The Amazing Art of Home Staging

It’s true that many homeowners are a bit reluctant to stage their home. It seems like a lot of work, and does it really make that much of a difference in the sale of the home? Sellers Fran Sarro and David Waite, quickly learned their answer.

Despite the advice from their realtor, they decided to list their apartment in June 2014 without staging the interior. The result was quite dismal. It sat on the market for over 6 months and the asking price was continually cut from 1.85 million down to 1.4 million. With hundreds of showings and not one decent offer, the sellers were desperate to try something different. They arranged to haul out their outdated furniture and bring in a collection of contemporary designs. After skillfully staging the apartment, what happened next was amazing.

The newly staged property was relisted in April for $1.495 million and the place was swarmed at the first open house. After an intense bidding war, the apartment soon went into contract for 1.8 million dollars. Success? I think so.

home staging before and after
Before and After: Staging a Home

I can’t believe how it worked out,” Ms. Sarro said. “I still shake my head.”

The practice of home staging has long elicited strong reactions. Agents and professional stagers point to examples like the Sarro-Waite apartment, and say staging can usually help a home sell faster, and for a higher price, offering a larger return on the investment.

To read the full story, check out the original article: The Art of Home Staging via the New York Times.

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Micro Minnie Trailer Gets Stylish Makeover

Minnie Micro Trailer Gets Stylish Makeover

Today, I want to invite you to have a sneak peek at the process of converting this little trailer into a comfortable and stylish home on wheels. Follow along with me!

micro minnie trailer

As a real estate agent in Orange County, CA, I love the buying and selling process…but I have a confession to make: I’ve always been an interior design enthusiast at heart! Graduating from the Interior Design Institute of Newport Beach, I took what I learned and went on to accomplish some exciting projects like building a home from the ground up as well as total transformations of several homes, which typically sell with all the furnishings!

But not all of my projects are this large of scale. In fact, I recently just remodeled a much smaller space, the newest edition to our family – the mini micro trailer.

I love traveling and this year I wanted to make more of an effort to venture out and see the world. Which led to my search for the perfect mini trailer. After determining that vintage is cool but not quite efficient for off road camping, I happily decided on a Micro Minnie Winnebago.

Micro Minnie Interior – Before

The exterior of the micro minnie was in great shape, but when we stepped inside, we quickly discovered that the interior decor was depressing.

before remodel crop

I’ve had a lot of experience transforming outdated spaces into beautiful new designs – and this trailer was no exception. I saw great potential and couldn’t wait to put a little effort into some small changes on the interior to bring some joy to the inside with color and whimsical touches.

Micro Minnie Before and After Photos

As you can see, this little seat was dated and anything but welcoming. So we decided to ditch the dark brown color palette and update it with a modern, geometric design for the back and use a deep, burnt orange color for the seat. The pops of cream and blue really tie it all together.

trailer seat  geometric pattern chair

The outdated valance above the windows were a little too 70’s in design so we picked an interesting bittersweet pattern, and by squaring them off, created a more modern feel:

before remodel crop tiny trailer redo

As you can see, the geometric design is carried throughout the tiny trailer, and the nature-inspired pillows add a great touch.

trailer remodel

micro trailer remodel

My family and I are very excited about traveling with our two rescue pups, Buster and Grace. Grace can’t wait to snuggle in as soon as we open the door. :)

Thank you for joining me today! What’s your favorite part of this remodel? Comment below.

