Simple Landscaping Upgrades to Attract Prospective Buyers

Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.


Guest post by James Witts

A home can be modern and cozy inside, but without curb appeal, potential buyers will lose interest before they step inside. An attractive, well-kept lawn is one of the first things people will notice. The good news is that upgrading an existing lawn doesn’t have to take months, and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.

Remove Weeds

If weeds have gained the upper hand, pulling is still the tried and true method for getting rid of weeds in a hurry. If the act of pulling the weeds won’t do the trick, you’ll need to attack them with an herbicide. Always use chemicals strategically and make sure to use the correct amount–different weeds require different treatment.


Take a stroll around your lawn and pick up anything that doesn’t belong. Take a wheelbarrow if you have a lot of branches, twigs or other debris. Pick up children’s toys and gardening tools. Put hoses away, or invest in an attractive roller.


Rake over brown spots to remove dead grass, then spread grass seed. For a more enhanced effect, aerate the soil before overseeding to help break up the soil and allow nutrients to get to the root of the grass more efficiently.


Taller grass stays green longer than short grass. Set your mower relatively high and take a little off the top every three to five days. Be sure the blade is sharp. A dull blade tears the grass and leaves ragged, brown edges.


Nitrogen-rich fertilizer will green up your lawn quickly, make sure to use the right amount according to your soil and grass type. A little nitrogen is a good thing, but too much may damage your lawn. Limit this trick to once or twice a year. Be sure and water well immediately after applying any type of fertilizer.

Iron is also helpful in turning a drab grass into a lush and healthy green lawn. Mineral supplements can be inexpensive and can be found at your local garden center or nursery.

Freshen up

Refresh any flower beds around your lawn by laying down a new think layer of mulch. The deep tones of fresh mulch will help compliment the more potent hues within the rest of the landscaping, making everything else pop. Fresh mulch is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take too much time to apply yourself.

You can also consider investing in an inexpensive edger to smooth out and even out the edges of your lawn. This is a quick and easy way to make your landscaping look trim and neat.

Add color

Flower beds and container gardens are a great way to add a pop of color into your landscaping. Plant a few cheerful annuals such as geraniums, petunias or marigolds. Clean up an exterior furniture or give it a fresh coat of paint. Don’t be afraid to use bright, bold colors.


James Witts is an eco-conscious home improvement writer. He is constantly trying to find new ways to live off the grid while living in a tiny home with his wife, Andie.

Container Gardening Upgrades for a Fresh Spring

While prepping for gardening this spring, go through some of your old pots and containers.

Guest post by Linda Lee Ruzicka

If you’re a gardener, you most likely have some old pots and containers in your garden shed or even your garage. And you probably didn’t get rid of them because you figured you might have a use for them eventually. While prepping for this spring, instead of buying replacements pots and containers, go through the ones you already have stored. With a little imagination and some supplies, your pots will look better than new in no time!

Clay Pots

A good clay pot can be expensive and if dropped, the fall can put a decent size crack in it. If it’s chipped or broken but is still durable, here’s what you can do to fix it:

  • You’ll need all-purpose joint compound, spray paint or textured spray paint in a desired color, and fine-grained sandpaper. Clean off the damaged area with the sandpaper. Remove any loose clay as you’re sanding and carefully blow on it to remove the dust. This will let you get a good bond when filling it in.
  • Next, using the joint compound, fill in the cracks using a popsicle stick, spreading both inside and outside the pot. Make sure the cracks are well-covered. It dries relatively fast, so spread and smooth it out as you go. It can also be sanded down later if it’s not super smooth. If needed, add more layers until it’s filled. Let it dry for 24 hours and run the sandpaper over it to smooth it out one last time.
  • Seal the pot with the spray paint or textured spray paint, let dry, and it’s good to go.

Plastic Pots

Plastic pots are another type of container commonly used for gardening. The problem with these containers is that the weather can cause them to weaken, discolor, and sometimes crack. Have no fear, these containers can easily be fixed and your favorite plastic container can be used time and time again.

