PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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Marni Jameson

All the home’s a stage: Clearing a house, closing a chapter

“Clearing out my house with Marni’s help is like being a soldier at Valley Forge under Baron von Steuben,” DC is saying to his dog, Peapod. She’s heard the story of Washington’s revolutionary war hero all before. She looks at me with sympathetic eyes. “I’m doing this for your master’s own good,” I tell her. […]

All the home’s a stage: Before you buy, check out the hood

The dog barks day and night. Hoodlums sell drugs on the corner. The neighbor plays drums and tuba. The garbage dump is just over your back hill. The flight path to the nearby airport barely clears your chimney and the pasty-faced man across the street is a registered sex offender. The homeowner’s association fines you […]

All the home’s a stage: Finding the house

I knew the minute we didn’t get the house it was the one I wanted. I hadn’t been this heartsick since I got sent home from summer camp with mono. After helping DC shop for a new home for months we had a good sense of what we were looking for and what we weren’t. Like […]

All the home’s a stage: House hunting

Much as I carry on about house buying and selling, the fact is I haven’t bought a house in 12 years. That time around could hardly be called a house. What I bought was a poured foundation with the framing started, which I took from there. The house before that was also a lot and […]

House hunting in the hypothetical

“I am not a house snob,” I say to DC. He raises his eyebrows, lowers his chin and regards me over the tops of his frameless lenses. He wants to go house hunting, with me, but thinks pleasing me may be a tall order. “Okay,” I continue, in the most reasonable tone I can find, […]

All the home’s a stage: 10 staging secrets to selling success

When the idea of staging his house to sell came up, DC knew better than to question me. A HGTV devotee, he was tuned into the power of staging. He had also watched me, in the 14 months he’d known me, stage three very different houses. But he admittedly didn’t have the faintest idea how […]

When selling, strip rooms then style with purpose

“First we need to remove all the stuff,” I say. “What stuff?” DC asks. I look at him sideways and realize he’s serious. Like most homeowners he doesn’t see his home with fresh eyes. “Everything that doesn’t require two people to move needs to go.” “Go where?” I am helping DC get his home ready […]

All the home’s a stage — preparing the shell to sell

We start at the curb with a clear, unclouded eye. My friend DC holds a yellow legal pad and a blue ballpoint poised to take notes about what needs to be done to get his Florida house ready for market and, more specifically, sell fast at a great price. Though I have professionally staged many […]

Not so small impact of ‘not so big house’

Sixteen years ago this month, while covering real estate for the Los Angeles Times, I interviewed a little-known architect on the verge of becoming a household name. Seven months earlier, in October 1998, Sarah Susanka’s first book, “The Not So Big House” (Taunton Press), hit store shelves. By May 1999, “The Not So Big House” […]

Putting the humble back in home

Living simply isn’t simple. In fact, it’s complicated. So a recently released book — “Keep It Simple,” (Ryland, Peters & Small, March 2015), which weighs in at 176 pages — reminded me. By definition, the concept of simple shouldn’t need a book, or a monthly magazine for that matter, but it does. That’s because, in our bigger, […]

Great sheets are an investment; handle with care

I still remember the day, and this is very sad, when my all-time favorite pair of old jeans gave out. I’d had them for years, and we’d gone everywhere together. I loved those super faded, five-pocket, button-fly jeans and, you know, I think they loved me, too. We were perfect together. And then one day […]

Pillow talk part two: Picking the perfect sheet

Who knew so many people were losing sleep over their sheets? I didn’t. Not until my column about creating a heavenly haven broke two weeks ago, a column that tripped a feather-storm of emails from readers talking — and asking me — about that most intimate part of their life: What they sleep with.   Some readers […]

The rest is done with mirrors

Mirror, mirror on the wall, would you please go away, at least until I have my make-up on? No, wait. Stay. I need you to put my make-up on. Like many women, I have a love-hate relationship with mirrors. I need them to pull myself together, otherwise I would roll out of my house looking […]

