Screen shot 2014-11-15 at 2.52.17 PM

I was talking to a budding home stager the other day about what it takes to be a home stager. I was trying to explain that being good at styling was a good start but not all that was required to be successful.

This got me thinking about the characteristics of a successful home stager.  Here’s my list:

1. Creativity

Bit of an all encompassing one, so I’ll see if I can break it down…

Walking into a house that is laid out all wrong, is poorly maintained and full of clutter needs VISION. To mentally empty a space then fill it up again but in a way that works. To quickly sort through everything you ‘could do’ to find the best solution to sell.  Holding constantly changing IDEAS  - could these bedsides work better in another room? what artwork would work best here?

Using INTUITION or a SENSITIVITY to a space. Being able to listen to what a house is saying. House whispering.

LATERAL THINKING – There will be times at the furniture warehouse or during an install that you’ll need to think laterally – a sofa doesn’t fit up the stairs so a new arrangement is needed,   2 matching bedsides aren’t available so could one work with a floor lamp the other side?

FLEXIBILITY. I’ve stopped going into the furniture warehouse with a picture in my head as the furniture is often not available to fit the picture. Better to be more flexible and work to a set of words e.g. “modern/comfortable/funky”

Finally RESOURCEFULNESS. With clients we are often working with what we have, using what a client has but in new ways, borrowing, hiring, moving, finding the answer.

2. People Skills

I think this one is huge. You can have all the creativity in the world but if you don’t get on with people it’s going to be tough for everyone. Consultations move from “hello” to “can I look inside your bathroom cabinet” within about 10 minutes – better make sure you can build RAPPORT quickly. People move for very different reasons, not all of them happy. To be able to have EMPATHY and to ‘get’ your clients is really important. They need to feel they can trust you and that you are on their side.  COMMUNICATION is also important. I don’t just tell my clients what to do I try to tell them why they need to do it. Pre and Post consult communication is key. For most of my clients this is the first time they’ve used a home stager so the process needs to be communicated. Working with an agent? Keep them in the loop – they’ll need to book photographers and marketing campaigns.  RELATIONSHIP BUILDING skills help you grow your business. Every contact with a painter, client, handyman or agent is building relationships.

3. Business Savy

Interest in RUNNING A BUSINESS and making a profit. There are plenty of stagers out there who don’t know how to market themselves or their business, are buying unnecessary inventory or competing on price or even not charging for consultations.  Although staging is a fabulous job it is still a job and you need to be making money from it. It’s the difference between a successful business and a successful hobby. Other characteristics that come under this header are ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS – setting up and following process and time management – basically doing what you said you’d do when you said you’d do it!

4. Internally directed

I think that an ABILITY TO WORK ON YOUR OWN is a key characteristic of a home stager. Although you meet a lot of people through this job you are working alone most of the time. I have a feeling that a lot of stagers are introverts – they like to be on their own, they are SELF MOTIVATED and have an INNER CONFIDENCE and don’t need constant re-assurance, pep talks and feed back from others. It’s lovely when a client tells you that you’ve done a good job. It’s lovely (but all too rare!) when an agent tells you you’ve done a good job. But YOU need to know inside that you’ve done a good job so an ability to PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK is a good characteristic to have.

5. Stamina

Being a home stager involves PHYSICAL STAMINA. A typical day selecting at the warehouse is 4-6 hours of walking up and down, climbing under and over furniture and lifting bags of bedlinen around. At an install this 4-6 hours is running up and downstairs and from one room to the next plus making beds.  Although you’re not lifting heavy furniture you’ll certainly know that you’ve been to work!

EMOTIONAL STAMINA is also key. When you’re running your own business there will be set backs – lots of them. From too little work, low stock at the warehouse,  agents hating your work to losing business, losing websites to dining tables that don’t fit up the stairs to emotional clients. You need RESILIENCE. I truly believe that the most successful stagers are the ones that just keep going and don’t let the inevitable set backs put them off.

 

I’m very interested in people’s differences. What makes one person a natural at one thing but struggle at something else. As I’ve been through previous jobs and all those self development courses, I’ve learnt about my strengths and liabilities too. I’ve learnt that I’m a good conceptual thinker yet I’m also good at structure and process. I’ve learnt that I’m an introvert and that I love people (the two are NOT mutually exclusive). I’d still like to get better at the business savy part and also the emotional resilience – difficult when I pour my heart and soul into every job.

Are you a home stager? I’d love to know what characteristics you think are important and what unique strength you bring to your work.

 

I’m Imogen Brown a Home Staging based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are thinking of selling your house and need some advice or help them give me a call or contact me through my website

 

Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 8.00.58 PM

Hiring from a furniture warehouse is the first port of call for most property stylists looking to fully or partially stage a client’s property.

