You Might Just Be A Home Stager!

jacksonville home staging classesAre you living your passion, where the lines between work and pleasure are so blurred you have no concept of time passing?  Do you “follow your bliss”… living in purpose… using your talents…having fun…and making a living at it?

What if all the things that you love don’t feel like a proper profession?  You know, things like color and fabric?  What if you love wandering through show homes and model units?  What if you have a nasty HGTV habit?  That’s okay, it’s perfectly respectable – you’re probably a home stager.  We understand.  Good news is, it IS a profession; you can learn how to do it well, and for a tidy profit.

If that sounds too good to be true… why not try out one of our Jacksonville home staging classes – we will be live and in person this July?

Perhaps you’re still not sure. So, let’s take this self-examination one step further —————>

You might just be a home stager IF

1. You know where every Home Goods store is within a 50 mile radius.Jacksonville home staging classes

2. When you’re in a Home Goods, you can’t help yourself re-arrange the shelves, uniting pairs of things, and sorting things into more logical groupings.

3. You have different sets of pillows and accessories for each season, at least that’s what you tell your family. Every space in your home needs a little refresh from time to time, no?

4. You have been known to fashion a set of drapes out of an old tablecloth with merely a pole and a few rubber bands.

5.  You’ve always wanted to be an interior designer, but can’t draw, can’t be bothered with math, construction nor have any interest in studying all that time in school, apprenticing, dealing with clients, …forget all that, you just want to make rooms pretty.

6.  You can see what a room ought to look like despite what the current owner has done to it. You just see it.  (And frankly don’t understand why other folks can’t see it too.)

Jacksonville Home Staging classes7. You, home decor aficionado, yes, you  can tell the difference between beige, “greige”, french vanilla, ivory and white dove.  [We'd go to "50 shades of... but it's already been taken by a flooring company in the UK, then a nail salon, then...over it, now)  In fact, you own a fan deck. You'd own one from every paint company if you could, though of course you have your favorite!

We know. We get it. We live this way, too!  We know lots of great stagers who make a nice living and are of real value to their community. Value?  Sure, when homes sell for good prices it maintains the value of the neighborhood for everyone.

A sense of design and a feel for color is something you're born with; but cultivating those talents into a profitable career has to be learned, honed and practiced. The good news is that Melissa Marro, the award winning stager , who has built not one, but TWO successful staging companies - in Charleston, SC and now in Jacksonville, FL - is returning to teaching in person. Her first return to the classroom will be in Jacksonville,  this July 16 - 21, 2014 with two options: 2 individual 3 day sessions or one comprehensive 6 day course. This new series of home staging classes will then travel around the US in the Fall, with stops in Atlanta, Dallas and Indianapolis.

What makes your heart happy? Is it interiors?  Then come join us, know that you're not alone.  You're a future home stager and we're ready to get you shoving sofas around with the best of 'em!!

jacksonville home staging classes

Yeah, we see it. You’re one of us.

Photo courtesy of The Rragged Wren.

Jacksonville 3 and 6 day home staging classes now offered!

The last few years SAR has only offered it’s home staging training programs online. Because I’m settled in Jacksonville now and have started establishing a new team, we are ready to begin holding live hands-on classes again. Our new classes will be similar in format to our old 3 day new home stager training program but with a completely updated curriculum, suited to today’s changing real estate market. I’ll personally be teaching at my local Watson Realty Corp office where we’ll have state of the art technology at our finger tips.

Dates When the Class is Available:-

July 16 – 21

September 24 – 29

November 19 -24

9 – 6 most days
Wed Start at 10: a.m.
$2,195/3 day program
$2,999/5 day program
$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day
$2,195/3 day program
$2,999/5 day program
$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day
$2,195/3 day program
$2,999/5 day program
$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

Three (3) Day Class

Earn your Certified home stager designation in this 3 day course.

online home staging training class

Day 1:  9am to 6pm

  • Course & Instructor Introduction
  • Release, Confidentiality & Authorization forms
  • Staging Facts, Fiction and Fundamentals
  • Understanding demographics & how it affects your business
  • Working with clients, selling your services, bidding and building a reputation
  • Types of consultations, jobs and revenue streams

Day 2:  9am to 6pm

  • Working with Vacant homes
  • Basics of Design Principles, client and architectural needs
  • Accessories, Inventory and Management
  • Pricing Workshop
  • Sales Strategies and Overcoming Objections
  • Presenting to Realtors
  • Working your business – includes goal setting, business planning & marketing workshop
  • Team Building

Day 3:  9am to 6pm

  • Hands on staging – Stage an occupied property currently on the market
  • Creating a compelling portfolio – taking & editing photos then putting it all together
  • Setting up your business and getting started
Space is limited. Call Melissa Marro (904) 466-2093 or Juliet Johnson (973) 477-7000 to reserve your seat or for inquiries.


Six (6) Day Class

Earn your Vacant Property Specialist Designation in this three day course.