  • For this you’ll need clear gorilla tape, spray paint, textured stone paint, and fine-grain sandpaper. First, lightly sand all the areas which you’re planning to tape, so the tape has a good grip when applied. Be sure to remove all the dust from the surface of the pot. If you don’t, when you use the gorilla tape, it will form bubbles because it won’t seal. If you apply some rubbing alcohol before applying the tape, the surface will be clean.
  • Next, tape both sides of the crack with strips of gorilla tape. Rub it firmly to get a good seal but don’t use more tape than you need. For edges or curves, use small pieces, that can overlap about a ¼ inch. Try to avoid forming air bubbles.
  • Finally, spray the pot with the base paint and then spray it in thin layers with stone texture paint. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly. If the paint bubbles, let the paint cure for 24 hours. Spray it with the textured paint if desired for a different look.

Repurpose With a New Design

You can also repurpose an old pot with designs, like adding a mosaic design. You’ll need a terracotta pot, some broken tile pieces, pot shards or vase filler chips, spray paint and glue. Paint the pot with the spray paint and let dry, then gently glue the tile, shards or chips on one by one in the design of your choice.

You can also add a new design by using lace on a pot or container. All you’ll need is lace of the color of your choice and transparent adhesive. Varnish the pot with the adhesive and paste the lace over it. Let dry and use as desired.

As you can see, upgrading your container and pots for spring can be both fun and easy. What ways have you revamped old containers?


Linda Lee Ruzicka is an avid gardening blogger and expert. In her spare time she can be found enjoying and relaxing in several gardens around her home that she tends.

8 Creative Ways With Closets

Here are some inspiring examples of closet transformations including a home bar, gym and office.

Guest post by Kelsey Roadruck, Houzz

Closets are no longer limited to storing clothes, linens or random odds and ends. You can actually discover more living space and streamline storage for your lifestyle in these underutilized and overlooked places. Here are some inspiring examples of closet transformations including a home bar, gym and office.

Don’t think you have space for a home bar? Look again. Even the shallowest hall closet can be converted to a drink station. A happy hour hideaway is a very Prohibition era-esque concept, which is all the more reason to stock it with handsome decanters, glasses, intriguing bar tools and a few of your favorite bottles.

Meet your get fit goals by transforming your closet into a mini home gym. This long and narrow closet has a full workout wardrobe on the right and a lean exercise machine on the left. If your closet can’t accommodate a machine, you can still lay down a yoga mat and install a mirror for keeping your form in-check as you use the floor space for sit-ups, push-ups and the like.

If your productivity is lacking, a quiet home office might be what you need. This before-and-after proves that you don’t need a gigantic walk-in closet to make this idea work.

Simply remove the doors off of an unused closet, install a wide shelf if you can’t shimmy a desk in properly and voila! Chalkboard paint, a sconce and a few desk organizers are also featured in this compact home office.

A craft station is another creative alternative. In this closet, craft materials are organized in the carts with labeled drawers. An over-the-door organizer holds oodles of wrapping paper and stationery among other things. And the sturdy shelf is great for gift wrapping or writing letters. Make it your own by hanging inspirational wall art or photos.

Nooks are very popular on Houzz, especially those reinvented for reading. This alcove under the stairs was finished with warm wood paneling, a reading light and lots of cushions. If you don’t have enough space to actually sit down and read in your closet, use it as a little library for book storage instead.

Dress it up for a fab dressing room. New York Fashion Week just ended, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a runway of your own. This is an ultra glamorous example, but all you really need is a chair, mirror and vanity. You can also try this in a playroom for littles who like playing dress-up.

Rehabilitate the linen closet as a hospitality room. Use this space to hang bathrobes, store towels and display your favorite perfumes and lotions. This is especially useful for those who travel often or have a second home used for a weekend getaway. In addition to freshly laundered linens, you’ll find neatly pressed formal attire here with a weekender bag at the ready.

Prioritize zen by carving out a closet for reflection. Whether you’re religious or just need some peace and quiet, a small closet is a secure place to hole up in for 20 minutes and just be. Keep a floor pillow, pouf or soft area rug here for prayer, yoga or meditation. If you’re not working with a walk-in closet, you can still use a shallow closet as a shrine of spiritual objects or mementos that bring you joy.


Making the Most of a Winter Farmer’s Market

Winter’s chill is in the air and spring is still several weeks away, but there’s plenty to do in your hometown during the colder months including checking out a winter farmer’s market.

