Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Stager: How My Week Went “Kaboom” in a Matter of Hours, and I LOVED it!

Today I thought that I would tell you about my week (or at least my week so far, as it’s only Tuesday as I write this). Monday started like a typical day. In my morning meeting with my assistant we discussed our expectations of the week. The books were looking pretty light over the next few days (for home staging clients), with only a couple of bookings that day, and pretty much nothing the rest of the week. This is not surprising, since kids return to school in just a few weeks. This is something to keep in mind when you’re starting your home staging business – the real estate industry has peaks and valleys, and most regions are affected by these real estate “seasons”. In our home staging company, we always bump up our design availability for this time of year to help to compensate for the slower selling season and maintain a steady cash flow through to the fall market boom.

So here I am Tuesday (early) afternoon now, and reviewing our fully booked calendar, and wondering how we’re going to make it all work! In addition, there are likely still changes to be made before the week is done. So I have cancelled the plans that I had with a friend for Thursday night, and we’re all pulling up our boots and getting to work.

So what happened?

Well, one of my home stagers met with a client yesterday for a vacant home staging consultation. Though we don’t usually “hold” home staging dates until we have received proper confirmation (signed contract; down-payment; credit card authorization) from the client, we understood the urgency of this particular project, and their insistence that they would be moving forward with the home staging (even though they had no idea yet what it would cost), so we tentatively booked them in for Thursday when we booked their consultation appointment, with hope and a prayer that they would hold true to their word.

In the meantime, we received notice that another staged property had sold (yay) so we needed to arrange for destaging that now. Both projects require movers, and the destage is in a condo, which requires the scheduling of the elevator as well. While all of this is happening, my assistant speaks to a new agent that has heard wonderful things about our company (naturally), and needs a consultation, then staging for a client of his in one of the rural areas that we service.

Staged living room - grey sofa and chairs with flower print area rug, open concept

So we think that we can prep the staging on wed, destage the condo on Thursday, finish the prep on Friday, and stage the large house on Monday (and Tuesday morning since it’s a large house). After a little arm-twisting, we secure the movers for this, but the condo management can’t get us the elevator until Tuesday. Ok, so prep the staging on Wednesday now, stage Thursday and Friday morning, and pack our destage on Monday for the movers to arrive on Tuesday morning at 8am, the only time we were able to secure the elevator for! While my other stager is managing the large vacant home staging on Thursday, I will meet with the new client so that he can get started with prepping his house for staging.

Now remember the part where I said that we bump up our design availability? I have 3 other appointments already booked for design clients this week, on top of everything you’re seeing here. Needless to say, we’re rolling with the punches!

Busy girl with post notes at desk with computer and phone

The moral of this story is that this industry is unpredictable, and you need to be willing to have some flexibility, shuffle things on occasion, and make compromises to be successful. Yes, our policy states that we need 5 days notice for destaging, and 5 days notice for staging, but if we can work a miracle or two when we need to, it keeps everyone (including my accountant) very happy. The home staging industry is fast-paced and ever-changing – be up to the challenge and roll with it. I love that my day seldom goes as expected – it keeps life interesting!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why Interior Designers Make Great Home Stagers

If you work in interior design, you have probably noticed that a number of industry professionals have added home staging to their list of services in the last few years. Home staging can be a great complimentary service to a creative-based service portfolio, but how do you know if it’s right for you? What some may love about home staging, others might see as a deal-breaker and a reason to stick with strictly design.

I have met a number of home stagers over the years that began in the field of design, only to realize that their true passion was for home staging. That said, don’t be misled – while these two industries share a number of similar traits, there are just as many fundamental differences:

Let’s do a comparison:

As a Designer:
You work with a client’s overall style to create your design plan, based on their specific likes and dislikes.

As a Home Stager:
You work with a home’s overall style to create your staging plan, based on the neighbourhood, house characteristics, and buyer demographics. Your aim is to appeal to the largest variety of buyers possible.

As a Designer:
Projects can take several months to complete.

As a Home Stager:
Most projects are completed in less than a month from consult to completion, and in some cases they can be completed in just one week! Be warned – this instant gratification can be addicting.

As a Designer:
More is better!

As a Home Stager:
Less is more!

As a Designer:
The elements used to create a room are often a large part of the central focus of that room, including all furnishings and statement pieces, as well as the accessories and artwork throughout.

As a Home Stager:
Ideally, in home staging, you want to eliminate anything that could be considered a distraction in order to place the focus on the appealing selling features of the house. For this reason, statement pieces are often avoided in favour of more neutral selections.

As a Designer:
The goal of a project is to provide an attractive and functional space.

As a Home Stager:
The goal is to sell the house – therefore you are merchandising the home in order to effectively market it. While function should play a role, some comfort of living is often sacrificed to create the best overall look and feel.

As a Designer:
Personal elements help to create a comfortable home for the owners.

As a Home Stager:
Personal items are removed in order to eliminate this potential distraction. Buyers want to envision themselves in the space, and an overly personalized space can make this challenging.

Where Home Staging and Design overlap:

  • Proper furniture placement is critical to a successful plan. In home staging, standard placement rules apply as they would in design – in fact, in home staging, you’re often outlining for buyers the ideal position of items throughout the space.
  • Room flow is especially important when selling a home. Just as it can affect the comfort of a room for living, improper flow can easily turn off buyers without them even realizing it! The flow of a space can affect buyers on a sub-conscious level, and prevent them from placing an offer on the property.
  • Current trends are applied to both design and home staging plans. In home staging, these trends should be applied in the decorating aspect, and avoided in more permanent elements and fixtures.
  • A well thought out and cohesive plan will always create a warm and inviting space.

