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Interiors: Home staging tips to make your home look picture perfect

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Did you ever wonder how to stage your home for a photoshoot, to sell, or just to look fantastic for company? Brad has been staging a luxury home for magazine shoot & will share tips to make your home look picture perfect Sharon has sound creative advice as to how the everyday person can micro0manage their own personal space to create a home environment that is both visually pleasing to the eye and organized- from closets to collections to the right placement and angles. Of course Brad has some gossip and Sharon has DIY tips to make your home as fabulous as your wardrobe. Take a listen, the unexpected will ALWAYS happen! Read more about Sharon and Brad's Home Staging Tips here: http://www.focusonstyle.com/In-Focus/Trends-Style/home-staging-tips-interior-design


0:00 Announcer


0:04 Sharon Haver

Hello. And good morning, everyone out there. This is Sharon Haver from FocusOnStyle.Com. Welcome to Focus On Style Talk Radio, with our editor at large, Brad Boles.

0:16 Brad Boles

Well hello there. And how is everyone today?

0:20 Sharon Haver

Is everyone just being gorgeous and fabulous? Normally we talk about a little gossip, a little fashion, a little dish, but today, I thought it would be kind of cool and interesting to talk about home style and interior design. Because many of you don't realize it, but Brad started out as a makeup artist, and he also works in interiors. You probably know that from The Real Housewives of New York. And he's been very busy in the Hamptons, staging a mega, luxurious, to die for, mansion for a photo shoot. He has some tips to share about staging, whether your home is going to be shot for a magazine, or you're staging it to sell it, or you just want it to look beautiful and fabulous for yourself, and extra perfect when company comes over. So, Brad, give us a little tale of what you've been doing this week.

1:14 Brad Boles

Well, I'm working on a beautiful house in Bridgehampton that is actually, he is a CEO and owner of Blue Star Jets. And the house originally was a house that I worked on with Charles Regensburg two years ago. And it was a spec house from the 1980's. It was absolutely atrocious. We were brought in to basically bring the house up to date, and modernize it, but still keeping that feeling of the Hamptons. So we consequently went in and did a lot of bead and board. And I had just come from Turks and Caicos in the West Indies. And I stayed in the Royal Palm Hotel. And the ceilings of the Royal Palm were all done in this bead and board. And it was very, very beautiful, inset panels in the ceiling. It gave me a huge inspiration when I originally came back and sat down with Charles Regensburg, the builder, to discuss how we were going to formulate the look for the house.

2:07 Brad Boles

So basically, that was the beginning. And of course, they had ideas about what they want to do with the interior, which they wanted it to feel very beachy. But at the same time, they wanted it very sumptuous, and very beautiful. But they didn't want to feel as though their kids couldn't play, or that it was too luxurious that their children felt they couldn't play in the house. So, we put the house together.

2:29 Brad Boles


2:32 Sharon Haver

Something they could really live in.

2:34 Brad Boles

Yes. That was very, very important to them. That was the number one request. So after we finished the house, and this is now two years fast forward, we'd been approached by a magazine called, Social Life, which is a magazine out here to do a story about myself and Charles Regensburg. What we do. Kind of the magic of how we can go in and take something and turn it into something absolutely fabulous. And doing that luxuriously, at an incredible price point that kind of allows you still to have enough wiggle room to add some luxurious things if you want. So it's kind of downsizing affordable luxury in the sense of what we can do.

3:10 Brad Boles

So staging the house; what happened was, we came in this week to photograph it. And, of course, it's enormous house. It's seven bedrooms. It's almost 9000 square feet, and every single room had to be photographed, and had to be lit. Staging the house meant clearing off the counter tops. Whenever you're staging a house to sell it or to preview a house, you always want to make sure that you remove a lot of personal items.

3:38 Sharon Haver

Let me interrupt for second. It's funny because when you look at homes, and you're looking to sell a house-- you know, I'm kind of addicted to HGTV and I've done a lot of renovations, I'm actually going to be starting our third project -- and when you look at homes that people sell, you don't want to go in there and see their deodorant in the kitchen, and you don't want to see their kids' toys or anything. You want to it to be a clean slate that somebody can come in and think of themselves in there. You want it to be inviting, but you don't want it to seem like you're sleeping in a hotel, and the sheets weren't changed. You want it always to be clean and fresh. And I think that whether you're staging something for a magazine, or to sell your home, or you want company to come over, and it's a special occasion, you always want that inviting feel. But you don't want it to look too personal, and too lived in. You can tell us what you do when it is for a magazine, and that's kind of like the souped up way of doing it.

