9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Professional Home Stager

Free women shaking hands

Unless you’ve already been referred to a professional home stager by a trusted friend or real estate agent, you might have to find one yourself.  And while it can be somewhat confusing and perhaps even a bit intimidating, it’s easy to find a good stager if you just know the right questions to ask!

1) Do you have a portfolio of your own work?

A picture speaks a thousand words, and that is certainly true when it comes to hiring a staging pro!  An experienced stager should be able to provide before and afters of homes they’ve staged and should be able to explain what they did and why.  PS – Some training companies provide before and after photos for their students, so make sure to verify the photos portray their own work.

2) Do you have current references?

Likewise, you always want current refs.  And actually CALL THEM!  Just like you would check the references of any contractor.   Since Home Staging is not a state or federally regulated industry, anyone can call themselves a stager!  Make sure you hire someone who legitimately knows what they’re doing and has industry experience, or if they are new to staging, at least you can find out how they did.  Was their reference happy with their work and would they hire them again, are good things to know!

3) What is your fee structure?

Every stager is different and their fee structures can very from hourly, to by-the-room, to by-the-job.  Make sure you know ahead of time how they plan to charge you.

4) Are there any additional fees involved?

No one wants to find out what they were quoted and what they are being billed for are two different things, after the fact!  Find out what is included in advance, and specifically ask if there are any additional charges not included such as furniture and prop rental, travel fees, etc.  Then make sure to get everything in writing before you hire!

5) What do I need to do before you arrive?

Preparing yourself and your home for a professional stager to come in can vary from ‘nothing’ to ‘box up everything smaller than a football.’  The more you can get done yourself will typically save you $$$…especially if the stager bills by the hour.  So make sure to ask in advance.

6) Should I be here for the staging session?

Some stagers want the home owner on site, some prefer they not be there at all.  However, since it is YOUR HOME, you can be there if you want to be there.  But if you absolutely can’t be there (or simply prefer not to hang around), make sure to verify that is ok with your staging pro!  You might be needed for further instruction.

7) Can you make recommendations beyond your scope of expertise?

Just like fee structures vary among stagers, so do services.  Some specialize in consultations only, some only stage vacant listings, etc.  Ask up front if the stager you are contemplating hiring can suggest paint colors, interior updates, curb appeal enhancements, etc., even if providing those services is not something they can do themselves.

8) How long will it take, from start to finish?

This can be tricky sometimes depending what all needs to be done, but most experienced stagers can give you a ballpark figure of how long it will take them from start to finish.  Keep in mind that if your house is larger or you have a lot of collections and the stager will need to box up some of your things, this will add to the time on site.

9) Are you insured?

If you are going to be hiring someone to come in and move your precious belongings around, make sure they carry some kind of insurance.  You don’t want the stager to accidentally drop your prized Ming vase, only to find out they can’t cover the expense to replace it.  Ask for their insurance policy number and call to verify it’s current and up-to-date.  Better to be safe than sorry.


Posted in Home Staging Tips | Leave a comment

Getting Ready to Sell? How to Make Your House Feel 20 Years Younger!

BANGKOK, THAILAND - AUGUST 12 2016: Beautiful luxury living room

When it comes to selling, older and more dated homes tend to linger on the market longer because buyers have a hard time seeing the potential.  You have two options…either price accordingly, or give your house a face-lift to compete!  A few easy updates can have a major impact and will literally take years off the appearance of your space while appealing to more potential buyers!

1)  Box up the Collections and Clutter – Nothing screams ‘granny’ like a lot of knick-knacks scattered throughout the house!  Likewise, accumulated piles of ‘stuff’ are distracting and make the walls seem to close in.  Box them up and store them away for your next place.  Or better yet, get rid of as much as possible now so you don’t have to deal with it when you move.

2)  Remove the Wallpaper and Borders –  Wallpaper and wallpaper borders are frequently very design specific.  And while wallpaper is making a comeback in small doses, it’s typically frowned upon by potential buyers.  Removing it will create a more modern look.  Especially if the wallpaper or border is more than just a few years old.

