Follow me on Insta @michelealfanodesign

Friday, July 31, 2015

MoD Must Haves: Home Staging Book Review of Tori Toth's Feel At Home

MoD Must Haves
stylish, tactile, novel 
for book lovers

This is my first design book review and I have to say that I enjoyed learning more about the psychology of home staging. Feel At Home - Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell by Tori Toth will be fresh on the market on August 4th.  I got a preview and really liked this book because it talks about how the homeowner can be inconvenienced both emotionally and physically and provides great tips on how to sell their house quickly and without emotion. She outlines step-by-step strategies on how to prepare and showcase your home and teaches us how home staging can also create a more beautiful living environment even if you are not preparing for a home sale. 

As a professional Tori is a professional home staging expert who has successfully prepped multi-million dollar homes to studio apartments, resulting in quicker sales and greater revenue for the sellers. 

Learn more about Tori Toth's new book. I'm so excited to share an interview with her today!

Tell us a little about your business, how it operates and who your clients are?

I opened up my NYC based home staging company in 2009 working with home sellers and real estate agent to prepare their homes for sale. We typically work on vacant spaces, so once we see the space and meet the client we put a proposal together. Upon acceptance we order rental furniture and choose accessories from our own inventory. We schedule everything to be delivered on the same day and set up the space and within a few hours the home looks completely transformed using the Feel at Home Process and ready to be viewed by buyers.

Over the past year, I’ve shifted my focus to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for do it yourself home sellers. I created the Stage 2 Sell Strategy, which is an online video course for home sellers to learn how to stage their own homes. This program is specifically for sellers who will be living in the home and using their furnishings while on the market. It’s a nine-module course that holds sellers accountable to complete the work, and we help them every step of the way whether near or far.

What is the difference between Home Staging and Interior Decorating?

Home staging focuses on what the potential buyer wants, rather than what the seller wants. When you’re selling a home you’re selling a lifestyle, but not necessarily your own. Staging is less taste specific than decorating so the space can entice a varying buyer pool to put in an offer.  

What does it take to run a successful home stager business?

In order to run a successful home staging business you have to be able to multi-task, roll with the punches, have an impeccable memory and be highly organized. You need to be creative, a bit of a psychologist or mediator, resourceful and constantly be growing your network.

In your new book Feel at Home you speak about the psychology behind home staging. How can home staging change emotions and habits and ultimately help close the sale?  

A home is a seller’s personal space where they’ve lived for years, memories are made, and families grow up so it can be emotional for many people when it comes time to sell. In some cases sellers may not want to leave, but they’re forced out because of a divorce or are unable to make payments. Serious sellers begin with the end in mind, they remove their own feelings and do what it takes to get the home sold. Someone who isn’t motivated to sell won’t keep the house clean, stay organized or make repairs. That’s why having a seller’s mindset during this process is so important because it’s not an easy task to get your home sold. Habits begin to change when sellers take responsibility for showing off their home by upkeeping the space. When a home is clean or repair-free it motivates you more to maintain that status, and as we all know after about a month of doing something a habit is formed.

What do you want your reader of your book to walk away remembering?

I want the reader of this book to remember that home staging is a tool that costs some money, but is invaluable to the selling process and can not only get you off the market quickly, but it can get more money in your pocket and provide the ideology to enhance your overall lifestyle for years to come. 

Thank you Tori for a great interview!

Connect with Tori on her WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER

To get a daily dose of design, find MoD Design Guru on

Thursday, July 30, 2015

DIFFA Picnic by Design Competition 2015

Its Picnic time, well Picnic by Design time on August 5th at Ramscale Studios, 6-9pm. Tickets are still available here. Proceeds from ticket and basket sales will help support DIFFA in its fight against HIV/AIDS.

There is an impressive lineup of sponsors, designers and judges for the 4th annual Picnic by Design event. The event will feature design pairing with delicious food,cocktails and wine. 