4:33 Brad Boles

Well, also, each room was set decorated with beautiful flowers, linen on the tables. In the breakfast area off of the kitchen, we set up the table and including actually-- we prepped beautiful foods. So the table was set with red wine, champagne, and an entire lunch, which was completely laid out on the table.

4:56 Sharon Haver

If somebody was looking at the photo, they'd be saying, not only is the kitchen beautiful, but I can picture myself in this environment having this sumptuous meal. And it all looks perfect.

5:06 Brad Boles

And then one of the big things about whenever you're doing any sort of staging for houses, bedrooms are very, very important. Because bedrooms are very personal. They're a very personal statement. And most people, they have their own twist on what they feel comfortable in. Because that's the room they go to bed in and they wake up in. Again you want to remove as much clutter as you possibly can from that environment. The thing that is most important is you want the beds to look like they've been made in a hotel. You want them to be very crisp. And that's a very important thing. A lot of times homeowners overlook that when they're trying to market their home and sell it. And what happens is they think they're making the bed and it looks fine. I absolutely, 100 percent, recommend ironed duvet covers and ironed pillow cases. I would think they would be ironed and very crisp with stars. So you could actually come into the room, and actually see a very beautiful room. You could imagine actually that it looks like it hasn't been slept in. Very important.

6:11 Brad Boles

And one of the other things is clearing out all the surfaces of the bathroom. Very important. Do not want anything that's personal, such as your medications, deodorant, perfumes, or anything of that sort. You don't need those things on your counter tops. Of course, folding the corners the toilet paper is always appropriate when staging your house. Again it gives a hotel environment.

6:38 Brad Boles

And another thing you will find-- and this is very interesting, and it's very important too -- it's a natural habit, people do it when they come into someone else's home, and nobody will ever be able to really explain why people naturally do this, but one of the things that you will find, is people naturally go to people's kitchen, and they will open the refrigerator, for no reason.

7:00 Sharon Haver

I thought you were going to say they open the medicine cabinets and they snoop in there. So, it's both. I think any locked room. You snoop in a medicine cabinet, and under the sink. And they snoop in a refrigerator to see -- this is $5 million vacation property. And they're sitting there, and there's 16 bags of Doritos, so, I [INAUDIBLE] going on behind the surface.

7:24 Brad Boles

But refrigerators are very, very telling. Because the thing is, and a lot of people overlook thinking that they need to merchandise the inside of their refrigerators. And they'll leave a lot of junk in the refrigerator; half eaten containers of things, as opposed to looking beautiful. And that's a very, very important thing. It tells a lot about the homeowner, and it is also part of what anyone who's looking at buying a house is going to naturally going to do. Freezers. If you open a freezer, and you have frozen freezer bags that and have been there for six months to a year, it tells a lot about the owner. Again. These are things in terms of just showing the maintenance and the upkeep the house.

8:07 Sharon Haver

And the other thing is closets. When someone's looking in your house, if your closet is normally turned upside down, you want it to look organized. You don't want to have your shirts falling off the shelves. You don't want it to give the feeling that the closet is too small or that basically, the owner is a pig. So you want everything to be neat and folded like it's in a store. The same thing with a coat closet. You want it to look

8:28 Sharon Haver


8:28 Sharon Haver

8:28 Brad Boles

And you do, [INAUDIBLE] and unfortunately, most people don't have the luxury of most of the Hamptonites out here that have two and three and four on staff. I mean certainly, the house that I'm working on the closets are beautifully appointed, with all of the shoes lined in rows. But most people don't have a housekeeper, or a staff. Certainly my closets in my home, they are merchandised within an inch of their life. I mean looks like you're walking into a department store. And that is set up that way. My housekeeper, originally, when I interviewed her, that was how I interviewed her. I actually was moving into the house, and all of my the contents of my closets were in garbage bags. And I was so overwhelmed at the time, moving into this house, I said to her, if you can merchandise my closet by season, and by color, you have the job. And I left that afternoon. I was actually leaving for my house in Morocco. So I didn't even see the progress until I returned, which was a month later. And I was completely blown away by her ability to be able to merchandise my closet. And what's amazing by doing that, and anyone who's listening, if you need help doing it with a friend that can help you organize it by color, by season--