Learn online vacant home staging

Included in this 3 day add-on or stand alone course: comprehensive 100 page manual, staging business forms and contracts, access to our private Facebook community, national and local press releases, certificate of completion &  Vacant Property Specialist designation logo.  Lunch, snacks, and drinks included on Day 6.

Day 4: 9am to 6pm – Vacant home staging

Previewing the property

  • Creating a vacant home staging plan
  • Picking and packing
  • Vacant staging installation
  • Buying and managing inventory
  • Visit CORT furniture


Day 5: 9am to 6pm

Understanding logistics

  • Pricing your vacant home staging jobs
  • Structuring your contracts
  • Working with other stagers
  • Visit project home
  • Pick and Pack for tomorrow’s staging

Day 6: 8am to 6pm – Staging Day

Meet at office

  • Stage vacant home currently on the market
  • Discuss project
  • End of class.
Space is limited. Call Melissa Marro (904) 466-2093 or Juliet Johnson (973) 477-7000 to reserve your seat or for inquiries.


Vacant Property Specialist (stand alone vacant staging class)

Already have your staging certification but looking to expand your business? Learn the ins and outs of managing vacant staging for investors, home builders, and individual sellers. Attend days 4, 5 and 6 to earn your VPS designation.

Learn online vacant home staging



Classes will be held at the Watson Realty Office on Rte 220:

175 Hampton Point
St Augustine, FL 32092

Space is limited. Call Melissa Marro (904) 466-2093 or Juliet Johnson (973) 477-7000 to reserve your seat or for inquiries.

3 Day Live In-Person Staging Training Class: Melissa Returns to Live Teaching!

Melissa Marro Home Staging TrainingLong considered one of the top stagers in both the United States and Canada, Melissa Marro returns to live in-person staging training this summer with a 3 day and 5 day course.

This is a comprehensive program designed to fully instruct students on the BUSINESS of staging.   All necessary tools are provided to students  including a 1 yr membership to the Real Estate Staging Association and 1 yr membership to directory and newsletter resource.

3 days live!  Study with top stager, Melissa Marro, live and in-person, ask as many questions as you like and get answers in real time.  6 years of experience building not one, but TWO successful staging companies, in TWO very different models.

Sound good?

Click here to get more details on this live staging training course – 

home staging training with Melissa Marro home staging training with Melissa Marro home stager training with Melissa Marro

July 16 – 21, 2014

Sept 24 – 29, 2014

Nov 19 -24, 2014

9 – 6 most daysWed Start at 10: a.m. 9 – 6 most daysWed Start at 10: a.m. 9 – 6 most daysWed Start at 10: a.m.
$2,195/3 day program$2,999/5 day program

$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

$2,195/3 day program$2,999/5 day program

$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

$2,195/3 day program$2,999/5 day program

$1,295 for the Vacant 3 day

[paypal link]


Classes will be held at the Watson Realty Office on Rte 220:

175 Hampton Point
St Augustine, FL 32092

Virtual Home Staging VS Traditional Home Staging. A Conversation.

A few days ago on I posted about the question of Virtual home staging VS Traditional home staging and promoted a conversational debate that was going to happen over on Steven Aaron’s Facebook feed last night. Unfortunately I was busy at an Investor’s Group meeting that had been on my calendar for weeks (prior to me learning about Steven’s conversation). I was thrilled to find out that the chat happened in a facebook post on his business page, which meant that not only could I go back and read it, but I could in fact embed it into my blog post. (I would have done it on AR’s post since that’s where I orginally posted about it but unfortunately they don’t seem to allow you to embed feeds. I don’t quite know why that is.)

(click comment icon above to read comments)
I was very pleased to see that Steven answered some of my questions even though I wasn’t there.

My virtual home staging questions to HGTV’s Steven Aaron.

“We can see how virtual staging can make a difference when the buyer is shopping online, however, do you feel that not having the property staged negatively impacts the property when the buyer visits in person? Do you feel that the virtual impacted this important part of the equation? If so, how?”

In this case, its hard to tell because we’re in a very low inventory market and the price point of this particular property was lower. Therefore there is a tremendous amount of demand for it. In general, I would only use virtual staging for specific situations and/or properties only. Nothing can replace the emotional connection that a buyer makes when a home is actually beautifully staged. 

“Did I expect this topic to be so controversial and why do I think that it is?”

You know, technology is a very funny thing. For example, I advocate the advances made by social media and the opportunities it has created for realtors to strengthen client relationships, develop referrals, celebrate listings & sales, etc. However, at the same time, what was once very labor intensive to create, technology has supported an accessibility to things like virtual staging, which I believe isn’t the best tool to use to ensure maximum success in selling a listing on the market.

The home staging story that brought up the conversation (again).

Of course this conversation and the controversy that created it, all started because Steven Aaron, a home staging advocate who spoke at the 2014 RESA Convention, posted that he had used a virtual home stager and that this property not only sold quickly, but over list price.

home by Virtual staging solutions

To give you perspective, this property was listed at $339,000, which is a lower price point in our market. We received 3 offers and sold the property in less than one week, $352,500. 13k over asking, all cash​, ​15 day close.” Steven Aaron, HGTV’s Selling LA

The problem to the home staging community is that this public acceptance by a Television personality that typically uses traditional home staging could create competition. Additionally, many in the staging industry feel that in most markets this type of visual marketing simply won’t be effective. It will tarnish the viability of an industry that we’ve spent more than a decade building up, one that only now seems to actually be gaining momentum and becoming more commonplace. It is typically already enough when we have other visible Realtors who are seemingly questioning whether or not staging is important in the selling process.

