There may be something to this staging thing...

Real Estate Agent with Crossroads Realty, Brick, New Jersey

So, I went to a wonderful Open House a couple of weeks ago.  It was for a another agent in the office and I have to say I was very impressed.  I never really knew what to make of the "hire a person and they make your home look nice" idea.  I mean, really?  A person spends all this time and money not just cleaning your home, but making it look like a showroom? People do this for a living?  I didn't buy it at all.  I can barely put together the words to tell the client to clean the bathroom, now how am I going to get them to understand this?  I can relate with the listing on this one.  I mean, I clean, sort of, and decorate.  OK, I wipe down with bleach and put things away, then I hope no one looks in the closet.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it don't , but no one is perfect all the time.  OK, maybe my mom.  She has more animals then a zoo, but you wouldn't know it to walk in her home.  No smells, no hairballs, you can tell I'm not her.  I don't even think I carry her genes, although my daughter can put together a great closet. 

Anyway, I go through life thinking most people are kinda like me.  You know, keep it all nice, close the junk drawer, and get on with your day,  but every now and then I get proven wrong.  Now, the agent at the office strikes me as one of those people that keeps a VERY good house.  Someone who keeps the sink clear, folds her clothes perfectly, she couldn't possibly need help in the designing department.  She has my mom's good genes.  So you can't imagine how surprised I was to find out the home she was showing had been "Staged".  Take one look at her and you just thought that she lived this way. Did she really just hide all her junk in the garage? I had to find out more.

Turns out that all the sutle things you didn't think about were what made the home so welcoming, and great staging wont just make the home look nice, it will make you think about that home as one you could see yourself living in!

First, the colors.  Each room was painted slightly different, it was the stagers idea.  It gave the home a very natural feel and almost moved your eyes from room to hallway, down the stairs... The house was just soothing to be in.  It felt warm.  The illusion was done using just color and texture.  I was glad for the bold hues, nothing says, "You don't want to live here" more then white walls.  An hour in her house and I wanted to check out the Sherwin-Williams selection at Home Depot.

Second, the borrowed paintings.  The professional who staged the home received some of the paintings on the walls on loan, and, if you liked them you could buy them.   The paintings filled the walls, but you didn't find yourself staring at personal photos or blank egg white emptiness.   

And Third, the home still looked like someone lived there, not like the model homes you see to often in a new development.  I'm not a big fan of the model home, the beds are make of cardboard and the fake microwave isn't fooling anyone.  Model homes never have soda in the fridge.

The thing that I found most surprising in the way that objects in the home were set up.  I remember the feeling of the house, how everything was in its place, the paint, the rooms in the home, but what I didn't remember was the personal property.  It was almost like the staging left you feeling like you could imagine living there because the distraction of someone else's furniture wasn't what left the impression on you. 

I'm going to spend some more time getting to know more about the people who do this type of work. This will be  great tool to pass on to my soon-to-be clients.   I just wanna know, did they really just stuff everything in the kitchen drawers?

Comments (55)

Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

Thank you for such an inspiring, supportive post on our industry-home staging! 

May 05, 2010 06:43 PM
Teresa Meyer
Cincinnati Home Stager - Cincinnati, OH
Home Staging Cincinnati-OH.

Hi Michelle!  LOVED this post!  Yep, sounds like you've experienced what a properly staged home should look and feel like.

And I just had to answer your question: "I just wanna know, did they really just stuff everything in the kitchen drawers?

NO WAY!  If they were a great stager, they made it look like Martha Stewart lived there.  The staging advice should also included that every closet and drawer be de-cluttered and organized.  I tell my clients that this is CRITICAL as the buyer "aspires to live like this" so you need to show them (even though life gets in the way and we don't live like Martha after you move in!).  You're selling the dream!  Imagine buyers loving everything on the surface but then they open up that linen closet and it is beautiful with white fluffy towels, baskets and smells so fresh (thank you Downey sheets).  That just sealed the deal!!



May 06, 2010 01:08 AM
Gary Pike
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers - Powder Springs, GA

Thanks for the post.  I have seen homes professionally staged and they are impressive.  Just now I am learning about the paint hues and their effect.  Good stuff and welcome to AR.

May 06, 2010 01:26 AM
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Michelle, It's great that you were able to see first hand what a stager can do.  If you want more examples, check out our group, Stage it Forward...  there are lots of examples and success stories there.  Thanks for taking the time to share your positive experiences with home staging.

May 06, 2010 03:37 AM
Kathy Cooke
just-stage-it - Charlotte, NC

Many great comments. Think magazine quality looks which takes away the negatives in the buyer's minds. "Dont like the wallpaper...dont like the color in the bathroom...dont like..."  You get the drift.

Stagers will make suggestions that pay off.  Many tasks dont cost anything, such as removing off season clothing and basic storage items from a closet; the closet will look much larger. Colorize the clothes. The organization is a positive subliminal message. This home is clean, organized and well cared for.

Many Realtors do allot of this staging naturally. Some sellers just have this style.  For the rest, let a stager do this work for you, the seller and the Realtor. Realtors, you dont need to be at a hardware store with you seller.  Your time is your money. I am guessing, but most jobs cost between $200 and $1000.  Maybe sellers dont have an idea the service is so affortable. Welling one month earlier PAYS for the Staging!

