Why Interior Designers Make Great Home Stagers

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.



 Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!
Talent vs Training – Which Matters More?

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!
Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!
10 Things Stagers DO NOT Learn From TV

10 Things Stagers DO NOT Learn From TV

We get it, you’ve watched all of the home renovation and home sale shows, read all of the online articles and tips regarding setting up your home to sell, and you have found every home selling checklist available online, so why would you need to take a home staging course? I have often heard future home stagers say that they shop for home decor all the time, they have decorated and redecorated their home a gazillion times, and my favourite, “I don’t need to take a course, I watch HGTV all the time, and I know that home staging is all about removing clutter and personal items.”

These reality shows have really put the home staging industry in the spotlight over the last few years, and have helped homeowners to better understand the importance of preparing their home prior to listing it for sale. But, while these shows provide the basics of what this preparation involves, they don’t provide the full picture of what it really takes to properly style and STAGE your home in order to evoke the emotional connection that your prospective buyers are looking for.

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Every home is one of a kind, and it should be treated as such! You as a home stager are providing a value to your clients, so you need to show them that you are a trained expert, qualified to assist them with their home. Each home deserves the right attention with specific recommendations, geared towards their home, from an expert that specializes in doing just that, in order to highlight the home’s greatest features.

So what are these articles and lists NOT telling you? The following are just a few of the things that a trained home stager will learn, through our professional home stager training program, and many years of experience:

1.      Where to place YOUR furniture so that the room remains open and inviting, while maintaining function and flow

This does not mean simply moving all of furniture to the edges of the room. This means understanding proper traffic flow, as well as the latest furniture styling trends. We help you to evaluate what should stay, what should be removed, and where to properly position furniture to optimize flow, eliminate awkward spaces, and highlight the best features of the room.

2.      Shelf Styling

By far one of the trickiest decorating techniques to master, this is the art of filling the shelves to catch your eye, without diverting attention from the room. This means selecting the right size and style of pieces to compliment the space and the shelving unit, and understanding the balance between too little and too much.

3.     Paint Colour selection

Just because a colour is popular or trendy, does not mean that it’s the best one to use when selling a home. Colours should be selected based on lighting, home style, and the colour of the finishes of the home. Sure, we all have our favourites, but each colour is selected to best suit the home.

4.     How to find the best local trades to provide your clients with the best services, at the best value prices

A successful home stager will spend time forging valued relationships with highly skilled trades to ensure that all clients receive quality work, every time. Working with professionals will also allow you to build a reputation within the industry for your designs.

5.     Where to shop for the final touches and accessories that your home needs

Home Stagers spend more time than anyone shopping for home décor items and finding the best deals. This is valuable information for your clients, regardless of whether or not they’re selling their home. Of course, the easiest solution for your clients would be to simply hire you to provide them with the accessories and accent pieces that their home needs. We’ll show you how to build and maintain your inventory so that it continues to bring in profits.

6.     Which updates/upgrades will most benefit YOUR house in YOUR market, neighbourhood, and price range

Home Stagers not only evaluate what upgrades and repairs would add to the value of your home, but we look at what will help to increase it’s overall sell-ability – upgrades are not worth much if they’re not the right ones to entice the specific buyers of the home you’re working in. I once consulted on a home that spent a great deal of money replacing their kitchen, but for their target market, their funds would have been better spent doing other repairs to the home and minor updates to the kitchen. Understanding the value of each of these recommendations for every type of home, and the return on the investment into these, is critical to the success of any home stager.

7.     How to make a bed

Forget what your mother taught you – making your bed before work, and styling a bed to sell a home are completely different! I can’t tell you how often we see this common mistake in listing photos.

8.     How to utilize a piece of furniture for an alternate purpose

This does not mean putting an end table in an office and calling it a desk. It’s about thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding the right piece, often within your home already, to fulfill a purpose for a room and help to clearly define the space. A quality home stager provides solutions to their clients, especially when replacing all furniture with rental items is not an option.

9.     How to enhance curb appeal

Yes, cut the grass, trim the trees, and mulch the gardens, we know that you have that covered. But there is so much more to exterior styling. If buyers are not engaged with the home before they get to the front door, your sellers could potentially lose out on that sale. We are property stylists, and we want to be sure to create an inviting space, inside and out.

