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Serving the entire San Francisco Bay Area | Gayle Grace, 510-654-7983

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Staging makes a difference

My neighbors have put their house on the market. They moved out and into their new home before the first open house.

The one thing I told them to do was stage the house, but they chose not to. I had the opportunity to listen to people's comments and see their faces as they were leaving the first open house and it wasn't pretty. I popped into the house to see what people were unhappy about and it didn't take long to find the problem areas.

An unstaged house isn't a home. Unless your house is in perfect condition - every single flaw will show up when the house isn't staged. Every flaw will look like a giant obstacle for the new owner to have to overcome. A few simple fixes will seem like a total remodel to potential buyers.

Staging isn't for hiding problems. Staging allows people to fall in love with the place first, then deal with any minor issues that may need to be addressed. Staging warms a space up and gives people an idea of what life in the house could be like.

Remember what your mom used to tell you "you only get one opportunity to make a good first impression".

Before/After photos from stagers at StudioD. Call Susan Goldstein 510-339-9015

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Dare I tell you that I finished my taxes in one Sunday afternoon? How is this possible, you ask...well, it's possible because several years ago, I set about organizing my tax files so that I don't have to even think about it much anymore.

I created a file in my drawer that is labeled "Current Year Taxes". Into that file I always place a copy of my previous years taxes for reference, a worksheet containing all the information that is asked for each year, i.e., the square footage of my home office and the beginning and ending mileage from my car, etc. I drop all my 1099's into this file as well.

During the year, I post my income and expenses weekly, in Quicken, and I post my cash receipts quarterly. I keep all my monthly bills and receipts in an accordion file on my desk.

I order TurboTax from Intuit and in a matter of a couple of hours, I can complete my taxes. Granted, my life isn't as complicated as many others...but still, I know people who only need to file the 1040EZ and it takes them weeks!

If every year you've vowed to get organized, but you haven't, then isn't it finally time to call me...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Universal cleaning products

A Kit to Keep on Hand - from Martha Stewart

Your universal cleaning kit should include:

An all-purpose cleaner, or a solution of 2 tablespoons mild dishwashing liquid, such as Ivory, and 2 cups water in a spray bottle

A mildly abrasive cleanser, such as Bon Ami

A glass cleaner, or a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle

Rubber gloves; lint-free white cloths; medium-bristled scrub brush

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Organization + Function + Style = an inspired workspace

Over the last 15 years of organizing people's homes, I've seen my share of dreary, dark, dull offices. Why do we take the least liked space in our home and turn it into an office? If it's the smallest bedroom, the darkest part of the house, or the back of the cold, damp garage, and then we try and earn a living in it!

Clients say over and over, "I don't want to work in my office". They end up sprawled throughout the house, mail on the kitchen counters, bills on the dining room table and papers scattered everywhere. Enough, I say...

So, I've added a special product to my services - An Inspired Workspace™ - blending organizing with creative problem solving and style. My goal is to turn those awful offices into places where people want to be and are inspired to do their best work.

You can follow my new blog now at An Inspired Workspace™ and check out the details on my services at the All Things Home™ website. A new tab Inspired Workspaces will be up soon.

This is my office a few years ago. Not bad, functional, a bit dull with everything in paper bag brown and blacks, but not particularly inspiring...

This is my office in '08/09. I added some red boxes and magazine files, and organized my shelves a bit more...

This is my office today. I changed some supply colors to be more pleasing, I cut back on what I stored on my shelves and added a place for flowers and artwork, as well as a pretty dish to hold desk items - all of which make this a much more comfortable and fun place to spend time in.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vertical filing

Papers and folders stacked horizontally don't get found, they just get lost. Keep papers and folders in vertical files, on your desktop, instead of in piles everywhere.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Moving crates

Traditionally, most homeowners use cardboard boxes for packing their possessions. A growing trend in home moving is using plastic crates, just as businesses do when they pack their offices. Crates are reusable and offer more protection than cardboard. After unpacking, the crates are returned to the moving company.

Check out Zippgo.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cutting boards

Every so often I read about another test that debates the use of plastic versus wooden cutting boards. From my studies, I believe that any board that is not properly cared for and washed is a problem waiting to happen.

These are my rules for cutting boards: keep them super clean and do not cut meat or poultry on the same board as fruits and vegetables.

I also discourage my clients who have moved into new homes, from using the built-in cutting boards that often come with the kitchen. You don't know what the previous owner did with that board. Discard it and order a new one.

I like these flexible colored plastic pieces for using on top of a wooden board. You match the color to what you are cutting and they go right into the dishwasher after use. I get mine at Sur La Table.

Book jackets

Years ago I worked for an interior designer. I learned a lot from her. Some things she specifically taught me and some I picked up without realizing it. She loved black candles in silver candlesticks, and in her beautiful home they looked stunning. She also believed that only hard cover books should live in the public spaces of your home and that all book jackets should be removed. This last item always makes me nervous - yes, book jackets that are stained, torn and faded aren't very attractive.

However, in fits of cleaning and organizing I have gotten rid of several book covers that I now miss dearly. Every so often I come very close to reordering the books just to get the covers, but they're expensive books and I stop myself when I see the invoice total.

I now know that books in a bookcase may look better without jackets, but I think coffee table books still need them. Here's the book with and without its jacket. Clearly, I'd rather have the jacketed book on my table.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Closet organizing

Here's a quick way to organize your clothes closet:

1. Separate your dress/work clothes from your casual/exercise clothes.

2. Separate by type of garment - pants/skirts/dresses/blouses/shirts/tops

3. Separate darks from lights, heavy to lightweight, long sleeve from short.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bring on the colors!

Well, my post a few weeks ago on bringing in flowers and color during these drizzly, rainy weeks, garnered a lot of comments. You want more suggestions for brightening up your homes...okay - I hear you!

So, here are some more ideas: bright pastels work great for cheering up the winter blahs - lemon yellow, lime green and sky blue are especially good.

Please note, I am not saying you need to go and buy things - I'll just bet that you already have some these items stashed away...

Bring out your colorful table linens - whatever you've got - mix and match them, throw them over the sofa if it cheers everyone up.

Pull out your most colorful sheets, blankets and bedding - even if you usually only use them in summer - bring them out now and pretend its summer!

Bring out your most colorful pillows and throws and toss them about.

Add colorful fruits and veggies to platters and put them out on the counters and tables...put your most colorful books up front on the shelves and replace plain candles with colorful ones.

Put out colorful guest soaps and towels in the bathrooms.

Serve colorful cookies!
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