Author Archive for Michelle Minch

Money Saving Tips For Choosing Carpet When Selling Your Home

Carpet SamplesTips for Choosing Carpet When Selling Your Home

You’ve decided to put your Los Angeles home on the market and you realize that one of the many things you need to do to prepare your  home for sale is to replace the worn, stained, Chartreuse or stinky carpet that was installed when Jimmy Carter was president. Good idea, with one caveat: If you have hardwood floors under the existing carpet, don’t re-carpet. Remove the old carpet and spend the money (often times less money) having the hardwood floors refinished. Hardwood floors trump carpet every time when putting a home up for sale.

OK, you’ve peeked under the old carpet (by lifting a corner in several rooms) and you see plywood, sub-floor or concrete. Time to go carpet shopping.

Here are 6 money saving tips for choosing the right carpet to prepare your Los Angeles home for sale:

  1. Don’t buy expensive carpet, but do buy the least expensive carpet  suitable for a home at your listing price. For example, if you are selling a home in Highland Park that’s priced at $450,000, you can get away with purchasing less expensive carpet than if you are selling a home in Pasadena that will be listed at $1.5 million. If the carpet is going up steps, choose a denser carpet so it wraps the edge of the step without showing the mesh backing.
  2. Choose a light, neutral color carpet. You are not choosing a carpet that you have to live with or love. Remember, you are preparing your home so it appears move in ready for your buyer. Choose carpet that is cream, tan, beige, pale gold, caramel or cafe au lait. Lighter colored carpet makes a room feel larger and a neutral color is more likely to match existing tile or flooring already installed in the house. Additionally, neutral colored carpet is more likely to go with a potential buyer’s furniture.
  3. Choose a smooth texture. You may love that floral cut pile texture, but there is a good chance that potential buyers won’t. I usually recommend either a cut pile (like a Saxony or velvet texture) or a cut and loop combination with (without a sculptural pattern). These two choices tend to look more expensive than loop carpets.Best carpet for staging
  4. Shop around for price. Many big box stores slap a private label on carpet that is available elsewhere to make it more difficult to shop around. Don’t always assume a big box store will give you a better price than an independent carpet store. Many independent carpets stores price their broadloom carpet very competitively. They want your business and, if you find the right store, you will probably get great service backed by years of experience.
  5. Keep it simple. It is best to use the same carpet throughout the house. It makes the house feel larger rather than chopping it up room by room. The cost of carpet will be less since pieces left over from one room can be used to complete another room.
  6. Don’t offer a carpet allowance. Allowances are for teenagers. Buyers today are expecting homes to be move-in ready.  They want you to go through the hassle of replacing the carpet.  They’ll accept your allowance and still offer a lower price.

If you need help selecting the right carpet  to prepare  your Los Angeles home for sale, call Michelle at Moving Mountains Design (626)385-8852. We’re happy to help.

Top photo by Emily May

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Home Stagers Tips: How To Remove Smoking Odors From Your Home

Today I went to an open house in my Pasadena neighborhood for a condo unit that’s for sale. The condo is in a great neighborhood, in a quiet, well kept condo development. I was impressed with the walk up to the unit so extra points for good exterior appeal.  I opened the front door and WHAM! The smell of old cigarette smoke and nicotine hit me square in the face. I asked the agent if the owners were smokers. She said they were, and the apartment had been fully re-painted and re-carpeted, yet the smell persisted.

Smoking odors, be it from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes is insidious and very difficult to get rid of. It seeps into the smallest cracks and crevices. It saturates upholstery batting, stuffing and cushions. It infiltrates carpet padding. Here’s some home stager’s tips for getting rid of old cigarette smoke and nicotine smells:
Home stagers tip: Getting rid of cigarette smoke odors

  • Get rid of everything “soft” meaning furniture, upholstery, throw pillows, drapery, mattresses, etc. If you can’t put it in the washing machine or send it to the dry cleaner, you’ll never get rid of the smell. Even if you can wash a pillow cover, you will have to get rid of the pillow filler unless you can launder that too.
  • Tear out the carpet and tear out the carpet padding. Don’t replace the carpet without replacing the padding. Wash the bare floor with a product appropriate for the surface. Wash it again.
  • Wash down all painted surfaces with something like TSP which you can purchase at most hardware and paint stores. Don’t forget the ceiling. Follow the instructions on the package carefully so you don’t damage the surface or hurt yourself.
  • Wash all other hard surfaces (linoleum floors, tile, etc.) with a 1 to 3 solution of white vinegar and water (1 cup vinegar to 3 cups water). Test the solution in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t damage the surface. DO NOT use this solution on granite, marble or stone. Use a reputable stone cleaner. Change the solution often so you are not dragging the smell from one surface to another. The vinegar smell will dissipate fairly rapidly, so don’t worry about that. Remember to wash out all cabinets and closets as well.
  • Use the correct Kilz primer to cover all painted surfaces. Your painter or paint store person should be able to direct you to the proper product. If the smell is particularly strong, you may have to use 2 coats of Kilz. Kilz claims to act like a sealer for both the nicotine stains and the odor.
  • Have all the vents and ducts in the house cleaned.
  • Change any HVAC filters (heater and AC).
  • Remove all lightbulbs and either clean them or replace them. Nicotine can collect on light bulbs like every place else, and when a bulb is turned on, it can act like an odor diffuser.