10.    How to maintain function and daily life, while living in a staged home

We understand that it’s not easy to maintain a show-ready home! Experienced stagers have seen it all and are prepared to provide clients with easily implementable solutions to help them to get through the day-to-day. Of course the best part is, in a professionally staged home, your clients won’t have to maintain it for long before it’s SOLD!

A Professional Home Stager provides the specific recommendations that will help to bring in the buyers and sell their clients home. Learn everything you need to know to be successful in a home staging career. You won’t just learn WHAT you need to be successful, but you’ll learn how to build on your experience, your knowledge, and provide quality service every time.


Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!

To learn more about our home stager certification training program, click here.

What Most Home Staging Courses Won’t Tell You

What Most Home Staging Courses Won’t Tell You

A glimpse at Shauna Lynn’s upcoming book! The following is an excerpt from the only home staging book of it’s kind – learn the truth about the home staging industry!

Expected release date: Winter 2017
Most home staging courses will sell you on the big picture, selling you on the opportunity to put your creative style to great use by transforming homes and producing magical masterpieces, but the truth is that there is a lot more to it than that. While I list the following as the “cons” of the business, the truth is that they can actually be the best part of the business; they’re simply not the part that gets most new home stagers excited. I can remember the first time I booked multiple consultations on the same day – I had truly arrived! My business was really picking up, and I was getting more and more comfortable with each client meeting. I still wasn’t doing a great deal of larger projects, but I was enjoying watching these houses transformed, and I knew that I was providing a valuable service to these homeowners. I was establishing myself as an expert in my field, and homeowners and agents were taking my recommendations as intransigent. I was enjoying meeting the homeowners, learning their stories, and assisting them with preparing their homes, regardless of the scale that I was doing this on.
The Cons (Things you may not be expecting as a home stager)
Consultations are your bread and butter
We all want the dramatic transformations, but every large staging job starts with a single consultation. Your main bookings when first starting out are generally owner-occupied home staging consultations. This means that the homeowners live in the house, and will continue to live there for the duration of the listing until the house sells, and it is your responsibility to advise them of the areas that they should address in order to increase the value and sell-ability of their home. In these cases, it is generally not practical to remove all of their current furnishings and accent pieces to replace them with the pieces of your choice. Ideally, it is best to work with what they have where you can, and replace only what is necessary. This means that walking into every consultation your end sale may only be the price charged for that consultation (depending on your location, this can range from approximately $150 to $400). In a consultation, you are simply advising the homeowner on what they should do, but you are generally not actually implementing the recommendations on their behalf. You may offer this additional service, but most will choose to simply do this work themselves.
In cases such as these, it’s easy to feel like you’re not a part of the process the way that you had hoped to be. You’ll need to ensure that you provide the homeowners with clear direction for your vision, and some will interpret this information better than others. In most cases, you likely will not have a return visit prior to the formal listing of the house, so your opportunity to review the changes made will be through the online listing photos only. As your business grows, you may find that you are selling more and more additional services that will allow you to return to assist with the final preparations, but if it is not cost-effective for the client, they will choose to simply go it alone.
Not every house is clean
This was actually incredibly shocking to me, though it seems like such an obvious expectation in this business. I had been in some not-so-clean houses growing up, but nothing prepared me for what I would see. I’m not talking about the houses that have too much clutter and piles of stuff everywhere, I’m talking about absolute filth. Socks are a part of my company’s dress code and must be worn for every client meeting. While my stagers may not always understand and appreciate this, they certainly do when they find themselves standing in a pile of dirt, beside the dirty diapers left on the floor, and whatever the dog has left behind. The most amazing part to me is that all-too-often the homeowners in these cases really don’t realize that this is not an acceptable standard of clean to their potential buyers. This requires a firm but sensitive hand, to help them to understand the importance of cleaning, what that standard of clean is, and how to get their home to a higher level of clean. An effective stager is one that is respected by their clients, while they proceed to tell them everything that is wrong with their house. If you can leave the home on your terms without having the clients toss you out, and still manage to get your point across as to what is needed to be done, you can consider your efforts a success. In my bartending days, I was known for getting the highest tip average from the guests that I cut off. It is not a skill that everyone can master, but those that do will find the most success.
…to read more, you will have to wait for the release of the book! Stay tuned for details!
Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!
8 Traits of the Successful Home Stager

8 Traits of the Successful Home Stager


Home staging is an exciting and rewarding career choice, but like most things in life, it isn’t always easy! If you’ve ever wondered whether or not home staging is a career for you, it might be helpful to learn some of the top qualities that you will find in the most successful home stagers in the nation.