Guest Writer

Winter’s chill is in the air and spring is still several weeks away, but there’s plenty to do in your hometown during the colder months including checking out a winter farmer’s market.

Traditional farmer’s markets usually run from early spring to late fall, but there’s a growing trend popping up in cities across the country: the winter farmer’s market.

Typically your local winter farmer’s market is held indoors, which means no matter the weather, you can still shop in comfort for your favorite offerings of the earth’s bounty.

Want to make the most of your next visit to a winter farmer’s market? Here’s what you need to know:

Manage Your Expectations

When strolling around your favorite farmer’s market during warmer months, you’re likely to find all sorts of bright, juicy fruits and beautiful growing plants. The purpose of a farmer’s market is to help connect local farmers and producers with the community, as a source of great seasonal offerings.

Your winter farmer’s market likely won’t have the same options as the markets held in spring and summer. This is mainly because those fruits and vegetables aren’t being grown or harvested during colder months.

Depending on the size of your market and where you live, it might not be possible to do all your grocery shopping at your neighborhood winter farmer’s market, but you should be able to check several items off your shopping list.

Think Outside the Box

Winter farmer’s markets are a great opportunity think outside the box, with regard to the produce you buy. There you may come across different varieties of your favorite fruits and vegetables, or different options altogether.

Take this as a chance to try something new! Never cooked with baby bok choy or purple potatoes? These are some delicious choices, and likely to be spotted at a winter farmer’s market.

And make sure you talk to the farmers or sellers about their wares. They are likely to be a wealth of free information for you. For example, if you usually cook with cilantro in the spring and summer, ask the farmer to recommend another herb you might try when it isn’t available.

Ask the farmer if he or she has a favorite way of preparing the veggies or a tip for making fruit last longer. This is your chance to talk directly with the expert about his or her produce.

Stock Up on Essentials

Whether you are a dedicated home cook or someone who just enjoys trying a new recipe every now and again, there are certain essentials that a well-stocked kitchen must have.

Often a winter farmer’s market is a great place to find things like local honey, spices and jams or preserves. It never hurts to have these pantry staples on hand. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing you are supporting the livelihood of local growers and producers.

Since these types of items are usually canned or dried, they have a longer shelf-life and will serve to be very useful for all your culinary creations until spring arrives.

You might also see cut flowers or winter plants. Depending on the type, winter is often a good time for planting. Some farmers also sell or swap their seeds, especially heirloom varieties, so make the most of this opportunity to stock up for your spring and summer garden.

Give the Gift of Local Made with Love

Winter farmer’s markets are often more than just farm fresh produce and things grown in the ground. There will likely be offerings and wares for sale by local artisans and makers.

From handcrafted jewelry and pottery to unique and one-of-a-kind art or woodworking, these selections make wonderful gifts for friends. Other items you might find include essential oils, handmade soaps and lotions, and natural cosmetics. Sellers will often allow you to sample their wares in order to see what you might like.

These are just a few ways you can enjoy a winter farmer’s market in your neighborhood. Before too long, spring will arrive with all its blooming beauty. But until then, it’s nice to know there are still some fun things to do to make the most of winter.


Kate Spears is a Knoxville writer and content marketing specialist who earned an M.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee. She has, since 2012, worked as a social media manager with Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace, Realtors in East Tennessee.

Ambient Lighting Tricks to Warm Up the Whole House

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.

Guest post by Kelsey Roadruck, Houzz

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.

1. Control natural lighting. If you thought only stormy weather could make a breezy beach house look dark and moody, take a second look at the photo above. The lucky homeowner can draw the sheer curtains closed without completely blocking out the sun. They also get a postcard-worthy view of sunrise and sunset every day from their glass doors. The dimmed fixture above casts a warm light in an all-white room while the cloudy landscape photo tones down the views of the beach.

2. Be picky about your paint. Ask a professional about a paint’s light reflectance value (LRV) before you commit to a color. Lighter colors tend to be more reflective than dark shades. Pay attention to sheen level too since glossy finishes are more reflective than matte finishes.

3. Experiment with materials and finishes. When mixed and matched strategically, these seemingly small details can determine the mood of a whole room. This white and grey bathroom would look stark and cold without the brass fixture above. The candles around the tub help warm the room up too.

