Sunday, April 30, 2017

How to make a living wreath

Hello and happy Spring!  As designers we are always looking for creative items for indoor and outdoors.  Today, I am going to show you a pictorial on how to make a living wreath.  Trust me its easier than it seems.  Just make sure you have all of your material before you get started so you are not running back to Lowe's or the garden store as I did.  Make sure its a nice day as you want to do this project outdoors.

First you need to purchase this wire wreath form.
Next you need a bag of soil.  I like the blue bag of miracle grow soil as it keeps the moisture in longer.
You will need about six bags of Moss Sheets ( I found these in Lowe's 3.89 per bag).
You will need a watering can or hose to moisten the moss and dirt in the wreath frame.
You should purchase a variety of succulent plants along with some flowering plants such as portulaca's which love dryness and the sun originally from Portugal.

A bucket of water to soak the moss sheets.  The reason for this step is to make the sheets pliable when arranging the sheets in the wreath form.

I then take my sheets of moss out one at a time and line the wreath cage with the moss.  You want to make sure that the entire case is lined and that there are no gaps.  Since you have soaked you moss it is very easy to tear a piece to fit into a specific spot.
Next you are going to fill the wreath with the soil that you purchased.  Making sure you fill up to the top and water and push the soil gently down adding more soil and water until the wreath is filled to the top.
Following this you are going to add the remainder of the moss sheet to the top and apply the back of the wreath frame with small black zip ties. With a pair of snips or scissors you can cut the excess straps down to the tie.

Now turn your wreath over as what you are seeing above is the back of the wreath.  You are now ready to plant. Do not worry if you can see some of the frame, as the plantings grow they will cover any wire showing.

Now you can begin to dig a hole in your wreath and plant !  The more the better so get creative in your placement of flowers.   Remember it will be hanging so make sure you plant along the sides and underneath the wreath.

Continue planting and turning the wreath around, making sure that your wreath is somewhat symmetrical in design.  I am planting the porchulaca's towards the bottom of the wreath so that they will hang which will create another element of design.
Do not worry if some dirt is showing once you give your wreath another good soaking of water you can rearrange the moss to cover the  dirt.
You are going to give it one good soaking with water and keep it in this position for a least two weeks allowing for the root system to grow into its new environment.   Keep moist during that time that you are allowing the plants to get established.

After two weeks you can hang it on a gate, on a wall, the side of our home, where ever you would like.  Make sure you continue to water daily for the first month.  After that, you can water 3 times a week.  At the end of the season you can bring it into the basement if you have one water just once a month.  If you don't have a basement the moss and dirt is good for another year, just moisten and replant.   

I hope you will try this....Is messy and fun, no gloves required...just get your hands dirty!!

Happy Planting from Harmonizing Homes

Don't forget to check out our portfolio for some great design ideas.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What are Millennials looking for in a home?

Millennial buyers in particular come into a home and want to make it their own.   One characteristic  of Millennials is they are looking for clean lines. They don't want the heavy moldings profiles and traditional cabinets with raised wall panels; that may remind them of their parents or grandparents home. 

They tend to be conscious of the aesthetics and also the function.  They are looking for more modern and more of a linear look.   Millennial's look for the flatter baseboards permitting the eye to look upwards instead of down.

They are looking for fireplaces that are sleek with Carrera marble or granite instead of millwork and brick.  Millennials are looking for a certain neighbor hood and are willing to buy a home that they will renovate.  They do not want the cookie cuter look that they grew up in.

Photo Credits - Tumbler

If you are selling your home this Spring, this is a must read!!!

Its that time of year, where the market is going to be flood with homes for sale. I can  help you get your home ready!
We are an award wining Staging and  Design Team located in New Jersey.  I have bought and sold eight homes through out the years....I have learned a few things on what needs to be completed before you even call an agent to list your home.    In this free e-book titled Spring Market I will cover everything from cleaning your home, suggested paint colors to how to choose an relator..  Visit my contact page on my website - and I will send you a newly released PDF version of "Spring Market".....happy selling!   Corinne

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Realtors want referrals and sales - why don't they use stagers to help them?

