Home Staging 101: Day in the life of a stager- this ain't for the faint of heart!

Home Stager with Prep This House Interiors Inc.

This was sent to me by another local stager and I just had to share it! However I have just learned that this is a post that KATE HART created back in 2007.  It certainly has made its rounds, which means we all can relate!  Thanks Kate for telling it like it is some days!



While before and after pictures are certainly glamorous its the $#%^** in between that they don't teach you about in staging classes. I am writing this for various reasons:

 1. Some Realtors and Home Owners think they can do this on their own or want to!

2. Some clients think we charge too much for what we do- think again!

3. Some people think anyone can be a stager- read below and then decide

Well.... this one goes out to all of your Stagers out that will read this and relate. This is ALL TRUE- well a compilation of truths!


3:30 pm. The rental furniture company has just called me, the client has not sent their paperwork in yet and the staging I have scheduled for tomorrow will not take place if the client does not get the paper work in by 4:00. The Realtor will FREAK.... she has already sent out 300 fliers promoting the open house on Sunday and has spent $400 on a newspaper ad.

3:35 pm. I call the client and explain that the paper work HAS TO BE IN. He complains about the rental company's policy and I apologize profusely that the rental company would actually want a credit card so they can charge him for the service that they provide. I then drive over to his house since his fax machine is broken and then drive it to the rental company at 3:59. The staging will go on!

4:15 pm I arrive at my storage unit and assess the situation. I shopped for 8 hours yesterday to purchase inventory for this job since all my other items are being rented. I did not want to tell the client that I was out of inventory so I dropped $2500 on accessories and artwork. The fee for the job? $1250.00 so I am already down $1250.00 for the job.

4:30  There is NO WAY that I can fit all this in my car! OUT GO THE CAR-SEATS and in goes the ficus tree.

4:55 It is dark now and the car is loaded. I cannot see out the back window and accidentally back over one of the car seats I took out of the car to make room. Down another $69.00!

5:15 I arrive home and check the fax machine. The client has not sent back my contract. I call him and he promises to give me his credit card tomorrow and sign it when I arrive.



6:30 am &*^%$!!! It is snowing! The kids do not have school so I get then settled in front of tv and breakfast and try to find something appropriate to wear. Do I go for the look that I am the sophisticated stager and I will make your home look like a  million dollars on a thousand dollar budget? Or do I go for the it is freak'n cold outside and I have to stand in an alley way and unload a truck today look? It is a high end home so I opt for a mix. Stylish jeans (with long underwear beneath) A cute parka with leopard snow/work boots. I end up looking like an Eskimo that got stuck in a Betty Boop cartoon!

7:30 Baby sitter arrived, I dug the car out of the snow bank and I am on my way to Starbucks for a venti

8:45 I have arrived at the house. Where is everyone!! I check my voicemail... nothing! I call my assistant and he is lost... again.. for the third job in a row! He tells me he is on the way.

8:46 am The Realtor forgot to put the lock box on the house. Now I cannot get in. I call her and her assistant tells me that she is in a very important meeting and will have to call me back in a half an hour!!!!

8:48 am After convincing the assistant that I am not going to burn the house down and or steal things she tells me where the hide a key is.

8:50 am I try the key. It is stuck. I wiggle it and it is so cold I break my acrylic nails.... down another $35 for a French Manicure. But now I am in the house! But still no staging team. I begin to unload the truck carrying each piece over the snow covered walkway praying not to break any of the new inventory that I just paid for.

9:15 My assistant arrives. I have unloaded the truck already so I put him to work taking price tags off items and I go about setting the items in the rooms that they belong.

9:45 The prep work is done.... where is the delivery truck with all the furniture. They are 45 minutes late. I call the dispatcher and he tells me they are on their way. I now sip my Venti latte that is ice cold and get to work.

