Welcome to Transformations!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bachelor Pad Transformation

Recently we were asked to enhance a condo in the Tansaborne area that was the classic bachelor pad:
  1. Bare and Barren
  2. Media equipment the focal point
  3. And the requisite:  Black Leather Sofa!
Here are some Before and After shots:

Living Room was empty and boring, so we freshened the appeal with green and espresso to appeal to young buyers.

Previously, there wasn't a dining table in this space, but was designed to have one and it's pretty important to buyers, so we added a table and chairs so buyers would know they could have a few friends to dinner.

And the Black Leather Sofa and Media Equipment make their appearance! Ta Da!  As the seller was out of town the day of installation and we don't like to take chances with electronics, we left the media equipment where it was.  Just created a more attractive space with accessories so buyers could visualize enjoying the fireplace... Not ideal, but workable.

Since the property is occupied and the bedding would be used, we directed the listing agent in buying some new bedding.  The result is more pulled together and will appeal to females as well as males.  We also raised the bed and added a slipper chair in a space to the right that you can't see in this shot.

Review from the listing agent was "Fantastic!  Excellent, excellent work! ".  As this was a one-day installation the cost for first month was well below $900. Pretty worthwhile investment, don't you think???

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Melange of Staging Styles with a Common Theme: Warm it Up!

As we go through Fall into the cooler months, staging becomes more important to make a property inviting.  Especially here in Portland where the days are gray, empty properties seem cold and uninspiring  Add to that any challenges inherent in the property, a dicey market, and staging becomes imperative.  We have recently had some interesting challenges.  And the most fun part is the variety of styles we have been working with - from urban modern to updated vintage.  I love that about Portland and this business!

There are 3 approaches I use to brighten a property through staging: Color, Texture, and Lighting.  As you will see, we almost always use color to warm spaces, but we often use a combination of methods to make a space feel more comfortable to prospective buyers.

First, we staged a townhouse in Lair Hill with a unique feature: a fireplace just inside the front door!  OK we are stagers, we are used to making the best of what we have to work with, so we approached it with the attitude that we would make it look as natural as we could.  The advantage of putting the fireplace there was it maximized floor space in a narrow floor plan so we were able to utilize one of our favorite sectionals which wouldn't have fit if the fireplace were on the wall.  I get it. With so many hard surfaces and neutral colors, it needed some softness and sizzle to woo buyers.  This is what it looked like Before:

And this is what it looks like After:

We used golds and browns for Color warmth and a large comfy sectional and thick throw for a cushy softness (Texture). That property also had a dreary bonus room with linoleum flooring downstairs so we turned up the heat with gold and orange and it became a hangout with a modular sectional and pub table...

I just heard from the broker that everyone loves the staging and offers are coming in!

Next we staged a penthouse model condo in The Jefferson.  It has  fantastic views of Goose Hollow and was fun to stage...No real issues in this one.  Just help buyers fall in love... But we used Texture in shag rugs to keep it from feeling stark and punches of orange for drama (Color).

Then came a condo in The Cambridge.  The challenge here - and most properties have some kind of challenge - is that it's on a lower level so not much light comes into the unit.  Therefore, we put as many Light fixtures as we could get away with in and used a warm palette of gold, red and chocolate.  We also created more light by the introduction of reflective surfaces such as mirrors, silver and glass. We love how it turned out:
And last for this post, we staged this historic home near the entrance of Washington Park.  Just a great property and all it needed was  - you guessed it! - warming up and some ideas of functionality of the spaces.  Color was key to showing the potential in this home.  Here are some photos...
Before - This is a huge room and feels cold from so much white...

After - Now buyers have an idea of how to use the space and it's warm and updated.  There is actually a third seating area behind this with an ornate game table and a huge floor vase in the corner.

Before: The colors need to be balanced to make sense.

After: Ready for a dinner party!
Master Bedroom Before: The green fireplace makes no sense against the white walls and carpet.

After: Color adds warmth and interest diluting the white.

Hope you found this information useful and of interest.  Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback. We would love to help warm up your space!

Thanks to the listing brokers who recommended our services listed in order of the properties shown above:
 We appreciate your trust in us and being your partner!  To see any of these properties in person, please follow the link to contact these experienced professionals.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BeFaux and After

This is a house we recently staged that features fabulous views and a wonderful location. The problem in marketing it was simply that it was dated. The existing designer touches that were to the taste of the sellers when they built the home could inhibit current buyers from seeing the potential. The faux had to go! Add to that an abundance of oak trim and Houston, we have a problem!  There was nothing we could do about the blue carpet, so we incorporated a more current color scheme to make it work. Removing the window treatments and putting the views front and center was another key strategy to updating this home.  Please be sure to see the professional photos by Timothy Park on the listing info linked at the end of this entry.  You will be impressed by the landscaped setting!

