Category: home

Home staging is a big buzzword in real estate these days. You’ll hear about it on HGTV, and see it on the DIY network. Bloggers love to talk about staging, and it’s all over apps like Houzz and Pinterest.

If you haven’t dipped your toe in the staging waters, I’ll explain:

“Home Staging” is the act of turning a lived-in (or vacant) home into a neutral, appealing space for the purpose of attracting potential buyers. Home staging removes the personal touches of the current (or previous) occupants and creates a ‘blank slate’ where buyers can envision their own furniture, family, and life.

Home staging, my dears, is a pain in the butt. We’ve done some staging here – hid away the 5’x7′ rug to make the entry appear larger; slipcovered the ratty loveseat in our front room, tidied up the bookshelves (but a true home stager would make me pack 75% of those books and have ‘styled’ shelves); removed all the homeschool items, hung new curtains, and turned the schoolroom back into a dining room (but a real pro would probably make me create a faux ‘leaf’ to extend our dinky table and buy slipcovers for our ugly mismatched chairs). We reduced the items on the kitchen countertops (but if I were hardcore, it would be nothing but the KitchenAid and the Keurig!) and took most of the toys out of the family room (that room might pass ‘real’ muster, actually). Purged things from the kids’ rooms (again, probably a pass), but we didn’t change the office-slash-guest room (and a properly staged home has no dual purpose rooms. You’re supposed to pick one and make it shine!). Bought new handtowels for the powder room and hung the nicest towels in the other two bathrooms.

Living in a house which has been staged feels stilted. This is still my home, but it’s “off.” It’s like sitting in a nicely decorated hotel room. I feel awkward if I leave a dent in the sofa cushion. On the surface, it looks great – and it’s supposed to, that’s the point, for real estate purposes.

But today I was thinking about how many Christians are walking around fully staged. We are prepped and polished. We have packed away our unsightly clutter and mess – but it’s not really gone. We have hung up new curtains of humility, modesty, patience, grace – but there remains pride, greed, selfishness, anger.

We want to gleam and glow, and when others in the church ask how we’re doing, we give them our “listing” answer. (Four beautiful bedrooms! Gas fireplace! Eat-in-kitchen!) “I’m so blessed… Things are really busy, but we’re doing great….” I’m not saying that we’re being dishonest when we present these generic answers, exactly. After all, the houses on your local real estate market really DO have the features with the funny abbreviations: 4bd, FP, lg bkyd…. Right?

What I am saying, though, is that one of the functions of the body of Christ is to build each other up.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

It’s impossible* for me to help a sister shore up the foundation of her marriage if she never shares her fears or hurts. I can’t speak encouragement and hope into the heart of a friend who doesn’t confide her doubt and desperation. My Sunday School class recently finished a study of Romans 12, and the author used this passage to exhort his readers to build an authentic community with each other.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

“You can’t be a genuine part of this Body,” he said in one of the videos, “when you’re so busy keeping your mask on straight.”** And that’s the truth, y’all. I accept the challenge – and I hope you will, too – to take off a mask of holy-roller perfection, to stop “home staging” my life and my spiritual walk, to start sharing even my doubts and ugly moments. When I do, my brothers and sisters can step INTO their God-given calling to build me up! When I do, the saints around me may be emboldened to de-mask and de-mystify and share their own hurdles and difficulties, which gives me (and others) the chance to step up and serve my Lord by building them up.

 

 

___________

*I should add a note: we’ve probably all had times when an unknowing person did or said something profoundly needed which interceded in our lives at just the right moment. Those are great examples of times when the Holy Spirit prompts us to aid, even though we don’t know the specific need. But those examples don’t let us off the hook for being transparent and authentic with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
**I didn’t take perfect notes: that’s a paraphrase. 🙂

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{This is one of those “I have to tell you THAT so I can tell you THIS” rambling stories. Hang in there.}

At the end of May, our renters moved out of our Elsmere house. There was some drama that weekend, but the short version of the tale is that they did eventually move out, we found lots of great workers to paint, install new flooring, handle little handyman tasks, and clean the place, and then we listed it for sale at the end of June.

