Staging to DWELL: Aaahhhh Apothecary

OK OK…so I’m a little late with these photos. I’ve added apothecary jars to my entry chest and have had fun with various decor. I had some fun at Halloween to kick off the new pieces (did you see that post? if not, click HERE) and now that it is uh, FEBRUARY, I’m sharing what I had at Christmas. With a little luck, I’ll have my current photos up for you before say, Easter? :)

So without further ado, except to get your expectations in line that this ain’t no Architectural Digest photo styling, here is what we had at Christmas to welcome our guests:

holiday-entry-by-michelle-lynne

 

apothecary-holiday-by-michelle-lynne

 

christmas-decor-by-michelle-lynne

 

Kind of fun, huh?  And super simple if you’re a D-I-Y kinda person.  But if you’re not, call me and we can come by and fancy up your space for the holidays (you can find contact info HERE)  Or, not for the holidays.  I promise to get today’s entry apothecary deco posted soon!

Candy Corn Creations!

I have never ever changed out my entry table for the holidays.  I know – hard to believe.  It’s not because I’m not brilliantly creative (hee hee), but rather because by the time I’m done working on other people’s houses and making them beautiful, my energy for my own home has waned….  Heck, it took me almost 4 years to get my own curtains up.  So without further ado, here is my Halloween creation, and it’s so fun and easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are what is in the jar thingies:

1. Candy corn, duh!

2. Coffee beans with branches from my front yard with candy corn hot glued onto the branches

3 . Old potpourri with acorns from the front yard and candy corn.

And yes, I will be changing these out for Christmas…stay tuned!!

Here are some other inspiration ideas for candy corn decor, thank you Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

Whooaah… Wait! That last one is a candy corn Martini!!!  Beverage of choice, while working on these awesomely creative creations! Enjoy! ;)

Candy Corn Martini

1½ ounces milk

1½ ounces cream

1 ounce Candy Corn Infused Vodka

½ ounce Honey Syrup 

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake!  

Honey Syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

Place honey and water in a small saucepan and stir until dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until syrup is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.  Thanks http://www.fashionablybombed.com!!

My HGTV Home Staging Audition Experience

I’ve gotten some emails, calls & texts from friends, family and some people I’m not really sure WHO they are, but all have inquired about my experience on Friday with the HGTV screen test.  (I keep looking over my shoulder for the paparazzi, but so far I’m not being stalked by anybody with a camera -or so I know).  Sorry for the delayed update but I had to play catch up from being out of the office both mentally & physically….

So here is how it went down:   

I show up at the producer’s house 5 minutes early, hoping there isn’t some “casting couch” dilemma to be faced.  Yes, I know…my mind is a little dark & creepy sometimes, but I’ve watched too many episodes of Law & Order SVU.  Thankfully what REALLY happened was not an inappropriate invitation but rather that the producer’s house was ideal for a mock staging because he (let’s call him Jim) & his wife had been there for 20+ years and it was “well lived in”…definitely not in any shape to put on the market.  The plan was for us to tape me & him walking through the main living space with me as the Stager (duh) and Jim as the Seller who was reluctant to make any changes to his home.  But I’m getting ahead of myself….

Upon arrival, he introduced me to the cameraman, James, and we all visited off camera while they did some technical stuff with the microphones, and whatnot.  As we visited, we discovered that Jim & I had gone to the same yoga studio, albeit at different times, and we agreed that YogaSport Dallas absolutely rocks and had set the bar extremely high for either of us to find a comparable studio that was located closer to either of our homes.  (So there is a little shout out if any of y’all are looking for a great yoga studio.)  After we agreed that Angela (the owner of the aforementioned yoga studio) and her team of yogis were the best in Dallas, we got down to business and the lights & the camera were turned ON.  

By this point, I was feeling comfortable with Jim.  After all, I had just visualized him all bendy & stretchy at the yoga studio and he wasn’t nearly as scary in that frame of reference as he was when I thought of him as a PRODUCER FOR HGTV.  Jim asked me a series of questions, such as how I got into staging, and some other softballs I don’t even remember…that moment was so surreal.  I do recall that somewhere in this conversation he said they were looking for a staging character similar to the character on “Super Nanny”.  I’m sure that is when my face went completely blank because I had never seen an episode…all I could think of were those screaming kids on the previews and her British accent.  My mind raced and wondered is Super Nanny mean?  Maybe she’s sarcastic?  Is she demeaning to the parents for being so non-parental they had to call her in to get their little snotty booger children in line?  Sigh.  I was clueless.  But I WAS sure that if Super Nanny was anything like this drama that I was imagining in my head, I had no desire to portray myself or my company as mean, sarcastic or demeaning.  So I shrugged my shoulders, told Jim I’d never seen an episode and that he was stuck with me as me.  I think I used those exact words.  Poor Jim….

