“Can you do high-end?”
I often hear this question from real estate brokers and homeowners looking for someone to stage higher-priced properties. In fact, just recently, there was an inquiry on our Charlotte Realtors Facebook page asking for referrals for stagers experienced in high-end properties. I am fortunate my business was recommended more than once, actually more than five times (sorry, tooting my own horn). From that post, the listing agent called me, and I proceeded to meet with her and her clients. The property that was being listed was located in the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte and would go on the market just north of $1 million. In Charlotte, the million dollar mark is becoming less and less unique, but it still is hailed as a bold number, so it better deliver.
I believe people ask the question because not all stagers can deliver what I believe a “high end” buyer is excited by. To be honest, I find the term “High End” a little crude and Nouveau Riche. So, I actually reject, wait, no, more like don’t pay any attention to looking high end, especially when designing for this level of property and hopefully buyer. But believe me, I do pay attention to what matters.
Here’s how I create the look that’s earned me the recognition of being able to create the type of space that people will pay top dollar for and facilitates a sense of wealth.
Dreaming of possibilities
I put myself in the dream of being a buyer who has the resources to be able to purchase whichever property they want. Who is this person? What would impress them? First, it’s certainly not a one-stop-shopping trip to a furniture store. No way. This person, I believe, is well traveled and curious about the world. They also appreciate precious things from all eras.
Key to my design is a mixture of cultures and eras from rugs to artwork to books. I have my own collection of Moroccan rugs that I have brought home from, you guessed it, Morocco. I also work with my dear friend and importer Owice Aittaleb for authentic Moroccan wares. You can read more about his story here. I have made purchasing trips to London and France. I am also always on the hunt around the U.S. for well-traveled wares from all over the world and from all eras.
It doesn’t have to be a Picasso, it just has to be, here’s this word again, authentic. Look for something that’s one of a kind, not mass-produced. Something that is special and unique. Sometimes bold, sometimes quiet and thoughtful, sometimes provocative and evocative. Always unique and unexpected.
Books and music
I design with lots of wonderful books from antique, faded works of Shakespeare and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to huge coffee table books displaying cutting edge interior design. Music is also always a part of my design. I use record players, and have vinyl albums. Actual musical instruments are often seen in my staging. My favorite is my guitar. I also love old radios. Books and music speak of knowledge, imagination, and dreaming.
Comfortable, not fussy or stiff
Comfort is perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of “high end” decorating. No one wants to be uncomfortable in their home, especially if they have paid dearly for the space. A stiff, buttoned up design is just that. It’s not enticing. Comfort doesn’t mean overstuffed clumsy furniture, it just means beautiful fabrics, soft textures, clean and light colors.
Like everything else, high-end is a matter of opinion, but I can share with you my opinion. And my opinion doesn’t come without merit. In addition to being a stager, I study and follow design. I have traveled around Europe and Africa to soak in design from all ages and cultures.
What do I always land on? Rich design, anywhere you go, is not forced. It’s eclectic, wordly, and yes, authentic.