Wake up stagers! Have none of you really been watching the show?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team

Ok, this is going to be a slight (hopefully only slight) rant!  I've been gone to Orlando with my family, but it started before I left.  There have been more than a few blogs about the new HGTV show 'The Stagers'.  Here are a few of them (Thank you David Moon for compiling them in such a tight little list for me):











Now I have to say many of you seem to understand the real deal of this show but so many of you are just not getting what a great show this really is for our industry.  Let's think about it why don't we....

1.)  First we complain about Designed-to-Sell and how cheap the jobs are compared to reality.  We talk about what sellers and agents think when we show up and the costs are more than double that.

2.)  We complain about the fact that no one knows what staging is.  When they do know they think about #1.  They are unrealistic with their expectations.

3.)  We complain that we aren't making any money.  Because of #1 & #2 we have to sell ourselves really cheap, right?  We can't actually charge what we are worth because no one will pay it.  I think on Ginger's blog about how new staging is and she has to haul furniture and bins of accessories across dangerous pathways all because sellers won't pay what she's worth.

Now we finally have a show that shows a bit more reality as to what staging is - that it is a stressful job and not at all glamourous.  It shows how much we put into the job.  It shows amazing before and after photos of rooms that look fabulous but not too overdone.  The rooms have to be painted and cleaned before we come in.  We have to think about the buyer and what they are thinking.  We have to deal with sellers and their concerns - too small dining tables (their opinion), divorces, etc.  We also have to deal with things that we have no budget for like changing out ugly dated light fixtures.  (I know we don't like the way Matthew presented that to the client.  Part of that is TV drama and part of it is his way - deal with it.)

So now this new show also shows a realistic staging budget (so far the staging costs have been less than 1%).  I know, It is rare to have a $20K budget.  I've only had one like that once and it required blowing through brick walls (literally).  It doesn't mean it isn't happening.  We have plans in our company, First Impressions, that will lead us there shortly actually.  Isn't it better to be showing a realistic version where we can make money for our efforts?  This way when we show up and give a budget of half that and still be making money, sellers will be pleasantly surprised - so will your bottom line!

Stagers, WAKE UP!  Do none of you understand what this show can really do for our industry?  (Ok, I know a few of you do get it... yay team!)  Be ready to ride the wave of success that this show can send our way.  I for one would like to thank the design team of Dekora and particuarly Matthew Finlason for making such a great and (real) life like show. 

Posted by


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comments (32)

Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

I'm on vacation so I'll comment to everyone when I return - I'm just about ready to pop out the door for a dinner party. 

In the meantime - DAVID - boy am I glad YOU are on MY team!!!  Those are some serious stats and information!  You know you and I are on the same page & see the future!

Jul 26, 2008 10:04 AM
Kathi Presutti
RE:STYLE LLC - Brighton, MI
Re:Style, LLC

I'm so glad to see a discussion on the real cost of staging vacants, and the compensation that is necessary to make a profit. Bravo!

Jul 26, 2008 10:55 AM
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.

Great points all, I am thinking the naysaying is about average clients and average stagers in markets where everything is not $4,000,000 but it is valid to show that end of the market too.  SO, for most of us, toning it down a few notches will do, but I am sure the show will do that in future episodes. 

Jul 26, 2008 12:58 PM
Matthew Finlason
Featured Designer on THE STAGERS - Los Angeles, CA

Melissa,  Thank you for your email and your posts - your awesome - thank you for the support - don't worry about "the haters" they're still tuning in regardless!!!!!

David, Wow!   You have hit every point and answered every question with keen insight to the process.   If people spent less time complaining and more time doing their research, as you have done pouring over the countless interviews Dekora and myself have done, they would realize that schlepping our craft for less than 1% will hopefully be a thing of the past - DEKORA is a business model.  I appreciate the clarity and business mindedness you bring to the rants.   If the haters were half as diligent as you they would pay close attention and piece together the business equation to turn their little company into a formidable success story as DEKORA has done.  Its seems people would rather rant than discover how to make more money. As far as budget goes, if the client is willing to pay wouldn't YOU want to use a Naguchi Paper lamp over Ikea's knock-off version?   The rental of one is the same price as purchasing the other.   Go big or go home is my motto!