Spring market is always a busy time for stylists and furniture warehouses. However, Spring 2014 in Brisbane has seen unprecedented demand for hire furniture. The result? All hire companies in Brisbane are running at very low stock levels.

So how bad are stock levels? Beds are a big problem. It doesn’t matter how pretty the bedlinen- no bed means no bedroom. Rugs, sofas, dining tables, consoles, lamps, cushions and pillow inserts are all at record low levels. The warehouse I use recommends that installs are pushed back to the beginning of December. It’s very difficult to pull a whole house together but we continue to try. It’s amazing what you can do when you have very little to select from.

Let’s look at the causes of the low stock:

1. Number of houses on the market. You only have to feel the weight of the real estate section or to scroll through internet listings to realise there are a lot of houses for sale in Brisbane

2. Oversupply of houses and less buyer demand equals longer time on the market. Furniture hire contracts are being extended so the furniture is slower coming back to the warehouse.

3. Rise in popularity of home staging. More agents and homeowners are requesting staging and more stagers are starting a home staging/property styling business.

Help! I  need to list my house quickly – what can I do?

If your property is occupied one option is to request a consultation only. It’s amazing what can be achieved by storing unwanted pieces then using what’s left but in different ways.  If you need a few new pieces (lamps,bedlinen, art) these can be bought not hired.

If your property is empty try and work with your home stager on a solution. On hearing of the low stock levels last week one of my clients offered to bring beds from another property along with selected art and rugs. This all eases the pressure and will get the house listed more quickly

Help! I’m a property stylist but I’m turning business away. What can I do?

Focus on other ways to make money. I’m focussing on ‘consultation only’ business and also accepted a piece of re-design business that I’d usually turn down. For those stylists who like Christmas Decorating (I don’t!) or event styling or visual merchandising or home organisation you could offer these services too.  In an ideal world we’d all like a plentiful supply of stock in the warehouses but ‘it is what it is’ so stop complaining (yes, even I’ve stopped) and go and find another revenue stream.

Take stock. Take this time to think about your business. What business do you want to attract? What plan do you have in place if this lack of stock happens again? Form alliances, find new suppliers, re-design your website.

A final thought…See those houses in the glossy real estate magazines? See the photos stylists are sharing on social media? These are the result of sleepless nights, worry, negotiations, tears and resourcefulness pushed to the limit (in other words the bit that we try not to expose to the world). Next time you think “well, I wouldn’t have chosen that table” ponder for a minute the stylist didn’t want to choose it either! But we still love what we do, love doing our best for our clients and love getting the call saying “We’ve sold our house” I know I say this time and again but selling houses is what it’s all about.

I’m Imogen Brown a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you want to stage your house I’d love to help. Call 0432994056 or contact me through my website

As I was unpacking boxes, making beds and running upstairs and downstairs at an install the other day I wondered  how much time I actually spend fluffing cushions and placing accessories – the fun bit in other words!

Well, I’ve totted it up and this is my answer. 10% of every install is spent styling with accessories. Everything else? Well let me explain….

 

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 3.52.14 PM

 

10% : Waiting for the truck

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 4.02.04 PM

If the house is vacant I sit on the floor or take ‘before’ photos. If the house is partly furnished, I never quite know how much my clients have put into action before I turn up. Sometimes I have to move a few things round or sweep ‘mess’ into the corner so that the delivery guys can do their job when they arrive.

10% : Unpacking accessories

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 4.11.55 PM

The accessories are delivered to the kitchen in boxes. I unpack everything onto the kitchen counter

5%: Placing artwork, bedlinen and lamps into the right rooms

All the bedlinen, bedlinen inserts, artwork and lamps are delivered to a central spot so I place them in the right rooms and make sure I have enough pillow and doona inserts for the beds.

15% :  Troubleshooting

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 4.43.53 PM

Troubleshooting can be anything from: “Imogen, where does this go?” to dining tables and sofas not fitting up stairs, dirty or damaged stock, not enough inserts for beds, walls being built in a different place than I was told (happened only last week), wobbly lamps, waiting for a swap and lots more. The light above was broken when a sofa was carried up a tight stairwell.  I raced down to the property manager and negotiated a spare that the delivery guy fitted for me.   Problem solved.

20% : Making Beds

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 4.44.05 PM

For some stagers this is their favourite bit. Not for me and especially not in  35 degree heat. It doesn’t matter how good I get at making beds or how many new techniques I learn, it still takes a long time!

10% : Cleaning furniture

I select furniture from a large warehouse. It gets dusty so once all the furniture is in place I go round cleaning everything and removing all my ‘stuck’ stickers. If there are footmarks on the floor this needs a wipe. I’m usually the last point of contact before photos and first open house so I need to leave the house show ready.

20% : Hanging Artwork

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 4.59.09 PM

For larger projects I recommend that the artwork is professionally hung but I still hang lots of artwork too.  Measure twice bang the nail in once to paraphrase a popular saying.

