Thursday, February 21, 2013

Berkeley Home Sellers Think 'Staging'

We all know the feeling – the one where guests are due and you haven’t had time to clean the house.  You shove all the…well… stuff into the back bedroom and shut the door (you’d lock it if you could).  Now imagine that feeling times 10.  If you are trying to sell your home this spring, and you have rooms full of that…well…stuff -- you’re in for exactly that.  

You can prevent it all with just a touch of the staging approach for your Berkeley home.  Not everyone has $5,000 or more to spend on professional staging, but then again, you can’t offer your home in “lived in” condition and expect to have buyers racing to write you their high-priced offers. There are many staging companies that can work within your budget as well, so, if you only have a few thousand to work with that is better than nothing. And often times, a stager or Realtor can incorporate your stuff to save on costs.

Real estate is in large part an emotional selling proposition – beyond their basic housing requirements, buyers want to see themselves living a better life in their new East Bay home. The quickest and easiest way to make that possible is to simply get rid of that same stuff! 

Here’s an easy example: while a messy home office – one stuffed with papers and files – will cause many potential buyers to think too cramped for me, a well-staged home office helps them imagine their own paperwork in control. To achieve a look that’s clean and simple, box up your files and clean out the dust bunnies.  If you have allowed extra furniture to accumulate (like that folding table in the corner that holds last year’s tax records), go ahead and de-accumulate it!

Staging of any kind may not be your first choice for how to spend an afternoon, but selling your home is a business transaction, and when you approach the process confident that a little elbow grease will go a long way, your pocketbook will register the difference. 

If you are, in fact, preparing for this spring’s selling season, contact me to discuss practical strategies for economically handling the repairs, remodeling, and staging that will speed the sale of your home.

written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, February 4, 2013

Catch "The Wild Bride" at Berkeley Rep!

Go see the magic happen.
The fairytale unfolds at Berkeley Repertory Theatre until February 17.

The Wild Bride at Berkeley Repertory Theatre is a high-energy, self-described “feminist fairytale" that follows a young girl from her accidental sale to the devil through the many crossroads of her life.Three actors perform the life stages of the title role—The Girl, The Wild, and The Woman. One actor plays both Father and Prince. A fifth actor plays the Devil.

The show features a killer soundscape. The ever-present band with core musicians Damon Daunno and Ian Ross balances being fabulous yet non-intrusive while rocking (or blues-ing) out to Stu Barker’s compositions. Carl Gross’s writing creates both full-on silliness and many moments of what I call “horraughter,”which is an acute involuntarily sound—somewhere between gasp and guffaw—that escapes when one sees or hears something horrible that is also, somehow, hilarious.

Audrey Brisson as The Girl harbors more than the allotted amount of spectacular per square inch. Her from-the-toes-and-gut vocal delivery of “The Crossroads”; her chilling embodiment of The Girl’s anquish; and her deft support, in her turn, of the other performers seem central to the success of the production. She is (fortunately? unfortunately?) so convincing as a young girl that the audience gasps with shock and discomfort when the devil holds her tiny body like a guitar and strums her pelvis.

Patrycja Kujawska as The Wild displays a “How is that even possible?” level of talent and is responsible for a remarkably heartrending moment when she displays her skill as a violinist just before the ability to play is taken from her. Even as one forcefully rejects the fairytale’s depiction of physical disability as loss of virtue, the moment emerges as a poignant rendering of potential being abruptly and violently stunted. As The Wild, Kujawska’s wolf-cub playfulness is endearing and her every movement is so precise and skilful that I observed many audience members nodding in appreciation of the magic she made by, say, standing up after being seated.

Etta Murfitt’s Woman is a force, but it is Murfitt’s choreography that creates the most deliciously haunting images: the visual fugue of girls dancing while the conversation between Father and Devil thunders on; The Woman’s tripartite "community of self" slow-dancing with the prince; and the repetitive, cycling, debilitating “fallback” dance of war. There is just enough “too much”in the movements Murfitt designs.

Stuart Godwin’s Prince leaps joyfully into hearts and other loving openings as he portrays a man navigating through a lifetime of love-- from the unabashed goofiness of new love to the challenge of loving when half the bright is gone. As The Father, Godwin moves seamlessly into improvisation that delights the participating audience.

Andrew Durand’s Devil somehow reminded me of the following: Humbert Humbert from Nobokov’s Lolita; Robert Westenberg’s wolf from Into the Woods; and--from Glee, forgive me --Kurt Hummel’s smile. In order to make fun of gospel singers’ vocal embellishments during the The Devil's churchy-sounding moments, Durand deploys his own solid singing voice as a weapon. He does not fail to entertain. Durand’s devil reads as more playful and demanding than seductive and is immensely likeable when he isn’t being abominable.

Emma Rice's direction enables The Wild Bride’s tumble of movements and sets to read as “hot damn” instead of “hot mess." This play is a stunning testament to the magic of theater. Where else can you explore what good can come of a leafless ladder tree, a mirror, two chairs, a disco ball, a broom, an oversized portrait, a few buckets of fire, a thumping good cluster of musicians, a small group of talented actors, a spot-on technical staff, and a grove of royal lightbulb pears?

Go see the magic happen.
The fairytale unfolds at Berkeley Repertory Theatreuntil February 17.