Thursday, September 25, 2008

Decorating Talent and Dedication Found In The Society of Decorating Professionals

I laughed more than once at last year's Annual Conference when the assembled group was addressed as "ladies". As in "Ladies, it's time to move on!" or "May I have your attention, ladies?" Even this year in Phoenix, the "L" word was bantered around with some levity. Try sitting in Conference for two years running as the only man. Quite certain that all of my male parts are still intact; I get a kick out of being lumped in with the "ladies". Terri Bowersock even autographed my book "the Ladies and Jeff". Ala Martha, it's a "good thing" I've spent the better part of the last 20 years working with mostly women in my other "job". Or, I might have major insecurity issues! Frankly though, I can't imagine being "lumped in" with a more talented, dedicated and professional group of people than those in the SDP.

Of course, I realize throwing little ole me into the mix inevitably changes the dynamic, at least a bit. Along with the occasional gender mis-reference, I notice the curious looks and the questioning glances. Not that I have felt unwelcome, it's just hard not to feel a little like the outsider when the only thing running through your mind is the Sesame Street ditty "One of these things is not like the others.... la la la". But I've never shied away for fear of being different and I'm hopeful of making a positive contribution in whatever way possible. Maybe sharing my two cents worth here (which in this economy is worth more like one!) will help the group benefit from a male perspective and I'm thankful for the opportunity.
Obviously, there are still strong gender lines in many industries. Redesign and Staging are perfect examples. I'm not sure of the number of men in these fields. But, while there are exceptions like myself, being a man in this business is like treading water in an estrogen ocean. While I may have a different perspective and I may do things a little differently, I like to think that has more to do with individuality than it has to do with gender.
I've been told a number of times that it is difficult being taken seriously in business if you're a woman. Somehow, I'm supposed to have a leg up as a business man. While that is likely true in a lot of cases, I think men have to work equally has hard to earn the respect of other men because of the whole "mine is bigger than yours" mentality. I also think all small business entrepreneurs are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to being taken seriously, for whatever reason, especially in the beginning. For what it's worth, if you take yourself and your business seriously then other people (men included) will as well.
So, as you're reading this, I hope you don't think of me as an outsider or an intruder. (laughing) And if you're another man in the business that hasn't considered SDP; please, please join me so I don't have to wear a brown cap with a pastel orange or lime green ribbon on the back just to fit in! (still laughing)
Let's just keep doing what we do best and know that, man or woman, we're all in this together; busting our humps to make the world and hopefully our bank accounts a little prettier, one room at a time!

Jeff Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Staging a numbers game?

"How Fast Does The Home Sell?"

Hello all! The idea of Staging to sell is really catching on here in northern Ohio....finally! I am noticing a change from the question of "What is Staging anyway?? to "How fast do the homes sell that stages?". Ahhh music to my ears! The business of marketing what Staging is seems to be working. I am quickly realizing that folks out there are really beginning to understand what a difference Staging can make.

I have been tracking my Staging numbers for a long time now.
  • We have had FOUR homes sell in ONE DAY during the last 2 years
  • Over a third of our homes sell in less than 2 weeks
  • The rest have all sold in 60 days
It seems that the word is getting out about my "numbers". A Realtor asked me last evening at a LoCAR event "How are your numbers?".

As with anything we do, the quicker the homes sell are commiserate with our confidence level. The more confident we are about what we do, the more believable we are when we are "selling" our Staging services.

Make sure if you are a Staging professional that you know YOUR numbers, they will be asking.

On a side note-It was sad to hear how many Realtors are having a rough year. That really is a shame.....I wish they would start working with a Stager. The Realtors that I have the privilege to be working with are experiencing HIGH numbers this year. Some have told me that they are having a GREAT year. The more homes they sell the busier they are becomming, so am I!

The word is out about these Realtors and my own company as well.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Need A Paint Color Where Do I Start?

