Friday, February 20, 2009

Granite Countertops- SO Yesterday!

For nearly two decades, granite has been the number one choice for kitchen countertops. Like its predecessors laminate and solid surface, granite will soon become a thing of the past. The theory is that once a material is found in apartment complexes and tract homes, it's on its way out. So what's next? Here are few a new options:

The trend now is toward warmer and softer materials like wood, copper and soapstone. The most popular woods for counters today are walnut and teak sometimes paired with copper. Both require more maintenance than granite. Wood needs frequent sanding and oiling, while copper requires buffing and polishing.


Some soapstone is mined in Georgia and some people feel that soapstone is more subdued and warmer than granite. It looks old immediately and achieves an attractive patina with use. It can also withstand hot pots and pans.

The material has become more popular in the last few years as a material for counters, but it has been around since the turn of the 20th century when it was invented to shield the undercarriages of trolley cars from sparks clicked up from the tracks. It is made of a mixture of cement, sand and recycled paper.


For a sleek, modern look, some people are choosing seamless sheets of textured glass."ThinkGlass" has a line of luminous and glacial-looking solid glass countertops that are more sanitary than granite and just as durable.

New terrazzo products made of recycled glass are also generating enthusiasm. Vetrazzo and IceStone are manufactures who make this product. Both products are as durable as granite, are less porous and therefore more stain resistant. Resealing is recommended every year or two.


This is a quartz composite surface that is manufactured by Silestone and Caesarstone. The appeal is a soft more uniform look than granite. Engineered stone is virtually maintenance free and is available in a wide range of colors. While it looks like stone, this material is non-porous. It does not stain or require routine applications of a sealant.


THIS IS HOT (no pun intended). This product once fired, becomes seamless and looks like a polished gem stone. It is oh so GORGEOUS! It will not stain, chip, scratch or scorch and it stands up to acidic foods. Lava Stone is expensive, and because the factory is located in France, they can fill only about 200 orders from the United States a year.

There are kitchen counters made of recycled paper or sustainable wood pulp by companies like Richlite and PaperStone. They are made of layers of paper or pulp mixed with pigment and a resin binder that are pressed together with tremendous force. The product is extremely strong and water resistant. (the material is also used for cutting boards, rain guards and skateboard ramps). This material has a soft texture and mimics those qualities of soapstone and holds up well to hot pans and spilled foods. Scratches disappear after scouring with a Scotch-Brite pad and an application of linseed or mineral oil.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

10 Reasons to Professionally Stage Your Property

Professionally Staged Properties:

• Look better than others on the market

• Sell faster

• Typically sell for more money

• Look better in print and internet ads

• Receive more foot traffic

• End up on a buyer's "must see" list

• Are viewed by buyers as "well maintained"

• Are viewed as "well maintained" by Appraisers

• Are often appraised at a higher values

• Are "move in ready"

Staging Works!
Use a stager, SELL a HOUSE

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What is ReDesign?

Ask Stacie...

"I'm not familiar with the Interior Redesign process. Can you tell me how it works?

On a typical Redesign consultation, I first meet with the homeowner to talk about their problems, expectations, and specific needs. Maybe it's adding more warmth to a room, or making a space more inviting, comfortable, or functional.

Next, I asses the furniture arrangement for balance and flow, and look at the accessories and art placement. On my next visit I empty the room and start rearranging. I may shop for additional items (within the client's budget) to complete the transformation. The design process for one room typically takes 3 to 4 hours. It's like working a jigsaw puzzle - all the pieces are there - it's a matter of knowing just where to place them that makes all the difference.

Redesign can be "debt-free" decorating if you are a do-it-yourselfer. But for minimal amounts ($250 w/ Creative Solutions), considering the creativity used, a Redesigner can transform your space using your current items. It's like getting a whole new room and you didn't have to leave the house (or demolish it)!

It is also considered "green" to Redesign because you are re-purposing and recycling items, not just throwing them away or buying new things. So you can take care of the environment while taking care of your home too!

Please send your design questions to Stacie at

Spring Decorating is just around the Corner!

Only 37 more days until SPRING...

Spring means a return of sunshine, fresh breezes, blooming flowers, and the fragrance of fresh cut grass. What are you gonna do in your house to celebrate the return of this wonderful season? A fresh coat of paint on the walls is a good place to start to help make your home feel alive and revitalized . And, be's only paint! Your least expensive and most effective decorating tool.