The truth is that there is no right answer. There are better answers, but only if the customer has the right budget. In this case, if you read Steven Aaron’s story, you’ll find that this seller did not have the budget to stage the entire home. Instead they went for a different option, one that they could afford.

Is Virtual Staging really just another example of Vignette Staging?

I don’t frankly see this as very different than the idea of vignette staging (also interestingly enough abbreviated by stagers at VS). Vignette staging is where small items are placed in the home that help to warm it up, or soften hard, cold spaces – like kitchens and bathrooms. Typically you’ll see this represented as towels in the bath and bowls of fruit, cookbooks, and plants in the kitchen. Occassionally, you’ll also see bookcases treated with vignette staging. I’ve always been of the opinion that this isn’t really satisfactory either. My Jacksonville home staging company won’t even provide this service to our customers.

That said, Karen Otto, one of the SAR Instructors in Plano, TX, does a lot of vignette staging and believes strongly that it is a huge benefit to her customers. Her work is beautiful and she’s one of the most successful and talented stagers I know, so who am I to argue?

plano tx home staging

sar home staging training tx

After listening to the discussions and weighing them out in my head, I think the answer is that there isn’t really a right answer. I think any good Realtor or home stager will tell you that professionally staging the entire home is probably the best thing you can do to sell it quickly for top dollar (especially if it is vacant). When the home is occupied, a home staging consultation and the seller doing the recommended work may be enough. When there isn’t enough in the budget to hire a professional or rent furniture, art, and accessories, then vignette staging and virtual staging may be a better option than doing nothing.

Now, Realtors and home stagers, I’m curious to hear what you think. 

Is traditional home staging under attack again this week?

Perhaps it is because I’m never afraid to get into the thick of a home staging argument and share my thoughts that I received a private message today, in response to another blog that I wrote on Active Rain titled, Virtual Home Staging VS Traditional Home Staging. The debate Continues…  asking me to give my thoughts on another blog that hit social media by a high profile Realtor which seemed to be anti-staging.

I’ll admit that I had seen Bill’s blog earlier in the week but hadn’t had time to read it. Really I had seen that he had posted in a Real Estate Community on G+ that I moderate. I didn’t even have time to read the rather lengthy post entry, but I’ll say that what I did read made me so angry that I had to move on before my blood pressure exploded. 

So, today, after getting that private comment about Bill’s post, I decided that I better sit and read it. If it was worth my time and energy, I would in fact write a blog about it.


Does home staging get a seller more money for their home?

Bill Gasset in his blog writes, “While home staging may improve the look of a home, evidence suggests that it is not the ultimate weapon in selling that many thought it to be. This is not to say that your home should not be in the best possible showing shape. In fact far from it. Homes that look their best sell quicker and usually for more money than those that don’t. Just don’t be fooled into thinking you need a professional staging especially if your home already looks good.”

I think this is a good time for me to say that I both agree and disagree with what Bill is saying here. Let me dissect it from my point of view. I’ll actually start with his last statement.

Just don’t be fooled into thinking you need a professional staging especially if your home already looks good.”

In the last 10 years of being a professional home stager, I have in fact seen homes that needed absolutely zero help. I would say it was a maximum of 2 per year in the hundred plus homes we evaluated. MOST OF THE TIME, if the home was occupied, a consultation and minimal work that could be done by the seller, was enough to maximize the appearance of the home.  Pillows, furniture, and art were not needed, just a little sprucing up with what the seller already had.

And now comes the flaw in Bill’s theory, in his very own words….

“Homes that look their best sell quicker and usually for more money than those that don’t.”

Um… yeah. Exactly. If a home sells FASTER because it looks better, it will sell for more money. PERIOD. How do I know this? Because once a seller starts thinking about making an offer on a home, their first question is, “How long has it been on the market?” Do you know why they want to know this? They are deciding in that moment if they can make a low offer.

I’ve written about the study that Bill used as evidence in my post, New Study Shows Staging Doesn’t Actually Work. I discussed the fact that the study was not even a little scientific as the “buyers” weren’t actually in the market for a home in the areas that they were “evaluating” and the study only used virtual home staging as opposed to actually taking real prospective buyers to staged and unstaged properties.

Home buying, and home staging, are both based on emotion. The participants lacked the necessary ingredient, emotion of potential loss or gain of the home. Without emotion and a vested interest, the study has no merits.


Is home staging the most important thing when selling a home?

Now, you see, I know what Bill was trying to say in his blog and his social media post. I’ll even agree with his basic premise. Picking the right price and the right agent are the most important components when listing your home. You should never pick an agent based solely on the fact that they offer home staging. It’s kind of like picking an agent just because they told you they would list your home for the largest amount. Most likely they are saying what they need to in order to get the listing. The market will, in the end, dictate what the home will sell for.