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More Interior Design Photos ~ 2056 Sea Cove Lane

This beautifully upgraded home is designed with a Spanish hacienda style and has nearly 1800 sq ft of living space. The lower level consists of living area with a fireplace of tile and a distressed antique mantel. The beautiful kitchen includes new cabinets with glass uppers, lots of counter space, stainless appliances and a steel light fixture that doubles as a pot rack. kitchen remodel sea cove lane remodel6hacienda style flooring costa mesa real estate Sea Cove Costa Mesa sea cove lane bath2056 Sea Cove outside
Still want to see more? Take a virtual tour of the home here:

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2056 Sea Cove Lane Costa Mesa, CA Remodel Tour

Before and After Interior Design ~ Sea Cove Lane

Every now and then, I am given the opportunity to infuse my interior design passion into the real estate world. And today is just that day! When I first listed 2056 Sea Cove Canyon, I knew there was quite a bit of remodeling work to be done. The bones of the home are beautiful, but the interior needed some love. So today, please join me as I take you on a before and after makeover tour of this Seabluff Canyon Village home.

old lviing roomcosta mesa real estate

Talk about a makeover! See the photos on the left? I promise this is the same living room as the photos on the right. A little hard to tell, huh?

2056 Sea Cove Sea Cove Costa Mesa

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for marketing a new home for sale.

And check out this bathroom transformation. The master bath and regular bath had three awkward openings to the dining room, which we enclosed. A crisp coat of paint and great photography make a HUGE difference as well:


I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to take great photos when listing a new home. These two photos capture the same exterior space, but can you guess which one will sell this home? Not hard to tell! ;)

before exterior exterior

Let’s not stop here…I’ve got some more stunning interior design photos of this Costa Mesa home:

remodel kitchen 2056 Sea Cove
The dark, traditional style cabinetry pairs well with the brick backsplash. And don’t you just love that light fixture? Statement piece!

kitchen remodelnew kitchen remodel Costa Mesa

Another one of my favorite features in this kitchen is the Spanish hacienda style floors. It really ties the whole look together. Plus, the stainless steel appliances add a great modern touch.

Unlike some HGTV shows may suggest, remodeling is not all glitz and glam, and there are no perfect steps to follow. It’s great to have a gameplan, but it’s best to be prepared for the inevitable curveballs that will be thrown your way. Remodeling is hard work and it takes a professional who knows what they’re doing. With that being said, it’s exciting and completely rewarding to see the end result.

If you’re interested in taking a tour of this beautiful Seabluff Canyon Village home, please call me today for a private viewing: 714-323-00973 Looking for more design goodness?

Check out more photos of this Costa Mesa home HERE.

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Neil Kelly’s Interior Design Trends for 2015

Neil Kelly is an award-winning design-build remodeling company with locations in Portland, Seattle, Bend and Eugene. The company has a reputation for their designs and craftsmanship. Today they have a Seattle Design Center and are known innovation in the interior design industry.

Neil Kelly recently offered some trends for 2015 and they are clear to distinguish between a trend verses a fad; a trend veers a new direction. They believe these trends will last through and past 2015!

  •  The Next Frontier

According to, the leading platform for home remodeling and design, about half the remodelers remodel to prevent health problems. The President of Neil Kelly, Tom Kelly, says, “We believe that the healthy home is the next frontier in home renovation.”

Healthy improvements to home environments could be anything from non-offgassing finishes, no-formaldehyde cabinets, to better air filtration systems. For example, the Kohler’s SanSouci Touchless Toilet only requires a wave of your hand over the toilet instead of touching the handle. This could prevent against germs.

  • Creature Comforts

Few creature comforts go out of style but rather most improve over time. Heated floors and heated towel racks are some of the creature comforts that

  • Reduce, Reuse, Re-birth?

Most sustainability experts are well versed with the phrase “life cycle.” Products from Neil Kelly have their own life cycle, some longer than others and some shorter. Viridian, a company in Portland, Oregon, rescues beautiful old wood from landfills and repurposes it as a raw material.

Sarah Sitar Interior Design Neil Kelly

  • Remodel vs. Move

It seems that more and more people are interested in remodeling their current home instead of picking up and moving to a different one. It is likely to be both cheaper and more satisfying to say than to move. 1. Moving is a hassle when you have to change your address. 2. Remodeling gives you more choices and allows you to take full advantage of your property.