9:49 Sharon Haver

By color, by season, by style--

9:52 Brad Boles

And by style. It helps tremendously. It really helps relieve some of the stress of your daily life to be able to go into your closet, and to be able to find something in an orderly fashion. I have found that with all of my clients in regard to doing interiors, your personal spaces are your bathroom, your bedroom, and the closets. Those are areas that need the most attention in regard to specific questions you need to ask yourself. What is your lifestyle? Are you a busy person? Are you active? Do you go out in the evenings? Do you do a tremendous amount of entertaining? All of these things go in to what a great interior decorator needs to understand about you as a person. Because if you entertain a lot, you need easy access to platters. You need easy access to china and various different things that are used as serving implements. Also, if you're somebody that entertains a lot and goes out a lot, your closets need to be organized in such a way that your evening clothes are set into an entire section with handbags. And so it should be set up from casual to elegant.

10:58 Sharon Haver

Now what about if you don't have the luxury of having staff?

11:04 Sharon Haver

I have a big apartment. You've see my closets, closets in the plural. And my main closet, it's like a little mini bedroom. And unfortunately, I can go in and do someone else's closet. And before I was married, and before I had a kid, and before, before, before, before. When I had all this lovely free time, I had my anal retentive way of making sure my closet always looked like it could be photographed tomorrow. Unfortunately, it doesn't always look like that and it's getting a little overloaded. But I've learned, and even though having too much, and am I size six and am I a fat eight -- I've learned that my weight fluctuates a little bit, and my lifestyle fluctuates a little bit. It's always important to have what you need in the front, per season, per style, whether or not you have no money, or all the money in the world.

12:02 Sharon Haver

And then the other thing that works for me, is we had a housekeeper. But I don't have a staff of housekeepers, and I don't have her here on a regular basis. And from being 15 years of being a stylist, and having the eye, know how when you have a lot of little things, how they need to be stacked. How your books need to be in a certain size order, and they have to be in a color order, so they're visually pleasing to the eye. And the same thing but vases. My husband collects all these glass vases, and we put them on an angle, so they kind of look casually the right way. Our chairs are turned a certain way. That little stuff on the coffee table's turned a certain way so when you walk in, everything looks lived in and natural, but it's still definitely, sort of secretly styled. And then I had this housekeeper who is unbelievably clean. And she'll sterilize the living daylights out of anything, but you can't get her to understand how when you clean the vases, they don't get straight lined up in a row. Then it just looks like a yard sale. It's my pet peeve--

13:10 Brad Boles

Speaking of yard sales, did you hear about Kimora Lee and Russell Simmons? Their multi- million dollar yard sale including Gianni Versace's bed that came out of the New York townhouse, that

13:24 Brad Boles


13:24 Brad Boles

13:26 Sharon Haver

$200,000, wow. Yeah. I know. It was in today's paper. So anyway, if anyone's around and in New Jersey, you can buy the excess of Kimora and Russell's house.

13:37 Brad Boles

I've been in that house. It's an absolute utter embarrassment. I mean everyone's probably chewed on the crib, and it's been photographed. The woman who actually did the interiors for that house is quite lovely. Here name is Barbara Ostrom, and she's a very legendary New York decorator. And it's so against all of her style. The woman has done Park Avenue, residences. She's done Fifth Avenue residences. She's done extraordinary homes. And it was very surprising to me when I found out that she had actually did the interior of the [INAUDIBLE] River house. And it is so horrendous in regard to, in my opinion, the way that it looks. It's beyond, beyond, beyond, beyond, just like bling.

14:19 Sharon Haver

Well I've never been in that house, but we have an old mutual friend, who used to be an old mutual friend of Kimora, I don't think they're speaking anymore. And he used to go up there a lot, and he was giving me some dish on the way the closets were organized. And what he had told me, which going back to our closet thing, is that in the kids bedroom -- now this is all kind of hearsay so don't take this all as fact. Consider the source of the source. But -- that kids' bedroom, he says, was unbelievably organized. And even though, at the time, the little girls were maybe three and five, that every pink dress, and by size, by length, by shape, was all perfectly set up so it looks like you were walking into the finest children's boutique.