Once I took the pressure off of myself to be a character I wasn’t, then everything went great if I do say so myself:  I was witty, firm, knowledgeable, told a personal story that was applicable to a point I was making about staging, diplomatic and all while just telling it like it is.  In a nutshell, I was myself.  Oh, AND I was wearing some smoking hot platform wedges that I had bought just for this audition – so I had a little extra ‘tude that I’m hopeful came across on camera.  (Confidence is key on television, or so I’m told.)  Jim even said he liked some of my suggestions enough that he may give them a try even though they aren’t selling their house.  But I’ll bet he said that to all the stagers….

Overall, it was a great experience and I’m grateful for having been considered.  They auditioned 8-10 stagers over the course of 2 days and I know one of them (she would be totally awesome in this role) but I don’t know who any of the others were.  So I figure that if this is the direction God has for me & my company, then you may see me on HGTV soon…I’m kicking it up a notch at boot camp, and cutting down on the carb intake – just in case.  Jim said that they will have a decision made in about a month and the next step would be to produce a Pilot episode.  So regardless of the outcome, I’ll hopefully lose some of this weight I’ve been trying to shed AND I have a cool story to tell.   And I may have to suck it up and watch some bratty kids on television to figure out who this Super Nanny is…really, what IS her character like?

 

See my initial reaction to the HGTV call HERE.

 

Check Your Paint Finish

I often suggest to my clients that they touch up some paint knicks, smudges & stains – whether staging to SELL or staging to DWELL – because it helps the house look cleaner and better overall.  One thing I always remind them is to confirm they are using the right finish when making those touch ups.  Why?  Well – here are some examples:

Paint Finish

This spot looks worse than the original smudge.

 

Satin paint on matte wall

Aaack! It just DRAWS the eye in.

Flat or Satin?

It looks like a racing stripe!

The irony?  This is MY house!  I asked the hubs to touch up some areas that had gotten dirty or dinged and forgot to remind him to check the finish!  He used our sample paint instead of the actual paint.  

Sample Paint SATIN

Sample Paint

Actual Paint FLAT

ACTUAL PAINT

Well, I guess he can’t call me “bossy”…right???

 

 

I have a World Vision – what’s yours?

You may not be aware, but by Michelle Lynne is a proud supporter of World Vision.  

My blog is not a forum for asking for your donations, nor should it be perceived as self serving and boasting about my firm’s charitable goodness.  I do believe in “paying it forward” and  God has blessed me with more than I could ever imagine.  I am grateful for every day that I can wake up and only hope to make somebody’s life better:  whether it be through staging their home and getting it sold faster so they don’t have the extended burden of two mortgages, or creating a well organized and relaxing home for them to enjoy coming home to after a long day at the office.  I make a living serving others and attempt to share the financial rewards with people whom I do not meet but can impact in a positive manner – no matter how small my drop in the bucket is.

So, you ask, what the heck am I talking about?  What IS this blog post about?!

Well, after seeing THESE photos this morning while on World Vision’s website, I couldn’t NOT bring your awareness to the situation in the Horn of Africa. Instead of rambling on in my own loquacious manner (I think I had too much coffee this morning), the following article will provide you with more information than I could hope to relay in this short post, and it will also provide you with other charitable organizations that – if your heart moves you – you can donate to assist.

 

(CBS News)  

Somalia, already one of the world’s poorest countries, is in midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe, as a third of its popultion – 3.7 million people – face starvation. Throughout the Horn of Africa, in countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, as many as 11 million people are currently at risk of severe malnutrition or starvation as the region faces the worst drought conditions in 60 years.  READ MORE….

 

So as you enjoy this three day weekend, and possibly a BBQ with friends & loved ones, keep in mind that on the other side of the world people are not as fortunate as we are. And if you have a few bucks to spare, it would go a long way in aiding the catastrophe and piercing the emptiness in their bellies.

Thanks for listening.  I pray you and your family never know the hunger that the families in Africa are experiencing.

Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upholstered Wingback Dreams

So let me start by saying that this post is going to be about an upholstered wingback bed, but the story itself starts with my little dog, Maximuus, who thinks that his name indicates his size.  His five pound frame is shown here in all of his delightful glory:

 

08.29.11 Hungry Beast

This is the little muffin eating out of his bowl. You can tell he's not much bigger than the dishes.

 

08.29.11 Max Naps

And here is a close op of him napping.

 

08.29.11 Sweet Max
Here is the photo that is on the website. Click on the picture for more on Max..

 

Yes, it is true, I am slightly obsessed with my little dog.  I can’t help it.  But because he is so little and I’m such a neurotic dog-mom, we are getting a new bed in our Master Suite.  What do the two have to do with each other, you ask?  Well maybe you didn’t actually ask but I’m going to tell you if you keep reading.  Max sleeps on the bed with us at night and sometimes he gets restless (or has to go potty) and jumps down off of the bed in the middle of the night.  Mind you, he is ONLY five pounds AND he just turned 10 years old this month, so his little joints and limbs should not be taking that type of abuse.  You can imagine that I am 5 feet 5 inches tall and have to reach UP to get into our bed so this little dog has to LAUNCH himself off.  

The solution?  A lower bed.  Enter my upholstered, wingback dream:

 

08.29.11 Tufted Wingback

Tufted Wingback Bed In Chocolate Linen

 

I found it on Joss & Main, which if you aren’t familiar with the site, is a great place for all things home and offers exclusive access to highly discounted items to it’s members.  You should check it out.  

Here are more details on my bed directly from the website:

Richly decadent, the Tufted Wingback Bed in Linen Chocolate promises the utmost in relaxation, rejuvenation and pure classic style. Wrapped in a wonderfully soft chocolate fabric, this eye-catching presentation of clean, timeless design features deep button tufting, plush foam padding and a gently curving wingback design, evoking the rich glamour of Hollywood Regency. Center your room and indulge yourself with this bed’s endlessly enduring appeal, and transform your bedroom into a truly fashionable retreat.

I’m SO excited!  Not only is it gorgeous, but the mattress sits about 3 inches lower, and we will get some benches (or a long, single bench) to put at the foot of the bed.  And since Max is still a pretty quick learner, I’m not worried that he won’t learn how to “step” off of the bed in a more dignified manner suited for a pooch his size.  

What do you think?  The new bed sure is much more fun that getting dog steps like these, don’t you think?  

Dog Steps

Pets2Bed.com

 

 

 

 

Hey Cupcake!

I’ve been jones-ing to make some cupcakes since I bought a fancy cupcake decorating kit at Home Goods (the random check out counter items they display) and finally got the chance to do so this weekend for a family member’s birthday celebration.  Plans were almost scrapped when the whipping cream didn’t whip up for the whipped cream cheese frosting but after schlepping to the store in the middle of the night, a new carton of whipped cream solved the dilemma.  The results were festive and fun…and I resisted COMPLETE indulgence by chomping on a half a pack of gum during the preparation in order to not “taste test” throughout the process.  That was a stroke of genius that my thighs will appreciate.  Check out how cute they turned out.  Let’s hope they taste as good as they look.

Cupcake Cuties

Cupcake Cuties

A Pan O'Goodness

A Pan O'Goodness

Watering Can Cupcake

Watering Can Cupcake

Festive Floral

Festive FLoral

Fancy Kicks

Fancy Kicks

Butterfly Buttercream

Butterfly Buttercream

The frosting was colored with NEON colors.  Aren’t they fun?  How about you?  What baking fun have you done recently? 

Behind Curtain Number One….

For those of you who don’t know, I married for the first time at age 37 to a man who was (so very) worth the wait.  But since we were both “older” (although he IS 5 years younger than I am…yes, I’m a little bit of a Cougar…MEOW) we had both lived on our own for some time when we merged households.  Obviously, we both had developed our individual styles & opinions when it comes to decorating and while I do jokingly say that “my husband isn’t high maintenance but he DOES have a strong opinion”,  I also don’t pull the “but honey, I’m a professional” card because I really try to respect the fact that this home is BOTH of ours and design it to ensure he loves it too.

