A Low Cost Kitchen Update Delivers A Stylish Transformation

A Low Cost Kitchen Update Delivers A Stylish Transformation


Pleasantville Kitchen

When planning to sell your home the last thing you may be considering is a renovation. We hear it all the time from sellers who think buyers will want to update the home themselves after they move in. But often times buyers will cross a property off their list if key rooms, such as the kitchen, aren’t updated.

Creative, low-cost updates can transform an outdated kitchen and can even make a room look larger when done right. Our team recently staged this Westchester, NY home and as part of any staging plan, low cost renovations that stretch the sellers budget are an important part of the process. Even modest updates ultimately bring tremendous value, boosting a home’s appeal and selling potential in a competitive housing market.

The home’s kitchen, pictured above, felt small and outdated but without a major renovation we made it look bigger and brighter and gave it a fresh, modern style design to appeal to younger buyers.


WHAT WE DID: By painting the dark cabinetry white and the walls a soft creamy yellow, we made this kitchen look bigger and brighter. The yellow formica countertops are also less prominent with the new color scheme. We also added simple brushed nickel handles to the cabinets, a neutral rug to play down the vinyl floor, and showcased the small table as a place to eat.

 Pleasantville Kitchen After 1 Pleasantville Kitchen After 2


Antiquing at the Brimfield Show and Market

Antiquing at the Brimfield Show and Market

Antiquing season continues next week with the Brimfield Antiques Show . Enjoy the day rain or shine and find amazing treasures with these tips.

The summer is one of my most favorite months to shop for treasures at one of the largest outdoor antique shows in the country right in our own backyard. The Brimfield Antique Show, July 8 – 13 in Brimfield, MA offers the most amazing treasures — from one-of-a kind antiques to fantastic reproductions. There is something for everyone whether you like antiques or not. One year I took a client shopping for an art deco mirror to hang over her dresser in her bedroom. Not only did we find the perfect mirror, but at an incredible price. I have found wonderful botanical prints, rugs, furniture, garden statues, books, jewelry and more at Brimfield. I often caravan with friends and clients as it is so much fun to share the experience.

If you go, here are some things to consider:

  • Dress Comfortably and For The Weather. That means good walking shoes or rubber boots (sometimes there is mud), a hat, and if it is sunny, don’t forget the sunscreen. I’ve been to Brimfield in the pouring rain and because I was prepared, had a great time!
  • Drive the Van. If you have a large car, bring it. Or be prepared to strap things to the roof. You never know what you’ll find.
  • Bring Cash. Cash is always the best negotiator although most dealers take credit cards.
  • Negotiate. Dealers expect people to negotiate. usually 10-15% is often a fair discount. Don’t forget these folks are there to make money too.
  • If You Love It Buy It. There have been a few times I was undecided about a purchase and when I went back to the dealer it was gone. If you love it and feel it is a good price, buy it.

Feel free to email me at patti@pjstagingdecorating.com if you need more advice on shopping Brimfield. You can also share your finds with us by visiting our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pjandcompanystagingandinteriordecorating  For  more information on the Brimfield Antique Show visit http://www.brimfieldshow.com/index.html.


Plan Ahead When Getting Ready to Sell: Staging Checklist

Plan Ahead When Getting Ready to Sell: Staging Checklist

Homeowners thinking of selling will benefit from staging and updating their home BEFORE it goes on the market. This checklist will help you prepare your home for sale to attract potential buyers and can help get your home sold quickly and for top dollar!

Plan Ahead

Tour your home with a critical eye inside and out. Stand in the doorway of each room to see it from the buyer’s perspective. Updates should be completed before your Realtor® takes photos, as buyers will see the property first online.

  • Consider getting a home inspection to resolve any major issues buyers will uncover and leverage to negotiate a lower sales price.
  • Invite an accredited stager to evaluate your home’s features and recommend updates today’s younger  buyers expect.
  • Make necessary repairs throughout the home. Even minor issues will distract buyers.
  • Consider low cost renovations in key rooms like kitchens and baths.
  • If you’ll be moving out before your home is listed, arrange to rent furniture. Vacant homes look smaller to buyers and take longer to sell –  with furnished homes typically spending 78% less time on the market than a vacant home.