All designers were asked to design a basket that followed a theme of their choice. I knew I wanted to do something that was music inspired. I just got back from New Orelans Jazz fest and the whole experience was nothing less than awesome. 

I decided that the basket had to transform in some way so why not transform into a boombox? I worked with Five Star Millwork who once again brought my idea to life
Transformable Headphone Basket by MoDmade NY | MoD Design Guru

Thank you to the wonderful sponsor Robert Allen for the amazing fabrics!!

Jazz Age Curacao

Tropic Storm Molten

Merry Maze Calypso Blue

For a fun twist, a panel of design experts will evaluate each basket and the winner will be featured on The designers are up for an exciting challenge as a panel of judges, made up of design and hospitality industry tastemakers, will be on-hand to select the top three most impressive baskets. Jury members will judge the baskets according to the following criteria: most stylish, most functional for a picnic, most outside-of–the-box (or basket!) design. The jury includes: Cindy Allen, chairman of DIFFA and editor-in-chief of Interior Design; Louise Vongerichten, head of development at the acclaimed Chef’s Club US; Christophe Rammant, president of EGE & Bolon; Stephanie Goto, principal of STEPHANIEGOTO and Barry Richards, principal and studio leader at Rockwell Group.

I cant wait to see all the baskets!!

Additionally, DIFFA is hosting a social campaign, #ShowUsYourPicnic, that invites people across the country to join the fun picnic festivities. 

Here are some images from last year:

Hollymount Ltd.

The exciting list of designers for 2015 include:  Byron C. James-Rodrigues for House of Oasis; Kristen Ward Guerrero/Sargenti Architects; ARCHIVES id; Cheryl Umbles Interior Design; Nile Johnson Interior Design; Antoinette Loupe Interiors; Hollymount Ltd.; Christina Caughey/Cristina Mary Designs; Vanessa DeLeon of Vanessa DeLeon Associates; Carl Lana for Cliffton Dry; Elk Collective; CetraRuddy; Rixner Wright Interiors; Gensler; Urtensils; Courtney Sloane Design; and Mong/Tordorora and me, Michele Alfano of MoDmade NY| MoD Design Guru.

 Byron C. James-Rodrigues for House of Oasis

Michele Alfano of MoD Design Guru

Thank you to all the amazing sponsors!! Picnic By Design would not be possible without the generosity of event sponsors, which include: EGE; Poggenpohl; Robert Allen; Quadrille; Kravet; Urtensils; and Hedgehouse, whose wares will be incorporated into the picnic baskets and throughout the event venue.  The event is also sponsored by Interior Design and the New York Design Center. Offering a gourmet taste of NY, the picnic will feature food and spirits from FIKA; STK; Murray’s Cheese; Baked by Melissa; Kind; Cliffton Dry; Harlem Brewing; and Oyster Bay.

Monday, July 20, 2015

One Kings Lane Style Spotlight Outdoor Rugs: a sacred backyard space

MoD Must Haves
stylish, tactile, novel 
for backyard lovers

Sometimes I come home from work exhausted.  I would just love a space in my backyard where I can quiet down from my day, relax, reflect and feel centered; basically a sacred space. Well, drinks usually come to mind too. Next spring we plan this kind of a renovation and it just so happens that One Kings Lane asked me to participate in their Style Spotlight Outdoor Rugs campaign asking me to share what my outdoor space would like with one of their rugs. 

Thinking about how my outdoor space should be a seamless extension of my homes modern interior, I started to peruse the One Kings Lane site for some key  items that can help transform my yard into a dreamy retreat. 