4. Install a dimmer switch. There’s nothing relaxing about straining your eyes in a room that is too bright or too dark. Use a dimmer in addition to layering your light sources for ultimate light control. Believe it or not, installing a dimmer switch can be a DIY project.

5. Recess your lights. Even if the bulb is not that bright, a central fixture with multiple bulbs and a shiny finish can be overpowering. Recessed lighting conceals the bulbs and therefore can lights feel softer. You could also hide strip lighting underneath cabinets for a nice nightlight on your way to the kitchen or bathroom. Check out this ultra contemporary island that appears to be floating mid-air.

6. Go a different direction. Uplights, like sconces and track lighting, create a soft glow. On the other hand, downlights cast ominous shadows that can really add mystery to a romantic room. Get creative by backlighting wall decor for a play on color and shapes.

7. Take a refresher course in lightbulb basics. The type of bulb is equally important as its fixture. Halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs have a range of temperatures from warm (or yellow) to cool (or blue) hues. This is a matter of personal preference, but typically yellowish bulbs warm up cool-colored rooms nicely and vice versa. Bluer bulbs also help brighten darker spaces, like basements and windowless bathrooms.

8. Find your favorite shade. Bright colors, playful patterns and funky shapes can bring personality into a stale space. Smoky glass chandeliers intensify intimate vibes in a dining room while big paper lanterns enliven sophisticated home offices. The teal shades on this fixture match the pillows and put an icy sheen on the large dark walnut bookcase.

Note: This ceiling light is reflected in the whimsically shaped mirror that will help spread light further into the room.

9. Try twinkle lights. Not limited to holiday decor, you can use twinkle lights all year round. Drape them over windows for some extra sparkle or fill jars or empty wine bottles with a bundle of battery-operated fairy lights for an illuminated vignette.

10. Open flame. It’s no secret that candles are customary to ambience, but they’re often reserved for after dark. Next time, try starting a fire first thing in the morning and you’ll find that candles are as effective for waking up as they are for winding down. The heat will naturally draw you out of bed and the rising sun will energize you. We’re channeling all the feels from this rustic bedroom. The corner fireplace and candle chandelier are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Romantic Plants for Your Valentine

Surprise your valentine with a thoughtful gift!

Guest post by Katie Kuchta

Valentine’s Day is here, and you could give the traditional gift of roses and candy to your special someone, or you could surprise them with a gift that will stick around past the weekend. Giving a plant or a small container garden as a gift is something which lasts longer than either fresh cut flowers or chocolate. You could even give your beloved the flower of their birth month!

Flowers of the Month

When you present your special one a flower which is the flower of their birth month, it’s an endearing and sentimental way to say, “I love you.” You can order some of these plants from your local florist or garden center.

January: Carnation or Snowdrop
February: Primrose or Violet
March: Daffodil, Narcissus or Jonquil
April: Daisy or Sweet Pea
May: Lily of the Valley
June: Rose
July: Water Lily
August: Gladiolus
September: Aster
October: Marigold
November: Chrysanthemum
December: Narcissus

The Meaning of the Color of a Flower

Another thought to consider is what the color of a flower means. Each color can convey a special meaning for what you want to say on Valentine’s Day. Below are some common flower meanings:

Red: Love
Pink: Sweetness
Yellow: Friendship
Crimson: Respect
White: Purity
Orange: Eternal life
Purple: Modesty

Popular Plants

If you do decide to present your sweetheart with one of these plants, be sure to attach a note explaining what the plant means regarding Valentine’s Day. Here are some plants commonly shared between partners and represent romance:


A delicate potted orchid is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Orchids come is a multitude of colors such as purple, pink, white, striped and yellow. An orchid conveys beauty, strength, endurance and, most of all, love.

Dwarf Pussy Willow

Since pussy willow trees represent maternity and motherhood, it’s an excellent gift for a mother-to-be or a new mother. If twins are expected, give two plants. A pussy willow tree can remain inside until any danger of frost is gone. Then it can be transplanted outside to represent the birth of the new child or children for years to come.


A lavender plant is a luxurious way to show your love. Lavender can be made into sachets, body lotions, and soaps or just planted to enjoy its fragrance. Lavender means purity and feelings of sentiment.


