Each month, ten bloggers around the country join hands to bring you collaborative tips on how to style your home life. Most if not all of these bloggers use an online moodboard creator called Olioboard to create virtual interior design boards for their clients (or in some cases, to just have fun after a long day at work). What better way to end the day than to design a fun moodboard on Olioboard! 

Image produced using Olioboard.com
This month I was asked to kick off the new year with a “Before and After Staging Tip” in which I used Olioboard to sell a home faster (two of my favorite subjects – Olioboarding and Staging). Nothing excites me more than to see that “SALE PENDING” sign in the front yard of my clients’ homes because it means my job is completed.
Of course, I immediately want to talk about color and how Olioboard helped me to sort out the right color for a client’s home. The right color will bring excitement, or rather “drama,” into a space.

But wait! I can hear the shouts already. “I thought all the rooms HAD to be neutral. What if I pick a color that the buyer doesn’t like?”

Not too long ago, a realtor would walk through your home and make an assessment on color, and if you had bright colors in the home the suggestion would be to paint the walls over in white because it was a “safe” color. Yet most stagers today will tell you that white-washed walls no longer sell homes unless the color is used as an accent or on trim (which is recommended).  While neutral colors like Behr’s Harvest Brown or Sherwin Williams' Kilim Beige are still the go-to colors for stagers like me, I find that occasionally I need a pop of color to bring excitement to the space, especially if the home lacks architectural interest (like many of the ranch-style homes that were built after WWII).

Enter drama.

Let’s begin with a Before picture of a client’s dining room.

This home sat on the market for a year before they called in reinforcements… that is, the sellers called the right realtor who knows that staging works and so he called me soonafter.

When the goal of every seller is to attract the widest buyer base possible, the use of color sounds intimidating and counter-intuitive. Yet, the right color in the right places and in the right quantity will help you sell your home faster because it will become memorable to the buyer (the average buyer today looks at 12 homes before they make a commitment, according to the National Association of Realtors).

Yes, there are some hard and fast staging rules that are effective in almost every listing. In fact, I carry a list of guidelines with me to every consultation to give to the client. Neutralizing the walls is one of those important rules. However, just as there are rules or guidelines in staging, there are exceptions to those rules.

Before adding drama to a space, I produced a moodboard like this one on Olioboard which gave me a feel for what the new color and accessories would look like in the room. 

The dining room is usually a great place to try new color trends, as I have found over the years that this room tends to be the most “flexible” on a list of must-haves in buyers’ minds. While Tangerine Tango was Pantone’s color of the year for 2012, I decided to go with Martha Stewart’s Eggplant because I had to consider the colors I had already chosen for the adjacent rooms.
This was the adjacent living room, and the pillows and accent chair had eggplant-colored flowers on them, so naturally I wanted all the rooms to flow with complementary colors.
When I painted the dining room in eggplant, I realized it was going to make the room look smaller. So I decided to thicken the already existing chair molding by adding another molding and painted the upper half of the room in eggplant and the bottom in white (remember to use white sparingly as an accent color). 
I cut the damask fabric from Fabric.com on Olioboard to make a faux window treatment over the window opening and glued several wood laths to it using Elmer’s glue to give it the “folds” you would find with a Roman Shade look. I then stapled the window treatment to the frame using a heavy duty compressed-air staple gun and added a temporary pull at the bottom center for a $30 solution (as opposed to spending hundreds making a custom treatment for the window). 

Here is the After picture of the dining room and the finished product:

Here’s a look at the Before and After pictures side by side:
Can you believe it’s the same room? The bold color (or drama) of this room, and the overall cohesive presentation of the home, really paid off because the home received multiple offers in only 22 days! This was the realtor’s reaction:

“Wow! Frances Newman has made me a believer in color. I was completely in awe when I saw the transformation of this home. I would never have recommended this color choice to my client, but I trusted Frances’ instincts based on previous proven results. She is a risk taker, but these kinds of risks are getting homes sold in an environment that can be very difficult to capture home buyers’ interest and keep their perception of value high.There has yet to be a home that I have not SOLD for a great value after Frances gets done with her recommendations and home merchandising techniques.” Craig Wilburn, 2012 President of GACAR, CEO of Team Dynamo, and Broker Associate of Bosshardt Realty, Gainesville, FL.

