Friday, August 30, 2013

Cabinets With Glass Doors: Pitfall or Opportunity?

The contents of cabinets with glass doors are often overlooked by sellers who are distracted by a long list of other things to do, and by homeowners (including me) who become accustomed to their appearance, or are so eager for a place to put something, that we ignore crowding or other issues. Even though it's understandable that we would focus on more pressing matters, it's good to be aware of some negative consequences of leaving them as is, especially when you're selling.

Some Pitfalls of Glass-fronted Cabinets

  • Over time, glass-fronted cabinets can become strictly storage places where things are kept with no concern for appearances, instead of being an attractive design feature
  • Unless properly staged, these cabinets have a disorganized, busy look that adversely affects the impression of the room, and even more importantly for sellers, results in less attractive marketing pictures. 
  • Because everything is in view, unstaged, overfilled cabinets can make a room look and feel uncomfortably small and unattractive. 
  • Crowded cabinets, like crowded closets, sends the overt messages that the house lacks adequate storage, which is not good when you're selling, and that you're disorganized. The additional, unintended message could be that there are other things, like regular maintenance, that you didn't get to either! That message could undermine buyer confidence that your house is in good condition. 

The Typical Offender - The China Cabinet

Nana's China Cabinet
The typical offender is the china cabinet in the dining room, built-in or free-standing, where an assortment of china and other pieces are kept waiting for a special occasion, or because they have no other home. That might be OK when you're living in the house, but not when you're selling. 

This is my grandmother's china cabinet, filled with her tea cup collection and some other things I couldn't figure out where else to store...Sound familiar? My cabinet isn't as bad as some, but I can do better, and so can you.  For example, the miscellaneous vases, figurines and bird nests don't need to be there. I need to become my own client, create a better backdrop for each shelf and display the tea cups more creatively, such as with lifts to present them at different heights and by using a special stand that stores the saucer vertically behind the cup. 

How to Stage Glass-fronted Cabinets:

  • Remove everything so you can make a fresh start, with no preconceived ideas of where things should go. 
  • Clean the shelves and the glass.
  • Sort the contents. Take away everything that can be donated, discarded or stored elsewhere. 
  • Keep only the medium and larger pieces that are attractive and that suit the style of the room.  
  • Sellers should avoid using small, single items. It's a busy look that doesn't photograph well. You want to focus attention on your house, not your belongings. Store collections of small pieces too.
  • Plan for negative space. Don't crowd the shelves. 
  • Place the large items first. 
  • Align some larger things from the right, some things from the left and center others.  
  • Place the medium size items.   
Portmeirion Storage Only
  • Simple usually works best, especially when you're selling. Behind glass, a single china pattern nicely displayed works better than a hodgepodge of many unrelated, clashing objects. For that reason, I store my collection of Portmeirion "Botanic Garden" china in the two glass-fronted upper cabinets in our kitchen. Other china and the functional odd bits are stored behind closed doors. 
  • For more interest, stack some things and display others, like plates and platters, vertically. 
  • Consider shape and size and work in opposites. Mix small and large, round and square, etc. 
  • Use color to advantage, especially with the larger pieces, as color will show in photographs and make them more appealing. Coordinate the colors with the other colors in the room. 
  • Don't mix crystal with opaque china because the crystal gets lost and the shelves just look busy. That's why I display glassware by itself in this lower kitchen cabinet where it becomes texture, and not a distraction. (Please pardon my dust!)
Glass Storage Only

Sellers should keep in mind that the goal is to focus attention on the house, and the contents of glass-fronted cabinets should play a supporting role, while people who are simply living in the house can please themselves. 

Bookcases and Open Shelves Are Treated Differently

My approach to cabinets with glass doors is different from the way I like to stage bookcases and other open shelves. Whether you're living in the house or selling it, you have so many more options for open shelves, like books and plants and art and more, but that's a topic for another day... 

A professionally trained, experience stager can help you edit your cabinets - and everything else. Call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule a two hour staging or redesign consultation, and expect a minor miracle, just from using the things you already have. In the meantime, I have some work to do around here...

By:  Sandy LeRoy 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Negative Space - A Powerful and Versatile Tool

Negative Space Example
Contrary to what the word "negative" suggests, negative space can be a very good thing. When it's used properly, negative space is a powerful and versatile design tool that can have a positive impact on everything from real estate marketing to our overall quality of life. 

Think of negative space as unoccupied territory, a place where the eye can rest between points of interest, allowing or creating a clear view of each. Another way to think of negative space is breathing room, or a pause in a conversation that gives you a chance to relax and collect your thoughts. 

The empty frames in this image allow you to see their shapes and colors, and because they're empty, they complement, rather than compete with the elaborate design of the settee. Your eye can take in the composition in as a whole, and then slowly appreciate the individual elements. 

How Negative Space Gets Lost

Negative space is often lost because of anxiety or guilt. Empty spaces make some people feel uneasy, so they put something, anything, in corners or on walls. Often, the pieces are too small, or serve no logical purpose in that spot, or are otherwise homeless, so they're put to work as space fillers. Then there's the gift that you feel you have to display, whether or not it works in your house. Negative space is also lost to "piling up." In the course of daily life, stuff has a tendency to pile up because it's put in a spot "temporarily", and then forgotten. Whether the cause is intentional filling up or accidental piling up, the result is visual clutter, the enemy of tranquility and organization, not to mention good design. Having too much stuff around is also stressful, and it can be detrimental to your health because it makes cleaning more difficult, providing collection points for dust and dirt and mold. 

Negative Space When You're Selling

When you're getting your house ready to go on the market, it's important to make it look as large as possible. One way to do that is to remove small pieces of furniture, superfluous accessories and the stuff of daily living, then be sure the remaining items are attractive and colorful, and that they're arranged with sufficient negative space around them to create the impression of spaciousness. This editing also enables you to produce marketing pictures that showcase the focal point of the room, such as a fireplace. After all, it's the architecture you're selling, not your stuff. Another benefit of editing is that it forces you to start packing and begin the process of letting go, so that your house can become a marketable product, instead of a home. 

Editing To Create Negative Space

When I do a staging or redesign consultation, editing is a crucial part of my work. We're so used to seeing certain objects in certain places in our homes, it can be difficult to imagine how things could be different. Assumptions need to be tossed out the window to make a fresh start, so I like to remove all the decorative accessories from the walls and horizontal surfaces. This step may seem extreme, and sometimes the homeowner is stunned at first, but it's very effective because it helps me to really see the bones of the room and adjust the furniture layout, as needed, before selectively adding back key accessories. This step also makes very clear how well the paint colors are (or aren't) working with the flooring, counter tops, stone, tile, etc., and with the furniture. 

Make Room For Negative Space

Look around your house. Do you see any accidental or intentional accumulations of stuff? If you'd like to start fresh, call me at 828-692-4355 to schedule a redesign consultation. If you're selling and need help to prepare your house for effective marketing pictures, schedule a staging consultation. 

Remember the positive effects of negative space!

By:  Sandy LeRoy