Saturday, September 20, 2014

Staging tips for Selling your Home in the Fall Months

Summer is officially over, we have had frost warnings , soon the leaves on trees will slowly begin to turn, and fireplaces will soon find themselves useful. While most of us are excited for this amazing season, people in the real estate are preparing themselves because once the cold sets in, the number of buyers out there will start to sink.

While you still have time to prepare for the cold season, don’t waste these days and take advantage before the winter season sets in. Remember that no one would want to go home shopping when it’s 10 degrees out.
One of the essential strategies to get a sale before the holidays is home staging, regardless if you’re using the help of a real estate agent or selling the house by yourself.
Here are a few tips to make your home look perfect this fall.


Maintain your yard

Rake leaves, trim bushes, and use seasonal flowers. Keep it looking fresh! Always remember that the curb appeal is as important as the interior. It’s the first thing that your potential buyers will see. This about an inviting front door vignette with a wreath and maybe some pumpkins or a bench with some pillows

 

Control back to school clutter

Back to school season can create clutter in your entry. Make sure to have a place for your backpacks, shoes and other items the kids need to grab before catching the bus. This can even give the new homeowners some great ideas too

 

Keep it neat and simple

While Halloween and Thanksgiving are not religious specific, too much decorating can distract buyers. Remember less is more. This can be tough with children so don't eliminate it completely but keep it subtle and stay away from the gore,  keep it cute and have it is specific areas and not every square inch of the house

 

Use home decor that takes a cue from nature

Rather than ghosts, scary monsters or turkeys display pumpkins, hay and flowers. Nothing can scare away potential buyers like handmade scarecrows or frighteningly realistic gory Halloween decorations. A simple bowl of fresh apples or mini pumpkins as a dining centerpiece is simple but effective.  An empty corner that looks odd can easily be filled with a tall glass vases filled with tall sticks.  A door looks more welcoming when it is dressed up a bit too


 

Turn your fireplace on for showings to set the mood

A little warmth emanating from the fireplace evokes a welcoming atmosphere. A crackling fire says “welcome home”, as well as well-placed candles to complete that warm, snug room.  And in cooler months a fireplace will be on the minds of buyers, so make sure they can't help but notice it!

 

Add pillows

Use furry throws, pillows and texture in your home decor to create a cozy feel. Or, think about adding a splash of pillow with pillows in fall inspired colours, warm colours can make any space look and feel inviting. Pillows are inexpensive additions to your home and knowing how to use them will surely bring a big difference.

 

The cinnamon effect

Remember to use candles, incense and other oils to infuse fall scents, like vanilla or apple cinnamon. No, you don’t need to bake a bunch of sugar cookies before the showing, but investing in a tasteful, subtle scented autumn candle will do just fine in eliciting that cozy feeling buyers want to experience when they walk into their future house.

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Get the 'Model' look at Home

Have you ever toured a model home and wished your space could look like that?  Or admired some key pieces and wanted them for your own home?

Well wonder no more.....with the help of KIKI Interiors and Wayfair.com you can get the  model look in your home.

It's easy too.  Click here to get directly to the kiki interiors gallery and you will see a series of different looks.  Each image has various highlighted items and wayfair.com has already done the shopping for you!


Here are just some examples of the model homes you will find in the KIKI Interiors gallery on Wayfair.com


Clip this photo

An urban condo with high gloss grey cabinets, quartz counter tops, over sized industrial pendants and pops of orange and turquoise

 Clip this photo

 A mix of modern and ethnic elements.  Lots of layered neutral tones with texture and clean lines

Clip this photo

A condo where classic and contemporary meet.  Pattern, bright pops of apple green, yellow and teal, nail heads, glass and more





Clip this photo

Where contemporary meets industrial, a mix of metal, brick, shades or grey and stone

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Your First Kitchen : The Basics you really need

Have you ever started from scratch in a new kitchen? Perhaps you were leaving for college, or disentangling one household from another. Maybe you were outfitting a second home, or helping a young friend or family member set up with their own kitchen for the very first time.
Is it possible to equip a kitchen for robust daily cooking on a relatively small budget? We say yes. If you are starting from scratch, without a spatula to your name, here's your checklist of essential equipment — and all for under $300.


A Checklist of Kitchen Essentials for $300
Wait, you may say — $300 sounds like a lot of money! To most of us $300 is not pocket change. It could represent half of your monthly rent, or the cost of your textbooks for a semester. It's about the same price as a new iPhone, or another tech bauble like a tablet.
But keep in mind that you can easily spend nearly that much for a single set of cookware or knives (heck, for a single pan or knife), and we're not just outfitting you with a set of pans, but with everything you need to take an empty kitchen from useless to delicious.