10% : Styling with cushions and accessories

Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 5.03.49 PM

At last!  As much as I’m itching to start styling during the above process it’s a good idea to wait and do it all at the end.  Whilst selecting I have a pretty good idea what will go where so the styling is moving it into position then swapping things around a bit until it looks right.

 

So there you have it – the anatomy of a home staging install. There’s a lot that goes on before the fun bit.  However, the really fun bit is how the house looks at the end of the install and the feeling when the house sells. And selling houses is what it’s all about.

 

I’m Imogen Brown, a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are looking at staging your house to sell then I’d love to help. Contact me through my website or on 0432994056

 

 

 

Blessed (and a bit stressed!) to have been so busy in the last couple of months staging houses. Haven’t even had time to blog which isn’t like me because I love to write my blog.

But here I am on a Sunday evening, the house is clean, no food to cook, admin all done so I thought I’d share a few houses I’ve staged since I last blogged.

First up, a low set brick in Jindalee with river views and gorgeous floors needed a light touch. Forthcoming auction

 

 

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.30.08 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.32.12 PM

A 3 bed apartment in a historic woolstore in Teneriffe. It was a long way from the delivery truck, up the lift and along the corridor (then up the stairs again!) with this one  but we got there in the end. This needed a more modern feel. Forthcoming auction

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.22.17 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.25.07 PM

A stunning renovated house overlooking the Brisbane river at New Farm. Lots of light streaming in. I went with a pretty luxe look. This sold under the hammer at auction (but sadly not to me!)

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.20.58 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.28.19 PM

A huge 5 bed new build in Fig Tree Pocket. This house had great finishes. Less was more to showcase this house’s features. Just listed

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.21.59 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.09.46 PM

I loved staging this Queenslander in Auchenflower. It had been on the market for a long time with no sale. I took a lot out and styled what was left. This bedroom is a good example. Result? Sold!

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.21.16 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.32.36 PM

Got my angles wrong on this before and after but I wanted to show it. I do a lot of houses where I keep some items, store some items and bring in some items. It’s like one big jigsaw. Just listed

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.22.33 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.04.28 PM

I staged this house a couple of days ago. The feature wall had to go! I gave the room a purpose and laid out the furniture in a way that made more sense.

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.21.44 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.34.28 PM

Finally, a beautiful renovation that I measured mid renovate. My client was able to communicate her vision for the 1930′s house which was soft, pretty and glamorous. This one lists next week. Run don’t walk!

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.21.30 PM

Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 6.27.58 PM

I hope you enjoyed the before and afters. I was reminded again whilst posting this that I treat every house differently depending on the style, the most likely buyer and what the house needs. As someone said to me on Instagram the other day:

“I’m really impressed that unlike so many stylists you work with the home and owners style, rather to one generic beige/grey style of your own”

I don’t want my houses to look staged. I want them to look like happy, comfortable spaces that prospective buyers connect with and want to buy. Selling houses is what it’s all about.

 

I’m Imogen Brown, a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are thinking of staging your house to sell I’d love to help. Call me on 0432994056 or contact me through my website 

You may also like:

For the love of a Queenslander

Home Staging: It’s more than buying package B

Home Staging: It’s all in the layers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 4.30.34 PM

View back onto my Queenslander

Just putting it out there; I love to stage a Queenslander. I would be a happy home stager indeed if I could specialise in staging this fabulous type of house.

I grew up in a modern house, as did my husband but we’ve spent our married life in period properties – firstly in London and now in Brisbane, Australia.  When we moved to Brisbane 8 years ago it was my husband’s dream to live in a Queenslander on acreage complete with ride on mower and to drive a Landcruiser. Living the dream!!

A Queenslander is an often sprawling wooden house with a pitched iron roof,  wide covered verandahs and beautiful internal features such as lead light windows and breeze ways. A great commentary on the Queenslander can be found here - you may even decide to build one!

When I stage a house my aim is to highlight its features. This is a joy to do in a Queenslander as there are so many to choose from – timber floors,  high ceilings, lovely verandahs, french doors – the list goes on. A Queenslander can also ‘take’ a variety of staging styles from traditional to colonial/tropical to more modern.

Here are some of my favourite Queenslanders that I’ve had the pleasure of staging.

