Fall Tablescape How-To

Using a design board, I ordered everything (almost) online, and then styled this beautiful table for the fall.   Enjoy the video!   I'd love for you to send me your tablescape designs too.  If you'd like some help, you can purchase this design board and get the same look.  

Too Cheap to Stage?

A smart real estate agent buys a home that he wants to flip - a flip property - a fixer upper.  You know, whatever you want to call it.  Drab to Fab!   He spends a decent amount of money replacing the roof, flooring, hvac, and appliances. He updates the countertops to granite and installs trendy tile.  Nice paint and bedroom carpet take the house from a smoky cigarette stinch to a new-build aroma.  Nice barn doors even allow a flex space to be an office, dining room, or fourth bedroom.  Outside, new paint, some mulch, flowerbed landscaping, and a new wood deck improve the curb appeal and backyard.  Oh, did I mention the nasty hot tub was removed?  Yay!  Now, another big option...the decision to stage or not to stage?  

Can we just start at the entry??   A new door allows more light to flow in to an otherwise dark hallway. Cohesive laminate flooring, new wall, door, and trim paint provide a nice first impression. Notice the cool barn door that opens up to what we staged as an office.

And now for the rooms...

A closet was added to the mirror wall.  The small bump out just used a bit of the garage space without inhibiting parking inside.  This adds extra storage space in this buyer's flex-room.  The new lighting is definitely a hit, and now home-shoppers can visualize one way to use this room.  This room seems huge, and it's due to the furniture placement and the cowhide rug.

Oh my!  I can almost smell that smoke on the walls from here.  The living room had to show the buyers how one could use the space.  A large area rug grounds the furniture and the light furniture with pops of color help the room to appear even larger.  A glass coffee table also gives a spacious feel since light can flow through it.   

From this angle, a couple of emotional connection points in the kitchen was all that was needed to show off these freshly painted cabinets, new granite, tile, sink, and faucet.  What a difference!   Did you notice that the flooring is the same throughout?  That's a smart decision that brings flow to the house, making it seem bigger than it is.  Did you know that during staging consultations, we give sellers advice like this if it's in their budget to replace flooring? Explaining "why" is our specialty.

Okay, I admit this fresh bathroom could sell itself, but creating a spa-look with fluffy towels, natural plants and an organized tray of essentials say, "Welcome...you're going to love living here."

And here's the tiny master bathroom.  Don't you love the clear glass door?  The vanity had to be switched to the other wall for the shower door to function, which still works!  We brought in this antique gold mirror to warm up the feel of the room.  What an improvement, right?

And now for the master and one of the secondary bedrooms.  Buyers can now visualize the roominess here.  A queen bed is in the master with room to spare, and the twin-sized bed in this cute kid's room is sure to attract a family with children.  Soooo much better than just empty rooms with four walls.

So now the big question...Is it worth less than $2000 to attract multiple buyers and have it under contract within a week?   This agent thinks it is.  When you're holding a property, every week on the market costs you more and more money.   Get it sold as soon as possible and look for another property. 

Do you have questions about staging?  We have answers, and we're here to help! 

Hope you enjoyed the pictures of this investment property.  Thanks for staying in touch.  What topics would you like me to include on this blog?  Do you enjoy the before and after stories?  Do you need more content to share with your sellers?   My goal is to add value to you and your sellers, so I'd love to hear your ideas.

Click here to read the article on "Candy's Dirt" highlighting this property that we staged.

Remember, we're here to help!

You relax.  We stage.

Shana     817-657-0760

6 Reno Projects to Add Value When Selling


You’ve decided to sell your house, but wonder how it’s going to compete with the others in your neighborhood.  You’re not desperate to sell fast, but would like to get top dollar.  Maybe you need to do some updates, but you want to make the wisest decision about where you spend your money.  Here’s are 6 recent average return on investment renovation statistics that can help you make that wise decision.

