Staying on budget

Our week at  Hiawatha Cottages  was a lot of fun and a lot of work,  with each cottage having  it’s own set of goals and restrictions it was a challenge for everyone. Access Home Staging  won the Chippewa cottage which  was the owner’s original family cottage which has been used as the wedding/family reunion location  due to it’s large size and beautiful lake views. Our challenges were:

  • do not paint the original pine walls or beams
  • do not do anything to the floors
  • change out the bunk beds to a queen bed
  • create more space for large funcutions
  • make all designs easy to clean as there is only a 3-hour period between guests
  • keep in mind that all designs will need to stand up to 12 weeks of rentals
  • complete the challenge with $300 and a gallon of free paint of your color choice

To this long list we added:

  • all painting must be done properly (clean, sand,prime,paint)
  • all projects must keep client safety a priority
  • all work must be done in a manor that allowed for very easy cleaning and very little, if any, up-keep

What a tall order for three people! OK, one day we actually had 4.

One of our projects added 35 feet of bench seating and a bar to the large deck

design Hiawatha 312

ready for it's first party!

ready for it’s first party!

Cost of this project, $18.00! We scavenged all the wood so our only cost was the stain, which was also used for the bench seating.

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Hiawatha Cottage Retreat ReDesign Challenge

For the past week Access Home Staging has been known only as TEAM ORANGE in the Hiawatha Redesign challenge. One tired, dated cottage, 4 team members and a $300 budget to pull off a new look. In addition to sleeping and working at our cottage, we were challenged on morning number one to create something to use in our cottage out of something we might normally throw away.

Here is our first challenge, we found an old rake under our cottage and with some steel wool, a touch of used paint and 4 plastic wine glasses we created the perfect accessory  for

the new bar we were building on the deck.

trash to treasure challenge, beforetrash to treasure, after

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Hiawatha Cottage Staging Challenge

A tired, dated cottage, a budget of $300, a team of 4 people and a timeline of one week – what a challenge! Access Home Staging is thrilled to have been chosen as one of only 6 teams participating in this challenge and we know we have our work cut out for us. Our team (orange) will be arriving at this small family-owned business on Saturday, September 6 and we won’t be leaving until the 13th. We’re donating our time, supplies and creativity to up-date one of the 6 cottages that are rented out from May to October of each year 

The rules, according to our fearless organizer, Angela Brooks-Osbourne;.1…you don’t know which one ( of the cottages) you are going to get. 2. There are some restrictions. MAINLY….any real pine wood…..has to stay. The wood paneling, DOES NOT. 3. Each cottage has a target market, we are aiming to attract in the years to come. In addition to this rules we must also have at least two people stay at the cottage for the entire week, there will be daily challenges that, if we win, could find us getting extra paint, fabric, etc. and, we must be on-site in the early evening to let our judges know what we are planning and get approval.

So, when you think of renting a cottage, what do you look for? Are you concerned about style? Do you want everything included or is bringing your own bedding OK.? If you have a young family, is water frontage a concern? Are you more likely to go as a family, a group of friends, with another couple or, just as a couple? What amenities are you likely to be most interested in?

While we’re at the cottage we’ll be posting regularly on  I hope you’ll follow along and see what great things we’re up to.

Cottage challenge




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Home Staging Trends

Modern Staging

Home staging has evolved from designing spaces that appeal to the broadest possible buyer base to understanding and using target buyer appeal and focusing on what these buyers want.

Target marketing is about knowing the answers to these questions;
• Who is your buyer?
• Why would they buy this home?
• What is their demographic?
• What is their psychographic?
• What is the demographic and psychographic of the neighborhood?
Lifestyle Staging is telling the story that the target buyer wants to hear.
Once we have defined who the target market is we can zero in on their lifestyle and then translate this knowledge into a successful and meaningful design plan. Every choice we make addresses the dreams, goals and preferred lifestyle of the target buyer rather than simply presenting a neutralized, de-cluttered, clean and sterile-looking design. We understand that home-buyers are buying a lifestyle not just a property.

Outdoor spaces

When buyers purchase a property they are buying space and professional stagers are encouraging sellers to not only prepare their indoor space but their outdoor space as well. While curb appeal has been a key selling feature for many years, not as much importance was placed on creating outdoor spaces that appealed to the lifestyle of the target buyer. We now understand that outdoor living space is an extension of the properties interior and it critical that we create appealing and functional spaces even if it is only a small balcony in a high-rise building.

Even the smallest outdoor spaces need to be staged.

Even the smallest outdoor spaces need to be staged.

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Cottage Living Design Challenge

We’re thrilled to be participating in this challenge!

