Staging business helps owners to sell, buyers to own
Published 8:35 pm Thursday, April 28, 2016
When potential buyers walk into a home for sale, they’re likely doing some mental gymnastics: imagining their “stuff” in a house filled with other people’s belongings.
Even more challenging is doing the same when a house is completely devoid of furnishings.
How does one make a full house and an empty one equally appealing?
Enter Deborah Page Wright, owner of Blythe House in Washington. Wright decorates for events and spruces up interiors for private homes and businesses. She’s also on the speed dial of many local realtors for her knack in turning a house for sale into a place buyers can see themselves living.
From the moment she walks into a home she’s been asked to stage, she goes to work — and it’s all in her head.
“I’m using my imagination as if I was looking at the home (to buy),” Wright said. “I’m just trying to create the ambience, so that when someone walks in, it gives them immediate picture.”
It’s imagination that allows Wright to picture a slew of details about how the space could look, as opposed to how it does look: the color of walls; style of window dressing; a traditional armchair placed here; a neutral, streamlined sofa there.
“As far as colors, I try to pay attention to right now; the colors in the palette that are popular now,” Wright said.
It makes a difference. She said blue accents, neutral tones from a spectrum of grays and earth tones to soft sage are current color trends, and current sells — and helps to sell homes.
“You go with something neutral so for anyone moving into the home, it’s accessible,” Wright said.
For many of her staging jobs, Wright redecorates with the existing furniture, perhaps bringing in painters to give the home a more neutral palette or putting art on walls that have some issues. Others, she’s given free rein to stage a house from a blank slate. But where does all the furniture, artwork, lamps, beds and every other thing that makes a house look like a home come from?
“I have an incredible amount of inventory,” Wright laughed. “Pickers and vendors know what I do. They’ll call me and say, ‘I’ve got two sideboards; I’ve got two wingbacks.’”
She’s had up to 12 storage facilities filled with inventory, two of which were nothing but chairs. They’re regularly revitalized with a new fabric, a new look, then tucked into a new house.
“I’ll redo furniture. I try to customize that look with special fabric for that location,” she said. “I’ll go out and handpick certain items to make each project I’m doing different.”
The reuse of furniture and other props can be a challenge — Wright refers to the process as mental gymnastics — especially when it’s been used in another home previously. But she’s got two different upholsterers she works with, as well as a furniture refinisher, who assist in restyling pieces.
While Wright says she knows how she’s going to revamp a home from the moment she walks in, her ultimate aim is balance and calm — a place where potential buyers will feel comfortable. Though Wright got her start in events and interiors, her staging business has slowly taken over since her first staging job at a Moss Landing model townhome. Each aspect of her work informs the next, she said.
“I just multitask. It’s all just kind of the same animal; it’s all just different inventory, a different theme,” Wright said. “Of course, every house is different and that’s what makes it so much fun.”
Deborah Page Wright can be reached at 252-286-5149.