I do what's known in the staging industry as "occupied" staging consultations, meaning I give sellers who are living in their home advice on how to get it ready for a quick sale. Before I arrive, I tell the sellers not to tidy up; we are going to do a thorough deconstruction of the house from a buyers' point of view.
This can be hard for the sellers, who have often put love and energy into creating their own lifestyle and decor style. And it can be especially challenging if the owners have - let's call them - quirks.
The rabbit hutch that wasn't
Walking through the garden of a large and rather neglected property I was consulting on, I spotted what I thought was a rabbit hutch. It had a red pointed roof and was perhaps twice the size of a large doll's house. Rabbits are a no-no from a staging point of view. The "rule" is that all pets must be banished as potential buyers may be afraid or allergic or put off in some way by animals.
I bent down to inspect it, and saw it had a glass window and a single shelf. On the top shelf was a passport, spectacles, a toothbrush, a bottle of Chanel perfume and a photograph of a woman. The bottom shelf contained an urn, a cross, and a few other personal objects.
It was a shrine. It turned out that the owner's wife had died and he had dedicated this memory house to her. It was tough telling the owner that he would have to remove the shrine for marketing purposes. Did he? I'll tell you later.
The chickens that were
Being in a Covid-19 lockdown for weeks on end with three young rambunctious boys led to some very creative solutions for a young couple who called me in to help get their home ready. Their innovative ideas included a succulent garden which the boys tended to and a chicken coop from which the family got six eggs a day. Not bad.
As I arrived for my staging consult, the chickens got loose. They were soon underfoot and running everywhere. Personally, I thought the chickens were quite cute. However, the animal rule is unbreakable. The poultry had to go. You never know if the one potential buyer of your house is a vegan!
A shock in a box
Lucky teenagers get their own space outside the main house, where they can sleep and play video games and shower... but still come in for meals. This was the case at a higgledy-piggeldy house I consulted on, where the teenage pad looked like... a teenage pad. As I was walking out of the room, I noticed a black motionless curled reptile in a cage. I ran.
The lot of the home stager
It falls to the home stager to deliver the body blows to sellers about what HAS to go. Estate agents love this about us. Agents can stick to the marketing and pricing; we point out the untidy and overloaded bookshelves, the rusty shower rose, the peeling paint and missing light bulbs. We also encourage sellers to edit their furniture: Sell what you're not taking to your next home now! Clean that garage now! Get rid of that python!
Some sellers take everything I say on board, get going immediately and are inspired. Others stick to their mantra: "This is my house and I live how I want. Marketing it is not going to change that". The shrine was not removed and the house is still for sale two years later. The python went and the house sold. And the chickens....too soon to tell. They're still getting the house ready. I'll let you know in another blog.