A recent Real Estate Staging Association® (RESA®) study shows 174 homeowners had their property on the market on average of 156 days before they decided to stage. Those properties didn’t sell for over 5 months!

When those same homes were staged by a professional they sold in 42 days on average after staging. This study suggests that the homes would have spent 73% less time on the market.

Consider what that might mean to you, how much money you might save by having your home properly staged.

– If your mortgage is $1200.00
– If your utilities, insurance, and other monthly expenses are $450.00
– Your carrying cost per month for those items is $1,650.00

As noted, the study shows home owners had their unstaged property on the market for an average of just over 5 months. Using these numbers as an example, the total carrying cost for the time those homes remained unsold would have been $8,250.00.

Had those homeowners staged first, their time spent awaiting the sale would probably have been cut by about 114 days (just under 4 months) on average. They would have paid slightly more than one month’s carrying cost vs. five months.


Staging their homes at the very beginning of the process would likely have saved them $6,600.00. That’s an 80% savings on the monthly carrying cost.


I want to make it clear that these numbers are simply an example based on one study intended to show the dramatic difference a professional staging of your home to sell more quickly can make when the sale is completed.

Your monthly mortgage will be a different amount and your expenses may even be much greater all things considered, but the comparison is one you should consider.

For your own situation you can use this simple example as a guide to determine how much you will likely save by staging your home before putting it on the market.

Add your mortgage and monthly expenses (utilities, insurance, etc.) to get your total monthly carrying expenses

Multiply the monthly carrying expenses X 5 months (avg. time unstaged) = an estimate of the cost to list your home unstaged

Then multiply the monthly carrying expenses again, but this time by only 3.5 months (average reduced time on market). There you’ll have the suggested savings if you stage your home first!

* NOTE: Staging costs will reduce the total savings somewhat, but they are typically minimal for most homes. We’ll have a better handle on that when I meet with you for an initial consultation.

And one more thing to consider not covered in this simple example. What will the additional costs be in terms of a possible price reduction if your home stays on the market for an extended period of time? Will you be forced to reduce your asking price? If you do, that adds to the carrying cost, perhaps considerably.

This all leads to the inescapable conclusion that you should seriously consider staging your home to sell right from the start. Your realtor and others’ realtors will be more enthusiastic about showing your home to prespective buyers, and those prospective buyers will almost certainly see your home in its best light the first time they walk in the door.

Call me, Sandra Millis, Southern Comfort Redesign & Home Staging, 904-710-1428, today!

I can help you save time and money!!

You are staging your Jacksonvill home in preparation for what you hope will be a quick sale, but you haven’t moved out yet. It’s ok to allow the kitchen to look a little bit lived-in, right?

I suggest it is not. Let me explain.

Kitchens are important to buyers. They want the best one possible, one they can feel at home in right away. You want them to visualize themselves in that room. With that in mind, allowing appliances (toasters, mixers and food processors for example), spice racks, and anything else that may distract buyers to be on your kitchen counters doesn’t work to your advantage. If all your ‘stuff’ is visible, a buyer may not be able to easily envision herself there. Better that you place a few colorful items on the counters to create a sense of warmth and let the buyer create her own image of what your kitchen may look like with her ‘stuff’ there.

Take a look at two photographs of staged kitchens. The first photo here is of a kitchen I staged for a family who had not yet moved out. They agreed that their kitchen should be spotless at all times, and they obviously kept it that way.

When you’re finished cooking, clean the counters and put everything away, every time.

Now let’s look at a vacant home’s kitchen. See any difference other than they are different kitchens? You don’t. Both look uncluttered and spotless.
staging for resale, the kitchen

Nothing but a few colorful items on the counters. The uncluttered space looks bigger, and potential buyers can create their own mental impressions of what it will look like when they move in.

Smart sellers make a continuous effort to keep counters clean and nearly empty. They also make sure cooking smells are diffused as quickly as possible after a meal.

