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In this economy it is more important than ever for home sellers to be able to sell their homes without spending a “bundle”.  “Shopping your home” can be a feasible alternative for those looking to stage on a budget.

A living room after staging and styling by Cathy Hobbs. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Hobbs)

As home staging always means highlighting the positives and downplaying the negatives, the overall visual presentation is key. Because many homes that are staged are owner occupied, a stager will either ask the home seller to remove a number of pieces in order to rent, or in some cases purchase, replacement furnishings.

Or, what happens more often in this economy is to use furniture a home seller already owns. I call the process “shopping the house” when I set out on a treasure hunt to see what items a homeowner may have hidden in a closet, attic, or in simply another room.

A living room before staging. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Hobbs)

It may be hard for home sellers to “re-imagine” their home using items they already own, which is where a Certified Staging Professional comes in.

Recently, while teaching the three-day Certified Staging Professionals course in Arlington, Va., my students and I executed a dramatic before-and-after transformation without spending a single penny! Before the staging, an attached home in Arlington (a suburb of Washington, D.C.) was lingering on the market. Upon entry, I quickly noticed a home that was full of “stuff” but void of life. There were rooms with no clear function, some used as storage areas and poorly laid out.

In “shopping the house” we first went in search for large attractive furniture items we could use to create a solid floor plan and flow, and then from there fill in the gaps with accessories and artwork.

A bedroom after staging and styling by Cathy Hobbs. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Hobbs)

We also wanted to make sure each room sent the message of being functional and spacious. As all of the walls in the main living areas were white, we wanted to create a neutral color palette in order to appeal to the largest amount of potential buyers while also adding a sense of vibrancy and color to the space, which we did using artwork and accessories.

“Shopping the house” is a technique I was asked to use when the producers of the nationally syndicated program The Nate Berkus Show asked me to stage a home for a Connecticut home seller. “Shopping

The same bedroom with some of the same furniture, before staging. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Hobbs)

the house” not only saves money but can truly be an opportunity to refresh and renew.

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 appeals to the largest audience.

To execute this staging, here’s my design recipe:
• Pack away all unused items
• Determine a floor plan
• “Shop the house” for your largest items first
• Select pieces that coordinate, but do not necessarily “match”
• Fill in rooms with art and accessories
• Incorporate color through accessories and accents
• Step back, evaluate, edit if necessary

Cathy Hobbs, ASID, LEED AP, CSP

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, home staging, and home-staging training. 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 three-day certification course. www.cathyhobbs.com.