Occupied Home Staging in the Glebe – Main Level





Family Room untamed

This property was a victim of busy owners! Active athletes and dog owners, full-time demanding careers, not enough time in the day to organize their gear = a little bit of chaos. Knowing a sale was on the near horizon, they brought me in to help them prepare for the next big step in their lives. The family room was a perfect example of a busy lifestyle snowballing out of control. Fortunately, they cooperated on all of the decluttering suggestions and allowed me a free hand in choosing what items of their furniture would work well with pieces I brought in from my Elegant Strategies inventory and my go-to furniture rental store. They also took me up on the deal with Dymon Storage, which made it much easier for them to breathe until they’re in their new home.

Family room to come home to

Family room to come home to

Their living room and dining rooms were seldom used. Coming and going via the back door, the front rooms had morphed into a dumping spot for mail, tools, guitars, computer equipment and more. And so dark! Dark furniture, dark window coverings.

Living room unloved

Living room unloved



Dining room misery

Dining room misery










With lighter furniture, effective lighting, proper layout, window dressing to show off the beautiful hardwood floors and architectural details, and much needed colour, this living room-dining room space makes a welcoming and classy first impression.

This property has a great location, a short walk to all the amenities of the Glebe, particularly Lansdowne Park. But even property in a good locale needs staging expertise to sell well. If a property isn’t presented beautifully for its photos on the MLS, you won’t get the viewings you need for a quick and satisfying sale. This home sold at its first weekend for $95,000 over list price!

Dining room elegance

Dining room elegance

Living room with a lot of life

Living room with a lot of life

Kitchen Pantry Project adds function

Recently, I helped a client with a modest kitchen and no separate pantry get organized. It was tricky for the home owners to take advantage of sales on non-perishables, for instance, because there was insufficient space in the kitchen to store things until they were needed. However, the kitchen opens on to the family room and this provided a good solution.

I suggested we modify the broom closet in the family room, mere steps from the kitchen. This was a good sized space with a bi-fold door and many shelves — but the shelves were just a bit difficult to reach to be practical on a daily basis. [Read more…]

Easy Organizing Tips for your home #6

I’ve written several blogs about easy organizing and I hope that my good ideas aren’t falling on deaf ears! Below is an excerpt from an Australian blogger named Marissa Roberts, and she  says a lot of what I’ve told you. Sometimes it’s more memorable if it comes from an exotic source, and Australia is rather exotic, so here goes:

“I’m going to show you the little trick I use to declutter my house simply & effectively.

It has nothing to do with how much time you have or the amount of ‘stuff’ in your home.

It’s all about the emotion behind the activity.

Something I hear over and over from clients is that decluttering is too hard because it takes a long time – but most often, the truth is it takes a long time because it’s hard to decide what you should keep and what you should throw out or give away (don’t worry – I’ll show you how to do this with little stress and heartache).

If you want your home to run smoothly, it needs to be clear and well organised.

You’ll be amazed at what decluttering your house can do for you:

1) Physically: You’ll have space to put things away quickly and easily, making cleaning much easier as well

2) Emotionally: You’ll LOVE living in a house with more room, more space – you’ll truly feel a weight off your shoulders and your home will become your haven.”

In Marissa’s blog, she links emotions to the act of decluttering and the result of decluttering. One of her tips is a technique I’ve used for years, but no one’s heard of me! I collect stuff from, say, the clothes closet, and put it in a bag with a sticker on it, saying the date I bagged the clothes. I keep it in our garage or basement storage or the guest room closet. A few months later, if I haven’t gone looking for any of those clothes, they are HISTORY! If I haven’t wanted to wear something during the appropriate season, i.e. a summer dress during the summer months, then I either don’t like it that much or I’ve gained or lost weight or I have something else I prefer. That bag can be opened quickly to double-check the contents, and then it’s donated to charity.

This works beautifully with books, clothes, shoes, bric-a-brac, and general household items. There is ALWAYS a good charity that can use your donations. Personally, I go back and forth between Cerebral Palsy and my church’s ‘Nearly New Sale’, spring or fall. And if it’s wintery stuff or anything Christmassy, I donate it to my church to sell at the Christmas Bazaar.

This is a common-sense way to clear your home, whether it’s just for daily living that you’d like more space, or because you’re planning to move. For more practical organizing tips, please contact:



Staging your home while you’re living in it – it can be done!


