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House Talk

No. 30 - October, 2008

Cost-effective Decorating Ideas
A talk with Susan Goldstein

Judith Glass and Sheila Sabine often meet people who are not ready to sell their homes but want to make some cost effective adjustments to change the look and feel of their home environments. Sheila interviewed her favorite interior designer and stager, Susan Goldstein, well known locally for her creative and innovative ideas. Susan came by these skills naturally - her parents loved to buy old homes, rip them apart and then sell them. This was their passion and what linked them together as a couple. Also, Susan grew up around a grandmother who had beautiful and luxurious fabrics everywhere in her home and even made doll clothes for Susan from the sumptuous remnants.

As a young adult, Susan moved from New York to San Francisco where she designed layouts and space planning for law firms. When she decorated her own Piedmont residence, her friends were so excited about what she had done they encouraged her to begin work in the arena of staging. Susan realized that staging was really about creating an exciting space for perspective buyers, showcasing the attributes of the house and architecture, checking the flow of each room, and presenting the house in its best light.

Based on her many years of experience, Susan suggests the following easy makeovers. First, walk through your house as if you were a stranger, entering for the first time. Gaze around at the scratched floors, old carpet, and piles of shoes and coats in the front hallway. Walk into your living room, notice the crammed bookshelves, timeworn vertical blinds, dirty windows, and overgrown garden beyond. Look at every room with a critical eye or even take along a friend who can be impartial yet honest. Then begin to clear away the clutter and start CLEANING. A clean house that is free of clutter can make a huge difference. Sheila Sabine has always used the phrase “See/Simplify/Select” when clearing away the years of accumulated items.

The next suggestion is PAINT, PAINT, PAINT! There are so many exciting color combinations and even painting one wall in a room can make a huge transformation. One of Susan’s favorite colors is “Desert Tan” by Benjamin Moore #2153-50. Then on to the floors. New carpet? Refurbished or refinished hardwood floors? There are so many inexpensive carpets available.and hardwood floors, depending on the condition, can be polished and buffed instead of refinished.

Now take a close look at your kitchen. A very quick and easy change is to replace the kitchen knobs and handles. Susan recommends a brushed nickel look. Those old and outdated kitchen counters can be replaced. One of Susan’s favorite materials is a well-priced durable remnant of marble. She prefers marble to granite for a dressier look. Eco-friendly materials are also a consideration. There are great aggregates made out of glass or recycled paper. Wood countertop options include end-grain bamboo and reclaimed/renewable products. Many people like Caesarstone, which is made mostly out of recycled quartz. These counters have a soft creamy texture, a bit like Corian, but sturdier and more stain-resistant. Another kitchen detail that deserves attention is the light fixtures. If they are ancient, scratched, and beat up, start looking for package deals that are extremely economical. Lighting fixtures should actually be consistent throughout the house - Home Depot has some excellent choices.

The next most important room in the house outside of the public spaces is the master suite. It should glow with sophisticated clean lines. Choose beautiful simple bed linens in cotton or linen, an elegant headboard, matching end tables and try adding a chaise lounge with an ottoman for a touch of class. The master bath, no matter what size should feel like a spa with wonderful collections of shower gel, new fluffy towels and beautiful candles. It should be immaculate - even the grout should be replaced if necessary.

Susan says you should design your house as if you were going to sell it and then live in it. She values the extreme importance of the home environment. You are in it twenty four hours a day - this environment inspires you and protects you from the outside world and must reflect the life style and needs of all the inhabitants.

After reading this, you may decide that you really need some help. Susan is available for hourly consultations. You can email her directly at sgoldsteindesigns@gmail.com or contact her at 510-658-9072.

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For further information or questions for our House Talk column, 
please contact Glass/Sabine by email:  Sheila@GlassSabine.com
or call us at 510-326-5055.

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