to look.

Choosing to build in winter can be cost-efficient and advantageous as long as weather and safety-related issues are identified and addressed proactively. Go ahead—get that perfect piece of real estate. It’ll make an unforgettable holiday project!


Source: Megan Wild, “Should You Build In the Winter?,”  RISMEDIA, November 21, 2017

White Kitchen Fatigue?

Are homeowners growing tired of the all-white kitchen? Some design experts believe so. White kitchens have been popular over the past few years, but Houzz editor and writer Mitchell Parker predicts that the number of homeowners who will get “white-kitchen fatigue” will grow in the new year.

Some homeowners may experiment with adding more colors back in to the kitchen.

“While white kitchens aren’t going anywhere, expect to see a rise in color, especially other neutrals like gray and blue,” Parker notes in reporting on 2018 home trends. “Plus, warm wood tones are becoming a popular replacement for painted cabinets, leading to sophisticated, rich palettes.”

The two-tone look started catching on in 2017, in which cabinet colors were mixed and matched in the kitchen. For example, the bottom cabinets might be a darker color, such as gray, and the upper cabinets then all in white. Or, homeowners were making a bigger statement with their kitchen islands by painting it a bolder color that contrasted with the rest of its kitchen cabinets.

Source: By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine, January 8, 2018

Home Selling Tips for Pet Owners

There’s no doubt pets play an important role in our homes. They wait for us to come home after a long day, protect our property, and are there to comfort us when things go wrong. They truly are part of the family. But if you’re trying to sell your home, your four-legged friend could put a bit of a damper on the process. From removing stubborn stains to recommending where to put your pet during a showing, these tips will ensure potential buyers aren’t off-put by your companion.

  • Invest in a good carpet cleaner.
    It’s a good idea to invest in a carpet cleaner or have your carpets cleaned professionally to ensure there are no obvious pet stains. Plus, some pets put off strong odors that can radiate throughout the house. A carpet cleaner will help remove those odors and stuck-in fur. Your house deserves a deep clean!
  • Keep your pet out of the house.
    If possible, it’s best to leave your pet with a friend, a relative, or another trusted caretaker while showing your home. If no one is available, it’s a good idea to leave your pet in a crate, in an area where potential buyers are less likely to be­—either a basement or mudroom. Put a warm blanket, bowl of water, and favorite toy in his crate to help him feel more comfortable.
  • Clean up the yard. 
    Even your backyard could leave traces of your pet, so it’s important to clean up any waste and toys. Keep a toy bin by the door, and try to have your pet use the bathroom in the same area, so the cleanup will be easier. If there are any bare patches of grass, you can try to aerate and seed these spots or plant sod for a quicker fix.
  • Put away the pictures.
    More than likely you’re a proud pet parent, meaning that you have a handful of pictures of your pet around your home or at least some photos where he makes an appearance. You’d be surprised at how many potential buyers pay attention to pictures during a showing. These pictures will be a dead giveaway of your pet ownership, so keep them put away while the showing is going on.
  • Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy.
    Even if your pet is the nicest pet in the world, having him around during a showing poses a handful of potential risks. Take a look at your homeowner’s policy and make sure that it covers you in the event your pet becomes aggressive with someone on your property. Aggression doesn’t have to always be malicious: even if your pet knocks somebody down due to excitement, you could still be held liable. These types of situations happen more often than you would think, so it’s better to be prepared.

There’s no reason for your animal to hinder your house selling process. Use these tips to ensure that you can still enjoy your pet, and make a deal all at the same time!

For more tips and tricks for pet owners, visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/pets.

Tips on Christmas Decor Home Staging

StyledStagedSold_Image1If you’re staging your home during this time of the year, adding a bit of holiday cheer to your decor can make a big impression on potential buyers. Use these tips to create a simple, polished look that puts your home in its best light this holiday season.

