When we do things for the first time, hey - they can go sideways and that's okay!

Education & Training with PRES Staging Resource Centre

I'm pretty sure I was one of the first home stagers in Canada. I've staged countless homes over the years and still find I am learning things. One of my last jobs went a little bit sideways. I wanted to share that with you so that if you are new to the business or not, you might be able to avoid the situation.

Here's the story:

  • I had staged 2 homes for this client already - 1 for $1.3 million and totally vacant so everything was selected by me and brought in to stage - sold in a few days; and a condo for $450,000 where I made recommendations for paint, decluttering and depersonalizing and enhanced the condo with some of my own inventory
  • The client called me to stage his deceased mother's home - she had died 6 months ago and they were now wanting to prepare the house for the market - a $4.5 million penthouse
  • I spent over 8 hours over 2 weeks with the client helping to stay on track and give my expert opinion on what should be kept for staging and what needed to be packed up
  • I hand picked the art and a good amount of rental inventory consisting mainly of accessories, towels, bedding and florals 

When all was said and done unfortunately the client did not like the look of the home - it didn't look the way he thought it should since it was his mothers' home.

What I learned:

  • just because you have worked with someone before don't assume that every home staging can be treated the same way - communicate, question, ask, take your time to understand the emotional state
  • when someone is still in the grieving stages communicate more with them than you would if they were not
  • make sure you both have the same vision of what the final staging will look like
  • if you have different views see if there can be a compromise so that the home has that broad buyer appeal
  • always treat each other with respect to understand all points of view
  • do your best and value the work you have done   

If you are the home owner, know that home stagers want you to have the best experience possible in getting your home ready to sell. Our goal is your goal and we strive to do the best that we can with every staging job we do.

Comments (11)

Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady!
Keller Williams Realty Boise - Nampa, ID

Interesting...I guess it is the same for all industries...communication is the key...even if you think you understand tne needs make sure...and double sure!!

Jun 02, 2010 06:31 AM
David Obbee
Obbee.com - Agoura Hills, CA

Dana: Thank you for sharing your experience- It's good advice, especially for when a client may be emotionally upset.

Jun 02, 2010 06:33 AM
Edward & Celia Maddox
The Celtic Connection Realty - Queen Creek, AZ

Thanks for sharing.  Staging does help almost all homes.

Jun 02, 2010 06:50 AM
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Dana,  Sorry to hear this.  I was so looking forward to seeing the "after" photos.  This is really good advice.  I imagine the client was so emotionally wraught, that this impeded his good judgement. 

Jun 02, 2010 01:31 PM
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

Sounds like the client had not "let go" of his vision for his mother.....hard to be in the middle of that emotional journey.  I'm sure he very much appreciated your 2 previous successes for him!  

Jun 02, 2010 03:41 PM
Lori Kim Polk
Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services - Roseville, CA
Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento

Dana.. you did your best. He is still too emotionally attached. Hold your head up, take a deep breath... move on sistah! When all is said and done, he will probably use you again ;)

Jun 02, 2010 06:07 PM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

In any other case when a home seller says "it doesn't look like my house" I'd say great! It shouldnt' because that's the idea to remove the U from the House but being sensitive to a client's situation where there was a death in the family is so important.  I'm sure you handled it great Dana, he just needs time to emotionally detach and grieve. How did it end up after all?

Jun 03, 2010 02:01 AM
Dana Smithers
PRES Staging Resource Centre - Vancouver, BC
PRES Staging Training, Redesign Training & Busines

Thanks so much for the many comments. I know i did my best and I professionally liked the look of the home. Here are some of the photos of the art and accesories I had selected. Great learning experience.



Jun 03, 2010 06:59 AM
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Dana, I LOVE the artwork.  It really has that great "downtown condo" vibe. 

Jun 04, 2010 04:25 PM


Problems with clients happen to the best.  This client was not ready for changes to his mother's home, and he probably didn't even realize that until the changes were made.

Thanks for sharing.

Jun 10, 2010 04:06 PM
Dana Smithers
PRES Staging Resource Centre - Vancouver, BC
PRES Staging Training, Redesign Training & Busines

When you are staging a really high end home it can happen that what you would LOVE to rent is just not available. I don't recommend that stagers buy inventory to suit only one or a few homes. If I could have used more traditional furnishings in other homes then I would have made the investment. There are about 4 other condominiums for sale in this same building all over $4.5 million so it may be a slow time selling.

Jun 11, 2010 11:30 AM