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How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part Three)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present our third and final edition to “How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind”.

If you missed the two previous posts, sit your kids in front of a cartoon and get caught up.  Your temporary neglect is so purposeful and necessary… they’ll be fine.

Check them out here:
stage a houseHow To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind Part (Part One)
Step One: Bring in a professional stager who will make you rethink everything you’ve ever done in your house.

Step Two: Live out the American Dream, which is to say, have a house of stuff and rent two storage units to hold your other stuff.

stage a houseHow To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part Two)

Step Three: Tackle the to-do list from the stager and realize Joanna Gaines is a DIY Goddess and we are not worthy.

Step Four: Once you’ve successfully declutter your home, go shopping.

And now…
Part Three:
stage a house
Step Five: Knock out those final items on the to-do list and laugh to keep from crying.

The final items on the to-do list are what I call the LOList.  It’s the tasks that are bottom-of-the-barrel priority, but still need to be attended to in the staging preparation.  Additionally, somewhere in the process of accomplishing those tasks, I will almost certainly LOL, ranging from a quiet snicker to an all-out cackle accompanied by a teensy bit of tinkle spray… choosing to laugh pretty much because my only other option is stress-induced sobbing.

Excerpts from the list and a description of how it went down:
LOList 1.  Move dead copperhead off of our property
Just a shot in the dark, but we had to assume buyers weren’t in the market for a house with “granite countertops! new carpet upstairs! also venomous snakes nearby!”  Just days before the house was to be listed, I put my daughter to bed and then my mom and I mulched the yard until I couldn’t feel my fingertips anymore.  (My sugar daddy would’ve been out there with us, but he was at work chasing paper so we can buy nice things like name brand sunscreen, y’all hear me?)  That three-foot-long viper tried to jump me as soon as the moon rose.  My Parseltongue is a little rusty but it’s possible he slithered up like, “sssup” and I was like “NO HE DI’INT” and he was like “hisss” and then I got my mom to back her car over it like twelve times.

We let it sit dead by our driveway for a few days as a PSA to all the other snakes.  Then we gave it a proper burial by scooping it with a shovel and catapulting it into the briars.  NOT TODAY VOLDEMORT.  Mama gotta stage.

LOList 2.  Patch and paint holes in the wall.
What should’ve been the easiest, most-common staging task became the biggest thorn in my flesh, the project that wouldn’t die a finished, perfectly completed death.  Ugh.  Why were the paint cans we needed to use corroded with rust, tainting all my paint shades? Why were the three colors we needed all like 2 shade variations from each other?
paint colorsHow was I supposed to know that Lowes was going to mislabel 2 of the 3 new paint can shades?  I mean.. you open a can of paint and stir that baby up, but it’s not until you get it on the wall for touch-ups that you’re like “OH.  Nooo.. no no no.”  Believe me.. I was in the master bathroom just slapping up guess and check brush strokes to figure out which can was supposed to go with those walls.
bathroom paintLow point, seriously weighing if the buyers would walk ALL the way into master bathroom to turn and see this piece of abstract art touch-up.  I really wanted to just tape a Post-it underneath those wall touch-ups that said, “Ma’ams and Sirs, I TRIED”.  And I’d leave the ink pen and Post-its in the bathroom in case they wanted to write back to me during showings and say reassuring things like, “Honey we know” or “You obviously devoted your time and attention to the living room, it shows.”  THANK YOU FOR NOTICING, SHOWING #3.

LOList 3.  Attach broken piece of wood back to vanity.
The side of the vanity had a painted wooden piece that chipped off, so I asked my husband, Daniel, to help me reattach it.  In he comes with a bottle of Super Glue.  Now, I taught elementary school for seven years and I can man-handle some Elmer’s Glue, y’all.  I’d never worked with Super Glue before but I figured it was only six degrees of separation from its cousin, Elmer, so I was all in.
Daniel dotted the back of the piece with Super Glue and had me press it onto the vanity to hold it in place.  I was not prepared for the glue to seep out from behind and bond with my fingertips.  I straaaightttt up superglued my fingers into the wood.  It was touch-and-go for at least 45 seconds.  I went through the fastest grieving process in humankind and made peace with the amputation of all fingers, if that would solve the problem of superglued wood fingers.  Daniel helped yank my fingers off of the wood, with no regard for my tender epidermis, and then- because who stops to think this through- I then touched my fingertips together and couldn’t break them apart.  (Reminder: I am responsible for raising a human. What is wrong with me)
The end of the story involves a cocktail of nail polish remover, dish soap, hot water, a Brillo pad, and a lot of minutes.  The vanity did get fixed and so did my fingers, but my biggest takeaway: Super Glue is no relative or friend to Elmer, nor can it be man-handled.  It handled me.