The same morning we drove up to Elsmere to get our keys back, Chris was reading the newspaper in our Owensboro kitchen.  Ever since we moved here, I’ve had a Saturday morning tradition of reading the Real Estate feature insert with a cup of coffee and browsing the ‘larger’ listings. Our plan has always been to stay in this house until about 2015, and then move up to a bigger place; I wasn’t looking with deep intent, but I love looking at homes! I had glanced through the paper that day, but since I had our Elsmere trip on my mind, hadn’t opened up the MLS website or put my usual amount of interest to work. Chris, however, grabbed the laptop and did a search on the MLS site.

Up popped a 6 bedroom, 5 bath, 1927  Craftsman/farmhouse style home on a coveted street in town. Sitting on two generous lots, with a saltwater swimming pool and three-car detached garage, this house listing blew him away. He spent the entire drive to Elsmere talking about the yellow house. He called our realtor to get the “inside scoop” and ran mortgage calculators on his phone.

escalated

The next day, Chris was on call – and there was an Open House. In between consults at the hospital, he drove over to the house and walked through with the listing agent. He came home REALLY excited, and spent the next several days making appointments with bankers and finding out what kind of loan we could get. He asked me to make an appointment with our realtor, so I could see the home too.

Long story made longer: it’s a gorgeous home and I loved it. I’ve always loved old homes, I’ve always had a weakness for yellow houses, and the basement alone on this house is the size of the home we currently live in. WHat!?! But I was hesitant.  The pool, while a lovely feature for adult people, is a drowning hazard particularly for children under age 8, statistically speaking. (And we have three children 8 and under, remember? One of whom is particularly noted for a lack of inhibition and a certain flair for disregarding boundaries. Ahem.) The utility bills for the home, quite frankly, scared the bejeebers out of me. They were about as costly as the mortgage on our Elsmere house. Yowza! And there’s the consideration for ongoing maintenance issues if one buys a home built in 1927.

 nevermind

A few weeks went by, wherein we continued to debate the merits of the yellow house, but we began to reach a consensus that even though it was beautiful, it was not The House For Us. Another Saturday morning rolled around, and with nothing to do, we decided to drive around a bit. Lo and behold, it was the Parade of Homes weekend!

parade

 

The local home builders’ association puts these on twice a year, showcasing their latest and greatest feats of construction. We decided on a whim to walk through a lovely, large home in a neighborhood where a couple of Chris’ colleagues live. Halfway through the first floor, we learned that the home belonged to the hospital CEO. It was show-stoppingly beautiful. Martin Custom Building had done an incredible job. The next day, Chris went by himself to see another stop on the Parade – another Martin-built home. This one belonged to his friend Rico, and Chris was able to chat with Rico about the building process.

He came home ECSTATIC. He had a map of lots for sale in a new development – one he particularly liked was circled. The next week, he made appointments to meet with bankers about the loan process for new construction. He had conversations with designers who work for Martin, conversations with people around town who had built with Martin over the last few years. He was super-thrilled…. until a meeting at the bank took the wind out of his sails. (It ended up being a miscommunication, but he came away from the meeting with the impression that we really couldn’t afford to build a home. The reality is closer to: we could afford a land loan now, but we couldn’t start home construction until the land was ours outright.)

We had a long, serious conversation.

I suggested that perhaps we should go see the available 5-bedroom listings in town. If we liked any of them, we could move forward with listing this house and getting a home loan (which the bankers were practically throwing at Chris!) and moving “up” in house now.

And if none of them fit our dream, then we could decide to commit to building, even though it would probably be a three-year project. (We estimate that we’d need about 24 months to pay off our land, and then allow 8-10 months from the start of construction until move-in.)

So, we called our agent.

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I’ve been dreaming about getting this room redone for over a year. When we moved in, we literally didn’t do a thing to our bedroom. We had a mishmash of furniture in there – a double dresser my parents bought us for our wedding, the chest of drawers Chris had as a kid, a Queen bed we bought in Florida, and a pair of nightstands we assembled ourselves. Nothing fancy, for sure! The bedding was a cute set…. ten years ago.

