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Based on the book: 

If I were to put my house on the market? I'd hire a stager. And it couldn't be me.

As a staging professional, I have the ability to walk into a home and see how it could show at its very best. This often means moving furniture from one room to another, moving paintings from a living room to a dining room, rolling up rugs, packing up nik-naks, culling down the visual stopping points within a room.

In the photos above, the upper photo shows the "after" picture with the room presenting as a cool and calm space, based firmly on the beautiful grey-green paint on the walls. When I arrived, the room was sporting a navy and red rug, red chair pads, and no focal point that allowed the eye to rest and take in the room. However, the homeowner had a painting on the living room wall that did the trick. Rugs and chair pads were removed, furniture was culled down, wall art was minimized. This homeowner had a wonderful assortment of art and accessories which allowed me to create a beautiful staging experience which photographed beautifully on the internet. The house sold in the same week that it launched on the internet.

Last month I called a decorator to my house. I'd seen Theresa Hoehn's work at a friend's home and was impressed with how well Theresa used the items that were already present in the house in a fresh way. When Theresa arrived, I explained that it must seem odd...this is what I do for a living. But I can't see my own house. I didn't want my house to ever seem stale or dated and so I asked her to walk it with me and give suggestions on how to keep it fresh. She suggested subtle changes which made a world of difference. Over the last month I've added sisal rugs, new pillows, new draperies, and a few wonderful lights. Paintings found new walls and rooms changed into brighter more updated spaces. I'm delighted with the impact these small changes have made. I knew something needed to change but could not get out of my own way to see it.

As a stager, that is my job. I have no preconceived notion of how a home has been looking. I can only see what it could be at its best. Many homeowners think, "Well, my house looks good enough for me. Our family likes it." But you aren't selling your home to your family. You are selling it to people on the other end of a computer screen who are looking at dozens of houses in your area and have very strong notions about how they want their new house to look. And realistically? They want to do as little work as possible to achieve that look.

So my job is to create spaces which allow potential buyers to daydream about their things in your space. That usually means taking a good bit of your things out of your space and making it gracious and appealing and sellable. If I were to put my house on the market? I would hire a stager. And it couldn't be me. I am tied to my things and my eye has gotten used to the weight and balance of my own spaces. I would need to have someone help me to reweight my rooms and see things in a new way. My house is lovely and makes me happy every day. But it is not in a sellable state. It tells of story of who we are, where we have travelled, what books we love, what pottery collections we own. But that does not sell a house. And I know it.

So I suggest that if you are about to sell your home? Hire a stager. Allow someone else with a trained real estate eye to really see your house with you and for you. You'll pay them for the walk through, but if you are a DIY person you can simply take notes, as I did, and go for it. I employed Theresa's ideas and it was well worth the cost of her expertise. Of course Theresa would have done any work I could not do on my own. And a stager will do the same. But realize your limitations in seeing. You can't see your own house. But the real estate world is about to look.

Laurie Easterlin is a home stager and professional Masters preparation specialist. To learn more about her services, please visit:

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