Please follow more Before and After staging tips from my fellow #OlioHop friends by clicking on their links below. Happy OlioHopping!

Lisa Mende Design Blog Olioboard

Stephanie Weeks at Interior Design HQ Blog Olioboard

Marilyn G. Russell at Design Magnifique Blog Olioboard

Lynda Quintero-Davids at NYCLQ Focal Point Blog Olioboard

Linda Merrill at Decorative Surroundings Blog Olioboard

Ronique Gibson at Stagetecture Blog Olioboard

Kristie Barnett at The Decorologist Blog Olioboard

Roslyn Ashford at ra reDoes rooms Blog Olioboard

Designer Marketplace Williams Sonoma, Inc. Blog Olioboard

You can register on Olioboard directly, or chat with them on Facebook or Twitter, and/or catch Olioboard's video tutorial You Tube channel.

For more information on the difference between staging and interior decorating, please visit Frequently Asked Questions.



Frances...WOW what a difference a Stage makes!! Your vision is brave and amazing!! Your dining room is just the right balance...not too much...it hits all the right notes! This observation mentioned above by Craig Wilburn..."She is a risk taker, but these kinds of risks are getting homes sold in an environment that can be very difficult to capture home buyers’ interest and keep their perception of value high. "... is right on the money. As a fellow Olioboard.com member I know how valuable the Olioboard tool is to bring an idea, or a product to life in a 2D roomboard design before proceeding to commit fully. Cheers Frances!

01/21/2013 09:44

Thank you Karen and gLam-a-peel.com for the reaffirmation! So happy you commented! My very first OlioHop comment! Woohoo! Every house is special and unique, and I try to keep that perspective alive when buyers visit so that the house becomes memorable in a sea of homes for sale. Happy OlioHopping!

01/21/2013 13:03

When I first saw the olioboard featuring eggplant walls, my first reactions was, "Purple?!" But then, I saw the finished product--genius! You made a boring room turn into a glamorous dining room with your color choice and the roman shades finished it off beautifully. You're getting homes sold with your vision and creativity. Congratulations on a job well done.

01/21/2013 13:25

Thank you Adele! You are awesome! These kinds of risks are getting homes sold faster in my region of the world, especially in homes that lack architectural detail. The idea is to stay on top of the most recent color trends and decide how much is the right touch for each home. Thanks for all your support!

01/21/2013 09:52

Frances I love the eggplant color walls! :) Your before and after Olioboards are great. There is nothing better than creating a welcoming space for home buyers to enjoy right when they walk in the door. Can't wait to have you on Stagetecture in a few weeks for the Olioboard Fan Room - Inspiration feature. :)

01/21/2013 10:49

Thank you Ronique! The risks have paid off BIG in this volatile market. Looking forward to blogging on Stagetecture.com's inspiration feature.

01/21/2013 11:49

What a great post and an amazing transformation! You're obviously an Olioboard master designer!!

01/21/2013 13:21

Thank you Kristie! I love your post too!

01/21/2013 12:13

Beautiful job and it was great to see the final outcome in the actual space. Great use of Olioboard to flesh out a scheme and then see it come to fruition!

01/21/2013 13:23

Thank you Linda! I don't think I could have taken this room to this level without first visualizing the new color on Olioboard. I enjoyed reading your post today too!

01/21/2013 12:54

Frances this is gorgeous! I am in love with this dining room and thinking about incorporating it into my new Kentucky home. Thank you for helping us sell our Gainesville home- could not have done it without your talent and hard work! Can't wait to see more of your work- keep posting those before and after pictures!

01/21/2013 13:15

You bet Trish! Thanks so much for the reaffirmation! Your support has been wonderful!!! I'll send some pics of our new friend's home after I am done staging it this week.

01/21/2013 13:34

Hi Frances. I love that you used Olioboard and then a real after photo. Great job! I love drama too.

01/21/2013 14:35

Thank you Stephanie! It just so happens I was already working on an article showcasing this room so I had it all ready to go! Olioboard made the difference in transforming the space.

01/21/2013 13:42

What a great use of Olioboard! Wow!