Cherished Bliss

#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel – 102% average return at sale

What’s minor?  New tub (or resurfacing) and tile surround, flooring, toilet, sink, vanity, and fixtures without changing the floorplan.  Choose styles that are on trend such as shaker cabinets, brushed nickel or brass hardward,subway or marble tile, framed mirrors, and open shelving.  Colors of the cabinets and walls matter too. Best choices for now are grays, whites, and blues.  For flooring, wood-look luxury vinyl plank or tile is great for these high moisture areas.  How do you know what’s popular?  Pick up a home decor magazine, check out the most recent pictures on Pinterest, or simply ask for help at a home improvement store.  Better yet…ask your stager or designer.

the creativity exchange

#2  Landscaping – 100% average return at sale

Green grass that is trimmed and free of weeds is a no-brainer here, but appropriately-sized shrubs, flower bed borders, and pops of color can make a huge difference.  Also, trees should be trimmed to a height in which average sized adults can walk under them.  When a buyer drives up, the curb appeal is critical to lure them inside to see the property.   

Blog Lovin

#3 Minor Kitchen Remodel – 98.5% average return at sale

So define minor:  Your kitchen needs a cosmetic change, but not a radically different floor plan.  Maybe your cabinets need re-facing such as new doors or just new paint and hardware.  Other new items may include a wall oven, cooktop, undermount sink with updated faucet, and a solid surface countertop.  Recessed lights and pendant lights are popular.  Also, under-cabinet lighting can make a huge difference in the “brightness” of your kitchen.

Demi and Dashton

#4  Exterior Improvements – 95.5% average return at sale

Possible improvements may include vinyl siding, paint for trim, brick, shutters and/or the front door, and creation or update of a front porch.  Thin posts or iron metal posts can be exchanged for chunkier beams.   Get inspiration for paint colors here or check with your local home improvement store.  Look for the large brochures that have coordinating paint colors for the exterior of your house.  Think about your neighborhood colors, because you want the property stand out, but not stand out in a bad way.  New porch lights and address numbers are a quick update.  Remember to grab a new door mat! 

#5 Attic Bedroom Conversion – 93.5% average return at sale

An average attic conversion is around $40,000 which would include a bathroom and a 15×15 foot bedroom.  Consider your HVAC system – is it powerful enough to handle this extra space?  If not, that could be an extra expense.  Also, talk with your real estate agent about the comparable homes in your neighborhood to weigh your options on this renovation.  


#6 Deck, Patio, or Porch – 90.3% average return at sale

These spaces are increasingly popular as people use them as additional living areas.  Comfortable outdoor seating, lighting, and shade are important.  Durable finishes are key.  Outdoor fireplaces, built-in grills, and landscaping take it up a notch.  

Want to know even more about renovation return on investments?  Click here to read more about this on HGTV.

So you may be thinking that if you don’t receive a 100% or better return, why should you do anything to get your house ready? Well… Your property should sell faster if it’s updated and priced right.  A quicker sale saves you in holding costs – mortgage, tax, and insurance payments.   Other updates that weren’t mentioned above, but that could have great impact are new paint on the interior living spaces and bedrooms and new flooring – especially new carpet to replace stained or smelly old carpet.   Decluttering and staging also add great value to your home.  I can help you with that when you’re ready.  Be sure to talk to your agent about your plans before you begin spending big bucks.  He or she can advise you according to the price-point and location of your house. 

So you’ve decided to update your house in a few areas.  Remember that you are picking products that will appeal to the masses.  Just because you like yellow walls or green cabinets does not mean you should make investments like that.  Think “NEUTRAL”  and calming.  If you need help, I’m here!  

Happy renovating and selling!

-Shana 817-657-0760

Why Stage a Vacant Home

You’re ready to move.  You find a real estate agent and want to sell as soon as possible.  You decide to go ahead and move out, thinking that your house will sell faster without your furniture and decor in it. Maybe you even leave an old rug and table behind.  That will look great you think.  Buyers will see how roomy and open it looks and will fall in love with it.   It should work, right?  Probably WRONG.  