Step Six:  Set aside a day to outsource the deep cleaning of your house.
I wisely hired people to fumigate my house using enormous amounts of Lysol and Clorox.  Don’t judge me, you people peddling your all-natural cleaning products and the special cleaning cloths and the nontoxic ingredients you use to disinfect all the surfaces.  LISTEN.  I was in a bad way trying to get my house ready, which required that I tap into my strongest skill set: Googling.  I found a squad to work their cleaning magic and it just so happened their potions included Clorox.  They could’ve come into my house and sprayed bleach and ammonia all over the hardwoods… if the end product resulted in shiny, clean floors, then girl you just go right on ahead.

Step Seven: Ban your children from eating, playing, breathing, and living in the staged house.
A List of Our House Rules
1.  If you need to eat today, you can sit in your appointed location at the kitchen table and gum your food like a 90 year old.  Cleaning up your trail of sandwich crumbs seven times a day would literally put me in the grave.  If this is a problem Hansel and Gretel, you can walk yourself out to the curb and bite into the triple stacks of Ritz crackers you were trying to eat on the ottoman.  You may return inside when all crumbs are accounted for and not located on your clothes, face, fingers, shoelaces, or pockets.

2.  From this point forward, playing inside the house does not include couch forts, borrowing any Tupperware containers, or taking out the entire collection of dress up clothes.  While we’re at it, I’ve already staged your toys in the playroom, so we no longer play with toys inside either.  You may play all the hilarious and fun things in your imagination, but SO HELP ME if you unstack all the blankets from the rattan basket again or unroll any paper towels…  I will move your belongings to the shed, angel children, and you will sleep there until our house sells.

3.  Breathing is now regulated in our house as well.  You may breathe regular air like a normal person doing normal things.  We no longer permit breathing on glass to write our names in the fog.  Penalty for breaking this rule will be revoking all rights to your own name, so that you will have nothing to write in the fog.  This rule protects mirrors, windowpanes, and drinking glasses to stay stage-ready at all times.

Step Eight: Run two dozen laps around the house purposelessly because don’t you have to do more things?? Then list it.
There you have it, everyone.
Eight simple steps that will guarantee that you will have a wonderfully staged house and also have zero chill at the end of it.  Your emotions will be frayed and fragile but that house will be your masterpiece creation.  Godspeed to all of you on your staging journeys.  I’ll just be here tending to my eye twitch and residual heart palpitations… the price one must pay to sell your house. And your soul.

stage a house

How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part Two)

Welcome back everyone to “How To Stage a House and Also Lose Your Mind”, Part Two.
If you’re just joining us for the first time, I’mma need you to pause here and go read Part One so you can understand how I feel about stagers and storage units.  Basically, what you need to know is that I would rather have a flight delayed four times, sit on the tarmac for hours without pretzels or Wi-Fi, and then taxi back to the gate, than have to get a house ready to sell ever again in my lifetime.  Now that I’m a complete expert at prepping a house to be staged to perfection, I’ve decided to impart my wealth of knowledge to all of you (at no cost) (unless you want to pay me) (you can pay me if you want to)

Steps One and Two previously covered in Part One for “How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind” were:
Step One: Bring in a professional stager who will make you re-think everything you’ve ever done in your house. (AKA she wants you to light all of your decorating choices on fire, and to be quite honest, you’ll light the match because you are so over looking at that bedspread with those curtains the past nine years.  It needs-ta-go.)
Step Two: Live out the American Dream, which is to say, have a house of stuff and rent two storage units to hold your other stuff. (The decluttering process to get your house stage-ready may require you to rent a storage unit.  Storage unit buildings tend to give me active-meth-lab-vibes so I made it a habit to swing my flatbed of boxes through the hallways as quickly as possible. I also gave the security cameras some deliberate sustained eye contact so the Crime Scene Investigators could see straight into my soul if they ever had to investigate my disappearance near the “alleged” meth lab unit.)

stage a house

3.  Step Three:  Tackle the to-do list from the stager and realize Joanna Gaines is a DIY Goddess and we are not worthy.

Our stager gave us a list of almost 80 things to address in the house but somehow the jobs I deemed most urgent were nowhere on her list:

Staining a coffee table is one of those things where they show .5 seconds of the project on HGTV but then suddenly, after cutting over to sponsors, you come back to this beautiful, finished mahogany piece that was magically stained, dried, and sealed all during a Tempur-Pedic commercial.  And from the couch, you sip your La Croix and think, “That looks quick and simple. I could totally do that.”  No, sweetie. Nope. It’s not like that.

