The BEST kind of happy ending!!!

Home Stager with Home Staging Online Services

We stagers have an interesting job. We create beautiful rooms, but no one is going to live in them. If we have done our jobs successfully, the sellers will pack up our work, or in the case of vacant homes, we will pack up our work. Our photos are often all we have.

I was fortunate enough to hear about an opportunity that would change all that. The organization, Volunteers of America, is always looking for companies or individuals interested in remodeling one or more rooms in the local women's shelter. My friend, Nancy Ewing, and I decided to adopt a room.

On our initial tour of the shelter, I was so amazed at the level of activity all around us. The people who work there have hearts of gold, and their positive energy is contagious. We were taken on a tour, and shown two possible candidates for our room makeover. The one we chose had not received an update since 2004. There's no other way to describe it--this was a sad little room. One twin bed, one small table, a built-in table that wasn't much more than a ledge, and one dresser. No closet, as some of the other rooms had, so clothes were hung on a metal rack on wheels. Long and narrow, the room at least had a nice tall window at one end. The walls were a very pale yellowish green, and the only window treatment was a tiny valance hung over white blinds. We picked a date for the makeover, and we were allowed eight hours to complete the transformation. Here is the before and after:

shelter room before

shelter room after


Paint donated by Kwal, bedding and window sheers purchased at Target, art donated by Nancy, and a new lamp shade purchased at WalMart came together to create a room that I believe can best be described as sweet.  We also purchased and put together a wardrobe/storage unit, with removable storage bins, and a fabric cover.

As stagers, we are used to "the big reveal," but none of them compared to the praise and adoration we received from the staff and tenants. Something that was so easy for Nancy and I to do, because we do it all the time, seemed almost like a miracle to these women. Many of the women begged us to do their rooms next, and Nancy and I decided we would definitely go back and do another room.

I encourage you to find similar opportunities in your town. There is always a need for the skills we possess, and plenty of people in unfortunate circumstances, who want and deserve something "sweet" in their lives.

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Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

WOW!!! Marianne, Sharon, and Julie!!! It's like old times!

One thing I forgot to mention is that the shelter will put a small plaque on the door that will say something like Sweet Dreams Provided by Nancy and Elaine. How cute is that?

Feb 22, 2010 01:36 AM #24
Debra Valentine
Designing Details ~ Staging & Design, LLC - Bountiful, UT
Utah Home Staging for, Bountiful, Salt Lake & Surrounding Areas

What an awesome stager you are Elaine! Not only do you PROVIDE a wonderful space to a lucky shelter resident, but you will receive a bit of well-deserved recognition from the little plaque! Thanks for inspiring us all.

Feb 22, 2010 06:52 AM #25
Ginger Foust
Certified Staging Professional - Oakhurst, CA
Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging

You are to be truly commended for your inspirational giving Elaine.  Love the room and the brightening that you have created. I'm going to have to search out some possibilities in our small community.  Kudos! 

Feb 22, 2010 07:13 AM #26
Debby Langford
Altitude Designs Home Staging of Colorado - Glenwood Springs, CO
Garfield-Western Slope Home Stager

Elaine, I think I am about to cry. You are amazing! Little things change the world and great people do these things everyday with out expecting more than a Thank You! You two just improved someone's safe haven!

It is my pleasure meeting you through A/R!

Feb 22, 2010 08:11 AM #27
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Debra, Ginger, and Debby- I wish I could take all the credit, but all I did was say "I want to help" when Nancy brought this up. My biggest contribution is probably this post. If it gets others inspired, then heck yeah, I'll take the credit for that!

I wish I could have shown more of the room, but there were personal possessions of the woman staying there, in the photos.  The wardrobe we put together was really cool!

Debby, your profile photo is so cute! It's nice to meet you, too!

Feb 22, 2010 08:38 AM #28
Gina Metzger
Spaces Refined Inc. - Lake Zurich, IL

Hi Elaine,

Fantastic job. I just know your efforts were appreciated more than you know!

Our local chapter of Stagers, and nationwide chapters as well. Participate in project/s for national Staging week. Once a year a worthy cause is selected in each chapter. This past year, our local chapter completed a rehab and staging for a local woman's shelter. It took a number of months, countless hours from volunteers.  Kitchen and Bath rehab was included in the project. A ton of work, but so worth the effort for a such a wonderful cause.

Hats off to you. Keep on keeping on :-). It's a wonderful gesture that is not forgotton!


