Check out my blog for more photo and inspiration on how to "decorate outside the box." Or as Joanne Lenart-Weary likes to say "I never would have thought of that!"
Bringing new life to your decor and more
Follow me on and
How much are good pictures worth to you and your business? I would venture to say a lot! We use them in our online gallery, marketing materials, portfolio, etc. So, we better make them good.
I was in search of an affordable wide angle lens camera. After much research, I found this one. The . It was in my price range, under $400, has the capacity to attach an external flash for poor indoor lighting, of course has the wide angle lens and it has a mega zoom to boot. (I got mine on sale for $379 - do a search for best pricing). I wanted something easy to use and didn't want to have to deal with changing lenses all the time. This fit all of my criteria and got great reviews.
I am totally in love with this camera. I give it 5 stars. I went on a recent family vacation and the details captured were amazing. My kids were jumping in the lake and you could see the tiny droplets of water frozen in the air. The focus on action shots was amazing, no blur. That is a great victory when trying to capture an active 3 and 5 year old on film!
I have also noticed a huge improvement when photographing my room redesigns. I can capture so much more of the room when I use the wide angle setting. Huge bonus! I have not purchased an external flash, but I think I may down the road.
So, my friends. What are your photos saying about you? If you are in search of a better camera, this is worth the small investment. Your business and portfolio will thank you!
Feel free to comment or ask questions. And no, I don't get paid to endorse this product.
Follow me on
Finally, in case you didn't read it already, I thought I'd pass on some good news for homeowners, realtors and us stagers...
According to the Associated Press, earlier this month, the government reported that new home construction rose to the highest level since last fall with new homes sales rising almost 11 percent in June. And data reported last week showed home resales rose almost 4 percent in June which was the third straight monthly increase. They report that the last time sales rose so dramatically was in December 2000.I knew something was going on since my business suddenly shifted from redesign to more real estate consults and stagings. Now if we can keep the momentum going into the fall and winter.Just thought it would be nice to focus on some good news for a change!
Decor Designs, Inc.
A realtor partner of mine just sent me an article posted on Realtor.org regarding "virtual" staging and she asked my opinion of it.
It's no surprise that the real estate market has seen better days. Double digit property value increases had us all spoiled; so this downturn has been particularly painful. Thankfully, I'm starting to see signs of improvement. I have had several of my staged listings sell or go under contract in the last couple of weeks and my realtor partners are busy as ever.
A recent listing I staged was in need of artwork. I needed a piece for the living room. Canvases are great stock pieces for my staging and seasonal decor business. I have used this piece on multiple occasions. Here, I covered it with a shower curtain I found at Dollar General for $10. I used my staple gun to attach it to the canvas...Voila! Instant artwork!
The same canvas was used over a client's mantle as artwork for her seasonal decor. I used coordinating wrapping paper that was also used on her "faux" presents. It made for a great focal wall! I know it's early to be thinking about seasonal decor, but my Hobby Lobby has Christmas stuff out! What are some ways you've improvised with your artwork? I would love to hear about your creative ideas!
The Society of Decorating Professionals is announcing the call for entries in Decorating, Redesign, and Staging contest. For more information .
Here is my umm...lovely light fixture. This WAS my light fixture in my dining room. This thing had more buttons and options on it than NASA put on our last space shuttle! Can you guess when my house was built?
When we moved in a few years back, I had to go around the house and point out all the "personality" I wanted to update. Here is exhibit one. Know what, I had two relatives fighting over it. To each his own, right? My mom won. We even installed it for her.
For decorating or for home staging, changing your light fixtures gives you a huge bang for your buck! Here is my updated fixture!
I also painted the room - another lost cost, high impact decorating and home staging idea. Before it was "builders beige." This is a great example of picking colors that tell your story. This isn't a color I'm going to find in every home I walk into. With the proper placement of accessories and furnishings and inexpensive updates, this room was updated without using the "popular blue." This is my blue! What's your blue?
As small decorating business owners, we all know about niches. And we're not talking about those cute little tucked-away cut outs in a wall somewhere. Those really are awesome! What a great place for a punch of visual excitement... maybe small statuary or your favorite floral creations..... but I digress!
We actually should think of our "niche" in terms of how we distinguish ourselves from our competitors. What can we offer or do better, cheaper, faster than others in our business? Is there an area of need that isn't being filled? If so, how do we do it?
