Interior Designer

My Introduction to Home Staging

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a number of internships I was looking into, as well as some home staging assistant positions I applied to, in order to start exploring the various paths within the interior design field and build up my experience and portfolio. I am happy to report that as of yesterday, I’ve started an internship with Pink Door Interiors, a home staging and interior design firm.

The bulk of Pink Door’s business comes from home staging, and during my first day yesterday, I got a good introduction to the field. My day was spent at their small warehouse, where they store most of their furniture, art and accessories.

It was quite a sight to see. Racks and racks of canvas and other wall art. Sofas carefully wrapped in protective plastic and stood up on their side to maximize space. Shelves going up to the double-height ceilings, housing chairs, ottomans and console tables. A whole room of just pillows! And another room filled with small accessories like dishes, picture frames, candles, soap, placemats, and more.

Chairs and ottomans and tables, oh my!
Yes, there is a pillow room
Let there be light!

While I technically report to the owner of the business, I’ll be working most closely with the project manager, Joe. Joe gave me a great rundown of the home staging business, as well as some interesting tips.

Home Staging Process

Early on in the day, I eagerly asked, “So, what’s the typical home staging process?” While every project is different, Joe was able to give me a general overview.

Consultation

First, they start with a client consultation, where they tour the house and talk about which rooms are going to be staged and how. In the case of Pink Door Interiors (and I imagine a lot of home staging firms), the client tends to be the real estate agent rather than the home seller. After consultation, Joe and the owner, Alejandra, meet and discuss the plan for the home stage.

Proposal

Before too much work gets started, the next step is sending the client a proposal. This is where they lay out in writing:

  • Which rooms are being staged and to what extent (e.g. full stage vs. partial stage)
  • If any existing furniture needs to be removed
  • Budget
  • Timing
  • Other stipulations

Selecting furniture and accessories

Once the proposal is approved, work gets started on selecting the furniture and accessories. You start with the furniture, of course. They “reserve” the furniture for each project in their online database system. Then, they’ll pull art and accessories, walking through the warehouse and seeing what fits with the overall look they are going for. Accessories and other small items are carefully wrapped and packed into bins, usually the day before the home will be staged.

Staging

On the morning of the stage, contracted movers come to transport the furniture and accessories bins. Fragile things like art and lamps are typically transported by the stagers themselves in their own cars.

Once at the property, the movers bring everything in. I’ll get to experience my first in-home staging project next Tuesday! With Pink Door Interiors, they like to start with unpacking and laying out all the accessories. Then, room by room they get everything set up. Sometimes during set-up, they find that something they selected just isn’t working, and in some cases, they have to go shopping to find better alternatives.

The clients will walk through the staged property and note any adjustments they’d like made.

De-staging

After the home is sold, it’s then time for the de-staging process. Packing everything up. Disassembling furniture, if needed. And getting everything back to the warehouse.

Home Staging Tips

Throughout this internship, I’ll learn a lot of about the best ways to tackle home staging. Joe was able to give me some early advice.

Walk through the home on your own

When you do your initial consultation, tell the real estate agent that you’d like to tour the home on your own. This will allow you to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and see the home with fresh eyes, without a realtor pointing things out to you or coloring your experience.

Stage to bring out the features of the home

When it comes to choosing the overall look you are going for, don’t worry the homeowner’s design taste or what you think they buyer’s style will be. The goal is for the home to appeal to the widest variety of buyers.

Instead, look at the style of the house itself. Does it have traditional features like crown molding and decorative cabinets? Opt for more traditional furniture. Is it a very sleek and contemporary home? Go for more contemporary furniture. Sometimes the clients will request (or insist) on a certain style, but it’s important to hold your ground — you know what’s best!

Ask for everyone to be out of the house when you stage

This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but I guess it can happen a lot. Staging requires a lot of moving and installing, and it’s hard to work around contractors or other people doing work in the home. And it’s best not to have the homeowner hovering, either. They can be very emotionally attached to the home and might push their own personal preferences on style and set-up.

Be strategic about the order you set things up in

When staging a room, I think most people’s instinct would be to set up the large furniture pieces first and then place all the smaller items. However, you need to take into consideration things that may be hard to set up if the furniture is in the way.

Need to plug lamps into an outlet that’ll eventually be blocked by a large desk? Get that plugged in first! Hanging a piece of art over the bed? Best to hang it before getting the bed set up (keeping in mind, of course, the height of the headboard). It’s a rule that seems obvious after the fact, but you’d be surprised how many people make this mistake.

Label your accessories in a partial stage

Sometimes you are staging a vacant home, but sometimes you are doing a partial stage, where you augment with homeowner’s existing furniture and decor with your own pieces. In these cases, the home staging company’s accessories can easily get mixed up with the homeowner’s. Whether it be a small label or a sticker, it’s good to somehow discreetly mark your accessories.

A lot more to come

I’ll be doing this internship for at least the next couple of months and potentially into the fall. During that time, I’ll have the opportunity to see and work on the full process of a home staging project.

Next week, I’ll get experience pulling accessories and packing them up, as well as actually staging a home. Eventually, I’ll see how proposals are put together and other administrative things related to the home staging business. Hopefully, I’ll get to shadow a client consultation and initial home walkthrough. I’ll even get some insights into the marketing side of things.

This internship will not only allow me to build up my resume and portfolio, but it’ll also expose me to the reality of home staging and help me determine if this is a path I’m interested in pursuing.

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