Besides lots of bug spray, all it takes is some awesome lighting, a fire pit, a bar and a cool swing. See the One Kings Lane picks below:

To get a daily dose of design, find MoD Design Guru on

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

MoD Must Haves: Zespoke on the Perfect Color Palette For Your Personality

MoD Must Haves
stylish, tactile, novel 
for color lovers

My friends over at Zespoke have a good eye for color and know how to incorporate wild and bold patterns into their cool retro coffee tables. Love the graffiti inspired table above and its shows how a pop of color can not only make a statement piece but also change the whole look of your room. I asked Zespoke if they would lend some thoughts on how to inject color into interior spaces:

Home Colour Combos: The Perfect Palette For Your Personality

Summer is here and, while this time of year is readily associated with floral colours and designs, your personality doesn’t necessarily reflect the season - and your home shouldn’t have to either. When it comes to colour scheme, finding your perfect fit can be a difficult task - but if you are looking for inspiration, we can help you select the perfect palette for your personality.

Soothing pastels

Pastel colours come in a variety of shades and, thanks to their light and soft look, they are suited to happy, playful characters. From baby blue bathrooms to calming yellow sun rooms, pastel shades can help bring out the brighter side of your personality and inject some light into your home. Complemented with vintage bunting and a Zespoke retro coffee table, pastel colours can help you turn back the clock and get lost in yesteryear as you navigate your way from room to room.

Warm and rich

If you are a passionate person who feels the full force of your emotions, you might prefer to bathe your home in richer tones. Rustic reds and fiery oranges will warm up your rooms and create a homely and safe atmosphere, whereas deep blues and purples will have a more calming effect. Allowing your personality to spill over into your interior features will help you fashion a home that reflects you. So, no matter whether you are a romantic dreamer or a logical thinker, there is a spectrum of colours at your mercy.

A primary palette

Getting back to basics can be a welcome change - and if you appreciate the finer things in life, you might enjoy experimenting with primary colours to invigorate your interior.

From rooms steeped in a single colour to feature walls, primary colours keep it simple yet stylish - and block colours provide the perfect canvas for your accessories. This doesn’t mean your interior has to look boring, though, as this simplistic approach will give your home a more modern touch. Let your personality provide a basis and enjoy designing your ideal interior.

Seasonal tones

Are you a fan of seasonal styles? If so, there are tempting tones suited to every time of year. To embrace the energy of spring, light and fresh colours will brighten up your home - or if summer is your favourite season, you can squeeze out every last drop of sunshine by introducing some bright and vivid colour into your rooms. Autumn is all about earthly tones and often associated with rustic greens, browns and yellows - allowing you to bring an element of the outdoors in as you freshen up your home. When winter rolls around, blues, purples and deep pinks are reflective of the season - but if you want to keep the weather outside, opt for warm reds and inviting oranges.

So, whether you are a fan of golden tones or prefer some cooler shades, let your identity do the talking and colour your home happy.

Follow Zespoke on their WEBSITEFACEBOOK, TWITTER

Thanks Zespoke for your color tips!

Image Credits: Zespoke

To get a daily dose of design, find MoD Design Guru on

Thursday, July 9, 2015

DIFFA’s 4th annual Picnic by Design event 2015: Food, Design and Charity

Have you experienced a picnic on an urban rooftop yet? DIFFA’s (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) 4th annual Picnic by Design event is a pretty cool event that I have participated in for the past 3 years. It redefines the concept of a traditional picnic. Guests sip cocktails, savor picnic fare from fab NYC restaurants while bidding to win one-of-a-kind designer picnic baskets by enlisted top designers. The event is only a month away: Wednesday August 5th at Ramscale Studios 406 West Street, NYC at 6:00-9:00.  

Purchase tickets now and come say hello to me! The early bird ticket price is $125 and will increase to $150 the week prior to the event. 

Some images from Picnic by Design 2015

My picnic basket design is hush hush right now but I will be giving some snippets on my Instagram account soon. Here is an image of my Farm-Chic wheelbarrow design from last year:  

To add to the excitement, DIFFA is launching a social media campaign around the event, encouraging people across the country and globe to host their own picnics to raise awareness. Participants are invited to share snapshots of their gatherings with the hashtag #MakeaDIFFArence

Hope to see you there!