I started my home staging business in 2009 one of the worst year of real estate sales that I can remember.  Through out the years I tried various ways of marketing the importance of Staging to real estate agents.  I find it amazing that most agents in Ocean County New Jersey have never used stagers. 

I interviewed a few agents about the possibility of partnering with them.  They varied in number of years in the field.  I had 11 say yes, I LOVE referrals, however did not want to participate in the process.  I was looking for agents that wanted to work with a stylist/stager by answering a few questions so that I knew who was serious.

I interviewed an agent of Re/Max newbie in real estate one hard 14 hours a day 7 days a week.

Me:  Have you ever used a stager before?
Wendy: No, I have not.
Me:  What do you ask your clients to do before you list their homes?
Wendy:  Remove all personal items and clutter.

My next interview was with an agent of Caldwell Banker/Flanagan Realty in the business for 4-5 years.
Me:  Have you ever used a stager before?
Doug:  No, I have not used a stager before.  I have a client who has staged his own house.  Cost is the factor.
Me:  What do you ask your clients to do before you list their homes?
Doug:  I ask my clients to declutter, address issues that may influence the sale, make the house accessible.

My next interview was with an agent with of Remax  seasoned agent 16 years in the business.
Me:   Have you ever used a stager before?
Colette:  No I have not used a stager.  I feel clients are not open to the additional cost.
Me:  What do you ask your clients to do before you list their homes?
Declutter to maximize space, paint there is always something that needs to be fresher up sometimes move furnishing around or out of the room.

The average cost of a three room staging is 3,000-4,000 for three months of staging.  The average first price drop is 5,000-10,000 dollars. 

Here are some ways of getting around the cost
  • Build in the staging price into the price of the home, recouping it at closing
  • If the stager owns their own furnishings at to the hud statement at closing.
  • Build it into your marketing budget

The Real Estate Staging Association, recently release their Home Staging Statistics Report, based on home staging statistics self-reported by professional home stagers nationally. Homes staged before listing sell 90% faster than homes listed on the MLS un staged. In staged homes spent an average of 184 Days On Market (DOM). That’s more than 6 months! Once those same homes were staged, they sold, on average, in 41 days. However, homes that were staged prior to listing sold, on average in 23 days!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Home Staging types and Costs and Selling Your Home Part 4 of 4

In part 1 we went over what you needed to do as a home owner to prepare your property for the market including recommended paint colors. In part 2 we covered why it is important to hire a home stager for either vacant or occupied homes along with the costs. In part 3  we covered the vetting process for hiring a real estate agent. In part 4 I'd like to highlight one of our most recent project and what goes into the process.

Day 1 meet with agent to view the condo in Highlands NJ .  Take some measurements and discuss the demographic of marketing along with furniture placements and how many rooms to stage.

Day 2 proposal is sent to realtor of costs for furniture rental and accessories along with how many hours is needed to stage and de-stage along with delivery and pick up of furniture. 

Day 3 proposal agreed upon, contract submitted and payment received.
Day 4 pull inventory and furniture that will  be used in the staging
Day 5 Staging Day

Day 6 Professional Photographer comes in to take photo's.  We always use Motion City Media out of Asbury Park NJ  

Check out other portfolio's of staging projects.  Email me at or call 917-699-262 with any questions you may have to getting your home ready for the spring market.  We are also available to speak at your club or function .

Monday, January 30, 2017

How to hire a realtor? Home Staging Cost part 3 of 4

Okay, now that you have cleaned, prepped and had your home staged.  You have had a appraisal from an independent appraiser so you know what your home is worth and you have checked out the comparable in your neighborhood.  Now its time to put the for sale sign in front of the house.   What do you look for in a Real Estate Agent?  I have bought 7 and sold 6 homes and have lots of stories about various agents.   You want an agent that dresses properly, call me old fashion but it tell me a lot about their dedication to their business.  You are hiring them, they should respect you and what you want done.  Hire a professional photographer, gosh I can not tell you how important that is. Open Houses insist on it!   Contact us for our picks of realtors

If you missed part one and part two click on links.

