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Staging and Style

5 Staging Props You Need to Stop Using … Now!

By Justin M. Riordan, Spade and Archer Design Agency

There is good staging. There is bad staging. I mean, like really bad staging. In an industry with no regulations, no standardized accreditation system, and tons of “hobbyist professionals”, one gets what one pays for. The problem here is not if that inexperienced or bargain basement stager will do a good job, rather if they’ll actually stop your house from selling, dead in its tracks.

It’s true; good, thoughtful staging can most certainly help a house sell for more money and in less time. Bad staging can bring the selling momentum of a great house to a screeching halt. The absolute best way for bad staging to kibosh your sale is to have it offend potential buyers.

Here are five potentially offensive staging props that could threaten your sale:

J_alcohol1. Alcohol. Alcohol is a common thing found in many homes. It can raise both positive and negative emotions in buyers. We aren’t too worried about the positive emotions on this one as nobody is going to walk into your house and say, “They drink Chablis, I drink Chablis, let’s buy this house!” That being said, a potential buyer may very well be uncomfortable or even offended by alcohol for various reasons.  They could be in recovery or alcohol could be prohibited by their religion. For any reason, a buyer could be offended by alcohol sitting in the living room, on the counter, or next to the bathtub (tacky) in what could potentially be their new home. Even worse is staging with two-buck-chuck and offending the connoisseurs.

J_tipi22. The tipi (also spelled teepee or tepee). Cultural appropriation is a hot button topic these days. I’ve noticed a good number of home stagers using tipis in kids rooms and play areas.  I spoke to a friend who happens to be a Plains Native American to help me understand why the use of a tipi in home staging could be offensive. He explained that the tipi is a very sacred structure used for ceremonies and rites of passage and to use that sacred piece of somebody else’s culture to sell a house is less than thoughtful. It would be like using the pages of a King James Bible to wallpaper a bathroom, pretty but disrespectful. Whether you agree that using tipis is offensive or not, it’s important to understand that it may raise questions and emotions that are not related to “buy this house”.

J_animalparts23. Dead animal parts. These items are going-to-town, off-the-charts popular. Walking into staged homes all over the county is not unlike walking into an animal autopsy. There are pieces of the beast strewn on the table, tossed over the chair, laid out on the floor and even hung on the wall. Whether it is antlers, hide rugs, fur throws or pillows, these are all clearly recognizable parts of animals that were once alive and are now dead.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some creepy dead animal decoration, but I know that I am not in the majority. Truly, it’s a very popular trend right now, but many of us are offended by it. A potential buyer might be vegetarian or vegan, an animal rights activist, or even just have a weak stomach. Needless to say, if your potential buyers are any one of these things and need to walk over the ripped-off epidermis of a recently murdered bovine, they might think twice about buying the house they actually love but can’t stomach the though of purchasing.

J_blowup4. Blow-up mattresses. Did you hear that? It was the sound of a blow-up mattress deflating. Or perhaps it was the sound of somebody crashing to the ground after sitting on a blow-up mattress, which was in-turn sitting on top of four 5-gallon buckets. It sounds an awful lot like a lawsuit, doesn’t it? Not only do blow-up mattress look like blow-up mattress (i.e. horrendous), they are unpredictable at best and dangerous at worst.  It’s a stager’s responsibility to demonstrate that a real mattress and box spring can get up the staircase and into that perfect bedroom your buyer had in mind.

J_woodart25. Word art. Do you really need a 3-foot tall E-A-T sign to get a buyer to understand that this room is the dining room? Shouldn’t the dining table surrounded by eight chairs tell that story that this is, in fact a dining room, designed for the specific purpose of E-A-T-I-N-G? Word art is fun, isn’t it? I always love to add one extra word or phrase to each one I see like “Life, Love, Family… Barf”. Ultimately, the staging should tell the story of how happy, successful, and fulfilled one could be if they bought the house. Word art is simply a lazy way to ineffectively send your message. (P.S. My favorite one so far? A big pink canvas that said “Dream Big” next to at toilet, with the lid up nonetheless. Ugh.)