  • Heavy Metal

Metal is coming into homes! Everything from copper pendant lighting to cast bronze sinks are appealing to more and more homeowners. Heidi Hawk, a Design Consultant at Neil Kelly says, “I love working with multiple mediums as it brings out the artistic side of design.”

  • And the Winning Color is…

Designers at Neil Kelly are not huge fans of picking just one color of the year. Colors look good in conjunction with other colors and totally different with another set of colors. Another Design Consultant, Karen Richmond, says, “We’re seeing light blues and greens becoming increasingly popular.” She advises homeowners to visit stores that sell bath towels if they want to see the trend predictions. Towels have to be in store way before paint stores.

  • Contemporary Comeback

The National Kitchen and Bath Association reports that there is a shift toward simplicity and clean, minimalist bathrooms. This bathroom is the perfect example:

Sarah Sitar Interior Design Neil Kelly 2015

  • Transitional over Traditional

Flat cabinet panels are all the rage these days. Peaceful atmospheres with less clutter are the perfect homes for those living active and sometimes stressful lives.

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Top 5 Interior Design Trends for 2015

Sarah-Sitar-Interior-Design-Trends-for-2015The Wall Street Journal gathered an experienced group of 20 interior designers to dictate the coming interior design trends of 2015.

1)   Mixed Metals – Mixing warm and cold metals is particularly popular right now. Examples of warm metals are rose gold and copper. An example of a cold metal is silver. Interior designers are looking for a more strategic layering of gold, silver, and black metals for a more stylish look.

2)   Navy Blue – A color scheme of navy blues is becoming increasingly popular with interior designers. Dark blue plays a great counterpoint to a white marble for luxury homes. Navy blue mixes so well with a variety of different colors, such as cream, pink, coral, gray, and sage.

3)   Painterly Rugs – Any rug that is a visual landscape of irregular patterns breaks the mold of a rectangular room with rectangular furniture. These rugs also act as a piece of art and are especially spectacular as a silk rug. Silk rugs shimmer and change colors, which give the living room and extra helping of life.

4)   Smokey Glass – Clear glass is a thing of the past. Smokey glass is making its mark in 2015 to strike a tension among raw and refined. There is a sense of mystery that comes with smoky glass that you don’t get with clear glass, which emits complete transparency.

5)   Graphic Tiles – Increasing interest in differentiating indoor and outdoor space has brought colorful concrete tiles from commercial spaces to the modern day home. The use of these tiles allows for a combination of graphic design and interior design to coexist.

To read the complete article in the Wall Street Journal, click here.

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Top 10 Interior Design Trends of 2014

Now that the year is coming to a close, let’s look back at the most popular remodeling and interior design techniques from 2014:


Sarah Sitar Interior Design Shower1)   Showers – showers are becoming more popular than bathtubs these days. Interior designers are focusing more and more on the shower design than combining the shower with the bathtub.

2)   Floating Shelves – Shelf space can get cluttered. Home decorators are using floating shelves as a new and stylish way to distribute shelf space and lessen the clutter.

3)   The U-Socket – People are using USB ports more and more nowadays with their various electronics. U-sockets have a built in USB port with a smart sensor that powers off when your device is fully charged.

4)   Bright Colors – Bright colors are “in” this year. A slight accent using a bright color appliance can really make your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom pop. Especially cobalt blue.

5)   Stand alone tub – People who like to take baths want a bath experience. Stan alone tubs take up less space than the normal tiled tub deck and have a much sleeker look for your bathroom

Sarah Sitar remodeling kitchen6)    Modest Interior Design – Rounded designs, earth shades, and raw metal finishes allow for a more modest feel over the increasingly popular “modern” look.

7)   Self Expression – Homeowners today want to add a little bit of themselves into their interior design. This might come out in the color scheme of your kitchen, sleek frames, or layered textiles.

8)   Multigenerational – Remodelers are looking to create bathrooms, kitchens and living areas that are catered to wild children and aging adults.