Here are some of the things that your Realtor should be able to answer: 

1) How  and where do you market my home?

2) How did you come up with your pricing strategy? 

3) What do I need to get my home ready for the market? (This should include a consultation with a professional if they don’t have very good information and feedback.)

4) Do you provide professional photos? (If they don’t provide professional photos, you can stop here. Don’t hire them.)

5) When do the professional photos go into MLS? (If that answer isn’t on Day 1, then refer to comments above.)

6)  How often will you provide information about feedback from showings?

As Bill pointed out at the end of his post, there are multiple factors that determine if a home will sell, and for how much. They include, pricing, condition, location, and marketing. Staging is only one piece of the puzzle and not the entire puzzle.

Let me put it like this. (This is actually how I teach it in my home staging class for owners.) When you are baking a cake, is the egg the most important ingredient? No, of course not. Sure, you need an egg to make a great cake, but it’s only one of the important ingredients.


Now, about that whole Virtual Staging discussion

If you are still interested in learning more about the Virtual Staging discussion, then I encourage you to read the following blogs:

Then attend the live Facebook discussion with Steven Aaron on Thursday May 8th at 5pm PST/8pm EST

virtual home staging vs traditional home staging

How to remove a water ring on wood with MAYONNAISE

Yesterday the unthinkable happened. We were staging an occupied home and moving furniture from the main house to a detached garage across the driveway when the skies opened up. Rain was pouring down all over our customer’s beautiful cherry furniture. The top had glass that was now suctioned to it. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to remove it. In the morning we returned, before photos to find that there were huge water spots all over the top. Fortunately we were able to now remove the glass as the water had dried.

remove water rings from wood


How to remove a water ring on wood with MAYONNAISE

I was trying to accomplish everything before the photographer and listing Realtor got to the home, but things being what they were, that just didn’t happen. This furniture piece was moved to the garage for storage, as it wasn’t needed in this staging project. This meant that I would be able to work while the agent and photographer did their job in the house.

With the Realtor standing nearby, I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a paper towel, spoon, and some mayonnaise from the kitchen. I kind of laughed to myself as I started explaining what I was doing. “We accidentally got some water on the client’s table yesterday with all the rain. Mayonnaise and a little elbow grease will make it good as new.”

The agent, who is a top producer in the Jacksonville area, laughed and said, “Oh, so you aren’t just making yourself a sandwich?”

I explained that mayonnaise is actually one of the best ways to get water rings out of your wooden furniture. Simply rub it in circles and viola…. good as new. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

use mayonnaise to get water rings out of wood


All dried it had a beautiful luster and no more water stains.

This trick really only works when the wooden surface has turned white. If the wood has already turned brown where the water has seeped in, you are probably too late. Even with the water on the table overnight we achieved a great level of success.

Are you embedding your facebook home staging posts into your blogs?

I’ve written before about why and how you can and should embed your social media posts into your home staging blogs, but are you doing it? If you are blogging, doesn’t it make sense to increase your exposure on social media or other blogs by utilizing something you are already doing?

home staging social media

how to share your home staging work

Don’t just add hyperlinks, use visualization to increase your followers.

Let’s imagine that you are writing about something fabulous and make reference to another staging project, or another subject. Perhaps you are talking about your most recent home staging project and want to discuss the importance of professional photography in maximizing the online appeal. Do you think a link to your past post, or an embedded facebook post would get more clicks?

What if you wanted to share tips on how to use photography?


Use your facebook posts to give additional information on individual projects.

Writing about a specific home and want to share more photos? Sure, you can create a gallery in that page and post all of the photos, or you can give a quick snapshot, and send them off to your social media platforms …

Linda Barnett, Home Matters in Indianapolis, and Margaret Gehr in Chicago, have done this seamlessly in their recent blogs. (It’s always nice when people pay attention to what you write. =)

Here’s what it could look like though….



Remember that when people are looking at your home staging blogs, chances are that they are looking for visual references and cues as to what your work is like. We know that people are far more likely to skim over your posts and look at the pictures, bolds and highlights than they are wordy paragraphs. With so many people connecting on mobile devices, capturing easy groupings of photos and links that clearly showcase what they’ll find may be the secret to getting more viewers.

Now, how will you start to use a social media embed strategy?

How are you marketing your home staging portfolio?

How are you marketing your home staging portfolio? Recently, after playing around with some new photos from a recent St Augustine home staging project, I asked a similar question online.


While I loved the answers that I received, what I was really asking was, “What other ways are you marketing your home staging ONLINE outside of Facebook?” I suppose the question needs to be asked properly, and my original question may have been too vague. (Don’t get me wrong, the answers were still great, just not what I was looking for.) So let me ask again….

How are you marketing your home staging portfolio ONLINE?

I ask this because lately I’ve gotten an awful lot of business from customers who have found me online. They either did a search for St Augustine home staging or they found me on social media. Inevitably, the first place they went was to look at my photos. Photography is the life blood of a home stager. We are in a visual industry. Agents and home sellers understand (or at least should by now) that potential buyers begin their search online. Photos are what initially sells a home.