Did you know that vacant homes usually sit on the market longer than occupied or staged homes?  Buyers rarely (only about 10% of them) can visualize the size of the rooms, or imagine their furniture and items in the house.  They’re confused.  Empty rooms, believe it or not, look smaller until something is in there to give the buyer perspective.  In the photo above, the rug and table actually do help define the rooms in this big open space.  What’s missing?   There are no emotional connection points in here.  Buyers spend money on homes when they can emotionally connect to them.  They can imagine sitting at the kitchen island, sipping on their morning coffee.  They long to put their feet up, snuggle up, and watch a fun movie with their family.  They want a cozy spot to read a bedtime story to their children.   And the examples go on and on…

Also, think about what happens when you put on a swimsuit.  Every ounce of fat, cellulite, every wrinkle, freckle seems to be magnified.  Every flaw is exposed!  In a vacant house, it’s the same thing.  Any smudge you have on a wall stands out.  A scratch on your fireplace mantel is magnified.  A small discolored spot on the wood floor looks massive.  Since there is nothing to feast their eyes on, buyers will notice every flaw in a vacant house that otherwise they would probably never notice!

What about bedrooms?  Ninety percent of people cannot figure out if a master bedroom can handle a king-size bed, or only a queen.  Let’s not leave it up to their imagination!    Plus, this looks a little “blah,” don’t you think??

Now buyers can see that this room easily fits a queen bed with plenty of room around it.  It’s not hard now to imagine a king size in here.  See how it helps!  The window coverings even seem to make sense in this townhome now.  

Would you like buyers to take their time as they walk through your house?  YES!  Do you know why?  Statistics tell us that buyers take more time walking through an occupied or staged home.  When a house is empty, they can zip right through it and leave quickly. Take for example this kitchen, it has some great features, but nothing is highlighted.  No one is connecting with it because it feels cold and plain.  When items are added (like below) a buyer tends to linger, and the chances of them submitting an offer to buy the property increases. This is a good thing!

Here are a few emotional connections that would look great in a kitchen, or perhaps the last picture could be in a bathroom. I easily found these on Pinterest, and if you hover over the photos, you’ll see the photo credits. Do you notice that there is a plant in each photo?  That’s not an accident!  People like real, organic looking things.  Think of the buyers that can relate to cooking, coffee, and a nice-smelling hand soap.  That’s what staging does for your vacant home.  

Now I know what you’re thinking… Doesn’t vacant staging cost a fortune?   Not really.  If you only stage the main areas of your house and the master, most buyers can get the feel for the house with that, so it costs less than staging the whole house.   Now, let’s say your vacant sits on the market for four months because…well… it’s vacant.  You’ve now made FOUR MORE mortgage payments, insurance payments, and paid property taxes.   That’s a lot!  Let’s say you reduced the price after two months, by 5% like your agent recommended.  That could easily be $15,000 on a $300,000 listing.   What if staging only was only $3000 and it SOLD within two months?  See what I mean?  It can actually make you more money than not staging.   Is this always true?? No, but it’s worth thinking about.    If you know me though, I hate selling things so that’s not what my business is about.  I’m here to help, and if helping you sell your house for top dollar is priority, then reach out to me or another professional home stager.

Thanks for hanging out with me on my blog.  I’d love for you to find me on Pinterest or Instagram so you can see other great ideas for staging, decorating, and life in general.

Warm regards,  Shana


Bright Yellow Walls OH NO!

The sellers want to list the house, like YESTERDAY!  There is no budget or time to paint the sunshine yellow walls.  So what do you do?  Leave everything AS IS, or vacate everything?  We say that we can usually work around the less than trendy things in a home, but keep some of the furniture.  Why?  Because homes with furniture sell faster than vacant homes.  Look carefully and you'll find that this is the homeowner's furniture.  We only brought in the right colors that can attract the right buyers.  Either this house will sell to someone who likes the cottage/bungalow vibe, or it will sell to someone who sees potential in the house.  Of course, the seller's goal is always to get top dollar, so some simple staging creates interest in more buyers other than just investors.  Take a look at the before pictures below and tell me this doesn't look better?!?