So we have been in our house for three and a half years and I’ve been gently nudging the hubs towards curtains in our family room.  His response?  “I hate curtains.”  Urgh.  So I until recently, I would do a mental head slap and move on to something else that would cause less dissention.  But when I recently found out WHY he hates curtains, I knew I could find a way to placate both of us.  WHOOP WHOOP!  A little spousal detective work determined that he didn’t want the light blocked from the windows or to feel like he was being “crowded” in the room.  Crowded?  I call it cozy.  But alas, I was onto finding a solution that would make us both happy:  LINEN WINDOW PANELS.  We use linen panels in some of our staging projects because they can block an ugly window or it’s view while still allowing light into the property (because sunshine sells), I thought FOR SHORE my hubs would be able to live with them.  These are the original ones I fell in love with:

Linen Window Panels

West Elm Ikat Ogee Linen Window Panel

First glance at these and the hubs gave me an incredulous look – as if I were asking him whether he wanted to visit Venus or Mars this weekend…and stay for a decade.  Okay, back to the drawing board and lo and behold, I found some with more of a “muted” style on sale for $34 a panel!  And since we needed 12 panels, I went ahead and ordered them without even showing the hubs.  Boy, was I feeling crazy!  Because they were non-refundable due to the fact that they were discontinued….  

So when the curtains arrived, I thought I’d just acclimate the hubs slowly…and thumb-tack them to the wall.

Curtains

High Design

 

Side View

Fancy Side View

 

Thumb-Tacked Curtains

Professional Installation, eh?

Yes, if you look closely, you can see the thumb-tack in the above photo but hey, I was improvising and it’s not like I’d do the same thing in a client’s house.  Weeelllll…if they had a spouse who needed to be baby-stepped into the idea of hanging curtains, maybe I would.  Because IT WORKED!  We left those curtains thumb-tacked up for – I kid you not – maybe 6 weeks?  And since I didn’t hear any grumbling during that time, I took it upon myself to hang them while the hubs was out of town for a week earlier this month.  The story of hanging the curtains is a whole other post that maybe I’ll share AFTER it is determined whether or not the battle wounds will leave a scar….  In the meantime, here are the resulting “after” shots of what I’m definitely in loooove with.  At least for now anyway…keep in mind I’m breaking in the design savvy of my hubs and have Plans for our future window dressings.  Yes, with a capital “P”.  heh heh.

img_7791

Curtains. AFTER!

 

Curtains Close Up

Close Up

 

Sunshine Stays!

Sunshine Stays!

 

Fancy Side View - AFTER

Fancy Side View - AFTER

So there ya have it.  After three and a half years, I finally have some window treatments that aren’t JUST functional (as are the blinds).  I’m not sure if the hubs actually likes them or if he’s just so beat down that he’s not even mentioning his opinion….

 

 

Thanks, Dads!

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So what does celebrating Father’s Day have to do with design or anything related to interiors?  After all, Dad usually has the majority of influence outside of the main living area – you know, the grill, the garage, the uh, what else?  In my house, the hubs definitely has an opinion (but that is a WHOLE ‘nother blog post) but I’m still “in charge” of the interior.  Thankfully too, since I’m a professional.  haha.  Back to my point:  in honor of Father’s Day, I’m reminiscing of growing up with two amazing fathers and how they both influenced me in relation to my business as well as my style for decorating & maintaining a household.
First there is my “real” dad, aka Daddy.  He has a military background and is very (very) organized.  One of my earliest memories is him telling my brother & I “we have rules”…whether it be how the bathroom towels were folded and put away (even though it was my mom who did the laundry?) to where the tub of margarine went in the refrigerator and so forth.  His garage is always organized immaculately, and you never have to search for anything – everything was and is always put away where it belongs.  So Daddy definitely influenced my Type A-ness and I both love & curse him for that.  I love love love for everything to have it’s place, and for everything to be in it’s place in my home.  It just takes me to my happy place.  BUT I’ve had to tone done that not-always-attractive-personality-trait a little bit since getting married myself…I don’t want to be a naaaaaag and the hubs didn’t grow up in a house with the same “rules”.  Although he does admit that it’s been nice to be able to find his keys, wallet, and pocket change since I installed a sort of basecamp slash charging station close to the door for him….
And then there is my second (step) dad, aka Tommy.  He & my mom got married just before I went into high school so he was around for my let’s-push-the-limits-and-see-what-I-can-get-away-with phase.  Lucky him, huh?  hee hee!  Well, he was in law enforcement (lucky me, right? OY) and was quite unflappable and of course, always had Command Presence (if you’re not sure what that is, click HERE for a good description).  He was so calm, in fact, that he had to teach me how to drive instead of my mom, because I made her such a nervous wreck behind the wheel.  Sorry Mom!  Tommy not only taught me how to drive, but he also taught me to maintain a level head in the midst of chaos.  This is definitely helpful with staging because something ALWAYS goes wrong with an installation.  But when the unpredictable happens, I just remind myself and my staff that “we’re just working in the living room…not the emergency room…nobody is going to die on our project”.  That keeps things in perspective, don’t you think?  Tommy taught me that even if something IS out of place at home (ahem, refer to my Type A-ness in the aforementioned paragraph) to keep it in perspective and peacefully live with it – at least until I have the chance to get it back into place.  It’s all about balance, people.
So thanks to both of my dads.  I’m blessed to have been loved & raised by two amazing men who influenced me in more ways than I could ever include in this little ol’ blog.  But my heart is filled with love for them every day, and especially this Sunday.  BIG BIG HUGS!
This is the three of us together before they walked me down the aisle a few years ago.  
Hmmm…does anybody else notice that they aren’t wearing the same tie?  I don’t remember that.  You know mis-matched ties is enough to make a Type A girl crazy.  But not this girl.  Thanks, Dads!

