Published on Thu, Sep 13, 2007
Read More News

Home Improvement

Blaine woman offers helpful advice on home decor

By Jack Kintner

After 30 years in retail with her Landlubber and Landlubber Mercantile stores, Blaine resident Penny Beebe started Re.Fresh, an interior re-design and home staging business.

“The bottom line is that you’re not selling your stuff, you’re selling the house, so I help you to get your stuff out of the way,” said Penny Beebe.
The move happened after she took a course in Seattle from staging maven Barb Schwartz to become an accredited staging professional (ASP), and works with realtors, builders and homeowners to stage houses for sale, and also helps people who aren’t moving do what she calls re-design their living space.

“People, a lot of them former customers, will say that they’ve grown tired of this or that arrangement or don’t know what to do with the furniture they have,” she said, “so I’ll play with it, put things in different places, make suggestions.”

The goal, she said, is to help people be happy with their spaces by suggesting new and different ways of putting things together. She knows what she’s asking of people, too, when she “tells them to pack things up, get them ready to take to the new place. If I were to sell my house I’d have to put away three-fourths of my stuff, all the jello molds and old signs, all kinds of stuff. I love it but it won’t help sell the house. It will just get in the way by making it harder for potential buyers to see what’s really for sale.”

For people trying to sell a new or empty house, she said, staging can make a big difference, enhancing the layout and structure by putting in a few well-chosen accessories, something she calls warming it up.

“Typically, a house will be listed for a price consistent with other houses in the neighborhood, but then it may sit for a while. That’s where the stager comes in,” she said, “because the way you live in your home, and the way you market and sell your house are two different things.”
Her use of the terms reflects the difference, using the word home to mean the house and the way that it’s used, what happens there, as opposed to just the structure itself, the house.

“After all, that’s what you’re selling. I may make you box up your treasures but you know what? You get to take them with you to the new place,” she said.

The most common changes she makes are to get people to pack away as much personal momentos as possible, “things like the family photos that are all over, the five million books in the bookcases, the haystack of coats and the bushel of shoes by the front door,” she said, to show off the house itself and allow customers to mentally put their own stuff into it.
Though Beebe can begin to sound like your mother telling you to clean your room, the stakes are much higher when a property is up for sale.
“Even someone who is very casual about their own personal living space will get confused and uncomfortable in a house where the clutter gets in the way of being able to see the spaces for what they are, and for what they might be used,” she said.

There’s also a significant financial incentive, according to figures from Schwartz’s website stagedhomes.com. Houses that were staged averaged far less time on the market and sold for more money. “The price of my services can run from a few hundred dollars on up,” Beebe said, “depending on the situation and on what we decide to do, but it’s always far less than that first price reduction you make in order to move your house by lowering the price.”

The website’s data also suggest that the financial return from money spent on effective staging outstrip those generated by regular home maintenance and repair prior to a sale, although Beebe said that those things need to be done as well. “You have to fix that loose step and dripping faucet, too.”

She said that staging resembles what she once did as a retailer in designing store windows and the interior retail spaces. “You’re trying to motivate behavior by hooking people’s imaginations, and sometimes people are so attached to the things they live with that it takes an outside and objective person to see wider possibilities.”

She said that often with older houses it helps to emphasize rather than try to hide what she called their “funkier parts,” such as the little nooks and crannies in older craftsman style houses.One place she staged had a number of rooms all painted different colors, one of them a color she described as a “deep parrot green.”

Faced with an owner who resisted painting it a different color, she found two Adirondack chairs in the backyard and brought them inside, and along with a bird cage she found in the basement she transformed it into a garden room.

Beebe can be reached at 371-7200. For more information go to www.stagedhomes.com.

Whatcom in Bloom winners

Blaine residents Blair and Penny Beebe were one of several winners of the Whatcom County in Bloom competition sponsored by the Whatcom County Parks Department. The couple took home second place for best container garden. Meanwhile, Blaine residents Bruce and Billie Rowell took home second place for best private residential garden. Other winners included Semiahmoo Resort Association, Birch Bay Leisure Park, and the Peace Arch State Park.

Painting walls doesn’t have to be hard

Painting can have great impact on the appearance of a room for little cost. It is also a project that most people are capable of if they do their homework first.

