Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Walking Out The Door

One of the hardest aspects of my job is doing Real Estate staging.  Not because it's physically taxing, or takes hours of work...it's because I have to convince the seller to let go of their "home".  Real estate staging is "neutralizing" the home so it appeals to a broad range of buyers.  The buyer wants to envision their "stuff" in the space, not the present owners. 

The first thing I always tell my clients is that this is not a reflection of your decorating style.  Staging is not personal.  What I am trying to do is make the house as light and spacious and neutral as possible.  I want your home to appeal to the young, first time home buyer, as well as the elderly retirees. The family pictures all over the walls...GONE!  The faux greenery intertwined with the curtain rods...GONE!   The sofa blocking the french doors to the patio....REALLY GONE!  I am a little more tactful than that (I think!), but you get the picture.  Sometimes it's as easy as moving around a few pieces of furniture and sometimes the homeowners will have to invest a little money.  Paint should look fresh and clean.  Extraneous furniture should be put in storage.  Photos and most "knick-knacks" should be packed away.  Counters should be free and clear of all but the most necessary items - and no, that big, honkin'  latte maker is not considered a piece of fine art.  Uncle Herbert's wonderfully broken-in recliner (you know, the one being held together by duct tape...) needs to leave the building.

Many homeowners have a hard time removing or changing things  they love about their homes.  I explain to them that the items have to get packed up eventually, so this is getting a head start on that daunting task.  When they say they "love their wallpaper" (that's been up for 15 years),  I gently tell them that soon they won't be living here and this change will help them separate from their house.  When it doesn't look like your familiar home, it's easier to leave.  And sometimes I get the client that is so excited to move, they will have everything packed up the next day!

While most of the time, staging involves "decluttering" a home, there are occasions when I'm called on to furnish an empty home or apartment.  You may think it's better to see a home that's in "move in" condition, but adding several key pieces of furniture to each room gives you something to gauge the size and proportion of the space.  And don't forget the photographs!  When you photograph an empty white room for the ads, all you are going to see is...white!  No proportion and no idea of size.  Furniture adds dimension.


 The picture above is a temporary sales office that needed some help.  Although the office wasn't for sale, we staged it to make it a more comfortable waiting room.

                                     Goal achieved!  Lighter, brighter and more inviting!

If the prospective buyers like the staging, maybe they will hire the designer to make their new house their home!

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oriental Rugs 101

A couple of months ago, I decided I needed a change in my life.  Actually, I needed a part time job to supplement my design work since the economy was not cooperating with my need for shoes and pocketbooks.  So I got a job at an Oriental Rug store.  A great job to supplement my design knowledge!  Only problem was, I was doing the bookkeeping instead of selling or learning about rugs.

Orientals (they should actually be called Middle Easterns since most of them come from that area) come in all sizes, colors and designs. They come from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, China, India and Persia.  (Is Persia still around?? Today it encompasses the area around Iran.  I like "Persia" better - it conjures up a world of luxury and mystery.  Iran - not so much.)   Our showroom is filled with beautiful rugs - Kazaks, Tabriz, Heriz, Paki's....  But why is an Oushak (oo-shak) an Oushak??  What makes a Kazak a Kazak?   Is a Heriz better than a Tabriz?  An Afshar better than a Kirman?  They all looked the same to me.  (Sorry Ralph!)

Kazak - internet photo

Tabriz - internet photo

 Time to get an education.  What I found out was that the name of the rug has nothing to do with its quality or value.  There are good and not so good Heriz's.  An Afshar is not necessarily better than a Kirman.  (I bet the Kirman is relieved!)  In an online article by Penny Krieger (owner of Paradise Oriental Rugs in CA), Orientals are named in the following ways: 1) The name of the city or town where it was woven.  2) The name of the city or town where it was sold.  3) The name of the area in which the weavers lived where the design was first created, although now could be woven somewhere else.  4) The name of the tribal group known for using that particular design and  5) The name of the country it was woven in.  Well, that totally clears it up for me!  (Not!)  So what you are telling me is that the same rug can actually have five different names!  Who gets to choose??  Is this why there is so much unrest in the Middle East?

