A Day in the Life of a Stager

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.

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!

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!

Want to see more stories like this? 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!

How to Choose the Right Home Staging Course for YOU

How to Choose the Right Home Staging Course for YOU

Since home staging as a career has gained additional exposure over the last several years, there are now more options than ever for home staging training. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose which one is the “best” one to take. The answer to this question will depend greatly on what your goals and expectations are. There are several factors to consider in selecting the course that is right for you:

       How long do you hope to work in this new career for?
o   Regardless of what your answer is to this question, what sort of skills will your training program provide you with?
§  Will they be there for you through the various stages of your business? What sort of support will they provide?
§  If you plan to be in and out of the business in a short time-frame, will they help you with the exit-strategy?
§  If you plan to make this your career for the next couple of decades, will they keep you up-to-date and current as trends and techniques change and evolve?
 
       Are you interested in expanding your services beyond home staging (i.e. home organizing, colour consultations, redesign services, and more)?
o   If yes, you’ll want to review what additional training they will provide you to ensure that you are properly equipped to provide these to your clients. Many courses offer advanced options in the areas of design, through continuing education, and others incorporate it into the home stager training course.
 
       Do you have any experience running a business?
o   If not, what sort of training will they provide you for managing the business, including registration, day-to-day operations, outlining your services and pricing, marketing, expansion, and more?
 
       What vendors are offered?
o   Are they teamed up with resources that will help you to build and grow your business? Any reputable home staging program will have affiliates that they work with to provide you with valuable information, supplies, and discounts.
 
       How much time will the course take?
o   The answer you’re looking for for this question might not be what you think! The longer that the course takes to complete, the more comprehensive it likely is. Whether it’s an in-class or online training program, you’ll want to identify the time commitment before registering, to ensure that you are ready to make the commitment that it needs.
 
       What does the course content cover?
o   What value will you get for your investment into your training? Review the type of information that you will learn, from home staging techniques, to design theory, to creating your systems and processes, and running the day-to-day business.
o   Will they offer you templates and cheat sheets for starting your business, or will you be creating these yourself from scratch?
 
       What direction do you wish to take the business?
o   Do you plan to own your own home staging inventory, or rent it? Do they teach you the differences, and help you to decide which is best for you?
o   Is there a particular niche that you hope to specialize in? If so, what training do they provide in that area?
o   Do you hope to add staffing to your business, or keep it a solo operation? How will they help with whichever direction you choose?
 
       What additional support do they offer following completion?
o This may include, but is not limited to: coaching, mastermind groups, continuing education training courses, and networking.
 
       What certification do you receive?
o   While this should not be a deciding factor, you will want to consider what your “title” will be once you have completed the course.
 
       How do their members interact?
o   Do members offer members support?
o  Do you have an opportunity to connect with and collaborate with others within your designation?
 
       What will it cost you to keep your certification and training up to date?
o   Some courses will charge you a membership fee in order to keep your designation title, whereas others will charge you a fee to maintain your access to your training material. Be sure to clearly understand these fees upfront before investing, and ensure that you are prepared to pay them over the coming years.
 
       Who will be your training instructor, and what is their experience with home staging?
o   Are they currently operating a home staging business, or have they operated one in the past?
o   If they are not currently operating a home staging business, when was the last time that they worked hands-on with clients?

You’ll notice that price was not mentioned as a factor here, but in truth it should be mentioned. The reason that it was not outlined as a deciding factor is that most reputable training programs will be comparable in price, and therefore this shouldn’t be a deciding factor. If a program is listed significantly lower than the others that you have researched, the chances are that the training provided will be sub-par (you’ve heard the saying that “you get what you pay for”, right?).

At the end of the day, choose the one that best fits your needs and your expectations. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and contact them directly to ask your questions. Heading down any new career path is a big decision, and one that you want to make carefully and purposefully.
Happy staging!
Want to learn more about what it means to be a home stager, what you need to know to get started, what startup costs you should expect, and how the certification process works? Check out our upcoming Behind-the-Scenes Home Staging Career Training – register here.
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!
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!
How To Hang Artwork Like the Pros!