15:06 Brad Boles

Yeah, but you'll have to remember they have fifteen in staff. I mean Kimora, she ran that house with an iron fist. It's actually not surprising to me that she's morphing herself into Imelda Marcos. If you see her recently, in the last year and a half, she looks like Imelda Marcos. I mean it's just bizarre and strange. Without make up, she actually still looks quite young and casual, and, actually, very pretty. The moment she pulls that hair up into [INAUDIBLE] and starts doing all of the heavy eye make up, and she puts on all of those jewels, she looks like Imelda Marcos. And it's unbelievably disturbing. Many years ago, Denise Rich, when I worked with her as her creative director, we did Kimora's and Russell's first year anniversary after they were married in Denise's penthouse on Fifth Avenue. I believe that you were a guest at that. It was very interesting, because about six hours prior to the actual event, she was attempting to micro manage me, which is impossible. It just wasn't going to happen because the event had been organized seamlessly. And she is absolutely beyond, beyond, beyond a control freak.

16:21 Sharon Haver

OK Let's do something out here. Because so many of our listeners don't have the luxury of having a staff of 18 million. I know I certainly don't. I'd love one of my dreams. I'm a Gemini, but not that much of a Gemini, but let's figure out and give a couple of good tips for someone on how you can micro manage yourself, your own home style. How you can stage your house, your closet. Like what should we do? For me, I think it's all about placement. Whether or not, it's company coming over. Or whether or not you're selling your house, or it's being photographed. Or you know what, maybe if you just bought a house, and you think it's really cool, and you want to put your living room on your Facebook page for all your friends and family to see. What are the best ways that we can stage our house? For me it's to make sure that things are kind of angled correctly. That things are in a color order. That your eye knows how to travel around the room. That people are aware of edges. That you don't just plop things on each four walls. That things are angled to sort of bring you in, and engage you into the room. That's the most important thing to me. And taking all the crap out of the room. Taking

17:28 Sharon Haver


17:30 Brad Boles

Well, first of all, I think you have to be very careful about using the word crap, because most people take that very offensive if you're going to in to stage someone's home. So what I usually--

17:39 Sharon Haver

--your own personal stuff.

17:42 Brad Boles

I know. Because what I usually recommend doing is going to a container store and and getting the plastic bins. Basically start walking through each room and removing all of the items that add to the peripheral clutter. That's the first thing. Those could be stored and stacked in the basement quite neatly. And they can be sorted through at a later time. I also would recommend highly that the beds be properly made. And again, the closets be properly organizing, and the refrigerators be cleaned out so that people can actually see the house. Now I will say that one of the other things that is simply-- incredibly offensive to most people who are actually looking at a piece of property is scent. Scent is very, very important. Whether or not you like candles. And the problem is moment you light candles and start using incense or burners, people think you're concealing something. So you need to be very careful. So what I usually recommend is boiling a pot of water with cinnamon sticks in it on the stove. And that usually is a great way of sort of welcoming. Other people recommend the old trick of using chocolate chip cookies. But generally--

19:01 Sharon Haver

Except if you don't like chocolate.

19:02 Brad Boles

Yeah, but generally, you need to be very careful using candles and scented fragrances because most people realize the obvious, which is you're trying to conceal scents that are either unnatural to house, such as mold, or--

19:15 Sharon Haver

--do you want to hear a really gross story that my neighbor just told me out near my vacation house. There's this older couple that has a property and they're very weird, to say the least. And they had rented it out to a bunch of college kids. I don't even know why, because it's a pretty high end property. Why they would do that, but that's their personal choice. So anyway, these tenants had trashed their house, and then the owners who are really kind of skeevy and cheap. So what they did was they had this lovely couple and they were just moving to the area. And she was a banker. They came in and they saw the house, and they had the doors and the windows open, and they were carrying on about all the fresh air. And how beautiful it is. And then the people came to move in, and on moving day, the house was closed, and the whole place smelled of cat pee. The carpets reeked. It was

20:06 Brad Boles

Sounds like Grey Gardens.