As a professional home stager, the way you present your portfolio, can make all of the difference in the world. It’s important to consider the impact your work can have, and the different ways that you may want to share it.

Most every stager needs to have full room shots. They look something like this:

selling your home staging portfolio

You may even have some “mood” shots:

home staging portfolios

While they are great shots for your portfolio, if you stop here, you may be missing some possible marketing options. Consider the Pinterest Board or Instagram feed. What kinds of images will gain you followers there?

What I typically see is something that looks like this:

showcasing your home staging portfolio

Ok. I’ll even admit that photo is my work. I was offering a sneak peek of the property we were staging. This isn’t what most of my shared photos look like. Here’s what the real shot ended up looking like.

home staging portfolio st augustine

Now let’s look at the first two photos and how I used them on both Instagram and Pinterest.

st augustine home staging

You’ll notice I removed most of the space of the room that showcased architecture and layout – important for selling the home, but not for selling my staging style.

building a home staging portfolio

What I love about this photo is that it really showcases the pillows and dining area more than the bright yellow bar stools. Don’t get me wrong, I love the yellow bar stools, and the full “mood” shot is my Facebook header image. It’s great to be able to get a different perspective with the same images though.

Cross pollinate your social media for maximum exposure.

When you are posting to your various social media sites, consider including your other social media profiles so that you’ll maximize your following and exposure. For instance, I used the URL for my Instagram photos, and some of my Google Plus photos, as the source for my Pinterest images.

This will probably get me more followers on those sites when someone wants to click through to the original image. If they like what I do and have pinned multiple images of my work, there is a good chance they will follow me in other locations.

This is how I’ve built my Google plus following to over 15,000 people.

If you are interested in seeing more of my work, follow me on google plus, facebook, or instagram.

Watch for our new Home Staging Business Continuing Education Course Coming Soon! We’ll discuss this topic and many others in depth, in person. Coming to Jacksonville, Dallas, Atlanta, and Indianapolis later this year! 


Hiring Staging Help? Are they an employee or Independent Contractor?

Are you ready to expand your staging business and add on more help? Do you need an Independent Contractor or an employee? You better know, or the tax man may hit you with HUGE fines.

Today I was on the phone with someone about our Market Read Real Estate online home staging consultation program. They are expanding their staging business (in the US) and asked if there was a portal that they could use for their Independent Contractors, so that they didn’t know that it was our program. You see, they were concerned that the contractors would eventually get good at what they are doing and consider leaving, taking the technology that they taught them to use with them.

Immediately I saw red flags jumping up in front of my face. Since I’m an educator at heart, and don’t want to see this very nice entrepreneur fined out of business I thought I would give a little education. As soon as I hung up I knew that it might be time for a blog about this.

Watch for our new Home Staging Business Continuing Education Course Coming Soon! We’ll discuss this topic and many others in depth, in person. Coming to Jacksonville, Dallas, Atlanta, and Indianapolis later this year! 

home staging jacksonville

Are your home stagers independent contractors or employees?

The first part of understanding this is to know what the law says about it. According to the IRS, you need to address these three questions.

Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?

Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)

Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

You see, the giant red flag for me was that she mentioned in her explanation that she had a no-compete agreement and that may be enough to protect her if they decided to go on their own.

Can an independent contractor have a no compete agreement?

Can you and should you are probably two different questions. You can ask anyone to sign a no compete agreement. If they are really independent contractors though, they are completely unenforceable.

Let’s look back at the IRS guidelines. Do you see any problems?

The entire point of an independent contractor is that they are independent. They don’t rely on you to control their employment. This means that they not only can, but should, get other work on their own. Sure, you can have independent contractors that work only for you, but that’s their decision, not yours.

The moment you sign paperwork that say that you work for me and only me, guess what you’ve done? That’s right, you now control their income. You control their work arrangements, and you have a written contract. Boom. You may have just created an employee, according to IRS guidelines. If you aren’t paying taxes and insurance (like workers comp) on your employees and they find out, you may be heavily fined and forced to pay back taxes on all of your independent contractors since your company started.

So how do you keep independent contractors from leaving you and stealing your business?

Again, these are probably two different questions in reality.

The first part, you can’t control, except to create a culture of greatness that your contractors don’t want to leave. If they know they have it good, there is less of a chance they’ll leave. Pay them well. Treat them well. Surprise them with bonuses and team spirit. Give them what they need to be happy working with you (not for you).

Then have a contract in place that protects your intellectual property, and your database. 

Any business relationships that have been forged by your company can be yours by contract. This is legally enforceable, but not practically enforceable. Let’s face it, if your contractor leaves you and your best customer likes them better than you, it doesn’t really matter what the contractor signed, you’ve already lost that customer.

Again, the best way to protect your business is to have a great business. Be the face of your business, or make an EMPLOYEE the face of your business. Make sure that you are selling your BRAND and not any particular person. Pay attention to the relationships and business partnerships. Be the company that no one wants to leave. Leverage your business. Leverage your USP (unique selling proposition).