Unforgettable, that’s what you are
Unforgettable though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me…

-Nat King Cole

Ahh, the sultry sounds of the smooth balladeer Nat King Cole. He was before my time, but I get it. Risking the subtle scorn of lovers everywhere, I will confess however that I’m not talking about a person... I’m talking about my home. You might think that I’m a decorator who has totally gone over the edge, but if you give it some thought, you’ll likely agree that you have similar feelings. If you’ve ever been away for business or pleasure and after several days began to miss not only your loved ones, but the beauty and privacy of your own space, then you’ve felt it too! Just thinking about being able to curl up in my favorite chair or stretch out on my comfy sofa with a good book and a cup of herbal lemon tea makes my heart sing (with emphasis on the sw), Home Sw-eet Home!

Making a room unforgettable is a decorator’s joy. One way to transform a room to unforgettable status is with unforgettable wall color! It is a great way to make a room immediately and emotionally ignite your senses, displaying your confident sense of style. Here’s a decorators tip with a twist; for large rooms with plenty of natural light go for the lighter shades of the colors that you love and bring in accessories to pump up the personal color volume. For small rooms with less light, go for the darker shades of your favorite color, enveloping yourself in its embracing intensity. If you truly love white walls, make the room white with reckless abandon. To add interest to this monochromatic scheme, use varying shades of white and multiple textures for the other decorative elements in the space. Check out Sherwin Williams’ Color Palette and order 8x11 paint color samples of the colors that appeal to you; .

There are countless decorator rules about choosing paint colors based upon the size of the room. This tip is based upon your unique sense of style. If your goal is to make YOUR room UNFORGETTABLE to YOU, remember this “to thine own self be true." Any color will work well and look amazing if it’s what you LOVE!

Soulfully & Decoratively,
Cheryl Cousins

The Real Secret to Going Green Is Interior Redesign

Going green is more than just changing out a few incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or recycling your empty, aluminum cans. Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy? Certainly, those small steps, done collectively, make a significant difference. But let's face it, even if every light bulb on the planet were changed or every aluminum can recycled, we'd still be in a world of hurt when it comes to climate change. Ecologists and other environmental experts continue to sound the warning that we are entering a period of devastating consequences as a result of the last 100 years of industrialization and waste. If it took us that long to dig ourselves into this hole, we're not going to dig ourselves out overnight!

Hey, I'm not knocking grass roots efforts. But truly going green is more of a consciousness shift than it is any one thing or things we might do to reduce our carbon footprint on the world.
What do I mean by a consciousness shift? Let me ask you: When was the last time you went shopping and before you bought whatever it was you were looking for, you stopped and thought about how it was produced, how far it was shipped, how the item as packaged, and even how it was marketed to you? How much energy and resources were consumed during this process including the gas you used driving to and from the store? And how much energy and how much landfill space will be used in disposing of the item when it reaches the end of its useful life? In truth, asking ourselves these kinds of questions on a regular basis represents the shift in consciousness or awareness that we all must adopt in order to make a more significant change toward greening our daily lives.
I'm not suggesting doing without unless that makes sense in a specific situation. But you might find that by simply asking yourself some of these questions, you may have a different approach and a new set of priorities when making your purchasing choices. Can you use something a little longer? Can you repurpose or reuse something else? Are you buying simply for the sake of buying?
We do a great job as Redesigners and Stagers of reusing and repurposing items that might otherwise have been discarded. But the very nature of the decorating industry advocates "new" and "improved" surroundings which often drives consumption and subsequent disposal.
I challenge each of you to join me in pushing for an even larger consciousness shift in our industry. Make educated choices when you must purchase items for yourself or for your clients. Encourage thoughtful use of locally produced, natural and recycled materials. And don't fall prey to deceptive marketing. Just because it says "Green" on the label doesn't mean it wasn't shipped halfway around the world which would really reduce or even negate any of its eco-benefits.
So many of you see how important this topic is both in your personal and business lives. I am so proud of each of your efforts to help mitigate the damage we have caused and continue to cause to our fragile "nest" through your sustainability initiatives. The stories I've been sent so far from those of you who have accepted the SDP's "Green Ribbon Challenge" are awesome and I look forward to reading even more. (For more information on the "Green Ribbon Challenge", contact me at Continue to push yourself to think of new and more aggressive ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Together, we ARE making a difference!!!

