The Stagers - Episode 5 - Staging A Lived-In Home

Home Stager with Dezigner Digz


[Photo from HGTV's website]

Another great episode of The Stagers last night.  The project this time was a 1,600 square foot cluttered, outdated home listed at $1,498,000.  Dekora's team had 4 days to get the job done.  This was an owner-occupied property that required working with the client's existing furniture and accessories (or so it started out).  I was really pumped up to see how the transformation would turn out since some of the more challenging staging jobs involve working with only the owner's furniture and decor items. 

I wasn't sure which Stager would be featured in this episode.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Matthew Finlason on the screen again.  I don't know what order the episodes were filmed in, but Matthew is really coming into his own.  The camera loves his frenzied antics.  Add to that his sense of humour and design talent and you've got the makings for an entertaining show.  The comments that he comes off with definitely put a smile on your face.  Whether it's his own material, or it's written for him I don't know, but it just makes you like him all the more.   

This episode had an educational side to it as well.  It was good to see some selling tips thrown out there.  For example, homeowners learned about simple updates to a kitchen such as changing the cupboard door handles.  As Matthew pointed out, if a potential buyer walks in and has a sense that the kitchen needs updating, there goes $20,000 off your price.  Another great tip that was shared was that if you are selling a 2 bedroom, make sure that both rooms are set up as bedrooms.  You're not selling a 1 bedroom + den.

The paint colour throughout this property would not have appealed to a broad range of buyers.  Fortunately, the home owner was open to repainting.  That in itself, can make a huge difference to a property when you are trying to sell.  The resulting neutral colour opened up the space and gave it a clean, fresh look.  As with other episodes, the team had their challenges to work through - one of which was that the homeowners were around for some of the staging process asking questions and making suggestions.  That can be difficult when you are tight on time and you have to keep stopping to explain the reasons for what you are doing.

Matthew worked his charm and managed to talk the homeowners into removing their furniture so that the team could bring in whatever they wanted from the warehouse.  This gave them a blank canvas to work with.  That's the best scenario for a stager in order to get that polished, designer look for a property.  However, in reality, many homeowners aren't willing to do that.  I would have liked to see the team work with what they had.  I hope at some point during the season, they will come across such a project - now that's a challenge!

End Results:  Listing Price:  $1,498,000  /  Staging Cost:  $5,355.  At the time of final production of the episode, this property had not sold.  Matthew's comment was "Some take longer to find their buyer - that's just the way it is."  Way to go The Stagers!  Thanks for keeping it real and not fluffing over the detail that it hasn't sold yet.  Let's face it, homes are sitting on the market a little longer now than they were before.  Mind you, without staging, they'll just sit that much longer.

Another very enjoyable 30 minutes of T.V.!  


Dezigner Digz is a home staging and interior decorating company located in Burlington, Ontario and servicing Ancaster, Hamilton, Burlington, Waterdown, Stoney Creek, Bronte, Oakville, Milton and surrounding areas.  The owner, Charlene Storozuk, is a member of the Real Estate Staging Association and is the founder and current President of the Halton & Hamilton-Wentworth Real Estate Staging Association.  For more information on us, visit our website at   


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Corey Chase
Silvercreek Realty Group - Meridian, ID

very good information.  Thanks for posting this blog.

Jul 30, 2008 04:30 AM #1
David Moon
First Impressions Home Staging & Interior Redesign - Charleston, SC
First Impressions

My favorite moment from this episode (which aired here in the U.S. this past Sunday) was Matthew's parting remark to the homeowners: "Don't touch anything!" Might not have been a realistic expectation for an owner-occupied property, but you gotta give him credit for wanting his staging work to remain unaltered. Along the same lines, see Tom Scanlon's recent "Don't touch our stuff" blog entry:

Jul 30, 2008 04:36 AM #2
Cynthia Bartch
Home Stager/Property Stylist & more! Granville, Ohio - Granville, OH
Redesigned Spaces; All Round Nice Gal

Charlene, I was wondering about the staging costs. The quoted figure ($5,355) how many months was that for rental furnishings?