The walls of the bedroom were gray and the adjoining bath was red when we got here. We had the bathroom repainted blue a few months ago. I love the way it looks with the white tiles and silver fixtures! I wanted to do our bedroom with blue and silvers – not matchy-matchy with the bathroom, but something that would flow well between the two spaces.

(Click photos to enlarge.)
Furniture: Cinnamon Hill by Thomasville
Lamps: Teal Honeycomb at Pier 1
Artwork over headboard: by me!
Bedding: Ophelia by Waverly (duvet, Euro shams, king shams, long teal velvet pillow)
Teal Floral Ruffle Euro Pillow: Pier 1
Curtains: Pier 1 (two panels are “oval carafe”, center panel is “indigo tile)
Top left portrait is Jonas kissing 6-week-old Susannah’s head
Top right portrait is 16-month-old Susannah nursing by @MudGoddessPhotography
Bottom left portrait is Chris & Michelle
“love” mirrored script: Hobby Lobby
Picture frames on the high chest are a mixture of Pier 1 (with teal accents) and silver frames we already owned.
“Love” print: Pier 1
Wall sconces: Hobby Lobby (need candles!)

Torchiere lamp: already owned

Silver serving tray & votives: Target
The reaction shot: “Wow, Mama, it’s like a HOTEL in here!”
I’m so pleased with how it has turned out! I completely forgot about styling the open bottom shelf of our nightstands when I was shopping. I think I may be able to pull together something (hardcover books in shades of blues and grays? silver bowl?) from stuff I already own. We’ll see.

I wanted to get a tassle for our ceiling fan but couldn’t find the right shade of peacock/teal, so that’s still on my to-do list. Also would love to add a rug on Chris’ side of the bed (between the bed and the double doors to our bathroom).

I didn’t take pictures of the bathroom today, but plan to add them! I absolutely love that space – it feels so crisp and pretty (plus both my DIY projects in there turned out beautifully, if I do say so mahself). I’m still hunting for a silver and/or glass and/or mirrored shelf to add in the little nook for our towels and things. There are a few I’ve found (*cough*restorationhardware*cough*expensive!*cough*) but I’d really love to find something truly vintage. 

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So we plan for the girls (eeee! I still get a little inner squeal every time I say that. I’m soooo looking forward to experience of watching sisters grow up together.) to share a room in the new house, and I’m having a blast planning how we’ll decorate it.
They’ll have the largest of the ‘secondary’ bedrooms. In the video, it’s the one at the end of the hall on the right, with navy blue walls and multicolored polka dots. Cute, but I’m dying to re-paint it. Probably soft green, and keep the doors and trim white.

I want to get this quilt for Susannah and the matching crib bedding for Baby.

Since there’s so much lavendar in the bedding (the sheets will be lav gingham, the bedskirt is solid lav) I think it will play off green walls nicely. Plus, it should be a soft, feminine room while remaining neutral for resale in 4-5 years.
I think we’ll get Susannah a white bed, and depending on the timeline, we’ll probably go ahead and get Baby her own crib. (Susannah is still sleeping in her crib at 2.5, quite happily. Baby will probably sleep in our room for at least the first six months, so she won’t need a crib until Susannah is 3. By then, she may well be in a big-girl bed — so we can give her current crib to little sister. On the other hand, if she’s not climbing out yet, we might just have two cribs in that room for a while!)
I’m not sure if we’ll put a dresser in their room – the closet in there looked HUGE to me, so I think with some low shelving added, and bins for socks & underwear, it might be all we need for clothes.
I’d like to get them at least one low bookshelf, and I think the wooden kitchen and doll cradle will live in their room.
*~*~*~*~*
And while I’m on the subject of the rooms, here’s the plan: the smallest one, which is currently bright pink, will become the office-slash-sewing room. We were originally thinking of making it an office-slash-guest room, but the more we look at the video… the less we think we can fit a double or queen bed in there along with a desk and a couple of bookcases. So instead, we’re going to paint it a nice neutral (I want a light almond or sandy brown; Chris is leaning toward a darker grayish brown) and it will house Chris’ desk and medical bookcases and my sewing machine desk and probably a bookcase for my fabric stash and books/patterns.
The medium sized room at the end of the hall will be Jonas’, and he LOVES the paint in there. He’s declared it an “awesome Spider-Man” room! Eventually I think he’ll get new furniture – he wants bunkbeds, which sounds like fun. If he gets twin/twin bunks, we’ll probably pass his full mattress set down to Susannah.

