}

Friday, February 22, 2013

Backyard Chickens - Coops are Chic!

Our Backyard Chickens
Little did I know almost 12 years ago when I got my first batch of chickens that someday they'd be the trendy chic backyard hobby to have.  Why did I get chickens 12 years ago? Well, we bought my childhood home complete with a chicken coop on 1.5 acres and being an avid reader of Martha Stewart magazine, had she had chickens and a lovely garden - So why not me too? As a kid we had ducks, bunnies and I rode my neighbors horses, so the little town we had moved to was 'pet' friendly as well.



I share the street with a Horse Rider in my 'pet' friendly town.




My Chicken Coop 'Coup du Jour'
















[Turns out my coop is very old, having been the historical estate home next door's coop before they subdivided the land post WWII to build my home. ]

It all seemed serendipitous since not only did I have a coop, lived in a chicken friendly town, but a feed store, aptly named The Feed Store that carried chickens was the same place we got those ducks and bunnies as a kid.  A quick chat on chicken raising with the staff and I drove home with 6 baby chicks and bags of chicken chow. I created my French kitchen garden the same summer.  Eggs were gifted to me by fall as well as something else - Community.

Colorful Eggs from my Hens
Soon, my friends would bring their kids or grand kids over to my 'farm' to see the chickens and my garden. I would open my mailbox or door and there'd be a note with a bag of egg cartons or veggie peels for my chickens to eat. I was giving my fertilized eggs to the local Montessori School for classes to hatch.  The kids even had a field trip to my home to see their fruits of labor and my garden.

My French Garden Kitchen



William -Sonoma  Chicken Coop
So what a surprise when I started reading in the paper that the new trend was to have chickens. Even more of surprise when I saw that William - Sonoma had hopped on board the coop train and has an Agrarian collection in which they offer up coops to bee hives. From the city of Chicago to suburbs, the idea of having backyard chickens seems to have hatched! I was visiting the San Francisco Bay area a few weeks back and it seems everyone has a fancy coop, even in property tight Berkley!

Why I love my Chickens:

  • Daily fresh organic eggs.
  • The best organic fertilizer for my garden.
  • All my veggie, bread and fruit scraps that would have been in the garbage - feeds my chickens.
  • When free ranging, eat bugs keeping my garden pest free.
  • Creates community.
  • Fun to have
.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Package Your House to Sell - Why Hiring a Home Stager is a Must!

Have you ever gotten a gift from Tiffany's?  From the lovely velvet pouch, beautiful blue bag and white satin ribbon... The packaging is as awesome as the Tony gift inside.  How many of you kept the packaging too?

Genius packaging of a product - Right?  Take that same logic when you are selling your home - Home Staging is packaging the product! And home stagers are genius' at packaging a home for sale.


Packaging the House to Sell.

HGTV shows,  lots of inventory and busy people who want to move right in without a fuss, make it imperative to hire a stager.  If you are selling your home, you need to stage your home - Period.  Today's buyer can't image your kitchen without the floral wallpaper, without the clutter, your collections, nor can she picture your empty dining and living room decorated.  Instead, she wants to picture your kitchen as hers - with her favorite accessorizes and a fabulous dining and living room styled like her favorite home decor catalog.  She wants to picture herself living in the home. A home stager provides the insight, talents and execution to help that buyer picture themselves in your home.

All Homes Need Staging

And why wouldn't you want to make sure your home moves to the front of the line when it goes on the market? We staged a home last week that was already awesome, but made it more awesome.  They showed it that evening and had an offer. Since then they have four. All homes need to be staged.

You need to package the product well to sell, so hire a stager and listen to them. Home Staging isn't a new concept, it isn't the latest thing, and the majority of you can't do it yourself - I know, I've been a professional home stager and interior stylist now for 15 years. Here's why - this has been your haven and image for years; you're emotionally connected to your home.  You think your home is just fine, it's your taste, your collections, your image of lovely. Well, guess what?  When you want to sell it, it's no longer your home but a house that needs to be sold. We'll help you detach emotionally and offer professional advice on what needs to be done to get it ready for market.

