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by Dale Connelly, 2/18/00

Dc: This is DCR. News meant for amusement. In the real estate industry, one of the newest developments for marketing a home is the so called "home stager." This is a person who you hire to present your house in the best possible light for a quick and lucrative sale.
Apparently it's all the rage, especially with the most expensive homes.
Here in the studio is "home stager" Renee Lee Edison.

Renee: It's a pleasure to be here.

Dc: Really? Can you enter any space and not size it up ... professionally?

Renee: Well, I would lose the carpet in here, definitely.

Dc: Is it the color?

Renee: People don't want to be in a room with a mud colored floor. We're past that, evolution-wise. It feels very ... prehistoric.

Dc: So it wouldn't sell?

Renee: It would sell to cave people. But this is a radio station and I wouldn't expect a client of that sort. So I would lose the carpet and do something about the industrial feel. Maybe leave a rolling pin out with some flour sprinkled around ... like you've just made a pie crust.

Dc: Even though I haven't? And wouldn't?

Renee: Pie equals home and stability. Those are powerful images.

Dc: But it's lying.

Renee: You don't say a word. You let your potential buyer come to his own conclusions. That's the beauty of home "staging." I would also
opt for happier colors. More light. Get rid of this gray.
The chairs are too harsh.

Dc: So this is what you do? You walk into a place and start tossing things out?

Renee: No. I organize and redefine the space to show off it's best qualities.

Dc: Right. You toss things out.

Renee: There's no tossing out. Except for health reasons.

Dc: Are there, sometimes?

Renee: Sometimes, but mostly I find a lot of objects that don't belong in the main living areas. It's surprising what people will put up with. Seedy couches. Cheap tables. Depressing art. It would make a person if gloomy if she didn't already know she has excellent taste, herself.

Dc: And you remove that stuff, right? People's beloved, well worn furniture that's full of character and memories?

Renee: Remove? I use it to "spice up" the darkest recesses of the basement.

Dc: Where no one ever goes?

Renee: Not true. We show basements, especially if the buyer needs space for lots of awful, ugly, mismatched things.

Dc: But these things ... these belongings make a house a home.

Renee: That's a fallacy. Nobody wants to buy a home full of other people's belongings. That's icky, yuk!

Dc: But you come in and fill the house with your own decorating touches, including carpet and furniture and sometimes tile and paint and wallpaper.

Renee: Those aren't belongings. That's all from my warehouse.

Dc: You have a warehouse?

Renee: Full of Wingback chairs. Tiffany lamps. Fine leather love seats. Beautiful down comforters. But nobody has an attachment to those things. And you can tell. They're perfect things. Never been used. They're clean, emotionally. Wonderful things, almost museum pieces.

Dc: Isn't this cheating? You're selling an image, a style. The house itself gets lost.

Renee: Some houses NEED to get lost.

Dc: And this really works?

Renee: Oh yes. When a house stager has done a good job ... fist fights break out between people who will do ANYTHING to live there. Anything at all. And the most vicious fights of all are over houses that are, by themselves, not very remarkable!

Dc: Give me an example.

Renee: Well, there's a little place in Washington DC. Quite old. Painted all white. Nice south facing portico. It's Rather small. Marginal neighborhood. Traffic is awful. And yet good people, smart people are putting up millions to get in there. Just to lease it! It's incredible.
A triumph of the home stager's art. I wish I could say I'd done it.

Dc: I think I know the place you mean. It's got a big yard.

Renee: Yes, but helicopters and people from the armed forces have beaten down the grass. It's very loud there. No neighbors to speak of. And yet that house will change hands within a year ... mark my words! And money will be no object!

Dc: Style matters.

Renee: Darn tootin'.

Dc: Home stager Renee Lee Edison.

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