20:09 Sharon Haver

These people look like the anorexic version of Grey Gardens. But anyway [UNINTELLIGIBLE] and they were lost, and now everyone in the neighborhood knows that this whole house smelled like cat urine. So what you need to do is, also things happen. If you have a pet, if you have a baby, even God forbid, you have an elderly relative in the house, any kind of foul odor, mildew needs to be cleaned out. People they take it for granted. And it's not.

20:41 Brad Boles

How about, remember a couple of years ago, that other man that lived up in Harlem and he had a tiger and a boa constrictor living in his bathroom.

20:51 Sharon Haver

Well that's a different story. That's even crazier.

20:55 Sharon Haver


20:57 Brad Boles

In a one bedroom apartment. Can you imagine? And he got away with it for a year and a half. And evidently a neighbor complained, because the roar of the tiger.

21:07 Sharon Haver

That gets me to my other point of having things in collections. So this guy collected really freaky weird pets. Which is better than one freaky weird pet. So the other thing is when people are coming into your house, or even for your own personal decorating style, everything works better when it's a collection of a theme. More is merrier than one. So if you're going to have like tigers and lions and boa constrictors, go ahead. Knock yourself out. Have a bunch. But if you're going to be collecting family photos, do the same thing. Don't have like a random photo here, and a random photo there. Put them all together on a wall.

21:43 Brad Boles

I think better yet, living in New York City, if you're trying to sell like a very chic downtown loft, and you want that really fabulous feeling, I think you should just throw a tranny party.

21:52 Sharon Haver

Throw a tranny party. But then, you know what you should do? You should probably at that party, get all your freakiest, wildest looking friends, take pictures of them. Get yourself a nice, really cool magnetic board, and then take all the photos and pin them to the board in a collection. In a group. So, again, even if you are collecting vases. You know, my husband collects figurative corkscrews. How's that for an esoteric collection? One of his many. So we have all these bizarre, million, old, figurative corkscrews. Now they're kind of little and puny. But if you take the little and puny, and you put them together as a group, and you put them in a beautiful kind of display box, it becomes a very interesting amount of things.

22:38 Sharon Haver

I collect chairs and shoes. Go figure. I collect weird chairs. I'm down to my final weird chair. But there's a theme in everything. And I think a flowing theme, whether it's something that's big, whether it's something that's a little, there needs to be a theme. And when you're having things that are small and not particularly expensive, the best thing to always think of is collection. Collection. Collection. Collection. It looks more pulled together. And it looks more thought and less random. And it doesn't matter if what you're collecting is something you got at a flea market or something you bought at the finest store, or a family momentum.

23:16 Brad Boles

Well and again, why do you think that they hire visual merchandisers for stores? They hire visual merchandisers and creative directors because they can go in and they understand how to make something appealing to the eye. So think of your house as visual merchandise. Go to your local store. If you go into any really great home furnishings store, an accessory store, you'll see how beautifully merchandised it is. Now I'm talking about small boutique. You go into any really lovely, large store that carries really beautiful high end furniture and decorations and you'll see how the vignettes are set up so beautifully. So you can take heed from this. You don't have to, of course, have a turn down service. You don't have to have a staff to be able to -- this information is all out there. HGTV has so many incredible shows. Designing on a Dime is not exactly my idea of how I do interiors. I mean I don't think I've ever designed anything on a dime.

24:18 Sharon Haver

You know what I love about HGTV. My favorite thing is I have this always the sociological way of looking at things. I find it so fascinating that someone can go into a home, and they look at everything, and they think it's great. And they think it's great. And then they show them three homes, and then they go, but I don't like the color paint. And it's like hello, don't you paint a house when you come in? The cheapest thing you can do is change the paint. That's like design trick number one. And they will actually sit there and go, well, I don't like the paint in this room. And it becomes a buying decision. I find it so weird and interesting at the same time. And the same thing is, you can have the biggest hell hole, and as long as they have a granite counter top in the kitchen, they're like, it's a granite counter top. Well you know there's a million other surfaces that are just as beautiful, if not more so. But it's it seems like the average person it's paint and granite.

25:10 Brad Boles

But what I want to know is, I would like a bird's eye view of Snooki's house. I would like to go into Snooki's house because she is such a train wreck. Visually, she's a train wreck. I would love to go into that house. And I can guarantee you, that right now, with all the attention that show's getting, and those people, and especially Snooki, who seems to be the stand up star, I'd venture to say that all of America would like to see how Snooki lives. And I can guarantee you,

25:47 Sharon Haver

I think she lives with her parents.