Jeff Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Online Decorating Class

The SDP monthly Lunch and Learn - September 15th

11:45 am - 1:00 pm EDT

"I would have never thought of that!

Space is Limited

Join JoAnne Lenart-Weary and Lisa Sherman as they shares tips to great accessorizing each and every time with her "Decorating in the Zone" System. JoAnne & Lisa will also share photos of imaginative and creative ideas submitted by talented members of The SDP. This is a "don't miss" event!

System Requirements

PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Marketing Tips for a Decorating/Home Staging Business

The 3 R's of Marketing Your Business
by DesAnn

With our great Society of Decorating Professional’s conference of “learning” upon us, I thought that I would share my thoughts on Marketing. To me the 3 R’s are the Marketing foundation of my business. If you are just starting out and feel overwhelmed perhaps these 3 R’s can help you to build your Marketing. For those of you who are “seasoned” share with us your foundation principles. I am ALWAYS looking for new ways to improve my business and eager to learn new strategies. In the Interior Redesign, Decorating and Home Staging business world I believe that we are “plowing the field”. I believe that The Society of Decorating Professionals are setting the pace, laying the foundation.
Resourcefulness- I for one started my company, Design By DesAnn, with ZERO start-up monies…I HAD to be resourceful. My time and creativity were all that I had. I knew that I needed to capture the Realtors and publics attention, I didn’t have the resources to advertise to the public or the Realtors. I had an opportunity to speak with Realtors for their annual Education Conference held in October of 2006. This was it! A chance to be in front of 100 Realtors! How was I going to make sure they remembered me?! My husband and I were sitting on our patio discussing what Staging really was. We were talking about how Staging is “Theatre”. My hubby, Tom, said to me as he was eating a bowl of Popcorn….”POPCORN!” We go to the movie theatre and we eat popcorn. Now understand, I love him dearly but thinking “creatively” is usually NOT his strong point…..BUT sometimes he is BRILLIANT! That was it! I was able to find Red & White Popcorn boxes and so I stuffed them with my Media Kit info and a microwaveable Popcorn package. Boy Scouts sell Popcorn like Girl Scouts sell cookies. My son, now an Eagle Scout, was thrilled that I purchased 100 packs of Micro-wave Popcorn from him. The Realtors were really impressed. My Mom always said, “Necessity is the Mother of invention”. I feel now that having ZERO start-up was actually a blessing in disguise. I still see that original box sitting in many Real Estate offices on their office shelves. They say it reminds them how important Staging is to their livelihood! (Please visit for the nearest Scout troop if you need popcorn).
Referrals-At least 35% of my business comes from Referrals. How much comes from yours?? Whether it is past clients, Realtors, TV, Radio or print in Newspapers or magazines….Referrals are my highway. I belong to a Realtor Association and The Women’s Business Owners Network ( ). Network, Network, Network! Consider paying a Referral fee. I pay a Referral fee to my Industry friends such as Builders, Painters, Remodelers, Carpet Cleaning, Furniture stores and others. I ALWAYS send a “Gift Card” such as Starbucks to my Realtors who refer my company. Have referral fees helped or hurt any of you??
Recognition- TV, News, Papers and magazines have given my company “credibility”. The SDP has also propelled me into the “Lime-light”. When I say, “Next week I’m going to Arizona to speak and learn new things at The SDP’s annual conference”….THAT gets attention. Recently I received a phone call from The LeBron James Family Foundation. They were in need of a 6 hour furniture rental for 6 Sofas & Chairs for a private, invitation only, charity event. WOW! All I could think was “Pinch me, I MUST be dreaming”. I asked how they came about calling me. They said they saw on my web site how I have been on show, WKYC TV, and all the other articles and “liked” my credibility. WOW did my son ever owe me! Collin helped with the furniture and he and I also set up 6 NBA live games for the event. We were asked to also stay for the Fund Raising event and join in the fun. Being recognized by one of Cleveland’s “ROYAL” athletes has opened up more doors then I can say. Being recognized by people that others respect is a powerful Marketing tool. I make a point to Press Release all recognitions that I receive, that in turn leads to more recognition, and so the wheel starts turning.
What works for you? Please share your nuggets of wisdom. What do you see as your foundations? What resources do you have? How are you trying to be, or succeeding at being recognized?
Until next time, DesAnn

What is your Decorating Style?

