Kiki Interiors - Decor and Staging

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why hire a designer?


It's funny I meet with different clients everyday and the reaction to what I do varies from each individual. Some say "Wow, how exciting!" and others roll their eyes as if to say "that's an actual job?" Some people are very intimidated at the idea of meeting a designer let alone hiring one but it's important to remember that a designer is a professional and not someone who should be going into your home and making it reflect their personal style - they are there to help you!

What can a designer do for you?
A designer is there to help you plan your space and make it yours. They should be asking questions like - what are your favourite pieces in this room? What do you like about this room? What don't you like about this room? What do you do in this room? The designer should be thinking about the functionality of the space, your budget and of course, the look. Having an open dialogue with your designer is so important, it helps the designer visualize the space and create a room the client has always dreamt of. Any designer who barges into your home and dictates which pieces to keep or toss, which colours to use and which fabrics/fixtures you need, is not a designer that is thinking about you or your lifestyle.

Where do I start?
Many of my clients claimed that they did not have a personal style. But that is impossible. Everyone makes style decisions and sometimes without even realizing it! Why did you decide to wear/buy the patterned shirt and not the solid one ? You make that selection based on your preference but you likely do not look at it that way. When it comes to personal style there is no right or wrong - but a designer can help you with your personal style and how to incorporate it into your space. I give my clients these two tips when it comes to finding their personal style.

1- This is a good tip if you are already in your home and are meeting a designer to help you personalize your space. Choose five favourite items in your home. Could be anything - a picture frame, artwork, a ceramic vase, a souvenir - anything. Lay these objects out when you are meeting your designer and he/she will learn a lot about you - your style and interests. Then choose your five favourite pieces of clothing. Lay these out as well for your designer to view. This will tell him/her a lot about your lifestyle (ex: laid back, formal etc...) and a preferred colour palette. The entire room or home will not be covered in old denim with trinkets from Mexico all over the place but it gives the designer a starting point and let's him/her understand you much better.

2 - This tip is best for those who are about to move into a new place and are starting from the beginning or someone who is looking for a total makeover. Go through magazines - home decor ones are best but fashion is OK too- and tear out any images that you are attracted to. Keep these clippings in a folder. When you meet with your designer present the images to him/her and go through them together. Explain to him/her what you liked about each one. You will likely notice a pattern or similarities such as the colour tones, types of furniture or the overall look (modern, country etc...) Everyone has a personal style, sometimes you need a bit of inspiration to unleash it.

It is important to remember that telling a designer "I want to re-decorate" is a very open ended request and everyone's interpretation is different. It is important to communicate openly about what you want to do and how much you want to spend. It might seem like a lot of work to meet, consult, discuss, look at magazines and discuss again but a designer is there to help you and has your best interests in mind. This is a big project and you want it done right the first time. A designer is a professional and should understand all of the aspects of your space, lifestyle, likes and dislikes. A designer should have these 5 words in mind when designing your space - interesting, inviting, comfortable, smart and appropriate.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do you have curb appeal or is your home a steal of a deal?


Curb appeal is the first impression people make of your home. You do not want your home to be a drive-by so it is important to make a good first impression. When my husband and I started our search for our home we were focused on certain neighbourhoods, square footage and lot sizes, we viewed many homes and when we finally made our decision on which home to purchase our friends and family were most surprised - shocked might be a more accurate description! We chose our home in spite of the lack of curb appeal and we ended up getting a steal of a deal because the seller had the house on the market for a while and there was little interest in the home.

Our house had obviously been neglected for some time. The front garden was more like a jungle, the plants were so overgrown and out of control that they were actually taller than me! The tree in the front yard had not been maintained at all and was full of dead branches that not only looked awful but they could be quite dangerous should there be a sudden strong wind. The gutters were so clogged with dead leaves and rotting maple keys that we had plants in there that had begun to take root. The garage door desperately needed replacing ;it was rusted and dented and did not open without a struggle. The front door had never been painted and looked very unfinished and uninviting. After reading the description of our home, you are probably wondering how we made it past the front door. Well, the house is located in a fantastic and established neighbourhood with mature trees and great schools. It is on a quite street facing a park (perfect for a young family). It is a three bedroom, with three full bathrooms, a fireplace, large kitchen with granite and stainless steel appliances, all hardwood floors and an in ground pool. Sounds like a great place, right? But it was on the market for quite a while without any bites due to the lack of curb appeal. How did we end up with our dream home? We were able to get past the ugly exterior and see the potential.

