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Beyond just being me, I am a wife, mother and entrepreneur constantly on the hunt for new ideas on how to live my best life. Visit me at www.clementsinteriors.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Preparing your home for the Spring... market.

I don’t want to jinx it so I’ll cross my fingers when I say it feels like spring has sprung!  For some homeowners the warmer weather stirs up up the desire to rake the front lawn of winter grime, clean out the linen closet and open the windows to let fresh air flow.  For others, longer days and sunshine means working double time to begin the process of getting their home prepped for sale.
Looking to list?  Maximize your property’s potential value by creating an environment in your home that any buyer can envision themselves living.  Sound easy?  Well, it can be easier said than done if you look around at the personal clutter and collection that has made its way into your life over the years.  It’s that very clutter than can be distracting for potential buyers, so priority must be given to removing things that represent the property as your home.  Often the thought of stripping away our most personal treasures and homogenizing our home into being merely a house, can be difficult.
You can make the process easier by breaking the mental and physical work down into three stages: 1) De-clutter, 2) Repair, and 3) Set the Stage.
For our purposes, let’s focus on what for many can be the most daunting part of the process:  Stage 1 – De-cluttering.  If the thought of a thorough clean out makes your head spin, start with a priority list and these helpful tips:
1.      Give yourself PLENTY of time.  Don’t leave the clutter clearing until the last minute.  If you start now, there’s still time to prepare your home for the spring market. 
2.      Divide your home into sections and attack one at a time.  There’s nothing more daunting then being faced with an entire house that needs help.  Divide the work up one room at a time to help make the task more manageable.  When you start clearing out a room, don’t stop until it’s done.  DO NOT under any circumstances move items from one room to another.  You’re just delaying the inevitable.
3.      Be merciless.  We ALL get caught up in the “It-meant-a-lot-to-me-15-years-ago” line of thinking.  If it’s something you haven’t seen or used in a year (or dare I say, since you moved into your home) get rid of it.   
4.      Give things a new home.  You’d be surprised at the items people will pay good money for.  If you’re cupboard and bookcases are jammed with things your kids no longer want, its great fodder for sale!  Better yet, consider donating some of the larger items to organizations that will put them to good use, like your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. 
5.      Enlist help.  Recruit your kids and you’ll find that weeding through the clutter can also be a great way to stroll down memory lane.  You’ll be able to reminisce about life in your home as you sort through items that bring back wonderful memories.
6.      Follow the ABCs (Always Be Clearing).  Establish a new rule of not leaving things around and vow at least for the time being, to not toss things into the spare room, spare closet or spare drawer.
7.      Pitch it now or later?  Not sure if you should hold onto a larger item until you get into your new space?  Think about the properties of the item:  is it multi-functional?  Could it be used differently and effectively in your new home?  If so, it might be something worth storing until you get into your new space and can see it in a new light.  
8.      No more!  Commit to not purchasing anything new (especially larger items) until after you’ve sold your home.  The less you have to store, the better.
9.      Keep only what’s necessary.  Remember that space sells, stuff doesn’t.  It might be uncomfortable to think about, but when buyers are looking through your home, they will likely open cabinet doors and kitchen drawers.  Filling these places with “hide-it” stuff will take away from how spacious your home is. 
10.  It’ll all be worth it!  Remember the more you do now to prepare your home for sale, the better position you’ll be in when it comes time to move.  You’ll be moving less stuff, will pay for less storage, and can move into your new space with only the items you really cherish.
Watch for my next column on tackling the repairs often needed around the house to ensure potential buyers see your property as a true gem!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Colour Confidence

Well, it seems like a simple concept. You’ve heard from all the experts that a fresh coat of paint is the most economical and quickest solution to revitalizing any room. How complicated can choosing a paint colour be, right? No big deal.

Consider for a moment that Benjamin Moore alone has in excess of 3400 colours to select from! Add in the colour palettes of Para, Farrow & Ball, Behr, and Pittsburgh to name just a few, and suddenly, finding a colour is kind of a big deal.

Like choosing baby names, colours can elicit strong reactions and emotions from people, potentially making the process of colour selection a painful endeavor. Moreover, research shows the psychological responses to colour are numerous, from bringing up childhood memories (good or bad) or having an impact on one’s appetite, to affecting a person’s ability to sleep soundly.

From personal experience in helping clients select colours, I have learned over the years to avoid reference to the word “pink” when dealing particularly with males simply because the mere mention of this perceived feminine colour results in cringes more often associated with sucking lemons. I worked for a newly married couple who ultimately chose a paint called “Maid of the Mist” because that was the place of their engagement. Each of us has a distinct relationship with colour, but most do not approach it with much confidence.

So how do you improve your colour confidence?
Keep in mind that our eyes only recognize colour because it reflects light, so increase your chance of successfully selecting something appropriate by looking at colour options several times: in the morning, at midday, in the evening, on a bright day and on a day that’s overcast. Each time, the appearance of the colours will change. Be sure to make your selection while looking at the colour only on the surfaces on which it will be painted; do not make a final choice in another room or worse, at the paint store! It can be difficult to make these choices in a room that is already painted, so open the blinds, turn on the lights and cover a small section of the walls with a couple of sheets of white printer paper. Then place your paint chips on top of that paper so you can get an accurate view of the new colour options.

Emotions and lighting aside, most people do not consider is that colour is relative. A colour only looks a certain way when it is placed next to another colour. Put a pale blue paint chip beside a white one and the colour intensifies. Place the same colour next to one more violet in tone and the blue may appear greener than when it is beside the white. Colour comparisons are an important part of selecting colour and will help you eliminate what doesn’t work. Knowing what doesn’t work is as important as knowing what does.

Of course, in making your selection, you want to get inspiration from other elements of your room, so look to a favorite sofa fabric or a much-loved piece of art and pull from them a colour you already love to get the ball rolling. Remember if you think you will keep it simple by choosing white, whites also have subtle colour – some are cooler (bluer), some are warmer (yellower). Be sure to compare them so you know what you’re getting. Ask your paint supplier about the most popular whites available as they often work well with many colours.

While wall colour can be the one element that gives a room that wow factor, don’t feel it is your only option for establishing colour. You can create a ‘blue’ room without putting a drop of blue paint on the walls, by introducing blue accessories and fabrics. The paint colour you select can be more neutral in tone, creating a wonderful backdrop on which to highlight your fabrics, accessories and furniture.

I’m a firm believer that there is a right and wrong colour selection to be made, but colour preference is as individual as you are and is nothing if not subjective. Your walls are likely the largest easel you will ever have to work with, so go ahead and have fun! And remember, it’s just paint.