01/21/2013 14:37

Thank you Lisa! Now I try it before I buy it thanks to Olioboard,

01/21/2013 14:31

Frances, what a great blog and this was a truly great and informative read, love that you tied the aubergine in from the adjoining rooms,such an amazing transformation :-)

01/21/2013 14:42

Thank you Sammiibubbles! Glad you liked it! Your support means a lot to me. The help you have provided by starting the Olioboard Fan Room on Facebook has been really instrumental in my business growth this year.

01/21/2013 14:47

If anyone wants to share and learn from other Olioboard designers, please feel free to join the Olioboard Fan Room at http://www.facebook.com/groups/344892212256373/.

01/21/2013 16:39

Great Post Frances and LOVE your Board!! I enjoy seeing the whole staging process from start to finish. Slam Dunk!!!

01/21/2013 17:53

Haha! Thank you Marilyn. I was working on this Before & After before I got the call from Leslie. It seems to work well with this Olioboard theme. Thanks so much for stopping by and I loved, loved, loved your post and your website. You offer a lot of great information and I hope to be a regular visitor.

01/21/2013 17:05

you lucky girl - you got to paint and add color to the home! Looks like you had a great time - i don't always get that luxury! Enjoy it!

01/21/2013 17:57

It was a lot of fun Roslyn. I guess I am really lucky, eh? The clients are trusting me to do whatever it takes to get their house sold in this area. Thanks for stopping by and providing great feedback.

01/21/2013 17:24

Wow!! Let me say it again. Wow! What a difference. The level of sophistication and elegance you achieved with some simple fixes is amazing. I am not surprised that staging that home made all the difference. Can't believe there are realtors who AREN'T using you yet!

01/21/2013 18:02

Hey Melanie! How wonderful to see your feedback! You know, I ask myself that same question every day... I staged and sold 30 homes my first year in business. Lets see what 2013 brings :).

01/21/2013 18:56

The end result is gorgeous! You are great at what you do. Do you have a photo tutorial for the faux Roman shade? I would love to try it.

01/21/2013 22:53

Hi Rachel! THANKS for stopping by and leaving me your wonderful feedback. I haven't made a tutorial but will think about making one the next time I design one in another fabric for a client.

01/21/2013 19:56

Wow.!!! Great post.! I love your style on olioboards.!

01/21/2013 22:56

Hi Konstadina! Thank you SO MUCH for all your support. You have been a wonderful Oliofriend. I love your style too!

01/22/2013 02:52

Frances, love your "drama" and yes it sells! Congratulations on your first #OlioHop. You are so talented and it's an absolute pleasure to get to know you! xo

01/23/2013 10:07

Thank you Jane! Its wonderful to have your support too!

Tabitha Loudon
01/22/2013 04:39

Frances I love it! You have some great advice! You transformed that dining room to a whole new dining room, unrecognizable and a lot larger too! Congratulations on your first Oliohop, You let the world know that people need designers like us to get the job done! I am going to start on a blog soon,.:)

01/23/2013 10:09

That's the best news ever Tabitha! I'll be the first the subscribe. Thanks for the wonderful feedback.

Leslie Carothers
01/22/2013 04:51

Dear Frances:

First, as the representatitve of Olioboard, we all want to say thank you for bringing your time, energy, intelligence and support to the 1st OlioHop you've participated in since we started these fun monthly blog hops in June of 2012. We all appreciate it so much!

As myself, I want to say that you've done an amazing job on this post by showing a real before and after and, on top of that, sharing the success story associated with your use of this dramatic color.

As a potential buyer of a home, I have to say I would be much more attracted to a home that had a cohesive color scheme throughout the home of *on trend* colors { even if I didn't like the colors } than one that just had builders beige or grey everywhere.

If I were looking to buy a home I would be MUCH more likely to buy a home that had been staged and that had a cohesive flow from room to room - { as you've shown here } - and that had been painted with an *on trend* color - because, to me, it would be a strong indicator that the homeowner cared about their home and I would infer that they took good care of the rest of it, too - the parts I can't see.

Of course, later, after my offer (!!) -- inspection reports would determine whether this was so or not, but by then I would probably be likely to do what it took to get it fixed to move in since I had fallen in love with the vision and potential of what the home COULD like like -thanks to thoughtful, meticulous staging.