The best advice in general is to be ready for inspection at a moment’s notice. It will be a slight invonvenience if you’re still living there, but the rewards of your diligence will almost certainly be a quicker sale.

a simple floral designer touch l

Fall colors

I have a habit of using flowers throughout my home. I have arrangements or plants in every room of the house. It’s something I got from my mother, and she from her mother. As a matter of fact my mother-in-law may have had the greenest thumb of all. She loved having fresh cut flowers in her home, and she grew most of them.

But living in the upper Midwest meant that she didn’t have flowers in her yard to cut during the winter months, and while she often used florists to help keep her home bright with flowers, sometimes that caused a budgetary strain. So she developed a flair for decorating with flowers that did not come from nature for those times when she couldn’t get the fresh varieties.

I trained with professional flower arrangers for a number of years. I found that creating beautiful vases full of seasonal flowers came naturally to me and I employ that gift with all the homes I stage or otherwise decorate. And, when necessary, I will use brightly colored artificial flowers and plants that mother nature didn’t make herself.

Real flowers are my preference if at all possible. For one thing they smell great, and that adds another positive sensory experience. But there are advantages to using silk flowers too. For example, as you buy and use more of them, you’ll find you have flowers for all occasions just waiting to be employed when you get a fresh idea. I have Christmas flowers, Thanksgiving flowers, summer flowers, flowers for the Fall, and many others. They all get to sit on a table or in a corner from time to time.

If you’re staging your home to sell and fresh flowers are readily available, use them, a lot of them if you can. Put them in every bathroom, in bedrooms, and of course in the family rooms. And if fresh flowers aren’t practical use a quality brand of silk or other artificial flower to make your home brighter and more inviting.

In today’s market you need a competitive advantage when selling your house. Home Staging is an investment that will add value to your property and help you sell it more quickly.

Experts agree, home buying is an emotional decision and buyers decide if they are attracted to a house within the first 10 seconds.

As an accredited, licensed, and insured home stager, let me bring out the unique personality of your home. Working with home owners, realtors, builders, and real estate investors alike, I have created that model home look that buyers love and my clients expect.

I will be pleased to do the same for you. I’m Sandra Millis. Call or email me and we’ll get started.


If you’re like most people I know, the thought of moving can be exciting but, at the same time, daunting as the prospect of packing up and getting ready for the big day takes hold.

First there’s the excitement of finding your newest dream home. Once that’s done and the closing process is under way, the selling of your current home takes center stage. And, if you subscribe to the ideas we talk about here on this website, you’ll want to stage your current home to sell at the best possible price in the shortest period of time.

So the decluttering starts, but don’t be haphazard with that process. Instead of just throwing things into boxes and stacking them up somewhere out of sight, why not approach the decluttering process in a more organized manner. Organize as you would if you were going to move tomorrow. Decide what you’re going to keep and what won’t make the move. Put all the things from one room into boxes, label them, tape them shut, then move on to the next room.

Organizing this way kills two birds with the same stone. You’re on your way to a nicely staged home ready for potential buyers, and you’re getting ready — really ready — to move. You won’t have to reopen any boxes to decide what to throw away later on. All the boxes will be ready to go into the moving van with nary another thought until you arrive at your new home.

Of course, all the boxes need to go somewhere out of sight. If you have a storage shed, lovely. If not, maybe it makes sense to rent one for a short while and put all the boxes there temporarily.

the proper height for hanging curtainsHere’s an article from a weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal that addresses the question of just exactly how high to hang those drapes you’ve just bought for your living room.

Turns out there’s more than one consideration in determining the proper height.

And while many of us won’t have those beautiful high ceilings portrayed in the article, the advice given is nonetheless worthy of your consideration. So click on the link right here below.

Where To: The Right Height for Curtains – WSJ.com.

Our home is ours, meaning it reflects our tastes and sense of comfortability. And that’s as it should be nearly all of the time…except perhaps when it’s time to move on, to sell your home. Then it’s better to take a step back and consider what a stranger will think upon entering your home with the idea he or she might want to buy it.