Packaging the Product

By hiring a home stager you get a professional  that can look at your space with an unbiased eye and are experts in zeroing in on who the ideal client is, what attracts that target buyer to your home. We package the goods.  This is our trade, we offer an array of services - we prep, box, wrap and present the perfect package.

  • We're updated on the latest home design and remodeling trends; so if your home needs to be refreshed, we offer expertise for you to make wise, cost effective updates. We know when to spend it and when not to, especially considering your price point.
  • An experienced home stager is an expert in making the most of a home and how it will look in a MLS photo and in person from curb side to back fence. Buyers shop on-line first and fall in love second and if your spaces don't look ideal, they'll click or walk to the next listing.
  • From room arrangements, smart inside/out paint color choices to how your backyard patio should look, we're educated, creative and experienced stylists to make your home appeal to the right buyer.
  • We know people.  Nice painters to cleaning people - being in the business has its perks.
  • We're professionals - This is our business.  We do not do this for fun, part time or as part of another business, we are experts at what we do and have a track record to prove it.
  • We offer an array of services.  From a D.I.Y. check list for those on a budget, turn-key project management for a vacant property to helping you make your next home your haven, home stagers can help on every level.

Where do I Find a Professional Home Stager?   


The Real Estate Staging Association is a trade association of home stagers as well as the Interior Stylist Network a collective of design professionals that offer home staging, styling and decorating services.


How Much do Stagers Cost?

As little as a few hundred dollars for a Home Staging Evaluation on up - It all depends on the home's needs. But in the big picture of selling the most expensive product you've ever bought, our fee is cost effective!

A home stager is your home selling partner. We save you time, we make the selling process less stressful, we are here to help and most importantly we want you to sell your home.
















Business Cards - Your Visual Elevator Speech



Business Cards - They are meant to quickly broadcast, inform and remind prospective clients and associates who you are and what your do.  They are a small snippet of your branding and identity, your business finger print.

If you're just starting off they should be 1st on your list for advertising and marketing purposes.
Companies such as Vistaprint.com  are super easy to work with and can produce a great card.

As your business grows, so should your cards:  Your business evolves and you will find what works for marketing and doesn't.

First Impressions:
  • Afford only the best.  Budget restriction may impend the quality of your cards when you 1st establish your business. But as your profits rise, spend the monies to have a card professionally created and executed by a graphic designer.
  • Print your cards on good quality heavy stock.
Show off your Talents:
  • Your logo, color and stock paper color can express your talents and reflect that finger print.
  • Text - Be reminded of KISS - Don't over do the card with too much information. I've seen more logos on a business card that the business identity is lost.  Same goes for a multitude of services. You've got 3-5 seconds for them to read it. It should be about you not your associations you belong to.
  • Font - Make sure it is easy and large enough to read.
As an example - Here is the evolution of my cards:

1999
Fresh out of my specialty Interior Redesign and Home Staging training I ordered these cards from Colorful Images. I called myself a 'Home Stylist' only to be confused at my High School reunion to be a Hair Stylist.  I quickly changed my position to Interior Stylist to better identify myself.




Reinventing Space and The House Stager

the house stager



 (Black and White copy of cards)
rs OLD



2000
We had relocated to Chicago where no one knew what a Home Stager or Redesigner was - I hired a very fancy graphic designer to create a new identity for me. Originally my business identity and cards were a split personality. I had them printed on craft paper (I had a whole "Packaging" the product theme) By offering two cards I could showcase my two services  which both where virtually unknown in the Chicago-land market.

What I discovered over time -
  • Square cards don't fit into any protective business card cases, making for a lot of squished and bent cards in my brief case and purse.
  • Having two identities is ultimately confusing to your clients, associates and press.
  • Font and text size is too small for anyone over 35 to read unless they have a magnifying glass. 
  • Upscale Craft paper stock although beautiful and coordinating w/the "Package" theme is very expensive and not easy to match and readily available when wanting to do quick marketing campaigns such as post cards, pass-outs, gift certificates and flyer's.



