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How DOES one stage an OUTHOUSE?

Home Stager with Home Staging Online Services

A Realtor I work with left a message on my voicemail with an unusual request.  He wanted me to do my "magic" on his new listing.  He said it was a log cabin, it was a ninety minute drive, and he would pick me up, help with the staging, and drive me home. Oh yeah, and one other thing--there's no indoor plumbing.

Hmm...I was intrigued. I went on his website to see photos, and was very discouraged with what I saw.  It was being sold furnished, and let's just say the decor was shabby chic without the chic. There was no budget to buy anything, so I would have to make do with what was there. Well, I treasure the relationship I have with this agent, and I knew my answer would be yes, no matter what.

He picked me up, and off we went.  He told me there was a cooler with drinks and a bag of snacks in the back seat and to help myself. Now, I figured I was going to a home with no bathroom, so I decided to watch my fluid intake, no matter how thirsty I got.  After a few wrong turns and driving for miles on dirt, we finally arrived. My first reaction was "It's adorable!"




Now, this was like opening a beautifully wrapped present and finding a can of lard. Here, you need to see for yourself:





So, here are my before and after photos. No, they'll never make the cover of Elle Decor, but perhaps Field & Stream might snap them up!

LR before  LR staged 




Since there were no walls, I had to figure out how to define the spaces.  You might notice that the brown plaid sofa you see is a DIFFERENT brown plaid sofa from the one in the first set of photos. NOTE: After seeing the photos on the website, I decided to "donate" some bedding:

BR before  BR staged




The kitchen was SO confusing, especially since the island was against the wall in the bedroom area. Don't be fooled by that kitchen sink--there was NO water to this house!

kitchen before  Kitchen staged




I have no idea what this space was supposed to be, but that chair HAD TO GO! This made a great dining area, close to the windows so you could enjoy the view while you ate something that did not have to be cooked or cleaned. NOTE: Some of you may know how I detest roosters, and I never thought they'd be in a log cabin...but, there they are!

LR 2 before  LR 2 staged




The Realtor was great about helping me remove things, which is why the place looks so much bigger. But, where did we put all the stuff, since there was no closet or storage? DON'T LOOK!

Junk corner



Now, to answer the question "How DOES one stage an OUTHOUSE?" We don't. In fact, I didn't go within fifteen feet of the outhouse.



The real miracle of the day was not the transformation of the cabin, but the fact that I went seven hours without needing a bathroom. Though I was prepared:

staging supply


Thank you for letting me share my "roughing it" experience! More proof that stagers CAN DO ANYTHING!

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Comments (42)

Laura S. Baker
First Weber Inc - Lake Mills, WI
Realtor (920) 728-4118, First Weber Inc

Awe, Don't bathrooms and kitchens sell houses?  Hee, Hee, Hee!  You really should have ventured out there!  I think it may have been a cute place to set up, on the other hand, what you did do was great!  I love that you "donated" some bedding.  Talk about staging it forward!  A challenge like this can bring out the best in a person, obviously it did for you!  Great work!  Laura S Baker, Ready? Set,...Sell! Home Staging, Jefferson, WI 

Jul 31, 2010 06:34 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Cathy-None of the "window treatments" (tablecloth, pillow cases, sheets, etc.) were adding to the charm, and it was great to let more light in! Those weren't even friendly roosters--they looked more like cock-fight veterans!

Wanda- I have NO idea! I guess it was mind over matter!

Leslie-My agent was a HUGE help, because he brought gloves, cleansing wipes, and Girl Scout cookies!

Ginger- My honey suggested I bring the purse-Charmin on my first road trip to South Dakota--I thought WHAT THE HECK AM I IN FOR?

Marian-Thanks! Always up for a challenge!

Steve-I asked the agent why there was no mention of the outhouse in his listing, and he said it was an illegal outhouse! OMG, there are standards for outhouses? And, how bad do they have to be to be illegal?

Jul 31, 2010 07:29 AM
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Elaine, to say I was speechless when looking at the "before" photos would be an understatement.  I was wondering if the staircase in the photos led to Heaven or Hell!  Clearly, they now lead to a heavenly retreat, bursting with possibilities.  Great job, and a wonderful stager/Realtor® bonding experience.  What an adventure!

Jul 31, 2010 08:21 AM
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

Helloooooooooo Elaine!  Can't tell you how much I was looking forward to your post!  Can't BELIEVE the roosters followed you way out there!  One of the most important aspects of Staging is to define the spaces and provide good traffic flow - no matter the decor.  You've accomplished that wonderfully.  Now, where can I get that Charmin to Go?  xoxoxo Julie

Jul 31, 2010 08:54 AM
Michael Fontana
Round Rock Home Stager Austin Home Staging - Round Rock, TX
@ The Stage Coach

nicely done... it might not make Elle Decor, but what a great job using what you were given...

The Stage Coach - Austin's Home Staging HandyMan!

Jul 31, 2010 09:35 AM
Allegra Dioguardi
Styled and Sold Home Staging and Staging Training - Westhampton Beach, NY
Home Staging & Training, Suffolk Co. Long Island

Makin' the most of what ya got! Love it Elaine and an entertaining story too!