 


The 'Basics' List

- Saute pan with lid (so versatile)
- Dutch oven (perfect for soups, chili, sauces, etc...)
- Sheet pan (everything from cookies to veggies)
- 9 x 13 baking pan (everything from casseroles to birthday cake)
- Chef's knife
- Paring knife
- Mixing bowls
- Colander
- Wood cutting board (for fruit, veggies etc..) and a plastic cutting board (for meat)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Liquid measuring cup
- Tongs
- Wood spoon
- Whisk
- Spatula
- Can opener
- Meat thermometer
- Kitchen towels
- Potholders

The Goal of This List
Our goal was a list of essential equipment for daily cooking, aimed towards the beginner cook.
  • We prioritized the things you need for habitual daily cooking.
  • We looked for smart buys, focusing on commercial kitchen tools.
  • We looked for quality materials and avoided plastic.
  • We looked for tools that are pleasurable to use. Extremely cheap cookware is often false economy, since it's harder and less fun to cook with, and produces discouraging results.
What's Not on the List
We designed this for a new cook who's just learning the basics, and we think it would help someone just starting out to cook a wide range of dishes. But as cooks gain experience they form opinions about the tools that work best for them. So of course, if there's something not on this list that you couldn't live without, customize away!
A few things we didn't include:
  • Tableware: Dishes, glassware, silverware, serving dishes and serving utensils.
  • Small Appliances: Blender, toaster, food processor, mixer, kettle.
  • Storage: Jars and storage containers.
More Ways to Save Money
Could you buy this list of 20 essentials for less money? Most likely. But we didn't want this to be a gimmick, full of dollar store finds and really cheap cookware sets. Having said that, you can probably find items here for cheaper locally. Places to try:
  • Thrift stores
  • Discount stores like TJ Maxx and Ross
  • Garage sales
  • Church rummage sales
  • Craigslist

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to Set Your Table for a Dinner Party


Many of us are spending more and more time entertaining from home as opposed to going out. With budgets tighter, staying in is a much more bank account friendly option these days. Inviting friends over for dinner parties is more in fashion than ever! There are many aspects of a having dinner party.. one of them being the table setting! In this blog, we will help you set your table for a dinner party, and of course, show you how to make it beautiful! 

Your table setting is a great place to let your personality shine through. Do you love colour? Use it! Are you into geometric patterns? Great! Use them on your napkins or placemats! Love bold prints? Add a fabulous printed table cloth! There are so many fun ways to make a great tablescape.

First of all, let’s start with table linens. Are you using a table cloth? Or are you looking for a more modern look and just using decorative place mats? Maybe neutrals on your napkins? Either way, having one or all of these options will be great! The napkin can either go to the left of your plates or on top of the plate, folded nicely!


Now that we’ve laid the linens down (napkins, placemats, and/or tablecloth) we need to add plates. Depending on how formal you want to be, this will coincide with the amount of plates you need to add. (See the below diagrams and see which appeals to you.. formal or casual.)

Formal Dining Setting Infographic

The above photo shows a very formal dinner setting. For casual entertaining, we recommend using a charger and a dinner plate on top. A charger is a large, decorative dinner plate that usually goes underneath the service plate (the one we use for eating.)  A charger just adds a punch of colour or texture or pattern to the place setting.



I recommend having an extra plate available for a more casual setting for salad and/or bread. It’s more convenient for your guests. With a formal setting, this is a must-have.
Next, onto flatware. For a formal setting, you will have 3 forks, at least 2 spoons and one dinner knife as well as a bread knife. The forks will be three different sizes, one for salad, one for dinner and one used for dessert. The two spoons needed are a soup spoon, which is slightly larger than the dessert spoon.

For casual entertaining, one of everything is perfectly acceptable. An extra dessert fork and spoon is a nice touch though. Supplying one fork, spoon and knife for dinner is just fine.

Next, you need glasses. For formal entertaining, a white and red wine glass is placed on the top right of the place setting along with a water glass. After the meal has begun, most guests will chose either a white or red wine and the unused glass can be removed. Once dinner is complete, the addition of a cup and saucer is brought to the table for coffee or tea.


Casual entertaining includes a water glass and a wine glass. Depending on your guests or your glass collection you may only want to offer a neutral wine glass. There are many different types available that are great for multi-purpose and casual settings.

