Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"A House is Not a Home"

I am not (nor have ever been) a professional decorator, but over the years many people have told me that I have good taste and that our home looks lovely!  That's always so nice to hear.  Frequently friends or relatives would jokingly ask if I would come and decorate their home.   I helped Ratchlet decorate parts of her home and gave her input when she recently re-did their kitchen and baths.  Now I have no credentials for doing such a thing, but I do enjoy putting a room together or updating as time goes by.  It's fun and it doesn't always cost a fortune either. 
Recently, I was contacted by T.A.'s mother.  She also lives here in Austin.  She is a widow and has been living in a rather large, very spread-out house on a huge plot of land for the last 8 years.  The size of both the house and the yard have gotten to be too much work for her and she decided she wanted to downsize.  A very logical decision.  She's very active, loves to travel and does a lot of it, and she'd rather do that than spend her time taking care of the garden and the house.  (I wouldn't mind doing that myself some days!)

TA's mom has never been one to spend a lot of time and effort on "decorating".  She freely admits she knows nothing about decorating.  This is mainly due to the fact that she and her husband spent nearly all of the married life serving in the  US Foreign Service.  He was an agricultural advisor and she was a public health nurse.  They have lived in many different countries, mostly in South America, Central American, and Africa. usually in the poorer countries where help is needed the most.  They always lived in Government owned housing, and had very little funds or need for decorating!

So when she decided to put her house on the market, she asked Ratchlet to help her "stage" the house for the listing pictures and for showings, but Ratchlet said "My mom is a lot better at that sort of thing than I am!!"  (Isn't she a sweet girl??)  So then TA's mom asked me if I would be interested, and I agreed to try and help.

T.A.'s mom and I spent a rather intense afternoon in talking about possibilities, making decisions and choices.  We rearranged rooms, moved accessories to different places, re-oriented the focus of some rooms.  After we did as much as we could with what she had, we decided to go shopping for a few things to help update the house.  We didn't spend a lot, but we did buy a couple of lamps, some colorful new towels, a coffee table to replace a wicker piece that wasn't working and so on.  There had been a small extra refrigerator sitting in the laundry room, but it wasn't really very workable in the space and it didn't provide very much extra cooling space, so it went out into the garage.

To fill the resulting empty spot in the laundry room, we bought some very pretty hanging hooks mounted on a decorative plaque.  The best thing we found was a small white bench (complete with seat pad) and three cubical sized openings below, suitable for baskets, or just open storage for gardening shoes, rainboots, etc.  It fit the open space perfectly and easily transformed the laundry room into a small "mud room" as well! 

All of our purchases were at Target.  I just love Target....they never let me down!  We were able to get everything we wanted to help warm up the space.

I had a creamy white Flotaki rug that had never been put back in place after its last cleaning, so I lent the rug to TA's mom, to put under the table in her breakfast area.  It really warmed up the space and made the space functional, attractive, and more than just an after thought.  I arranged her displays on the mantel, a baker's rack, and some small shelves.  All in all, we made no big changes, we just made a lot of little changes that brought the rooms into a more focused and usable arrangement. 

When we were finished, there were several additional things that needed to be finished, but TA's mom had house guests coming for three days and the rest of the staging work would be completed after the guests left.  I would go back one day this week to help if she needed it.  Evidently she was able to get the rest of it done on her own, because she sent me the pictures taken for the listing and it shows nearly everything finished just the way we discussed and agreed to. 

She seemed very pleased with the result and the house looks good in the photos.  (I'm not sharing the photos because they are not mine to share.)   I was so pleased to be able to help make her house feel more like a warm and inviting home!  

With the housing market and economy being what they are, it's impossible to predict how long it will take to actually sell the house, but she was being realistic though hopeful  that it wouldn't take too long. 

Well, it didn't take long!  Nope, not long at all!  She put the house on the market on Sunday (2/4), had several people come through, and received THREE bids on Monday, plus one MORE bid expected, but not yet received.  We got a call from Ratchlet today telling us that one of the bids had been accepted!!   In two days!!  For significantly over her asking price!!  WOW!  How amazing!!  I'm so happy for her!

Now I am NOT saying that my staging efforts really had anything to do with the quick sale, but on the other hand......I guess it didn't hurt either!  lol!  Maybe I should start a new career!  "Staging for a Speedy Sale!"     :)


  1. Mel, I sure do wish you lived closer to me. I could use your abilities with my home. I can only see the furniture in two places. I know there has to be other ways to rearrange, but I can't figure it out, so when I am tired of it one way, I switch it to the other. LOL!
    It's nice to think you helped out just enough to make the house sell more quickly. That says a lot for you! You rock!!

  2. WOW! What a blessing you were to her! Good home staging is definitely a powerful thing.

  3. If you lived closer I would have you give me some tips on how to decorate this generic looking apartment I live in. Don't underestimate your decorating talent, family and friends would not be coming to you if you did not have some sort eye for decorating. :)

  4. Because of everything you said on Pamela's blog; I must follow you.

    You have a lovely blog. When one lives in another country it's comforting to know there are people like you living (and voting) in the United States.

    Warm regards,

  5. wow...congrats! your help definitely had something to do with the sale. good for all of you! especially in todays market!

  6. Hey, staggers make big bucks! Nothing wrong with a little extra pocket money. Take photos of the house and put together a flyer that you can send to local real estate agents and brokers. Undercut the competition!


Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It's really nice knowing what you think!! Besides, comments keep me from feeling like I'm here all by myself!! :)

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