Jul 31, 2010 09:40 AM
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

What a delightful post!  And you did a wonderful job and made it seem like an inviting place to stay for those wanting a roughing-it getaway but the ability to be cozy from the cold instead of camping out.  And what a smart Realtor to understand that even the most humble place can benefit from staging.

Jul 31, 2010 11:34 AM
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Elaine, you always make me smile!   I never pass a rooster without thinking of you!

Jul 31, 2010 01:53 PM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Charles-Really? A 3-holer? Maybe it was shared by the neighborhood. Ewwwww. (Nice to be back!)

Connie-I was so worried that it was hopeless. But, when the Realtor said I could REMOVE stuff, I knew there was hope! You know it was slim pickings if I let the roosters stay! :) I'll try to spend more time in the rain.

Patsy-You are too kind! The owner's name wasn't Bubba, but this was as redneck as you can get around here!

Laura-With a budget of zero, I knew I could not make it the way I would have wanted. But, there was no flippin' way I was going to leave the bedding the way it was. This agent is very loyal, even though he meets new stagers all the time (he runs the Realtor Association marketing meetings) and I help him in every way I can.



Jul 31, 2010 02:23 PM
Virginia Tatseos
Stage-Show-Sell - Bloomfield Township, MI

What a hoot.

I've been in hunting cabins like this up north in Atlanta Michigan.

You did a great job 

Jul 31, 2010 04:59 PM
Mary Lou Teague
Home Style and Staging Knoxville. TN

Elaine, as always love your post...I did not know that they made Charmin to go.. plus what a great job...can't beleive that you went 7 hours without going to bathroom...

Aug 01, 2010 02:18 AM
Ashley Whittenberger
Ashley Whittenberger Fine Art - Austin, TX

You are so funny! I love the "opening up a beautifully wrapped present to find a can of lard". HA! 

You did a wonderful job of working with what you had -- I'd definitely not mind a weekend in that cabin, outhouse and all!

Aug 01, 2010 02:43 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Sally- LOL! I wondered if anyone would notice the spiral staircase. Actually, it goes nowhere. It's not installed, just tied to the rafters, and I have a huge bruise on my arm from walking into it!

Julie-Thank you! Can you believe those roosters? But, honestly, what was worse than the roosters were the owls everywhere! Apparently, the homeowner was quite fond of owls and there were at least 15 "owl things" up in the bedroom area. Most of them were very scary!

Thanks, Michael! I really think it's the more fun part of this job!

Allegra-Thanks! I knew there would be a story with this one!

Susan-Thank you. I really grew to love that little cabin, and I think my agent was pleased with the change!

Tom-What a nice to surprise to find you back on AR! I think of you every time I look at my wooden man!


Aug 01, 2010 04:53 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Virginia-This is a great cabin, but the MLS pics didn't do it justice. I think he'll get more interest now. Are you telling me you're a hunter?

Mary Lou-LOL! I more than made up for it when I got home!

Ashley- Thanks! The agent did tell me there was a campground nearby where someone could shower, so I guess you could get clean. That is the only way I could do it. Course, public showers aren't much better than outhouses, in my mind!

Aug 01, 2010 09:42 AM
Marianne Sweet
Home Sweet Home Staging - Rochester Hills, MI
Home Sweet Home Staging, LLC Rochester Hills, MI

You know we've all been looking forward to these photos all week Big Sis, and they didn't disappoint.  OF COURSE you did a fab job.  And OF COURSE there were roosters! 

PS.  What town is this?  Reminds me of a cabin we rented in Buena Vista years ago, although this one is about 3 times the size of ours!

Aug 01, 2010 11:27 PM
Kathy Nielsen
http://atlantahomestaging.net - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

Well, you deserve two standing ovations. One for the staging and the other for holding it for 7 hours.

Great job, Elaine. You definitely had a challenge with this one. However, you absolutely made it work.


Aug 02, 2010 12:43 AM
Julie Davis, Amy Blank - Rediscovered Interiors, LLC
Rediscovered Interiors, LLC - Andover, MN

Just proves the point even more.....every property, regardless of price, can benefit from staging.  Thanks for sharing your story with us Elaine!


Aug 02, 2010 09:33 AM
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

HI Elaine, kudos to you for taking on this one of a kind staging job. You have shown once again that a professional stager  can make a silk purse out of a sows ear. This is a good example for agents to see that staging works at every price point and for properties that might be deemed "not worth the effort" .

Aug 02, 2010 09:56 AM
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Lil Sis-This is in a town halfway between Denver and Buena Vista. Same road to get there. STILL waiting for you to visit!!!

Thanks, Kathy! Just another reminder how much I love my job!

Julie-We should always be ready to meet new challenges with confidence (okay, if I'm honest, I have to say I had major apprehensions about this one!)

Michelle-I wish more people knew that staging doesn't mean thousands of dollars spent. I have done many a two-hour job, and made a difference!

Aug 02, 2010 12:26 PM
Renato Lunnon
Signature Realty, Inc. - Morrison, CO
Denver Real Estate - 303-506-0281

I have to say I am very impressed with the "before" and "after" results.  And I am especially impressed with your...stamina too.  Seven hours is a long time.

Oct 26, 2010 01:20 PM