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We’re trying to get everything ready around here to put the house on the market. Chris did all the work of finding us a highly-recommended realtor, and he set up a meeting with her a couple of weeks ago. She was very nice, very professional, and clearly knows what she’s doing in this business.

She pointed out a few things we could do (like adding a fresh layer of dirt and mulch to our front flowerbed, so that it won’t look like our steps are going to erode away) and agreed with a few things we already planned to do (like cleaning the carpets, touching up the baseboards, and re-painting the kids’ brightly colored rooms). I was really flattered when she mentioned that she loved some of my decorating choices and said “Don’t change that at all!”
After she left, we started a flurry of activity – we found a guy to fix the window with the broken seal. He’s already been out to fix it; super service!
We found a guy to do all the painting – and then we got his estimate and decided to scale back on ALL the stuff we thought needed to be painted. Now we’re just having the kids’ rooms done; once the weather cooperates he’ll come back and do the front door, shutters, and garage door. (He needs three or four days in a row of temps above 40* overnight. It’ll probably be April before that happens.) He’s got us on his schedule for Thursday and Friday of this week, unless he has to change his work days due to heavy snow – he drives a snow plow as a side business!
We had a guy here to look at the carpets, but when he tried to convince me that it was pointless to clean them and we should replace all of it, throughout the whole house, we decided to find someone else. Chris found the new guy, who has given us an estimate over the phone and will come out after the painter is done.
In the meantime, I have been decluttering the house and boxing up things that we can probably live without for the next five months. I took down all but two of our personal photos, packed up my collection of crosses, and my Willow Tree angels too. We weeded out toys in the playroom buy taking apart the toy cubbies and only leaving six (we had 12!).
Today I filled in all our nail holes and scrubbed the walls and baseboards in our room. I still need to scrub the walls in the hallway and do the baseboards… oh, throughout the rest of the house!
We’re planning to add new ceramic knobs to our kitchen cabinets, so I need to pick up 28 of those at Home Depot and get out my trusty drill.
When Chris is off next weekend, he’ll pick up the dirt and mulch to fix the front bed/stair issue.
And then I think we’ll finally be ready to call our realtor, sign the papers, and get the photographer out here to put this listing out there.

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Or maybe a puppy chasing her tail. I don’t know – but I feel like I will never catch up! If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I’ve been WAY behind on my scrapbooking, so the last few days I’ve done everything in my (minimal) power to orchestrate both kids napping at the same time, or at least overlapping a bit. Then I’ve used the quiet time to scrap. Result? I finished my 2007 album* and I’m all excited about my photos again and I’m dying to get started on 2008.

Side effect of that result? My house is a disaster zone. There’s a wall of (clean) laundry on the couch. There’s a minefield of toys scattered down the hall. The bathroom is clean, and the kitchen is serviceable, but the bedroom is messy messy messy.

So today I’m doing housework, with visions of layouts and cropping dancing in my head. If I get “caught up” with the laundry, the dishes, and dinner…. odds are good that I’ll fall behind somewhere else (oh right, I need to work on lesson plans!). And that means it will probably be awhile until I pick up those 2008 pics and my papers again. {sigh} Maybe I’ll finish that one by 2010!

*basically. I need another package of Spargo pages and page protectors, but I have to wait to place a CM order (because I’m trying to behave nicely with the budget). So the layouts are done and when I get around to purchasing the pages, I’ll just add a little adhesive, slip the protectors on, and voila! – OFFICIALLY done.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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