Frederick News Post  
 Every House is a Stage By JOANNE E. MORVAY October 17, 2007


"...Staging a home is something real-estate agents are suggesting to help homes sell quicker...staging is used to make a home appeal to the widest possible audience..."

Making space more neutral can help you sell or enjoy your home. Staging a home is something

real-estate agents are suggesting to help homes sell quicker. The antithesis of decorating, staging is used to make a home appeal to the widest possible audience. 

But homeowners shouldn’t be so quick to discard staging once they’ve moved into a new property.

Carol Buckalew, an Accredited Staging Professional who owns and operates Omni Home Staging in Frederick, said there are basic tenets of staging that can be applied easily to everyday living. First, it helps to understand exactly what staging entails. “When people decorate, they personalize their houses,” Buckalew explains. “When we stage a home, we depersonalize it. But that doesn’t mean we make it a blank slate.”

To begin, Buckalew does a detailed, walk-through assessment of the home, accompanied by the owners. Then she offers a specific list of suggestions for making the home more marketable. These could include everything from moving furniture around and putting special collections in storage to repainting walls in more neutral colors and landscaping the front yard. The homeowners then must decide whether they will undertake the tasks themselves or hire professionals to accomplish them. “That commitment is important,” Buckalew said. “If I do a list and they don’t buy into it, that’s not going to help.” 

Once the majority of the tasks have been completed, Buckalew returns to the home to help the owner fine-tune its look before an open house is held for potential buyers.

Buckalew said staging usually increases the value of the home and decreases the amount of time it takes to sell. This is especially true in a buyers’ market. “Staging brings the best house to the surface,” she said. That basic goal of staging is also true when applied to a client’s new property. “The number one thing I see when I first walk into a house is the clutter,” Buckalew said.

“We accumulate things and they’re sentimental.” But hanging on to everything we’ve ever bought or were given doesn’t necessarily improve our lives. So getting rid of clutter - or at least keeping it to a minimum - is key. Learning to address the wear and tear of everyday living immediately helps as well. “There are a lot of little chinks in our houses-scars, scratches and cracks-that we just don’t see,” Buckalew said. “It’s the little things that really make our houses look shabby when they don’t need to.” So, replace that old light fixture, patch the nicks on a plaster wall or repaint the dated colors on appliances - or even buy new ones.

When Buckalew stages a room, she creates a focal point and does her best to flatter the room’s architectural features. That can include arranging furniture a certain way, highlighting windows and other items and even decorating a fireplace mantle. Staging clients often ask her to do the same in their new homes. “As much as possible, I use what the homeowner already owns,” she said. Sometimes using a piece of furniture in a new way or placing it in a different room is all that’s needed to make someone’s belongings look fresh, she said. As far as decorating, Buckalew is a firm believer that homeowners should do the things they want to their homes long before they leave them. She said clients often add hardwood floors, replace carpeting and upgrade appliances and other items as they’re moving from a property. “Do that stuff so much sooner so you can enjoy it,” Buckalew said.