When it comes to home staging, we all make choices. You can choose to simply pick the latest trends that you love and take the chance offending your potentially buyer. Or, you can make thoughtful selections that keep your buyer paying attention to the house and not the staging. Choices, darling… choices.

headshot_JustinRiordanABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin M. Riordan, LEED AP is founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, a home staging company with offices in Portland, Seattle and Palm Springs. As the creative energy behind Spade and Archer, Riordan fuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Follow Spade and Archer on Instagram.

Staging and Style

Best of CES 2017 for the Home

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

CES 2017 – the annual international consumer electronics tradeshow — kicks off this week in Las Vegas. In this year’s show, home product debuts are taking up even more of the spotlight with smart home technology and household robots taking center stage.

Here are a few of the product debuts we’re watching at CES this year that could influence home design in the future.

Smart mirrors




Welcome the era of the “smart mirror.” The company EKKO is touting the world’s first connected mirror that not only reflects your image but also your digital imprint too. The mirror can play music, TV shows, stream YouTube videos, display weather and news feeds, and even allows you to quickly scan your emails too. The glass technology allows information to be digitally displayed at the bottom of the mirror. Miliboo is debuting prototypes of the smart mirror during CES. Such interactive mirrors could revolutionize that bathroom mirror as we know it today.

Your at-home robot




Robots are expected to be a big buzzword at CES 2017, and manufacturers are showing off more for the home. Meet Kuri, the newest robot friend expected to enter more households in the new year. Kuri, a 20-inch, 14-pound robot, is debuting at CES this year from Mayfield Robotics. Kuri features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 1080p camera, and full iOS/Android app control to help connect you to your devices and even monitor your home while you’re away. Kuri also can understand the context and surroundings around it and even recognize specific people and respond to questions with facial expressions and head movements. Kuri can follow homeowners around the house and play podcasts/music or even read a bedtime story to the kids. The robot can connect to other smart home devices in the household as well. It is expected to be available in the fall of 2017 for $699.

LG is also debuting multiple robots for the home during CES 2017, even a gardening robot to tend to the home’s outdoors.


Talk to your home


Amazon’s Alexa

Tech manufacturers are encouraging you to talk to your home. Your devices can now hear you. More voice-activated devices are entering smart home tech, allowing you to use your voice to control everything from powering on and off the lights to operating the TV and appliances. Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa debuted at CES 2016 and its popularity has only spawned greater offerings of vocal commanding devices this year. Voice-activation is entering practically every household device. Samsung, for example, is debuting POWERbot VR7000 vacuum cleaner, which is compatible with Amazon Echo and allows consumers to control it using vocal commands. Also, Somfy, a maker of automatically retractable awnings, is showcasing Somfy One, a new voice controlled, all-in-one home security system. SmartBeings’ WooHoo uses both voice and facial recognition in its interface. It can follow voice commands to adjust the thermostat or lighting, for example, or create to-do lists and control the home’s electronics. It also features a 360-degree rotating 1080p HD camera that has facial recognition, as well as infrared night vision and motion detection, to help protect homes from intruders


A Fridge With More Than Just a Door

whirlpool door_CES2017

Photo Courtesy: Whirlpool Inc.


Whirlpool is showing off a French door-within-door refrigerator. The double doors can help keep milk and other drinks extra cold with its door-within-door cooling system.

Also, tech and appliance manufacturers continue to focus on smartening up that fridge door.

Samsung Refrigerator_2017

Samsung Family Hub 2.0






Last year, Samsung Electronics debuted its Family Hub fridge. This year, it has gotten an upgrade: Family Hub 2.0. The fridge features a 21.5-inch LED touchscreen on the front door, allowing families to conduct food management through app integration, access recipes, update calendars, and stay in touch with family and friends as well. Samsung also added voice technology into the fridge this year too, allowing users to now use voice commands to learn the weather and time, for example, or to add products to their shopping lists or order groceries online.