You might be thinking, "What happened to the huge marshmallow sectional, recliner, and the red rug?  They're gone!  We brought up the love seat from the den, changed the rug to sisal and navy, and added pops of blue throughout.  

Even though it feels like we work a little "magic" in these transformations, it really isn't magical it all.  It takes a lot of planning and problem solving to create a room that feels spacious, yet cozy.  It feels bright, but relaxed. A buyer has to emotionally connect to a space in order to want to live there.  Messy rooms with crowded furnishings and decor does not speak to buyers.  And even though most people would want to get a couple of gallons of paint ready for this house, most buyers would at least think it's "cute."   Cute, believe it or not, is an emotional connection.   

This is the downstairs den.  Here's the matching sofa.  The loveseat was down here before, making this room also feel crowded.  Now here's the rug.  Is it gorgeous in this space?  No, but at least it's the right size, and it's not the first impression room.  We found this coffee table in another part of the house, moved out the console to use as a media cabinet in the front room, and added a chair for this desk.  Why did we bring in the blue and yellow pillows?  Because when you can scatter the color pops throughout the house, it feels more cohesive.   Did you notice the cool floorlamp in the back corner?  The sellers actually had that!  So mid-century modern!   We brought in a table lamp as well to add extra lighting.  This room before staging was dark, dingy, and depressing.  

Buyers can definitely envision a cozy fire in this den.   Is it a magazine worthy room?  No, of course not!  But not everyone can afford rooms like that anyway!  Which room would you rather hang out in?  The one above or the one below?  Which would you pay more money for?   See what staging can do!    One additional note, these are just photos from my phone. Imagine how good they would look if a professional photographer worked his/her magic!

Thanks for hanging out with me for a while.  Do you follow me on Instagram?  I'd love for you to give me feedback on my posts there.   @cloverlanedesign

Take care.  I'm happy to help!   -Shana

Taking a House from Ho-Hum to Hip-Hip-Hooray!

Occupied homes are quite the challenge.  We use what the seller has as much as possible so that it saves them money, time, and hassle.  This home was just outside the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex so it had a semi-rural feel.  Large lots with occassional horse pastures and open fields are common.  We wanted to keep the rustic vibe, while bringing in some modern and updated accessories.  In the living room, we reconfigured the rustic tables and benches to gain focal points and better flow.  Check out the new rug and pops of blue on the sofa.  Coffee table accessories, beautiful horse art, and a creative corner for reading, playing the guitar, kicking off boots, whatever...brings a bit of modern to increase home buyer desire.  The casual corner is a better look in a living room than the bar height cafe table. Buyers won't be confused as to where the dining areas are.  I'm sure you can distinguish between the three after photos and the two before photos.  Don't you love the difference?

We have to give the seller kudos here.  He gave us permission to move anything around and use anything in the house.  He installed a new sink, faucet, and overhead light fixtures which brightened up the kitchen immensely.  We rolled in the bar height table with the fun cafe stools.  All we added was a pitcher of fresh greenery, a pop of color through artwork and a bowl of lemons.  We created a coffee vignette and a drink tray.  Nothing really fancy in here because we work within a homeowner's budget.  But...what an improvement!

Below you'll notice how large the dining table was for this kitchen nook space.  We moved that into the dining room space and the nook now feels so much bigger.  Perfect for a quick breakfast or just hanging out by the person cooking dinner.

Now for my favorite room...the dining room.  This chandelier seemed a little outdated without the furniture in here.  All that was in this room before were some musical instruments and a kitchen island that was never used.  We rolled that out to the enclosed patio facing the back pasture.  Here is the same table from the previous picture.  It fits so much better, and looks gorgeous because we added updated nailhead fabric parsons chairs.  We styled some organic plants and fruit in a natural wicker basket, which brings texture and a feeling of casual living.  Like the art on the wall?  That was the owners, and we liked the pop of orange it brings to the space. 