10:15 The home is partially furnished. The client is going through a divorce and the wife has taken all the good stuff so that is where we come in. My assistant and I start in the dining room. There is a large wooden table that the client got in Brazil. It is priceless. It weighs 300 lbs. We cannot move it to put the area rug underneath it. The floors look like crap. This room needs a rug. In a brilliant flash my assistant suggest a tire jack. He runs to get it and we JACK UP THE TABLE and wedge the rug underneath it one side at a time.

10:27 The rug is under the table. I am sweaty. I no longer look chic and stagery stylish. We set the table, we hang the artwork, but still not rental truck.

11:03 We go upstairs to the master bedroom. I open the door and find.... a woman in the bed! I almost scream but I too polite and do not want to wake her. I call the owner and he explains that she is a err... friend that spent the night and to just stage around her.

11:15 Still no rental truck.

11:20 I figure that I will work on staging the counters while I wait for the truck- I cannot hang any art until the furniture is placed.  I carefully lay out my accessories on the counter and go to the pantry to find some pasta to give the glass canisters I bought some flair. In the pantry I find rice- or at least what I think is rice. It is brown and in the shape of rice. It has spilled on the shelf. When I take a closer look I gasp- it is mice droppings. I fight the urge to vomit, go to the sink to wash my hands and discover that the kitchen sink has no water!

11:24 My hands are clean thanks to krud kutter and the purell I carry in my diaper bag. I have to pee so I go in the powder room. There is a funny smell but I cannot quite place it. Something is odd. There is no toilet paper so I look under the sink and find a huge bong and a very large bag of a green leafy substance. Hence the smell. I close the cabinet door and mentally add it to my list of personal items for the owner to "declutter before showing"

11:45 Kitchen is complete and the furniture is here! I go to the door and wave them in.

12:30 The guys are great. They get the furniture in quickly and now it is time to put the items together. We are staging the living room when they realize that one of the chairs is broken. It is so messed up that you cannot sit in it with out the leg breaking. They inform me that they will have to take it back and cannot deliver another one because they are all out of stock. They offer to bring me a substitution on Monday- an orange and green patterned pleather chair.

My vision of a fabulous French Chateau look is fading. NO!!! I shout. Leave it in the room!!!, I will make it work!!! The guys look at each other and know it is against policy but the demon look in my eyes convinces them to keep it there. My assistant duct tapes the leg so it is stable and I artfully add a faux fur throw to cover it up and pray no one sits in it!

1:15 The lady of the house is awake. She sneaks out the back door and we can now stage the bedroom.

1:20 We gather our things and carry them up the stairs. We open the bedroom door and are greeted by an unmade bed, pink panties, and rumpled clothes on the floor.

" I am touching someone's clothes, I am touching a stranger's panties, I am touching someone's bedding" I sing song trying to make light of the situation. "OH KATE YOU HAVE SUCH A GLAMOROUS JOB! YOU MAKE HOUSES LOOK PRETTY YOU CHARGE TOO MUCH!!"

I open the bedside table and pause my aria. I was about to stash the cold sore ointment and hershey kisses wrappers when I noticed something that resembled a pink zucchini with batteries staring back at me. Do I leave the things in the drawer and pretend that I did not see it? He will know when he sees the things in the drawer that I saw what was in there? I put the items in the sock drawer and find my purell.

2:45 The bedroom and master bathroom is done. The guest room and artwork is all that is left. We enter the guest room and all that is facing us is a headboard, a bed frame and NO MATTRESS!! Where is the mattress? I quickly call the client, inform him that everything looks great, his friend has gone home, and cheerfully inquire why there is no mattress on the bed in the guest room that we are transforming into the "elegant, spacious, tastefully on trend guest room". He tells me that his wife came over last night and took it so her new boyfriend's son could stay at their apartment. OK I say. No worries.

3:15 I pull into Target at about 65 mph. I eye the starbucks counter but there is no time for a warm up. I sip the now almost frozen venti I bought this morning. I sprint to the camping section. Please God let there be an air mattress. Let there be 2 cheap ones that I can use as a mattress and boxspring! There is only the $119.99 deluxe set left. I buy 2 and a pump and head for the car.