A True Staging Story

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Once Upon A Time…I spent 3 – 4 hours with a real estate agent for a listing at the W Residences.  We discussed the psychology of staging and how to maximize an almost $2M listing so there isn’t money left on the table when the transaction is done, we discussed dating, food and comfortable shoes as well as how to lead the buyer through the property and create the desire to purchase this specific unit compared to others with the same floor plan.  And when she wondered what that big, white arc looking thing was outside the window of this residence, I verbally outlined the surrounding neighborhoods, told her about the Trinity River Project and the Calatrava Bridge that was being constructed.  (She lives in Houston and didn’t know about these details.)
I REALLY thought we had a good rapport and connection – she even invited me to have drinks with her & her friend on the balcony of the soon-to-be-listed property that evening.  I wasn’t able to join her for drinks but thanked her and we stayed in touch via text for the weekend because she was in from out of town and staying in the unit, helping the owner clean out his personal belongings.  
Within 24 hours of meeting her, I tell her I want the business and submit my highly competitive Proposal.
Flash forward 1 day:  I call to confirm receipt of said Proposal; leave a voicemail.  
No response.
Flash forward 2 days:  I text to confirm receipt of said Proposal.
No response.
Flash forward 3 days:  I email to confirm receipt of said Proposal.
No response.
Flash forward 2 weeks:  Maybe she had a family emergency or was involved in an accident and hadn’t been able to respond to me.  I leave a voicemail saying something along the lines of such concern and to let me know any feedback on said Proposal – even if she opted to go with another staging firm.
Flash forward 1 month:  I feel like a crazy ex-girlfriend calling again, but I do it anyway.  This job would be great for my portfolio AND the exposure.  I didn’t see it listed on MLS anywhere yet….maybe there is hope.
Sigh.  No response.
Flash forward 2 months (yesterday):  I call and leave another voicemail “just wondering whatever happened to the listing AND by the way, I have a referral for you in Houston.  Give me a call whenever you get the chance.  Hope all is well….”
Flash forward to today:  Curiosity gets me back onto MLS and lo and behold the property is listed UNSTAGED (?!).  (I’m not going to post the listing, because I’m not here to punish the seller for the real estate agent’s lack of professionalism or simple courtesy.)  The property is VERY taste specific:  one room has a purple wall, the living area has an orange / black / gold “sponged” wall, there are stenciled “motivational quotations” on another, and the master suite has a round leather bed that sits alone with no other furniture or accessories in the space AND it resembles a bed from either The Jetson’s or Dirk Diggler.  Really?  This is how you’re merchandising a $1.9M condo in the W???
I’m thoroughly disappointed with the lack of manners this agent has.  She wasted my time and hers and is doing her seller a huge disservice by marketing the property “as is”.  But I’m done with this.  This crazy ex-girlfriend is never calling again.  No ill will, and no judgement, right?  Deep calming breath.  Inhale.  Delete the agent’s phone number, remove the “auto fill” email address and wish her luck.  Exhale.  
But like the crazy ex-girlfriend, I wonder “what could I have done differently”?  Sigh.