Sometimes the most difficult part of decorating is knowing what you truly like. The more you look, the more confused you may become. Here is a fun quiz we created for you to help you gain a better sense of your decorating style.

1. What colors are you drawn to?
A. Soft Pastels
B. Earth tones
C. Strong vivid colors
D. Neutrals
E. A little of each

2. You are building a new home and the builder needs your wall colors in the family room.
A. Light Blue
B. Sage Green
C. Lipstick Red
D. Beige
E. White

3. What would your flooring choices be?
A. Laminate
B. Solid Wood
C. Black and white tile
D. Plush carpet
E. Couldn’t care less as long as someone comes into clean it.

4. When cooking breakfast in the morning do you tend to wear
A. An apron with your makeup on and hair done
B. Sweats and T-shirt
C. Yoga pants from Neiman-Marcus
D. Matching nightgown and robe
E. Whatever last fell to the floor

5. When purchasing furniture what matters most to you?
A. Sofa with lots of pillows
B. Feels comfortable but trendy
C. Clean linefunky styling
D. Fabrics with texture is most important feature
E. Has a fold down 6-pack holder in center.

6. What is the atmosphere you are looking for in your room?
A. Room setting from a furniture store
B. Under the Tuscan Sun
C. Hip erFriend’s living room
D. Frasier’s living room without Dad’s chair
E. Dad’s chair and big screen TV in Frasier’s living room

Mostly A’s – Traditiionalist/Conservative
Sticks to Traditional looks and tends to avoid trendy looks. Afraid to make mistakes.

Mostly B’s- Transitional-
Likes the Pottery Barn look with their own stamp applied

Mostly C-s- Contemporary
Likes clean lines with touches of drama in the room.

Mostly D-s Traditionalist/Sophisticate
Loves to implement old with the new. Classic lines, rooms filled with mixture of textures.

Mostly E’s- Decorating Misfits
Most important feature in room is the big screen TV. “It looks okay the way it is!”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Everybody Ought To Know If You Want To Start a Decorating Business

If you are like me and have always dreamed of owning your own decorating business you should check out The Society of Decorating Professionals also known as, The SDP. For many years I dreamed about owning a decorating business, and when the opportunity came knocking to switch careers, I took it. After investigating a lot of different schools, the realization sat in -rather quickly- I didn’t want a design degree. What I really needed was some quick hands-on training with an expert in decorating/redesign to get me going in the right direction. I found all of this through The SDP.

Above is a recently completed project that without The SDP I would not known what direction to go. This bedroom was completed with the confidence I got from being a Certified Member of The SDP.

The Society of Decorating Professionals (The SDP) has become certified as an Authorized Provider of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the . The SDP is now certified to offer IACET approved CEUs for all current training programs as well as any created during the time of certification.

The SDP is now linked to the IACET web site and is recognized as offering the highest quality continuing education and training programs.

classes in the hands-on experience style, to provide both education and credentials to those who have talent and passion for decorating, redesigning, and staging homes. It’s easy to find a Certified Trainer.

Each instructor offers her own style of teaching within The SDP's core learning outcomes. Upon successfully completing each course, you will be eligible to sit for The SDP certification test in that particular specialty. Several instructors offer a combined Redesign and Staging class to enable you to sit for both Redesign Certification and Staging Certification test.

One more thing… you need just one week of your time. That’s right, one intense week of exhilarating learning about how to take your passion and turn it into a business. Then you can become a member of The SDP and learn even more. I hope to hear from you. Better yet, how about seeing your name on our new members list, see you there.

Check out In the News for the latest Press Releases.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Society of Decorating Professionals In The News

The Decorating Voice Team

Beth Batke,

A quote that is very powerful for me is one by Thomas Jefferson: "That which we surround ourselves with becomes the musuem of our soul and the archive of our experiences". From that era to this era and for all of time, creating a warm and inviting home reflective of the owner has been of utmost importance in society. I am continually honored and grateful to help create warm and personal spaces for my clients.