Now for the master bedroom.  We actually really liked the purplish-gray walls in here and when the owner replaced the fan lightbulbs with LED bright white, the room was instantly brightened.  Just a quick tip...do you notice the lamp light looks more yellow/gold?  That's because they are soft white.  If they were bright white also, this master retreat would look even better.  Here we brought in some light canvas art, fresh pillows, and a soft textured throw. Very inviting!

The master bath had the same wall color, which is a pretty personal color choice.  Usually we recommend a neutral tone, but the owner had already painted another room, bathroom and hallway.  Remember what I said about seller's budgets?  We work within them.  This is a moderately trendy color and these unprofessional photos also make them look more "purple" than "purple-gray."  Most buyers will still find it pretty tasteful.  We tucked away all personal toiletries and towels, and just styled with fresh white towels (not seen) an orchid, and a couple pieces of art that the owner already had.  What a pretty space!

This bedroom turned about to be a sweet little room.  We added colorful pillows, art, and a great chair.   This room is actually pretty tiny - not even room for a nightstand, but it feels more spacious with the big windows and the chair that somehow balances out the big full-size bed.  Don't judge the bedskirt too harshly.  We are paid for our time in a house, and some little details aren't as important.  Have you ever noticed that your eyes wouldn't really notice the bedskirt if you were actually in the room, but photos reveal every "flaw?"  It's due to the 2-D nature of photos and the angle of the photographer.  We're accustomed to "seeing" about 5-6 ft. high off the ground, not 1-6 inches from the floor.  

And now for the study.  This room was used as a workout room.  There were padded "tiles" over the hardwood floors and gym equipment was on top.  That's an awesome use of a room while you live in a house, but not when you're selling.  The French doors open up to the living room and dining room, so an office makes better sense.  We used the sellers cowhide rug, lamp, chair and plants.  We brought in the desk, tray, pillow, and art.   Now buyers can visualize the room for themselves.  

And for the screened-in patio.  We carried two rockers to the front porch and left two right here on the back porch with a similar setup.  Pops or orange pillows and white hydrangeas make you want to sit a spell, and have a cup of coffee - or wine - or something different!  When you see the before photo, we rolled out the big kitchen island and placed it on the far side in front of part of the screened wall.  We styled that as a beverage station, but I forgot to take a picture of it.  And naturally, everything else was removed and the floor was swept clean.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.  Remember that if you need help styling your home where you want to continue living, or if you're wanting staged to sell it for top dollar, reach out to us.  You relax. We stage.  Have an awseome day!   -Shana

Want to read more? Click here to be taken to Home Staging Tips for Under $100

Color Trends are Friends

Oh my, I could get really excited about these 2019 Colors of the Year.  Why? Because I think they are timeless!   As a stager, I won't recommend painting full rooms with these colors because neutral is key when you are selling your house.  But if you're like me and want to refresh something in a room now and then, these could be great choices for you!   

Behr Blueprint - Color of the Year 2019 -  Love this beautiful door.  I also like this color as a base color on an island in a neutral/white kitchen or maybe the back wall of bookcases.  This is a little lighter than navy and a little darker than some denims.  If you like blue, this one's for you!  Lovely!

Sherwin Williams Cavern Clay - Color of the Year 2019  - I think of this color when I see rich leather accents or wood pieces.  You may see this color in accents of leather straps or side chairs, wood tones, clay pottery,  glass and pillows.  Bring this in as accents only unless you really have a rustic or southwest vibe. 

HSR President Audra Slinkey created this moodboard, highlighting these colors of the year.  While I certainly wouldn't use all of these pieces in a room, I believe that trends are friends.  Using a repeating color 3-5 times in a room helps visitors (or buyers) move their eyes around the room.  

