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Setting the Stage

With signs of winter in the rear view mirror and May flowers on the horizon, spring is filling the air with all things new, including a new look for your home. Whether preparing to sell or ready to redecorate, the Post caught up with HGTV’s “go-to” interior design girl, Lisa LaPorta, for the best budget-friendly advice on the market.

The biggest mistake people make when they put their home up for sale is doing “nothing at all!” says the home staging expert and designer for HGTV’s hit show Designed to Sell. “People tend to let their egos get in the way with the notion that, ‘If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough.’ ” Yet LaPorta is quick to point out that people stop noticing things in their home that send up red flags to an objective eye. She recommends asking a friend (or former friend) to do a walk-through as if they were the potential buyer. “You know that person you no longer talk to because they’re too blunt? Invite them over for a fresh set of eyes.”

When it comes to staging your home in a competative market, design expert Lisa LaPorta stresses the importance of removing personal clutter for a fresh and modern look. Before (above), after (top image).

When it comes to staging your home in a competative market, design expert Lisa LaPorta stresses the importance of removing personal clutter for a fresh and modern look. Before (above), after (top image).

Next, make a list of obvious maintenance needs, including rooms that will require special attention, keeping in mind that “curb appeal, kitchens, and baths are what sell a home,” LaPorta explains. But before tackling the wear and tear items, give your home a good bath-from the outside, in. Power spraying walkways, windows, patios, or porches can make big impact on curb appeal. Dress up the front door (and shutters) with a fresh coat of paint-a bold accent color perhaps-and some shiny new hardware, taking into consideration the overall style and architecture of the home. Accessorize the entrance with simple oversized pots planters. For the porch and patio, the designer offers this cleaning mantra: “Never underestimate the power of vinegar and water for cleaning outdoor furniture.”

Inside, clear out the clutter and neutralize your personal style as much as possible. “Most people have too much furniture-lots of little tables, accent pieces, inherited furniture,” she notes. “Pack it up and store it away. Clean out the closets, too. Overstuffed closets are an indication to buyers that there is not enough storage space in the home.” If it’s not practical for you to rent a storage unit, designate one area (or the garage) for storage.

Revive kitchen and bathroom cabinets with a colored stain. Although the idea is to use neutral tones, a wide assortment of attractive stain colors are often overlooked. “It doesn’t always have to be brown, oak, or cherry; you can get some beautiful reds, sage greens, blue-greys, or oyster.”

Kitchen before

Kitchen before

As with any new do-it-yourself project, it’s advisable to begin in a less noticeable area. For example, stain the inside of a cabinet first to practice your technique and see how it’s going to look.

“Next, clean, clean, clean!” LaPorta is quick to repeat. People tend not to notice the filth and dust in their own homes, so pay close atention to the dirty details.

Once your home is spotless, look at the arrangement of the furniture. People are often guilty of pushing their furniture up against the walls. “For some reason, they think this makes a room look bigger, when in fact, it draws attention to the boundaries of the space,” the designer says. “Try floating sofas across from one another in such a way as to create inviting viewpoints.”

But be cautious when moving heavy furniture. A petite home stager herself, LaPorta uses furniture discs to position heavy furniture.

If you’re new to do-it-yourself projects such as staining, painting, or tiling, many big name hardware stores offer workshops and classes for beginners. Even on a budget, with a little labor and a strong will, you can set the stage for a show-stopping performance.

Kitchen after. This opaque stain in Winter White applies like normal paint but is technically a stain. Using a semi-transparent stain allows some of the wood grain to still show, whereas painting hides wood grain.

Kitchen after. This opaque stain in Winter White applies like normal paint but is technically a stain. Using a semi-transparent stain allows some of the wood grain to still show, whereas painting hides wood grain.

Six Secret Solutions

Fresh Floors: Peel-and-stick vinyl tile is an affordable way to modernize an outdated floor. When placing the tile, make sure to switch up the direction and placement of the tiles to mix the tones.

Shower Power: Instead of replacing a grimy glass shower door, clean it by mixing one part muriatic acid and about 10 parts water. Scrub it with steel wool and wipe it down for a door that sines.

Fired Up: Scrub the fireplace with soap and water. Polish bricks with a tone color enhancer to make them shine. To update the screen, remove and dust it thoroughly. Mask off the windows and use a can of heat-resistant spray paint to give the screen a fresh look. Hold the can about 18 inches away and use long strokes.

Top It Off: Granite countertops, although expensive, are a good investment. Save money by requesting a 9- or 12-inch squares. Easier to install than running-foot slabs, they often cost less.

Kitchen Update: Resurface old appliances for under $20 by removing the front panels and cleaning them. Then, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering and cut it to fit.

Creative Curtains: Dress up a window for $12 with this easy trick using place mats: Apply a hook-and-loop fastener to each place mat; attach them in a row to a basic curtain rod; and pin them together at the bottom for a stylish valance.

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  • JIM ARMSTRONG

    HOW DO YOU RECIEVE ANSWERES TO POSTED QUESTIONS?

  • JIM ARMSTRONG

    IN THE LATEST ISSUE OF “THE SATURDAY EVENING POST” THERE IS A SECTION CALLED “SETTING THE STAGE , AUTHORED BY HEATHER RAY AND SETTINGS DESIGNED BY LISA LaPORTA. THERE IS A BEFORE AND AFTER SET OF PICTURES OF A HOME OFFICE RE-DO. COULD YOU TELL ME THE MANUFACTURER OF THE TABLE THAT IS BLACK WITH A CHERRY TOP AND BLACK CHAIRS WITH UPHOLSTERED SEATS.

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

  • Laurie

    While I am not going to stain my cabinets, I will sand, prime and paint my cabinets a linen color. The same goes for my cabinets in the bathrooms. The one thing that I liked about Lisa LaPorta’s advice os the granite squares you can get for the tops of the counters. I like Lisa’s advice as I watch Design to Sell all the time with all the designers.

  • Bonnie

    The office area certainly looked better but if they were trying to sell, the expense of buying the three new open storage units and the table/chairs would be expensive and they had to get rid of the things they had. What do they do with all the things theyt had to remove? Would the new items fit the new home? The look was really great but it wasn’t inexpensive.

  • CRD

    Well, there’s a few good ideas in here. DON’T stain cabinets. Leave them – just clean them up with a good soap like Murphy’s. At least buyers can see “potential”, rather than a crummy color of green or RED! stain on them. The curtains are a joke. Save your time & money. Peel & stick for appliances???!!! No Thanks!!!!