The Bath This season, monogram a set a white Egyptian cotton towels in your favorite color for a classic look. Or if you can't find towels to match your decor, sew a band of fabric or trim to the edges. For that sophisticated all white European look, purchase a waffle-weave shower curtain. Terrycloth is still a favorite for covering bath chairs and vanity stools, it's also luxurious in bathrobes and slippers.

Windows Let the sunshine in! Replace heavy drapes with shears or cotton. For a spring look remove panels and add interest by using a valance or simply reveal the architectural elements of the window. Maybe you want to add a natural element with woven blinds. They come in an array of colors and add just a hint of the outside indoors!

Table Settings Table linens should also be transitioned. Leave your tablecloths off for a lighter look. If you prefer a cover, try using a translucent sheer fabric or summer chintz. For drama, casually lay a table scarf across your table or counter. This makes for an interesting table setting when entertaining. Add two candlesticks and ..."viola," another exquisite conversation piece for your home.

The Kitchen Add fresh lemons or green apples to your favorite bowls and baskets and display on an island or counter top. Colored glass, Italian tile, and mirrored tile added to the back splash of your kitchen counter top are a few ways to update to a contemporary look. Don't forget to de-clutter. In a small kitchen, one of my favorite ways to disguise large, bulky appliances is to store them in a BIG basket on top of the fridge.

Furnishings Lighten up using slipcovers. There are many inexpensive, lightweight, ready-made covers available in lots of colors and styles. Heavy wing chairs and recliners can be replaced with wicker and rattan chairs. Roll up and store your area rugs. Replace with sisal or canvas, or just leave the floors bare. Use pillows and throws printed in French Provincial themes, spring florals, brightly colored patterns or solids. Using anything with an animal print, such as leopard, paired with pillows adorned with accents such as embroidery, beading and mirrors will give charming results.

Lighting Rethink lighting. Buy a new lamp that's fun and interesting (think of it as jewelry for you home). We all know that sometimes it's the simplest accessory that can take an outfit from ordinary to extraordinary. Make a statement...change your lampshades. I think the best thing that has happened in home accessories the decorative lampshade. Adding at least one decorative lampshade in your home is a great way to spruce up for spring.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For the LOVE of Wallpaper!

Ok, first of all, note that the top picture is BEFORE any work was done in this remarkable home. The owner, at one point, was in LOVE with florals...and, well, Waverly Wallpaper filled that love-need with their vast array of wonderful floral motif selections.

I have to admit, I too, went through a "florally phase" of decor...but never quite this far! AND, I am not proud of all my floral choices that found their way onto EVERYTHING I owned..., BUT it does make me able to "relate" better to my clients. I can sympathize with their need and love for all things floral. I also help them OUT of "floralholic denial" and lead them into more suitable ways of using florals, vines, and small garden animals. In the end, they are "healed" from their overzealous, ill-used and overpowering choices of floral (hopefully, if I have done a good job!).

It is a tragedy that florals have gotten a "bad reputation" in general. We have used them on so many "matching accessories"...window treatments, seat cushions, rugs, towels, lamps, wall art, arrangements, furniture, faux painting, etc...that we just make ourselves and the people that come in our homes SICK of floral!

Good news is here for the homeowners that want to change their ways! You don't have to move just because you hate your floral wallpaper. In the instance of this home featured, the wallpaper was put on SOOOO perfectly, we opted to seal it, texture over it & paint the walls; instead of taking it all down. (Cost and time saver!) I advise you use a professional to evaluate IF you need to take it down or IF you can leave it up and texture over it, etc...

This home was an "Update/Stage" so we didn't add a lot of personal touches to the end results, but we KNEW we had to get rid of the floral wallpaper in order for the home to have the BEST chance of selling. It screamed at every person entering the room- "DATED, LOTS OF POTENTIAL WORK TO TAKE ME DOWN, DON'T BUY ME!" I don't have pictures posted of every room in the house, but I assure you, there was no room left untouched by Waverly! I have links to see more of the "before" picts of this particular house if you want to check them out.