1. Problem solver

Home stagers are solution people – we operate in challenges, opportunities, and solutions and resolutions. A successful home stager thinks outside of the box.



Out-of-the-box thinking may include repurposing client furnishings in alternate rooms and for alternate uses, cost-effective updates and upgrades, and merging quality styling with everyday function.


2. Enjoys helping people


This is crucial to your success – everyone has a story, and it may not always be a happy one. A home stager’s role is to help in a variety of capacities.
This job requires a great deal of understanding and compassion. Listen to your clients, and cater your services to their needs.


3. Creativity, with a keen eye for style and colours


Too obvious? We had to include this one for good measure.


4. Natural leader


You will be responsible with planning, managing, and executing projects in fast-paced environment. With this, you are a fast thinker and a quick decision maker that operates well under pressure and highly stressful situations.


5. Patience


Perhaps this should have been #1. Selling a home can be a stressful and highly emotional experience. The “people factor” in home staging cannot be taken lightly, and the ability to exercise patience in every aspect is critical to your success.


6. Confidence


This means more than just self-esteem – this is the confidence of telling a client to paint their classic wood trim, or their kitchen cabinets, or to replace their flooring, etc. Confidence in being an expert. Confidence to stand up for yourself, against real estate agents, competition, and the hard-nosed clients. And above all else, confidence that you will get the job done to the expectations of your clients, no matter what.


7. Flexibility


More often than not, something will go wrong. When preparing a home for sale, there are a number of variables and pieces to the puzzle, and they don’t always fall into place the way that you expected. The ability to adjust quickly, and roll with the punches will lead you to success.


8. Great communicator and salesperson


Salesperson? Really? Absolutely! Whether you’re explaining your recommendations and ideas, or promoting your additional services, understanding and learning the best communication techniques and what motivates buyers will ensure a high compliance rate, and a sellable home.
Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!
Interview with a Home Stager

Interview with a Home Stager

Your front row view of the Home Staging Industry – check out our interview with Shauna Lynn Simon from Beyond The Stage Homes, and see what advice she has for new or soon-to-be home stagers.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as a home stager?

A: It’s hard to pinpoint one as the biggest, there are many challenges to be faced in this industry every day, but I would say that the biggest probably relates to the education of others as to what Home Staging is (and what it isn’t). We spend a great deal of time educating homeowners, real estate agents, and suppliers not only to what our process and services include, but what it is that we are working to achieve. What we do is take style, function, and flow of each room into consideration to create a unique staging plan. We don’t just furnish a room, we bring it to life and create a memorable experience for the buyer.

Q: Is home staging just another form of decorating?

A: You certainly need to have an eye for home styling, however home staging and home decorating are very different. In decorating, you take the homeowners’ tastes and style into consideration, you personalize the space, and you ensure that you make practical decisions for the lifestyle of the people that are living in the home. In home staging, you are not only depersonalizing the space, but you are creating a design that will appeal to how the buyer will utilize each space. There is an element of behavioral profiling that goes into each home staging project. You need to identify whom your potential buyers are, and the lifestyle that they may live, and ensure that you create a plan to provide them with the solutions that they will need for their everyday life. In addition, you are responsible for identifying and addressing all possible distractions that buyers might find in order to assist the homeowners to eliminate these prior to listing. Realistically I would say that decorating probably accounts for only about 15% of what we do day-to-day.

Another important distinction between home staging and decorating is in creating the proper flow of a space – while it is certainly something that is taken into consideration in decorating, this is critically important in home staging as buyers will be walking through the home, and a room that is not properly laid out can disrupt their flow, and in turn, their experience.

Q: What is the #1 misconception that new stagers have in your mind?

A: I think that many new stagers think that if you’re good at, and enjoy decorating, then you can easily become a home stager, and the business will come flooding in as soon as you are open for business. This is a business, and like any business, it requires proper training, management, marketing, and relationships in order to be successful. On top of that, Real Estate can be a ruthless industry, and takes a strong person to be successful. If you enjoy decorating, that’s great, but further to my previous point, there is much more that goes into home staging than decorating, and if that’s your main motivation for getting into this industry, then you might find yourself disappointed. Being a home stager means being an entrepreneur and a small business owner, and everything that comes with that responsibility.

