Home Stager with SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant

The Cast:

Me, your successful, resourceful accomodating professional home stager.

A Realtor, quite young and new to me and the business, but from a great office I'd love to do more business with.

A seller, with a somewhat tough condo to sell.

The condo, a well renovated vacant unit in a totally great building in a sort of iffy block (between a body shop and an alley) in the up and coming Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC.

The Situation:

When the sellers bought the unit the front room was presented as a living room.  So, they wanted it staged as a living room. 

The REA listed the condo as a 2 bedroom/2 bath.  So, she wanted the front room staged as a bedroom.  It does have a connecting bath, but no closet.

The sellers hired and paid me, and the front room being the first room you see upon entering no way seemed appropriate to me as a bedroom.  But, the REA was the one who had contacted me, and did I mention she is from a really prestigious office that I drooled at working with again?  I really struggled with this one. What would you have done?


Comments (27)

Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Great question.  Is your client the homeowner, and they requested it be staged as a living room?  And you feel as a professional stager that it should be shown to potential buyers as a living room?  I'd have staged it as such, and look forward to your follow up!

Dec 05, 2010 03:54 PM
Nancy Lee - An OrderLee Home,
Hendersonville, NC

I am not a fan of combining purposes in main rooms.  Trying to stage a bedroom that gives the impression of being a living room does not sound it will achieve the stager's goal of explaining the room.  To me, it sounds confusing.

When you call this the 'first room seen on entering' do you mean it is the first room off a hall/foyer and it has a door? Or does anyone entering the condo have to walk thru the room?

IS there a living room somewhere else in the condo? If you stage this first room seen as an LR, does the condo end up with two LRs and one bedroom?  If so, I see where the REA is coming from.

If the room has a door and buyers do not have to enter the room when they enter the condo, I can see staging it as a bedroom.  I have encounterd floorplans, especialy in older houses and small condos, where the first room off the hall was a bedroom.

If buyers have to walk through it, or if it is the only LR in the condo, I say stand your ground - all homes need at least one living room!

But, golly, you have me worried about whether that room is a legal bedroom.  We can guess the REA is trying to pull in a larger pool of buyers and, maybe, set a higher asking price based on two bedroom comps.  Ultimately, if no closet = not a legal bedroom, this plan could backfire.




Dec 05, 2010 10:08 PM
Renee Marrs Caperton
Marrs & Associates - Corsicana, TX
Realtor - Corsicana Texas Real Estate

I can't imagine walking into a bedroom as the first room you see when you enter a home. 

Dec 05, 2010 11:12 PM
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

Oh me, Oh my.  Sounds to me that the room can't be labeled a bedroom given what you've described. That said, I would have a conversation with the agent to see his/her logic behind calling it one. 

Bottom line - it will be important to get everyone on the same page PRIOR to staging.


Dec 05, 2010 11:45 PM
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Professional Home Stager Inland Empire

Wow, does the room have a door and do you walk thru it to get to other parts of the condo? If so, agents plan not good. 

As a stager I always tell the client, tactfully of course, that I am the boss when it comes to the staging plan, I also do this with the realtor, again tactfully of course.  That's why they hired me to begin with right?

I have one or two times run into the client and me or client/realtor disagreeing on details.  If it involves me, we talk, if it is between the other two we all talk.  Bottom line, you are the expert and know what's best, that's why you were hired.  Stick to your plan, tactfully of cours LOL:)

Dec 06, 2010 02:03 AM
Joan Inglis, Master Accredited Staging Professional
Carolina Spaces, LLC - Charlotte, NC
Home Staging, Model Merchandising, Interior Design

A room is classified as a bedroom if it has a window and a closet.  I agree with Kathy, get eveyone on the same page.  Make the best staging recommendation based on your professional knowledge and experience.  You are the staging expert here and you need to guide them and explain your plan.  Forget about drooling for more work.  Focus on this one project and what you need to do to get this property sold.  Best wishes!

Joan Inglis, Master Accredited Staging Professional

Dec 06, 2010 02:39 AM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

Thanks all.


To clarify:  The homeowners paid me.  The homeowners wanted it staged as a living room.  The entrance to the condo is a hallway.  The first room (w a door, a bathroom, but no closet) is on the right. 

There is a very large room at the back of this deep, skinny condo that houses the kitchen and a corner f/p and  enough room for a loveseat.  The REA referred me to the homeowners.  The REA wanted it staged as a bedroom so she could justify the 2bd/2ba listing and price. She mentioned after the fact something about also wanting it to look masculine.  I thought maybe she had a propect on the line.  Anyway, we all agreed after much ado to stage it as a living room, give it a couple of months and then address things if it hadn'd sold.  

That was mid-August.  Here's the room as living room. 



It hasn't sold.  The homeowners took responsibility for the choice and paid me to change it to a bedroom.  In November I restaged it (and made it masculine in the process for the REA).

It is still on the market though.  Did I mention that the building is between a body shop and an alley right on Rhode Island Ave?  This one is ruining my otherwise excellent stats!  Very frustrating.  Also frustrating is that the REA hasn't reflected the new pictures on her listing...although I pointed this out to her gently.  Give me strength. 

I do want to thank everyone who stopped by for helping me see my decision process here.  I began to feel like I was missing something.  I love ActiveRain for the community.  I never feel alone with you around.

Thanks again.

Dec 06, 2010 08:58 AM
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

I 100% agree with looks great both ways and you have done a GREAT job of being accommodating.  It sounds that it is not value priced and until they adjust the's going to "sit".

Good Luck!!

Dec 06, 2010 12:03 PM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

David, Kathy:  Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I needed it.  And, the good news is it's all my inventory and accruing rent monthly.

