The Power of Staging

Photo by Thea Menagh

Since we sold our home, I've had a lot of questions from friends and agents alike about whether it was staged.  I had other agents ask if we "lived like that all the time" to which I replied "Certainly not!"  What I restrained myself from saying was  "We're ordinary people with a toddler and pets.  There are usually trails of crushed Cheerios and dog slobber throughout the house!  You're seeing the STAGED version."

You see, when most people think of staging, they think of impersonal, bland rooms... sort of like a stock photo.  In reality, good staging often adds interesting and unique accents and often even incorporates a home owner's own furniture and style into the look.  While it would be lovely if every house looked like an issue of House and Home, depending on the price point, neighbourhood, buyer profile and existing furniture, it's not always necessary for a home owner to remove all their furniture and rent modern furniture in order to sell for top dollar.  In the end, the purpose of staging isn't to sell the furniture or produce a magazine worthy spread, but to show how large and functional a home is and perhaps to suggest uses for rooms or offer a glimpse of a certain lifestyle.

Can this be attained without replacing all the furniture in a home?  Often it can, and it worked for our own home.  Look at the bedroom (top photo), for instance.  Would I have loved photographs of a bed with a gorgeous tufted headboard?  Sure, but instead I just piled on the pillows and used art to add interest and height.  I bought a white duvet cover but used our regular bedding and pillows underneath.  I did remove our night tables (and used lovely but not-so-practical end tables) but only because we had already decided not to take them to our new house.

So many of you have asked about the importance of staging and I really believe that at least some degree of decluttering and staging is really important.  It pairs well with professional photography and strong marketing, so I decided to write this post to illustrate my point.

Do you ever see those websites with bad real estate photos, which are mostly either just corners of dark empty rooms or they look like they were taken with phones?  I see so many listings each day and you wouldn't believe how many terrible photos I see (sometimes even in luxury listings)... and there's really no excuse for them!

Here's a quick look at the process of getting a space ready for MLS.  Actually, I wish I had taken a first photo of the room BEFORE a lot of furniture was moved downstairs to the storage locker.  This client didn't want her things stored off-site so we relied on her locker and stored as much there as possible.  It still left us with a lot of her own furniture (which was fine) but I decided to add some lighter pieces as well so the room would feel less heavy and dark.  Here's a photo after we'd moved out as much furniture as possible.

And here's a look after I brought in some modern and light accessories to jazz the place up.  I worked with what my client already owned but created the feeling of more space and more seating options for a prospective buyer to envision.  Doesn't the room look bigger already?

Still, there's something missing and that's where a professional photographer comes in.  Here's a look at the magic a good real estate photographer can create.  While this unit was no larger than the other 1 bedroom units in the building (many of which sat on the market for weeks while their price eroded) this unit attracted multiple offers within days, with feedback that it "felt" larger than other units.

Photo by Thea Menagh

Here's another example (below) of the master bedroom, which was lightly staged (some heavy furniture removed, throws, art and flowers added) but this photo was taken on my phone:

Not bad, but the room REALLY shines in the professional photo:

Photo by Thea Menagh
Much larger and more serene, right?  It makes me want to hire my photographer to show you our new house because my photos will just never come close!  ;)

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