The house needed some work both inside and out but now when our friends and family come over they are amazed at how we ended up with such a great home in a fantastic area! The before and after is quite astonishing and it took a lot of work and we still have some more work to do but it was all worth it. It just goes to show that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

If you are looking to improve your curb appeal, here are some inexpensive tips - courtesy of the Bennett Real Estate Pros (http://www.bennettpros.com/)

1. Clean the gutters!
2. Clean the windows and the doors (front and garage). Does the front door need a paint job?
3. Check the roof. Does it need replacing or repair?
4. Cut the grass, rake the lawn, weed the garden and trim the bushes.
5. Clear off the driveway and sidewalk.
6. Make it friendly by adding some colour with flower pots, pull back the drapes and/or add seasonal decor such as a fall or winter wreath.
7. Make sure your address numbers are clear and visible - you do not want potential buyers to not be able to find your home.
Remember, if you are in the shoes of the seller you want to sell your home to the highest bidder not the only one. In order to maximize your profit, you'll have to put some hardwork into the home before you put it up for sale. It is just as important to have an appealing exterior as it is an appealing interior. You don't want your home to be a drive by!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring is in the air!


Well it's that time again....the snow is melting, the sun is shining and soon the flowers will be in bloom but now that the spring is here it's time for a good spring cleaning. This is a great time to purge and also take care of some small projects around the house before the summer arrives and the weather is just too beautiful to stay inside. Spring cleaning is essential if you are moving or putting your home up for sale.

If you don't know where to begin, here's a breakdown of essentials for spring cleaning.

Rugs and carpets
If your house is for sale, try and vacuum 2 to 3 times a week, especially if you have pets. If you have stains you can try spot treatment with supermarket cleaners or rent a carpet steamer from your local grocery store to get a good thorough cleaning - you will be amazed at what can get trapped in your carpet and how clean a steam clean can feel. If you decide to steam clean, do it when the weather is a bit warmer (think late spring or early summer) you will want to keep the windows open to help speed up the drying process.

Upholstery
You can use the steam cleaner with a different attachment but if it is just spot cleaning that is needed use soap and warm water and for deep stains try warm water and some laundry detergent. Be sure to flip the cushions of your couch and occasional chairs.

Drapery
Yes, that is what all of those vacuum attachments are for! Sucking up dust between the curtain pleats. Drapes should be taken to the professional cleaners every two years.

Air
Be sure to check your air/furnace filter to see if it needs changing. How do you know? If you cannot see through it due to the collection of dust and pet hair, it must be changed. This is imperative for anyone that has allergies or respiratory problems. You will notice less dust in your home if you change your air/furnace filter regularly.

Exterior
Now that the snow has melted you are probably seeing some garbage on your property. On a sunny day, get out there, enjoy the sun and fresh air and clean up! If you are looking to sell, curb appeal is very important. You want to present an image of pride and care. Pick up all or the garbage including pet waste, even though your flowers aren't in bloom yet, a clean property presents so much better to potential buyers.

Spring cleaning can feel like a lot of work but it doesn't all have to be done in one day or one weekend. Put a to-do list together and get the whole family involved. Once your house is clean, you will notice a huge difference and feel better knowing your home is ready to go on the market.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

A splash of colour!


Spring is right around the corner and if you have been in any clothing stores or boutiques you have likely noticed all of the saturated and bright colours, which are perfect to break the winter blahs. If injecting colour is an effective way to update and energize your wardrobe, why not do the same for your home? Here are 4 very budget-friendly ways to do just that.

1 -- Group like-coloured objects. Look around your home and find various objects in a single hue. A vase, books, small decor items and perhaps a picture frame, create a small grouping (odd numbers are best such as 3 or 5 items) and display it in a visible area such as the console table in your front hall or a bookcase in your living room. An easy, fast, colourful art instillation which can make a big impact.

2 -- Paint your lamp shades. Make use of your leftover paints and create a funky and fun lamp shade. Paint a paper lamp shade, apply two coats of colour with a sponge brush; the whole process takes less than an hour, including drying time. For even more impact, use painters tape to create a bold geometric pattern or create fresh, crisp stripes. This adds a unique touch and visual impact in any room.

3 -- Decant your soaps. Make your bathrooms look more like a boutique or exclusive apothecary and less like a pharmacy, show off those jewel toned "potions" in clear vessels. Clear plastic vessels can be found at most dollar stores or even grocery stores. Many clear plastic pieces are looking more and more like glass, which adds a sparkle to a small space like a bathroom.

4 -- Add pop to your kitchen. The kitchen is the hot spot when entertaining so make it pop! There are many accessories available in kitchen stores and department stores that can add a fun and funky feel to the kitchen. My sister just moved into a new condo and as a house warming gift I purchased a bright lime green pepper mill. It is both functional, decorative and it was cost effective (less than $20). Another cheap, easy and colourful trick is to take a footed glass vase and fill it with bright neon straws . They are perfect for morning smoothies or summer cocktails - and they deliver a splash of welcome colour to the kitchen counter top.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Who am I designing for?


