Creating an Inviting Family Home after Divorce or Separation

Article written by Erin Lazer at SpaceStyle, featured at http://www.benmor.com/cas.php#25 Benmor Family Law Group

 

When a couple decides to part ways, it is often hardest on the children.  They are forced to adjust to a new routine and a new or secondary home.  To ease them into their new reality, parents need to create a warm, inviting and personalized space for the children so that they feel comfortable. Here are some tips on how to make a new or second dwelling feel like home:

1)  Create a ‘Kids’ Zone’. Ensure there is a designated space for the children. Having their own bedroom will make them feel less like a guest and more like they’re at home.  If finances don’t permit, try to make the shared space special to them or designate a part of that space specifically for the children.  Ensure the space has the functionality the children require such as sleep space, homework space, play space, space for friends, etc.

2)  Involve the children in the process. No matter how old they are, have the children help decorate.  If hiring a professional, have them consult with the children too.  If they are older, set a budget and partner with the children in the design of their space. If they are younger, let them pick out their own pillows, bedding and decorations. If budget is a factor, create some DIY projects they can help with to save money. If they have a hand in creating their space, they will be more excited about it and it will be a more positive experience for them despite their parents’ separation.

3)  Don’t be a hotel. Ensure they have a second set of key things so that they do not have to pack a suitcase every time they come over. They need to feel like it is their home, not a vacation. They may even want their room decorated the same way as their other home – which is fine. A second toothbrush and other toiletries, a good supply of clothing and pajamas, linens, toys, school/art supplies, etc. would be great to have. If they have a specific item they are attached to, try to purchase a second one. This way when they come over, they are coming home, rather than coming to visit.

4)  No surprises. Keep a calendar visible that shows the children’s extra-curricular activities, when they will be with mom and dad, any family events they will participate in, etc. This way, they will feel more in control.

These tips will help ease children into their new environment and routine. If they are in a happy space, it will definitely help boost their mood and help them better cope with some of the feelings they may be having related to the separation. Even if it takes a small investment, it will be well worth it in the end.

By Erin Lazer, Owner of SpaceStyle Home Staging, Organizing and Design, www.SpaceStyle.ca, erin@spacestyle.ca

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Creating an Inviting Entryway

The entryway of your home is the first impression for guests, or prospective buyers if your home is for sale. In those few seconds when others enter, consciously or not, they will form this impression. Not only that, but when you yourself walk into your home from a long day, wouldn’t it be great if it was a nice, welcoming space? Here are a few tips on taking that entry from drab to fab with a few simple additions.

Entryway 2-sm

1) Seating: It’s always great to have a bench or stool where you and your guests can have a seat to put on or remove shoes.  It also says, “come in, sit down”, which is warm and inviting. In the example shown located in Vaughan, Ontario, we’ve used an ivory leather bench (easy to clean!) with amazing chrome nail head studding, complete with reclaimed wood base and legs.  You could also invest in a storage bench if you are short on space. The bench could hold winter accessories like hats and gloves, pet supplies like leashes, or handbags year-round.

bench, entry seating

2) Textile: Most entryways will have a hard flooring surface like tile, in addition to the hard walls, doors, and windows. Bringing in a great entry rug will instantly warm the place up with a soft surface. While functionally, the indoor/outdoor rugs you can buy at any big box store will work, you can actually be more dramatic and make the space more impactful with a beautiful area rug. And don’t be scared to go big! Especially if you have a large entryway–you don’t want a 2×3 mat for all your guests to try to balance on before taking off their shoes. Make sure it’s large enough so they can come well into the home to allow everyone in the party inside. In the example shown, we’ve used a gorgeous rug that is relatively thin. Because this home has a mudroom where the occupants generally enter from the garage, the front entry is used mainly for guests, so investing in a nicer rug makes sense as it is not exposed to everyday traffic.

Textile, rug, area rug, fabric, warmth

3) Console Table: It’s always great to have a table of some kind right by the entry. Functionally, it’s somewhere you can put a few things down as you take off your coat and shoes. But it’s also a great place to showcase a few decorative pieces, again, to add warmth and personalization to the space. In the example shown, we’ve used a bowl where people can leave their keys or loose change, a family photo of the owners, and a sculptural piece.  It’s would also be amazing to have a large vase of fresh flowers for when you are entertaining–a great way to bring life to the space any time of year. The console table shown here is glass and chrome, however, there are many options out there. You could even get one that does double duty as a storage unit, with some drawers, or a cabinet area to store hats, mits, handbags, and even shoes.

Console table, entry table, sofa table, decorating entry

4) Art: Adding art to any space in your home is the way to perfectly finish it off.  Without art, a space can seem empty, drab, and impersonal. Adding a fabulous mirror or large piece of art right at the entry is a great way to create instant impact. In the example shown, we had a challenge with the light switch and alarm key pad being located right in the center of the feature wall, making it impossible to install a large scale piece of art. Instead, we opted to create a gallery of black and white architectural photos that camouflages these unsightly, but necessary, things. (What was the builder thinking?!) The photos themselves were actually taken by the owners on their various travels around the world, again, making this feature very personal.  You could also do family photos.  We purchased matching frames in a few different sizes. You could also do a grouping of mis-matched frames for a more eclectic feel.