Coffee Table Staining: Illusion vs. Reality
When Joanna Gaines stains a coffee table, I can only imagine it’s as easy as breathing her warm, honeyed breath onto the table and watching the old stain gently blow off past the Magnolia Silos.  Meanwhile, I’ve hauled our table into the front yard and sat on top of it for ten minutes to Google which sandpaper grit I’m supposed to use… decide to use all the grits because who really knows… stop sanding to dream about shrimp and grits… start sanding the table with the bottoms of my feet when my husband walks by to make a Marriage Point that a pedicure would benefit all the humans in our household, cause I’m petty like that.

Over in Texas, Joanna prepares to stain her coffee table by putting on her “painting clothes”- white skinny jeans and a blue linen top. I can just see her brushing that rich mahogany blend into the wood grain, pausing every now and then to sip some coffee and kiss a bluebird.  That almost describes me staining our table, except substitute everything she was doing with the exact opposite.  I would’ve worn my chambray tunic, JoJo, but instead, I threw on soccer shorts and a tournament t-shirt from 2000 to really get after it.

In the course of my staining project- this thing that should’ve never been allowed to happen- I used a paintbrush from the dollar store… I stained the table in the living room, which concentrated all the fumes and temporarily sent me to an alternate reality… I built an unnecessarily elaborate furniture barricade around the table as it dried so my toddler couldn’t get to it.  To top it all off, after staining, the palms of my hands looked like I’d gotten bootleg henna from the State Fair.
hennaImagine a henna artist who is visually impaired, a little tipsy, and doesn’t have any opposable thumbs, and whatever you’re imagining they would’ve drawn is pretty much how my hands looked by the end of the staining project.

There are some other steps, you know, that are required in the process of staining a coffee table. I won’t bore you with all the other details, but I’ll at least give a nod to Joanna’s final step, which is typically much like mine- sealing the stain using a pinch of morning dew, a generous helping of positive thoughts, and soft, reassuring whispers to the wood grains.  However, this time, I had to seal the coffee table with my polyurethane tears after our cat jumped onto its wet stain, then raced away, leaving little brown paw prints on our hardwood floors.  True story:

paw prints

Step Four: Once you’ve successfully decluttered your home, go shopping.

It only takes a few storage unit trips before it becomes apparent you need to shop for more stuff to fill your house.  This seems like a good time to point out, that if you’re in a “joint-bank-account” scenario, be prepared to come home with seven HomeGoods bags and defend every single item as “essential to the sale of your home”.  Like this:

Him: “Why did you shop for more stuff when we just dropped off a ton of things at the storage unit yesterday?”
Me: “We can’t just move all of our old stuff out and then have nothing.  We have to make our house look pretty now.  Trust me, buyers will love walking through our house with these pieces.”
Him:  “Ok but that mirror with the spikes you bought is weird.”
Me:  “Then don’t look at it.”
Me: *runs away*

For some reason, buyers need you to have a trendy porcelain bowl with fruit on your staged kitchen table, so if you don’t have one, add it to the shopping list.  May I also suggest a fake orchid in the bathroom because zen.  And not to be forgotten for all the staged houses everywhere, new throw pillows.  So many throw pillows for all the rooms, that hypothetically, a person going to Target for pasta salad ingredients would see and need new throw pillows for the master bedroom… which also requires new master bedding, as well.  target pillows

But it’s okay, because it’s essential to the sale of our home.

stage a house

The final edition, Part Three, coming soon… Stay tuned.

How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part One)

Hello, and welcome everybody to “How to Stage a House And Also Lose Your Mind”.
Before we get started, I’d like to take a moment and thank our fake sponsor, The Magic Eraser, for magically erasing the closet and hall markings that would have otherwise led buyers to believe that we kept uncaged raccoons in our home, served them Mountain Dew, and then let them climb up the walls.  (To offer perspective, if I’d won the Powerball last week, I would have used all the money to buy more Magic Erasers and also world peace.)