Clean, Declutter, and DePersonalize

Buyers will be distracted by clutter or personal belongings. Determine what you can live without while your home is on the market to help buyers envision themselves living in the home.

  • Clean windows, carpets, and flooring.
  • Begin packing extra decorative items and collectibles.
  • Consider renting a storage unit. Cluttered basements or garages indicate to buyers the home doesn’t have enough storage.
  • Reduce the number of personal photos and paintings in every room.
  • Clear off your dining table and add a simple centerpiece or candles.
  • Make sure closet doors open smoothly and interiors are decluttered, neat and organized.
  • Remove personal items and small appliances in kitchens and baths to show off counter space.
  • Hold a yard sale, consign, or donate items you don’t plan to bring to your new home.

Make A Good First Impression

When selling a home what’s on the outside counts! From the moment a buyer pulls up, they’ll establish an opinion about your home.

  • Brighten the exterior of the home with a fresh new coat of paint on the front door.
  • Rent a power washer to clean off siding, decks, and patios.
  • Create an inviting entry with a new mailbox, more visible house numbers, a new welcome mat or fresh planters.
  • Clean up all debris winter storms left behind, including clogged gutters.
  • Prune overgrown shrubs and freshen up flower beds with new mulch or annuals.
  • Don’t forget the backyard including any decks, pool, or patio!

Before An Open House or Showing

Once you’ve made the necessary updates and changes to your home, you’ll need to maintain the home for any open houses or showings.

  • Make sure the kitchen sink is empty – no dirty dishes!
  • Empty all garbage and put in outdoor garbage cans to reduce odors.
  • Make all the beds and clear personal items off the nightstands.
  • Make sure laundry is out of sight.
  • Turn on the lights and open the windows and curtains to let in more natural light.
  • Tuck toiletries in the bathroom out of sight and hang fresh towels. Leave a simple bottle of fresh hand soap on the counter.
  • Maintain the home’s exterior.

Going through your home with this checklist step by step will help you prepare and maintain your home to meet today’s buyer expectations and can help get your property sold quickly and for top dollar.

Color Swatch: Navy and White

Color Swatch: Navy and White

The classic combination of navy and white in home decor is an All American style that creates sophisticated yet inviting living spaces, as shown in the Irvington Living Room staged recently by our team and shown in our post on Staging Transformations for Large and Small Properties. Crisp fabrics in navy and indigo blue paired with whites create a warm yet modern style for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Sandy beige tones and even a touch of crisp green or gold in other textures are great compliments. Bring in a coastal flair with natural textures such as sisal or sea grass or other accents inspired by the sea shore to complete the look.

Be Inspired By Navy & White For Your Own Home 
Navy White Coastal Collage w Border
Spring Refresh: Budget Friendly Decor Tips For Your Home This Season

Spring Refresh: Budget Friendly Decor Tips For Your Home This Season

As we swap out winter wardrobes in favor of lighter, brighter options for spring and summer, it’s also time to freshen up your home’s decor. Redesigning your existing spaces by bringing in new seasonal accents and decor will give your furnishings a new look and with so many options readily available online and in stores it’s easy to find pieces that match your personal decorating style.

Spring Collage w Border

Rugs and Windows

Swap out rugs and drapes in lighter textures and colors for spring. Natural sisal or jute are a great choice underfoot as are traditional textures in modern geometric patterns including chevron and trellis designs popular this season. Complete a room’s lighter, brighter feel from the floor up with sheer flowing drapes in soft, natural linen on windows.

Repurpose Dated Furniture

Slipcovers are a fun and easy way to experiment with new colors and patterns without investing in a new piece of furniture. Brand name easy fit slipcovers can be found at local home decor stores while more and more online slipcover sources offer custom options. Consider reupohstering a favorite couch or chair. There are wonderful fabrics in all colors, patterns, and textures to update any room.

Accessorize with Pillows

Pillows are one of the easiest most cost effective ways to give a room a whole new look.  Mix and match pillows in the season’s top color and pattern trends such as natural dyed ikat designs, medallions or bright spring florals. Arrange pillows in odd numbered groupings, which are more visually appealing.

