How to create the bathroom of your dreams


Imagine coming home from a hard day at work, stepping into the bathroom, and feeling all of your worries fade away as you soak in the tub or stand under a warm stream from a waterfall showerhead. The right décor and design can make taking a bath or getting ready for your day in your bathroom feel like stepping into your very own, private day spa. Sounds pretty good, right?

Here are a few tricks for giving yourself a mini-vacation every time you step into your bathroom.

1. Choose a relaxing shade of paint. 

Think about the shades of paint you see when you go to a day spa. They’re almost always neutral, unsaturated colors that help you feel relaxed. I prefer grays and rich browns for bathrooms, but a cool, cucumber green is also a nice choice. Whatever shade you choose, go with a washed-out, subtle version instead of a really bright and stimulating tone.

2. Decorate with scents. 

Next, scent is a huge part of the relaxing experience when you go to the spa. A candle, some dried lavender in a sachet, or a few drops of your favorite essential oil mixed with Epsom salts in a warm bath can transport you to a completely different place in your mind every time you set foot in your bathroom.

3. Have soft lighting.

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, get rid of any harsh fluorescent lights and replace them with warmer, softer lights. You’ll still want to get enough light to do makeup and check your outfit when you get ready to go in the morning, so install brighter lights over the mirror. But make sure that they operate on a separate switch from your other lights so that you can maintain a soothing atmosphere when you shower or soak in the tub.

If you’re not remodeling or changing out light fixtures, you can get a similar effect by placing a few candles around your bathroom to give it a warm and calming atmosphere with all of the lights turned off. You can also experiment with different shades for your light fixtures to help cut the harshness of the light.

4. Upgrade your fixtures.

If your fixtures are a little bit out-of-date, you have a choice. You can upgrade them, which can mean going with a better showerhead (which I definitely recommend). Or, if you’re happy with how your fixtures work but they don’t quite look right, you can improve their looks with a little bit of spray paint. Choose a complementary textured paint to give your bathroom fixtures a whole new look and feel.

5. Coordinate your linens and toiletries.

If you really want to give yourself a home-spa experience, you’ll want to wrap yourself in luxury whenever you step out of the tub, and you’ll want to have a coherent and cohesive look to the room, too. Go ahead and invest in towels, washcloths, and a bath mat that are soft and fluffy and that match the color you’ve chosen for your walls. Upgrade your shower curtain to complement these and add a few matching or complementary toiletries.

You’ll have a room that looks, feels, and smells absolutely amazing every time you enter it.


How to maximize your home sale

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize the financial reward when selling their home. But, how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to insuring you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house. (see chart)


Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

In a recent article on, they gave this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This too may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. Yet, studies have shown that typically homes sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Recent research posted by the Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”


Bottom Line

Price it at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. That will guarantee you maximize the price you get for your house.

Saving up for a down payment

In a recent study conducted by, researchers determined that nationwide it would take “nearly eight years” for a first-time buyer to save enough for a down payment on their dream home.

Depending on where you live, median rents, incomes and home prices all vary. By determining the percentage a renter spends on housing in each state and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, they were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save.

According to the study, residents in South Dakota are able to save for a down payment the quickest in just under 3.5 years. Below is a map created using the data for each state:


What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of the Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae 3% down programs? Suddenly saving for a down payment no longer takes 5 or 10 years, but becomes attainable in under two years in many states as shown in the map below.


Bottom Line

Whether you have just started to save for a down payment, or have been for years, you may be closer to your dream home than you think! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you evaluate your ability to buy today.

What to do with wood paneling

As a home stager, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got.


I was given free rein in this family room with one exception: The husband insisted that the wood paneling stay. What is it about men and wood paneling? There, I said it.  Maybe I’m stereotyping, but I come across this quite often. Men seem to really like wood paneling; women not so much. This was, however, a very good quality of paneling and it was a redesign project and not a staging job so I agreed to do it. After all, I love a good challenge.

I should add at this point that this family room happens to be in our home. Yes, the stubborn husband mentioned above is all mine. I’m totally OK with him wanting to keep the paneling though. It’s the only thing in the house that he has insisted on. I was able to do pretty much anything else I wanted to in our home, so it’s only fair that he got his way on this one.

The above photo shows what the family room looked like when we bought our home.  The first thing to go was the dated and tired furniture. With that out of the way, next on the list was to replace the orange carpet with a taupe berber.

Next, we had black wooden blinds installed to add drama. (I’ll never forget the look on the sales rep’s face when I told him that I wanted black. That’s OK, I’m sure he’s over it by now.)

Next was to bring in some “newish” furniture. I say that because we bought the sofa, loveseat and chair from a staging client after their home sold.

Then came my favorite part: styling.

Bringing in black accessories helped to add richness and depth to the paneling. I don’t usually place an area rug on carpet, but in this case I made an exception. I think the black rug pulls together the look I was going for. It draws the eye away from the paneling and makes it more of a subtle backdrop.

Installing several pieces of Northwest Coast native art gave the room added character and an organic feel to tie in with the paneling.

A couple of throw blankets and a sheepskin rug were then added to soften up the room and add texture.


The family room is still a work in progress. There are still three more things left on the ‘to do list’:

(1) Reface the fireplace with floor-to-ceiling black granite;

(2) Paint the baseboards and window trim black and

(3) Build black window box valances for above the blinds.

By the time this room is completely finished, it’s really going to make a statement.

I wanted to share this post with my REALTOR® friends to show you that with the help of a professional home stager there’s hope – even with your most dated and challenging listings.

When we’re eventually ready to sell our home, who knows, I may just leave this room as is. I didn’t think I’d ever consider keeping that darn paneling, but I just might now.  Maybe that’s a bit of a risk, but it’s one that I’ll consider taking. Love it or hate it, it is what it is.

What are your thoughts?  What WOOD you do?

Get your home ready to sell!


One of the most cost-effective ways to prepare a home for sale is to organize it, but I know for many home sellers it’s no easy task. It’s important to contain and, in fact, erase clutter for three reasons:

  • Gain more square footage.
  • Showcase the positive features in the home.
  • Buyers can visualize living in the space.

Clutter comes in all different forms and it lingers in most homes. So if you see piles of paperwork, clothes on the floor, stuffed closets — it’s time to declutter! Here are some tips:

1. Start small. Organizing is an evolving process that changes as the needs of a home owner change. Start small: One room, one closet, one corner. Just start somewhere! To make it count, tackle the first cluttered area a home buyer would see as they walk into the home.

2. Schedule it. Many times a home owner never starts the decluttering process because of time constraints. Schedule blocks of time (2-4 hours) or even just 15 minutes a day depending on what needs to be organized to make your goal a reality.

3. Find a home. One reason why clutter can build up in a home is if an item is homeless. Creating a place for each item in your home is a crucial part to obtaining an organized home. Of course, keeping the space in order only happens when you return an item back to it’s home after use. 

4. Adopt “good habits.” By always returning an item home, you’re building in a maintenance system in your organizing process. Another good habit to adopt is to take 5-10 minutes every night and put items away. This way when you wake up in the morning, the house is ready to show off.