Cottage challenge

Competition Outline
Each staging company will live for one week in one cottage, during which time the goal is to update the assigned
cottage for rental value. Judging will be based on making the properties more attractive for renting in
upcoming years. Each staging company will be given $300 cash and have the opportunity to win raw material,
paint and fabric during daily design challenges.”
We’re not sure how reliable Wi-fi will be but we’ll be trying to post regularly from our cottage to show you our progress. Check our Facebook page regularly beginning on September 6, to see how we’re doing. Access Home Staging
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Home Staging, Home Selling

My #1 Home Staging Recommendation?

No doubt about it, my number one recommendation is; don’t put your property on the market until it has been prepared to sell! I know that once the decision to sell has been made, all you can think about is getting your property on the market – fast. While most home sellers and even their Realtors believe that the key to selling quickly is to get the property listed quickly, this isn’t always true. In fact, putting your property on the market before it has been prepared can actually hurt your chances of selling quickly and for the most money.

2013-09-10 15.08.142013-09-10 15.08.28

Be honest, which version of this bedroom do you find more appealing?

When you take the time to prepare your property you have the opportunity to create the ideal property for your target market. What makes the property ideal ? I was hoping you would ask that……

Today’s home buyer is looking for a property that is  move in ready and if your property isn’t in that condition they might move on to a property that is. Take the time to prepare your property and spend you time and money wisely. A professional home stager can be asked to come into your property and determine what, if any, up-grades, repairs or deferred maintenance issues need to be addressed and will prioritize any suggestions to work within your preferred time frame and budget. Often a fresh coat of paint, de-cluttering and purposeful space planning is all that is needed to make your property appeal to your target buyer.

When potential buyers look at your property they are looking for space and the more spacious your property appears, the more appealing your property will be. Your stager will encourage you  to go through every cabinet, closet and cubby,go ahead and edit your belongings,pack what you don’t use regularly, plan a yard sale or sell items online and give things to charity. Editing your belongings and pre-packing some of your stuff sounds like a lot of work and it is, but why not get a head start?

keep toss

You can also create space by reducing the number of items in a room and by keeping corners of a room to create the sense of space in a room, if at all possible, create enough space so that three people can comfortably move throughout the space ( two potential buyers and a Realtor). Plan on storing your excess items off-site, family and friends may have some room and there are many convenient storage businesses in most areas. Your stager will be able to suggest workable floor plans to create both space and great traffic flow.

When a property is prepared prior to listing it photographs beautifully and since up to 98% of all buyers are introduced to a property online, fabulous listing photos make them stop and look at the details of your property rather than just clicking on the the next listing.

For most of us, our home represents the largest,single investment we ever make so it only makes sense to do everything you can to ensure that you make the greatest possible return on your investment. Most of us would clean out the car and maybe even get it detailed before we tried to sell it because we know if it looks good we’ll get more money, the same is true for our homes.



Stacie Chamberlin is a professional stager who works in the Ottawa area. Her company, Access Home Staging, is dedicated to helping home sellers move on to the next stage of their lives. She loves working with occupied listings and is currently developing a “zoomer” service package to meet the needs of our aging population. Access Home Staging is Ottawa’s real estate staging and transition solution.



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Living in the apst

A good friend recently gave me two banker boxes filled with décor and design magazines. These magazines cover a 20-year period from about 1985 and I thoroughly enjoyed my walk down memory lane with a lot of chuckling along the way.
Every wall seemed to be glazed and some sort of paint treatment applied. There was ragging, pouncing, using plastic wrap to create texture, making wall treatments using torn grocery bags and the art of the faux finish! Then there were the window treatments; yards and yards of fabric draped, ballooned, swagged and puddling. Country style decorating was popular but not the fresh, clean look we see today. Country meant primitive and grungy, over decorated using a gazillion collectables and, of course, baskets!
Although I had a great time flipping through the pages, I noticed that some of these dated looks could still be found in the properties I consult on. People love what they love and are often blind to how dated the look is and how negatively it can affect the sale of their property. Even worse, when asked to make changes, property owners can often be defensive and even hurt thinking that there is something wrong with their décor choices. This is when a professional stager, who has been trained in the art of the difficult conversation, can make a huge difference!
A trained professional is able to both re-assure the client that their design choices are not in question, that all the suggestions being made are so that the property will appeal to the buyer most likely to be interested in their property and explain that the buyer for their property is most likely going to be much younger and a lot more demanding. This buyer does not want to spend money or time up-dating; they want to sign the papers, move in and start their new life. A professional stager helps the home owner spend their time and money on the up-dates that will make the greatest impact and give them the best return on their investment. Home staging is one of the best marketing tools available to the home seller and if the Realtor isn’t working with one – ask why. Every home seller deserves the best marketing available.images

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