Let There Be Light

In recent years, lamps have gotten a makeover. From sparkling crystal and mercury glass to ceramic, clear glass to bold colors, you can find a stylish lamp to add to your home decor. Plain wrought iron lamps with ivory shades can also get a modern makeover with a new shade in one of the seasons top prints and colors.


Staging To Sell: Transforming Small and Large Properties to Sell In Today’s Market

Staging To Sell: Transforming Small and Large Properties to Sell In Today’s Market

Staging and low cost updates can benefit homes big or small and our recent staging clients are proof! In the past few weeks alone, PJ & Company has staged two, million dollar homes — a custom, new construction property in Avon, CT and a 1949 colonial in Irvington, NY — a contemporary home in South Salem, NY and two smaller homes in Danbury and Hamden Connecticut.

Regardless of the style or size of a home, staging transforms a home to engage multiple buyers, and often brings top dollar to sellers. Below are examples of five very different properties we recently staged to help get these homes sold and for top dollar.

Irvington Living Room Before and After RS

The living room in this $1.9 million, 5,700 square foot colonial in Westchester, NY is perfect for entertaining but the decor was outdated and the furniture layout wasn’t inviting. Using much of the existing furniture, painting a modern wall color and adding modern accents, this room now looks like it should be in the pages of a magazine and will engage buyers both online and in person.

Avon Family Room Before After RS
This new home in Avon, CT is a beautiful custom built home, however, unfurnished it would leave buyers uninspired and unable to envision it as their home. Vacant homes also look smaller to buyers who will spend less time in the property during a showing. Our team staged key rooms to give buyers vision and showcase the space.

Danbury Living Room Before and After RS

This 1900 sq. ft. Danbury, CT home offers buyers a bright open living room.  Mismatched and dated furnishings, however, detracted from the beautiful architectural details and charm of the room. New furnishings define the space and give the home a modern, fresh look buyers will love.

Hamden Master Bedroom Before and After RS

This Hamden, CT home was another vacant property. The master bedroom pictured above is a huge room but has dated wallpaper and looks small when unfurnished.  We removed the wallpaper, painted a warm neutral color, installed new beige carpeting,  and added furnishings to showcase this move-in ready space.

South Salem Bathroom Before After RS

The master bathroom of this contemporary South Salem, NY home features beautiful tile but the custom double vanity was outdated and too expensive to replace. We suggested professionally painting it a modern, dark espresso finish. The transformation updates the entire space and offers buyers a move-in ready master retreat.



Home Improvements: The Smartest Move Sellers can Make

Home Improvements: The Smartest Move Sellers can Make

Remodeling Magazine Releases 2014 Cost vs. Value Report

As the housing market recovers, more homeowners are looking to remodel their home to boost its value and equity. Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report shows a positive trend when it comes to recouping dollars spent on home improvements when it comes time to sell.

Even homeowners who aren’t selling today, but remodeling for their own enjoyment can increase the value of their home by considering updates that will pay off in the future. “It’s always important to consider future plans to possibly sell when making updates to ensure the home will appeal to buyers,” reminds Patti Stern of PJ & Company Home Styling.

For the second consecutive year, Cost vs. Value data shows the value of remodeling is up for all  35 projects in the survey.

One of our favorite points as interior decorators and professional home stagers is Remodeling Magazine’s finding that the best-performing kitchen and bath project is a minor kitchen remodel — which includes new appliances and counter tops, and a facelift for cabinets. We do this all the time for our interior decorating and home staging clients and show an example below.

Thomas Kitchen Before After  This kitchen update by PJ & Company included professionally painting cabinetry, replacing laminate counter top with granite, adding new light fixtures and adding  trim and detailing to the existing island to give it a custom look.

To see the full report click here Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value Report.


Surviving A Home Renovation: A Decorator’s Personal Guide and Tips

Surviving A Home Renovation: A Decorator’s Personal Guide and Tips

Whether you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer or a first-timer, a remodeling project can be intrusive and overwhelming to every aspect of your life.

That’s why hiring a professional can save time, money and a lot of unnecessary stress. Recently, my husband and I decided to finally renovate the last room in our home that remained untouched — our master bathroom. My vision was to transform our 1969 master bath into a modern, stylish space but I didn’t want anything too custom as we may sell our home in a few years. The design and décor needed to appeal to our personal style, as well as potential future buyers.