If you’d like to give a Valentine’s Day gift to a dear friend, this is an excellent choice. Succulents are native to Texas and most of the south, and have become increasingly popular with urban decor. Being drought tolerant–not only are they easy to maintain and unique looking but they mean endurance and longevity. Isn’t that what friendship is all about?

Match Plants to Your Significant Others Personality

Bold and Beautiful

If your sweetheart is bold and beautiful, you might consider buying a Red Aglaonema. This flower has bold colors and showy leaves for the person who likes to dazzle. It’s streaked with shades of pink and bright red. It’s an easy houseplant to grow and can be grown for years. It can be grown in bright or low light and isn’t fussy about water.

Glamorous and Mysterious

An Anthurium is a gift for your Valentine if they have a taste for the exotic. It has heart-shaped, glossy leaves and tropical-looking flowers. The flowers come in beautiful shades of pink, red, purple, orange, and white. It blooms off and on all year and the flowers last for months if the growing conditions are right. It loves humidity and warmth.

As you can see, you can dare to be different for this Valentine’s Day; your sweetheart will be pleasantly surprised.


Katie Kuchta is a marketing guru, gardening and outdoor living expert, and self proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos, follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.

A Beginner’s Guide to Wonderful Wallpaper

Wall coverings serve as a beautiful accent piece in any room and can be as subtle or as fun as you desire. Here’s how to welcome a wonderful wall treatment into your home.

Guest post by Michelle Lee, Houzz

Wallpaper has a longstanding and misunderstood reputation for being obnoxiously bold and a nightmare to apply and remove. However, it has been entirely reinvented with new materials and appropriately renamed as “wall coverings.” You’ll see it popping up again in designs everywhere. Wall coverings serve as a beautiful accent piece in any room and can be as subtle or as fun as you desire. Here’s how to welcome a wonderful wall treatment into your home.

Learn the Basics

Wall coverings come in wide range of patterns, styles and materials. In comparison, paint is uniform and very 2D while wallpaper opens the door to a new dimension to play with. A great first step to deciding if it’s right for you is to browse inspirational home photos and save the ones that appeal to you the most.

Just like paint and fabric, you can order swatches of wallpaper to test on your walls before you commit. Full rolls can cost anywhere between $50 for plain paper versions to $300 for custom made or 3D textured options. It’s highly recommended, even by the most experienced DIYers, to hire an experienced professional for the final installation. And unlike its predecessors, many wall coverings use a safe and easy-to-remove adhesive for painless removal.

Know Your Options

There are thousands of different designs in production for wallpaper, so chances are if you have a particular look in mind, you’ll find it. On the slight chance it doesn’t exist already, you can commission a custom-made pattern or make your own. Traditional paper coverings are still made today, but vinyl wall coverings are also available and are great candidates for high-traffic areas since they’re glossier and can easily be wiped down.

The Williams Morris designs are popular for historic or arts and crafts style homes and floral patterns are a timeless classic. Alternatively, mural-style wallpapers are a great choice for modern art connoisseurs. They can be made to resemble an oversized print or photograph, a landscape or a cityscape of your hometown. Wall paneled paper pays homage to industrial style and can be made to resemble a brick, wood or concrete wall. If you want something more in-the-moment, graphic, geometric and ombre designs are very contemporary.

Textured grasscloth and silk wall coverings have a unique look and bring warmth and a sense of luxury to any space. These coverings are often one uniform color for people wanting a subtler look. Consider the tone and vibe you’re going for and how it looks from different angles, rooms and light when you’re shopping for the perfect fit.

Choose a Location

Wallpaper works great in just about every room of the house, but materials should be thoughtfully chosen. For example, vinyl coverings are a great choice for kitchens and bathroom since they are moisture-resistant and can easily be wiped clean of dirt or food stains. If you want to test treatments in a small area, consider a low-traffic area such as a powder room or laundry room. If you don’t want to line an entire wall from floor-to-ceiling, you can install wallpaper above wainscoting for a half-wall look. Just like paint, wall coverings also make eye-catching accent walls.

Other fun places to try it out include the entry, along the stairwell, on the ceiling or in a nook. Wallpaper disguises wall blemishes, sets spaces apart in an open floor plan and, with the right pattern, enlarges small spaces. Wallpaper can also be applied to items other than walls, such as lining the back of a bookcase or shelving unit, a large cabinet, dresser or armoire for a stunning look.

