As we’ve discussed before, we are firm believers in staging. In fact, it’s one of the things we’re most proud of as a real estate team: we always hire professional stagers for our listings. Staging a home makes a huge impact on potential buyers for many reasons. Not only does it allow buyers to see themselves living in a particular home, but staging also allows sellers to put their home’s best foot forward. Over the years, we’ve seen the benefits of staging first hand and have had the pleasure to work with our go-to stager, Ann Cain at The Polished Peach. Today, we’re sharing some of Ann’s tips and tricks for staging along with her professional opinions for why staging is a must-do.

First things first: Tell us a how you got into the staging business?

My first exposure to the home selling business was when I worked as a real estate agent in the 80’s. I had the opportunity to see so many different home styles, design tastes, and the way different variations affected the success of the home sale. Although I enjoyed the business end of real estate, my real passion was always with home design and décor. Before I started The Polished Peach, family and friends would reach out to me for help with their home design questions and projects. I loved assisting them and I often had people tell me, “You know, you should do this for a living.” I’m so glad I listened to them because turning this passion into a business has been such a rewarding experience for me. 


Do you think vacant houses show better than occupied homes? Which do you prefer to stage and why?

I think both types of homes have the potential to show equally as beautiful, but I have to say that occupied homes show better. That is what staging is all about. Buyers need to see their potential lifestyle exhibited in the home, and if it is vacant, that doesn’t happen. There isn’t anything that grabs the buyer when they are looking at 4 empty walls, a floor, and ceiling. Which do I prefer to stage? Vacant homes allow me to be a bit more creative and original on design ideas, but I really love the challenge of taking a totally personalized space and transforming it into a home that new buyers can emotionally connect with. And I love the reaction from our homeowners when they see the results of our stage. Both vacant and occupied homes are so much fun to stage and having to adjust our tactics to execute both types of stages is what makes our job so challenging and rewarding.

Staging wise, what is the largest mistake you’ve seen people or other companies make before a house goes on the market?

This answer may not come as a shock, but I feel the largest mistake homeowners make when listing their home is choosing NOT to stage. It is such a competitive market!  Taking steps to set your home apart from the other listings is vital. Staging has proven to not only help sell your home quicker but for more money. What homeowner wouldn’t want to take advantage of that?!


Why do you think staging a home has become the standard when selling?

I think that agents and sellers alike have seen the positive impact that staging has on the success of home sales. Buyers have become much more discriminating than they were in the past. They want to see the best of what the market has to offer in the best possible light and staging does just that.  


What is the number one tip you can give sellers, staging wise, to make a great first impression on buyers looking at their home?

Neutralize.  Creating a neutral environment will help potential buyers to see living spaces as blank canvas that they can decorate and make their own.  

When homeowners are getting ready to sell their home, should the goal be to completely depersonalize their house or to find a style that is as mass appealing as possible? 

I would say a little of both. Depersonalizing is often difficult and emotional for sellers. We understand that it can be hard to take down the family photos or pack away the Hummel collection that has been in the family for years, but we try to remind them how important it is for that buyer who walks in to envision themselves in the space. How you live in a house and how you sell it are two different things. A mentor of mine said that “staging a home is about marketing a lifestyle.” It’s so true!.

What are your go-to places for shopping and/or design inspiration? 

At The Polished Peach, we love a good deal! We love to study high-end decor and work to recreate the luxury look for less. This way, we can pass the high-end design onto our clients while keeping our staging costs low. Our go-to place to shop, regardless of a home’s price point is HomeGoods. Pottery Barn’s outlet and Ballard’s outlet have also led us to some amazing pieces that work in almost any space. We are always looking for new places to shop.

What tips can you give people who just bought a home and might feel lost as far as decorating goes? Should they focus on one style throughout the home or is it okay to mix it up? 

Decorating should be fun! Remember, it’s your home and you should enjoy making it your own! If you feel completely lost while staring at your empty room, just start shopping and find one piece that inspires you. It could be an amazing pillow, a cool mirror, or a framed piece of art; just find something that you adore and let the rest of the design stem from that. It’s a fun way to decorate and keeps you focused when shopping for other items.  As for having one style that flows throughout the home vs. mixing it up room to room, I personally prefer continuity and carrying a similar style throughout the entire house. But, if you can execute it well and tastefully, blending styles can look really cool too. For instance, mixing farmhouse with mid-century modern is always a hit! 


Do you think the “farmhouse” look is going to be going out of style anytime soon? Should people try and steer clear of trendy remodels and go with a more classic update?

I don’t think the farmhouse trend is going away in the immediate future, but just like with any other design trends in our business, I do see it fading away. Remember how jewel tones in dining rooms, fruit wallpaper in kitchens, and teal bathroom tiles were once considered “trendy”?! I do think that the farmhouse trend has remained popular because it reflects a warm and relaxed feel, and people want to incorporate that into their homes. But just like other fads of the past, design crazes will come and go. That is what makes home design fun! Keeping up with trends keeps us on our toes and ensures we continually keep our décor relevant and up to date with what people want to see.

What is your favorite part of staging and designing? 

I truly mean this – every stage is different. People probably think, “Ok, you do a living room, a master bedroom, a dining room, and a kitchen…does it ever get redundant?” I can honestly say it doesn’t. Each house has its own set of challenges with its own features to highlight. We love the challenge of making each individual house shine for our homeowners!

If you’re listing your home, be sure to consider staging. We couldn’t agree more with Ann when she says, “staging a home is about marketing a lifestyle.” As always, if you have any questions about selling your home (or buying a new one), don’t hesitate to ask. We’d love to give you some of our insight and expertise!