Choose the Right Christmas Tree

When showing your home, include holiday decor that allows potential buyers to picture themselves in the space. For example, choose a tree that allows other aspects of your home to shine. Your living room or entryway will look bigger if you opt for a small artificial tree over a 6-foot live pine. An artificial tree is also less messy than a real one, meaning your home will always be neat and tidy and ready for the next showing.

Light It Up


The Christmas light possibilities are endless, but when you’re staging a home for sale, think simple and low-key and stick to one style. An over-the-top display might not reflect the tastes of your potential buyers, and too many decorations can take away from the room itself.

Take advantage of the many styles of Christmas tree lights available to give your home an understated yet inviting holiday look. Opt for something different, like an artificial white tree decorated with white LED lights. Finally, choose ornaments and trim that coordinate with the lights. Add a few silver and red ornaments for extra sparkle and color. It’s just enough Christmas for your family to enjoy without overpowering the room.

Decorate Your Mantel

Traditional Christmas Fireplace

The fireplace is an important focal point. Keep it simple and elegant to help potential buyers imagine opening their own Christmas gifts around a roaring fire.

Don’t completely cover the mantel. Pack away any personal family photos or the kids’ school crafts. Drape a garland across the mantel, allowing the branches to hang over the edge. A string of simple white LED lights adds just enough illumination to highlight the fireplace.

Add a few candles and a simple vase to reflect the light. A rustic wreath on the wall above the mantel completes the scene without distracting from the main event. This style is classic enough to appeal to a variety of buyers while still capturing the holiday spirit.

Don’t Forget the Exterior

Christmas Door

Increase your curb appeal and make a good impression from the get-go by decorating the outside of your home. Consider your neighborhood, too–if all of your neighbors have lights and outdoor decorations, you don’t want to be the only home without them.

Keep things simple and easy with a festive wreath on the door to greet potential buyers. Wrap a garland or string of lights around your front porch (or hang them around your entryway), then finish the look with lanterns or a potted evergreen. Finally, make sure your walkway is clear of snow or ice.

Welcome Buyers With the Spirit of the Holidays

During an open house, create the feel of a festive holiday party by offering seasonal snacks like gingerbread cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, and apple cider. Keeping mulled hot apple cider simmering on the stove will also make the whole house smell good. Light a fire in your fireplace to make the home feel cozy and warm, helping visitors envision living there. When it comes to impressing potential buyers, these small touches can make all the difference.


Source: Merri Cvetan, “Tips on Christmas Decor Home Staging,” Styled, Staged & Sold, December 10, 2017.

Hot Home Trend: The Statement Shower

The shower in the master bathroom is getting a lot more attention. In fact, it’s one of the main splurges among renovating homeowners, according to the 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. These “statement showers,” as Houzz dubs them in its report, include high-tech features, like rainfall showerheads, dual showers, curbless showers, and body sprays.


Upgrading the master shower was the most popular renovation project, according to the survey of more than 1,200 U.S. homeowners who were in the midst or just completed a bathroom reno project. For more than half of renovators, their main aim was to increase their shower’s size. Also, survey respondents showed a rise in demand for high-tech features, such as mood lighting or digital controls, in master bathrooms.

Over a quarter of homeowners – 27 percent – have opted to remove the bathtub in their master bathroom renovations, according to the survey. The removal of the bathtub has allowed more room for a larger shower.

“This year’s Bathroom Trends Study sheds light on two key trends in master bathrooms, showers as a focal point and the growing role of high-tech features in bathroom products,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Additionally, it is clear that today’s master bathroom renovations are marked by timeless and durable elements, from natural stone finishes to curbless shower entries, a benefit of having older generations in the driver’s seat. Still, the early wave of millennial homeowners reveals their preferences for homes of the future, from larger master bathrooms to clean lines and white and gray color pallets.”

The Houzz study found that the national average for a major remodel of a large master bathroom (considered over 100 square feet) is $21,000.

Source: Melissa Dittmann Tracey, “Hot Home Trend: The Statement Shower,” REALTOR® Magazine