One last piece of advice, don’t give any one person, unless they are a part owner of your company (and even then I would think twice) the ability to run your company without you. If you do, chances are they will at least try.

Watch for our new Home Staging Business Continuing Education Course Coming Soon! We’ll discuss this topic and many others in depth, in person. Coming to Jacksonville, Dallas, Atlanta, and Indianapolis later this year! 

How to Apply Feng shui to Home Staging

Staging and redesigning a house can be a stressful process. Applying some Feng shui principles can ensure that your design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also positioned to produce positive and harmonious energy for any who enter the home. Feng shui is a complicated practice with lots of different elements, mastering it can be overwhelming especially when you are unfamiliar with the specifics of it. Additionally, the practice of Feng shui is a very young trend in the U.S. when compared to China where it has been around for thousands of years; it has only been around for about 40 years in the United States.

The infographic below, brought to us by Soothing Walls, provides a detailed explanation of Feng shui, including items to include and items to discard in each room to promote positive vibes. The form of infographic detailed below is based on the Western, or BTB, Feng Shui Bagua. With this form of Feng shui, the compass directions are not taken into consideration, instead you lay the Feng shui by aligning the lower end of the grid of your house with the wall of your front door. The grid is then broken down into nine squares that each have a corresponding area of your life, for example, your kitchen is connected to wealth and prosperity. Check out how to apply feng shui to all the rooms in a house in the infographic below.


New ways to share your home staging work and gain more followers.

Have you ever had a really great discussion on Facebook, Pinterest, or Google Plus that you wish you could bring into your blog? Are you looking for more followers on your social media stream because maybe you have a lot of followers in one place, but not another? It seems that social media sites are feeling your pain and are recognizing the growing importance of blogging and finding ways to help you cross pollinate.

Embed your social conversations into your blogs.

Facebook, Pinterest, and Google Plus now have “embed” features in posts.

Embed posts from Facebook into your home staging blogs.

how to share your home staging work

So far Facebook posts seem to be the easiest ones to embed. Simply look for the drop down arrow in the upper right corner of the post you want to use and scroll down.

Using Facebook posts can be a great way to share popular posts with your blog readers. It could also be a great way to get new followers from loyal readers who perhaps get your information from other sources.

This post was one that I did a few weeks ago about my biggest regret as a home stager. It was actually very popular with 50 Facebook likes/shares and 33 Google Plus ones (according the counter on my website).


Embed Pinterest Boards in your home staging blogs

I have to give credit here to Tom Scanlon with Houston Home Staging for the idea of embedding pinterest boards into home staging blogs.

how to embed pinterest boards in home staging blogs

Simply change out the URL for your board’s URL. Using the Pinterest Widget Builder this is seriously easy.

While embedding a pinterest board may be a little more difficult, it seems like a great way to make a statement on your blogs.

You can also embed individual pins in the same way that you can Facebook posts. Click the box with the arrow (upper right corner of pin), scroll down to embed, and copy the code. This to me, is now the best way to do blogs that feature products or room designs. Copying the photo directly and putting it in your blogs posts can be considered copyright infringement whereas embedding the post is permitted as it shows all of the originating source of the photo.

Embedding Google Plus posts into your home staging blogs

Google Plus posts will probably be for posts more related to the market and general business, but imagine being able to show great conversations with your readers, like the one that inspired this post. (Note: only Public posts can be used as embedded posts at this time. Community posts can not be embedded, even if the community allows public viewing.)



Help your target readers, whether homeowners or agents get additional information about their market or the real estate industry as a whole by showing what others are talking about, or bringing a great conversation from your page to your blog and newsletter readers.

Embedding is easy, done the same way as Facebook and individual Pinterest posts, simply use the drop down arrow, highlight embed, and then copy and paste the embed code.

What are ways that you’ll use the embed feature to cross pollinate your business?

It’s funny because Tom Scanlon had only a few days ago posted in the Google Plus Home Staging Community about how he was using his Pinterest Boards in his blogs. I had been trying to figure out how to use this when Bill Gassett piped up about the new G+ feature. I had noticed the embed feature in Facebook about a week earlier, but hadn’t given it much thought.

Today my head is swimming with ideas on how I’ll be using this in the future. How do you think you’ll use the new embed features from social media to improve your blogs or cross pollinate your readership? 

Home Staging Tip: How to make a bed in a bag look like luxury.

Bed in a bag. Is there an item in our home staging arsenal that combines both love and hate as much as this simple accessory? Go down the aisles of TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls or any other discount store and you’ll see some really awful ones, and then some that seem to have potential. Pull them out of the bag, fluff them up, and you have… probably a hot mess. It doesn’t have to be like that though.

How to improve on the bed in a bag in your next home staging job.

Today I staged a home in Jacksonville, FL where I needed all new bedroom linens. I had just painted some great headboards with tons of color that I wanted to stand out in a completely coastal way. Since I had to also buy the beds themselves (I was completely out of them) I wanted to do this on a tight budget. The bed in a bag is usually the best way to do this.