Hearth and Home with Magnolia from Target

So what if you don't want to invest in trendy colors in the way of rugs, furniture, lamps, and so on?  I'd say try it out when you want to style your table and share some good food with family or friends.  You all KNOW how I love tablescapes.  Okay, if you don't already know that, now you know.  Check out my Staging vs. Styling a table video.  https://cloverlanedesign.com/staging-vs-styling-a-dinner-table/

Look how these pops of blue work with the the clay bowls.  Wouldn't that be a fun Father's Day or summer look?  These are from Hearth and Home with Magnolia from Target.  Very budget friendly!  

I'd love to see how you use these colors in your own home.  Have fun with them!  As always, if you need your home staged or a room redesigned, I'm happy to help!

Happy decorating!

5 FAQ about Home Staging

Today I'm answering the Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions about Home Staging.  Whether the home is occupied or vacant, there's a solution for a quick sale for the most money.

Staging vs. Styling a Dinner Table

Have you ever wondered how staging is different than styling/decorating?    Stagers believe "less is more" and we constantly are thinking about that as we add elements to a space.  Watch the video below to see that there are basically two ways to "stage" the table, and that's different than "styling" the table for guests to come and enjoy dinner.  

At Clover Lane Design, we create flow within rooms, provide that spacious feeling, help the eye move from place to place, draw the eyes toward architectural features, and give the suggestion of how each space in a home can be used.  It's not about decorating!

GO Month – Get Organized Month

Laundry Room to Envy

Welcome to GO (Get Organized) month - January.  A RESA (real estate stager association) friend shared that with me.   She's a professional in organization, which I am not.  I'm pretty organized - but not professional.  I aspire to have things organized though, so that's why I'm sharing.  Also, after giving four staging consultations this week, I quickly realized that organized people can get their houses ready to sell in lightning speed.  I know not everyone has a laundry room that looks like this (nashastyle.com), but...most homes I see have shelving or cabinets above their washer and dryer, and many have a clothes rod.  What's the difference?   Well, check out this photo below.  

This is comparable to what I normally see, especially when it's in a room with a door.  I get it!  We're all busy!  We all have lots of "stuff."  Here's what I'd tell my seller.  Use baskets or decorative boxes on the shelves to hide away essential cleaning products and items such as light bulbs, toilet paper, everyday tools, etc.  Anything that's not essential for a few months gets packed and stored in the garage or a storage unit.  Nothing except maybe one beautiful backpack or bag should be hanging on the wall.   So where do all of the brooms, dusters, mops, etc. go?  You hide them away - for showings and especially MLS photos!!!  What about this big laundry sorter?  Unless it's built into an alcove in the wall or in a cabinet, it gets stored somewhere else.  When your house is for sale, no buyer wants to see your laundry or think about chores.  They want to subconciously feel like everything is magically organized and clean in your house.  

Linen Closet Love

On to the bathroom or hall linen closet...fluffy white towels hanging in the bathrooms are the perfect addition to make the bathroom feel spa-like.   Where do you store the extras?  Like this in the closet.  I seriously do envy the organization of this, since my husband thinks a variety of colors of towels are desirable.  I say "white" or "off-white" - that way you can bleach them and wash them all together with another of my favorites - white sheets!  I like how they at i.pinimg.com also have their cleaning products in an attractive basket.  A+ for organization here!

Pantry to die for!

And one more inspiration photo for organization - look at this pantry from thewhitepad.com.  Now, to be honest, I don't know anyone who lives like this.  Where's the mac-n-cheese boxes, the chips, they canned goods, etc.?  And the spices!   My 75 spices live in the containers they came in.  I can brag that they are in alphabetical order because years ago I discovered that doing that would change my cooking world.   I do like the clear containers with the chalkboard-style labels and the baskets to contain items in this photo.   Buyers really don't expect this, but I suggest grouping like items together, combining snacks into one basket, displaying cans with labels all facing forward, and throw away anything that's expired or nearly empty.  Make sure nothing is on the floor or hanging on the door. Another A+ for pantry organization though!  

Good luck with your organization endeavors.  Whether it's part of your January resolution or just another month when you want to gain control, you'll be glad you spent the time to organize a space.  

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