Preparation is the key to a beautiful, long-lasting paint job. Paint is designed to be applied to a clean, smooth surface. In most cases, getting to this ideal state requires only simple preparation.

First, remove all the furniture, lamps and knickknacks from the room. Push whatever is left to the middle of the room and cover it with drop cloths.

Also remove anything attached to the walls, including pictures, window treatments and switch/ outlet plates (put the screws and plates together in plastic bags). Take off all the hardware from windows and doors. Cover radiators with newspaper. Loosen ceiling light fixtures and cover them with plastic trash bags.

Cover every inch of the floor with canvas or heavy plastic drop cloths.

After you’ve bought the paint and prepped the room, it’s time to proceed. Stir the paint thoroughly. It will go on and look better if the components are well mixed.

Need a guideline? Stir for three minutes.

Always paint a room from top to bottom. The job will go faster and turn out better if you follow this game plan:

1. Paint the ceiling. Use a trim brush to “cut in” the edges of the ceiling where it meets the walls. Paint a 2- to 4-inch-wide strip that “feathers” out toward the middle of the room.

Begin painting the ceiling immediately. Start in a corner, and paint across the narrowest dimension of the room.

2. Paint the walls. Start when the ceiling is dry. Do one wall at a time. Use a trim brush to cut in where the walls meet the ceiling, around doors and windows, and along the baseboards. Begin painting the walls immediately.

3. Paint the windows. Use an angular sash brush and, if you like, a smaller brush for the dividers.

4. Paint the doors. Use a trim brush. Work quickly but carefully. Don’t forget to paint all six sides.

5. Paint the door and window trim. Use a sash brush. Paint the edges and then the face.

6. Paint the baseboards. Use a sash brush. Protect the floor/carpet with painter’s tape and/or a paint shield.

It’s best to work with a partner. One can cut in the edges, and the other can follow along with the roller.

Use a roller wherever you can, and use plenty of paint to avoid the need for a second coat.

Painting ceilings: It’s best to work in a 3-foot-square “W” pattern. For walls, an “M” is the way to go. Here’s why: A zigzag pattern spreads the paint evenly over the section and lets you fill in without lifting the roller.

Use even, medium pressure, and stop when the section is evenly covered. Then move on to another section.

You can move sideways or up and down (it doesn’t matter). You will avoid lap marks if you overlap a bit of the section just painted while it is still wet. An extension pole will let you paint the ceiling and the high sections of the walls without a ladder.

Painting a window: First decide whether to mask off the glass, or paint carefully and scrape off any paint when you’re done. If you want to mask, you can do it with tape or by using a peel-off film you apply with a roll-on applicator.

Start in the middle of the window. Use a little brush to paint the dividers in double-hung windows or the inside edge of the frame if it’s some other type.

Switch to a 2-inch sash brush and paint the window frame and the trim. Finally, paint the sill and the trim below the sill.

Painting a paneled door: Work from the middle outward. Follow this sequence:

1) panels, 2) the horizontal areas between the panels, 3) the vertical areas between the panels, 4) the edges, 5) the horizontal areas at the top and bottom, and 6) the vertical areas on the outside.
If your door is flush/plain, start at the top and work your way to the bottom. Be careful, but work quickly. You’ll get brush marks if you try to brush wet paint over paint that is partially dry.

Cleanup: For most people, this is one of the least pleasant parts of a painting project. It is also why latex paint is so popular - it cleans up with water.

Wash the brush under warm water, making sure to work any paint out of the base of the bristles and the ferrule. Shake/ snap the brush to get the water out, and hang to dry (bristles down).

Oil-based paint cleans up with paint thinner. You need to clean it only once (at the end of the job). The rest of the time you can leave it hanging (not resting) in a covered can of thinner.

When it’s time to paint again, squeeze out the thinner against the side of the can and blot on newspaper.

Many do-it-your-selfers throw out their brushes at the end of a job rather than go to the trouble of cleaning them.

If you find yourself doing lots of painting around the house, consider investing in a brush and roller “spinner.” You mount your brush or roller cover to the device and crank away as you would with a child’s top.

Your brushes will remain like new forever. Oh, don’t forget to hold the brush or roller inside a bucket or barrel. Otherwise you’ll spatter paint all over your neighbor’s car.

Courtesy of TrueValue