Talk with recent clients

Ask the real estate person that you are interviewing for a list of their clients that you can call to check on their references.   Ask them what their listing price was and what their selling price was.    Another good question to ask is how long was your house on the market?

Look up the licensing

States will have boards that license and discipline real estate agents.. Check with your state's regulatory body to find out if a prospective agent is licensed and if there have been any disciplinary actions or complaints. The information may be posted online.

Pick a winner

Peer given awards such as the Realtor of the Year Award.  Agents are best at judging their peers.

Select an agent with the right credentials

Doctors have specialties, and so do real estate agents. Even generalists will get additional training in some areas. So, the alphabet soup after an agent's name can be an indication that the person has taken additional classes in a certain category of real estate sales. Here's what some of the designations mean:
  • CRS (Certified Residential Specialist): Completed additional training in handling residential real estate.
  • ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative): Completed additional education in representing buyers in transactions.
  • SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist): Completed training aimed at helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range.

Research how long the agent has been in business

Ultimately, what you're looking for is someone who is actively engaged in a particular area and price range. You'll want an agent to demonstrate knowledge of the area and homes in your range and show what kind of market presence they have. 

Look at their current listings

Check out an agent's listings online.  Make sure that their listings are using professional photographers.  You don't want agents using their cell phones or I pads which happen to me at one of my homes.   Places to look include the agency's own website and sites such as, which offer a searchable online database of properties in the Multiple Listing Service.
Most buyers start their search on the internet, and you want an agent who uses that tool effectively One important key is what their own website looks like and their agencies.
Look at how closely the agent's listings mirror the property you want to buy or sell. Are they in the same area? Is the price range similar? And does the agent have enough listings to indicate a healthy business but not so many that you'd just be a number?

Ask about other houses for sale nearby

A good agent should know about other area properties that are available off the top of his head.  Mention a house in your area that's sold recently or is for sale. If the agent knows the property and can give you a few details, that means he or she really knows your area, he says. You want someone like that, who's on top of the market.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Do I need to use a Home Stager? Home Staging Costs and Types Part 2 of 4


In today's Digital Media Marketing you are in visual competition instantly as soon as your home hits the MLS. 

As you can see at a click of a button everyone can see your home and what it looks like compared to others.  They can see if it is neat clean and updated, and also if it is cluttered and needs TLC. 

So what can a home stager do for you the home owner.  Staging make you money, it creates a strong marketing image.  Stagers work in both occupied and vacant situation. The first step with staging starts with a consultation.  These consultations can range anywhere from 150.00 - 300.00 per hour, usually with a two hour minimum.  After the consultation  the stager  gives you all of the suggestion on what to do to improve your home or they can do it all for you.   Some stagers have their own furniture along with accessories.  Other stagers use furniture rental companies for their projects and rent you their own accessories.  Furniture rental is usually for a three month period of time and than can be rented one month at a time. 

Hiring a stager actually frees up your realtor to market your home and negotiate the offers that come in...they don't have to worry about getting your home presentable for the market.

The cost of staging varies for region to region.  You can get a ball park figure on the actual cost of staging by multiplying 1.25 per square foot of the rooms that you are going to stage.  You have to add in delivery fees, furniture and accessory fees and floor plan fees. 

Home Stagers are  visual marketers and they market your home according to the demographic that the realtor is focusing on. 

As recent as last week we were asked to view a vacant property for sale by owner.  We went to the property prepared our proposal according to the homeowners recommendations; which was living area, dining area, master bedroom and all bathrooms.  Our proposal included all the furnishings, rugs, accessories and art work staging and delivery. Are all in cost for the staging was $3,635. He declined and decided to do it himself.  Realtors had advised him it was not necessary to do a full staging.  See link of home staged by homeowner.  The home has four bedrooms but showing only dining seating for 4, entertainment seating for 3.  It is not portraying the homes potential, instead it is showing the potential buyer that there is very little living space.  So be mindful in taking recommendations from no professional home stagers. 

Showing a home  vacant is like showing off your naked body it better be perfect!