Dec 06, 2010 12:18 PM
Amy Bly
Great Impressions Home Staging/Interiors - Montville, NJ
Styling Homes for Selling and Staying


I had a very similar problem on my 2nd staging job last spring -- THE top agent in my area, who my clients hired AFTER I had met with them and begun the staging job, told them they should turn their dining room into a family room, because the existing family room off the kitchen was very small. Well, they asked me what to do, but stressed they didn't have money to spend on buying or renting furniture for it, UNLESS I thought it crucial. They made it clear they trusted ME over her (I was flattered, being so new!). I didn't see the necessity, and they had beautiful dark wood DR furniture that fit the space perfectly, so I said not to do it. (The DR furniture would NOT have fit at all into the small room off the kitchen being used as a FR.) WELL, the agent hit the roof with me two weeks later when I called her a week after I staged the property. She was furious with me for "overriding" her, a long-established, top agent. I was truly shocked that she was so angry about it. AFter listening to her tirade for 7-8 minutes (btw, saying i obviously knew NOTHING about that style of house, until I informed her I LIVED in one!), I got off the phone and wrote her a one-page letter politely explaining that I had been hired before she was, that I was trying to do the best thing for my clients within their budget, why I thought the existing FR off the kitchen might be a better arrangement anyway, especially since that room had a fireplace, etc. I also offered her a future free staging as a "peace" offering -- of course, I've never heard a word from her. It was a painful lesson that I probably should have gone along with her advice, just to keep in her office's good graces. HOWEVER, looking at your photos, I think it is ridiculous to have a bedroom as the first room you walk into, and I much prefer that room as a living room. I still believe that we a) work for who pays us; and b) most importantly, have to apply our knowledge of design and lay-out to effectively stage and ultimately sell the property. 

    One thing I might venture to suggest doing slightly differently, if you feel you must stick with the bedroom plan -- I'd dress up the bed more, with a white bolster or a pair of blue/brown or blue/white (pull the brown from the art) pillow shams, a luxurious white or brown throw (if you use shams with brown borders)or blanket at the foot, and I'd raise the picture a few inches to accommodate fluffed-up pillows. I know the agent said "masculine", but I think a bed can look really inviting and still masculine by sticking to the solid blue and white color scheme. Just a small "tweak". 

Dec 06, 2010 03:45 PM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

Amy:  Thanks so much for your story...and your suggestions.  Funny, but I took exactly what you suggested to restage and tried to add pillows, some panache, etc, but it just didn't feel right at all.  I thought about raising the picture but ended up not doing it I forget why now. Probably should have. Fortunately, the Realtor and the client are happy with what I did.  Now, we'll see if it sells.  I agree with David that it's overpriced though...and with the holidays...

Dec 07, 2010 01:35 AM
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Pat: Follow your heart and do what you think is the right thing. I think you handled this well and diplomatically.As many stated earlier in the comments, in many states (maybe all states, I don't know) a room must have a closet to be considered a legal bedroom.

Amy: It sounds like that agent had a chip on her shoulder, and would make your life miserable on future jobs. There are some, that no matter how hard you try, will never be satisfied. You're probably better off not working with her.

Dec 07, 2010 02:39 AM
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

Your staging looks terrific, Patricia.  I wonder if the REA wanted it to look more masculine because she knew no woman would want to live in that location.  I sure wouldn't!

Dec 07, 2010 03:05 AM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

Michelle:  Thanks for your support.  I don't think the REA had a chip on her shoulder as much as a lack of experience and maybe knowledge.  I guess I assumed (always dangerous) that everyone knew a closet AND a window are necessary for bedroom status.

Beth:  Thanks!  And, yeah, maybe she did want it masculine for that reason.  I agree.  Living there wouldn't work for me either.

Dec 07, 2010 01:36 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Sounds like you handled this situation well and the real problem is the location.  It looks great both ways.  I have had agents neglect the updating of the photos in MLS and it makes me crazy.  When you go thru the trouble of staging and the pictures are not updated it makes me wonder what the agent is thinking.

Dec 11, 2010 01:50 PM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

Sharon:  Exactly!  Especially when I gave them a rock bottom rate to redo the room, trying to be the good guy here.

Dec 11, 2010 11:19 PM
Linda D. Pufford
Stage with Divine Style - Home Staging - Novato, CA
ASPM, Marin/Sonoma Home Stager


This one has sure been a challenge for you.  You have been such a good sport through it all.  If nothing else you should get extra kudos for that.  I think both ways the room looks great... there is certainly other factors as to why it is not selling that have nothing to do with your great staging ability!  On the upside as you said you are collecting the furniture rental fee.  All the best to you for a wonderful holiday season!

Dec 14, 2010 05:50 PM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

Linda:  Thanks for your support.  Hope your holiday is super, too.

Dec 16, 2010 07:49 AM
Wendy Tomm
Beyond the Walls - East St Paul, MB
CCSP, RESA-PRO, BBB - Wpg Realtors

Well Patricia you have done an amazing job and like what David has expressed both times.  You have been very accomodating and done an amazing job! Congratulations and keep up the professionalism to the agent and the clients. Best of Luck!

Aug 24, 2011 09:53 AM
Patricia Ebrahimi
SHOW SMART! HOME STAGING & Color Consultant - Rockville, MD
Home Staging the Washington DC Area from Rockville MD

Wendy: Thanks. 

As an update to this saga, they got a contract January 11, 2011, the month following my restage.  I guess the REA was onto to something.  Anyway, it all ended well, except I haven't heard a word from the REA since... Makes you wonder.

Sep 03, 2011 04:18 AM