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 1.42.16 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 1.42.58 PM

Samford House on 88 Acres. Sold in 10 days. Click for blog post

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 1.49.46 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 1.50.36 PM

Chelmer House. Sold before listing. Click for blog post

Screen shot 2014-04-22 at 12.00.03 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 3.28.37 PM

House in Corinda. Sold at first open house. Click for blog post

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 1.58.48 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.01.47 PM

House in Manly. Status unknown. Click here for listing

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.13.40 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.16.39 PM

House on Hamilton Hill. On market for 18 months. Sold within weeks of staging. Click here for listing

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.19.03 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.22.42 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.19.55 PM

House in Woolowin. Auction this weekend! Click for listing

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.25.12 PM

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 2.25.35 PM

House in Bunya. Just listed. Click for listing

I’m Imogen Brown a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are thinking of selling your Queenslander  in Brisbane I would love to help you stage it to sell quickly, for the best price and with the least stress. Call me on 0432994056 or contact me through my website

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 7.39.27 PM

My latest 2 clients have both given me the same piece of feedback – that I spent time thinking about what each house needed and didn’t just offer an ‘off the shelf’ package.

To paraphrase one of those clients: ‘you were here for a couple of hours. You told me what to store, what to leave and what you were going to hire by room. What you did was comprehensive. The other staging company were in the house for 20 minutes and I felt sure they were just selling me Package B.  You were also a lot cheaper because you only hired what you thought I needed.’

That’s the thing with staging to sell. Every property I see is different, is aiming at a different buyer, is in a different location, has a different layout. In terms of furniture required each room requires different furniture and in a different style.  The approach is (and should be) different every time. If the house is occupied not vacant these differences will be even more apparent. Maybe the client has a bed but needs bedlinen. Maybe they have 2 bedside tables but they are better used in the kid rooms, and on it goes.

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 5.31.54 PM

Staging is not just plonking a package into a house. Staging should deliver a bespoke approach not a ‘one size fits all’ package.  This takes time, thought and planning and, I believe, better results.

 

If you are thinking of selling your house and would like some thought through advice then give me a call on 0432994056 or contact me through my website

You may also like:

Good home staging isn’t cheap

Home Staging – It’s all in the layers 

Home Staging, it’s not a half way house

 

Screen shot 2014-06-17 at 6.42.46 PM

One of my future projects is to stage a vacant house. I’m staging the living and outdoor spaces plus the master bedroom but not staging the remaining bedrooms or the office. There are special circumstances surrounding the house but really I hate to only stage part of a house – the first time I’ve ever agreed to do it.

As I write this post I have a quote under consideration that is ‘competing’ with a quote from another stager who recommends not staging the bedrooms, office and rumpus of a lovely modern house in Brisbane. Obviously her quote is cheaper and the client is weighing up his decision.

Primarily the decision to only stage half a house comes down to money. These are the kind of reasons I hear from clients:

” The quote has come back for more than I wanted to pay. I need to shave some rooms to save money”

“I only have X. How many rooms can I afford?

” I just want to stage a couple of rooms to show people what’s possible”

Agents can get caught up in this money issue with their clients and tell me:

“I’ve told the owner that he doesn’t need to do all the rooms – just the ones that will be in the photos”

As a side issue I find that many agents are nervous of telling their clients how much staging will cost – maybe fears that they will lose something from their marketing budget?

Screen shot 2014-04-10 at 6.57.09 PM

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 7.55.24 PM

 A Staged dining/living room and an unstaged bedroom. Confusing isnt’ it?

So, what’s my view on staging only some rooms in a house.

  • “Buyers shop on logic but buy on emotion” (Staging Diva). They buy the lifestyle they will lead if they live in the house. Imagine your buyers walking through the house “oh, this living area is fabulous -more than enough room for our sofa and a place for the kids to do their homework. Look at this beautiful dining room, this table is a fantastic size for family gatherings… oh, what happened here? what’s this room for? Where’s the furniture? Is it a bedroom or office? would our bed fit? did they vendors run out of money? did someone move out? are they desperate to sell? what’s the story?  The focus moves from lifestyle to ‘what’s happened here?’
  • My aim when staging is for prospective buyers to think that the house is owned by people with great taste who have prepared the house well. My aim is never for buyers to think the house has been staged. A house where only some rooms are staged has obviously BEEN staged.
  • 9 out of 10 buyers can’t imagine the purpose or layout of a room unless it’s shown to them. Buyers will be confused by every empty room they see even if the agent is standing next to them saying “this is the bedroom”
  • Half staging a house is a mismatch, a confusing contrast, a feeling that something isn’t ‘quite right’
  • Staging a property is a means to an end – selling a house fast, for the best price and with the least stress. My view is that this will be more successful if the whole house is furnished

If you are planning to stage when you sell and are considering doing half the job, I hope the above has given you another point of view.  I’m not negating that money may be an issue but I urge you to think of return on investment not just initial cost outlay. Your buyers and their offers will thank your for it.

I’m Imogen Brown, a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you want to (fully!) stage your vacant property then I’d love to help. Contact me through my website or on 0432994056

You may also like:

Latest RESA proof that home staging works

Home Staging – it’s all in the layers

Good home staging isn’t cheap (and cheap home staging isn’t good)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,988 other followers