This is a very important question for designers. As a designer, it is really important to know what your objective is. Is the home to be used as a sales tool for a builder to sell homes? Is it for a client to sell their existing home? Or, is it for a client who wants to imprint their personal style in their space?

A good designer will be able to give their input about how they feel the space could or should look (maybe with some ideas about furniture placement to maximize space or some tricks on how to emphasize high ceilings) but it is just as important to also take the client's ultimate objective into the main plan and blend the two together. Some designers make the mistake of creating a look that appeals to the wrong demographic or create a look that reflects their own personal style on that of the homeowner or the clientel.

It is very important to make sure you research the target market for the product and create your decor plan based on those results. For example, if you are designing a home located in the country, you want the decor look to reflect nature and a chalet chic style not a sleek, modern city style you might find in a downtown condo. Another important factor is the age of the potential purchaser and which stage they are at in their life - downsizing, just starting out or a young family - their needs and wants will all be different and they will all be looking for different elements. It is important to decorate and design to appeal to as many purchasers as possible.

How can you tell if a show home is a success with the public? Direct feedback is one way but there are some signs to watch for - are the guests sitting on the furniture? If they are that's a great sign, it means they feel comfortable and can visualize themselves in the space. Are they talking about how they would place their furniture pieces in the home? Again, another sign of them visualizing themselves in the space. If a client spends a lot of time in the show home, that means that they feel comfortable and want to be there. A show home or a staged home is a key sales tool so it is important that it is done right from the beginning. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Open House Tips and Tricks


Well it's almost spring and the market will be heating up! If you are selling your home you will notice throughout the city open house signs everywhere. You have a beautiful home in a great neighbourhood but how can you make your home stand out from all of the others? Here are some simple tips and tricks to have a successful open house.

1 -- Aromatherapy. Make your house smell inviting to your guests. You can use scented candles and sprays but some people are allergic and/or feel uncomfortable leaving lit candles unattended. Some great alternatives to creating a welcoming atmosphere - you can bake cookies (the pre-made cookie dough is easy to clean and achieves the same outcome), who doesn't like the smell of homemade goodies? Or, if you can't bake, chop up some apples and put them in a casserole dish with some water, cinnamon and sugar. Place the casserole dish in the oven and keep it at a low heat. You do not want to over-scent the home so just use one of these ideas to create that warm and cozy feeling in your home.

2 -- Light and fresh air. Open all the blinds and curtains so the house is full of natural light. This is also a great tip if you have a spectacular view such as a beautiful park or maybe even a great panorama of the city. If it's a nice day open the windows to let fresh air into the house. Wash all windows, especially those where the light will show dirt and streaks. Unlock all the doors and windows so people don't have to struggle with a lock they aren't familiar with. Something as small as a difficult lock could deter a prospective buyer.

3 -- Selling features. If you have ever toured a show home, builders often have feature sheets to bring attention to certain details in the home. Why not do the same?Place small sticky notes on things that are unique or may be an incentive to buy your home (i.e. trash compactor, tile imported from Italy, large-capacity washer and dryer included). Make sure your realtor is aware of these features but if there is a rush of people walking through the home, your realtor may not have enough time to connect face-to-face with everyone, these sticky notes will help bring focus to selling features of your most precious asset, your home.

4 -- A sign-in book. Hopefully your realtor will have one but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. A sign-in book can give you an idea of how many people have toured your home, it is also an opportunity for potential buyers to offer comments and it is also a great method for you and your realtor to gather some information and contact them later for feedback on your home. Make sure it is placed in a visible area such as the kitchen island.

5 -- Signage. Make sure your signage is clean and visible - so brush off the snow or make sure if it has fallen down, you put it back up. Have a topper attached to your lawn sign a few days before the open house ( on Wednesday or Thursday). The day of the open house, make sure to place your a-frame signs in high traffic areas, directing potential buyers to your open house. Put the a-frames out in the morning so people who are out and about notice the signs and hopefully plan to stop by later that day.

6 -- Check the calendar. Plan your open house around the lives of your potential prospects. Look to the calendar and the sports schedules to make sure that your planned open house will not conflict with your prospective buyer's other interests and activities. For example, an open house on Superbowl Sunday is a sure way to not have any traffic through your open house.

7 -- Temperature control. Make sure the house is not too hot or too cold. Either temperature can make an uncomfortable setting and make potential purchasers head for the door. If your open house is during the winter, have the fireplace on. It warms up the house, sets an inviting atmosphere and draws attention to a wonderful selling feature. If your open house is in the summer, have the A/C on so the house is less humid and again draws attention to the A/C unit in the home.

8 -- Be prepared. Make sure your a-frames are out and directing people in the proper direction. Arrive early to the home. Sweep or shovel the front walkway. Put your cookies or apples and cinnamon in the oven and turn it on. Open the curtains and blinds. Turn on all of the lights. Set up your sign-in book and get ready for a successful open house!

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