People sell their homes for many reasons.  They take a new job in another state.  They decide to downsize.  They want to head for warmer climates.  The list goes on and on.  But the saddest reason I’ve encountered…and it happens more often than you think…is when a homeowner has simply fallen out of love with their space.  The house has become too small.  Too dated.  Too this or too that.

When that happens, the house itself really shouldn’t take all the blame.  As with any relationship, the relationship with your space has to be nurtured to maintain that same passion you had for it when you first hooked up.  And if you don’t rekindle that bond from time-to-time…if you don’t show it some love by freshening up the paint, repairing whatever’s broken, and unloading all that extra baggage you’ve likely brought on board…you’re bound to see that relationship dissolve as the passion starts to dwindle.

If I had a dime for every listing I staged that prompted the owner to change their mind and stay put instead of selling…I’d have a heck of a lot of dimes!  I once staged three different listings in a row for the same Realtor, all of whom decided not to sell after falling back in love with their home.  I took it as a compliment, though I did feel pretty bad for the agent who had already put in so much time and effort.  Not really fair to him, though he was happy his clients had found true love once more with the space they already had.

This is just one of the many reasons to have your house professionally staged before you put it on the market.  Before you hire a Realtor and waste their time.  Before you do something drastic.  Because a professional stager can bring out the best in your property, recommend inexpensive updates, and offer up solutions for all that’s ailing, they are always a good investment…even if you’re still undecided.

When a stager can help you fall in love with your house all over again, they are worth their weight in gold.  If not, you’re not out anything because now your house is ready to sell to someone who truly will love it as you once did!

If you and your house are going through a rough patch and you’re considering ending your relationship for good, check out our list of Home Staging Experts® here and find out.  They say that breaking-up is hard to do.  But hiring a qualified Home Staging Expert® is not!



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Home Staging Expert® 2020 Tip: How to Stage Around a Sectional Sofa

Certified Home Staging Expert® Trainer, Kristi Pols, knows a thing or two about staging!  And when it comes to creating buyer-friendly rooms, working around a clunky sectional can often prove a daunting task.  “They’re usually just too big for the space!”, says Kristi.  “The last thing you want to do is block the buyer’s path into the room.  Splitting it up into separate seating makes the space look much more open.”  Breaking up the sectional sofa is a trick we use often, as Kristi demonstrates in this example.  Many sectionals come apart, and even if the connecting sides are not as attractive, there are ways to work around that.

Yes, sectionals can be wonderfully comfy and provide a great big cushy place to plop down and relax, but potential buyers aren’t there to plop down and relax!  They’re typically walking through the entire house in 15-20 minutes tops, and the last thing you want to do is prohibit them from really seeing what a room has to offer.  Worse yet, greeting them with the back of a large sectional breaking up the visual square-footage of the space!  While splitting apart the sectional is not always necessary, more often than not, it is an option that will definitely make an impact on a buyer’s first impression.

Interested in learning more?  Kristi has a number of 1-Day Home Staging Workshops coming to Michigan offering 8 Continuing Education Credits for Realtors!  For upcoming workshop dates with Kristi, CLICK HERE for more info!

1-Day Home Staging Workshop
February 11, 2020

1-Day Home Staging Workshop
February 29, 2020

1-Day Home Staging Workshop
March 25, 2020

1-Day Home Staging Workshop
April 25, 2020

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – How Do You Emotionally Prepare to Sell Your House?


Dear Lori –

My aunt is planning to sell the home she’s lived in going on 50 years. She is unable to care for such a big place on her own since my uncle passed away a few months ago.  I don’t think she likes being there alone and other than my sisters and I, she really has no one else.  The house is solid, just very dated.  The original plan was to give her home a mini-facelift with fresh paint, new appliances, and tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.  It’s already going to be a time-consuming project and we’ll have to do a lot of thinning out before we even start, but I think she’s using this as her chance to finally remodel the house the way she’s always wanted!  We recently found out she’s been getting estimates to put in a whole new kitchen, knock down some walls, and enclose the entryway.  I talked to a Realtor and no way will she re-coup that kind of investment.  It’d be one thing if she were planning to stay, but she’s thinking of moving to a retirement community.  The proceeds from her current home would pay for that, but she will probably come up short if she dumps a lot of money on this remodeling job.  How can we talk our beloved aunt out of making a big mistake?

Concerned Nieces in Ohio

Dear Concerned Nieces,

First of all, I want to offer my sincere condolences on the loss of your uncle and commend you and your sister’s for looking after your aunt.  I’m sure she appreciates you all so very, very much.

I would be concerned too, but probably not for all the same reasons that you’re concerned.  If your uncle just recently passed, this is likely way too soon for your aunt to be making such a big decision.  I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve read many times that it’s not wise for people who just lost a loved one to be making any life-altering decisions when it comes to marriage, money, or moving.