The really bad thing about most "old" wallpapers is that they don't give NEW wallpaper trends a chance! There are MANY amazing choices of wallpaper nowadays! Just looking through a few choices makes me want to wallpaper every room in my own home...but I digress. Wallpaper is still a great solution to problem walls- covering up flaws, adding texture & color. It is also great to use to get that mood or feel you want that you may not be able to reach with a faux or decorative paint treatment. There are literally thousands of choices when it comes to NEW wallpaper. You can even customize it! You can use photos you have taken and make a wall/ceiling mural or a series of murals. You can make custom "wallies" with text & shapes, the possibilities are really endless. They have improved how it's applied & removed.

Check out to see what Sherwin Williams offers in the way of wallpaper- it's awesome! They are just one company offering a "new" take on an "old" trend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Solid Granite or Granite Tile

When clients are on a budget and need to consider all money saving options, I gladly give my opinion. In almost every "Update/Stage Project" counter tops are an issue. Most frequently the question is whether to go with solid slab granite or granite tile.

Both have positives and negatives. I of course, love to use solid slab granite when possible.

The cost of slab granite FAR exceeds the cost of a simple granite tile. The top kitchen to the right is a "Stage Update", where the client wanted to do the MOST for the cheapest amount possible. We priced both options and decided to go w/the granite tile due to how far we needed to stretch the budget. Also the location & size of the house was a factor (Would buyers expect solid granite? Would installing solid granite "over-build" the house?) . The kitchen had blue Silestone to begin with..."blue anything" is never a good selling point! We chose a simple Venetian Gold granite tile to replace the 'ol blue and it instantly brought the kitchen to a more neutral ground that is pleasing to look at for most a fraction of the cost of slab granite (thousands less!).

Other important Notes:
*Grout lines, grout color and choice of how to seal the granite or granite tile is important as well. *The "edge" choice is limited when using tile as opposed to a fabricator cutting a chosen custom edge.
*The depth of granite tile is considerably different than that of slab, which takes away strength of the stone...and can lead to cracking more easily.

The second case we have is a client that was doing the same thing, a "Stage/Update". Only this client's home was in a location a home should not have "less than" solid granite counter tops. It had a very high end granite to start with, but again it was BLUE! The dreaded color of homes for sale! For budget purposes, we picked a generally low level, neutral granite called St. Cecelia. Very popular because the colors and pattern can fit in with MANY styles. Going with the color choice we kept our cost down. The truth is, most granites are the same depth, it's the rarity of the color or pattern that makes the price go up! Granite vendors often have "Levels" to grade their granite supply. From Level 1 and up...even in Lowes they have levels for their granites offered. But if you ask the right questions, you can find that most often the difference is not in the size, weight or depth, it is the color and pattern that is sought after and cost the extra bucks!

This new granite costs less than the owners original "blue pearl", but looks a million times better for the purpose of "showing a home on the market". Buyers are totally turned off by anything that makes them feel automatically "bad" in a space...Kitchens are SO important and having a blue counter top, no matter how expensive it originally was, will not be a strong selling point and most likely will turn buyers "off". We were able to salvage the old blue pearl granite in solid pieces and use it in the adjoining pool house, a rightful place for that color! Re-purposing the hi-end granite outside was a great investment and use of color and materials.

Both clients in these two instances were very pleased with the outcome of their choices based on the criteria of their homes and projects.

Granite in any form is a wonderful and amazing product from our Earth. If you ever have the chance to just go "shop" for slabs of granite in a real granite yard, you will be amazed at what comes out of the quarries and into our spaces. The marble, onyx and granite specimens cease to amaze me with all their color, little blobs of fossilized something-r-other and the way it is all perfectly preserved. Some people can't see the true beauty behind these remarkable pieces of stone, even say they "hate granite"!! God is truly The Master Creator and so, so, so much more creative than we could ever be! Just look at a slab of marble and think of the story of " David" (the statue) that Michelangelo sculpted...It was a big piece of marble passed from Artist to Artist to create a statue for the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It was weathered, worn down and left for someone to make it all it could be. "Michelangelo worked under the premise that the image of David was already IN the block of stone he was working on — in much the same way as the human soul is found within the physical body".
I LOVE that story! Not only do I find "stone" interesting because of it's physical traits & useful is the relation to myself. How I am like weathered stone, full of blobs of something-r-other, but yet I can be sculpted into something wonderful, polished, purposeful and stand the everyday tests of life all because someone saw what was IN me. :)

I have several local granite fabricators and granite yards I can recommend for your projects if you are in need of bids or more information.