3:32 We pump up the mattresses. We make the bed. We create the ultimate spa like guest room- if only no one sits on the bed!

4:11 We have hung almost all the art. The only art we have left to hang is in the living room. The living room with the original plaster walls. I go into my usual speech about using tape to prevent plaster walls from cracking. We try 1 nail, 2 nails, 3 nails, 8 nails but they are all bending and not going in. There is now a large pockmark on the wall. I Shriek! WE HAVE TO HANG THIS ART! IT IS THE FOCAL POINT OF THE ROOM. THE COLOR IN THE ART MAKES THE ROOM FLOW INTO THE OTHER SPACES AND MAKES THE SPACE FEEL LARGER. We get out the drill. We use the smallest bit we can find to make a guide hole. It breaks. It is stuck in the wall.

4:17 I am driving to Sears. I am driving to Sears because I am a perfectionist. I am driving to Sears because the art has to go above the sofa so that the space is balanced. I need another drill bit. I need a masonry bit. I race past the man at the desk who asks if he can help me and grab the part I need. He looks at me surprised that a woman would be buying such a thing dressed in a pink fur parka and leopard boots. I explain that I am a home stager and he nods as if he has heard of such a thing.

4:57 We hang the art. It is in place. We are now finished. I race through the house turning on lights, lighting candles, taking pictures of the gorgeous results. No more mouse poop, no more green stuff under the sink, no more panties and personal items in the bedside table. All I see now is a gorgeous, ready to market space.

5:13 I lock up, Return the hide a key and drive back to my storage unit. I have moved 23 pieces of furniture, hung 34 pieces of art, 6 window treatments and risked my life sitting under the table when we jacked it up! This was an easy day!

6:02 It is dark. It has snowed all day. The snow has frozen and I cannot open my storage unit. Maybe I can keep the stuff in my car overnight?? Don't all moms arrive at school with fake trees and packing materials?

6:33 I am home. I make dinner, I send email pics to the client and Realtor. I run the credit card. I write up the inventory list. WE ARE DOWN $1400 total for this job. 12 voicemails to return.

10:35 I go to bed. Tomorrow I have 3 estimates and a staging consultation.


 7:22 am I check my email. Yesterday at the open house the agent got 3 offers! The home sold for $15,000 over asking. They want a quick settlement. The home inspection has been waived. Can I pick up the items on Wednesday?



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Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

WOW!  This makes me glad for my last pretty easy job where the realtor is still trying to get me to lower the price!

Jun 07, 2010 10:21 AM #1
K├╝lli Yee ~ Metro Vancouver Home Staging
Ilus Design ~ Home staging, re-design and organizing - Port Coquitlam, BC


Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed reading it and got a laugh out of several things. Yes, it is hard work.

Jun 07, 2010 11:15 AM #2
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

This was Kate Hart's post from 2007 --- it would be nice if you'd edit your post to give her credit.  Thanks!

Jun 07, 2010 05:03 PM #3
Kym Tarr
Prep This House Interiors Inc. - Kelowna, BC
Its all in the details!

Thanks Maureen, I will change it right away!  Had I known it was Kate's post I would certainly have mentioned it.  I think Kate nailed this...

Jun 07, 2010 05:50 PM #4
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Kym - this is hilarious!  It's the first time I've read it, and can relate to most of it, especially the part where I have to purchase more than I actually make on the job! 

Jun 07, 2010 06:25 PM #5
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Cute post Kym! Kate is obviously creative in many ways.

Jun 08, 2010 12:30 PM #8
Sandi Gerrard
Toronto, ON

Hi Kym, I recall reading this before but it was worth another read and thanks for the chuckle.


Jun 08, 2010 10:45 PM #9
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Kym Tarr

Its all in the details!
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