Lights, Camera, Wait! Change Out That Couch! (A Day in the Life of Audrey Kate Design and Staging)

It’s high noon. Seven people arrive at the 3,500 square-foot colonial townhouse in Ashburn, Va., that’s about to go on the market. Like a cluster of busy nanobots and dressed for a day of manual labor, the women scoop up supplies from one of their car trunks and head inside to assess the house. They’re on a mission.

Three hours later every room is meticulously staged to be photographed for this real estate listing. The mission that day: Set up the house so its best features are spotlighted. The goal is to help the prospective homebuyer to make a connection with the house at first glance.
Let the offers roll in!

What happens in those three hours is a virtual modern-day marvel.

The leader of the pack is revved up on her three-time reheated coffee and a crescent roll on the run. She scans the rooms with her entourage in tow and they all huddle in the doorway of each room to strategize: what’s going to stay and what is getting packed up. Fortunately, the owner of the home is receptive to whatever they decide. She knows it will benefit her in the long run.

After breaking into three teams of two, they get to work, shifting the master bed a foot to the left, re-centering the photo over it, clearing out extra furniture and decorations that aren’t needed, pulling in a chair from the other room to sit in the corner. A throw tossed casually over the backrest.

The team in the teen’s room takes sticker posters off the walls, removes knick-knacks from the bed’s headboard, pulls a couple of mirrors from another room and places them above the bed, leaning them gracefully against the wall.

Oh, the message board in that room would be better suited in the office down the hall, one stager suggests.
They take turns scurrying back and forth between rooms trading items like a bartering exchange.

“Can we use that in here” a voice is heard from the other room? A night stand disappears from one room and gets placed in another.

Downstairs they all converge to work together on the living room, foyer and office simultaneously. It all comes together like a puzzle as pieces from each room are repurposed to show the space optimally.

“There was a green lamp upstairs,” someone shouted out. That would go perfectly in the office where, in a whirlwind, the couch was turned and swapped with the desk, green pillows were brought in to add color to the room and a bookshelf became an end table. Finishing touches: a picture on the wall where there wasn’t one before and, ah yes, a cactus with a red bloom in a blue vase, pulled from the bathroom windowsill, perfectly tied in the new colors of the room as it took its new place on the end table.


Now to the lower level …

Three ours of that and the ladies all took a collective sigh and a step back, sweeping through each room one last time to review the transformation. All seven agreed it was an already great home turned show-ready.

The litmus test? The owner, an established realtor who works with many staged homes, gave two thumbs up. Said she wouldn’t change a thing. “It looks so much bigger now,” she beamed.

That validation is satisfying to a stager. Yet even more satisfying will be how fast the home sells for the homeowner.

Stay tuned.

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