Most air fresheners will only mask the smell temporarily. Same with diffusers.

Please DO NOT USE an “ozone air purifiers” to remove smoking odors. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) a government agency, their claims are based upon junk science. Read more about ozone air cleaners or purifiers.

From the EPA site:

Manufacturers and vendors of ozone devices often use misleading terms to describe ozone. Terms such as “energized oxygen” or “pure air” suggest that ozone is a healthy kind of oxygen. Ozone is a toxic gas with vastly different chemical and toxicological properties from oxygen.

While there is no guarantee that the above methods will remove all smoke odors before you put your home on the market, they should go a long way to removing most of them.

This was originally posted in October 2010. It has been updated and more information has been added.

Photo credit: Nirbhao on

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Get Your Home Ready To Sell: Home Buyers Want A Move In Ready House

Here’s a home staging tip from a professional home stager: Get your home ready to sell. In 2018, home buyers in the Los Angeles real estate market want a house that is move in ready.

Los Angeles kitchen remodel for sale

Get your home ready to sell. Home buyers don’t want an allowance to repair the roof, replace the carpet, redo the kitchen or repaint. Allowances are for teenagers. They want a well priced home, in a decent location, that they can move right in to without spending another dime.

Its a big fallacy that home buyers want to choose their own carpet or paint colors. If you choose a nice, neutral color carpet and nice neutral color wall paint (both things the best home stagers can help you with) most home buyers will see your home as more desirable because it is move-in-ready. They’ll be thrilled they don’t have to worry about picking out carpet and having it installed or find a painter who has time in their schedule. If your home stager can’t help you with this, then you are working with the wrong home stager.

Most home buyers are maxing out their home purchasing budget by making an offer on the nicest home they can possibly afford. They don’t have extra money to paint, install new carpet or retile the bathroom. They want to move in as soon as escrow closes, not after they have to make a lot of repairs to make their new home livable.

Los Angeles home upgrades to sell a home

This Los Angeles condo was on the market for 6 months with no offers. After it was remodeled, it went into escrow the first week it was put back on the market for considerably higher than it’s original list price.

Here’s what happens when you offer a $5,000 allowance for repairing the roof that should have been replaced 5 years ago:

  1. The buyer thinks “What else didn’t they repair that they should have?”
  2. The buyer thinks “What structure got damaged by the leaky roof?”
  3. The buyer thinks “Is it really going to cost only $5,000 to repair the roof?”
  4. The buyer thinks “How much time will it take me to get bids, hire a roofing company & get the work done?”
  5. The buyer thinks “What happens if (fill in the disaster: it rains, the contractor absconds with the deposit, a worker falls off the roof)?”
  6. The buyer thinks “The seller must be desperate since the house isn’t in good shape.”

Here’s what happens next:

The buyer accepts your offer of $5,000 to repair the roof, and then also knocks off another 10% because they think the house is not in good condition or you are desperate…


The buyer rejects your house and moves on to the house down the street that is move in ready.

Here’s what happens when you offer a $3,000 allowance for new carpet:

  1. The buyer thinks “Will $3,000 really cover new carpet for the whole house?”
  2. The buyer thinks “I’m not from around here. Where do I buy new carpet?”
  3. The buyer thinks “That house down the street already has new carpet. Why should I take on the added stress of shopping for & installing new carpet?”

Here’s what happens next:

The buyer accepts your offer of $3,000 to buy new carpet, and then also knocks off another 10% because they think your allowance won’t cover all the costs


The buyer rejects your house and moves on to the house down the street that is move in ready and already has new carpet installed.

By not repairing and updating your home before you put it on the market, you are asking home buyers to assume risk and additional expenses. You add more stress and uncertainty to the situation. Many home buyers are already investing every penny they can get their hands on in order to purchase a home. They are unable or unwilling to purchase a home that will require repairs before they can move in. Additionally, the condition of your home may effect the appraisal causing the buyer’s lender to refuse the loan.

Want to get a Los Angeles home sold? Price it right, hire the best full service Realtor you can find, hire a professional home stager and make sure it is in move-in ready condition.

This post was originally written December 2010. It has been updated to reflect current market conditions.

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Will Upgrading a Los Angeles Home Help Sell It?