Here are some photo's of what staging can produce. With working with the home owner stagers are able to make the best use of the space and highlight notable features.  If you are going to hire a home stager make sure the staging company has insurance and is certified.  A good reference to find a stager in your area is RESA, Real Estate Stating Association.  Follow link for a listing in your area.
Lastly use a good real estate photographer . 

Here are some before and after photo's of work we did this past year!


I hope this was helpful to you...remember first impressions count.  For more information you can contact me  by following this link send me your questions.  If you didn't read part one of the four part series I have attached the link to part one.



Friday, January 27, 2017

What do I need to do to prepare my home before it hits the market.

We are approaching the golden months where homeowner want/need to get their homes on the market. So for first time home sellers, whether you have been in your home for 3 years or 30 years.... there are a lot of questions.  What do I need to do to prepare my home?  Do I need a home stager? How much does it cost?  How do I find a realtor with great marketing skills?  I will be addressing these questions and other questions pertaining to selling your home.  As one of the top 10 2017 winner of Real Estate Staging Association Occupied Home Staging we know a little bit about getting your home ready for market.

  What do I need to do to prepare my home? 

The very first thing that you need to do is to de-personalize your self from your home and look at it as a product that needs to be sold.  What do you have to do to sell this product? Set a time line and schedule to complete all of the items that I have listed below. 

1.  First thing is to go through the closets, garage basement and attic and declutter.  Donate, Sell, Dump.  The more you get rid of the less you will need to move.

2. Second is to go through your main living area of your home and weed through your books, knickknacks, and person items.  If you have a lot of items that you want to bring with you to your new location - rent a storage unit off site.  

3.  Make minor repairs such as caulking around the bath tub(s) and showers.  Fix leaky faucets and/or replace them for a sleeker new design.  Fix all holes and cracks in walls.  A fresh coat of paint is highly recommended in all cases, but especially if you have darker color walls.   Change all burned out light bulbs. 

My recommended paint colors from Benjamin Moore:  

Neutral Beiges
Manchester Tan HC81
Carrington Beige HC93
Grant Beige HC83
Hazy Skies OC48

Neutral Gray
Stonington GrayHC170
Seattle Mist 1535
Gray Owl OC52

Paris Rain 1501
Grey Cashmere 2138-60
Dunmore Cream HC29
Gray Wisp 1570

4. CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN !!! Bleach grout, power spray the outside of your house and walk ways, wash all windows inside and out.   Clean and wax floors, don't forget the moldings in your home.  Replace all worn entry rugs with new ones. Have all your rugs steamed cleaned.   Oh, and if you have drip pans in on your stove, replace them with new ones.   Change all burned out light bulbs. 
5.  You want to make sure that all of your safety equipment is in working order and you have fire extinguishers.

After all of this is completed you will be ready for an appraisal of your home.   Your home will appraise higher  if all of the above is completed prior to the appraisal.  I have attached this article regarding appraisals.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Some Great Staging Pieces for the Spring Market

Call us today to set up a consultation for your home.  We are running a special through February $250.00 for a staging consultation.
#HomeStaging, #Harmonizing Homes#Spring Market

Monday, January 16, 2017

Real Estate Off Season

As Home Stagers and Designers we have our  slower months.  In home Staging it is January and February.  During this time of year I like to shop at various markets for new and exciting ideas for Interior Designing and Home Staging . 

A stagers job as most of you know is to create the right mood for the home buyer.   Here are some of my winter picks for accessories and furnishings all of these can be found on LuxeDecor  

Accent Table by Hooker

Rug by Allyah

Coffee table by Armen

Bench by Uttermost

Clock by Sterling

Lamp by Curry and Company

Florals by John Richards

Hamper by Colonial Mills

Throw by Jaipur

Tray by Johnathan Charles

Pillow by Lobi

Chair by NYE Koncept

Art work by Pargon Art

Pendant by Bromi Design

Pillows by Kas

Rug by Nourison

Lamps by Safavieh

Mirror by Sterling

Ghost Chair by Stilnovo

Floral Art by Uttermost

Vase by Cyan Designs