I liked the show and Matthew's cow ottoman!

Jul 30, 2008 08:46 AM #3
Virginia Tatseos
Stage-Show-Sell - Bloomfield Township, MI

I hooted with glee when I saw that he was going to use the homeowners stuff.   NO such luck.  I think the only piece he kept was the red couch and desk.

Think it was the best show, of this series, as far as educating the public.

I wish they would break down the quoted figures for costs.  When he's looking at art work for $2500 I just crack up.  

We are all breaking our backs trying to find economical art and he spends thousands on rental art.

Maybe I'll do that to when I stage my $5,000,000 house

Jul 30, 2008 09:49 AM #4
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

I agree that I would really like to have seen them use the homeowner's belongings.  On another note, however I think it might be a good lesson for the rest of us stagers that sometimes the best answer is to NOT work with what the homeowner already has because it undermines our process.  I thought about our fellow staging company Celebrate when I watched the show and began to wonder if perhaps we shouldn't be doing the same thing... more to think on.

I'll keep watching & might even learn a thing or two in the process of being thoroughly entertained!

Jul 30, 2008 03:04 PM #5
Kimberly Uksik
Independent - Pickering, ON
Home Stager - Durham, Toronto, On.

Although I do like the show I find the budgets to be unrealistic based on the fact that they have not broken them down.  I have not come across too many home owners willing to let us pack away all of their belongings and bring in new ones as suggested in many episodes of this show.  I find my job so much more interesting and full filling when I get to be creative using the homeowners furniture and accessories. 

It would be nice to see a different stagers approach on this show and homes that are not always in the high end of the  market.

Jul 30, 2008 10:47 PM #6
Kathy Nielsen - Marietta, GA
Atlanta Georgia Home Stager

Loved the episode.  And Matthew, he was a joy to watch.  His comment about the lamp-shady problem made me laugh.  I too had a lamp-shady (smile) issue in one of the homes I staged last week and fixed it.  I really enjoyed the show and was pleased with a lot of the comments he made.


Jul 30, 2008 11:55 PM #7
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Corey - You're welcome.  Have you watched the show yet?

David - I laughed when Matthew said that too!  Thanks for the link to Tom's blog, I missed that one.

Cynthia - They don't break down the staging costs.  I wish they'd give a little more detail on that.

Virginia - I was excited too when I heard they were working with the homeowner's existing furnishings.  Maybe in another episode they will.

Melissa - I think working with a blank canvas is the ideal scenario for staging.  It would be nice if all clients were willing to do that.  Alexandra and Emily's work is fantastic isn't it? 

Kimberly - I guess most of the homes on the show are going to be at a higher price point than in Toronto because of the market there.  I agree that it definitely takes a lot of creativity to work with the client's existing belongings.  That can certainly be a challenge.

Kathy - I really enjoyed the show too.  Matthew made a lot of great comments and I like how it had an educational component to it as well.

Aug 01, 2008 04:57 AM #8
Matthew Finlason
Featured Designer on THE STAGERS - Los Angeles, CA

This episode was an owner occupied enhancement.  I, too, was glad to see the educational components of the show and applaud the creative directing team for finding that groove at the beginning of the series (ep3 in order of shooting).   You will see more of this:  Why we stage and the psychology we apply.   The budget required that I work with most of his furniture AND THE PAINT COLOUR:  "curry bananna".   However, like a very good salesman I told him that the paint HAD to go as well as his dated dining and living room set. Black leather sofa set?  I almost told him to put his money back in his pocket because he wouldn't see his dollar with anything I could do with that set.  It was a frat pad - and I told him so.  If your furniture looks dated so does your home and you'll be lucky to get your sale price.   I told him to sell it to the set of Friends.  Oh!  That's right!   They went out of style.   