Here are more Before's (on the left)  and After's (on the right):

The view outside the dining room of the landscaped waterfall is incredibly beautiful, but the sellers kept the drapes closed. We truly believed that bringing the outdoors in was imperative, so had the window coverings removed and replaced the dining chairs with some of our own. Thankfully, the seller was open to our suggestions and gracious. We did utilize the sellers' table and kept the table setting simple to keep the focus on the view. This became our favorite room!

The living room is now elegant and updated and although you can't see it from this photo, the view out the windows is the Wow Factor. The heavy window treatments are gone and the gorgeous views are there for all to see...

A few more notes: The kitchen cabinets were high quality but oak which dates the kitchen. We would have preferred that the oak be painted white, but that wasn't an option. So we replaced the white plastic door/drawer pulls with brushed nickel ones that makes a huge difference. For only a bit over $120 you have a much more current look. (photos to come)

And finally, the entry had been painted a bright blue faux.  It was pretty and definitely made a statement - perhaps too much so.  So we neutralized it with soft tan paint and accessories that tied the color scheme used throughout the house together.  With views like this house offers to provide the Wow Factor, you don't need to hit people over the head at the front door.

To see more views of this house including the world-class photographs by Timothy Park, please see the listing info by Laurie Thiel, RE/MAX Equity Group.  She is a long-time client and one of our favorite agents! It's gorgeous and you will be glad you took a peek...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mixing it up

Update:  This was one of 4 units and was used as a model.  Before we staged it they had been on the market for 5 months empty.  We staged it and all units sold in a month!

One of the tenets of good staging is to bring cohesion between the spaces so that they flow. We usually do that by using consistent furniture styles and colors throughout. In a recent project, we stepped outside the box a bit to bridge 2 very different styles, make it interesting, yet blend them together.

This is a 1913 Craftsman condo conversion in NW Portland that had been bumped out in the back utilizing different architectural details and colors than in the original space. The front of the building has amazing, original dark wood mill work and wainscoting. Just luscious. Additionally, it features leaded glass windows, arts and crafts era tile, and original light switches for the vintage feel. The back of the unit, including the kitchen, nook area and master bedroom are largely new and are lighter and brighter. So our challenge was how to make them cohesive?

We chose to use the intrinsic colors and run them throughout: red (from the tile), blue (from the rear portion's walls) and green (because you always need some green!). Then we pulled black for contrast in the back and ivory to lighten in the front. Juxtaposed some contemporary lines to update and a great leather-and-caned Campaign chair for a vintage touch that also added texture.

The developers had identified an area behind the kitchen as an additional area by hanging a chandelier low - even though there is already a formal dining room. We thought that a 2 bedroom condo doesn't really need a second full eating area as much as it could use a casual tv area, so we asked the clients how they felt about raising the light fixture. They were great about it and saw the virtue of the idea. Here is what we did with it... We put a fun pub table on one corner for morning coffee and casual rattan chairs for conversation or watching tv. Now buyers have options!

And lastly, we put an updated vintage 4-poster bed in a satin black finish and a seating area by the window to seal the deal. In other spaces not shown here, we placed a cute red bench and pops of red in a china cabinet to continue that color scheme. There are splashes of blue from the back of the house to pillows, table settings and art in the front of the house. The green softens and freshens the dark wood and shows off it's richness. With a nod to vintage style but with today's current sensibilities, we stepped outside our staging box, had some fun, and love the results!

Hope you do, too! Remember: You can try mixing styles and colors as long as you keep some things consistent, such as colors that run throughout. Have fun with your decor and don't be afraid to try new things - even we have to be reminded to do that!

To see photos of other rooms not shown here or to view this property in person, please follow this link to the Dan Volkmer Team at Windermere Realty

Also want to give a HUGE shout-out to Jennifer Myers, J Myers & Associates, who pushed, nudged, and inspired us to stretch outside our borders. She's an immensely talented interior designer, herself, and experienced model home merchandiser. Thanks, Jennifer!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Update with Paint & Staging

Update:  Even in this tough market, this condo sold - it was up and down in 60 days!
Sometimes the most fun transformations are the ones that look the scariest at first glance. This is a 2 bedroom condo that had been rented out and the owners decided it was time to sell.

