Ok, it’s time for a little chat. We need to get on the same page about staging and how it works. I am going to share a personal story with you in an effort to help give you a clearer picture, and reduce the number of headaches I get by having to repeat myself. There is one conversation with staging clients that has been recurring throughout my career in various forms… but my response is ALWAYS the same. Picture this.
I travel to meet the homeowner/sellers for the first look at their home. Oftentimes their listing agent joins in. There we are walking through the spaces of their home. I am focused on looking beyond everything in front of me. See, it’s rare that when I’m brought in to see a space that the house is empty and clean. More often than not, I am brought in while work is being done, while moving is happening, or before the homeowner has begun any transition at all and their furnishings are still in place.
It may look like I’m aimlessly walking through the home but my mind is working in overdrive. I’m processing the light, the space, the colors, the finishes, the architectural style etc. There is a lot to take in and consider BEFORE I am able to recommend the stylistic approach for a particular stage.
So again, first time walking through the home, I am nowhere near curating furnishings and decor. I always make the mistake of exposing my thought process too early and, well, you know what they say about sausage, right? The end product is delicious but you don’t want to see it being made.
It took me a long time to realize the homeowner is miles ahead of me on
- Knowing the house, style, space, the things I’m seeing for the first time.
- The homeowner wants me to have an immediate full design package in real-time as we are walking through the house.
I get it, and I love it. This means the homeowner is excited and anxious in a good way to see something fun and beautiful. The last thing I want to do is discourage that excitement. However, this first meeting is also about educating the homeowner/seller and their agent on what staging is and who it is really for.
I am motivated to write this post because as recently as yesterday I just had this situation occur.
As I walked around the house filled with boxes, movers, furnishings, pets, homeowners, and agents, I’m simultaneously taking in the space for the first time and being asked what my staging ideas are. The homeowners are peppering in ideas of what they like and what their style is. I, of course, encourage this exchange of ideas and mention the phrase “olde world” –keep in mind, this is my brain making sausage.
The flow of conversation slows, well stops really, and the homeowner’s repeat in a concerned voice “olde world”? I then have to scramble and explain, I’m just channeling ideas as I’m walking through the space. Near the end of the walkthrough, the homeowners again talk about what they like.
That’s my cue to have the awkward talk about who I am staging for. I’m not an interior designer coming to appeal to you. I stage to attract your buyer.
In another recent instance, different conversation. Same response. It went like this. My initial walkthrough was with the listing agent. The homeowner was not present. The house is relatively newly, constructed in 2006. The finishes and fixtures are new and shiny. The house was still completely furnished as the homeowner had lived in the house.
The homeowner is a collector of antiques. She loves dark, large, hardwood antiques. Her pieces are unique and beautiful, and completely to her taste. As we were walking through the house we discussed my vision of the staging I would put in place. The listing agent completely agreed and we went forward with the stage.
The homeowner’s son went by the house and took a few snapshots of the spaces after I had staged the home. The homeowner called her listing agent concerned about the staging and not sure she liked it. The listing agent, anxious to please her client, called me to meet both her and the client at the house. I dutifully dropped everything and rushed over to meet with the homeowner and the listing agent. Once the homeowner was in the house she apologized and said she loved it. She did say something about my ecclectic artwork not being “her taste.” The listing agent told her client “we want you to be happy” –Yeessss, but…… here’s the awkward education part again.
I have to explain to the homeowner and the listing agent that I don’t stage to please the homeowner or the listing agent. I stage to attract buyers.
I love your antiques and I know it’s your taste but that is not the right look to attract buyers.
There I’ve said it. Thanks for the chat, or maybe it was more like a good stern talking to. Either way, I will continue stage to get you a buyer NOT to suit your tastes.