Have you ever noticed how well-dressed the families are when “surprised” by Ty and the rest of the Extreme Makeover crew? What about the fact that everyone is always home the moment the bus pulls up and available on a moment’s notice to go on a one-week vacation?
I hate to spoil the magic, but these houses are being worked on for months before the cameras start rolling. It’s completely unrealistic to believe that an entire house can be demolished, rebuilt, painted and furnished in a week, but it makes for great television!
Like any form of “reality TV”, most decorating shows on HGTV, including those focusing on home staging, are pretty unrealistic.They’re more about “entertainment” then they are about “reality.”
While they might show a home stager going through and cleaning the house, painting the walls, buying the accessories and replacing the hardware and lighting fixtures, that rarely happens in the real world. Plus, few of us arrive with a complete crew including a seamstress to make custom window treatments and cushions on the spot, a carpenter to whip up a wall unit the same morning, or our own electrician!
Think about it. If these shows featured a solo home stager walking through a house telling someone what had to be done and then showing the final product it would be pretty boring to watch.
If you’re using those shows as a guideline for what you might have to do when you’re staging homes, don’t be too quick to assume you’re going to have to do everything yourself or that becoming a home stager means you’ll be physically exerting yourself every day.
If you arrange your business the smart way, you’ll be sourcing other people to do the heavy lifting for you and you can still make money from their services. You don’t have to lift a finger to do anything you don’t want to.
Think of your role as a home stager as being more of a creative director of the entire re-design project.
You have the vision and figure out what needs to happen to make it come to fruition. Put away those cleaning supplies, paint brushes and strategies for lugging heavy furniture around!
You can source the cleaners to give you a fresh canvas to start with, you choose the paint colors and recommend a painter to apply the color to the walls. If you feel the counter tops need to be replaced, you should have a contractor you can recommend to get the job done.
Home stagers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. The eldest graduate of the Staging Diva program is Jean Smith in Florida who is 76 years old. She’s having the time of her life but I can assure you she’s not moving furniture or cleaning floors, and neither do I. I’m 5’1” and a lot of the furniture that needs to be moved is bigger than I am, yet I’ve staged hundreds of homes.
Go ahead and keep watching those HGTV shows, they’re great entertainment and you might pick up design ideas. They’ll help inspire and motivate you in your career as a home stager, but don’t believe everything you see. If you’ve been holding off on starting your career as home stager because you think it will be too physical reconsider that faulty assumption!
The Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program teaches you how to build alliances with other service providers so you can focus on the creative work without the heavy lifting, yet still be ready to offer all the services your clients need at a handsome profit.
Stagers, if you have a great system that you use for your home staging projects, please share by leaving a comment. Aspiring home stagers will be encouraged by your examples and we all stand to learn from each other.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging
Debra Gould developed the Staging Diva Training Program to create opportunities for others to grow their own profitable home staging businesses. There are currently over 4000 Staging Diva students around the world.[tags] HGTV shows, home staging, home stagers, home staging television shows, staging diva, debra gould[/tags]
Patricia Ebrahimi says
Oh my. Somebody thinks I do the heavy lifting? Or any lifting at all? Heavens no! I spend my time driving around shopping for my inventory or in my warehouse shopping my inventory for a design plan I have in my head for the current project. Then, I call in my young assistant to pack it, and then my moving guys to load it, transport it to the project, unload it and follow me around arranging and setting up everything from furniture to flowers. I direct. I also have a talented handyman/ painter, floor refinishing company, and the best carpet/general cleaner in the business anxious to respond to my call and make the property ready for my magic. This job requires a lot of physical work, but only the uplifting kind. I mean, I get to be the boss and take all the credit. How hard is that?
Beverly Boisen says
Hello, Now that all makes sense.
Thank you Debra for taking the the guess work out. Lots of questions I had are now answered.
I could never move furniture and painting is my specialty, I love color and I love making a room beautiful and so that to me would be the easy part. And to be given the opportunity to put all those into play would be joy to me.
My house is built in the early 1800s and I have lots of different colors on my walls, doors and floors.
Oh yes I have wide board floors.
My kitchen floor is country red
Now that is what color is all about.
To bring in colors that you love or making a suggestion to your client or just asking them what colors make them happy. Now what could be easier than that?
Having fun while you are doing what you love is the perfect way to make money.
Donna Dazzo says
Yes, these shows are unrealistic in that home stagers aren’t typically the painter, carpenter, handyman and stager rolled all into one, but there is a fair amount of physical work IF you choose to do it all yourself and not hire any helpers. In my home staging business, I do a lot of physical work myself and where appropriate, farm out the other more physical or skilled work. I guess I’m too cheap and want to keep all of the money I earn from the project so I am the one packing up all of the inventory, loading it into my van, unloading it in the house or apartment and unpacking it, ironing the bedding and drapes, hanging artwork and window treatments, etc. I long for the day where I can feel comfortable, both financially and mentally (not being stubborn about feeling like I can do it all), to hire helpers and just directing them what to do, like Debra said. That being said, there is plenty of inexpensive help in the form of high school and college students and aspiring stagers. The work I DO NOT do includes painting, carpentry, hanging light fixtures, and moving heavy furniture (I either get the handyman/painter to do it OR the furniture rental delivery guys to do it and of course I tip them).
Danica Henninger says
Thank you, Debra, for another helpful explanation of “how staging truly works,” and to Ms. Ebrahimi for backing you up with her confirmation! I’ve watched so many HGTV shows, and was dismayed by the heavy physical demands revealed. I am grateful to you and Patricia for setting the record straight. After 20 years in entertainment, I should have known better and just asked you!
shayla hunt says
Thank u thank u thank u! This article came right on time! As an aspiring stager, I was actually beginning to get a little worried. Very informative and as usual, straight to the point. Thanks again!
Gary Baugher says
Ok, I admit when I first started my business 3 years ago to cut expenses I did everything. With any new business, you have to do what it takes to make it work. Oh how I remember wakiing up the next morning with a back ache. I have graduated to the point that someone else moves in the large items. Oh what a joy to be able to point and say place that sofa over there. Now there is a part of me that is cheap and still prefer to do some things myself. However, I leave the electrical, and painting to the experts and of course get fees in return. Remember the reason we are in this business is because we enjoy it. Doing everything yourself can lead to burn out. Debra has taught us well and I can’t tell you how many times I have caught my self saying ” now would Debra do this ” I recall her in one of our classes saying ” I am 5′ 2 and have a bad back”. She does’nt do it all herself.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva says
Hey Gary, thanks for giving me that extra inch in height 🙂
One of the reasons I’ve never moved anything heavy is because if I’m providing furniture, it’s not from my own inventory. The rental company moves everything around with me playing creative director. I’ve even been known to have them re-arrange a room when I get a better idea as the stuff gets moved in.
Heather Cook says
While I agree that most of what I do is in the role of a creative director, one of my joys is getting my hands dirty by helping clients move furniture and accessories to see the desired change. Does this mean I do it all myself? Not a chance! Rental furniture is moved in and out by professionals and we have a great team of professionals who do the painting, repairs, landscaping for us and our clients. My partner and I however, load and unload all our accessories ourselves and take pride in the fact that we can help transform homes literally before our client’s eyes.
Danica Henninger says
Many thanks to Donna, Gary, Debra and Heather for more comments on the physical aspects of staging. This active blog has obviously touched a common chord. I’ve copied the blogs for my notebook and I’m grateful for the various insights presented.