The Genesis of Staging (OR – in the beginning, there were breakfast trays, and it was good)

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This is a great discussion of the history of staging your home.  Written by my Ninja Stager – Marie Graham.  It discusses with humor the stages that staging a home for sale has gone through.  Right now, I do not believe that staging is an option.  To move homes in times with high inventories and buyers nickeling and diming  like crazy, staging is necessary – though it does not have to cost an arm and a leg.  Enjoy the post, it is cleverly written and has a lot of wit and wisdom in it.

Ruthmarie Hicks.

The Genesis of Staging (OR – in the beginning, there were breakfast trays, and it was good)

I have been wrestling with how the very word “Staging” resonates…with buyers, sellers and agents…and just yesterday I wrote about choosing to use PREPARING as the verb of choice to describe what I do.


Then today a Realtor I respect writes about his buyers’ noticing-then becoming pre-occupied with the ‘faked’ elements in a Staged property, instead of the property itself, and asks if a property could be Over-Staged?

Boy, people give this word a lot of power! But I get it, I really do.   Here are some thoughts I’d like to share from 30 years of working with people, in their space and with their stuff. 

First, it can not be underestimated how intimidating it can be to have a stranger in your house, touching your stuff, and asking you questions about all  you hold near and dear: your family, your stuff, money, your values/goals/etc. For people who care about how their house looks, it’s hard to care only a little, easier to care a lot…. and even maybe too much.

Second, Staging is not a new word or concept. There are probably as many ways to stage as there are practitioners, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, during the almost 40 year history of Staging, there have been many changes in the world around us. Staging, I would suggest, is on at least it’s third version.  Sadly, many people-agents, sellers, and other ummm, preparers stopped paying attention after the first.  So to clear the air for us all, here are how I would explain the genesis of Staging.


In the beginning, there were breakfast trays…and pastel bath salts, and candles. LOTS of candles. Furniture was trucked into empty trophy houses, and made to look pretty. It was an up market, procurement was big. Buyers wanted to dream about how they might live in their new home. Baths suitable for Roman nobility became the norm, and manufacturers of all said accouterments leapt for joy. It was the 1.0 version of Staging, and it was good…at the time.


Then a pall was cast over the land.  The pendulum swung all the way over, and excess was a testimony to bad decisions. While there was still a passion for domicile-feathering, now every coin was squeezed as hard as possible. DIY shows, pros and tips proliferated like dandelions on a sunny May weekend, and finished projects reminded us of a kinder, gentler time…like when we were in Ye Olde Shop, or Home Ec class… or had a dorm mate.  Many agents, already beaten badly, railed against bath salts and candles, or shrunk from insisting on any proper preparation of properties. It was the 2.0 version of Staging, and it was BAD.


Finally, balance and sensibility returned.  While budget mattered, everyone  saw that quality work attracted a quality buyers…and generally sold the castle quicker, for more coinage.  Savvy sellers and agents look to start conversations with clever preparers of properties, to see how they, too, could comfortably speak of such things. Afore-mentioned clever preparers found their voice, and made managing the peoples’ needs and expectations, as well as their stuff -just as important as creating an engaging visual.   People just chilled.  They decided it was time to make decisions and move on with their life. It is the 3.0 version of Staging, and IT IS GOOD.


Moral of the story:  Do not miss the carriage.  Stop thy whining and gnashing of teeth, forsake living in the past.  Before all craziness of the buying season hits hard, open thy mind, and get thee to your communication device of choice, and get to know a good preparer of properties.



Republished with permission of the author Marie Graham from

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