This $39 bed in a bag came with a comforter, 2 standard shams, a bed skirt and 3 throw pillows. SCORE! I really wish they would have had more. It was mostly blue which was perfect for the blue and orange headboard that I recently painted. As usual the throw pillows in this set are squished and cheap looking.  I did happen to have some great ones on my warehouse shelves though.

How to make a bed in a bag look great

$39 bed in a bag with painted headboard

The next bed in a bag was $49. A little more expensive, but that’s OK. It’s still really cheap. This was a green set and had all the same contents. Since it included a bed skirt that was just all the better (both the blue and green sets did). I usually spent $20 just on that little piece of cloth when I have to purchase them separately.

home staging with bed in a bag

$49 bed in a bag with octopus pillows

Finally, I had the master bedroom. I had painted this awesome green headboard and just wanted the room to feel luxurious. They didn’t have anymore super cheap bags, so I went for a super neutral white $79 bed in a bag. This one only had the comforter and shams, but it was still worth it.

using a bed in a bag with home staging

$79 bed in a bag with coral pillows

Don’t use the bed in a bag throw pillows (in the bedroom).

In case you missed the point of this post and the pictures. Keep the bed in a bag pillows for your other rooms where they can be used as filler, but keep the off the bed. Usually it’s far to “matchy matchy” to actually pull together and normally they look super cheap.  But see, they look perfectly fine here in the living room. The pillows on the chairs below are actually one from each of the blue and green bed in a bag sets.

home staging with bed in a bag

Use your bed in a bag pillows somewhere else!

So there you have it – the secret of making a bed in a bag look like luxury in your next home staging project.

Related post: How many pillows does it take to stage a home? 

Training Tips:The biggest mistake I made as a professional home stager

When I decided to become a professional Jacksonville Realtor that stages my listings vs being a professional stager for other Realtors I had to make some decisions. Knowing that I would not have time to do everything myself, it made sense to delegate the things that took me longer or I didn’t have a lot of skill in. I’ve always taught that Realtors should not be stagers. They should be spending their time out there getting other deals or marketing to find buyers for the listings that they have. Since I don’t have that many yet, I’ve been staging my own listings while calling in other local stagers to assist so that it goes faster.

Trying to do it all as a home stager

Just like being a Realtor, I probably could have done better with my time, and could have avoided the biggest mistake – the one thing that I really regret looking back – had I delegated. OK, I did delegate some things. We had 5 stagers on the team, an office assistant and a staging assistant. What we didn’t have is a professional photographer. 

If I had it all to do over again, I would have increased  my prices just a little and included professional photography with my packages. Looking back, I believe that I would have had a much better portfolio and probably could actually have gotten more business as a result.

use a professional photographer when staging

While I do think my photographs, like the one above, were reasonably good, they aren’t photos that I would use in my portfolio now. Had they been professionally taken, by a real estate photographer, I believe that it might be. This home would fit in well with homes we see here in Jacksonville and has great statistics.

Still, I don’t think that it has the same impact as this next photo does.

home staging by melissa marro

This photo isn’t even the best photo of this room. (Ironically it is the same coffee table in both.) The home on top was a golf course property, which could easily be seen from the windows at the back of the house – which in my photos are blown out. The windows in the second photo show the lawn, patio and vacant lot next door. The view of the first home is much better, or at least should have been.

Delegating your photography work to the pros

While I think many of us [home stagers] own really nice cameras, I think very few of us really know how to use the camera, and all of the available software. I know that we have courses by Andrew Mayon, a real estate photographer whose work I really admire, that will teach you how to take photos so your windows look like the below photos instead of the above photos. I’ve taken the course and have had some luck with it. What I don’t have is time and patience.

I have found, in the same way that we tell Realtors that they shouldn’t stage, that we shouldn’t be taking our photos. We should leave that to the pros. I can say, looking back. I wish that I had done this. I see it all the time on Facebook too. I see stagers whose work is great, but their photos are “eh”. I would venture to say that this change could really alter their business in the way that bringing in a stager could alter a Realtor’s business. If that’s true, it would also create a trickle down effect to the Realtor who hired you and the seller who hired them. I have no doubt that it would be a huge ROI for everyone involved in the process.

Home staging myth: BUSTED! Sellers won’t stage their home.

Today was a learning experience in a lot of ways. For those who don’t know, after selling my Charleston home staging business last year I decided to become a Realtor in Jacksonville/St Augustine, FL. I just completed my first year of having my Florida license. I have been trying to build my business based on the two things that I really know – home staging and marketing. I provide home staging to all of my listing customers.

An unexpected reaction from my broker

sellers will stage their home if they understand whyThis week I’ve had a great week, actually signing papers on three new listings. (Ok, technically it’s 2.5 – I’m co-listing one of these with another agent who hasn’t been able to sell it and wants my staging services to get it sold.) Today as I came into the real estate office at 5:30, my broker asked what was going on. I showed him that I had another listing to turn in. His reaction wasn’t exactly like I expected it to be. While he did eventually congratulate me, his first reaction was actually, “Tell me it’s not for the middle of August like the last one.” 