Creating a sleep haven

I have been sleeping around this week. I mean that literally. In the space of seven days, I have bed bounced from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., to San Antonio and back to my own bed in Orlando. Nothing makes me appreciate my own bed — heck, my own bedroom — more than a string of foreign mattresses, […]

Spring cleaning fever: Clean where the sun shines

It’s spring, the time of year when raw unfettered daylight busts into your home like a swat team armed with floodlights catching you unaware: “You, you in the kitchen, put down the spoon and the ice cream carton and put up some rubber-gloved hands!” The bright light of spring exposes homes for the Petri dishes […]

The waiting game

As I sat waiting — and waaaayyyting — for the air conditioning repairman to show up last week, I began thinking about the chronic condition of late repairmen. This was the second time in a week I was cooling my heels waiting for a repairman, who, somewhere between his last appointment and mine, had gotten caught […]

New site takes closer look at how houses matter

In my current life as a nomad, where I live in houses that aren’t mine and serve as their foster parent until they find permanent families, I sometimes pine for a home of my own. While I enjoy the many benefits of non-commitment — Oh, the possibilities! Oh, the freedom from property taxes! — I do […]

Seniors’ downsize lightens their load and their kids’

“My husband and I have very different approaches to saving things,” said Lee Switz, of Richmond, Va., speaking for — I am going to wager — nine out of 10 couples in America. Am I right? I am talking with Lee, age 72, to uncover some secrets to successful downsizing. She and her husband, age 78, moved […]

Tough stuff advice raises readers’ questions

Although I am not Ann Landers, I still get e-mails from folks seeking help resolving deep personal problems — like what color to paint their kitchen or whether to put wood floors or carpet in their bedrooms — as if I had some know-it-all Ouija board at my fingertips that would spit out the right answers. I […]

The price of potential

“The house has potential.” Every time I hear those words, a story follows that has more ups and downs than the New York skyline. The word potential alone is dubious, as in that kid has potential, that relationship has potential, that job has potential. The word potential gets called out when one wants to infuse […]

Columnist seeks help letting go of the tough stuff

Unless you don’t have a soul, and I know some people like that, you probably have what can only be called feelings. While in the feelings line, I got an extra helping, which may explain why some people lack them. Anyway, I get waylaid by feelings often, including when I am confronted with stuff in […]

Columnist needs to take own advice and let more go

So here I am deep in the throes of writing my next book. I had better be because the manuscript is due to the publisher in less than a month, and I have already asked for one 30-day extension. I needed more time because I had to move in January, which tends to set a […]

Vivacious, neutral, classic … what’s your home personality?

Years ago, I went to a party that had a wallet reader — like a palm reader only she read your wallet and told you about yourself. Cash carefully segregated, facing the same direction by denomination signaled an organized planner. Bills stuffed in willy-nilly telegraphed impulsive spontaneity. Lots of credit and rewards cards equaled an over-extended shopper. […]

The difference between good old and bad old

Whenever I get the news that the house I am living in and staging with my furniture has sold, and right after I pull the dagger out of my heart, I try to get psyched about my next home and the joys that await. If I don’t muster up some enthusiasm, I might just take […]

Get your year off to a clean start: Upgrade your soap

As we all get a fresh, clean start on a new year, I would like to bring your attention to your body soap, that sudsy stuff you rub into your pores every day — one hopes. I’ve been thinking about soap lately as I tried — unsuccessfully — to reconcile those bars I grab at the supermarket during […]

The bell curve of the season, from one to ten to one

As we ring in a new year, I’m thinking of bells and how fitting a symbol they are for the season we’ve all just lived through. Like the holiday season, a bell curve starts small — a few gifts, a little decorating, a sparkly garment — then it quickly crescendos to a frenzy of buying, wrapping, socializing, […]

Home and life lessons learned in 2014

This is the second of two parts of Marni Jamison’s 2014 wrap up. Perhaps the best part about what I do, besides connecting with my wonderful readers each week, is that I get to learn from folks who know a whole lot more than I do. As I stumble and bumble my way through the […]