It sounds to me like concentrating on a major renovation right now might just be a distraction your aunt is using as a way to cope.  Shortly after my dad died, my mom and I flew off to France for a three weeks!  It was much easier to throw ourselves into planning a trip and getting away from it all than it was to sit at home alone with our thoughts and think about how much we missed him.

Personally, I think you need to slow this pony down!  Your aunt is still grieving and I assume she’s in a very fragile state and that includes an emotional attachment to her home.  I’ve seen people getting ready to sell who’ve only lived there a year and have already developed that bond!  Imagine how difficult it would be to leave after 50 years on top of losing her husband.  She’s got five decades of memories wrapped up within those walls!

Part of staging a home to sell is not only helping the buyer envision themselves living there, but often includes helping the seller envision themselves NOT living there!  In most cases, I typically try to get the seller excited about life in their new place.  I encourage them to go furniture shopping!  Pick out new paint colors for their new space!  Explore their new neighborhood!  Whatever it takes to get them thinking about moving on.  Once they’ve made that emotional connection with their new house, they’re going to be much less invested in the old one.

In your aunt’s case however, there is obviously more to it than that.  Perhaps she really doesn’t want to leave…for now, anyway.  And since it doesn’t seem like she absolutely needs to sell, I think I would give her some time.  You mentioned her home needed some ‘thinning out’, and maybe this would be a good opportunity for you and your sister’s to help her do just that.  Ask her to hold off on the remodeling until you can tackle cleaning out the excess and go from there.

You also mentioned that you talked to a Realtor.  Did the agent get the chance to talk to your aunt, too?  Sellers with good intentions frequently make changes that are simply more than the house is worth or what potential buyers would pay for.  Bringing a Realtor on board and allowing them to present her with a market comparison directly would give her something to think about before jumping in.

You could also ask your aunt to give you and your sisters a room to transform…preferably the kitchen or one of the bathrooms…so you can show her what a difference a few less intrusive updates would make vs. a major renovation.  If she could actually see the changes for herself before spending a lot of money on a remodeling project, it might influence her to change her mind.

And lastly, if you are worried that the house is simply too much for her to handle, hiring a lawn service and/or cleaning service to come by once a week to help would take the burden off while relieving her of making any life-changing decisions so quickly.

Hope this helps and thank you again for looking out for your aunt.

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact

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Home Staging Expert® 2020 Tip: Visualize Your House with New Flooring

Hardwood floors and their laminate counterparts…and even their porcelain counterparts…are a hot selling point!  Surveys have shown that hardwood flooring is a must-have for many and that replacing carpeting for hardwood adds value to a listing.  Especially if you can run the same flooring throughout!

If you have to replace that dated carpeting anyway or just want to appeal to more potential buyers, consider hardwood.  It can be a little more expensive than carpeting, but will likely be a better option in the long-run.

To see how it will look, Lumber Liquidators, one of my favorite discount flooring stores, offers Picture It!, a floor visualizer that gives you a sneak peak to show you how it will look and could not be easier to use!  Just drop in a picture of your room and select your desired flooring for immediate results.  And it doesn’t hurt that they are currently running a New Year’s Sale on their most popular flooring.  (YAY!)

As for  buyers who think they’ve found that perfect house if only it had hardwood floors, this is an awesome little tool that would work for you, as well!  Just save the listing photo to your computer, drop it into the floor visualizer, and it very well might prompt you into making that offer!

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Home Staging Expert® Certification & Training “What is a Hands-On Home Staging Workshop?”

If you’ve ever looked into home staging training, you’ve probably found a number of delivery methods.  Some offer on-line training, whether DIY or via teleconference, others offer classroom settings, and then there are the Hands-On Home Staging classes offered by Home Staging Expert®!

A Hands-On training class takes place on-site, right at a listing preparing for market or one that has been sitting on the market and is in need of assistance.  While we offer both 1-Day & 2-Day Hands-On training, both assure you will receive hands-on instruction and get to experience and participate in the professional staging of a property for yourself!

Our HSE® Hands-On Workshops are popular for this very reason.  And because of the location and personal interaction, to ensure you receive the best possible instruction, we limit our classes to 12 students or less.  Students receive their training manuals via PDF 10-14 days prior to class time, so they have the opportunity to review what we will be covering, and since they always have access to our training manual, it also makes for a great refresher to review in the future.

During the 1-Day Workshop, we cover business and marketing in the morning right at the property.  (We don’t like to waste a lot of time driving between a meeting location and the listing we stage.)  Around noon, students receive a boxed lunch and get to take a little break.  After lunch, we divide up into smaller groups, assign each group a space, then tackle staging the property for market!

Our instructors walk our students through all of the guidelines, then allows each group to think through the staging process and implement the changes to the space they’ve been assigned so everyone has a chance to experience some hands-on staging.  Our Certified HSE® Trainers float between the groups to assist and provide further instruction, as needed.  At the end of the day, what we end up with is a truly unique and real-life experience to help build each student’s confidence and better understand the process.