Let's try another source.  Peter Pap of Peter Pap Oriental Rugs in San Francisco, describes the rugs in three categories: Nomadic Rugs, Village Rugs and Workshop Rugs.

Nomadic Rugs were woven from memory and were originally for personal use rather than for sale.  They had a practical use and a ceremonial use.  They were woven with traditional and sacred patterns handed down through generations tracing the culture of that particular people.  They feature simple, powerful designs and primary colors.  Examples are Bakhtiari's, Afshar's and Qashqai's.

Ashfar Rug - internet photo

Village Rugs were woven by women working at home in their spare time to create rugs for sale.  They are more creative, brightly colored and contain tribal influences.  They were either woven from memory or with the aid of a drawing.  Examples are Kazaks, Bidjar's, and Kuba's.

Bidjar's - internet photo

Workshop Rugs were the beginning of standardized rugs made to be sold.  Weavers were paid to copy predetermined designs.  They are known for their minute ornamentation, sophisticated colors and faultless workmanship.  Examples of Workshop rugs are Tabriz, Oushak's (yeah, that explains it!) Heriz's and Kirman's.

Heriz - internet photo

So what I still want to know is.....is an Oushak a city, town, country, pattern, tribe or method of weaving????

Oushak - internet photo

I guess I'd better keep hitting the books.  I am just as confused now, as I was before.  I know what I like in a rug - the color, the feel the pattern.  This education process will take time.  But I did discover the quickest way to tell one Oriental from another.....READ THE TAG!

"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." - Will Durant

Monday, January 10, 2011

Focus On....

(I am still in my holiday haze, with no fabulous inspiration for a blog topic, so if it's all right with you, I'm just going to ramble a bit...)

Happy New Year everyone! The holidays were great!  My father, as usual, proclaimed  the cassata needed more rum.  "But Dad, I used 2 1/2 cups!"  Mom took one whiff and said "Too much rum!"  But as I listened to my father's sigh's of contentment, I knew the cassata was just right!

My version of Cassata

Rum soaked cake, custard and ricotta, with a sprinkling of chocolate chips and cherries....yum!

So now the gifts have been unwrapped and visits are over.  The last of the holiday decorations have been put away and a new season is upon us - the season of resolutions and good intentions.  I have good intentions to keep my resolutions! (as do we all at this time of year).  Of course there is the usual "I will lose 10 lbs", "I will exercise more"...Those are the same resolutions I always think I want to start the year with.  However, the 10 lbs have been with me for about 8 years now and unless the temperature is in the 70's, my exercise consists of walking up a flight of stairs to go to bed.  I could try to become more organized like my friend Yvonne at  www.designvignettes.blogspot.com   But, like my mother, I adhere to the old adage "When in doubt, throw it out."  (or in my case - reuse, repurpose or recycle).  So my clutter is minimal (except for my desk, but we won't go there...).

So what do I really want for my life this year?  I want to FOCUS.  My home clutter is minimal, but the clutter in my head deserves its own episode of  Hoarders.  Last year I found myself going in too many directions.  Instead of one full time job, I have five part time jobs, each with its own set of  time consuming priorities.  On several, I was pulled away from my love of design for the sake of a paycheck.  Ok, paying the mortgage is a priority....eating - I like to do that also...shoes and pocketbooks - as necessary as oxygen.  So while the paycheck was taking care of my obligations, it wasn't doing much  to feed my passion for design.

This year, if all the planets align, I will be starting a new venture that involves design AND a paycheck!  One job...one location....Stay tuned for more info on that one!

Once I get re-focused on my career,   I resolve to paint my basement,  design a larger and more varied vegetable garden,  redesign my dining room, spend more time with my husband, travel, buy more shoes (oops! Old habits are hard to kick...), find some interesting topics to blog about, take more pictures, organize my attic,  clean my desk... yadda, yadda, yadda.....

And of course, I also want to lose ten pounds and exercise more...

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."  ~Oprah Winfrey