Home Staging Stories From the Trenches: "Yes, we can work with your furniture!"

Home Stager with Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging

I often get calls from Realtors who say, “I have a family who is actually going to be living in their home while it’s on the market. They would like to use their own furniture. Do you do that?” It always amazes me that they have to ask whether a full service Home Staging company would be willing to work with (gasp) someone’s OWN THINGS?! But I know why they have to ask.

There are some Stagers out there who refuse to work with anything but a completely blank slate. I once did a consultation for a guy who had a beautiful view home and completely workable furniture. His place just needed some updating and new accessories to make it appeal more to today’s buyers. He told me that the last Stager he interviewed told him she’d only take the job if he removed ALL of his own belongings and let her start from scratch…to the tune of over $30,000 in Staging fees! No wonder there are agents and homeowners out there who have yet to hire a Stager to help them prepare their home for sale!

Not only is it bad business to waste someone’s money on unnecessary furniture rental, but in my opinion it’s just plain lazy for a designer to say that they won’t work with a homeowner’s own pieces. Of course it’s easier (and more lucrative) for us to start from scratch because we can pick every last piece down to the art, rugs and plants and know that it will all coordinate beautifully. But if a homeowner has furniture that’s in decent shape and is properly scaled for his home, why would we ask them to get rid of it?

Though my company does lots of vacant home Stagings and model homes, I work all the time with families who are living in their homes while they’re on the market. For these clients, we start with a Consultation. We spend 2-3 hours on site determining what needs to be done in order to get the property sold quickly and for the best price. Recommendations might include de-cluttering, rearranging, reconfiguring or repurposing some of the furniture, updating paint or light fixtures, replacing worn or filthy carpets, and reaccessorizing. After our meeting, the seller receives a written Consultation Report, which gives them a room-by-room check list of what needs to be done. Often the seller takes this list and runs with it and we never hear from them again (until they call to let us know how happy they are that the property SOLD)! Sometimes, however, the client hires us to bring in the recommended accessories or additional furniture pieces that we’ve noted in the report, and to put the finishing touches on the Staging transformation.

As an example, we were recently brought in by a Realtor to do a Consultation on her client’s 4-bedroom home in Tarzana, California. The client had a gorgeous home with beautiful furniture, but she had seen some Staged properties on the market and knew that her home had a couple of trouble spots that needed to be addressed before it could compete with those Staged homes.

Click here to see photos of her trouble spots and how Stage to Sell turned them into selling points!


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Annie Pinsker-Brown | Stage to Sell
Owner & Principal Designer

"We get you to SOLD so you can get on with your life!"

Stage to Sell is the premier West Los Angeles Home Staging Company.

Owner & Principal Designer Annie Pinsker-Brown is an ASP Home Stager, a member of IAHSP (International Association of Home Staging Professionals), an affiliate member of the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors and a member of the Culver City and West LA Chambers of Commerce.

Annie has Staged LA homes for Bravo's hit show "Million Dollar Listing" and TLC's "Property Ladder." She has also been featured in recent articles on Home Staging in Los Angeles Magazine, The New York Times , Costco Connection and Frontiers Magazine .

If you would like to see more of our Home Staging work, visit our website . There is an extensive gallery of before & after photos , as well as a list of our Staged properties currently on the market.


Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Karen Hubert 10/09/2009 08:57 PM
Home Selling
California Los Angeles County Tarzana
Home Staging
Services for Real Estate Professionals
Southern California Real Estate Forum
LA Connection
staging vacant homes
home stager
occupied home staging
home staging los angeles
full service home staging

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Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Annie, You did an absolutely beautiful job with this house.  I love the art and challange of re-design and having a place end up looking so good even you didn't envision it!  And it's wonderful for your clients to 'make it work' so they don't have to spend any more money.  Great job!

Oct 07, 2009 10:53 PM #1
Beverly Carlson
Carlson Properties 325-721-2429 - Abilene, TX
Abilene's Staging Realtor

Annie,  Can't help but ask, what did you do with the teenager?!   The rooms look great, by the way and fantastic cooperation from your sellers who were savvy enough to know that both the  TV and the  treadmill were causing staging trouble.

As far as repurposing furniture, I have done some of that.  I have used a beige microsuede slipcover to cover an outdated floral print couch.   I  have thrown a black throw and black pillow on another floral chair to tame it down, not ideal but it works.   