Feb 22, 2010 09:57 AM #29
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Gina! I had to go to your website to figure out what your name is! :)  Sounds like an incredible project you stagers took on! It feels great, doesn't it? My hat is off to you!

I was afraid it would be a depressing place and I would want to take some women home with me (which is why I can't work in an animal shelter) but this was a very upbeat place! The common areas had already been redesigned and looked pretty darn good!

Feb 22, 2010 11:07 AM #30
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Elaine- look at what one act can do; how many people you've inspired.  I'm sure your and Nancy's act of kindness will have a ripple effect not only on those women who will be stay there but also among those of us who've been fortunate enough to read this.  I'll be looking for something like this in my community as well.

Feb 22, 2010 01:59 PM #31
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Paying it forward...Elaine now that's how to "give it away" are one of the best at reminding all of us through your actions and words about being grateful and appreciating what you have by giving to others...Bless you...

Feb 22, 2010 05:07 PM #32
Christine T.
C.A.T. Construction and Home Staging & Design - Crown Point, IN

What an awesome thing to do. Great job! You will be rewarded someday. It always comes back around. I'm sure that's not why you did it but just know that it will.

Feb 23, 2010 01:06 AM #33
Tanya Nouwens
RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC. / Tanya Nouwens Inc. - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

Flagged for a feature, Elaine! You are so right that some of the skills we stagers use every day can work "miracles" in the eyes of others. And other things -- like the feeling of fresh, clean, soft sheets -- are luxuries they often can't afford or don't think they deserve, for myriad reasons.  Kudos to you for doing this and for sharing your experience so that we can all be inspired. -- Tanya in Montreal 

Feb 23, 2010 02:31 AM #34
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

So true, "so easy for us to do".  Those of us who are blessed with this particular talent are often not aware on a "regular basis" what a gift it is.  Yes, we get accolades from Realtors and homeowners, but they are, in honesty, "in it for the money".  When we have the opportunity to change a life, simply by constructing a more serene environment, a place to relax and de-stress if only for a little while, it is our gift. Beautifully wrapped and presented!

Feb 23, 2010 04:34 AM #35
Virginia Tatseos
Stage-Show-Sell - Bloomfield Township, MI

Really nice job.

I'll have to look for an organization like this to do something similiar.

It looks very rewarding.

Feb 23, 2010 08:16 AM #36
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Kathy-Thanks, and I hope you find a way to get involved in a project like this, too!

Terrylynn- Thanks for the kind words. I am nowhere near as altruistic as some of my friends, so I guess my point is if I can do this, anyone can!

Christine-It did one thing for me, and that is my decision to do more! Cute dogs!

Tanya, how are you? I think Nancy and I made that room one that we would love to stay in. We know how important certain things are to women, especially when they are in some kind of distress.

Cheryl- Great point--this was not about business. It was about women helping women.

Virgina- We had so much fun, too. There was a film crew there interviewing the director, and they had to tell us to be quiet because they could hear us talking and laughing!


Feb 23, 2010 04:33 PM #37
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

Wow, Elaine.  How generous and rewarding. The transformation looks incredible.

Congratulations. Your post is being featured in the group Staging Before and After Pictures.


Feb 24, 2010 11:54 PM #38
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Linda- YAY!!!!!

Kathy- Thanks for the feature! I hope a lot more people like this idea and run with it!

Feb 25, 2010 12:53 AM #39
Adam Malachi
A 2 Z Realty LLC - Castle Rock, CO

What a wonderful story!

Thank you very much for sharing

Mar 12, 2010 01:20 AM #40
GARY DIGIORGIO -Denver- Arvada -Westminster
THE DIGIORGIO GROUP /(303) 898 - GARY (4279) - Westminster, CO
REOptions LLC

Hi..guess u all are the Charlie Angels of home stagers ??

Gary d in Denver

Jun 24, 2010 09:56 AM #41
Laura S. Baker
First Weber Inc - Lake Mills, WI
Realtor (920) 728-4118, First Weber Inc

Elaine ~ I said it before and I am sure I will say it many more times over.  You are one remarkable person, with a heart of gold! 

Aug 26, 2010 08:18 AM #42
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Thanks, Laura!  I came away from this experience feeling very fortunate that I have a loving, supportive family. I can't imagine what it would be like to live without that. Nancy and I are looking forward to fixing up another shelter room this fall.

Aug 26, 2010 05:21 PM #43
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