While there are many stylists that will cross over both industries, and enjoy the challenges that each brings, there are others that prefer to work in their creative niche and comfort zone. The diversity of offering both services can help to keep your designs fresh and fluid! Home Staging is a great complimentary service for design professionals, putting their natural talent to work with a quick turn-around and outcome. Let's face it - eventually, design clients will sell their house, and that allows designers to easily turn these same clients into home staging clients. Whatever you choose, if you are passionate about what you do, you’ll find your way.

Interested in learning more about home staging? Check out Talent vs Training to see what your certification program should provide, and why formal training is critical to success in the home staging world, regardless of a design background.

Monday, August 8, 2016

10 Low Budget Home Staging Hacks to Use in Everyday Life

Our home staging clients often tell us how much they wish that they had brought us in sooner, before they decided to sell the house, so that they could have enjoyed some of the changes that we made! They especially love seeing some of our home staging tricks and hacks first hand, so we’ve decided to share some of our favourites with you! You can put these low-cost ideas to use in your home, regardless of whether or not you are selling.

1. Use baskets to hide cables
It’s not a fancy trick, but it can be incredibly effective. Hide routers, cables, and other messes using baskets. NOTE: some items (such as routers) need room to vent, so be sure to account for and allow for this.

Consider adding a shelf under your desk to get the cords and cables off of the floor.

2. Zip tie your lamp cords (and other electronics)
In staging, there is nothing worse than seeing a long dangling cord behind a table. By zip-tying these, they can be cleaned up and out of site. Wind up extra slack in the cable or cord not needed and tie. You can bundle the cord close to the table top and tie, or tie the cord to the table leg at the top and bottom, and bundle the cord at the base. It’s easy for cables and chargers to become a bit of a mess as well. Group your office or tv cables together and zip tie in a few spots to keep them from getting tangled. It’s also a great idea to label your cords (close to the plug) so that you can easily unplug one when you need to without needing to do serious detective work to find the right one to disconnect. There are a variety of cord labelling systems available for sale, but it doesn’t need to be fancy - you can these create with any labels or tape that you have in your household already.

3. Use painters tape or masking tape to hang art on plaster walls
This will prevent the wall from splitting when you puncture it with the nail. Simply place a small piece of tape (approximately ½”) where you want to hang the nail before hammering.

4. Disguise your everyday products
Hat boxes are an attractive way to hide your everyday toiletries, and come in sizes large enough to fit your lotions and sprays easily!

5. Freshen your furniture with touch-up markers
While it’s not the most glamorous fix, this is a trick that is often used in home staging, and works great for giving furniture a quick touch-up from nicks and scratches. When you’re selling your home, even though you are not likely selling your furnishings, showing care of these items will help to show pride of ownership in your home.

6. Get rid of your fireplace's brass trim
One of the biggest things that can show a fireplace’s age is a brass trim! Pick up some black barbeque paint and cover the brass for an instant update!

7. Fix outdated backsplashes
Have an out-dated backsplash but can’t afford to replace it? Painting it will give it a fresh new look! This is intended as a temporary solution, but with the right paint, it can last for a few years. Not recommended for floor tiles.

8. Yes, you can paint brick!
Paint brick to give an instant update, whether on the interior or exterior of your house. Again, you’ll want to ensure that you are using a paint designed for this type of surface; you’ll be amazed by the finish.

9. Need a table runner? 
Create a “make-shift” table runner from an old drape with a few tucks and folds (if you don’t intend to use the drape again, you may wish to cut it and add some hem tape to create a proper seam).

10. Get a custom closet for less!
Hang all similar colours together with matching hangers and add baskets to your shelves. Use space saving hangers for best results – your closet will look and feel much more organized and spacious!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Talent vs Training - Which Matters More?

So you have a creative eye, you love re-arranging your furniture, you’ve watched EVERY home renovation reality show, and you’re ready to launch into the world of home staging! Where do you start?

Since home staging is not a regulated industry, technically you can wake up tomorrow and decide to be a home stager and *poof* - you’re a home stager! But is that enough to sustain a career?

Talent is certainly key to a successful career in this industry, but it’s not enough to establish you as an expert, and it doesn’t mean that you can make it into a successful and thriving business. Training will help you with understanding the home staging processes, how to manage your clients, as well as some "techniques" for showcasing and merchandising a space. Home staging and home decorating are quite different, and understanding buyers and buyer perceptions, as well as how to effectively prepare a home to best showcase it will come through your training.

That said, not all training programs are created equal, so do your research and select the one that provides you with the most comprehensive information, as well as fits your learning style.

What should you expect from your home stager training?

  • How to run a business
  • How to manage your clients
  • Insights into buyer AND seller behaviours
  • How to merchandise a home to make it a sellable product that your buyers will want to buy
  • How to “sell” – sell the house, sell potential clients on your services, and sell your home sellers on your recommendations (what good is it if you know what they need to do, if you can’t convince them to make the changes necessary?)
  • Home styling trends and styling tricks
  • Post-training support to help you to successfully launch your business
  • Current and up-to-date information regarding industry standards, trends, and expectations

Talent gets you started – it’s what drives you to turn a passion into a career, but it’s the training that will help you to properly hone your skills. Your certification also tells your clients that you are serious about home staging as a career – you are an expert in your field! The investment in the proper education provides credibility to you, and will be recognized by your peers as well as your prospective clients.

I’m a firm believer that you should never stop learning. Unless you already have a ton of experience running a business in the real estate industry, and you’re right at home working with and managing various types of clients, during one of the most stressful times of their lives, you’ll want to review your options for professional training!