2008

Large font, defined logo and focus on the services that drew the biggest client base.

  • The House Stager has been shortened to HOUSE STAGER and only used  for website marketing and educational purposes.  
  • Square cards still. People love them and identify that I'm in a creative business. Too bad about not fitting in a carrier.
  • One identity and more personal individual name branding. This goes hand and hand w/my website. REINVENTING SPACE.com which was WAY to long to type, remember, and spell...  so I now use JULEA.com.  If they can't spell it, they can't find you.
  • Font and text size adjusted for over 35 year eyes -  My target market...
  • White paper coincides with easy marketing, and is less expensive. K.I.S.S.
2013




























  • New fresh logo and color scheme.  Easy to read.  I now am building a team of associates as part of my business plan, so the cards offer them a not so overpowering identity of 'Julea'.


 So when it comes to your business cards, make sure they evolve with your business identity -
Are professional and of quality materials to ensure the stature of your business, and quickly and effectively identify who and what your do -
Making that visual elevator speech a success!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Fe Fi Faux Plants - How to Use Fake in Your Decor

Faux, fake or silk plants and floral is fine in your home decorating IF you use it sparingly and they are displayed to look as if the real thing.  The whole point of silk is that it looks realistic and doesn't require watering or weekly replacement.  Good for us, that there are some beauties out there for us to choose. Here are some rules to use when buying or styling your spaces with faux floral.

1.) Be in-tuned to current styles. Page through shelter magazines, websites, blogs and such to get the scoop on the latest trends and styles.   If you've got ivy perched on top of your China Cabinet, Armoire or Entertainment unit, please remove it.  Using ivy to adorn the tops of things went out with the dress-up Goose.  Instead, re-house the ivy in a rustic glazed urn or colorful pot and add it to an appropriate counter or table as a welcomed accent.

An Ivy Issue... (from uglyhousephotos.com)
Ivy housed in a glazed pot.


2.) Make sure it looks real.  From color palette, texture, scale, etc. when shopping, make sure the product is as close to nature as you can get.  If shopping for a large tree or floor plant - Think how this species would look in nature.
Silk fern terrarium by NDI
Fern Terrarium by NDI

Trees should look as if in nature.

3.) Make sure it 'could' grow.  I've seen ficus trees in the oddest places, mostly in some dark corner of a windowless room - Common sense says plants need light to grow, so place it near a window where it can pretend to grow.
Place faux trees near a window to mimic a real one.
Trees can't grow in sunless corners!





4.) Floral Arrangements should look too as if a professional florist put it together for an occasion, a store bought or garden arrangement you added to a vase or as an artistic statement for the style of your home.  A mega sized rose in an urn arrangement on your dining room table says "My daughter just got married, or I wish I was living at Downton Abbey."  Stay true to the bones of your home as well as what would be appropriate (an affordable) if real.
Look for silk floral arrangement that could actually be real.


5.) Display floral in 'season.'  Tulips, daffodils, forsythia and forced branches are perfect now, sunflowers, not so much.  Consider rotating out or refreshing your floral as the seasons change.


6.)  Consider the purpose of the room.  A 4 foot vase and sticks is not great on the TV room's cocktail table, a tree in place of the refrigerator in a vacant staged home can't fool anyone and an ivy line powder room shelf, is only a dust collector. Instead, add the curly willow arrangement on your entry table and add just a simple square vase with fresh eucalyptus from your local grocery store.

Curly Willow from Vickerman


7.) Use a Light Hand.  Acres of fake floral or tress or plants adorning your home is too much, the best rule of thumb is to use the rule of three.  One large, medium and small in a large room and one or two in a small room.  Too much of anything looks like your hoarding.

A trio of florals adorn this room.  (Photo: House Beautiful)


 
site design by designer blogs