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The Top 4 Levels of Staging

Posted By: Victoria Palme

The term "staged" is now very familiar. What many realtors and home sellers do not understand, however, is that there are several different staging approaches to property. This article provides insight into those different "levels" of home staging.

The Top 4 Levels of Staging


Due to the country’s explosion of the staging concept, most people are aware of the term.  What I have found, however, is that the home seller and many realtors are still confused with what staging actually entails.  And while popular television shows have boosted the staging value and awareness, oftentimes, they leave the viewer with a distorted view of how we actually stage the “average” home.


 Many of the shows are staging very high end homes and using furnishings and accessories that are very expensive. The stagers have access to unlimited inventory and open ended budgets.   

Still other programs are showcasing major remodeling of bathrooms and kitchens while coming in under a set budget of only several thousand dollars! These are impossible scenarios to duplicate in the real world.


Stagers sitting at home watching these programs are going “Hey, wait a minute; they haven’t included the contractor’s fees and where did they find a complete, new, living room suite of furniture for only $325.00?”


This televised perception of staging can make the real-life stager’s job very difficult, indeed.  On the other hand, the nationally televised programs on staging have certainly helped in promoting and generating excitement about the staging industry. 


Staging the average home lies well within the middle of the two above described scenarios. What we must first understand is that staging can be done on several different and distinct levels.  With this knowledge it is easier to educate the home seller and the realtor in how we can best meet their individual, unique needs.


Hopefully the following will bring a more realistic understanding to what value staging brings to the table.  In addition, to help simplify awareness of the 4 major staging levels available, that fits the average home, lifestyle and budget.


And while there are many variations of each level we will first address the 4 basic levels of home staging.


 Level One - Full Staging for the Vacant Home


This would be the vacant home that the seller is willing to fully stage.  The stager’s objective is to make the empty home appear as if someone is actually living there.

The effect is comparable to a new home model. Personally, I like to throw in a few doses of real-life “stuff” to make the house seem more approachable to the potential buyer.  


The stager can either work from their own inventory to furnish the home or select these items from a furniture rental company. Or it could also be a combination of using the stager’s inventory with additional rented pieces from the rental store. 

Bottom line, the stager will install the selections which will include delivery and pick/up fees plus a monthly rental charge for the furnishings and accessories. Fees will vary according to your geographic area and what your particular market can bear.

Stagers should consider charging a 3 month minimum on their inventory.



Level Two - Full Staging for the Owner Occupied Property


In this case, the home is staged using the client’s existing furnishings and accessories.  This approach is something that the trained Redesigner excels in and why Redesign and Staging make such a perfect business marriage.


Starting with an initial consultation you will share tips and advice on how the property can be enhanced and shown to its fullest potential.  The client is looking to you to provide guidelines and suggestions that they can implement.


Not all staging consultations automatically result in a staging job.  Remember that you are your best marketing tool and you will need to discuss the advantage of hiring you to professionally stage the home.


Learn to identify the home’s best “selling” room – the one that has the most attractive features that potential buyers will most likely gravitate toward.  While consulting in this room do not hesitate to say that this is the room that will probably sell the home, and they really need to consider having at least this one room professionally staged.

Learning how to give successful consultations will be discussed in another chapter.


There are many variables with this Level Two option.  Having a good working relationship with your realtor(s) will allow you to be able to provide services unique to individual staging requests.

For example, I once worked with a family who were moving out of state.  I went into their home and tagged furnishings and accessories for the family to leave behind.  Everything else was loaded into the moving van.  I worked with the client’s own furniture and accessories while adding from my own inventory to fill in any blanks.


 Level Three - Vignette Staging


This level can be implemented very inexpensively and done in the vacant home or for the owner occupied home that has an empty room or two.


A properly placed vignette does not need to be elaborate in order to take the cold edge off of an empty room.  A very popular vignette would consist of a chair, a side table, lighting and rug to set it all on.  Add a plant for life and the right accessory and voila! 


Or place an ottoman near the fireplace with a tray holding (empty) wine bottle and 2 wine glasses.


A vignette staging is versatile, can be placed in one or many rooms and is very easy to set up and maintain by you or your client.



Level Four - Highlight Staging


Recently one of my former students asked me to help her understand how she could incorporate this particular staging style as one of her offered services.  Basically, I told her that “highlights” are whatever she could take to the property in one or two laundry baskets!


Highlighting can be done with the addition of a few books, plants and accessories placed on any built-ins.  Accessorizing spaces such as a fireplace mantle or built-ins will showcase the architectural elements of the home. 

Adding bright spots of color with tea towels, decorative plates on stands, small lamp and plant on counter tops brings the kitchen to life. 

Adding decorative soaps, hand towels and a fresh, new shower curtain in bathrooms instantly eliminates that cold, clinical feel.  Use a tray or basket to hold spa items and place on or near the Jacuzzi.  


Highlighting inventory and ideas are endless and best of all give a huge impact for very little money or effort.


By understanding the different levels of staging you will be more confident in educating your realtors and any future clients.  You will also be able to define clearly what levels you, as the stager, wish to offer.








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