Tips from a stager

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March 26, 2012
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A Q&A with Laurie Fleming of FIX Staging & Redesign

Laurie Fleming helps people across the Twin Cities get their homes market ready. She offers design tips and provides guidance on how they can accentuate the best features of their homes. The foundation of her work is the staging consultation. “I meet with homeowners for approximately two hours and tour every inch of their home,” she said. “A seller needs to know two things: at your price range and in your location, what are buyers expecting? And what is your competition offering? In a staging consultation, we bring that knowledge and it guides our recommendations and customizes our design approach with each home.” Here are highlights from a recent interview with Fleming.

What are the advantages of hiring someone to stage your home?
With our “tell-it-like-it-is” approach, we will candidly review a home’s advantages and disadvantages and determine the best plan for preparing a home for the market. Friends won’t tell you that your house smells bad. Buyers can’t always articulate that the dreary wall color, dusty curtains and dated light fixtures were the reasons that your home just wasn’t what they were looking for. Staging a home with a few highly visible improvements can really change the emotional response of the buyer.

What are some of the latest trends in staging for home owners to be aware of?
Wall colors are definitely trending lighter and the pops of color in a home are coming from pillows and accessories. We are replacing more curtains than ever before, with fresh new styles in ready-made, store-bought panels. The gold we are seeing in the fashion industry — in handbags and jewelry — has NOT made a significant comeback in interior design so keep replacing your brass hardware, faucets and cabinetry hardware with chrome, nickel and oil-rubbed bronze.  

What are some common suggestions you give to people during the staging process?
Every seller needs to start packing before the first buyer walks in the door. De-clutter closets and kitchen and bath cabinets. Find hiding places for all of the small things on your counters.  Edit all surfaces, clearing nightstands, dressers, side tables, counters, etc. And clean every inch — light fixtures, windows, carpets, appliances, cabinet interiors. And the best way to make a home look clean is to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. The most important rooms in any house are the kitchen, main living space and the master suite. I would also add the first impression room(s) as being very important. So make the first impression incredible (curb appeal and inside the front door), consider investing in the kitchen, refresh the main living space with new accessories, and create a spa-like appeal in the master bedroom.

What are some of the more affordable projects people can do to make your home more sellable?
I have three tips for affordable staging:

1) Paint! Most of my favorite colors can be found in Benjamin Moore’s Historical Color section of their paint deck. Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage is still a winner, as well.

2) Mirrors. Buy a few large mirrors. They are great in almost any room of the house. They appeal to all styles and they bring more light into a space. Check out Home Goods, Lowe’s and Pottery Barn. The Ikea Mongstad mirror is a great value for more contemporary styles.  

3) Accessorize! Accessories are the finishing touches that can make old furniture look new.  Invest in a few new pillows, curtains and rugs to make your entire home feel updated. I also recommend neutral, spa-like bedding with euro shams, standard shams and accent pillows.

How long does the staging process typically take?

It depends on the scope of the projects. We can have a home ready in two days, two weeks or two to four months. Sellers call me in the fall to prepare for the spring market. And real estate agents call me on a Monday to have their property ready by Friday!

For more information about FIX Staging & Redesign, visit