Owner of Sorted Affairs Home Staging Robin LeVine has staged many homes in the White Bear Lake area. LeVine shares tips and trends to make your home look and feel great whether you’re selling or staying.
White Bear Lake Magazine: What are some of the basics for people preparing their home for sale, or who are living in their homes and want to refresh?
Robin LeVine: Get rid of the dated things. If people have lived in one place for a long time, they definitely have things that don’t work anymore. Curtains are a big one. A lot of times people have big heavy curtains on—it’s better not to have anything on the windows.
If people are living in the house and need window coverings, it’s best to put some very light curtains or blinds to let a lot of light in.
WBL: What advice do you have about color?
Robin LeVine: Lighten up the wall colors. About 15 or 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, dark colors were popular. Now it’s much better to have light, bright and clean.
Grays have been popular for about five years but less so now. In Minnesota, it’s gray a lot already. It isn’t completely out, but it’s going more toward a taupe-gray—it’s a warmer, cozier gray. Dark gray can be so depressing. Navy has been popular the past several years. It can still be an accent color, but it’s too dark for walls. Keep furnishings and walls neutral and bring in color with accessories like pillows and artwork.
Room photos courtesy of Sorted Affairs Home Staging
For pops of color, blues of every tone are very popular. Teal has been popular for a while, and it still is. Terra cotta and gold make good pops. I love navy as an accent, and spa-blue, too.
Sea salt is popular now. I use it for half the bathrooms and kitchens that I work with. It’s a blue-green that’s very light. It looks great, but it’s important to remember that you can’t just pick a color without looking at the cabinets, the woodwork and the floors. You have to take into account what’s next to the color in the room. You can’t just pick a color and it works everywhere.
For neutrals, warm grays, taupes and beiges can be mixed together and look good.
In some parts of the home, you can do black and white and it can be neutral, like in a laundry room, and then do pops of color.
Don’t pay too much attention to “color of the year.” Different paint companies have different “colors of the year.” Anything goes if it’s not too bright. Stay away from the candy colors. Subdued, soft is good. Use colors that have a little gray added to them.
WBL: What are some common decorating pitfalls to avoid?
Robin LeVine: Kids’ artwork can make a home look cluttered. If you’re staying in your house, keep kids’ art in their rooms and in the kitchen. Don’t keep it on the fridge—the art gets battered. Buy some cheap frames—Michael’s has some good ones, and IKEA has frames that come with mats. It looks better, and it really elevates the art for the kid. Remember to change it out!
Photos can be a problem. Don’t have too many, or else no one sees any of them—it just becomes stuff. Pick a few that make you feel good. And change them out. If you’re selling, it’s best not to have any photos.
Keep kitchen counters fairly cleared off. Only keep things that you’re really using, whether you’re staging or living in your home. It’s hard to get stuff done when things on the counter are in the way.
Keep things off the fridge. People put 1,000 things on the fridge and there’s really no good reason to do that. People have wedding invitations on their fridges from years ago. If you’re selling, take everything off.
WBL: What’s new in lighting?
Robin LeVine: Lighting can date a house quickly. Right now, everything has drum shades—round simple shades, no curlicue kind of stuff. Don’t use your grandmother’s shades. Almost any lamp can look better if you put a nice shade on it.
Ceiling fans can date a house. Some are from the 80s or 90s. They should be updated every few years. When you’re selling, people don’t want a dated house—it makes it seem like they’ll have to do a lot of work and they don’t want to.
WBL: What about flooring?
Robin LeVine: Instead of just doing just a plain tile, there are all sorts of different fun patterns that really update the house. You can get vinyl tile or ceramic tile.
Mix it up. It used to be that everyone put the same carpet all over the house, but you don’t have to anymore. You can have different carpet in the bedroom, the living room, etc. It’s one of the things that can make a house feel more high-end, too. You want it coordinated, but it doesn’t have to be “matchy.”
If I were doing flooring for a house, I would do the same neutral color but with different textures and patterns.
Most people aren’t putting tiles in the kitchen anymore because they break easily, and they’re hard on your feet. Use a wood floor or luxury vinyl. Luxury vinyl looks great and it’s more comfortable on your feet and more waterproof.
WBL: Other advice for our readers?
Robin LeVine: One of the biggest bangs for the buck is updating the bathroom and the kitchen. Wallpaper in the bathroom is trending, but only on one wall, and with very simple wallpaper. Tile patterns for the bathroom floor look pretty and can make a home look up to date. For vanities, dresser-type vanities are in. Have stone surfaces in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Quartz is overtaking granite. It’s a harder surface. It comes in different textures and colors—there are more options than for granite, and it requires less upkeep. Marbled-whites and off-white stone surfaces are popular as part of the “lightening-up” trend.
Keep décor appropriate to a room’s function. For example, the master bedroom is about rest and romance. You don’t want pictures of your family. You want each room to have what’s appropriate for it. You want it to feel the way you feel when you wake up in a nice hotel. The bedroom is important— we start and end every day there.
The kitchen should look like you’re going to start cooking for a party. Put wine bottles and glasses out on the counter.
If you’re selling, remember a showing is like a blind date. You take a shower and put on your nice clothes and present yourself well. It’s the same thing with staging—you’re putting on your best look.