A Picture's Worth a Thousand... Bucks? ||Part 2||

Welcome back!  I am so happy that you returned to hear how my staging adventure turned out from yesterday's post...  Bet you couldn't sleep last night because you were wondering how my design conundrum was going to turn out.  But really, I hope you actually slept like a log.  Ok so quick recap.  

 Fell in love with this bench:


Source: Zen Home

Cried a little when I saw the price... decided to make one of my own:

Got excited to sell it at Sweet Clover Barn [You're Invited!]

Tried staging outside:

Photos or editing weren't selling the bench... gave up on photoshoot al fresco.

Ok you caught up?  So in all that hullabaloo I'll admit I threw myself a pity party.  I was so frustrated that I didn't have any of my things to create a vignette for the mid-century/modern/rustic/eclectic customer!  But after reading all the great advice on Instagram and Facebook, I was resolved to creatively use some of my surrounding traditional décor to make a modern bench shine.  I did some digging around in the basement that Caleb and I are squatting in and found a quirky lamp table that could pass as mid-century.  It was like a light bulb went off [pun absolutely intended].  I grabbed some hardcover books, some shoes, and a hat, slapped some paint on one of my blank canvases, and got this:


BOOM!  This is exactly what I was going for!  That lamp table and easy DIY art piece completed the vignette I just couldn't get outside.


Even though the lighting in the basement isn't all that great and made the pictures a little grainy, the walls came off as more cream than butter yellow [how does paint do that?!?] which I count as a win!


The modern chrome makes for a beautiful contrast against the rustic Guernsey print don't you think?  [Guernsey meaning a brown-and-white-spotted cow.]  And the quirky lamp table and art help sell the eclectic story of a fun entryway bench or upholstered table.


Thank you so much for all your support and encouragement while I tried to work through this one.   This was an incredible lesson in stretching my style mutt muscles and working with limiting factors.  If any of you are also living outside of your usual decor element or trying to take photos to help sell your pieces, I hope my struggle encourages you to not feel trapped by your circumstances.  Keep pushing until you are happy with what you see.  

This bench will be for sale at Sweet Clover Barn in Frederick, MD this weekend Aug 21-23 10am to 5pm!  If you are a savvy local mid-century/modern/rustic/eclectic shopper in the market for a bench that looks $1,000 bucks but won't cost you that much... then I hope to see you there!


A Picture's Worth a Thousand... Bucks? ||Part 1||

T-Minus 2 days until the Sweet Clover Barn Sale!  Chelsea and I have been wishin' and hoping' and thinkin' and prayin' that we'll get to meet some new faces, sell a few pieces, and not shop too much ourselves over the weekend ;)

So a few of you may remember that back in April, Caleb and I put all our stuff in storage (including my go-to tools, DIY supplies, and staging accessories) and moved into a friend's basement AKA our "summer home."  Wanting to respect the space of our host, I haven't taken on many furniture flips.  But with the sale coming up, I found a few low-impact projects I couldn't resist - like copycatting this stunner of a bench:

Source:  Zin Home

Source: Zin Home


But YIKES that price!  Who would have an extra grand lying around to spend on a bench?  I wanted to make a bench that would look like $1,000 bucks but not one that would actually cost someone that much!  I had scored a set of [free] chrome legs from another bench so that was a step in the right direction by keeping my expenses low.  After curating the perfect faux cowhide fabric I had this:


Not too shabby eh? 