And last but not least, you’ll want to make sure you have a beautiful centerpiece. This goes for both formal and informal dining. A centrepiece is a necessity! There are so many different centerpiece options: you could use flowers, candles, or unique conversation piece. Just make sure it isn’t an eyesore and complements the existing table setting. If you’re unsure of what to use – get some beautiful fresh flowers. You can never go wrong with a beautiful bouquet!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Maintaining your Natural Stone Tiles


Floor and wall coverings are the first thing that people notice in your bathroom. There are so many different materials, styles, looks and trends that can be applied to make your bathroom stunning. Natural stone is a popular trend we are seeing a lot of these days. Natural stone options consist of Slate, Marble, Limestone, Travertine, Granite, and Sandstone.

Part of having a gorgeous bathroom is maintaining that gorgeous bathroom. Without proper maintenance, finishes look tired and worn. Many home owners are incorporating a natural stone into their bathrooms these days so in this blog we’ll give you some maintenance tips and cleaning suggestions to help maintain the beauty of your tiles!


Natural stone is a stunning choice but also has a lot more work than just laying it and leaving it. It is a wise choice to seal your natural stone tile. The resistance to stains is substantially higher than leaving it unsealed. This is a product that can be purchased at any local hardware store or specialty tile supplier. It is worth the investment! Sealant will need to be reapplied regularly, depending on the brand and specific product. Be sure to check how regularly your sealant should be applied as well as make sure to get the product that is made for your particular stone. Remember that sealant is not a miracle worker and doesn’t make the stone resistant to damage, but it certainly does help.

Now that you’ve sealed your tile, we recommend a regular routine cleaning. Consistent use of a non-abrasive cleaner, mild washing liquid or a stone soap is recommended and safe for all natural stone services. Always be sure to use a small amount of any cleaning product and not overdo it – too much is never good. Be sure to thoroughly rinse all surface once they’ve been cleaned with warm water and a clean cloth.
uniquely shaped custom sink with natural stone on walls

Regular sweepings keeps a lot of the outsider dirt brought in under wraps. This is the best way to keep surface scratching to a minimum, otherwise your tile may begin to look dull. Natural stone, especially the softer stones, are sensitive to abrasion. (hence the non-abrasive cleaners above!)

Rather than wiping away spills, try to blot them to avoid them from spreading over the surface more than they have already. Water and a mild soap, organic being the best choice will get spills gone as long as they are handled as soon as they are noticed.

Ahhh, the price to pay for beauty!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Why you need to stage your home

First impressions matter the most when it comes to selling a house. In the real estate world, impressing prospect buyers is already half the battle. That’s why many seek professional home staging services to bring out the full potential of their home.

But not all people are convinced and we understand their hesitation. Some prefer to do it themselves instead of asking for professional help. Many home sellers ask us - why should I spend  money to sell my home, can't the buyer do it them selves and make the changes they really want? The problem with that is most buyers can't see potential and in this current real estate market most buyers don't want to lift a finger!  So if you want your home sold and fast, you need to do the 'grunt' work for them. Remember when a professional stager comes to your home for a consultation it isn't a personal attack, we are there to help you get your home sold and for as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time.

If you are in the process of selling your home and are having second thoughts about the benefits you can get out of professional home staging, here are a few reasons why you should consider it.


 

#1 The best short term investment a seller can make

In a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average cost of staging is between 1% and 3% of the asking price and this investment can yield on average 4-10% more of the final selling price.
Moreover, Homegain.com explained that sellers who invested $500 in home staging recovered over 343% of the total cost when they sold their home. That’s a pretty good investment.


#2 Staging help you sell faster

If you’ve done your research beforehand, you must know by now that the longer a house sits on the market, the more likely the price drops.
Based on controlled tests initiated by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA), wherein a number of identical homes were sold, professionally staged vs. not staged, the non-staged houses sold in 102 days, while the staged houses sold in 45 days.
Just imagine all the carrying costs you need to manage if your home stays longer on the market. By staging your home, all the inconvenience, stress, plus additional expenses such as mortgage and taxes, can be avoided.

 

#3 Avoid a price reduction

A home that’s in “as in” condition are a tough sell, unless it has already been the victim of a substantial price reduction. Ensure that your property is in tip top shape before listing. Most traffic and interest will come up within the first two weeks so make it a point to maximize the potential of your home to make it to a buyers shortlist.


#4 Stand out amongst competition with professional MLS photos

Over 95% of buyers look at online listing before making an actual visit, so it is important to have professional MLS photos to convince them to see the place for themselves. As professional stagers, we know how important first impressions are and we employ various techniques to make the best impression possible. Colours to use, the right amount of decor pieces, furniture placement and more...so our ideas for your home might be completely different than yours but we are here to help you show case this home to buyers and make your home look like their dream home!

