Interview with a Professional Organizer/Stager

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Executives VA0225060364, MD638478

In today's market, real estate professionals all over the country are advising their clients to have their home professionally staged. Staging is arranging the furniture and accessories in such a way that everthing is appealing to the eye. Some stagers will use the furniture you already own and essentially "redecorate" your home. Applying such concepts as feng shui and other aesthetic design theories, a stager looks at your home through the eyes of a typical buyer and makes it more appealing. Other stagers will use stock furniture and other items to stage your home. Either way, it pays to stage because first impressions-- the one the buyer gets as soon as they open the door-- are critical.

I recently spoke with Holly Tunstall, owner of Cannon Clutter Control (Blast the Mess) in Vienna, Virginia. She offers tips and insight on home organization and staging.

How long have you been in business? Full time - three years in August.  Part time - five years.

How did you get started in the organizing/staging business? Most organizers have our ability built into our DNA!  I remember organizing my friends Barbie collections and changing their bedrooms around during sleep-overs. I have always had the knack for creating order out of chaos.  Dis-order does not intimidate revs me up to get to work!

What would you say is the number one challenge people have with organizing their homes? #1 challenge is the maintenance.  Having an orderly home does require effort. Something needs to be done every day.  Good habits need to be established. There is a certain amount of discipline required, but once the habits are in place it is easier.  Maintenance is the key.

What are the Top 5 things a Seller should do to improve how their home "shows"?

a) remove photos, nick nacks, extra pillows, throws etc *
b) clean out closets and cabinets*
c) Reduce books, toss out magazines*
d) Remove toys*
* Streamline your rooms

What are some things that folks should keep in mind if they don't know where to start organizing? Stop getting overwhelmed by the big/whole picture. You can't eat an elephant in one bite!  Just start...pick up one thing and put it away or get it into the area where it belongs. Start to group like things together (consolidate).  Be bold!  Throw things away.  If something stumps you, don't let it stop you.  Just put it aside (in the questionable pile) and keep moving. Remember clutter Rule # 1: Just because you have it, doesn't mean you have to keep it.

What is it that you enjoy most about your job? I love helping people get back on track.  It is so rewarding to see the joy and relief on a client's face as a project progresses.

I'm on a limited budget and I can't afford to buy numerous plastic containers, new shelves, etc. What would you recommend I do? Don't buy anything before you purge and clean it all out.  Clean out closets, drawers, cabinets, bins etc first. You will be able to repurpose these storage areas.  The less you have, the easier it will be for your current space to accommodate your needs.   Hefty bags are good for storage of out of season clothes, bedding and linens. Good old fashioned cardboard boxes will do the trick too.  Also you may find storage pieces on websites like

Once everything is all cleaned up, how do you keep it that way? Again, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.  Set up a simple schedule for yourself and stick to it. For instance: Monday- balance check book. Tuesday- pay bills, Wednesday- file papers, Thursday- laundry, Friday- clean out fridge, Saturday- go through magazines etc.  If you break a task down small enough, it is impossible not to complete it.

How long will it take to stage my home? Definitely depends on the amount of clutter. First clean out the clutter, then stage.  Of course it depends on the size of the home, but a small to average sized home can be staged in a day or two.

How long will it take to organize (a part of) my home? Let's set up a consultation!  Cannon Clutter Control offers a free 1 hour consultation to determine your goals and needs.  From there we will set up a timeline and get to work!

Every client that works with me gets two hours of professional staging advice from Holly. I can offer this to my clients because I am also a satisfied customer of hers. Holly can be reached at:

Holly C. S. Tunstall
Cannon Clutter Control, LLC
VISA & Mastercard accepted

Time to Streamline!

Posted by


Bookmark and Share //

Cathy Valdiviez Baumbusch, REALTOR. Licensed in VA, MD, and DC. 

Red Dress Realty at RE/MAX Executives

DIRECT: 202-630-2MOV 

8442 Old Keene Mill Rd., Springfield, VA, 22152

2704 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22301

Cathy has lived in the DC Metro area since 1996. She currently lives in West Springfield, VA. Licensed since 2001 and serves clients in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Cathy's service area includes Fairfax County, Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church in Virginia and Prince George's, and Montgomery County in Maryland., and of course. 

Cathy has an excellent track record getting short sales approved and closed. Cathy can also facilitate buying and selling real estate anywhere in the world. 

Cathy is a VHDA Certified Trainer and she has taught classes on buying short sales, HUD homes, and foreclosures and social media marketing classes through Fairfax County Public Schools Adult and Continuing Education Program. 

Cathy is a retired Army Reserve Major and an accomplished singer with a rock band. She resides in Springfield, VA with her dog and cat.

 Facebook buttonLinkedintwitter

Comments (0)