I believe many women are like me in this regard -- they fall in love with the FEELING of a home (assuming the practicality is there, too - # of bedrooms/baths, kitchen ++ } and investing in quality staging and re-design makes sense for this reason - not to mention the enhanced quality of life, sense of privacy and good feelings it might engender for the owners once their home has been cleaned up, freshened and uncluttered -- while enduring visitors traipsing through it and making comments - which the realtor must feed back to them.

I believe any home would sell for more money and , if not, at least it would sell faster, by having it staged as you've shown here.

Thanks again, Frances, for participating in this hop and we all wish you continued success with your own staging business in 2013!

Leslie / @tkpleslie

01/23/2013 10:22

Hi Leslie! As you so eloquently stated, the buyers JUMP at an offer because they immediately get a sense that the house has been properly maintained and loved. The WOW factor becomes memorable in their minds, and tips buyers into a sense of security... and at the very least it gives them a desire to want to fix all the home's other repairs. A buyer was even willing to replace a roof because she fell in love with the home! I have painted the dining room many other colors (at great risk) - even chalkboard black - and it has always been "The Favorite" room. How about that? Thanks again for all your support and the lovely invitation to join the OlioHop community.I absolutely love the opportunity to explain how Olioboard has helped my business grow.

06/26/2014 00:27

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01/22/2013 09:14

Dear Frances I just love your blog.. It really makes a lot of difference if the house is staged.. And the way you made a drab room look so glamourous by adding colours is just lovely :)

01/23/2013 10:24

HI Neeti! That's great feedback. I should have called this blog... "From Drab to Fab!" Thanks for stopping by and supporting me in my first OlioHop!


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01/22/2013 22:21


You did a wonderful job on this home. The room looked gorgeous and I didn't eve notice the parkay floors which were a turnoff for me in the original picture. Add waiscotting gave the room character which it sorely lacked. I could easily see myself serving dinner to a group of friends in this room. It was staged to perfection. PS hope you got some sleep

01/23/2013 10:32

Yes Mary! That's exactly right. I was trying to infuse the home with character, as many ranch-style homes in Florida were built in mass quantity to accommodate the real estate boon after WWII. I use rich color sparingly (it simply would not work in every home), and in fact, I am working on a home right now that has tons of wood trim inside and lots of interesting entryways and arches, and so I am using neutrals only. A good stager will listen to the house as well as the seller. After I interview the seller, I ask permission to take pictures of the home. Later, in my office, I let the home tell me what it wants to be when it grows up (LOL). We are all house whisperers (actually this is going to be my next blog). Thanks so much for being present at the OlioHop Mary from the moment it launched LIVE. You are awesome and I LOVE your blog, too. Your post on MCM, which I linked to my Facebook page, received more hits than any of my posts in recent memory!!

01/23/2013 05:40

WOW! What a difference an eye for design can make! Well done from Olioboard concept to staged room completion! Love that you not only defined the space with purpose and style - you acheived it by adding a lttle DRAMA!

Happy to hop with you,
xo Lynda

01/23/2013 10:35

Hi Lynda! You have been such a great support through this whole process. I am in awe of your work. You are a great inspiration to all of us designers who are plugging away one day at a time. You make blogging/designing/communicating seem so effortless! I look forward to learning more from you and the whole Olioboard community for years to come.

Joy Curry
01/23/2013 16:11

Wow, I am very impressed. Sadly I am no longer doing real estate in Gainesville, or we would be talking. Love it and how you broke it all down. Will be sharing this post.

01/25/2013 03:09

Thank you Joy Curry! Feel free to share away!


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03/23/2013 04:19

No idea how much time taken to make all these but after a glimpse of these interiors, I'm not getting words to appreciate it.
And 7th pic is fantastic.

05/29/2013 16:50

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09/05/2013 09:34

I must say, this post is like God-gift for the realtors facing rejection for some properties. I love the way you are changing (actually designing) the look of the room or the whole house. Keep up with your work and do share more options with the readers to redesign their houses in your future posts. Thanks for this one.

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04/06/2014 05:33

Of course, I immediately want to talk about color and how Olioboard helped me to sort out the right color for a client’s home. The right color will bring excitement, or rather “drama,” into a space.

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06/14/2014 17:19

Neutralizing the walls is one of those important rules. However, just as there are rules or guidelines in staging, there are exceptions to those rules.

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