The issues with the property included that it was dark and dated. So we advised painting the entire unit the same warm golden tan - including the ceilings - to warm it up and make it feel larger. We also advised the sellers to remove the dark curtains and the little shelf over the fireplace to create cleaner lines. Another issue with the living room was the layout which could be confusing to buyers since there needed to be room for access to the sliding glass door. So we created 2 seating areas: one for conversation in front of the fireplace and another media center. Now those questions about how to use the space have been erased and the room actually feels larger...

Next we tackled the dated and dark kitchen. To keep costs down, we advised painting the laminate cabinets and the losing the oak trim by painting it a fresh white.

It's not just the camera angle, now the kitchen really does feel bigger! And the tile countertops don't look so dated. Accessorizing with simple, modern items emphasizes the counterspace. This is a lot of improvement for a minimal investment...

And the last example is the master bedroom. A fresh coat of paint in the same color provides flow and makes the rooms feel inviting. We left the window coverings off as the view outside of the lush landscaping and water feature was an asset worth showing off. Updated furnishings add to the casual sophistication and should appeal to all age groups. Tip: See how much better the ceilings look painted the same color as the walls? You may not realize that painting the ceilings doesn't cost much more than leaving them white as time is saved not having to tape it off! And they look soooo much better!

What do you think of this transformation?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Staging Then and Now

Everyone has to start somewhere and this is where we started in 2003 (photo on left). Pretty embarrassing to see it now, much less to share. But staging evolves, changes and grows and our style and technique have improved along the way.

Back then, staging was new to Portland. Most agents had never heard of it - much less used it. A lot of education was necessary. Thankfully, one brave broker, TC Cairns, gave us a break and our first job. It was a very white condo in Mountain Park and needed color. It was staged during the winter months and sold a couple months later as I recall. When I look at the staging, I cringe but it worked and got the ball rolling. We built our stock one project at a time and word spread. The market was stronger then and many realtors had the attitude that their property would sell, so why stage it. They didn't realize that they may be missing opportunities for multiple offers and a higher sales price. But one success built upon another and soon we were building our reputation for quality and results.

In 2005, we took another leap forward with Laurie Thiel, staging our first high-end property in Dunthorpe. It was a Silver Oak property and we staged it just before an ice storm in January. Despite the ice storm, Laurie received an offer during her first Sunday open house. That was the beginning of a great relationship and other successful projects. The photo on the left is from our second project with her, a $3M property that sold in the first 30 days. I invested in my first high-end sofa by Ferguson-Copeland and procured a baby grand piano with the cooperation of Moe's in the Pearl. We were off and running!

2006 and 2007 were banner years - our sales doubled every year since inception. Word was out that staging was hot and became an essential selling tool. Our style continued to improve and builders such as Eslinger and Renaissance became valued clients. At our peak we had 50 properties staged and builders were keen to have us as marketing partners. We moved into a warehouse in Lake Oswego and shopping for a burgeoning demand became a fun part of my job. We have always spent more on furnishings than others, but it kept us at the top of the competition (which was growing but not affecting us). To this day, it is imperative to keep new infusions of stock coming to keep current and fresh and we continue to turn over old stock and replace with new, exciting items. We never tried to be the biggest staging company, but always the best!

I won't lie. 2008 and 2009 haven't been nearly as much fun. Our biggest account declared bankruptcy, people have pulled back on spending money, and business declined with the downturn in the real estate market. Also, we've had a lot more competition than before - everyone decided it would be fun to be a stager from watching HGTV! Upstarts with their inventory in their garages cut into our market share and they could undercut us with lower overhead - but also lower quality that doesn't produce the same results. People decided that maybe they could do without staging.

But as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping - I mean, get going! ;-} So it's been a good time to re-evaluate, trim unnecessary expenses to become lean and mean, and explore new directions such as this blog to stay connected with our clients and meet new ones. The amount of stock that we had built to service so many accounts isn't necessary so we are selling the 'clothes' in our 'closet' that we never wear- some good buys to be had - and keeping our favorites while sprucing up with new goodies! The silver lining is an increased commitment to serving our clients and rewarding their faith in us with more for less. We have so much great stuff to work with that we can use more in our projects without shortchanging ourselves and you are the beneficiaries of that. Our prices are lower than ever - most prices include the first month of staging free! And we continue to push ourselves to improve the staging, always trying to outdo ourselves, and get properties SOLD! And those efforts are working - we have had 5 of our luxury properties sell in past couple months in a market that was previously stagnant. We must be doing something right!

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down Transformations' memory lane. We are at a turning point in our history and are more determined than ever to be here on the other side of this economic challenge. Please let us know how we can better serve you. We are dedicated to your success and, thereby, our own. Let us know what questions about staging, market preparation for properties. or anything we can do to make this blog more fun for YOU. So much yet to learn!!