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Staging Success Story: Uncovering a Real Estate Gem

By Cathy Hobbs, ASID

Uncovering the architectural “bones” of a space is the key to design and staging success. As an ASID Interior Designer and Certified Staging Professional (CSP), with years of education and experience under my belt, I approach each staging as a challenge in design.

My “design recipe” is to always sift through the clutter, ignore the obvious flaws, and uncover the hidden real estate gem that I know lies beneath. Many folks also know me as an interior designer and television personality from such programs as The Nate Berkus Show and HGTV’s Design Star. My approach to staging and design is indeed rooted in always paying attention to the visuals while also incorporating design elements such as function, which I believe is the key to successfully selling real estate. If a potential buyer can’t see the beauty of a space, it’s game over.

One of the more challenging stagings I have experienced really put my design skills to the test. Broker Scott Harris of Brown Harris Stevens, after trying unsuccessfully for 6 months to sell a 7-room, 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath with maid’s room on the Upper West Side, hired me and my team at Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes.

To say that the apartment lacked show appeal is being kind. Knowing the challenges of the current real estate market, Harris put the property on the market as soon as the seller was ready, despite the property still being occupied by renters. There were no takers.

A living room after staging (Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes)

Despite the hidden positives, the apartment had numerous, obvious negatives. The whole apartment needed a makeover, from a living room that was full of mismatched and unattractive furniture, to a dining room that was used as a makeshift office, a messy maid’s room, and other bedrooms that were dingy and full of clutter. On top of it all, potential buyers felt that they were in a time capsule that was stuck in the early 80s.

I was brought in with the hope I could deliver a real estate resuscitation. The apartment had gorgeous original details, such as 1930s doorknobs, bullet hinges, and St. Charles Cabinets in the kitchen. This Art Deco masterpiece may have needed a renovation but the “bones” were visible if a potential buyer cared to look.

The staging work involved editing, editing, and more editing, having the renter remove everything from the apartment in order to create a clean canvas. My selection of neutral paint colors and suggestion to replace all of the electrical receptacles and light switches in the residence instantly created an image of freshness.

A living room before staging (Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes)

As the seller had a budget to fully stage the residence, rental furniture and elegant accessories provided the additional sparkle. Once attractive, stylish furniture pieces were in place, buyers began to feel the beauty of the apartment’s Emery Roth-designed layout.

What made this a “staging success” was how quickly the staging turned a property that was “stale” into a sale. Within one week of the staging, the seller received multiple offers close to the asking price.

My approach to interior design and home staging is based on my overall design vision and philosophy behind my brand design recipes, determining how a potential user needs to live and function in the space, while also creating an environment that is aesthetically pleasing and always incredibly beautiful.

To execute this staging, here’s my design recipe:
• Remove all clutter
• Pack away any and all unnecessary items and furnishings
• Apply a fresh coat of paint
• Replace light bulbs with higher wattage bulbs
• Replace light switches and receptacle covers
• Clean and steam carpets
• Hire a professional cleaning crew
• Make minor repairs
• Incorporate furniture and accessories that show function

Luckily not only did brokers return to see the apartment after the staging, but so did buyers. In fact, one of the offers on the residence was from someone who had previously viewed the property. Staging helped to polish this pre-war gem, so that potential buyers could finally see all this spacious apartment had to offer from the moment they walked through the front door.

Cathy Hobbs

Five-time Emmy award-winning television personality Cathy Hobbs is the founder of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes™, a New York City-based firm specializing in interior design and home staging. A nationally known design expert, Cathy was a finalist on Season 6 of HGTV’s hit reality series Design Star. Cathy is currently traveling around the country as an instructor for Certified Staging Professionals, teaching their prestigious 3-day certification course. http://www.cathyhobbs.com.