The Art of Home Staging: Think Like an Agent First And An Interior Designer Second

In any industry, processes constantly evolve. As processes evolve, pioneers within the industry adapt, consistently endeavoring to maintain a competitive edge. Risk-taking clients and consumers will heed the guidance of these industry leaders, and once proof of concept is validated, the broader marketplace invariably follows suit.

While not necessarily a new phenomenon, staging has swiftly emerged as one of the most pivotal and arguably indispensable aspects of preparing a home for sale.

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What Is Staging?

As a real estate agent who’s founded a staging company, I know that staging is about far more than defining a space with the appropriate furniture arrangements. Yes, rooms look smaller when empty, and prospective buyers often struggle to imagine a home’s potential or see “the vision.”

Staging, at its core, seeks to resolve both challenges to help effectively sell homes faster and for higher price tags. However, buyers are becoming savvier, markets are proving more challenging and competitive, and the average run-of-the-mill approach to staging is no longer satisfactory to address the forever-advancing real estate market.

Home stagers must think like a real estate agent first and an interior designer second. Who are the most likely buyers? What are they looking for in a home? Why are they even looking for a new home? Only once these questions are answered can they put on their interior design caps. When prospective buyers open the door for the first time, what will instantly draw them in? What will inspire them to feel like they just stepped into their new home for the first time?

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Avoid Generic Room Presentations Without Personality Of course, it is impossible to predict who the ultimate buyer or buyers will be, but you have to start somewhere to move in any direction, creative or otherwise. Home stagers and agents must remain sensitive to the diverse preferences of potential buyers to avoid inadvertently offending anyone. However, this sensitivity often leads many stagers to default to neutral colors, simplistic pieces and minimal accents. While these choices effectively define a space, they typically result in generic room representations that lack personality and fail to resonate with prospective buyers.

Playing It Safe Fails to Achieve the SpectacularToday’s buyers have elevated expectations, seeking homes exuding charm, character, quality and distinctiveness — attributes that can only be achieved through unique and meaningful interiors. They want to feel like they’ve stumbled upon something truly special, worthy of their time, consideration and investment. Delivering this is a delicate balancing act made possible only by paying attention to the most significant and insignificant details. It is the distinctive and cherished knickknacks, the boldness or subtlety of the art, the interplay of drama and softness in the lighting and, above all, the home’s resounding energy that collectively leave an unforgettable impression.

Playing it safe fails to achieve the spectacular, while overt specificity risks exclusion. The intention is to appeal to the most likely pool of buyers. However, the primary goal is to sell quickly and for the highest price possible. Therefore, it is imperative to consider everyone, given that the buyer could be anyone.

You’re Selling a Lifestyle, Not Just a Home The real estate agent-interior designer mindset demands a deeper analysis beyond merely understanding buyer profiles, tastes and preferences. It requires a comprehensive grasp of what is being sold: not just a house but a lifestyle or the essence of living itself. Recognizing the expected function of each space is crucial, as it can vary dramatically from one property to another. Carefully examining the size, footprint, room count, natural light, condition and location will profoundly influence the necessary staging strategy. Therefore, properly representing every potential function of the home is paramount.

Questions like whether the buyer desires formal and informal dining areas or both and whether they seek formal and informal living spaces are essential considerations. Additionally, it is key to anticipate whether they require guest bedrooms, children’s bedrooms, or a combination of the two and assess the likelihood of individuals working from home.

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The Nitty-Gritty: Custom Tailoring Understanding the buyer’s inclination toward hosting and entertaining regularly is critical. By delving deeply into these areas, the staging approach can be tailored to effectively showcase the versatility and potential of the property, ensuring that the experience of touring the home fulfills the aspirations of any prospective buyer, creating a vision of the ideal lifestyle they’re searching for.

Examples of Staging That Evokes a Lifestyle Knowing when to lean into cozy elegance versus formal simplicity, for example, sets one stager apart from another. Knowing when and how to showcase just the right reading nook; seamlessly blending formal and informal living; including a showstopping man cave, a glamorous home office or maybe the perfect hangout is essential. There are certain moments that always stand out in each home. Conversational pieces, such as a one-of-a-kind midcentury modern chair in a study, adorned with just the right cozy but complementary throw pillow and blanket. An exquisitely made king-size bed with luxurious silky white sheets, a fluffy duvet and, of course, a blanket perfectly tousled at the foot of the bed that you can’t help but want to wrap yourself in. A bold and beautiful foyer, with a gilded mirror and a firm yet sophisticated entryway bench that would make anyone to visualize themselves coming home from a long day’s work and removing their shoes as they can finally relax. It’s the unforgettable moments that truly speak to buyers and help them imagine a space as though it is their own.

What to Look For In a Stager I must emphasize how critical it is to hire the right person for the job. Even though your real estate agent should have a Rolodex of stagers in their back pocket, it’s still your home, and you should exercise as much control over the process as you’d like. Homeowners can and should be a part of the selection process to find the best stager for their property.

The one-size-fits-all model simply does not work, given how important it is to ensure that your home stands out from the rest. The right stager impresses upon you a connection to your home and can instantly sense what is special and what needs to be highlighted, as well as what needs to be masked. They know specifically what direction to take and why that vision is unique to your home. Every space is different, and that difference needs to be meaningfully represented and properly expressed.

The Home, a Sanctuary Indeed, “home” should evoke feelings of sanctuary — a haven where family and companionship thrive, but also a refuge for solitude. It’s a space for both life’s celebrations and moments of mourning; for restful retreats and productive pursuits. Ultimately, a home is a tangible representation of one’s identity and core values.

Making these experiences possible is the art of home staging.

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