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Saturday, February 12, 2011

EMBRACE versus REPLACE? How to work with Color that is not leaving


You have a bedroom with BLUE walls or carpeting

How do you Stage this for sale when the Seller says,
 "I am not going to paint or replace my carpet??"

Use the principle I like to call "EMBRACE versus REPLACE"

This principle that I developed saysWhen a seller is unwilling, unable or unreasonable even - about removing, repainting, or replacing in order to help a house Sell, we must engage our creativity to make the house work for Buyers despite the shortcomings we know these unpopular or dated colors, decorative choices may create.

In order to use this principle you need a COLOR WHEEL:  (they can be found online and in many art stores)
 STAGING: You need to neutralize - that is the goal of Staging - to make the house and each room in it feel Buyer friendly. The solution for Staging would be to address what we call the "moveable" color - bedding, pillows, artwork, accessories and bring in neutral tones or colors that help tone down the blue walls. The opposite of blue is . . . orange (purple and yellow, red and green - remember your Kindergarten days?) - so anything with orange-yellow and gold tones would work. Browns would be great even - but stay away from more blue as a prinary accent item in the moveable color group.

The idea with downplaying a dominant color is to go ACROSS the wheel and bring in the opposite color or what experts call "CONTRASTING" color. 

  • Adjacent colors are colors that are right next to each other and harmonize with one another. They work well together (usually). For example Green and Yellow or Purple and Magenta.
  • Complementary colors are colors separated by another color.
  • Contrasting colors are directly opposite each other on the color wheel.  Red and Green are contrasting colors.

TIP:  Colors that clash are not always a bad combination if used carefully. Blue and yellow or Green and Magenta are contrasting colors.

Within each color family you have some that are more saturated (darker) with undertones - most likely mixed with black - and those that are lighter, i.e. Powder blue versus royal blue

Staging Principle: When color is an issue on what we call "permanent" areas (walls and floors) bring in neutral tones and opposite (complementary) colors to help create an appealing look. Do NOT bring in lots of the same color. Can you bring in a pillow, artwor, or an accessory item that has the color in it - sure but it would be great if that item were mostly the contrast color with hints of the color you are balancing.

BALANCE is the key operative word here - less is still more with Staging and sometimes our role as a professional Stager is to help make sense of a wall color, flooring, or item in the house that is not leaving with the Seller or being updated prior to the house coming on the market.

Fact is, not every Buyer coming in has the budget to totally redo a house so when we are able to help them embrace the color in question, we are helping them to imagine themselves living there - and not just MOVE ON to the next house.

DECORATING: In our example scenario, those that decorate or design would say, "Bring in more blue!" (I heard this recently) because they are customizing the space and don't see a challenge with adding more of a color that is not universally appealing for buyers to begin with - and this is a concern. Bringing in more blue just calls attention to the fact that the walls are BLUE! Why would we want that for selling? We don't - it's that simple.

It's kind a concern of mine . . . this trend that seems to be trying to push Staging over into Decorating realm when they truly are two separate industries with two individual goals.

Decorating is personalizing - and you DO consider the likes and dislikes, color schemes, etc. of the homeowner. It may not be universally appealing but that's OK because it's not about selling a house - it's about customizing a home for the person or people that live there.

Staging is depersonalizing - this is not just about removing family pictures and personal collections and such . . . it's also about making the house work for all buyers - that is the ideal goal. When a Buyer walks through the door we don't want them commenting on stuff or remembering a house because of a color that was prevalent throughout. We want them to picture themselves living there.

And when a house has flooring or wall colors that have not been neutralized due to budget, time or just plain resistance on the part of the Seller, we can work with those colors by bringing in other colors to make those "work" even though they are not truly neutralized.

So the BEST way to reduce the chances of that happening in a house for sale - is to incorporate STAGING PRINCIPLES - not decorating ideas -when selling a house.

Please do not confuse the design-decorating world with Staging . . . they serve a totally different purpose.

When you are SELLING your house - work with a trained, professional Stager - not someone that has a flair for design or decorating or even a great decorating or design business.  ASK "what is your background relative to STAGING?" As talented as these people may be, if they don't understand and use the basic principle of universal appeal with Staging, you will be wasting your money on a service that is not going to help you SELL your house.

If you live in the Denver area let me help you get your house properly prepared for sale. If you live in another area, I'd be happy to locate a trained colleague that would be able to assist you in Staging and Selling your house.