May 06, 2010 03:43 AM


Loved your post.  Now that you have seen what a professional real estate stager can do, I hope you are now a convert to having a stager on your team.

It is a good investment for you & your sellers.


Best of Luck,


Sharon Charboneau


Sunshine Coast of BC

May 06, 2010 04:16 AM
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

Great post.  I have always been sceptical about the advantage of staging because it is so expensive.  But, you convinced me!

May 06, 2010 09:42 AM
Linda Thompson
Selling By Design-Staging - Fresno, CA


Thanks for the post. It was so nice to hear you and the other agents support staging. You are right, a staged home should not look "staged." I like to see them clean and inviting with enough updating and the right accessories. The Wow factor.

May 07, 2010 09:34 AM
Jennifer Lee

What a wonderful post!  It's great to hear so many positive comments about home staging and the great support in this growing industry.  When a home is staged properly, everyone wins, and gets to relax a little sooner with the quicker sales! 

Decluttering and depersonalizing are both musts, but it's important not to strip the home of all personality.  There is a fine line between sterile and organized but still inviting and "lived-in".  A stager can talk about all those sensitive topics with your client so you get to keep that positive relationship with them.  What a perfect solution!  How can you say no to that?

Keep up the great posts and best of luck!

Jennifer Lee

J Lee Style + Design



May 07, 2010 09:47 AM
Kelly Penuita
DecoChic Interiors ~Creating Beautiful Spaces~ Winnipeg, MB - Winnipeg, MB

It really is Wonderful to have such positive supportive feedback from Realtors!  I think it's safe to say that all Professional Stagers thank you!  Our industry is growing & becoming more of a household name.

The most important thing to remember is that Staging isn't an expense it is an investment.  The investment to Professionally Stage a property is significantly lower then the 1st price reduction - especially when price reductions usually start at $10 000.00.

I would recommend that all Realtors include a Professional Stager or two in their marketing plan!  Staging benefits everybody - Seller - Realtor - Buyer! 

Great post!!  Thank you again!!

Happy Staging,

Kelly  :) 

May 07, 2010 04:25 PM
Duane Murphy
Expert Real Estate Partners LLC - Appleton, WI
Broker- Owner-Real Estate -

I have used staging in the past and have always been pleased with the results.

May 08, 2010 10:59 AM
Marianne Cherico
Interiors by Marianne Cherico - Foxboro, MA
Home Stager -Massachusetts and Rhode Island


Thank you for posting this! Good stagers can really help Real Estate Agents sell those houses- we really can work wonderfully as a team! It is so nice to see so many comments on this post!


May 08, 2010 11:22 AM
Shawna Turner

Hi Michelle,

Great post.  I sold an architectural nightmare house by hiring a staging company.  Had it for 9 months, nothing ..... great price, lots of room, and I finally talked the owners into staging.  It sold in two weeks!

It works!


May 08, 2010 11:43 AM
Pam Miller
Realty Associates - Conroe, TX
Broker Associate - Water Crest on Lake Conroe

Nice blog!  Staging can make a huge difference.  I believe that we will see this segment of real estate grow in the years to come.

May 08, 2010 01:14 PM
Barbara Altieri
Better Homes and Gardens RE Shore and Country Properties - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Great post ...and staging does work.  My only problem with it has been having the owner 'maintain' the stage.  On vacant homes, it works like a charm!

May 08, 2010 01:20 PM
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC

I used staging once. We sold the house BUT the client wasn't pleased with the bill. I thought it was excessive too and will try another.

May 08, 2010 06:49 PM
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating - Lynbrook, NY
MJ Decorators Workshop

When you sell a car, you clean it and wax it shine.

The same thing is true with the house you'll want to sell.

Great post!

May 09, 2010 12:18 AM
Andy Capelluto
International School of Staging - Seattle, WA

Just FYI - painting every room a different color is generally not correct staging practice as this will limit the homes appeal to buyers.  In todays market we cannot afford to limit ourselves in any way and a variety of different colors is a sure fire way to do that.  Rather paint the entire home a warm neutral color that has mass appeal. (It sounds to me like that stager was confusing interior decorating with home staging.)  Likewise we would definitely not want to paint any home stark white.  More and more agents today are empowering themselves by learning more about home staging.  In doing so they can guide their sellers through the home staging process.  

Andy Capelluto


May 09, 2010 08:03 PM
Letitia Stevenson
BHHS Fox & Roach | - Greenville, DE
Listing Agent DE/PA/MD, Digital Marketer & Coach

Michelle, Welcome to Active Rain! Active Rain is a great place to share your knowledge, expertise and thoughts, as well as network and learn so much from the vast pool of talent already onboard.

Welcome Aboard and Much Success!

May 16, 2010 04:58 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Thank you for sharing this experience and sharing the benefits of home staging.  I am so impressed that your very first post is not only featured, it has been reblogged four times!  What a great way to begin blogging!

Jun 09, 2010 07:13 AM