#5 Most sellers are having hard time viewing their home objectively

If you can’t view your home objectively, it’ll be hard to package it for the buyer’s eyes.  A professional home stager can help you with this. They know how to minimize the problem areas and maximize the potential of the best features. You decorated your home to suit your lifestyle and personal tastes but now that you have decided to move on, you need someone to come in and help you present your home in it's best light and have it attract as many buyers as possible.  It can be very tough to be objective in your home as it holds so many wonderful memories, so again don't take it personally when a home stager gives you ideas or stages your home in a way that you 'never' would.

 

#6  Only 10% of home buyers can visualize a house’s potential

This is why home staging is so important. It gives the buyers ideas how they can play with interior design. You need to bring out and show the potential of a house the best way you can.

#7 Peace of mind

Staging your home by yourself can be a tough job. It entails detailed planning, sorting out things, decluttering, trips to the home depot, finding contractors for paint jobs and repairs, etc. By entrusting the job to more capable hands, rest assured that you’ll get the best return on your investment.

 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Desk Distaster? 5 easy fixes to get it organized

Now that the kids are back to school it might be time to get yourself back on track and organize that desk.  We get so busy and things can really pile up but it feels great to get organized and studies show it helps to minimize stress.

Getting that office or work area organized can feel like climbing Everest but don't fear, you don't have to tackle it all in one day.  Follow these easy steps, one at a time and you'll be organized in no time!

1 Start with the desk itself
The first place you should start is the desk itself. If you’re just using your desk to pay bills or shop online, a small, attractive desk is fine, but if you do any kind of work at it, you need room to maneuver, you need at least one drawer and ideally two (one shallow one for desk accessories, and a deeper one for files), and you need an efficient paper handling and filing system.



2 Keep the surface of your desk uncluttered
Aim as much as possible to keep the surface of your desk uncluttered and clear; there’s a positive psychological aspect to this, as well as maximizing the amount of working space you have at your disposal.
Think of your desk as the cockpit of an airplane. You want everything you use frequently to be close at hand but not in the way, and a layout that’s well organized, easy to understand and efficient





 3 Desktop accessories: Do or don’t?
If you love attractive desktop accessories, by all means use them, but make sure they are out of the way of the “hot zone” (the live, working area) of your desk, or consider storing paperclips, Post-its and so on inside a desk drawer instead. . Plastic cutlery trays, baskets or cardboard boxes attached together to fit tightly into the drawer will work as well. Think about how you work and what you work on at home and take it from there.  Personally I like a cup for my pencils, a desk top calendar, a light and that's about it.  My husband on the other hand like a file folder to vertically hold the files he is currently working on, along with some mini bins for clips, white board markers, pens etc...But don't forget to use the vertical space too - installing open shelves is a great way to keep items close by without cluttering up the desk surface


 


 4 Create systems
The principle to keeping your home office desk organized, efficient and attractive is to create systems that allow you to find what you need quickly, perform the task efficiently, and return everything to its proper place easily when you’re done. The daily mail is a perfect example. Make sure you only open it right next to the shredder, recycling bin and wastebasket, and immediately process each piece you’re keeping: bills in a bills folder (or paid online and then filed), magazines in a magazine folder, appointment reminders marked in a desk diary and then recycled, etc.Think about colour coding with files this is great especially if you are sharing a home office.  So his work files could be green and hers in yellow, Household bills and receipts in red and maybe kids' stuff, insurance/will info etc in blue. Having a system is the key to staying organized just be sure to follow it and keep it simple or you won't stick with it!




 5 Managing paperwork
There are entire books and articles on how to efficiently organize the mountain of paper that comes through our lives every day, but as far as your desktop is concerned, there are two principles that should govern how you use and store it: a) how quickly you need to retrieve it, and b) how to store it without adding to the general clutter.
For your most important files, like projects you are currently working on, I like staggered vertical desktop file holders that allow you to see all of their subject labels at a glance.
Another alternative is to make use of the wall space around the desk; you can buy clear plastic file pockets that mount on the walls, getting paperwork off your desk but still keeping it within reach. Papers you’re not working with any more but need to keep can be stored in the desk file drawer, in closed file boxes, or in a “morgue file” cabinet out of the way.

At the end of the day (or the end of each work session), take a few minutes to process, discard or put away everything left out on the desk. It’s tempting to place papers into neat piles that you’ll definitely go through in more detail tomorrow – but, believe us, within a day or two they’ll become part of the “landscape,” so to speak, and sooner than you think, you’ll be surrounded by teetering paper stalagmites.
What you want to do is to stop the clutter before it starts, and find a simple system that you can stick with!