This is where it can be extremely difficult for any of us to be objective. We like what we have in our homes, what pictures are showing, what books are on the shelves, the knick knacks we’ve collected over the years that are here and there. But that may not be what the stanger entering your home for the first time might like. So what to do?

In the simplest terms, you have to de-clutter and make your home look like a model home you’d see at any developer’s site. Now you can’t make your home look ‘new’ but you can make it look less personal, and in doing that you’ll likely arrange your home so as to be appealing to a much larger audience than if it was still filled with your personal stuff.

Remember this. When friends and family members enter your home they expect, and welcome, the signs that you live there. They expect to see photos of themselves and reminders of past events that they probably participated in. But a potential buyer doesn’t have that same feeling. All he or she really wants to see at the outset is how large (or small) the home is and what they…they…might do with it. If there’s too much of your ‘stuff’ around they won’t be able to get as clear a picture of themselves living there.

So, can you do that? If you’re like most of us the answer will be a gentle ‘no’. It isn’t likely you’ll want to move everything from the favored places they occupy in your world. You’ll rationalize about moving this picture, or that momento, or leaving the furniture arranged as it always has been. Rather, you need the help of someone not personally involved with your stuff to make decisions like that. And that’s where I come in. I have the experience and the design sense that may prove helpful to you in this regard.

I can help with the creativity needed to make your home as saleable as it can be to the widest possible audience of potential buyers. Let’s see what we can do, and I’ll do it without a significant dent to your wallet or purse, too.

Close-up of DIY ladder decor project

Close-up of DIY ladder decor project

The finished DIY ladder decor project

The finished DIY ladder decor project

Inspiration for this unique indoor/outdoor décor came from a recent visit to a national retail/catalog store. A display such as pictured here was hanging over a dining table in the store, and with the right dining room you could put it there too.

But I don’t have a dining room suitable (or large enough) for a decorator item like this, so I chose to put my version outside on the patio. I think it worked out wonderfully.

The entire project took less than two hours not including shopping for the materials and adornments.

The adornments can be changed with each season such as colorful leaf garland for the Fall as featured in this posting or evergreen and pine cone garland for the Christmas holidays . . . you get the idea.

Here is a list of the items you will need to complete this project.

1. Hand or power saw
2. Power drill (Every house should have a cordless drill)
3. 1” hole saw drill bit adaptable for a power drill
4. One 8 foot 2”X4” piece of lumber which will be cut in half to create two 4 foot pieces. (A piece with knot holes will allow the burnt umber paint to add character to your project. Don’t use spruce outside but rather treated pine.)
5. Five one inch dowel rods each cut 16” in length which can be purchased at any home improvement or craft store. (Home improvement stores offer both 48” and 36” pieces, so you will need one 48” and one 36” piece and don’t forget, measure twice cut once.)
6. One bottle of burnt umber which you can purchase at any craft store and a clean rag for applying the paint.
7. Wood glue
8. Package of ¼” Sisal rope
9. 4 Screw hooks #6
10. Heavy duty jute twine
11. 3 lanterns & greenery

Approximate cost for the materials excluding lanterns and greenery:
1” hole saw $ 5.00
8 foot 2”X4” 3.00
Dowel rods 8.00
Burnt umber 1.00
Wood glue 1.00
Sisal rope 5.00
Screw hooks 5.00
Jute twine 3.00

Total $31.00

First start with two 4’ 2X4 pieces of lumber and use your drill to make the 1 inch round holes in the center of each piece every 8 inches for a total of 5 holes in which to insert the dowel rods. Find the center of the lumber and make a mark every 8 inches. Use that mark to position the point of the drill bit to begin drilling the holes. I drilled each hole ½ inch deep. This will leave 8” at each end to hang the ladder. I placed the rope 4 inches from each end.