Staging and Style

Beige Is Back: And There’s No Blah About It

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Beige is pushing out gray as the hottest neutral color tone in homes heading into 2017, according to several color forecasters. Beige had once been cast aside in home design as too boring. But the beiges gaining popularity again and some of the newest shades are far from boring, if paired correctly.

Beige comes in many tones, dark and light.

Take a look at Sherwin-Williams’ 2017 Color of the Year: Poised Taupe (SW 6039).


Photo courtesy: Sherwin-Williams

This brownish-gray color has plenty of contrast to help make the whites in the room pop. Many beiges are more subtle. And it is true that too much of a softer neutral tone of tans could lack the same pizzazz. How can you spice up your beiges to avoid those beige blahs? A recent article by contributor Janet Dunn with Houzz offers tips on modernizing a beige backdrop.

Try bolder colored accessories. Make it pop up against higher energy colors that you bring in through accessories, like pillows, rugs, artwork, vases, or even chairs.

Berkeley Brown Shingle

Weave it in with browns. Yes, beige and brown can go together in a décor scheme. Just make sure you keep the tone differences enough to add depth and variety to the shades of browns you mix.

Living Room

Pair it with black and white. Add the contrast of black with some white to update a beige color palette. You’ll give a room a more modern edge.

St. Paul Carriage House

Try it with some pastels. Beachy brights, highlights of white, and pale aqua accessories or furnishings may also help to modernize up the beige walls.

Coastal/contemporary Project

Blend in some texture. Use a variety of textures so the neutral color backdrop doesn’t start to feel stale. For example, metallic, velvets, and natural linens can help give the beige walls a more updated feeling.

Traditional Living Room

Staging and Style

How to Choose the Right Paint Color


Photo courtesy: Dunn-Edwards Paints

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most affordable home improvement projects to tackle prior to a home sale that can make a big difference.

Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for Dunn-Edwards Paints, offers some of the following tips on how to choose interior colors that will appeal to the biggest buyer pool:

Don’t go too monotone. McLean cautions on painting everything white or beige. The home might end up looking more like an apartment, rather than an upscale home. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade may add appeal.

Stick to earth tones and natural-based colors. Warm browns and milky tans – think latte. Light greens and blues are classy, and even some reds and oranges.  Warm grays are popular now, rather than cool grays, she says.

Take into account flooring. Lay the color chips along the flooring to see how well they pair together. Warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood. Whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may make you want to opt for other colors.

Give a room life without getting personal. “Many people have a visceral reaction to bold colors and buyers’ first thought is that they will need to repaint,” McLean says.

Brighten up kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens and baths work well with brighter colors that can help make them look fresh, clean, and inviting. In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular and cheerful colors. “Olive and sage greens, make it feel garden-y and fresh,” McLean notes. ” If you don’t have a tile backsplash, create one with an eggshell or semi-gloss paint — either a solid color or with a decorative stencil.”


Photo courtesy: Dunn-Edwards Paints

Try brighter color palettes in smaller rooms. Baths, laundry room, and powders may benefit from brighter colors because they’re smaller.  Oranges and reds are trending now and through next year, as well as teal and turquoise.

Test it out before you commit. “Once you have chosen a color, pick up a few samples and paint a section of the wall, near permanent structures like fireplaces, flooring and cabinetry,” McLean recommends. “Live with the samples at least a full a day to see them in all light sources. What looks light and bright in the morning, may look dungeon-y at night.”


Photo courtesy: Dunn-Edwards Paints

Choose the right gloss level.  Flat, velvet or eggshell are­ good for interior walls, while a higher sheen looks pretty on trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. The higher gloss levels are easier to clean so they tend to be more ideal for high traffic areas.  Look for trim paint that is water based but with the upscale look of oil based.