The Short List: Julie Chrissis’ Outside-the-Box Tips for Staging Properties

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Julie Chrissis is the owner of Chrissis & Company Interiors.

Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Julie Chrissis, the owner of Chrissis & Company Interiors, a staging and design company, for her outside-the-box tips for staging properties.

10. Do Not Confuse “Well-Decorated” with “Well-Staged” – One of the biggest mistakes we see is agents assuming that because a client used a designer, their home is ready for market. Decorating is about lifestyle; staging is about marketing. A home may not need all the chairs in a living room or dressers in a bedroom to look its best for market. It is best to look at all homes for opportunities for improvement equally.

9. Vacant Homes Appear Smaller Than They are and Photograph Horribly –  Statistically, vacant homes sell 78 percent slower than occupied homes. Just because your client has less than desirable furniture does not mean the home will fare better empty. Only one in 10 buyers can visualize what an empty home might look like furnished – you have pretty poor odds that you will get one of these gifted buyers coming through your listing.

8. Go for Glamour in the Bedroom – One of the easiest ways to dress up a bedroom is with coordinating bedding and lots of pillows. It looks stylish and photographs beautifully. A frumpy bed that is sloppily made and with one pillow looks boring. Spend the $80 on a bed-in-a-bag and dress up the bed.

7. Don’t Neutralize Kid’s Rooms – We see a lot of agents encouraging homeowners to paint children’s rooms neutral colors. Well guess what…those owners are likely selling to families with kids or to couples who plan on having kids.  Everyone loves a cute kid’s room. A boring “blah” one will just hold you back.  Just make sure to reduce clutter and have an appropriate amount of furniture, and call it a day.

6. Do Not Underestimate the Effect a Staging Consult Can Have On a Space – Some of the most amazing transformations we have seen in homes were the result of homeowners implementing the advice from a one-hour consult. Most sellers are motivated to make changes; take advantage of that.

5. Break Up Large Expanses of Color – Spaces like wood floors, walls, dining tables, sectional sofas and kitchen countertops will take up a lot of space in photos and need to be broken up with decorative items like rugs, art, table settings and accessories to avoid looking boring and reduce their dominating effect.

4. Appropriately Used Storage Spaces are Essential – Buyers do not want to consider the fact that they might outgrow their new home. One of the jobs of a seller is to show buyers that storage space is abundant in their home. The best way to do this, of course, is to not be maxing it out. Closets should be about 20 percent empty and have open floor and shelving space. Have sellers pack away out of season items and/or holiday items. They are moving anyway, so that stuff will need to get packed up anyway.  Do not overdo this, though; it needs to be realistic.

3. Help Sellers Prioritize Changes – We often meet with sellers who are busy making changes their agents told them were imperative, when really, the changes are insignificant. A good example is bathroom lighting fixtures. If a seller has an extremely dated bathroom, changing one element of that room is not a makeover. Buyers will not be confused into thinking the bathroom is updated because it has a nice new light in a sea of avocado tiles. Your best bet is to determine what changes will make the most impact and go from there. If you are not sure, clutter removal is usually what most sellers need the most.

2. Do Not Be Afraid to Suggest Staging to Sellers – Almost every single person we meet watches HGTV or the like. They know that staging is part of the current selling landscape. They expect their agent to suggest it. The only people who resist the changes we suggest are the people who do not want to sell anyway for whatever reason – think divorce, physical disability, change in financial situation, etc. Sellers want to get the most money  from their home, and they know staging will get them there. Plus, they have to pack anyway, so why not get a head start and do it from the beginning, so the move is not a fire drill?

1. Professional Photography is Non-negotiable – Nothing bugs us more than seeing a home that a seller has spent hours preparing for market dulled down by amateur photos. If professional photography was cost-prohibitive, then we would understand the reason for not using it. But considering that it is the photos that drive your showings, there is no excuse for bad photos. Spend the money; you will be glad you did.


Julie Chrissis is the owner of Chrissis & Company Interiors, a professional staging and interior design firm.  A previous member of the Rhode Island School of Design faculty, Julie has more than 10 years of design experience, and her previous work has included managing a team of designers on Boston’s Newbury Street, styling photos for publishing in books and magazines, and furniture and accessory buyers. Julie is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Manchester Young Professionals Network, and was recently recognized by the Union Leader as one of their 2014 40 Under Forty.

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