3)  Choose Modern, Neutral Paint Colors – And to really make it feel fresh and much larger, be consistent and use the same paint color throughout.  This will make your entire house feel seamless!

4)  Replace Carpeting with Wood or even Faux-Wood Floors – Wood floors are very popular right now and more appealing than carpeting for most.  At the very least, replacing dated, worn carpeting with wood on the main floor alone can make a lasting impression.

5)  Scrape Off the Popcorn Ceilings – Say goodbye to the 1980’s by giving your ceilings a clean, modern look.  It’s work, yes…but totally worth it!  Fill a spray bottle with water, mist the ceiling in sections, allow 15 minutes soaking time, then use a putty knife to scrape it all off.  Or, you can always hire a pro to do the work.  Totally worth the money!

6)  Get Rid of the Heavy Drapes – Not only do heavy drapes tend to drag down a room, but they also block a lot of light!  Replacing drapes with sheers will make your space feel brighter and a whole lot larger.

7)  Update the Lighting Fixtures – This is an easy one to implement as affordable lighting fixtures are plentiful and can make a tremendous impact on the overall feel of the house!  Head to a big-box store, and you will find many styles and finishes that are budget friendly.

8)  Enamel Dated Cabinetry and Trim – If your cabinets and trim are out-of-date, a fresh coat of paint or two can make them come to life and will give a more contemporary twist to what might be considered a total remodeling job by potential buyers.

9)  Hide Dated Upholstery with Slip-Covers – While staging is not about hiding imperfections, since furnishings are not normally sold with the house, there is absolutely nothing wrong with masking old upholstery under a new slip-cover!  Go for something with an elastic band and you will find a much better fit than slip-covers of the past.

10) Invest in New Bedding – A bright new bedspread or comforter can literally give your bedroom an immediate face lift!  And with the ‘bed-in-a-bag’ options they have right now, you are sure to find something affordable to help you create a whole new look.

Posted in Home Staging Tips | Leave a comment

Home Staging Workshop – Virginia – The Results!

So here’s what happened during our Virginia Home Staging Workshop!

The Challenge…

Fairfax The Challenge

The Results…

Fairfax The Results

And More Results…

Fairfax kitchen After

Fairfax Hall After

Fairfax Dining Room After

The Crew…

Fairfax The Crew

The Mascot…

Fairfax Snoopy

The End.


Posted in Home Staging Tips | Leave a comment

“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Have you ever been asked to stage a house you just can’t help?

free unsure

Hi, Lori – I’ve been staging homes for several years and was recently asked by a Realtor to come in and give his client an estimate.  When I got there, I was shocked and had no idea what to do or where to begin.  It was a borderline hoarding situation!    I told them I couldn’t help.  Both the Realtor and homeowner seemed really unhappy with me.  It made me feel bad, but I didn’t want to charge them when I knew it was not at all something I wanted to deal with.  The entire appointment was uncomfortable and awkward.  Has this ever happened to you?  Any suggestions on how I should handle this situation if it ever presents itself again?  

Stager in Buffalo

Dear Buffalo Stager – I have definitely run into this a few times myself.  And I do give you credit for being honest with them.  There’s no point in wasting their time and money if the job is beyond your scope of services and/or skills.  Both the Realtor and homeowner were well aware of the situation.  In fact, I’m sure that’s why the agent called you in!  As long as you didn’t hurl insults at them on the way out the door, there is nothing to feel bad about, so please don’t beat yourself up.

What I typically do in this case is tell the homeowner I would be happy to come back and stage their property once it’s been cleared out.  I then explain that it would really be in their best interest, both time-wise and financially, to hire an organizing pro to tackle the excess before staging it.  I do have a few organizers I’ve worked with in the past and am happy to recommend them, then I tell the agent and/or homeowner to give me a call back when they are truly ready for staging.

No harm, no foul, and you actually did help by offering the best solution you could under the circumstances.  I would start aligning myself with a professional organizer or two in your area who specialize in hoarding, then pass their name and contact info along if you ever run into this situation again.  Sometimes, part of being a professional home stager is simply having the ability to point someone in the right direction.

