I started Smart Move design in 2008. When I learned the program I worked with was closing, I wanted to apply the knowledge and insight gained, while working with international designers and advertisers to a business of my own. I felt if I could visually communicate a “feeling” and a “want” in buyers when I staged a home, and with home owners when I created a space for them, it could be a viable business.
Knowing it would also be a job that I loved, I became certified in home staging and in redesign. As my staging career took off, I found many aspects of home staging were a natural fit with interior decorating and design. Past sellers would contact me to help with paint colors and the furniture layout in their new home. I took design classes and read everything I could get my hands on. I began to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional layouts. In 2010, I had the opportunity to work with Sciuga Builders on the Parade of Homes. I have worked closely with Sal Sciuga Jr. and his daughter Dana on the design and decorating of their Parade homes ever since. It is a wonderfully collaborative effort.
Q. When working with builders are you a part of the decision process of room colors and of the use of space?
A. Absolutely. You want the space to evoke a feel. The functionality of a space is extremely important when building a home. You want it to look beautiful, but it also needs to fit all of your needs as a family.
When the builder has a home buyer, I help the buyer make selections and guide them through the process. From floor plans to flooring, counter top, exterior colors, interior colors, light fixtures, even down to the grout color, we work together to make all of the details fit. Asking questions about how each space will be used, not only now, but in the future, ensures the home will function for them.
When a home is not sold yet, I work with the builder to create a home that will appeal to as many buyers as possible. In this case, we tend to be a little more neutral while giving the home a warm and welcoming feel.
Color is very important and surprisingly difficult to select without a trained eye. You want the space to evoke a feel. One that has a positive influence on your mood and thoughts.
Working with couples can be complicated as they sometimes want different things. Women would like comfort, style, beauty, color — the possibilities are endless. Most men are happy with what they already have. They want practicality and not to break the bank. During those times, I might have to be designer and mediator. I ask a lot of questions, then try to find solutions that fit both their needs and make financial sense.
Other clients are unsure of their vision. So many options! My job is to pull that vision out of them and then make it a reality.
Starting with a lifestyle questionnaire they fill out, I then ask them to share any visuals of spaces they like. Magazine pictures, photos on Houzz or Pinterest, or a special inspiration piece can give us a place to start.
Lastly, working with an oddly shaped floor plan can be a challenge. We have to get very creative sometimes with furniture and layout to create flow in a space that might not function well to begin with.
Q. When you are designing for individuals are most clients open to change?
A. Yes, most clients are open to change. By the time they contact me they have already made the decision to make a change.
Whether it is renovating, building, purchasing new furniture or just a paint color change, they are ready. I will provide a few different options to see what works best for them. Most people call a decorator in because they don’t want to make a mistake they will have to live with. It brings a sense of relief for clients to know they have help.
Q. I have found that people will use dark colors for small rooms. I find that it tends to make rooms look even smaller. What are your thoughts?
A. That seems to be a “rule of thumb” that just isn’t true all of the time. You have to consider all the elements in the room. Is there a lot of natural light? Is your furniture light or dark? Your flooring, wall art, and accessories all play a part in how the room looks as well. Dark colors can be very dramatic and create a sense of coziness in a room. I have used dark colors in dining rooms, offices and even laundry rooms. You just need to have the right balance of light to offset the dark.
Q. You also do home staging. Can you explain in detail what home staging is, and the benefits?
A. When you are selling a home, Home Staging is the art of creating a space buyers will aspire to live in. This encompasses de-cluttering, de-personalizing, updating, neutralizing, and just as important, decorating. Buying a home is an emotional purchase, so the goal is to create a space that buyers will fall in love with. Most sellers cannot view their home objectively. Instead of seeing the well-worn throw pillows, scuffs on the floor, and cluttered bookcase, they see the happy place their family has gathered, often for many years. We work with home sellers to rearrange their furniture and accessories to show off each room to its best advantage.
We also work with vacant home owners, bringing in furniture and accessories. Vacant home staging is very important. When a home is empty, buyers focus on any negatives they might see. They will focus on a crack in the wall, less than perfect carpets, or mismatched appliances because there is nothing else to focus on.
There is also the perception that if a home is vacant the sellers must “have” to sell and will accept a lower offer. Lastly, vacant homes do not show well in online photographs so oftentimes they will be passed over when buyers are looking online…and that is where most buyers start!
The bottom line on Home Staging is that a well displayed home will spend less time on the market and bring in better offers.
When choosing a new paint color, test it first! Put a sample on the wall and live with it for a few days. See how it responds in different light throughout the day. This will help you make the right choice.
When unsure how to choose a new color scheme for your home, look outside for inspiration. Go for a walk and snap some photos of scenes you like. Print your favorites and match paint color swatches to them.
Brown and white cows against a lush green meadow and blue sky gives you a palette of brown, white, and green with a touch of blue.
Blue sky, white clouds, and a pink crepe myrtle tree gives you a palette of blue, white, green and pink.
Painted road lines on gray pavement gives you the combination of gray, white and yellow.
Lighting plays an important part in how your home will look and feel. Layer your lighting in each room.
Natural light – through windows and skylights
Ambient light – overall illumination through ceiling, wall or recessed lights
Task lighting – for cooking, reading, homework, etc
Accent lighting brings drama. One of my favorite sources of Accent lighting is an uplight. Uplighting is great in a corner of a room to create shadows, to spotlight artwork, or shooting up through greenery in the garden.
And don’t forget candles! Don’t wait until the power goes out. Light those candles and highlight a mantle, table, or add ambiance to a backyard setting.
Good rule of thumb– every room needs an average of 200 watts for every 50 square feet.