How To Hang Artwork Like the Pros!

As a home stager and designer, I often get questions from clients, friends, and family about how to ensure that artwork is hung properly:

  • How high should they be hung?
  • Should we stagger groups of artwork, or align?
  • Should the art go behind the bed, or behind the lamps, or both?
  • Is this piece big enough/does it work well in this space?
  • What type of screws, nails, and tools do we need?

 

Hiring a professional designer to take on the task of hanging the artwork answers all of these questions, and more. We have the tools, the training, and all of the equipment (including a ladder that works great on stairs)!

 

That said, if you are interested in tackling this task on your own, these tips will help you to (almost) hang artwork as well as the pros do.

 

Nails, hooks and more

 

Picture hanging hooks come in a variety of sizes, based on weight handling capabilities, so be sure to select the one that best suits your needs. Standard single nail hooks will hold up to 30 lbs. There are 2 and 3 nail hooks that will hold more weight, so be sure to review what your needs are before purchasing.

 

An alternative to the standard picture hooks is the fairly new Monkey Hook®. These do not require a hammer, and are simply thread through the drywall, holding up to 50lbs on their standard hooks! We recommend using ONLY on drywall.

 

Once you have found the perfect wall art for your space, and you’re ready to hang, you need to purchase my ultimate favourite picture-hanging tool – I can’t leave home without this, and clients are mesmerized when I use it. I know, it’s starting to sound a bit like an infomercial, but trust me when I tell you that this little tool will change your life, regardless of the type of artwork that you are hanging.

 

Ready?

 

It’s called the Hang & Level™, and I’m pretty sure it’s magic. I have included a link to buying this online, just in case you want to see what the fuss is about. If you choose to purchase one, there are some handy instructions on the back of the packaging, but I’ll sum it up for you in 5 quick and easy steps:

 

1. Hang your artwork from the hook of the Hang & Level™ tool.
2. Position on the wall where you wish to hang the artwork.
3. Once in position, remove the artwork from the hook, and press the “button” on this hook into the wall (you’ll notice a small indentation mark on the wall).
4. Place your nail, or the bottom of your picture hanging hook if using a hook, on this marked spot, and hammer in your nail/hook.
5. Hang your artwork on your nail or hook, and use the Hang & Level™ built-in level to ensure it’s straight.

 

That’s it! Seriously! No need to measure how far down your wire or sawtooth sits on the back of your frame. It’s that easy!
Now, unfortunately, this handy tool won’t work for all pieces, but it does work well for most, and will significantly reduce the amount of time needed for your art hanging project.

 

Moving on, here are a few basic guidelines for positioning your artwork:

 

Gallery Walls:
  • These do not need to create a nice, neat square or rectangle – consider an offset shape that creates a visual balance.

 

Hanging pieces side by side or stacked
  • Be sure to leave 1” – 3” between pieces, depending on the size of the piece (larger items can have more space between them).
How high should you hang it?
Standard:
  • Most pieces should be hung at a standard eye level (60 in from ground to centre of artwork).
Above a sofa or bed:
  • Minimum 6” above the back of the sofa or headboard, and no more than 10”.
Above a console table or sideboard:
  • Generally 4” – 6” – there may be exceptions, especially if there are other artwork pieces in the room, in which case you’ll want to align the centers of the pieces of artwork with each other.
Above a mantel:
  • For most mantels, we recommend 3” – 6” above.
Additional tips:
  • For hanging artwork on plaster walls, place a piece of painters or masking tape where the nail will go BEFORE hammering – this will keep the wall from splitting.
  • Carry a magnet in your tool pouch or pocket – this will give you quick and easy access to nails, without the risk of choking on them!
  • Remember scale when selecting which pieces will be hung where – ensure that large walls have a large piece or grouping of small pieces, and smaller walls are host to smaller display pieces.
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.