So now I had this epic mid-century modern meets rustic meets eclectic bench to sell [a style mutt of it's own if you ask me] and I started thinking about the kind of customer I hoped it would attract.  In our line of work, pictures often make the sale so it was critical that I get some captivating shots.  The problem was we're living in a basement with butter yellow walls and mostly traditional decor.  It just didn't seem like the best set-up to sell a mid-century/modern/rustic/eclectic bench.  Fortunately, our summer home has a GLORIOUS view so I thought I'd try something I've always wanted to: do a furniture photoshoot al fresco.  Here's my best shot from the shoot:

So after I took this shot I couldn't help but feel like it wasn't really "selling" the bench.  Was it too artsy or the background too busy?  Stumped, I turned to Instagram for some help from the DIY community and got the following feedback:

  • "Needs something... not sure what.. hopefully you'll get some ideas today.."
  • "Really like the idea of outside staging but I think the background is a bit overwhelming."
  • "I love this piece and this shot! What if the bench wasn't facing the side with that house behind it, but rather where the view is a bit deeper and you see the lake in the background. Might be more monochromatic."
  • "Leave it! It lets the piece shine!"
  • "Ok right now I'm staring because the shot is so beautiful. But I think you need more focus on the bench. Maybe move the bench a little more in front of the tree and shoot with your focus on the bench"
  • "Absolutely love the pic, but I almost missed the bench at first glance, maybe if the background was blurred a little?"
  • "Stunning just how it is!"
  • "The bench caught my eye first thing"
  • "Stand along and let it speak for itself!!!"
  • "Stunning with nature's green as a backdrop"

Although it seems like I was getting mixed poll results, it totally helped me realize what was bugging me about this shot.  I realized that what I loved about this picture wasn't the bench, it was the tree.  I wasn't even looking at the bench for that sweeping tree - leaning out over the water like it just wants to go for a refreshing dip.  So I tried blurring the background to help focus on the bench [literally]. 

Better but would that really help a buyer put it in the context of their home?  I decided to try introducing a few of my decor pieces [that weren't in storage] in hopes that it would help:

Here's some of the feedback I got with this new shot:

  • "Wish I had an answer for you! Since I only sell my stuff online, I always have a white background. It is a pretty shot though! Maybe if you just cropped it with less background?"
  • "I love the props together, but personally I think a blank wall backdrop would work better with the look you have going on"
  • "I'll be completely honest with my opinion. Until I read that it was a styled shot I thought it was a behind the scenes of what you did before. I lost the fact that the bench was what I needed to be looking at. I appreciate the picture alone, but for me it didn't work to capture my attention as an ad for the bench."
  • "I think the bench and the books, by themselves against the backdrop would have been really cool!!
  • "Love the book idea..but maybe just one book laying open.... And a small very small tray with a tall glass of lemonade with a tall tall straw and lemon garnish! I would kill for your view! Love being near water...  the bench is marvelous!"
  • "This looks like a magazine ad! Love it"

Again, mixed poll results.  I liked the color scheme but the odds and ends made for a confusing vignette.  I mean who is this photo geared towards?  Someone who spends the day by the lake reading books with their upholstered coffee table bench, a terrarium, and blank canvases?  That's a pretty narrow market.  

I tried blurring the background again in hopes they wouldn't stand out as much.  Maybe it could be mistaken as a magazine ad, but not every buyer has editorial taste.  It was still missing that "$1,000 feeling" so what else could I do to help it sell?  It was at this point I was ready to throw in the towel but the encouraging IG community got me thinking again.  Maybe, with a little imagination and the help of our host's traditional decor, this style mutt could find a way to get the feel I was going for after all...  

I hope you'll come back tomorrow to find out how!

And don't forget!  You're invited to the Sweet Clover Barn Sale this weekend Aug 21-23 from 10am to 5pm at Sweet Clover 4051 Stanford Ct, Frederick, Maryland 21703.

Staging Smart: Tips For Staging in Small Places

GORGEOUS Photo Cred:  Jillian Michelle Photography

GORGEOUS Photo Cred: Jillian Michelle Photography

Caleb and I hit our first wedding anniversary this weekend!  Can I get a woot woot?!   I'd heard that the first year of marriage is supposed to be the hardest, but I think because I made Caleb patiently date me for so long {4 years to be exact} we covered a lot of the hard topics pre-rings.  This last year, I mainly just had to overcome adjusting to my first boy roommate and how to feed a man who's taste buds are more like an 8 year old boy's {love youeeee}.  Here's to year two!