Hope this helps and wishing you continued success!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.




Posted in Home Staging Tips | Leave a comment

Looking to Update Your Basement? Try this Awesome Flooring Option!

calibamboo floors basement

When it comes time to sell…or any other time, for that matter…creating livable space in what might normally be considered an unlivable basement is a HUGE selling point, no matter where you live.  But flooring is often an issue.

Because many basement floors are poured concrete, and just due to the nature of basements in general, moisture seeping through is frequently a concern when it comes to flooring.  While most professionals recommend tile or carpeting, there’s a fairly new product around that hasn’t quite caught on yet like I believe it should.

Cali Bamboo offers what I think is one of the best alternatives on the market!  A water-proof, click-together vinyl plank-flooring system that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the pocket book.  I’ve actually ordered several samples and have had them laid down on my floor over the past few months to test them out.  Not only are they durable, but they are the closest thing to looking like the real-deal in a vinyl floor option that I’ve seen.

calibamboo floors closeup

Unlike the glue-down type vinyl plank-flooring, there is no adhesive to contend with and this product will actually stand up to time without peeling away and looking like a total mess.  The strips lay flat as it uses the same type of click-together system as a floating laminate floor.  Likewise, the very nature of the finish is quite lux for a vinyl flooring product and super easy to clean.  I could actually see it in a bathroom or kitchen, as well.

calibamboo floors kitchen

This would be a beautiful option for the DIYer’s!  As per their website, this flooring is commercial grade, 100% waterproof, and has a 50 year residential warranty.  Comes in a variety of styles and colors, and samples are available.  Pick up a few to test out the lock-together system yourself and see if I’m not right about this amazing floor!

Posted in Home Staging Tips | Leave a comment

“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – How do we sell a house when we live next to messy neighbors?

free abandoned-antique-architecture-442390


Good Morning, Lori!

Here’s an issue my partner and I are having and we don’t know what to do.  We are getting our house ready to sell and have followed every bit of advice we can find.  We think our place looks pristine, inside and out.  The problem is, we live next to neighbors who have other priorities.  Their yard is a mess, there are knee-high weeds or taller everywhere, they have a junk car parked in the alley next to their garage, there is junk metal scattered around, and the entire place looks dilapidated and awful!  How do we appeal to buyers when they know they are going to be living next to that mess?  They are very nice people, they just don’t seem to care about their property.  Should we ask them to clean it up?  If so, how do we ask without offending them?

Good Neighbors in Shreveport


Dear Good Neighbors

That is definitely a sticky situation and unfortunately, no amount of staging can stage away the neighbors!

Yes, I would definitely approach them and yes, they might be offended.  But really, what other choice do you have?

Ideally, it would have be great if you could talk to them while you’re working on an exterior project of your own.  You could simply say something like, “Hey!  I’m hauling a few things away today!  I can grab that pile for you if you like!”  Or something to that effect.

But I have a feeling a more direct approach is going to be necessary.  Tell them you are selling, let them know you mean no offense, and offer to do the work.  Approach it gently and maybe start with something small.  Like the weeds.   (Hey, for all you know, they will welcome your assistance!)  You can get more involved and tackle more projects as you go.

If that get’s you nowhere, you could also try calling the city, though I would only use that approach as a last resort.  But many areas have ordinances that your neighbors are likely violating.  While I certainly wouldn’t want them to get into trouble, it is not fair that the condition of their home and yard might impact the sale of yours.  So that would be my final solution if directly approaching them doesn’t work.  If you explain the situation to your city, they will likely be more diplomatic in their approach.

And finally, while it certainly won’t resolve the problems next door, you might consider a privacy fence or privacy hedge to lessen the impact and use sheers on the windows facing the neighbors.  It won’t hide the mess, but it might downplay it enough to make it less of an issue.

I feel for you!  Hope you can get this resolved and wishing you all the best for a successful sale!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.

Posted in Home Staging Tips | Leave a comment