Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If You Stage It, They Will Come!

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
 - Maya Angelou

I am a self-proclaimed Open House whore.

Some homes need...well...
a hug.

I know that sounds a little...ummmm...crass...but I think it sums it up.

One of my guilty pleasures is going out in my car on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and going into peoples' homes whilst usually saying to myself  "if only I had a day with this house...oh what I could do with it!".

And I have done it. Both in my homes and in others....family....friends...and for some actual sellers as part of my certification.

You want pics you say?!? But of course! I thought you'd never ask!

Here are some of my staging BEFORE and AFTER shots folks.

Master bedroom: BEFORE
Master bedroom: AFTER

Like a good garage sale, I find it hard to drive by a home with an open house sign out front. Whenever I see one, I usually utter "oh!" and often I am dropped off to take a little look-see.

For homes in our neighborhood, my husband is usually pretty interested in what the sellers are asking for their home and I always back that up with a full report on the state of affairs inside. Occasionally I am very impressed. The home is up to date, uncluttered and sparkling clean. It has obviously been staged and I normally voice my approval to the agent.

Tip: People are gonna look in your closets.

Linen closet: BEFORE
Linen closet: AFTER

More often than not, however, I am disappointed and generally frustrated and sometimes truly baffled by what I see. I just can't imagine how some people could put something as financially important as their home up for sale without making it look in any way appealing. I mean, sure, I am an interior decorating junkie not to mention an accredited Certified Home Stager, but really now!

No, I have never made a living staging homes, but my husband and I have netted a pretty neat sum in profit in about 5 years from my two previous homes that I staged and both sold within a few days with multiple offers and bidding wars. (And my husband is very handy...so that has certainly helped as well. But he can start his own blog. Back to the staging thing...)  :)

Tip: Shelves are for holding stuff, yes. But ya gotta make 'em look pretty people!

Family room: BEFORE

Family room: AFTER

Agents flocked to the agent selling my homes...especially the second one, to ask who my stager was. After finding out it was me, they wanted my card. It was then that I realized that I was not the only one who thought I was decent at this. Maybe I had a special knack. Maybe I could be an open house whore, cut up peoples' homes in my head and then DO something about it! And get PAID! Cool beans!

But I digress.

More pics? Sure!

Child's bedroom: BEFORE
Child's bedroom: AFTER

When I see a home for sale that needs help, I crave getting my hands on the frickin thing. I am able to see past the dirty, shag carpet from 1974 and the paper-cluttered office. I can picture the beautiful living room with tons of natural light 'sans' the heavy bubble curtains from Sears and the puffy, "pay no cent event" Leon's sofa set that takes up half the room despite its placement right up against the walls. I know they are comfy. But let me be honest here. They are really, really ugly.

Tip: Let the sun shine in! Face it with a grin! Smilers never lose! And frowners never....(OK, you get the point...)

Living room: BEFORE

Living Room: AFTER
I know the kitchen cabinets would look a million times better with a coat of  fresh, white paint and some simple, clean-lined hardware. Oh please let me at this house!!!

And I get that some people can't see past this. Hey, I still don't know my multiplication tables. That is why it is so important to change it before you sell! Interior decor...and how the home feels to potential buyers...is crucial! They have to be able to picture themselves living there comfortably.

Tip: Buyers hate laundry just as much as you do. Make it look like it will be a little nicer in YOUR home!

Laundry room: BEFORE

Laundry room: AFTER

What really confuses me is the real estate agents who often put homes on the market that look like crap. I mean, so many would look so much better with a day of clutter filtering and of changing around what is already there.

Tip: When the buyer first walks in, they want to feel welcomed. Not like they are on an episode of "Hoarders".

Front foyer: BEFORE
Front foyer: AFTER

I am not saying agents should do this, nor should they even necessarily understand principles of good decor. I just think they sould understand the difference between a home that needs to be staged and one that doesn't. Of a home that is gonna sell and one that needs some help. And I would think they would understand the return on investment both they and their client would get for the cost of having the home  in question staged fort sale. Some agents have this down. And they are generally very successful. And they generally work with good stagers. Often the money comes out of their own commission because they know it is nothing compared to the cash they will see when it sells.

Tip: Less is usually more.

Powder room: BEFORE

Powder room: AFTER

So why am I not a professional stager if I know I am good at it and am certified as well? Well...partly fear. I just was not ready to take the risk of going out on my own and took the easy money route of staying in my profession (by trade, I am a professional and trade Association Executive). I have been building a career I fell into and have done pretty well.

Sorry...more staging pics? No problemo!

Desk area: BEFORE

Desk area: AFTER

So all this rambling about home staging. What is my point, right?

The point is, this is another creative outlet of mine and another way I can share that and help others. (And maybe make some money while I'm at it). But I know there are a lot of other creative people out there. And this is something about which I can share a little of my knowledge. I'm no expert...but maybe you are thinking of selling your home and want to take a stab and improving your chances of getting it sold and getting top dollar. If this post has inspired you to make a few changes....great!

If you simply want to do a little redecorating with what you already own...or with minimal purchase...take a few cues from the above. You don't have to be selling your home to make it feel inviting. In fact, I urge you to think about that for a moment. How do you feel when you walk in your door? If you do not feel a sense of calm, a feeling of being in a place that makes you feel great, then what can you do today to start to change that?

As for me...well, maybe I will do some staging if the opportunity arises. Hey...if you know anyone who may be interested, pass this post along!

I can help to set the stage!



PS: Want more tips for staging your own home? Check this out!


  1. Another great read...:) You are a GEM Lora...I read very few blogs and I really enjoy reading yours..full of great content and humor..but very real and tonnes of personality. The trick is turning it into a lucrative affair..which there is no simple formula - but for some gut feeling I believe you will have no problem :) - whatever you do - we'll keep talking. BTW - you coming to www.word11.com ?

  2. Love the pics. I am a sucker for before and afters!

  3. I must say I'm glad your staging skills weren't available at our recent home viewing and ultimate purchase. They could have netted easily an extra $20 - 30,000 by minimal dressing of the property. Like your photos of the cupboards, the before was exactly how they looked. They also smoked like chimneys and left clutter everywhere!

  4. Thank you Jarvis, Rachel and Corri.
    Jarvis...you are the best...always such a support and encouraging! I am glad you are enjoying my blog and as I am pretty new at that it certainly means a great deal. I look forward to learning more from you and all the GEMs you share! Rachel...thanks for you comment. I am a sucker for the before and aftershave so I was hoping others would be too! :) hope you visit again! Corri...thanks for you thoughtful words. I am glad you got a food deal! That is the flip side! I got a good one too. It helps to be able to see through the crap and see the potential for sure! It is so true that the ROI to pay for a good stager is almost always worth the money and it comes back to the seller and agent sometimes ten-fold or more! So important especially with the cost of real estate! Cheers and thanks for visiting!

  5. Nice Lora! The pictures really show off your skills...wish you could come and 'stage' my house so I can enjoy living in it...

  6. You are very talented Lora. In so many areas and in so many ways! Can you come and re-do my house? Stacy Canna