And you all think the drama is confined to my jobs on THE STAGERS!!!??!!    I have never been more entertained while on vacation under a palm tree a total fan of Active Rain - excuse me while I order a rum and coke during YOUR commercial break!!!!!!  

Like I say,  LOVE IT or HATE IT - keep WATCHING IT!!!!   

Matthew Finlason - Featured Designer on THE STAGERS

Jul 26, 2008 04:40 PM
Michele Kurelich
Triangle Home Staging & Design/Lasting Impressions - Raleigh, NC
Raleigh Home Staging and Design

I am with Melissa when she says "I for one would like to thank the design team of Dekora and particularly Matthew Finlason for making such a great and (real) life like show". 

My hope is that the show will raise the bar in the staging industry.  I for one sell a higher end product at a reasonable price.  Not everyone is willing to pay a little bit more and will go with whom ever is the least expensive.  I agree with Matthew, go big or go home, because that is what really sells!

The budget may seem unrealistic to some, but for me I believe it will actually make my job easier and my clients will see that they are getting a quality product at a bargain price.

Jul 26, 2008 11:54 PM
Brian Bloom
www.AllinOneStaging.com 1-630-292-2710 - Bartlett, IL
All in One Staging Inc. - Home Staging Consultant, Redesign Expert


First off welcome to AR, I see you jumped right in and started making waves. I have no idea who you are besides perhaps a stager Melissa hired who took one of her staging classes maybe.

Anyway, it looks like you know how to use Google to get some stats, good for you. I hope you Stage as well as you research.

Now as far as me, I am a Owner of a Staging firm who just last year had 2 employees....Now I have 6 and still have to give work away because I will not grow to fast and put myself in a situation I can't get out of. business 101

Here is a free life tip to you and Matt, You will never make everyone happy!  No matter how hard you try you will always have people who have an opinion opposite of the one you have. How you handle it is a reflection of the character you are... and calling people "haters" well I get an idea of who Matt is.

The average Joe who I was referring to does not know the insides of staging, and if you can't take some constructive advice on how to make the show more understanding for the homeowners who sees or don't see the break down of the budget I in my opinion think they will think staging cost an arm and a leg.

Moon you said well Decora has the right to keep the numbers to them self of the total budget do to compation. I think that is BS, if you agree to do a show on national T.V I think you should breaking down the numbers so people know Decora had contractor's come in to do costly work and had to pay them out of the budget therefore raising it to $20,000 not $6,000.

Matt ...I also want to welcome you to AR, as you can see you are going to have people here who are and have been Stagers for a long time. This group was designed to discuss all aspects of the Staging industry and how to make it grow. I do think you are talented from what I seen in a 20 minute segment of what you did, But you have to be open to people here who have been doing this for along time and will be doing this long after your segments on "the Stagers" is over.

I hope you understand that because we as you call us the "haters" discuss ways we think the show could improve in showing home owners realistic numbers. We are not targeting you as a Stager, just how HGTV can improve the show a bit by break down of the cost so not to scare off potential clients. You know as well as I that not all the clients you have are million dollar listings with a budget in the 10's of thousands. I know you say keep watching it gets better..... well when? If the whole show was shot in the wealthy parts of Canada, that is far from realistic from the clients most of us here on AR will be dealing with.

Anyway, I wish you all the best, and hope the show does improve by breaking down the budget, but I don't think that will happen.

Melissa.. you can rant on me here or email me, I'm sure you and I don't see eye to eye on this and hope it don't interfere with our friendship.. you know I love ya!


Jul 27, 2008 08:02 AM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

BB - You know I love you too!!  I will say that David is every bit as good as his talk but I do agree that we can't all agree about everything all the time.  Nuff said on that.