9)   Eco-friendly designs – More and more people these days are looking for materials that are made without potentially harmful toxins. Homes made with more “natural” materials are rising in demand. These potentially harmful toxins come in the form of formaldehyde or toxic glues and binders.

10)  Downsizing  – People are looking to live closer to the cities and sacrifice larger homes in the suburbs for a smaller, modest living space. This will require some thinking from your interior designer on how to achieve the look you want in a smaller space.

This blog post is based off of this article from Neil Kelly’s remodeling website.

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Cost-Value Ratio of Remodeling Projects in 2014

When homeowners remodel their homes in order to sell, they take into account the cost of the job versus the resale value of the specific project. A recent study was done that took into account 35 different remodeling projects and their current price compared to last years price.

The remodeling projects were as following:


  • Attic Bedroom
  • Backup Power Generator
  • Basement Remodel
  • Bathroom Addition
  • Bathroom Remodel
  • Deck Addition (composite)
  • Deck Addition (wood)
  • Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass)
  • Entry Door Replacement (steel)
  • Family Room Addition
  • Garage Addition
  • Garage Door Replacement
  • Home Office Remodel
  • Major Kitchen Remodel
  • Master Suite Addition
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel
  • Roofing Replacement
  • Siding Replacement (vinyl)
  • Sunroom Addition
  • Two-Story Addition
  • Window Replacement (vinyl)
  • Window Replacement (wood)

Sarah Sitar remodeling project trends

According to the data brought to the survey by remodeling.hw, this is the second year in a row where the cost-value ratio for remolding projects has risen. In 2006, the cost-value ratio began to decrease each year until the ratio spiked back up in 2013.  Back in 2005, the cost-value ratio was at 86.7%, the highest it’s ever been. In 2014, we are seeing a cost-value ratio of 66.1%. The increase from 2013 to 2014 is the second biggest increase (5.5 percentage points), whereas the biggest increase was from 2004 to 2005 (6.1 percentage points).  All of this data shows that the increase in resale value was greater than the increase in construction costs. There was an increase in construction costs by 2.2% and an increase in resale value by 11.5%.  Back in 2010, construction costs dropped dramatically, but the resale values dropped even further. The resale values eventually picked back up in 2013 with continued low construction rates, improving the cost-value ratio that we are seeing today. This is good news for the remodeling industry, and could be a good sign for the overall housing market improvement.

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Solutions for Common Lighting Problems

Sarah Sitar Interior DesignIn a post completed for the website of the Color Cord company, several solutions for particularly pesky lighting problems are offered, all through the use of one single product—one of their most popular, yet simple products to date.  The product is entitled the Colored Cord, and involves two simple pieces—a porcelain cord set and industrial light bulb cage.  The finished product is a very modern and bright colored lamp that can be utilized in several different fashions, once the consumer’s favorite bulb is supplied and screwed in to place.  The company describes the light as a task light—perfect for providing plenty of light in an area with limitations in term of surface space.

The first suggestion for using the task light is in terms of replacing the traditional nightstand light.  Typically, lamps can take up a large portion of real estate provided on nightstands, not leaving much room for other more important items.  Color Cord proposes a solution for this, in that the pair of the porcelain pendant light set and industrial cage are hung on the wall to free up the nightstand.  This allows the device to serve as a bedside sconce.  In particular, this design is perfect for a college dormitory student operating on limited space to begin with; if one has the top bunk, it also works as a perfect light to read while in bed.  For college students, the article suggests employing a temporary wall hook as a means of hanging the light to become a sconce.  For a set workspace, however, the article suggests using three quarter inch steel or copper pipe and creating a custom and permanent hook for the light.

The other suggestion offered is noted as the traditional and most popular use of the light.  It is entitled the Swag Light, as it uses several hooks to create a funky, creative and unique path for the light.  This allows the light to be used almost anywhere—as a reading light or any other use.



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