I approach clients, not always as a designer, but rather as a property developer and the advice i give is not with the intention of getting more money out of them but rather advising them how working with certain items be certain death to their sale. I let them know on the spot what a table will rent forand how  puffy black leather will make staging moot.   When we're dealing with millions of dollars lets not penny pinch when it comes to a another few hundred I say!  And YES!   I am very dramatic when delivering that advice and clients trust me because they know that their sale is very personal to me the moment I visit their home by the way I speak with them.  Dekora always is prepared that when I visit a job with a budget that has previously been negotiated between Dekora and the client, that I return informing them that we are now painting and that the client has agreed to a new dining fixture and table because that is what is absolutely necessary to achieve THEIR high price point.    If I come under budget in one room I can afford to go over in another that truly needs it.   My client is the property and I use every persuasive tactic required to sell it.   Some call it up-selling and my owner occupied enhancement eventually becomes heavily edited during the process.  I can also achieve a dramatic transformation by simply switching clients items from one room to another.   They don't recognize their own living room lamps when staged in their new master-bedroom.    Frankly, the average person seems to seems to place lamps in the wrong room anyway.   That's why OUR skills are marketable.   

With an HOUR the show could have focused more on 'how' I 're-purposed' clients furniture from one room to another.   There were many items in the home that I did use that didn't get featured in the 23 minute cut that could have possibly defined what an occupied enhancement is.   There will be other episodes that nail this down, I believe also in Bridget and Maureen's staging jobs.    

Before the removal of the clients items - that are moved to storage/labour included in budget - I tagged ALOT of the client's accessories, lamps, end tables to stay that were used throughout which added to my 'final reveal'. The client had some beautiful items that weren't revealed even to me until the edit(40% of the job) and couldn't have possibly been seen by viewers in 'the befores' underneath the teddy bears and moose. It was there under the clutter and memorabilia - some fine items. When those cameras shut off I am often still working to get the job done and everything can't possibly make camera much to the chagrin of production who sometimes can't afford to shoot the hours a stager is willing to work.  That is Reality - 15 hour days when given only a few days to do it. (My directors hated it when I worked too fast off-camera because viewers would miss the "story of staging".  I'm sorry and won't do it again in coming episodes - there was just so much junk in this one!!!!)

Aside from using the clients accessories, I used the entryway console as a dining room buffet.  I dressed the clients Patio Set.   The master-bed, including end tables and console also belonged to the client / I dressed it with new bedding, lamps, and of course, original Art.  I edited the desk out of the second bedroom and again only used smalls to dress a very unappealing wall-bed. I did bring in an ottoman and leaner mirror in that room to create the impression of more space - this room was the most improved player by far. The furniture in the upper level media room also belonged to the client.  I brought in a small desk only to give the room a dual purpose:  family room/office space (Really hot in Vancouver).

The fact that the staging job was .50% of the list price and not the usual 1% for a full staging shows you how much I did work with the clients belongings to cut THEIR budget in half.   

And yes - this episode had a strong comedic element to it.  And no - it wasn't scripted for me.  I am a Jamaican by birth.  and I believe Curry should be in your belly NOT on your wall!   The same goes for Banana!  KEEP IT NEUTRAL!!!!  



Matthew Finlason / Featured Designer on THE STAGERS

(Stagers can broaden a home's appeal but are in charge of reasonably listing the price of a home accordingly. Some homes take longer to find their buyers...)

Matthew Finlason / Featured Designer on THE STAGERS 

Aug 01, 2008 06:36 PM #9
Marianne Sweet
Home Sweet Home Staging - Rochester Hills, MI
Home Sweet Home Staging, LLC Rochester Hills, MI

Hi Matthew!  I think it is fabulous that you are blogging here on AR!  It's fascinating to get your  explanantion of what was done behind-the-scenes but edited out.  I hope you'll have time to ring in occasionally with more stories!

It sounds like you do a lot of repurposing in your staging.  THAT to me is real-life home staging.  Taking the owner's "stuff" and making it look fabulous.  Working with the blank slate of a vacant is fun and full of possibilities, but occupied houses are the ones that REALLY need us!

