Staging a New Home is Like a Secret Recipe
Do you have a secret recipe for a cookie or a casserole that’s deeee-lish AND super easy to make? And the best part is that everyone loves the recipe and always asks you to make it? You smile at your little secret, because it just seems wrong that something that easy could taste that good. Well that’s kind of how it feels when we are staging a new home. it may not bring the same kind of satisfaction as when we’ve worked for weeks on an older home, because there’s a history and experience there that can’t be replaced. But from the perspective of a buyer, they don’t care what we’ve gone through to get to the finish line, they just want the finish line to be amazing. So as long as the people are licking their lips and rubbing their belly, we got the job done.
Why Bother Staging at All?
When I first saw this home, it was fantastic. It had beautiful cabinets and counters, lovely flooring, neutral tiles and modern, neutral paint. This home already had everything we work diligently with other home sellers to achieve. So why was I even needed, you may ask. If it looked that good, surely it will sell, why waste any time or effort at all? Well, a key point you need to know about The Village Guru is this; we’re not here to slap homes up on the market to take whatever price gets tossed at us. There’s no benefit to the home owner in that. We do whatever it takes to maximize every.last.dollar out of your home. We don’t like leaving money on the table, which happens all the time out in there. We look at the stats, no matter the market, to determine where we can max out. So whether homes are selling for 5% under asking price, at asking, or 15% over asking price, we know where to target your home. We have a reputation for often selling for the highest sale price yet achieved on a street, and that doesn’t come without some serious strategy and planning.
The home owners took excellent care of their home and they were very organized. There was no clutter or excess items to remove. The only challenge with the home was that their living room furniture and dining room chairs had a very modern european feel, which was a little too bold and edgy for staging. They actually took attention away from the features of the home, which is not a good thing. So we asked the home owners if they could put their sofas and chairs to storage and we would bring in furniture, art and accessories to make the home shine. They were very flexible and willing to do whatever it took to stage the home. So we treated the home very much the same way we deal with a vacant home.
Click Here to See This Home’s Full Portfolio Page
Making the Plan
Staging has a 2-part effect; it’s to create impact both A) in the listing pictures and B) when buyers are in the home to view it. I find part B to be much easier, because as long as the home is cleared out of excess items, is clean and well maintained, the decor has a lesser impact. When you are physically in the space, you can better appreciate the features of the home regardless of the picture on the wall or what colour the throw pillows are. And this is why some home owners question the value of home staging, because from living in the home, they can easily see the good features.
However, Challenge A – the listing photos – are often overlooked and left to an afterthought. These photos need to show the buyer in 30 seconds what the home seller has known about their home for years. Accomplishing this kind of success in the pictures requires real planning. In this case, since we were bringing in most of the items, it gave me a lot of control over the finished product. Most times, we are blending our items in with the home owners items, which is far more challenging.
Since the home was very neutral, it was important to add in colour. For photos, everything has to be exaggerated. it’s like in the movies, the crew goes heavy on the actor’s make-up because the camera needs help to pick up the detail. In photos, when everything is beige, the camera can’t bring any life or interest to the photo. So I am one of the few home stagers out there who will tell you COLOUR COLOUR COLOUR! It’s all in the execution, as anyone who survived the 80s applying gobs of blue eye shadow and stripes of peach blush will tell you.
My Go-To Accent Colours
If you look through the different homes I’ve worked on, I tend to accent with shades of green, teal, and blue, and this is for good reason. First, these are the colours of nature, and they invoke feelings of serenity, calmness, and peace. They just tend to “feel” good and they are universally the most liked colours in any colour survey. And in staging, anything that is universally appealing is a good thing to use. Many homes have a tan or brown neutral base, which is a warm hue. With these colours, the use of red or yellow as accents can feel too bold and imposing because this creates a very warm colour scheme. There are many people put off by too much red or yellow, and so using these colours can give people sub-conscious discomfort. No, it’s not like a red pillow will stop people from buying a home. My strategy is to use every single trick I can to attract the most possible buyers I can, to make the most buyers feel happy about the home as I can, to encourage the most possible buyers to put offers, to draw out every last possible dollar. The less mis-steps, the more money, in the end.
Even though this was a town home, it was a very large town home, and we brought in 1 cargo van and 1 SUV full of props. So even though I’m saying this house was easy, I mean that only in the sense that creating the design was easy. Staging is a very physical process, and there’s a lot of lugging, and hauling, and packing and hanging. So no, staging itself is never “easy”. This was a stacked town home with 2 full staircases and by the end of the day I was really wishing I had kept up with my cardio at the gym. I do now have a mover on staff to help load and unload the items from the van, but once it’s in the house, it’s all me. This is the part where home owners vary widely in their desired participation level and I am totally ok with whatever works for you. Some home owners want to leave and be surprised with the finished product upon return. Some home owners want to be all hands on deck and do whatever I ask of them so they can feel part of the process. Most end up right in the middle, where they let me do my thing but like to be there to observe and watch how the process unfolds. It’s very hard to give up your home to someone else to make all of these changes, and it’s ok to feel however you feel about it. All we ask is that you have faith in the process and be positive and supportive of the outcome we are working to achieve. We have been so fortunate to have worked with countless home owners who have been so helpful of our staging process and appreciative of the results we could achieve for them.
In the end, we were able to create an elegant, contemporary space that showed well in photos and brought 3 offers. My principle aim is NOT to make the home look “perfect”, but to make it look interesting and loved. We didn’t want to lose that feeling, given the home was such a blank slate to start with. We were able to have just enough furniture in each space to show the function while making each room feel as big as possible. The colour carried throughout the home which also helps with the feeling of spaciousness. With colour, you create a better sense of flow, as opposed to chopping up each room with a new colour scheme.
Click Here to See This Home’s Full Portfolio Page
Tip: How to Properly Use Art as a Focal Point
Art plays a major role to define the spaces and give the camera focal point for the eye to rest on. Blank walls don’t show well in photos, the rooms look unfinished and bland.
- Bigger is better. Art should be at least 2/3 the width of the item it’s hanging above (table, bed, fireplace) up to full width for a more modern look. Never exceed the width of the item
- One big piece is easier than 9 little pieces. When staging, I need to move quickly, so hanging 1 big piece saves a lot of measuring and re-measuring to make sure everything is lined up. If you have a gallery look that you’ve put up yourself, that’s fine, but if you’re starting from scratch, one big piece will be easiest.
- Abstract Landscape works in every home, in every style. It’s not too bold, it’s not too traditional. It’s basically a traditional image delivered in a modern way and suits every style. It usually has a lot of blue and green in it, which helps to strengthen my preferred colour scheme. But if you’re home is already accented red, we work with it, and make sure the art has red in it as well.
- Colour Contrast Is Key. My ideal is that the walls are neutral and its the art that becomes the main point of attraction though colour. But there are other times we have to work with an orange or red wall, and in those cases, we choose a very neutral pieces of art to stand off the bold wall. Either way, with the contrast of bold and neutral, that’s what draws the eye to create the necessary focal point.
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