See all our recent Staging projects on Google+

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No Gimmicks – Just Staging - We are not a ME TOO industry

No Gimmicks – Just Staging - We are not a ME TOO industry

I was watching “What Women Want” recently - great movie from Mel Gibson’s heyday – and one of the slogans he and Helen Hunt come up with for Nike was, “No Games. Just Sports.” It got me thinking. With Staging – there are so many “sister” industries sticking a toe into what we do that I am concerned that the public may not be fully aware of what is really needed to sell their house.

Do we really want to be a “ME TOO” industry where
anyone can claim to be a specialist in Home Staging?

What industries am I talking about?
1. Decorating

2. Interior Design

3. Feng Shui

4. Professional Organizing

I have respect for people that are trained in these areas but they are not professional Home Stagers.

To me someone that is a professional has training and knowledge about the industry they serve – Real Estate – and knows where the lines are drawn between these stand-alone industries. This is not to say that someone that has a business in the areas above can’t Stage – I just believe wholeheartedly that they need to get educated about what Staging principles are so that they are providing true Staging – not applying the principles of their specialty industry without understanding what the goals are for Staging a house – because that does not serve the client in the best way and the outcome is not going to be what the client wants or deserves.

And they are NOT the same as Home Staging.

Just because they THINK they know what to do – does not mean they do – and I have seen enough “staged” houses by non-professional "stagers" to know it is becoming a major issue for our industry. If we don’t address it now – our industry will be watered down, we will lose money to these “ME TOO” people, and the purity of Staging will be lost.

Let’s take a look at how they differ from pure Home Staging.

Home Staging:


a) Home staging is the act of preparing a private residence for sale in the real estate marketplace, regardless of location or condition. It is using the seller’s timeframe and budget to prepare their house for sale so it appeals to the most buyers, sells faster and at the best price.

The goal of staging is to make a home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, thereby selling a property more swiftly and for more money. Staging techniques focus on improving a property's appeal by transforming it into a welcoming, attractive product that anyone might want. Staging involves depersonalizing a home to make it a house that any buyer can envision themselves living in, and create a broad buyer appeal. It is also a method for protecting the Seller and their family as their house is being marketed to the mass public. The house can still have warmth and pizzazz with things that add color but the goal is to sell the house.

Now, as you read these definitions below – ask yourself, “Do any of the definitions (found online) say the words, ‘real estate’ or ‘prepare a house for sale’??”

1. Decorating:


a)Make (something) look more attractive by adding ornament to it.

b).Provide (a room or building) with a color scheme, paint, wallpaper, etc.

Decorating is the service of dressing up a home – it is all about personalizing the home for the people that live there. When selecting paint colors or decorative treatments there is no thought to a buyer and what they would like to see in the home because these people are not selling. So, when a Decorator sticks a toe into Staging their focus is naturally going to be on the “stuff” versus the space.

2. Interior Design


a)The art or process of designing the interior decoration of a room or building.

interior design - the trade of planning the layout and furnishings of an architectural interior that may include architectural layout, lighting, painting and furnishing a home or commercial building.

b) the branch of architecture dealing with the selection and organization of furnishings for an architectural interior

Interior Design is also about personalizing the interior of a home or building. Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive.

3. Feng Shui


a) (in Chinese thought) A system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi).

b) The Chinese art or practice of positioning objects, especially graves, buildings, and furniture, based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects.

According to feng shui websites by feng shui practitioners, The aim of feng shui is to create a living and working (and dying — feng shui is for graveyards, too) environment in harmony with nature and the flow of energy.

4. Professional Organizing


a) Professional organizing is an industry that has been developed in order to help individuals and businesses design systems and processes using organizing principles and through transferring skills.

Professional organizers aim to help individuals and businesses take control of their surroundings, their time, their paper, and their systems for life. Professional organizers help redirect paradigms into more useful cross-applications that ensure properly co-sustainable futures for their clients' spaces and processes.

The definitions for ALL the sister industries are found online. Did you read the words, “REAL ESTATE, SELL A HOUSE, PREPARE HOUSE FOR SALE, OR SELLERS” IN ANY OF THE DEFINITIONS?

NO. Hmmmm.

How did this happen?

Well HGTV is in part to blame for the blurring of the lines between Home Staging and the sister industries. When you have shows called, “Design to Sell” and have an interior designer floating around the episodes doling out Staging advice – and in reality is remodeling the house and adding design elements – not Staging – it creates confusion within the industry and with the public.

Then I believe Professional Home Stagers that are successful are responsible too. Let me explain. Even though the industry was created in 1972, the late 90’s saw the birth of the launch of professional Stagers setting up businesses to serve Realtors and Sellers for the first time. Back then we were considered “the ugly stepchild” of the design world.

It has taken 12 years of professional Home Staging business owners educating the public and real estate industry about Home Staging to get where we are today. I believe that when the MONEY and SUCCESS part of Staging became known (because Staging can be lucrative) – these other industries realized that what WE do is a necessary part of Selling a house – and it is an industry that does not require a “mad money” mentality where a homeowner will only pay for it IF they have some extra money laying around, like the sister industries.

And they wanted a piece.

Because Staging increases the sellability of a house – Sellers realize it is mandatory and more than that, Realtors realize that it is now a mandatory part of Selling any house. Not only that, but Realtors that incorporate Staging as part of their business practices and listing services are more successful, and will be repeat clients for a professional Stager – versus the other industries that have to constantly be creating new clientele.

How do we “fix” this?

We all need to be sharing what Staging IS and what it is NOT – it is NOT decorating, interior design, feng shui or professional organizing. Staging is a service used in the Real Estate Industry – to prepare a house for sale. Period.

Can someone that is skilled in a sister industry also Stage – yes – BUT they need to understand that they are not using the same principles and the goals are not the same as their primary service area. I also believe they NEED TO GET TRAINING OR EDUCATION in Home Staging - whatever form that takes. The reverse is true too – I know many Home Stagers that are also talented in the sister industries. Usually they market that sister service as an off-shoot of what they do, and they have a background and education in that field.

Now before you get all fired up – if you are in one of the sister industries – I acknowledge that there are talented people in those industries that DO a great job with Staging – BUT those people understand the differences in the industries – and have been able to apply their talent and creativity to Staging – not try to make Staging fit design, decorating, feng shui or organizing.

Do you feel the way I do that it is disrespectful to those of us that invested a lot of time, dollars, and passion into our STAGING businesses to be LUMPED together with those that have done NONE of that?

The fact is any of us COULD market ourselves as a Feng Shui person, a Professional Organizer, or Decorator – because NONE of those industries are regulated. Anyone can set up shop in those fields.

I don’t do that – because I RESPECT those industries and the people serving them – and I UNDERSTAND that they are different than what I do – in process and goals. My passion is for Staging – I love what I do and the process behind it.

On behalf of all the talented Home Stagers serving the real estate industry, I respectfully ask for the SAME CONSIDERATION.

When I do a Staging to Live that is a home makeover I draw the line at where I know I am not qualified to help them – and bring in a re-designer, decorator, organizer, or design person to take over. I have NEVER been brought in to a project any of these sister industries are working on – with a homeowner that is selling – they just take the business. To me, that is wrong and does not show respect for professional Home Stagers everywhere.

My focus though will be on REALTORS and SELLERS – to make sure they know that those other industries are NOT Staging and should not be confused with what Home Staging is.  Hire the right person - the best person for the project - that knows what to do - and they will get the results they want.

Who’s with me?