25:50 Brad Boles

I can guarantee you, that I bet you anything, that her bedroom is probably the biggest disaster. I'm sure. She looks like somebody the clothes are probably on the floor from the night before.

26:02 Sharon Haver

She has got some clip that keeps going on The Soup on how she's really upset about this tanning tax. So [UNINTELLIGIBLE]

26:12 Brad Boles

God forbid she should be upset about this tanning tax. But let's talk about something actually just a little bit more taxing to the American economy right now.

26:19 Sharon Haver

We just have three minutes to do this.

26:21 Brad Boles

Yeah but let's talk about this. This is a very, very important subject, and something that really, really has just set off America right now. Michelle Obama is in Spain. And she's in Marbella And she's staying in one of the most luxurious hotels. Evidently, the American public is really incensed. They feel that here is the first lady, who, when our country is in the toilet right now economically, which she would not be spreading of the wealth off of her vacation somewhere in this country.

26:49 Sharon Haver

But let's not forget that in Bush's first year of office, he had something like, I don't want to misquote, but a couple of days here and there, he had something like 93 or 96 vacation days. Hello. [INTERPOSING VOICES] In the same token, you know Americans-- and this was another study-- were voted the worst dressed tourists. So it is nice to have a representative in Europe where, basically, we've been pretty much dissed for the eight years before that, that can actually stand up, and we can be proud of what she looks like. I think there might be some state reason, or some other political reasons there as well.

27:31 Brad Boles

But I will say, she's styled within an inch of her life everywhere she goes. I mean do you think? [INAUDIBLE]

27:39 Sharon Haver

Well I don't know Phillip would have her more [INAUDIBLE] But the thing is, I think another thing that we should talk about another day, which I find interesting, and dressing with body type, you know, Michelle Obama has far from a perfect body. She's got broad shoulders. She's very small chested. She has a short waist. She has big hips. She doesn't have like a Jackie O, kind of modely body. I think she does wonderfully well to dress for her shape. Not always. I was never a fan of the inaugural white dress. I thought that was a little too young for her. But for the most part, I think she does, and I think

28:13 Sharon Haver


28:14 Brad Boles

Who's her designer of choice? I forgot.

28:19 Sharon Haver

Mine? Martin Margiela-- You know, I don't really have one. Its more

28:24 Sharon Haver


28:29 Sharon Haver

I'm into Jill Sander now.

28:32 Sharon Haver

We have 90 seconds.

28:33 Sharon Haver

I like more of a clean, architectural, silhouette that's sort of classic, but very funky and edgy.

28:39 Sharon Haver

So we have 90 seconds left, and I think we need to share something really important here to all the to all the listeners, and to the readers of Focus On Style when this comes up as a transcript. Brad and I are starting to develop a style book together. And we are coming up with a couple of good ideas right now. Fabulous ideas. Wonderful ideas. But what we need is some input from you guys. So anyone out there, if you have some questions or some ideas that you would like Brad and I to talk about it in a book, or even, potentially, on FocusOnStyle.Com as well, please go to the contact us page on the website, FocusOnStyle.Com and write in. We'd like to learn more about this. We want Brad and Sharon to talk about this in their upcoming book. And we'll review all questions, and see where we go with it. But we really would love some of your input and make this a little bit interactive. So, hey guys, write in. And tell us.

29:37 Brad Boles

Absolutely. I think that's good. And I just hope that everyone has a great weekend. And check out my column next week, because you'll get all of the weekly gossip from the Hamptons out here. I will be going out to two major parties this evening. And, of course, there's Hampton's polo tomorrow. So check out my column next week on FocusOnStyle.com. And you will hear from us again next week with some more juicy gossip.

29:59 Sharon Haver

Yeah. We'll be talking live next week. And we have some exciting things come up. And I've got some transitional fashion tips we'll be talking about. And come on to FocusOnStyle.Com We love you. And we will be talking and reading and interacting with you guys soon. And don't forget to tell us what you want to hear in a book. What you want to read. So bye bye.

30:17 Brad Boles

Bye everyone.

30:19 Sharon Haver