When all of the holes are drilled, lay one piece of lumber on the floor and pour glue into each hole. Then insert the 5 dowel rods into each hole and let the glue set for about 30 minutes. Wipe off any excess glue which may have oozed out.

Then lay the second piece of lumber on the floor and pour glue into each hole. This time you will insert the ends of the dowel rods now affixed to the other half of the ladder and wipe off any excess glue.
The pressure of a bar clamp or vice would ensure a stronger bond but if you don’t have either, you can place something heavy on the top of the ladder standing on its side which will have the same affect. Let the glue set overnight.

Score the lumber to give it a weathered look and the paint will highlight the imperfections in the lumber giving it more of an aged look. Apply the paint with a clean cloth or sponge. The amount of paint you apply is a personal choice.

You are now ready to hang and decorate your ladder.

Ensure at least two of the #6 hooks are screwed into joists or that you use toggle bolts in the ceiling as the ladder is a little heavy.

Determine how far from the ceiling you want to hang the ladder and add enough length to tie a double knot at the end. The sisal rope should be doubled for support. Hold the two ends of the rope that are tied together bringing it through the looped end to create a circle, slide and pull tight around one end of the ladder. Repeat the process for the other three supports.

Hang your ladder from the screw hooks, affix the lanterns with the jute twill at the desired length and decorate to your heart’s content.

I know you will be excited about the end result and smile at the compliments from family and friends on a job well-done!

Right up there with kitchens in terms of important rooms in the home for buyers are bathrooms. Every do-it-yourself magazine or television show, and every realtor I have spoken with confirms that kitchens and baths will help most in determining resale value.

A clean countertop is important

Clean and bright with up-to-date fixtures are the keys to staging a bathroom. Add luxurious and you’ll get an even better reaction form potential buyers. So…

  • If your bathroom fixtures (handles, spigots, etc.) are outdated, replace them with sleek and modern fixtures, but stay away from anything trendy.
  • You’ll want to have some high-quality plush towels on the towel rack. And they should be color-coordinated with the wall paint and rugs as well as any decorator items you have in there. 
  • Fresh flower arrangements are a must. They look and smell marvelous here.
  • Make sure the bathrooms look as if they belong in a model home. Any signs of use will be a big negative. Get the soap scum out of the shower and off the counter tops. Make sure the fixtures are freshly shined.
  • Shower doors need to be spotless. You can take them outside for cleaning with muriatic acid and water (1/10) if need be. Use a little steel wool and elbow grease and you’ll be good to go. 
  • Are the sinks in good shape? If not consider replacing them along with up to date fixtures. It will be money well spent.

It all boils down to this. If the bathrooms and kitchen are first rate, realtors will make a big deal of it. You’ll be half way to a sale already.

Regardless of anything your home’s bedrooms may have that set them apart, a skylight, direct access to the patio, or a fireplace for instance, the most important aspects of staging a bedroom comfort and space. That’s what potential buyers want to see and feel in a bedroom.

You do this with neutral paint color, furniture arrangement, lighting, and perhaps a few accessory pieces.

So with that in mind:

  • Earth tones (or any soft color) for paint and overall color schemes will appeal to most buyers. 
  • Keep the furniture to a minimum; a bed, dresser, and one or two other items is enough unless you have an unusually large bedroom. Either way, the idea is to make the room seem as large as possible. Too many furniture pieces will likely convey a cramped feeling. 
  • Thin out the clothes in your closets, and I suggest you really take out most of them. You’re going to have to pack them eventually, so get as much of it done now as you possibly can. Your closets will appear larger and that’s a good thing. A home can’t have enough closet space.
  • Buy new, top quality bedding. It will improve the look of the bedrooms, and as you will be taking it with you when you leave, consider it an investment in getting your home sold.
  • Remove personal items such as photos. The purpose here is for buyers to see themselves in the home … not you and your family.

The idea here is to make a bedroom seem as an ideal place to relax. Do all the things outlined above and you will have done that well.