You will learn how to present your staging skills to sign more clients!  How to get your clients on board with staging!  How to offer a professional consultation!  How to see a listing from a buyer’s perspective!  How to recognize and highlight the features of the space!  How to accessorize with a purpose!  How to bring in more light!  What to do with the excess!  How to take better property photos!  AND SO MUCH MORE!

In our 2-Day Workshop, our students get to experience the same process as our 1-Day Workshop provides, but will actually meet in a conference room to cover the more intricate details of staging as a business, including how to set themselves up to offer staging for vacant homes, promoting home staging as a value-added service, staging and social media, and marketing your services to stand out from the rest!

Both of these workshops are unique to the staging industry, and we’ve been successfully training Realtors® and professional stagers for two decades now!  Our Hands-On Home Staging Workshops are fun, informative, and an experience you will not forget!

Once you complete the workshop and submit your final project, you will receive your HSE® Certificate, access to our Member’s Area so you will be able to download the HSE® logo for your marketing and website, home assessment sheet and templates, as well as instructions to list on our website as a Certified Home Staging Expert®!  As with any of our courses, once complete, there are never any annual renewal fees to maintain.

Whether you are a Real Estate Professional looking to add staging as a value-added service, or if you plan to open a home staging company, please check out our calendar to sign up for a 1-Day or 2-Day Hands-On Home Staging Workshop in your area.  We guarantee, it will be the most valuable training course you take this year!

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Staging to Sell with 2020 Vision


I remember the conversation well, even though the conversation took place nearly two decades ago, very early on in my home staging career.

It was a tiny little house.  You walked right into the tiny little living room, could see the tiny little kitchen from the front door, then walked down a tiny little hallway to three tiny little bedrooms.  Very typical for this tiny little neighborhood.  But what they had going for them that similar homes in the area didn’t have, was a finished family room on the lower-level…tiny, but finished…and a large, semi-finished, three-season sunroom out back.

When we first met, I was given carte-blanche and clear instructions.  “Do whatever you think best,” is what they told me.  They had already made a contingent offer on their dream home and were totally on-board.  Or so they claimed.  And even though I explained what I envisioned and told them exactly what I planned to do, the reality of what that truly meant turned out to be more than they had anticipated.

After spending less than a day on site, the place looked twice the size and a few decades younger!  Admittedly, I was quite proud of myself.  It was stunning!  All that was left were the finishing touches to take it to that next level.  Their Realtor asked me to return later in the week for advice on fresh paint colors…the pink kitchen walls really had to go…and any additional updates I felt were necessary, and I wholeheartedly agreed!  But the following day, I was confronted with a completely different story.

The same agent who had been so ecstatic by the transformations the afternoon before was now in panic mode!  His clients were very upset, he informed me.  They threatened to cancel their contract.  They threated to report him to the Minnesota Board of Realtors.  They even threatened to sue!  And according to him, they had given me a very unflattering nickname which I won’t repeat here, but still stings when I think about it to this very day.  I was devastated, but ready to face the music and talk to the angry owners.  The same owners who had originally given me carte-blanche, remember?

The morning I arrived, I was greeted by a very nervous looking Realtor and two very angry homeowners with their arms crossed, giving me the stink eye.  I stayed upbeat, walked in and explained, once again, why I did what I did and how important it was to stage the home from the buyer’s point of view, not their own.  And I didn’t waiver.

“You do realize we still need to live here, right?”, was their response.  I replied with the same mantra I still live by.  “Yes, I do realize that.  But the goal is to get your home sold quickly for the best possible price.  It’s not about you, it’s about the potential buyers, how they see your house, and whether or not what they see makes them want to invest.”

I continued on the tour, talked them out of spending $5K to re-finish their hardwood floors, which were in great condition and really just needed a good cleaning.  I advised them instead to take that money they were planning to spend on the floors and invest in fresh, neutral paint throughout and encouraged them to finish the sunroom with new flooring, a ceiling fan, and a few plants.  To their credit, they obliged and ended up going above and beyond!

At their first open house the following weekend, they ended up in a bidding war and the house sold for slightly more than $10K over asking price!  They were thrilled, the Realtor was thrilled, and they sent me a lovely bouquet of flowers to thank me.  (Along with my staging fee, of course.)

While this story took place years ago, long before home staging was the industry it’s turned into today, the end goal remains the same.  It’s not about you and how you see your home.  You live there!  You’re biased!  Just remember, it’s all about how potential buyers see your home.  That’s what’s going to sell it.  And what was true back then is still true today in 2020;


When preparing your home to sell, you need 20/20 vision to ensure you’re showing potential buyers exactly what they want to see.  Stage your home from the buyer’s point of view, and you’ll go far.  That’s how you sell a house!

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