Jul 27, 2008 08:16 AM
David Moon
First Impressions Home Staging & Interior Redesign - Charleston, SC
First Impressions

Mr. Bloom: Why you chose to address me by just my last name is puzzling. Feel free to call me David - or Mr. Moon if you prefer to keep it formal. Yes, I know how to use Google, and it would only take a few minutes of Googling for anyone else on here to get a better perspective on Dekora and the real estate market the company serves. I would hope that the "average Joe" watching "The Stagers" can do the math and see that $20,000 to stage a $2 million home, or $40,000 to stage a $4 million home, equates to just 1% of the listing price, and that that would translate to, for instance, $3,000 to stage a $300,000 home. I stand by my assertion that it would be unreasonable to expect Dekora to divulge proprietary financial information. How may other businesses do that? If you walk into a furniture store to buy a sofa, are you entitled to know the wholesale cost as well as the retail price? Agreeing to let a camera crew follow their stagers for the public's entertainment certainly doesn't mean that Dekora is now obligated to open their books to public scrutiny as well. I think you underestimate the ability of "average Joe" to distinguish between the reality depicted on shows like "The Stagers" or "Million Dollar Listing" or "Flipping Out" and the reality of the real estate market in Joe's own hometown. Finally, I don't need a condescending "life tip" to understand that there are opinions that differ from mine. What I find exasperating is when those opinions are based on snap judgments, and then held onto even in the face of factual evidence to the contrary.

Jul 27, 2008 09:35 AM
Natascha de la Court-Wolter
Ferndale, WA

I agree with you too!  I couldn't understand why others were complaning about it!  I love it!!

Jul 27, 2008 09:39 AM
Ana Hitzel
AccentPositives Home Staging - Corona, CA
Professional Home Stager Inland Empire

I enjoyed the show and look forward to seeing a wider variety of projects.  I think Michelle's post on the show was great and I am also looking towards ramping up from the exposure.

Not to ruffle feathers but with a "wow factor" budget like that, painting and all why was it cost prohibative replacing a horrible dining room light fixture that could be purchased for under $100.  Was the homeowner attached to it or something? It was a real turn off in the room.JMO

Matthew you picked some beautiful art.

Jul 27, 2008 10:15 AM
Tori Lynn Wallitsch
Prudential Ambassador / Ross Designs, LLC - Omaha, NE

Melissa - I only caught one show, the debut last Sunday (how did I miss one???).  Now I have the DVR set to record every time it's on. I thought it was a fabulous show!  I think they showed Staging for what it is - hard work, lots of critical design decisions, sometimes made with very short notice, sometimes competition, sometimes potentially difficult sellers, etc.  I am with you on this one. When can we get our own show? 

Jul 27, 2008 01:09 PM
Brian Bloom
www.AllinOneStaging.com 1-630-292-2710 - Bartlett, IL
All in One Staging Inc. - Home Staging Consultant, Redesign Expert

Mr. Moon

I think you have tooooo much time invested in this post defending a T.V show.

I have employees I have to make sure get paid this week, and a store front property I'm flipping to become our office, so I have to let this one go before I cast judgment on you in which I prefer not to do, Melissa is a good friend of mine and said nothing but good things about you, so your OK in my book ( not that I like casting judgment on anyone here on AR unless they throw the perverbal first punch;)

But I do want to Thank you for the 101 on doing the math, I was doing that back in 03'-04' many years ago sir.

Enuff said.....Have a good nite and don't forget to watch your show, it's on tonight:)


Jul 27, 2008 01:48 PM
David Moon
First Impressions Home Staging & Interior Redesign - Charleston, SC
First Impressions

Melissa: Thank you for your positive words! It's gratifying that someone I respect appreciates the time I've taken to put the show in context, provide a little background information, and try to clarify certain points that others might have missed - or misinterpreted - in a single viewing of each fast-paced episode.

I took your training course because I was inspired by First Impressions' success and by your tremendous talent as a stager. I'm likewise inspired by Dekora's success and by Matthew's tremendous talent as a stager. So I've delved into their world, on TV and online, to learn as much as I can. I'm especially grateful to Matthew for taking time to give us his inside view. I'll continue to share my own thoughts on the show in a friendlier setting, the group Matthew started here on ActiveRain: http://activerain.com/groups/thestagers.