Actually, it was. You see I’m going out of town August 1-5 to visit my favorite Indianapolis home staging couple. I am staging one of my new listings on July 30th, then the rest have to wait until I return. Besides, the other two remaining homes have a lot of work to get done before I can come in. They have closets to organize, personal belonging to pack away or donate, and updates to complete, like getting new carpeting.

Don’t put the property on MLS until it’s actually ready

I had to explain to my broker that I wasn’t going to have my customers put their home on MLS until it was actually ready. I’m surprised that he didn’t appreciate this point since this broker actually did use the services of a professional stager when he was an agent.

While the reaction from my broker was surprising, what hasn’t been surprising to me is that sellers, once they understand the importance of staging, are eager to get the home ready. They understand that their home will show better and they won’t have to have as many showings. So far, I haven’t had a listing appointment where 1) I didn’t get the listing 2) the seller wasn’t willing to do whatever we needed to do to stage it.

Of the three listings that I signed this week there were some interesting facts that agents should pay attention to.

  • The first listing I signed this week had talked to other agents and actually had saved a post card from another agent in her kitchen drawer. She held onto it for months knowing that she would be selling. This is one of two condos the couple will be selling this year. They listed with me because I provide home staging services and the other agent never even brought the subject up.
  • The second listing had actually been previously with the co-listing agent and had expired. The seller wasn’t interested in doing more than a month-to-month extension until she brought me in and we discussed staging. We now have a new contract with enough time to get the job done.
  • The third listing met with another Realtor. Like the first listing this week, that agent didn’t offer staging services, which is interesting because I actually occasionally do consultations for that agent. I know that I don’t provide consultations for all of their listings, which I always find interesting. Clearly this time his pick and choose methodology didn’t work. Since they also want me to find them a new place to live, that’s a double loss for that agent.

Realtors have missed the boat. Sellers will stage if they understand the value.

I know that not all Realtors have missed the boat. In Charleston I had a staging business that had mid six figures in sales every year. That doesn’t happen without having loyal Realtors who believe in what you do. Here in Jacksonville/St Augustine, the agents only stage selectively, if ever. Sellers, on the flip side, seem to want this service. I’m sure it has something to do with what they see on HGTV and other design channels.

When Realtors make the decision that sellers don’t want to spend the time or money, they are not doing them a favor. For now, I’m content to get ahead of the curve and leave them in the dark.

It’s my decision because I’m the home staging expert.

Today I met with a new potential client. In the beginning there were red flags that were jumping around waving in my head. I was reminded of a couple of jobs that have gone poorly in the past years of my home staging career. This one has all the right ear marks. Fortunately I think that I was pretty clear at the appointment and if I still get the job, the duties will all be understood.

No you can’t pick the pieces I’m using in this home staging job.

home staging certification class expert

When customers initially have their own ideas of what the room should look like, including what color the sofa should be, what kind of dining table and chairs there should be, and the size of your silk trees, you know there is a problem brewing. The first time the agents mentioned a suggestion – that she wanted contemporary – I countered back with a question on buyer demographic.

Me: “Who is the buyer?”

Agent: “We don’t have a buyer. That’s why we are hiring you.”

Me: “Tell me about who you think the buyer will be. Will they be retired, young professionals, a family?”

Agent: “Young. Old. You know, it could be anyone.

Ok. I can work in those parameters. It means that I’m going to have to (1) try to do a little research on my own, but this is a new construction community and this is a resale in it. That’s tough. (2) Make sure my plan appeals to most demographics.

So I started talking about some potential furniture choices, then there were more questions. Questions about colors, placement, and art. Should the table be round or rectangular?

At some point I simply had to take off my glasses and have a serious conversation. Where I think I may have been a bit docile before, I was taking over this appointment.

“I know that you haven’t ever worked with me before, and I’m not sure if you’ve worked with another stager. (She hasn’t, but she has seen work I’ve done for her company.) I have 10 years of experience. I’ve staged hundreds of homes. My contract clearly says that when you hire me, you understand that I’m the expert and that I have final say on all design choices, placement, and selections. I will ask questions to try to find out who you think the buyer is, but ultimately it’s my job to make the decisions. The things I hear you asking me about are all designer choices that begin to personalize a space to your taste. Are you buying it? (She smiled and answered no.) I only care about the potential buyer. That’s my job. It means that both you and the seller may not love it. My job is to make the buyer love it.”

I’m the home staging expert, so trust my judgement 

home staging certified stager

I'm the home staging expert!

As a Realtor I regularly experience other agents complaining about how customers don’t listen to their opinion on things like pricing their home. They even use the line, “Like they know better than we do. We only do this for a living.” Right. So why do this with me? I’m the expert. I know how to do this. I teach others how to do this.

Now I wonder if the down right earnestness is going to win over this agent, or turn her off. We’ll see when she comes back with a deal or no deal.  For me, I’m over trying to please everyone. It’s the part that I loved about my job. It’s the part I hate as a Realtor.