Summer 2017 held lots of changes and a season of massive transition for our family.  When I wasn’t busy attending to my skin melting off in the 99 degree weather (humidity level: Satan’s morning breath), I was probably inside surrounded by moving boxes and packaging tape, boxing up every blessed (and cursed) thing we own.  We moved forward in the process of selling our home without finding a house to purchase, so we pulled the oldest trick in the Millennial Book and moved back home with my Mom while we continue our search. (Hey Roomie!) I missed being able to sit down and write this summer, but TRUST FAM, this post wrote itself every time I taped a box shut or cleaned out a closet.

Prepping a house to get it ready for a sale- especially if you’ve lived there longer than ten minutes- is just an absolute nightmare.  It’s the Project of all Projects.  Since we’ve walked this road the past few months, I’d like to gather all of you Young Grasshoppers close and describe what it’s like to prep and stage a house to perfection.  This post is just Part One; more posts will roll out continuing the steps on How to Stage a House in the next few days, so stay tuned.  HUR WE GO:

stage a house

1.  Step One:  Bring in a professional stager who will make you re-think everything you’ve ever done in your house.

Our stager was wonderful and had a great eye for how to simplify and beautify a space.  This essentially meant that as she walked through every room in our house she gave some variation of “ummmmmmmmm no”.  One of our conversations was like,
Stager: “Let’s go see the guest room”
Me: “Alright, I’ll walk you upstairs”
S: “Ohhhhhhhkayyy so this room is very cluttered already”
Me: “yah it sucks”
S: “A lot of dark colors… a lot of dark furniture…”
Me: “ive always hated this room too Cindy”
S: “We’re going to need to make a lot changes in here”
Me: “ok let’s just set it on fire”

If you want to know what a stager will tell you to do, here’s the short version: put all of your husband’s college furniture in a place known as Not Your House, place a bowl of fruit on the table, and do most of the projects you should’ve done two years into living there that you didn’t do because you were watching Parenthood Season 4.

2. Step Two: Live out the American Dream, which is to say, have a house of stuff and rent two storage units to hold your other stuff.

Getting your house stage-ready means you have to declutter, which then requires you to decide if you’re going to get rid of the stuff or put it into storage.  The great thing about storage units is that they make amazing settings for CSI episodes where the serial killer stores all of his victims’ ponytails.  Also, the location where a criminal stacks his gold bars and then sits in a lawn chair in the unit to count all of them.  I guess what I’m getting at is that low-lit storage units make me feel suspicious of everyone and creeped out by everything.  So naturally, when it’s time for us to declutter the house and rent a storage space, I went on high alert for for anyone who’d wanna cut off my ponytail every time we dropped off boxes or furniture.

Aside from my mental anguish at walking down the creepy hallways of a storage unit, I did consider it a personal goal to perfect my flat bed driving skills.  Driving one of those is essentially a combination of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road (where I’m an unpredictable, largely unsafe driver) and Tokyo Drift (where I’m drifting the flat bed at every turn to make it around a corner) plus trying to hold four boxes, a nightstand, and some cornhole boards steady so they don’t topple off.  You can’t even sing “Jesus Take The Wheel” because Jesus is like, “sry, cant help you on this one. you’re in satans building, safe travels”

As my husband and I would start unloading, we would ask ourselves, “What can we do with our two year old right now to win Parent of the Year?”  storage unit Answer: let her sit unsupervised in an armchair in a storage unit and eat easy mac while we Tetris our furniture into place.  Please do not send us a Parent of the Year trophy, because it would probably end up in this storage unit; instead you may put our parenting accolades on blast on all social media channels and we will humbly receive your kind words.

We were pushing stuff into those units and stacking boxes straight up to the ceiling. My husband’s most endearing habit lately has been to ask me where an item could possibly be located: “Have you seen where my black belt is?”, “Do you know where the cable box would be?”, “Which storage unit has the box of my grilling stuff?”… Every single time, I lay hands on his handsome face and say I CAN NO SOONER TELL YOU WHERE ANYTHING IS IN OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW than if I walked four hours and seven minutes across town to the storage unit and took every single item out one-by-one to find that cable box.  (Which I will not be doing, so R.I.P. cable box, black belt, grilling stuff, also Blu-Ray DVDs, steak knives, and whatever was in his nightstand.)

You have been granted exclusive access to Steps One and Two of staging a house, but y’all know I got more to say.  Check back soon for Part Two to assess my level of crazy while trying to DIY stain our coffee table in house-staging mode…  Suffice it to say: the cray hit the fan. See y’all back here soon!