Jeff Rice, PIR, PRS

Many clients already have the elements they need to create a beautiful, designer look. An added bonus of redesign is that, by reusing, repurposing and restyling existing items, we help clients reduce their carbon footprint, one room at a time. I love the fact that Redesign is fundamentally Green!

"Be Yourself.  Everyone else is already taken!"-- Oscar Wilde

Marleen Prater,

My motto to live by: It is what it is, but maybe I can change it.

I'm all about mixing the old with the new when it comes to decorating. I shop retail, but it had better be swanky, and my clients have to love it as much as I do.

DesAnn Collins O.D.S.D.P., CSREP

For me, Business and Marketing are just another medium for my creative outlet.

I LOVE what I am doing for a living, and I thank GOD everyday! I start with a positive attitude and the desire to work towards my dreams. The saying…”The extra mile never has a traffic jam” is something I practice everyday. Whether it is an Interior Redesign, Interior Decorating, Staging Homes, my family, myself, or YES even business & marketing I want to always go the extra mile!

JoAnne Lenart-Weary, Queen of Decorating


This is so much more than decorating! A beautiful room impacts us visually, physically, and emotionally. After 30 years I still adore what I do!

Cheryl Cousins


The connection between heart and home is profound. A beautifully decorated room will provide a warm and inviting embrace if it resonates with the personality and preferences of the homeowner. The ultimate goal in decorating is to create a gorgeous interior that is not only aesthetically pleasing but personalized to perfection!

Annie Doherty

ODD House Doctor Network

One of my favourite quotes:The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. -Walt Disney

I love helping folks move on with their lives and Home Staging is a great way to help the process along.

Decorating Inspiration From Winners

Labor Day...the official end of summer has arrived. Time to head back indoors and begin the "nesting" process that autumn brings. Your clients will soon be calling, eager for your talent and expertise. Here is some inspiration for you from the recent winners of...
The SDP Annual Design Contest
Get Inspired and Get Busy!
View the Winners and 5
Semi-Finalists in each Category
Congratulations to all of our Winners!

To see each of the Semi-Finalists photos in each category, click on
for a look at the book.Each of the Winner's Before & After photos are available to view on's

Decorate It:

Winner, Terry Grahl,
Kim Ausbury, , Stow, OH

Jill Kearney, , Lehigh Valley, PA
Kathy Kallaus, , Jacksonville, FL (2 entries in semi-finals)

Color It
Leslye Cushing,
Heather Klein, , Naperville, IL

Paula Henry, , Reisterstown, MD(2 entries in semi-finals)
Marleen Prater, , Canton, MI

Accessorize It
Winner-Terry Grahl,
Angela Todd, , Beaverton, OR

Beth Batke, , Gahanna, OH (2 entries in semi-finals)
Kim Ausbury, , Stow, OH

Interior Redesign It
Paula Henry,
Kathy Cortner, , Cherry Hill, NJ

Marleen Prater, , Canton, MI
Erica Cooper, , Elk River, MN
Jennifer Bush, , Westland, MI

Stage It
Annie Doherty, Semi-Finalists:
Angela Todd, , Beaverton, OR

Jill Duffey Kearney, , Lehigh Valley, PA
Kim Ausbury, , Stow, OH
Paula Henry, , Reisterstown, MD

The SDP Trainers Division
only 3 Semi-Finalist each

Interior Redesign
Debbie Correale West Chester, PA
Bobi McGinnis, , Jacksonville, FL
Carie Baumann, , Tucson, AZ

Decorate It
Sandra Racz,
, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Sandra Racz, , Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (2 entries in semi-finals)
Debbie Correale, , West Chester, PA

Home Staging
Carie Baumann,
, Tucson, AZ
Denise Montgomery, , Greenville, NC
Debbie Correale, , West Chester, PA

Color It
Sandra Racz,
, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Denise Montgomery, , Greenville, NC
Carie Baumann, , Tucson, AZ

Accessorize It
Sandra Racz
, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Bobi McGinnis, , Jacksonville, FL
Judy Pelinski, , Lake in the Hills, IL