Now that we're officially not newlyweds, Caleb and I are also approaching the anniversary of moving into our apartment.  This means that for a whole year Caleb and I have been carrying furniture up 3 flights of apartment stairs and rearranging our apartment like a sliding tile puzzle just to flip, stage, sell, and repeat again.

Last week Chelsea kicked off our series on staging.  I'm gonna go ahead and nick-name the series Staging Smart so if you are just checking in {why hello there and welcome!} be sure to check it out.  So in the hopes that I am not the only one in a tiny-apartment-furniture-flipping situation, I'm following Chelsea up with some tips about how I stage-to-sell in a small space.

Besides being only 863 sq.ft., our apartment comes with some additional challenges:

1} Our apartment doesn't get the best natural light for photos
2} Our open-concept with a loft means I do not have a lot of blank walls to stage/ play with
3} I am NOT a minimalist... I am a collectionist {ergo I have a lot of stuff to move and stage around}

Figuring out how to stage around these hurdles came through a lot of trial and error.  My staging journey began with my first piece for sale: the tufted mid-century modern bench.  I was so excited to show off my first piece, that I kicked Caleb out and hurried to clean the entire apartment before the tiny window of decent light hit our skylights like the fleeting sunbeam on treasure map in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

©1981 Paramount Pictures. 

©1981 Paramount Pictures. 

But when I staged it as the coffee table in our living room, the piece was definitely getting lost in the busy background of our apartment:

After moving it around multiple times, I began to get discouraged that none of pics were showcasing the piece.  I eventually gave up and I brought it over to Chelsea's to borrow her great staging wall:

After seeing how the bench popped against a plain background, I was determined to find an alternative way to photograph pieces without schlepping them to Chelsea's every time.  So next I tried staging outside:

But I was dealing with carrying pieces up-and-down 3 flights of stairs {more than I already am}, harsh direct sunlight, un-groomed grass {not to mention some rogue piles of dog poop...}, and quizzical looks from neighbors.  So I turned to our balcony in hopes of finding a relatively easy solution to a simple staging backdrop: curtains.

Utilizing our porch curtains was a HUGE step in the right direction.  The trick with staging on the porch was that sometimes the sunlight would back-light my pieces:

The good news is with a little a photo editing, you can actually use that to your advantage.  All I had to do was increase the brightness, mid-tone, and add a pinch of contrast:

If you have the momentum to wiggle a big piece into your staging-spot, then you better take advantage of the trouble you went through to set up.  Chelsea touched on staging multiple ways to show a piece's versatility, but I find it is also helpful to stage them to show a piece's personality:

Cool & Classy?

Or Colorful & Contemporary?

Both incorporate many of the same elements: geometric lamp, starburst mirror, moss ball, and books. But I chose to use the photo sesh I though brought more life to the piece to market to buyers.

With the smaller pieces, it is a little easier to find places for them inside.  But if you are going to stage a piece in a complete room and not with a blank backdrop, try to find a way to easily transform your space to best highlight it.  The trick is using what you have in new ways.  These tables were staged in the same spot but with subtle differences.  Can you spot them?  

Answer: curtain behind headboard, bedding, overall color schemes, rug, hat, and table top decor.

When staging these pieces, I tried to think like their potential buyers: the gold and mirrored accent table felt like it would attract a glamour-loving easy-breezy girl.  The x-base campaign table felt more masculine and classic.  Interestingly enough, the mirrored accent table sold to a cute twenty-something co-ed and the campaign table to a guy who's girlfriend was helping him style his first place.

Ok let's re-cap the takeaways for staging in small spaces:

1} If you don't have a simple backdrop that allows your piece to "pop," try making one
2} Take advantage of your piece once it's in place and style it for multiple photo shoots
3} Decorate around your piece to enhance it's unique personality 
4} Think about what kind of buyer(s) your piece might attract when styling your piece

Hope this helps all you small-space-stagers out there!  If you have any tips of your own, we'd love to hear them!