Q: Is home staging a low-cost investment start-up?

A: I go into further detail about this in my book, outlining the specific costs that can be expected when you start a home staging business, but it is certainly NOT a low-cost start-up. Even if you choose not to own a single accessory or piece artwork or furniture (which you will find pretty much impossible), you will still have your course costs, plus business registration and insurance, just like any other business. You’ll then need to spend money on marketing, lawyers, computers and mobile devices, software programs, website development, mileage, wear and tear on your vehicle, office supplies, etc. Before you have ever stepped foot in the door of a client’s home you can safely expect to spend around $8000-$9000, and in your first year, an additional $3000+.

Q: Advice for new stagers and those thinking of becoming a stager

A: These are actually two different answers, so I will try to address each point:

–    For new stagers, look for guidance from other stagers. There are a number of great resources available now and opportunities to connect with stagers across the globe! Keep in mind that different regions will have different markets, so you may need to adjust some ideas to suit your particular geographical area, but these can be very helpful. Keep in mind as well that most of these groups are private, to allow for free discussion of questions and concerns brought forth by fellow stagers, so you will need to have a registered business and website before you can join in. Some courses also offer networking opportunities with their other stagers, and of course, there is also the Real Estate Staging Association, which offers many benefits to stagers, including the opportunity to talk with and work with home stagers in your region. Bottom line is, ask questions wherever you can, it’s amazing what you can learn from others that have lived it.

–    For those thinking of a career, start by reading my book! Then, if you are still interested, the next step would be to research and determine the best course for your needs (I caution that selecting based on price might mean missing out on important tools that you’ll need down the road, so be sure to determine what your needs are). You’ll then want to research your own local market – is it a well-recognized part of the home selling process, or is it still an uphill battle gaining recognition and respect? I recommend doing this BEFORE you register for your course, so that you know what you are getting yourself into and can be prepared to build your business accordingly. Next, create your business plan. Remember, this is a business, and even if your first business plan doesn’t have all of the answers, it is an important stepping stone to get your business running. You can update your business plan as often as you like, so as you learn more about the industry, your clientele, and your market, you can adjust your plan accordingly.

Q: What does a typical day look like?

A: Well, I can’t given away everything from my book, but the short answer to this is that there is no such thing as a “typical” day in the world of home staging. That said, most days tend to include a lot of driving, phone calls, emails, and overall communication with clients and real estate agents, in addition to the numerous home staging consultations, preparing estimates and bids, keeping up with social media, and of course, selecting, packing, delivering, and placing the fun stuff, like artwork, accessories, and other furnishings.

Q: How many hours do you work in a week?

A: Pretty much all of the ones that I am awake for, but that’s not to say that you would have to! There are certainly some long days, but there can also be a great deal of flexibility, as long as you are willing to work around your clients’ schedules. Make no mistake though, this is a career that is intended to be a full-time one, and so I do not recommend it if you are looking for something as a part-time hobby.

Q: What inspired your upcoming book?

A: Questions like these, to be honest. If I had a dime for every time someone told me how “fun” they thought my job was, I would be retired! The truth is, I love what I do, and I really do think it is a lot of fun, but there are numerous not-so-fun aspects of it that many don’t see. Sadly I have seen too many new stagers perish in this industry because either it did not live up to their expectations of what they had hoped that it would be, or simply because they entered the staging world unprepared. Either way, my book will help you to make an informed decision about this industry, and whether or not it is right for you, hopefully before you have invested in the courses and business start-up.

Q: When do you anticipate that your new book will hit the shelves?

A: We are aiming for Fall of 2017, but we’ll be giving lots of notice when we have a specific release date.


Shauna Lynn Simon is a Real Estate Staging Professional. She founded her company, Beyond The Stage Homes, in the Spring of 2008 and has been working closely with homeowners and Real Estate Agents ever since. In September of 2015, she founded SLS Academy, and has continued her passion for guiding aspiring home stagers.


Have questions about becoming a Home Stager, or just starting out and need an extra boost in your business? Join our Facebook group, To Be a Home Stager – our very own Shauna Lynn Simon is live online every Thursday afternoon, answering your most pressing questions!