How to Host Out-of-Town Guests Before Your Wedding

Here are a few ways to prepare your home for your out-of-town guests before your wedding.


Guest post by Marissa Hermanson

If you have friends or family flying in for your wedding, inviting them to bunk at your house is a thoughtful way to show your thanks and save them the expense of a hotel. Whether you’re hosting your parents or best friends, you want to ensure that your guests are helpful and not a hinderance during your busy wedding weekend. Here are a few ways to prepare your home so your houseguests have a space to retreat to when you’re focused on wedding planning — and a few fun and easy tasks you can delegate to them without feeling too guilty.

Give Them Privacy

During your wedding weekend, the last thing you want to worry about is entertaining your house guests. Set yourself up for success by preparing a comfortable suite where they can get away and relax while you are in the nuptial zone. If you don’t have a guest room, set up an office or finished basement with an air mattress, plenty of cozy blankets and a place to prop up their suitcase and hang up their wedding garments.


Provide Amenities

During the final countdown, you want your guests to feel right at home, not like they’re pestering you with special requests. Furnish the guest room with all the accoutrements that your guests will need during their stay, starting with these ideas:

  • Have fresh linens and towels folded nearby.
  • Stock up on plenty of food and beverages.
  • Give them access to a steamer for their formalwear.
  • Print out an itinerary of how the weekend will unfold.
  • Set out movies, books, magazines or games to occupy them during any downtime.

Get Them Out of Your Hair

While your guests will have their own designated area of your home to retreat to, you also many want to get them out of the house during crunch time. Give your guests an extra set of house keys so they can come and go as needed without getting in your way. Schedule a few activities for them, like visits to a nearby museum or brewery so they can get out and about and explore the area, while simultaneously giving you and your beau some breathing room. Emotions will be running high right before the wedding, and you don’t want to stress yourself by feeling like you have a zoo in your house.


Put Them to Work

During their stay, your guests may want to lend a hand, so be sure to put them to good use. Here are a few ways to enlist the help of your house guests with your wedding during the final countdown:

  • Give them your car keys and request that they pick up other guests at the airport as they arrive in town.
  • Have them help out with grocery shopping and party setup if you’re planning a bridal shower or farewell brunch at your house.
  • Put their talents to use! Ask them to pen your escort cards, arrange the flowers or hammer together the wedding arbor.
  • Delegate day-of tasks. The morning of the wedding, ask them to drop off decor at the venue and be on call for any last-minute requests that may arise, like paying vendors or picking up dry-cleaning. Or, put them in charge of important reminders, like bringing the wedding rings to the ceremony.

When you’re about to get married, micromanaging your houseguests should be the last thing on your mind. With these tips, you’ll be able to focus on preparing for the wedding and enjoy the company of your family and friends without stress.


Marissa Hermanson has written for several lifestyle publications, including The Knot, Southern Living, Cosmopolitan and others. She also provides engagement and wedding planning advice on behalf of Larson Jewelers, an online retailer that carries a wide variety of unique and affordable rings, including titanium wedding bands.

 Spring Selling Checklist

With spring selling season around the corner, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyer expectations.


Guest post by Patti Stern

With the early spring selling season kicking off shortly after the new year, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyers’ expectations. Take advantage of being inside during the cold winter months with these quick fixes that will help your property stand out from the competition, boost its value and sell quickly.

Family Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Declutter & Organize

Start tackling one room at a time by packing up anything that will distract buyers from seeing the unique features of your property such as personal collections, family photos, newspapers, books and magazines. Rearrange and remove excessive furniture to simplify and make the room appear larger.

Make Basic Repairs & Updates

Make sure everything is in good working condition. Repair and replace broken light switches, bulbs, ceiling fans, door knobs, leaky faucets, shower heads, windows, thermostats, etc. Update lighting fixtures with contemporary styles and consider replacing older kitchen appliances with sleek, eco-friendly models to capture young buyer interest.

Bedroom Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Refresh and Brighten With Paint

Remove wallpaper and cover bold wall colors with a fresh coat of neutral paint to set the perfect backdrop for simple, updated styling. Give older style kitchen cabinets or wood vanities an instant facelift by covering with bright white or dark espresso paint. Then pair with knobs and drawer handles in brushed nickel or satin brass for an elegant finishing touch.