Love the show, and thanks for showing the public the power of staging!

Aug 01, 2008 11:56 PM #10
Virginia Tatseos
Stage-Show-Sell - Bloomfield Township, MI

Matthew,  I think it's wonderful that you can take the time and explain the parts of the show that were cut out.  Maybe we should start a campaign to make the show an hour.  That would benefit us and the public.

Keep up the good work.

I've had cow throw pillows for years and had the courage to use them this week.  Marianne pushed me into it :-).      When we finished the bedroom we said "this one is for you Matthew"

Aug 02, 2008 12:41 AM #11
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

My favorite line from this episode -- and one that I copied when completing an occupied staging yesterday -- was Matthew walking away afterwards, back to the sellers "Don't touch anything!"  That was priceless!

Aug 02, 2008 06:38 AM #12
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Matthew - Thanks for explaining a little more about the episode.  From a television viewer's vantage point, it didn't give an overall impression that much of the homeowner's furniture and accessories were used.  Maybe other viewers picked up more on what was re-purposed, but I suppose that since I was busy taking notes throughout the show (to help me write my blog), I missed out on some of the visuals.  It's really too bad that much of your behind the scenes hard work didn't get shown to the audience.  Like you said, if the episode had been longer, you would have been able to really show and explain what was kept and why.  That would have showcased your work even more.  I really hope that if The Stagers gets picked up for a second season, they'll consider extending it to 1 hour.

Thanks for answering my question on scripting.  I'm so glad that we are getting to see the REAL Matthew.  I didn't think you were reading from a script, but I had to ask.  Don't lose your sense of humour - you're really awesome on the show.  Thanks for stopping by!

Aug 03, 2008 01:39 AM #13
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Maureen - That was a great line, wasn't it?  :-)

Aug 03, 2008 01:42 AM #14
Michelle Finnamore
Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket - Vaughan, ON
Preparing your property for sale

Hi Matthew, I really think this is awesome that you care enough about your fans to explain the finer details of the show. You rock!

Using the homeowner's belongings is more realistic in my Staging world and I love to see how you repurpose items in a home.

I too wish the show was one hour. How do we start a  petition to HGTV to make this happen?

Aug 03, 2008 02:38 AM #15
Elaine Manes Gage
Home Staging Online Services - Denver, CO
Staging done ONLINE!

Charlene- This has been my favorite episode so far. Even though Matthew brought in furniture, he still used some of the tricks we stagers have up our sleeves. It was great how the kitchen cabinets, which seemed so dated in the beginning, were suddenly transformed without being replaced or painted! One time when I was doing a consultation, and I had my daughter with me taking notes, she told me later that I was pointing to items in the house, and saying "you gotta lose this!" I guess I was really comfortable with this particular client, but my phrasing was not very professional! I laughed when I heard Matthew say it in this episode!

Aug 03, 2008 03:57 AM #16
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Elaine - I noticed some of the tricks too.  I loved Matthew's comment about the bedsheets - i.e. only ironing the parts that show.  I can TOTALLY relate to that!  

Aug 05, 2008 05:28 AM #17
No Longer Active in Staging. No Longer Staging
Hickory, NC
  • Charlene, I am loving your reviews of the Stagers.. I have not seen this episode yet but will look forward to it... Thanks so much for your post..
  • Matthew - How wonderful of you to drop by AR and share with us.. As fellow stagers - we get to live vicariously through you on screen.. How cool is that.. I am enjoying your work and the show - SHOULD we send in a petition for a 1 hour show??? God bless.
Aug 05, 2008 10:02 AM #18
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

Thanks Cheryl!

Aug 12, 2008 01:02 AM #19
Arkansas wallbeds

Small bits of content which are explained in details, helps me understand the topic, thank you!

Nov 15, 2012 08:09 AM #20
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Home Stager - Burlington Ontario
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