Stager Training Tip: Karen Otto’s Texas Two-Step + 1

For SAR’s stager trainer, Karen Otto, consultations amount to 70% of her staging income in today’s real estate market.  Sometimes the service is paid for by the realtor, as a value-added benefit to secure the listing. Karen says that a solid 30% of those consultations turn into a full-fledged staging, and some home sellers just need one follow-up appointment for tweaking.  And so it was in the home below; and notice how dramatic the change is when an experienced, talented stager gets in the mix!

Step 1 was a two hour consultation.

The home owner took notes and felt he had a good idea of what needed to be done.  He depersonalized each space, put a lot of things away and did his best to add a few accents here and there.  Proudly, he stood back and waited for Karen’s team to return with a stamp of approval.


Stager Trainer Karen Otto Project

Step 2 was Karen’s Staging Redesign.

By swapping out furniture from one room to another, and adding minimal accessories (mainly in the office/library shelves) Karen filled out each room with dramatic results!  Notice how adeptly Karen has

  • filled in open spaces without the rooms feeling cluttered,
  • added color in measured proportion to draw the eye around the room, and
  • used glass to add light to an otherwise matte surface like the brick fireplace.

It’s a masterful presentation of what looks like a very livable yet impressive home.

Home Staged by Stager Trainer Karen Otto


And the +1?

Professional Photographs!  It’s the color, the contrast, the clarity, the composition… so many aspects of great photos that take a stager’s excellent work over the top into magazine and professional design quality.  A poor photo can obscure even the finest work.  This is one little extra that is vital in today’s marketplace, especially if you’re in an area where you’re competing against New Construction.  Priced around $125 – 150 for 25 shots, most photographers will make a staged-home spectacular.  The fee is most often paid by the realtor.  If you, the stager, have to pay it, then try to find a new photographer or photography student looking to build their portfolio.  It’s worth the effort.

Home Staging Before And After Pictures

As to this home, everyone’s really excited for it to come to the marketplace.  It sure looks like a winner, doesn’t it?

The Texas Two-Step:  a consultation followed by a return tweak.  Do you offer this service in your staging business?  What’s been your experience?


Juliet Johnson

About Juliet

I have been a high-end home stager for about 8 years in suburban NJ. Now, I write about real estate: home profiles for magazine, real estate copy blurb and blogs in the real estate space. I also serve a few local clients with social media marketing and website design.

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  1. says

    It is always amazing to me how minor changes can make such a huge difference in the feel of a room. Based on the pictures I’ve seen on the MLS, more agents should work with a professional photographer.

    Great job Karen!


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