To get a daily dose of design, find MoD Design Guru on

Friday, July 3, 2015

London Lifestyle and Apartment Living

Heading to London for business, or pleasure? I was in London 2 years ago and it was an exciting metropolis immersed in culture, bustling with beautiful architectural features, famous landmarks, fine art, prolific shopping and vibrant nightlife -sip cocktails in Soho, dance the night away at a gig in Camden or relax and enjoy some fine dining.  There is something for everyone- not to mention their Royal family. 

Would you want to live there? I asked my London  architect friends over at Unit One Architects who specialize in creating design-led residential architecture to add some flavor around living in London and what apartment living be like. They bring their top tips for making the most of your London apartment and embracing the city. 

City life

When people talk about living in London, they always mention the cost of living - but despite rising prices, thousands of people still flock to the city every year. This is unsurprising news when you look at what London has to offer. From world-class nightlife, to fine art - London is a cultural melting pot, offering any amount of things to do - any night of the week.

If you’re looking for exciting nightlife, sip cocktails in Soho or dance the night away at a live gig in Camden. For a quieter evening, take in one of the West End’s famous shows or dine out in one of its many Michelin starred restaurants. Whatever you’re looking for, life in London offers something new every day - and once you’ve made the monumental decision to uproot your life, the next decision is where to live.

Location isn’t everything

Thanks to London’s impressive transport system, wherever you decide to buy or rent an apartment, you won’t struggle to get around the city. With an unparalleled network of rail, tube and bus routes, getting around London is as easy as a walk in any of its picturesque parks. From affordable Acton to glorious Greenwich, the city has a plethora of different neighborhoods - each with their own unique quirks. Regardless of where you decide to look for an apartment - you’re guaranteed to find a home that suits your tastes, lifestyle and budget.

From views of the Thames in the city center to tucked away cosmopolitan streets, there’s so much on offer. Whether you’re looking for an apartment close to work or you’re keen for some outdoor space, London has any number of unique buildings available to buy or rent - and thanks to the smattering of iconic attractions throughout the city, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to secure an enviable view.

Types of apartments

When it comes to choosing the type of apartment you want to set up home in, London has any number of residential architectural designs to choose from - and we’ve gathered a few of them together to help inspire you.

Light and bright

The beauty of London apartments is they are often remodeled from older buildings - allowing designers to use what worked before to inspire their new constructions. The city’s dense population means that large apartments are rare - but if you’re looking for a spacious layout, a light and bright set up can make your apartment feel bigger than it actually is. Choosing an open plan apartment means less doors to restrict your space and keeping your windows clear of heavy curtains will allow the British sunlight to seep in and brighten up your pad.

Open and airy

Life in London can make you feel isolated from nature, but choosing an apartment that allows you access to some greenery is a great remedy for this. If you want to feel closer to the great outdoors, opt for a ground floor apartment. Whether you have green fingers or just want to take a breather, even the smallest garden area will allow you to embrace the open air. With a ground floor apartment and you will find your very own haven in the heart of the busy metropolis.

Modern and minimalist

Most people buying or renting an apartment in London are looking for a place that reflects their personality. The capital boasts some stunning modern apartments which are perfect for those who appreciate minimalism. From bespoke breakfast bars to ambient lighting and a white washed walls, modern apartments can provide you with a relaxing refuge from the crowded city streets.

These are just a few of the amazing apartments on offer in the country’s capital. So whether you’re on a budget or you’ve got the cash to splash, London has something for everyone - and our tips on picking the perfect living space are guaranteed to help you on your way to finding the ultimate city pad. Whether you’re moving to London for work or play - you're guaranteed to fall in love with this amazing city, and once you’ve found your perfect apartment, you’re unlikely to want to leave!

Credit images: Unit One Architects 

Thank you Unit One Architects for sharing your point of view about London and Apartment Living. From exploring bespoke architectural structures to implementing innovative interior designs, the experts at Unit One Architects can help with all your residential architecture needs - helping you create the perfect home.

To connect with Unit One Architects, 
check out her WEBSITETWITTER

To get a daily dose of design, find MoD Design Guru on