Wall collage-sm

5) Flow: When decorating your entry, take into account the look and feel of the rooms that it flows into. In particular, if the home is open concept, you want to ensure the design works with the rooms visible from the entry. In our example the entry opens right onto the living/dining room, so we used the same pallet of neutral colours, but played more with the pattern in the rug to add some interest.

As you can see, transforming your entry can actually be very simple, and not involve a huge investment. But the impact can be huge given its importance in forming the first impression.  So while you might be decorating other rooms in your home, don’t forget about the very important entry!  It’s a place that can not only be functional, but stylish too!

Happy Styling!

Erin Lazer

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca, or suggest a topic for a blog post.

www.SpaceStyle.ca

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SpaceStyle is in the Houzz!

SpaceStyle at Houzz event in Toronto

SpaceStyle attends Houzz event at SOFA in Toronto

If you haven’t already heard about www.houzz.com, then now is a good time to check it out. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s going to be huge and could really revolutionize the interior design industry. On November 29th, I attended a great event hosted by SOFA–the Source of Furniture and Accessories, (@visitSOFA) where Houzz (@Houzz_Inc) presented some great research findings. My biggest takeaway was just how big this online platform can be not only in helping design professionals, including home stagers like myself, showcase their work, but also helping home owners to define and communicate the vision that they have for their spaces.

Are you thinking of tackling a home renovation, decorating or design project?  Are you looking to sell your home, or purchase a new one? Houzz should definitely be your first stop.  You can browse through hundreds of thousands of photos of projects completed around the world.  Be as specific as you’d like in your search. You can select a specific room that you’re thinking of working on, and specific style of design that you like (e.g. traditional, modern, etc.)  If you see something you like, you can simply click “add to idea book” and save it. You can make notes on exactly what you liked in the picture so you can remember what it was later.  Maybe you just really loved the chandelier in the picture of that dining room. No longer do you need to rip articles out of magazines and save them in an inspiration binder (if you’re organized like me). You can create as many idea books as you want, say, one per project.

One of the great features is that you can share your idea books. And you can use them to collaborate. For example, if you’re thinking of hiring a designer or decorator for your space, you can share your idea book with them. If you allow it, they can add photos to your idea book as well if they think they’ve found something you’ll like. It’s an amazing tool to help you better communicate with the design professional you have hired. Rather than saying, “So, I want to redesign the living room, but I can’t explain what I want”, creating an idea book in houzz will save tons of time and in the end, money, because you can pinpoint the type of look you are going for right off the bat.  I know I’ll want my clients to create an idea book so that I can understand better what they’re looking for.

Of course, the design professional who posted the original photos that are viewed and saved will be given credit, so if you find a design that you love so much, you can actually locate that designer if you wish.  You can also use Houzz just like any directory to find the professional that’s right for you. Again, using a search function, you can search for the type of professional you are looking for, like a Home Stager, Designer, Landscape Contractor, etc., and of course you can narrow your search by location, like Toronto, or Vaughan, as well to find local professionals.

SpaceStyle currently has a Houzz  profile which can be viewed at http://www.houzz.com/pro/spacestyleco.  Up until now, we haven’t been too active on Houzz, but given all I’ve learned today at the Houzz event, I can’t wait to dive in deeper and have some fun!

If you’d like to share your idea book with SpaceStyle, feel free! We’d love to see what you love!

Happy surfing!

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at info@SpaceStyle.ca, or suggest a topic for a blog post.

www.SpaceStyle.ca

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Demystifying Home Staging

I came across this article by Jason Van Steenwyk of realestate.com and thought that he did a great job of really explaining the benefits of home staging, what it is, and what it’s not. He discusses how, at a minimum, home staging is “the process of cleaning the place up to look great for the buyer”, but then elaborates to say “staging is the art…” (I like that!) “…of taking a bare home and presenting it to the potential buyer in such a way that they want to live there…” This is what I always have in the back of my mind when staging a home. I always try to create a feeling in the home that communicates a lifestyle–I want people to aspire to live the type of life I am showcasing. I never over-do it because that can sometimes come across as contrived. My goal is for the prospective buyer to mentally and emotionally move in within the first 10 seconds of viewing a property.

Jason also eloquently defines the difference between interior design and home staging, and this is something I try to explain when people ask what it is that I do. He says “[Home Staging] is a very different skill than doing an interior makeover to please the owner. The owner has specific and identifiable tastes and will likely be there for years. The home stager has to anticipate the average taste.” Home staging is all about appealing to the broadest range of buyers. Some homeowners may be insulted or upset by a home stager’s comments to remove their personal items, artwork, and decor from a space. Home owners should never feel this way. There may be nothing wrong with their taste, but the problem is that it’s just that–their taste, not the taste of the average buyer.

Jason also talks about diminishing returns of home staging. It’s definitely possible to spend too much on home staging. Some stagers will make recommendations beyond what will really add value to the home. When I’m working on a project, I always focus on the key rooms that matter most to buyers, and of course, am respectful of the seller’s budget. Sometimes a seller has great furniture and accessories, but the way they are showcased is all wrong. In those cases, I simply work with what they have to maximize the appeal of the home. Other times, bringing in some accessories is all that is required to give the home a bit more character. And many times, especially with vacant or semi-vacant homes, we recommend bringing in furnishings. Every case is different, and presents a new and wonderful challenge.

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Keep styling!

For Jason’s full article, go to this link:

http://www.realestate.com/advice/home-staging-is-it-worth-the-effort-when-flipping-houses

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