When all the world’s a stage, is it any wonder your living room needs a prop stylist?
“The way you live and the way you present your home are two different things,” says Aimee Miller, founder of Designed to Move, a company offering “property enhancement” for the real estate market.
She’ll stop at nothing. Miller once convinced a Fortune 500 CEO to ditch a beloved but rusty pinball machine in the middle of his living room; she purged a den of a Bobble Head collection.
Home stagers say these kinds of interventions — and appropriate replacements — make the difference between selling your home for top dollar and sending a buyer running. The changes can be as simple as a new coat of paint, as subtle as luxury bath sheets in the linen closet and as elaborate as brand-new landscaping. However, the goal is always the same: Create the appearance of effortless and opulent domestic bliss.
It’s a tactic commonly used by new home and loft developers. Meredith Baer of Meredith Baer & Associates, who styled the model unit of the Lofts at Hollywood & Vine, tries to tell a story in each room of the house — whether she’s leaving kid-sized slippers on the floor by a bed in a child’s room, or hanging a little girl’s tutu in the closet.
“A mom will buy the house because of that dress,” she says. “The house sells for more money and it sells faster.”
A full staging with Lauri Trainor, who operates her eponymously named home staging company out of a rented storage space and her garage in the Pacific Palisades, starts at $10,000. Trainor will refurnish, hang new art on the walls and install electric sockets in the floor. She stocks the bar with trendy spirits; showers are bestowed with the latest and greatest shampoos.
“I tell sellers it’s less than their first price reduction,” says the former advertising exec.
She also offers one-time DIY consultations for $500-$600. Her typical to-do list for sellers?
Remove clutter and throw out wire hangers. Says Trainor: “They make my hair stand on end.”
“The popularity of shows on HGTV means that consumers know what they’re looking at,” says Miller, who is quick to distance her high-end home makeover company from decorator/housewife home staging. In sophisticated markets like L.A., stagers have to go beyond glass bowls with seashells and potted orchids on every flat surface.
However, like any good plastic surgery, staging should never be too obvious.
Says Miller, “When an agent has to ask, ‘Is this house staged?’, I know I’ve done a good job.”