At Elegant Strategies, our specialty is staging occupied homes. I pride myself on my ability to use or ‘redeploy’ as much of the client’s furniture and accessories as possible. This keeps rental costs to a minimum. Rental fees are the charges that really add up. If a client’s furniture and accessories are in good condition, I’ll find a way to use them. “Making the most of your home” is my motto.

First steps: [Read more…]

Make your home (and your life) healthy

When selling your home, it should be super clean and smell fresh. Not like chemicals and not like you’re trying to mask a bad smell. Read on for some ideas that will make your home and you look, smell and be healthier.

This year, my new personal project is ridding our home of as many unhealthy, chemical-laden products as possible. Not just getting rid of them responsibly at the hazardous materials dump, but replacing them with organic, cruelty-free products. You may wonder, why go green now?

I’ve reconciled myself to animals being used in labs where they’re trying to cure cancer or Parkinson’s or cystic fibrosis, for example. That’s important work. Making my eyelashes look longer and thicker, however, or my hair silkier and softer, is not important work. I like to look presentable, but I don’t want any more rabbits or mice blinded on my behalf. I’ve been converting for years to organic cleaning products to do my small bit for the environment. I may not have kids myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with your kids or grandkids having a ruined planet.

First step: culling cosmetics and toiletries.  I feel good that I’m no longer harming myself and the environment. I checked the contents of every product in our bathrooms and if there were no parabens or sulphates, they passed the first test. (There are many chemicals that are harmful for us, but I can pronounce these ones and therefore remember them!). If it had the cruelty-free symbol on it (a leaping bunny or bunny ears), or said “no animal testing”,  it stayed. A surprising number could be kept, I was happy to find. But LOTS are gone; contact me for the product lines you may wish to avoid.










Some of the organic product lines I’m now trying out: (highlighting products made in Canada) Neutragena Naturals,  Pure Anada (made in Manitoba), Bambu, Burt’s Bees, Arbonne, The Naked Bee, Pro Terra, Live Clean, Zuzu, Gabriel, Barefoot Venus (made in Kelowna, BC), Millcreek Botanicals, The Green Beaver Company (Hawkesbury, ON), Kosmea, Pure Ayre, Lucia, Paula’s Choice, Badger, Penny Lane Organics  (also Ontario) – I have more on these if you want to email me.  Just because a product is organic and cruelty-free doesn’t always mean it works well. But that applies to the non-organic, tested-on-animals products, too!


Organic, cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries that do a good job

It’s easy to find organic, cruelty-free hand lotion, body lotion, moisturizer and lip balm.  In Ottawa, we are fortunate to have the largest environmental store in Canada, Terra 20, with one on Wellington, a huge one on Iris beside IKEA, and a new store at the Rideau Centre  –  they don’t carry cosmetics at the Rideau Centre location as they’re beside a MAC store and Sephora is a few doors down. Terra 20 carries cleaners, toiletries, cosmetics, kitchen items, clothing, paper products, baby products, etc. All are environmentally-friendly, but I’m not sure that all are cruelty-free, so check the labels; they are well-marked. Kardish Health Food Centre also has a reasonable selection of organic, cruelty-free toiletries and cleaning products.

Another very good source of organic, vegan, cruelty-free and (often) Canadian-made toiletries (and other items) is DreamWeaver, a gorgeous boutique in Westboro, in Ottawa’s west end. Lee Anne Frederickson, the owner, carries bath and body, fashion, gourmet and gift items, home decor and baby products, many of which I’ve purchased over the years.

Second step: culling the house cleaners. This is very important. I attended a webinar  in late March through CSP International® called “Chemicals Hiding in Plain Sight“. Did you know that 70% of soil and water contamination in North America comes from household cleaners? If that doesn’t bother you from an environmental perspective (but it should), it also means you pay higher water bills when your municipality has to spend $$$ to clean the water. What’s under our sinks could be harming us, or at least contributing to health problems we don’t want, like cataracts and blurred vision.