An article in the April 09 issue of Costco Connection lifestyle magazine by Paul and Sarah Edwards called "Scratching that niche" caught my eye because it elaborated on just this concept.... about how it's better to have a special niche than to be a "jack-of-all-trades".
Whatever your focus, from event/holiday decorating, to window treatment, color/painting, staging, redesign, senior move management or any other niche, I truly believe you're more valuable to your client if you specialize in one or two areas while offering referrals for those things that aren't necessarily areas you're skilled in or passionate about. The most successful decorators I know are those that have discovered their niche and know exactly how to "scratch" it!
I've done this over the last few years with my own company with a great deal of success. I've found that by focusing my business on 3 key areas, clients actually seem to respect me more than when I tried to do it all. And my business has grown as a result. In the meantime, I've developed quality resources for my clients to "one stop shop" me for other services they may need. Good business partners are never a bad thing to have in your decorating toolbox.
So, I hope you'll take a minute to click on the link and read the full article in Costco Connection. I think it'll give you some food for thought. Maybe it's time you started Scratching Your Niche!
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL
This is a question I got asked and answered for my Down Home DIY April Column in . I wanted to share these helpful staging tips for those getting ready to put their house on the market.
A Tisket A Tasket, I think I'll use a BASKET
A Basket holds a light and plant on a Nightstand.
Celebrating Spring and decorating my own home started me thinking about how often we use baskets in decorating.
I'm always on the hunt for these when or for clients.
Their versatility is what amazes me. Whether it is used literally to hold items or as an accessory, I enjoy their "decorating" qualities such as adding "Texture" or containing a cluttered life.
Basket is elevating the plant to create a larger presence for Staging to sell.
Nice and simple. Home sold in 4 days!
The Basket is much celebrated by my Mother. She has been collecting baskets for as long as I can remember. They are manufactured in Newark, Ohio. I believe they have the LARGEST basket in the WORLD.
Their Home office building is GREAT Design.
How have you used a basket? Share with us some of your Basket decorating ideas.
WOW, what a phone call! Staging homes as a profession is such a great and fullfilling life. Mike from Ohio just called me, "I'm so excited I had to call......we just sold the house....I know you told me to be prepared for a quick sale but WOW".
You see this really isn't magic. It is "Planning the work AND working the plan".
I wanted to say thanks for my amazing life. The SDP, Society of Decorating Professionals, has helped me on my journey. For those of you considering a career as an Interior Decorator or a Home Staging specialist, I wanted to share with you the bounty of greatness that may occur.
I have been literally "showered" with abundance. My hubby and I were discussing how fantastically "lucky" I am. You need to understand that the "luck" has come from hard work, dedication, passion & education.
You see, in the past few months, I have hardly had a day off. I have been privileged to be a part of my client's lives. I have helped to "Stage To Sell" and have done several "Decorating" projects. I came home Saturday and announced to my hubby, "I am THE luckiest person on Earth". I do not know very many people who get to:
DO WHAT THEY LOVE
BE PAID, (handsomely)
BE A PART OF THE FAMILY
BE FED, (fabulous lunches-proudly served & prepared)
Now of course my hubby is paid well for what he does but how many of us are treated like Royalty and are paid?JoAnne Lenart-Weary is my Mentor & Teacher. She taught us that if we did our "job" right we would become more then just another "Service" provider. We become a part of their family. The SDP's first conference in Erie had Stan Hustad as a speaker. Stan told us that if we as Decorators/Business owners could:
SAVE people money
SAVE people time
MAKE them HAPPY
The people would commit an unnatural act of handing us money & hugging us at the same time!
Well Stan was right. WOW how Blessed & joyful is that??
My commitment to be a member of The SDP since April of 2006 has not only provided me with the education that I needed but they also provided me the opportunity to learn just how AMAZING of a business I could actually become.
Today I feel amazingly BLESSED.
I hope that you too will be "SHOWERED" with greatness.
Today's Motivation-"Where Everybody knows your Name"
Many of you may have watched the show, “Cheers” years ago. The show took place in a bar in Boston, where everyone knows your name. The regulars at Cheers shared life’s ups and downs and became an extended circle of people who impacted their lives. One of the regulars was always greeted with a loud shout of his name, “Norm,” whenever he entered the bar. The supposed bar thrived because they focused on customer service and making people feel important. After all, don’t we all want to matter?