Our 1969 Master Bathroom was Cramped and Outdated.

The first step of the renovation was deciding if we could knock down the wall between the master bathroom and our guest room closet to maximize the space and upgrade to a double vanity and larger shower — the most important elements of the project. Once my talented carpenter determined we could, I was off and running with the design.

As my own general contractor, I managed every element of the project and deciding on the design elements was particularly daunting, since this was a project for me and my family. I ultimately decided on a modern, spa-like design with an earthy color scheme — dark espresso vanity, glass tiles and a stone shower floor.

The actual renovation involved taking the original bathroom down to the studs and building from scratch (remember, this shower lasted 44 years). Working with my carpenter, excellent vendors, and my own knowledge of renovation projects helped the process along to final completion just a few weeks before the New Year.

 The Entire Bathroom was Gutted to Provide a Blank Canvas for the New Layout and Design.

The final reveal, pictured below, features a frameless shower door, which opens up the space, accent glass tiles on the walls and floor, modern 8-inch faucets, and jeweled light sconces affixed to the wall-to-wall mirror. We also added a silent ceiling fan for air flow and circulation.

The New Master Bath Features a Modern, Spa-Like Design with an Earthy Color Scheme and Includes an Espresso, Double Vanity.    

 Throughout the process, I kept a journal and noted some key tips and advice for all homeowners when taking on any renovation project including:

  •  Have A Written Plan. Be sure you are absolutely clear with your interior decorator, contractor, and carpenter — whomever you are working with — regarding the remodeling job and have a written plan and contract.
  • Plan Ahead. Make sure you have all of your design plans and materials for your remodeling project ahead of time (including windows if applicable). Sometimes, though, things do have to change once the remodeling starts. For example, I opted for one large mirror instead of two as originally planned. Be flexible and plan for an additional 10-15% above your budget for “just in case” scenarios.
  • Don’t Skimp Where It Is Important. When putting in a shower floor, for example, make sure your contractor is using the right materials to prevent leaks, mold and mildew. Sometimes spending more on better quality items will save you money in the long run.
  • Have An Alternate Space For Getting Things Done. If your bathroom or kitchen is under construction, where will you cook or manage everyone’s personal daily routines? Set up a makeshift kitchen in a basement or garage, color code towels in the bathroom, or add temporary storage in a hallway.
  • Think About The Big Picture. How will your remodeling project affect any other rooms or even future plans for your home? Will a wall being knocked down impact another room? If so, you may have to consider painting or repairing any walls in the impacted space. Are you thinking of selling your home in a few years? If so, you’ll want to make changes you’ll enjoy now but will appeal to potential buyers in a few years.
  • Plan Around Any Entertaining of Special Events. Don’t plan any holiday dinners, parties or invite friends over on a Friday night if you are in the middle of a major remodeling job. No matter how good your contractor might be, dust goes everywhere!


2014 Design Trends We Love

2014 Design Trends We Love

Every year new design trends offer a chance to update your home’s current style and start the year with a fresh look. We’ve featured some of our favorite style influences and predictions for 2014 below to offer you a glimpse in to what to expect to see in home furnishings and decor.

Choose your favorite new trend and layer new styles, colors and patterns with the furnishings you already own — with new home accents and accessories — a simple and cost effective way to freshen up your existing interior decor.

Soft, muted pastels balanced with bold, bright hues will dominate this year’s home decor. Intermixed with these brighter tones, we’ll see warm neutrals and earthy hues to create balance. Grey continues to be the new neutral. Use light or charcoal grey as your foundation and pair it with pops of color such as yellow, raspberry, plum, or teal to create a chic, modern style and look.

Redefined, modern rustic styling took off in 2013 and will define 2014 decor. Spaces that mix clean lines and modern styling with rustic natural wood finishes and elegant accents and accessories appeal to today’s lifestyles. Together these elements create warm, refined spaces for living and entertaining. Natural and organic influences will carry over into textile patterns as well. Geometric patterns, chevrons and stripes have dominated but this year will be replaced with softer, less defined patterns including more floral and organic prints, animal, ikat and honeycomb patterns.