On the flip side of the opinion scale, I can understand where a stager might want the house emptied, because it really is a time saver and less expensive to rent pieces that really work, instead of struggle with how do I make this couch more presentable?   I have a staging right now  that the couch inplace is a little overstuffed and just a wee bit too casual. We stagers can be downright picky, I guess!




Oct 07, 2009 11:38 PM #2
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Annie -- we often work with clients who are living in their homes and we work with what they have.  (I can't imagine asking someone to remove everything, when they're living in the home!)  Bringing in art, accessories and other similar items is cost-effective for the sellers.  Your example looks great!

Oct 08, 2009 05:38 AM #3
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Carole, thank you! It actually takes so much more time and energy to work with a client's own furnishings and to make sure everything still flows throughout the home. But it's a great challenge and I enjoy it immensely!

Beverly, LOL! The son was away at school so he didn't mind. In fact the owner brought her 3 younger kids (two 6yr old twins and an 8 yr old) in to see their big brother's room and you could've swept their jaws up off the floor! To your second point, I agree it is MUCH easier to work with our own stuff. And I also agree that if a piece just isn't working, it may have to go (if it's damaged, too large or of the completely wrong style). But in most cases, a slipcover, throw or new pillows can turn an eyesore into a feature (or at least something that won't turn off a buyer). Of course if the homeowner is going to be getting rid of that piece of furniture anyway and wants to invest in a new piece for their new home, I say buy it early and let's use it to sell their house!

Maureen, thanks. I couldn't imagine it either. I was literally blown away that the Stager was requesting this poor guy to get rid of EVERYTHING!

Oct 08, 2009 06:06 AM #4
Judy Kincaid
Tampa, FL

Annie -- You did a beautiful job staging that house!  Staging occupied homes, using as much of the owner's furnishings as possible, is my forte....it's what I do best....it's what I love to do.  Sure, it's not easy but is well worth the hard work and aggravation when it results in the homeowners having a successful sale and being able to move on with their lives.

Oct 08, 2009 03:33 PM #5


Another beautiful job by you and a great blog.  I have already bookmarked it.

I had not heard of stagers telling homeowners to move everything out before>  Isn't that more interior design than staging?

I think it is more interesting and creative to use their belongings and show them in a different room or a different layout.

Oct 09, 2009 03:54 AM #6
Teresa Berry
Seattle, WA

Annie -  I like your style!! Great post that shows your passion: I clicked through to see the fabulous transformation you created in each room - Nicely Done!

Oct 10, 2009 05:07 AM #7
Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling
Portland Oregon - Portland, OR

Holy moly! Only in LA could stagers get away with that attitude ... LMAO! Here in Portland, I don't know of any stagers who will not work with a client's own furnishings to the extent that it is in the client's best interests. You did a lovely job on those rooms. You can actually see the rooms now!

Oct 11, 2009 07:52 AM #8
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Judy, thank you! I agree that Staging occupied homes is so much fun. It is truly rewarding!

Sharon, thanks so much! Yes I think that asking a client to remove all their personal belongings really is more interior design than staging. And as I said, I think it's a lazy approach.

Teresa, thanks! I do have passion for helping families get their homes sold in the most economical way possible. Glad that comes through in my post!

Pangaea, yes it's totally an LA attitude. However there are several great stagers in the LA area that work with what you have in the same way that I do. I don't want everyone to think LA is like they portray it on Million Dollar Listing. That focuses on Malibu and Beverly Hills. Most of us service the rest of Los Angeles which is not quite so extreme!


Oct 13, 2009 09:45 AM #9
Deena Cottingham
GreenApple Staging & Images, Calgary Staging & Photography - Calgary, AB
Home Stager & Photographer

You are preaching to the choir! I totally agree with you that it seems a little like a cop-out to only work from a blank slate as a stager. I think we can help more homeowners by being willing to tweak and enhance, too.

Thanks, Annie.

Oct 29, 2009 01:29 PM #10
Annie Pinsker-Brown
Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging - Los Angeles, CA
Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager

Deena, it's our job to help a homeowner properly prepare his/her home for sale WITHOUT breaking the bank. So much can be done using what's already in a home - it's silly to ask someone to spend money when it's not necessary. Thanks for stopping by!

Oct 29, 2009 03:14 PM #11
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Annie Pinsker-Brown

Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager
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