Fresh Flooring

There is nothing that dates a room more that worn, soiled carpeting. Remove and/or replace carpeting to reveal hardwood flooring underneath to instantly brighten and make the room feel more spacious. There are also many budget-friendly, easy to install options on the market now for replacing damaged flooring such as laminate and vinyl that look and feel just like wood.

Mudroom Remodel by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Add Storage Options

Today’s buyers are looking for plenty of storage. Added storage solutions such as built-in bookshelves, window seats with storage underneath, entry storage units, and extra closet hooks and rods are a practical way to attract immediate buyer attention.

Partner With a Pro

Consult with a professional stager who will have an objective eye and knowledge of what appeals to today’s sophisticated buyers. They will provide a range of solutions for enhancing your home showings by recommending everything from furniture placement to wall color to complementary modern accessories to add clean, welcoming style.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit


Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Her company has received Houzz 2015, 2016 and 2017 Awards for Customer Service.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

8 Key Elements for a Productive Workspace

Here are 8 essential elements to integrate into your workspace at home to set the foundation for a great year.

Guest post by Michelle Lee, Houzz

A common New Year’s resolution that almost everyone aims for is to increase productivity in their career, personal craft or both. You’re nearly a month into 2018, so it’s time to get started on your quest for success. Here are eight essential elements to integrate into your workspace to set the foundation for a great year.

Choose Your Location Wisely

Having the right setting for a home office can make or break your progress. Dedicating a full room to work is a great setup, preferably away from the main hustle and bustle of the house to cut down on noise pollution and distractions. For those with smaller spaces, you can integrate a workspace into the bedroom, walk-in closet or basement.


Look to the Light

After you find a location for your office, draft your ideal layout. Start by situating the desk in front of an expansive window or door to the outside if possible. Basking in the limited daylight or watching the rain or snowfall outdoors can provide a non-invasive, relaxing break for your eyes when you’re feeling overwhelmed or worn out.

When the sun goes down, make sure you have adequate lighting to reduce eye strain. Desk lamps, floor lamps and wall-mounted sconces all provide great task lighting. Use a blue-tinted bulb, since it has been shown to increase alertness.


Customize Your Storage Setup

Another popular resolution is to cut clutter and a home office is a great place to organize first. Install floating shelves above the desk to free up valuable space, use file cabinets to hold papers and keep pens and pencils handy with clear glass jars. If space allows, add a refreshments station nearby to limit the number of times you have to get up and wander about.


Switch to a Laptop

Some professions require the use of a large monitor, but if you can do without, go for it. Laptops are great space-saving tools for small offices and pack a punch of power and reliability for whatever you’re working on. They also allow you to move around instead of being kept stationary at your desk and give you the satisfaction of symbolically closing the book at the end of a long workday.


Sit Pretty

With typical work days of eight hours, your choice of seating can make a big difference for your well-being. Prioritize comfort over style and invest in a sturdy ergonomic office chair that will last for years to come. Alternatively, add a detachable back or headrest to your existing setup or repurpose a plush armchair to use at your desk instead.


Create Visual Interest

Having something to occupy a wandering eye can be beneficial to your productivity. Patterns have been shown to promote creative stimulation at work, so look to wallpaper or artwork for interesting designs. Hang paintings at a comfortable eye level above the desk or mount them on peripheral side walls to reduce possible distractions. For a simplified look, paint an accent wall or the ceiling in your favorite hue.


Keep Inspiration Nearby

You’re likely all-too-familiar with battling writer’s block at some point and it’s important to learn how to overcome it in the future. Use an oversized bulletin board to pin inspiring photos, jot down fleeting ideas in a journal and assemble a folder of your previous work to look back on when your bank of ideas is running dry. Seeing what you’ve achieved and done so far can be just the boost you need.


Shake up Your Routine

Break yourself out of creative ruts and jumpstart your success by adopting a new hobby this year. If you’re prone to procrastination, set a timer to work less overall but smarter. With less time, you may be motivated to work harder, faster and generally better. You can also try switching your scenery to collaborate with a friend or at a coworking cafe. When you need a break from your screen, take a brisk walk around the block or exercise indoors to give your brain a much-needed reset.