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Stager's favorite props

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Have you ever wondered what it is that stagers know, and you don’t? Of course they know how to professionally merchandise a property, how to select the perfect paint color and how to make a seller feel comfortable packing away personal mementos. Stagers also have favorite “props,” those items that evoke an emotional response, create a mood and add the finishing touches to a room. So what are they?

Colorful accent pillows, cozy throws, faux fruit and flowers are on everyone’s list. Stagers love a great centerpiece on the dining room table, something most home sellers over look. “It adds drama to the space,” Elizabeth Tucker, owner of Design Remix in New York, said. Then of course there’s the children’s bathroom where the yellow rubber ducky is a popular prop.

Coffee table books and large paintings that take up wall space are staples. Homes either have no books, old books, the wrong size books or too many books. Invariably homeowners hang art high or low, seldom is it at the appropriate viewing level. There’s an art to hanging art. Stagers understand proportion and scale. They always have to replace family photos, the bridal portrait and the school diplomas and every stager will tell you, bigger is better when it comes to artwork! Remember artwork doesn’t necessarily mean paintings.

“I have these three willow and iron panels I got at Pier One and I use them on so many jobs,” Karen Otto, owner of Home Star Staging in Dallas, said. “They make a nice statement on a large wall without causing too much negative attention to themselves and they go with so many styles. I also like to leave reading glasses near books and bedsides. Most people can relate to them as many have them all over the house. I get them at goodwill stores and it's kind of my signature statement for simple staging style,” she said.

Debra Rosser, President of Staging Matters in Dallas will use rain boots in a laundry room and likes to set up classic board games in mid- play with bottles of pop to create a fun lived-in look. “I also love a sink full of miniature rubber duckies in a kids bathroom,” she said. Rosser also leaves tiny soccer shoes, ballet slippers or rain boots in appropriate spaces. “It always evokes a warm feeling to see tiny shoes!”

Martha Nazzaro, principal and owner of Grace-Full Interiors in Boston, likes to add a tray to the master bedroom bed. “I set the tray with breakfast dishes, the morning paper, a coffee cup and a small bud vase of artificial flowers," she said. "I also can’t live without my battery-operated candles. I light them for all the open houses. They add such a great feeling to the rooms. Oh, and I can’t stage a home without my apothecary jars. I fill them with all sorts of things from soaps and brushes in the bathrooms to pasta in the kitchen.”

Stagers are creative people and some, like Nena Jean Trimble, have a signature prop they use over and over. Trimble is the owner of Cranbrook Home Staging & Design Studio in British Columbia, Canada. Her ceramic bulldog “Billy” is positioned near the front entry of most homes she stages. “He has a bouquet of flowers that sit sideways in his mouth, she said. “He brings a smile to clients.”

“I do love my frog!” Michelle Lynne Pant, President and Chief Design Junkie of By Michelle Lynne, LLC in Dallas, uses a gold frog whenever she possibly can. “It's a great piece that just sets the tone in the spaces we stage as a yoga room," she said. "As you know, part of staging is selling the lifestyle that 'comes' with the house. If a property is large enough to have a space to set aside specifically for any exercise, it's such a selling point in today's heath oriented market! The seller will often conclude that if they have a house with an exercise space, they'll automatically be healthier. So by using the frog (we've named him Mister Om) in a space, it helps the buyer imagine themselves being peaceful and healthy in this specific property...and increasing the likelihood of them making an offer."

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