Safe cleaning products that do a good job

Safe cleaning products that do a good job

Products containing tri-halo methanes, hydrocarbons, sodium laurel sulphate — these are ingredients you want to dispose of responsibly ASAP. Did you know that some foaming products, like hand soap, contain sodium laurel sulphate, and is considered a cause of cataracts? Fabric softeners haven’t been used in our home since we got our dog 12 years ago. They’re poisonous to dogs, and Chloe liked to get into everything when she was a pup. J.R. Watkins® has organic products for cleaning; I’ve switched to their  laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and  multi-purpose wipes, and am very pleased. Caldrea also makes lovely dish soap that’s organic and cruelty-free; buy it at Terra 20 and Solutions at Train Yards, for example. NatureClean makes organic, cruelty-free, Canadian-made dishwasher pellets, which I’ve seen at both Terra 20 and Kardish stores; I’m very pleased with this product.

There are too many dangerous chemicals in our mass produced daily-use products to enumerate even a quarter of them. But please do yourself and anyone living with you a big favour: check out the alternatives for safe cleaners, safe toiletries and safe cosmetics, and switch to organic, cruelty-free products. They are, sometimes, more expensive, but as demand for healthy products increases, there’s a lot more choice at reasonable prices. And some of them, for instance, Penny Lane Organics and Barefoot Venus, are Canadian-made, so they’re an even better choice!

If you have questions, please contact me. I’m happy to recommend ones I’ve found  most effective.



How to sell a home you’ve lived in for decades, Part 2

I’ve been writing about the strengths and weaknesses you might be faced with when trying to sell an older home. The good: mature neighbourhood, mature trees, proximity to amenities, more space than modern builds. The not-so-good: maintenance and reno issues, tired-looking cabinets, worn-out finishes (flooring, countertops, tile, backsplash)  in areas such as kitchen, baths and powder rooms, a dated feel to key rooms.

Before you panic, let’s consider other aspects of your property, and practical solutions.

Chances are you need a fresh paint job throughout – the good news is that a paint job is the easiest, least expensive home staging task you can undertake. You can do the work [Read more…]

How to sell a home you’ve lived in for decades – Part 1

Most buyers want a move-in ready home. Gleaming hardwood floors, lots of storage space,  and fresh, neutral paint jobs, combined with curb appeal, make a hot commodity. Add skilled home staging, and a knowledgeable listing agent, and these elements will help you sell your home faster and for more money. You already have some great assets in your favour: a well-established neighborhood and mature trees.

IMG_0192People who have owned a home for decades can’t quite believe the value of  property these days. Despite a slight downturn in home market values last year, prices are moving back up, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Homes in Ottawa that went for $10,000 in the late 1950’s can easily be priced in the $350,000+ range. If you maintained your home carefully over the years, and depending on the size and location of your home, you could be looking in the $400,000+ range. If you’ve upgraded your kitchen and bathrooms in the last 5 years, even likelier.

[Read more…]

Home Staging season is upon us!

Reasons to hire a professional to stage your home, and there are many:

If you plan to empty your property before putting it on the market, BEWARE!

Showing an unstaged, unfurnished house is a gamble. If a property is flawless, the all-important MLS photos will be okay. Not very interesting, but okay. An empty property requires buyers to have very good imaginations — and the time to bother visualizing how it might look. Professional home staging is essential to give you the best and quickest shot at selling your home advantageously.

The thing is, most homes are not flawless. When your home is empty, every little nick and dent shows. Putting an entirely empty house on the market magnifies any flaws it possesses. [Read more…]

Room Makeovers – are they for you?

A room makeover – just what you need to shake off the blahs!

What is a room makeover?

Reviving and refreshing a space with:

Colour  (paint, accent pieces, art);

Lighting (lamps, window treatments, skylights);

Furniture layout (identify focal point, maximize the space in the room, create flow);

Furniture choices (make the most of pieces the client owns; source pieces that give the client the biggest bang for their buck)

A room makeover is not taking down walls, rewiring, modifying ceiling height, and other structural changes.

That’s a renovation, and you need a professional interior designer.

Before you embark on a room makeover, consider this:

[Read more…]

Easy Organizing Tips – #5

Happy New Year! We have another fresh start! So let’s start it as well organized and clutter-free as possible…

Whether you’re selling your home or continuing to dwell there, a tidy place helps enormously. I love to be able to find something the moment I need it. I don’t like to spend tons of time dusting. I like my “stuff” to be in good condition and usable when needed. Maybe I’m just impatient, but this is what works for me, and it’s what will work for you when you’re putting your home on the market.

I read a great article the other day in the community newspaper, Vistas, about recycling.  [Read more…]