Opulence is in the eye of the beholder
BY LISA LEE
Home staging, the art of making a home look sophisticated, stylish and inviting to the most discerning buyers, can achieve the greatest price for any property.
Marketing a luxury home encompasses many facets and staging is a vital part of this selling process. A vacant house is just a property, but furnished and staged, it is transformed into a home.
“Especially in luxury homes, you need to show buyers a fully realized vision of what the property can be, and more importantly, how it can be their home. Staging is necessary to illustrate how the space can be used to create beautiful, inviting, comfortable living areas,” says Donna Yamagishi.
Yamagishi is a REALTOR Associate and Fine Homes Premier Specialist who credits her interior design studies at UCLA as a key asset in her work with clients. She explains that luxury buyers have certain expectations for finishes, furniture and overall feel. “The interior design needs to compliment the architecture to be appropriate for the home. It is an art form to combine eras and influences. It is also essential to incorporate current trends.”
Yamagishi emphasizes the importance of appealing to current buyer aesthetics. “Every 10 years or so, as architectural designs change, the interior aesthetic changes as well. Right now, we’re experiencing a change in the market toward a more contemporary design.”
Color palette is a subtle but important cue for buyers. How neutral and accent colors are used, and the colors themselves can date or update a home.
Kathy Norton, owner of Design Management, an interior design and staging company, describes staging as artfully demonstrating how a family’s needs can be fulfilled by the home. “We create unique, livable spaces within larger spaces – a cozy reading corner, an entertainment area, a second kitchen eating area with a view.”
It is important, she says, to be realistic. The interior design should make sense and enhance, not distract from the home that is on display.
Yamagishi echoes this sentiment. “There are tricks to the trade, little secrets that can help sellers net the highest profit possible,” she says. “Through design, we can emphasize the home’s greatest assets. We can also take a negative and turn it into a positive. For example, a splash of color and plants can be used to attract or detract from spaces needing assistance.”
Norton explains how she pulls together color, lighting, floor space and carefully chosen furnishings to “create the room within a room.”
“We separate spaces with complementary colors, area rugs, artwork and lighting – all of which enhance the ambiance of the space.
The furniture selected should show the unique function of the space. For example, a play-game area should have an actual gaming table with an actual game displayed.”
Staging a home begins before one ever sets foot in the door. Luxury home stagers create an experience from the moment one drives up to the home.
“Most people decide on a house within 30 seconds,” says Yamagishi. “That’s why the initial impression – curb
appeal and entry area – are so critical. In addition, every home has a story to be told, and the presentation should showcase the qualities that make each home unique. This results in an emotional connection with a buyer. There is a flair to showing each home to maximize its value.”
Many sellers, since they are moving, will place everything in storage and have the property fully staged. For others, effective staging can be done by editing and paring down what they already have, bringing in plants and making touch-ups.
Some stagers charge a one time-fee and monthly maintenance fees, others a flat fee. There are stagers who can provide plants, and plant maintenance and stagers who provide furnishings that can be purchased by the buyer, if they desire a fully decorated, turn-key home.
Yamagishi spends time in every room of a client’s house to see what can be done to show it at its best. After determining with her client the budget and scope of staging, she draws on “my team of resources, which includes designers and stagers, contractors and handymen, who we can depend on to accomplish what needs to be done in our timeframe.”
“The expense of staging is well worth it in fine homes, because in the end, you net a higher sales price,” says Yamagishi.