Personal Service has played different roles over the years in the process of doing business. At one point, it was the cornerstone of a business relationship, and then as time went on, pricing became more important than customer service. Now the world is turning, and customer service and being valued is as important as a fair pricing. After all, how does your business grow? It grows mostly by referrals, if you are a sales oriented business. And face it, I don’t care what you do…you are in sales! No, maybe you don’t sell widgets door to door, but whatever you do, you probably sell concepts, service, talent, products, and mostly YOURSELF…if you are smart. Relationship Marketing never goes out of Business. So let’s build a Relationship, next time you see me, lift your glass and yell loudly, “JoAnne.”
Today’s Dare-“Everybody knows your Name”
How many people do you meet during the course of a month in your business? How do you stay connected? How do you foster relationships? Well, today, think of 5 new acquaintances, who might be great business connections or maybe just someone you want to get to know better. Reach out to them and make sure they know your name. Send a card (I use sendoutcards) or an email telling them what a pleasure it was to meet them, or suggest you meet for a happy hour cocktail and share ways you might mutually benefit one another. Relationships and businesses begin when one person makes the first move; let it be “YOU!”
Today's Motivation-A Passion for Profit
I started a business without even realizing I was starting a business. I was a young, thin, (oh, I miss those days) with my whole life ahead of me. All I knew was I loved houses and would do anything to get into them. Hmm-mm, how could I do it, how could I do it? Lightbulb moment, I would get my real estate license, and then I could get the keys to any house I wanted to see...without breaking and entering. Now combine that with my wallpapering and painting business, life was great. I didn't do it for money, I did it because I was addicted to decorating. But my passion helped me to make money without even realizing what I was doing. I was selling real estate when interest rates were 16% and was a top producer in my office. I didn't understand that was an unusually high rate, I just knew I loved, loved, loved houses. Each listing that I received was a part of my continued joy as I made suggestions and tweaks that improved the showability of a house. Many of those original clients are still now, decorating clients 30+ years later. Now Staging wasn't even on the radar yet but I knew showing a house was like going on a blind date, appearance was critical and my talents helped to increase the opportunities to sell the house. Suddenly, due to my passions, I was in business. I was working hard, but not consistently. I lost money more than made money because I wasn't a good business person. I didn't market myself, I didn't even know that was part of it. I listed a house if someone called me, I sold a house if I had a client, I had a field of dreams approach to business. After all, I had a business card, so they would come. But boy, I was passionate, every day.
As time went on, my life changed, I became a single Mom with 3 kids, and my passion had to be replaced with a need for consistent profits. I was now driven with the need to pay the eclectic bill, but I knew that whatever I did, I had to work hard and put profits first to pay the bills. I did the expected and got a J-O-B. And I hated every moment of it, it wasn't in my field of choice, but I got a paycheck each week. As time went on, I realized that I needed profits but I also needed passion. (in more ways than one) Time to look at becoming an entrepreneur again, but I needed to be an informed entrepreneur. My passion for the process would make me money, but I needed to be as good at marketing as I was at creating beautiful spaces. I needed to ensure I knew how to get people to buy what I had to sell, and focus on the areas of my business that were more lucrative. I also learned what make me passionate might evolve over time as I grew older, and no matter how old you are, you deserve to feel passionate.
Today's Dare-Get Passionate
What are you doing right now to get a paycheck? Do you love it or do you hate every moment of what you do? You are allowed and deserve to be passionate about what you do. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Maybe it isn't what you are doing right now, so start the ball rolling.
Start to put some passion back in your life. Do what you need to do to make it happen. Start taking classes, either live or virtually. In the last few years, we at One Day Decorating and The Decorating Academy have embraced the power of webinars, to learn and teach. So there are many ways for you to learn without interrupting your current life. Life is short, make it sweet and do what you want to do.
But do it right, start a business plan, map out a marketing strategy, surround yourself with other passionate people. Now go get passionate. I know I am!
One of the most difficult aspects of being in business by and for yourself is the loneliness. Let's face it, what could sound more lonely than "sole" proprietor? You know what I'm talking about... that nagging feeling that you are one against many... struggling just to keep your head above water and be noticed. Oh, and let's not forget those not-so-fun aspects of running a business like paperwork and billing. Sometimes, you just can't help wonder what on earth you were thinking when you muddled up your passion for decorating by making it a "business".