 As a home stager and interior designer in Los Angeles, I am often asked about the value of upgrading a home for sale. The Wall Street Journal recently did a story on this subject: You May Not Recoup The Entire Cost Of These Upgrades When You Sell Your Home. While I agree with the article that you may not recoup the costs of upgrades, some upgrades will help your Los Angeles home sell faster.

The value and wisdom of the upgrades will be reflected in the faster selling time. This results in a net savings of carrying costs (mortgage, property tax, insurance, utilities) and less stress and turmoil. The most frequently asked questions is:

Which home upgrades help make my home more attractive and will help it sell faster?

Answer: Before you put a house on the market you should consider doing the following –

  • Interior Painting – unless your home was painted in the past year, you should probably repaint the interior. Avoid pure white unless your rooms are very small and very dark. Choose colors that you might see in a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware Catalog (many paint stores will color match from a photograph or both those brands sell their own <expensive> paint). The art directors who design these catalogs are on top of color trends and know what shoppers find most appealing. Don’t go too dark. A moderate to lighter color can be very charming.
  • Wallpaper Removal – Very rare is the wallpaper that will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers. Since your goal is to make your home as attractive as possible to the greatest number of buyers, the wallpaper has to go. Walls painted a single, solid color are always in style.
  • Exterior Painting– Depending upon where your home is located, if the exterior hasn’t been painted in 4 or 5 years, you should paint the exterior of your home. At the very least, you should paint the trim and the front door, and pressure wash the rest of the house. To select colors, drive around the neighborhood until you spot a home similar to yours that has colors that are appealing.
  • Replace your carpet – If your carpet is newer (less than 5 years old) try having it professionally steam cleaned. If it still appears soiled or stained, or it is more than 5 years old, replace the carpet. You don’t have to buy an expensive carpet – oftentimes just being new is good enough. Select a light neutral color – cream, tan or cafe au lait are popular colors that work with a lot of different architectural styles. Lighter colors will ‘lift’ the room and make it feel larger. Berber is OUT. Select a medium cut pile, preferably with no pattern.
  • Replace your appliances – Even if your home is in a lower price range, home buyers today are looking for homes that look like homes they see on HGTV. Try and purchase a ‘suite’ of appliances (all from the same manufacturer) so all the knobs and handles match. If some of your appliances are newer, then replace the ones that are not. Stainless steel finish appliances are the most desirable finish among home buyers. Most appliance manufacturers have a lower priced line that comes in a stainless steel finish.  To save some money, look for discontinued, floor models or ‘scratch and dent’ appliances that might have one or 2 small cosmetic flaws.
  • Replace the knobs and handles on your kitchen and bathroom cabinetsThis is the least expensive way to upgrade your kitchen and bathroom. Its like adding tasteful jewelry to a little black dress. Choose simple metal knobs in a finish that matches your appliances or sink faucet.
  • Landscaping and Curb Appeal– Stand across the street from your home and snap a photo. What do you see? Do you see overgrown shrubs that block the front of the house or the windows? Do you see a weedy lawn that hasn’t seem fertilizer and a mower for a while? Do you see a bunch of junk laying around the yard or the dreaded ‘dead’ car in the driveway with weeds growing up underneath?  Mow your lawn. Fertilize it an water it regularly. Plant some colorful flowers along the front wall and near the front door. The drive up to your home is the first time potential buyers will see it. Make sure what they see leaves a positive impression that makes them want to go inside.
  • Get a Home Staging ConsultationAn experienced professional home stager will be able to provide you with a road map for preparing your home for sale. Professional home stagers can look at a home through ‘buyers’ eyes’ and tell you exactly how to prepare your home for the market. With that home staging consultation in hand you can choose to do the work yourself, do part of the work and hire out the rest, or hire the home stager to complete everything. Most home stagers have a Rolodex full of painters, handymen, carpet installers, etc. to help you get your home in tip-top shape.

Offering a ‘carpet allowance’ or a ‘painting allowance’ won’t get your home sold. Buyers have a hard time imagining a house with worn or soiled carpet and peeling paint can be the kind of home they would pay good money for. They’ll reject your home and move on to the next home. There are plenty to choose from on the market right now. Make your home move in ready, and home buyers will be able to imagine themselves living there, making it their dream home.

Homes in better condition will sell faster. It is very simple. When you put your home on the market, you are entering it in a beauty contest. The best looking homes sell faster and for a better price.

*Will Upgrading a Home Help Sell It?* Copyright 2009-2012 Michelle Minch and Moving Mountains Design. All rights reserved.


Call Michelle Minch at Moving Mountains Design Home Staging to arrange for your Comprehensive Home Staging Consultation (626)441-8975. Or visit our Los Angeles home staging portfolio to see pictures of our recently completed projects.

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