A look back: Lessons learned in 2014

This is part 1 of Marni’s annual lessons learned column. Every year at this time I look in my rearview mirror to check what the heck just happened. I flip through my 50 columns and extract my favorite nuggets of advice, one lesson from each month, and serve it up in a 12-lessons-for-Christmas kind of […]

Tech the halls … save the family

In homes across America, age-old squabbles are under way. Couples and kids are wrangling over the deep issues of the season — clear or colored, flashing or steady — while “Silent Night” plays defiantly against a noisy background. Everyone starts out merrily enough, then, faster than you can say pa rum pum pum pum, the mood shifts […]

Confessions of a hoarder: How to let go of stuff

A co-worker recently confessed that she never had friends over because her house was too cluttered. When I asked her how cluttered, she told me that one of her two bedrooms was completely stuffed and that her bathtub was full of car parts. “Would you like me to come over and help you?” I was […]

Where are you on the hoarding spectrum?

But I might need it. But it was expensive. But it was Mom’s. But it still works. But it was a gift. But I might lose weight. But it might be worth something. But it’s irreplaceable. But I don’t have time to deal with it. But, but, but. And so the clutter begins. The piles […]

Home ownership: It’s not all about the money

The numbers are in. And once again, real estate data crunchers conclude: It’s cheaper to own than rent — 38 percent cheaper, to be exact, according to a third-quarter report just out from Trulia, an online residential real estate site. And once again, having been a renter for the past three years, I am on the […]

Don’t be caught empty-handed this season: Four great go-to hostess gifts

I hate to break this to you but it’s almost Thanksgiving — the kick-off for six weeks during which we must go everywhere bearing gifts. Unless we forget to … and trigger an attack of gift panic characterized by palpitations, uncontrollable sweating and fast breathing.  Symptoms come on suddenly when you don’t bring a gift but […]

Guest houses spark lofty ideas

Falling under the category of home amenities I have dreamed about but have never had is a guest house. Falling under the category of never say never is the fact that I now have one. Well, it’s not mine, exactly; it belongs to the house I’m living in and staging. Still, my imagination and I […]

When customer service falls in the toilet

When I arrived at my friend’s house, I did not yet know the trouble I’d caused. Jean and her husband Tony graciously squired me to the guest room, where I set my overnight bag. Then they showed me to the bathroom down the hall. “You’ve done such a nice job,” I said, knowing they had […]

Design team promotes ‘gilt by association’

Atlanta architect Bobby McAlpine woke up one morning and saw the light, in the most poetic sense. This never happens to me. “I noticed the light would move through the space, selectively choose objects and illuminate them to the point of bursting,” he told me describing the moment he knew he was onto a new […]

History as told by the chair

If furniture could talk, a chair might just sit you down and say, “My great-great-grandfather, a stool, once told me, ‘Son, you don’t know what it’s like to have only three legs.’” Believe me, if a chair talked to me like that, I would pull up a seat and pay attention. For that matter, if […]

Mid-century modern: What was cool in ’50s and is now hot

Back at the turn of this century, whenever I heard the phrase “mid-century modern,” which was rare, I was puzzled. What’s modern about a style that started before I was born and that came of age alongside “Leave it to Beaver”? But now, when I hear the term, which is almost daily because this style […]

Antique rescue makes chest better than old

One stomach-sinking morning last week, I went into my garage to find my 200-year-old, hand-painted Hungarian chest blooming with green mold. I was ill. This lovely antique was now doomed for the funeral pyre because I’d stuck it in my hot, damp garage. When I moved into my current home-staging project in July, for reasons […]

Exterior house color: public service or public nuisance

The problem with home design is there is only one kind of mistake. One everyone sees. That’s what makes home improvement decisions so nerve-wracking. Your taste — whether enviably good or so bad you need to hand out motion-sickness bags — is on display. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the color of your house. For […]

Putting a sense of place in your space

Twenty years ago, when I knew even less than I know now, if that is possible, I renovated an old California bungalow in the Santa Monica Mountains. The construction project felt exactly like childbirth — except the advanced labor part lasted 36 months. Seriously, the remodel took 50 years off my life while simultaneously assuring that […]

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