Jul 28, 2008 12:24 AM
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Melissa, you've made a lot of great points here.  I really do believe that this show will help create more buzz about our industry.  Thanks for the links to my blogs by the way.

Matthew, order me a Pina Colada will you? :-)

Jul 28, 2008 01:26 AM

Welcome to AR David... "Mr. Moom, Mr. Bloom", shucks, you fellows can just call me Gary.  We are a spirited bunch, aren't we?  I think it is always a good thing to look closely at a successful companies business model.  None of us get where we want to go unless we can be flexible and adapt and apply what we learn from everything we see around us.  I am familiar with Dekora because back when Linda and I first got involved in AR we fairly quickly found "Mr. Staging", Craig Schiller and on one of his sidebars he had a list of web sites of many staging companies, one of which was Dekora.  It was obvious that they had a killer operation.  I think we would all like for a show like "The Stagers" to reflect what is happening in our particular markets, which we all know is all over the board.  However because the show is not a traveling band of stagers that will be "Coming to your town soon", Matthew can only show you what staging in Vancouver is all about, so what needs to be important to all of us is that the show and Matthew represents your art well and I believe he does so very well.  I have to say that this show has represented what really goes on behind the scenes better that any other.  By the way David, one of the companies that Linda and I always watched and listened to closely was First Impressions and Mrs. Marro  Melissa.  We're looking forward to learning a bunch of stuff from you now as well as Bevin and Melissa.  Welcome again.  And Matthew, if your listening, just keep representing the industry and stagers well and I'll certainly keep watching!  Thanks

Jul 28, 2008 01:55 AM
Teresa Meyer
Cincinnati Home Stager - Cincinnati, OH
Home Staging Cincinnati-OH.

Melissa: Excellent! I agree with you wholeheartly! I've got my surfboard out and ready to ride those success waves.    Wish I was where Matthew is!  How's your tan coming along? :)


Jul 28, 2008 01:56 AM
Gary Barnett
Home Matters - Indianapolis, IN
Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis

Woops, I thought I was logged in..  The Gary above is me...

Jul 28, 2008 02:06 AM
Lisa Roy
SPACELiFT HOME STAGING, Greater Vancouver - Vancouver, BC

Being that the show is based out of Vancouver, my home city, it is exciting that there is an actual televised show on staging.  Although the prices are much higher than we would do (ie:$10 000 for a 850 sq foot condo in 4 days) It is up to me to let my clients know that it wouldn't likely cost that much to stage their space, depending on the size.  I love the fact that istaging is finally getting more recoginition.  The more people hear about it, the more likely it will someday become the norm.

Jul 28, 2008 02:28 AM
Stacey Holt
Setting the Stage - Huntsville, AL

Melissa... Thank you for your post...I believe that regardless of how Dekora portrays the staging industry...it is being portrayed...Being new to the industry I am excited that maybe, just maybe this show will wake people up in Alabama...Staging is almost nonexistent here...I look forward to the show every week and as time goes on, I think it will have nothing but positive effects on the staging industry.

Matthew...Your personality is infectious and being an artist also, I appreciate your enthusiasm for the art you place in the homes you stage...loved the cow ottoman...It really was the jewel of the room...Have a rum and coke for me and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Stacey Holt

Setting the Stage



Jul 28, 2008 03:13 AM
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

Good news that it seems the controversy died down and everyone decided to go home and make friends.... lol... OK, everyone decided to play nice anyway.  I think we are a passionate group who has a lot of different thoughts and directions for our careers. 

The one thing that I really wanted to express was that there is a need to increase our rates for staging to every really be a successful industry.  This show is more realistic in pricepoint than some of the other telivision shows out there.  Even if your community isn't ready for the price increase, for the industry as a whole this is a good thing. 

Aug 01, 2008 01:17 PM