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7 Tips for Staging Your Home so it Flies Off the Market

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If you’ve ever wandered into an open house and been so drawn to the home's crisp, clean décor that you felt ready to move right in, you’re not alone. But here’s a dirty little secret: You may have simply fallen for a staging trick. According to the National Association of Realtors, 34 percent of all homes on the market are staged by professionals, who quickly swap colors, furniture, and accent items to make any home look and feel amazing. And the results pay off: Staging brings back a 196 percent rate of return for your investment, says a 2102 survey.

Want to snag that same look for your house? We asked professional home stagers to share their tricks and secrets.

1. COORDINATE WITH YOUR ART.

Your accent pillows should coordinate with the art you have on the walls, says Tiffany Arsenault, certified professional home stager and redesigner with Buyers Desire Home Staging Inc., based in Massachusetts. Arsenault likes to choose two or three colors from the artwork, then she purchases a solid throw pillow from the Burlington Coat Factory (“Before I was a home stager, I would have never thought to go there,” she says) and a patterned pillow from HomeGoods to go with the art.

2. DECLUTTER.

Go with the 80-20 rule, Arsenault says. So keep the 20 percent of the items that you use 80 percent of the time.

3. CHOOSE THREE COLORS.

The biggest trick to model homes and staged homes is that there’s continuity and flow from room to room, says Julea Joseph, owner of Reinventing Space in Illinois. The way to do that is to follow the rule of threes: Choose three colors, and use all three in every room throughout the house.

For example, if you’re using gray, yellow, and white, then the living room should have gray walls, a light gray couch, yellow throw pillows, and a white rug. In another room, you should have different shades of the same colors (or even the same shades) mixed up throughout the room. “The whole house comes as an entity,” Joseph says. “Everything has to have pretty much the same theme—it can look a little more formal or a little more casual, but it has to have pretty much the same thread.”

4. MAKE EASY UPDATES TO THE KITCHEN.

Give the kitchen a facelift by swapping out the hardware and lacquering the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint, says Mikel Welch, owner of Mikel Welch Designs and the on-air design expert for The Steve Harvey Show. “These two things alone will make a kitchen look completely new and won’t break the bank.”

5. NEUTRALIZE YOUR WALLS

When you see a staged home, you’ll never see a super colorful wall or a colorful piece of large furniture. “You’ll never see a blue sofa in a large home,” Joseph says. That’s because it’s too jarring for the eyes. Instead, use neutral colors for your walls, such as gray, oatmeal, or cream, and save the pops of color for accessories such as your window treatments or small appliances.

6. PACK UP THE ART.

One of the reasons people love open houses is because the homes have such a clean, uncluttered look, with few items on the walls, Joseph says. “The counters are clear, the closets aren’t over-stuffed, there are pretty lines in the carpet because someone recently vacuumed,” she says. Joseph suggests packing up half of your art and putting it into storage or at least in the basement or under the bed.

7. PICK ONE COLOR FOR THE WALLS.

Not sure what color to paint your walls? If you’re struggling, you should commit to a subdued neutral (such as gray or cream) for the whole house. “The sunlight will make each room look different,” Arsenault says. Then, choose one shade darker of that same color for your master bedroom to make it look special, she says.

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Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animal that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
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Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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