Gold is considered to be one of the hottest trends for 2014 and just a touch of gold will add a bit of luxe to any space. Gold accents and accessories, gold nail head detailing on furnishings and gold finishes and trim on pillows and draperies will become more popular in the coming year.

We can’t have an article on 2014 home trends without mentioning the two most important spaces — kitchens and baths. White has become the overwhelming choice of most homeowners for their kitchen cabinetry. Think modern and refined — not sterile, operating room. 2014′s other trends cross over into kitchens as well — we’re seeing rustic flair with earthy finishes and woods for counter tops as well as gold fixtures. In 2014, bathrooms are either getting dressed up or down — being transformed into spaces that are serene and spa-like or make you feel like you are walking into a jewlery box. Finishes and features including frameless shower doors and glass tiles, are a must.
“Pivotal” 2013 Housing Market Brings High Expectations For 2014

“Pivotal” 2013 Housing Market Brings High Expectations For 2014

Improving. Strong. Energized. Pivotal. We asked a group of realtors and agency leaders across Connecticut to share a one word recap of the 2013 housing market and gathered together their insights. The consensus – 2013 was a year of change and growth that many hope will carry into the New Year.

“2013 showed a marked increase in sales and expectations,” according to Joel Grossman, sales manager of Calcagni in Wallingford. “2014 will continue the trend with increased sales in both our resale and new homes divisions. Both buyers and sellers will fare well as we expect interest rates to remain low,” he adds.

While Connecticut’s housing recovery has lagged behind much of the country, 2013 gains have the state’s housing market finishing with slow and steady growth.

The Warren Group, which collects data on the New England housing market, recently reported that Connecticut demonstrated a jump in sales growth and pricing for September – the best September since 2007. That momentum has given many realtors we’ve spoken with a brisk start to the fourth quarter and hope for the future.

PJ Louis, sales manager of the William Raveis office in Avon, expects 2014 to be better than 2013 as the economy and new construction numbers improve.

Tight Inventory Conditions Questionable for 2014
We’ve said it over and over again in 2013 – buyer traffic is outpacing seller traffic and tight inventory is boosting pricing. Both in Connecticut and nationally, inventory shortages have been a key marker of the housing recovery.

According to NARS Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s Housing Marketing and Economic Outlook, in 2014 home pricing could either slow or accelerate – the housing starts will be the deciding factor. He adds that the industry needs to reach 1.5 million starts soon or face a persistent shortage that will impact pricing and affordability.

Staging Gives Sellers a Market Advantage in 2013
This year’s inventory shortages provided sellers with a market advantage in many areas and those sellers who staged their homes were able to leverage that advantage further and capture buyers. The year got off to a busy start and from January on PJ & Company worked on over 25 homes, with many selling in record time after staging.

Statistics released throughout the year also continued to support the benefits of staging. New figures from the Real Estate Staging Association and Staged Homes reinforced that if you want to sell, stage it first.

As the market evolves in 2014, we asked realtors why staging a home for sale will continue to be important in today’s real estate market.

“A home that is staged or as I like to say, “romanced”, stands out from the competition. There are many benefits to staging a home for sale besides exciting the agents in the community to show and sell. A staged house is memorable, a staged house is often “move-in” ready and perceived as a great value.”
- Joel Grossman, Calcagni, Wallingford 

“For my sellers staging brings the most value in the shortest amount of market time over their competitors. Staging makes the home appealing to the largest variety of buyers.”
- Lorraine Amaral, William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, Danbury

“Today’s buyers demand clean, fresh, organized homes to become excited in their purchase process. Sellers who fall into distressed, tired home syndrome will be rejected by buyers unless very low priced. A home is either really exciting or boring! Anyone can list a home, not all can get it SOLD! A staged home is exciting!- Ruth Ratner, CT Properties/Keller Williams, Cheshire 

Hopeful for 2014
As we look ahead to 2014,the biggest hope for many is that the housing market will continue to recover to stable levels analysts will define as healthy. Ruth Ratner of CT Properties/Keller Williams shares with many in the industry hope for continued increases in listings and sales that will drive the market and allow buyers to find affordable, move-in ready homes.