Having had prior experience in home staging, I knew it would take a bit of capital to start my own home staging business as having your own inventory is a must.
I didn't want to start with any form of debt, I was slowly building my own inventory. Nothing really substantial, mostly some art work, linens, lamps and decorative items. I still lacked the "big" pieces, like the furniture.
Seems life was giving me a bit of a push. A few weeks after my sister had fired me, yet again, and for the bloody last time, I was presented with a solid opportunity by an ideal client, a house flipper.
Then as fate would have it, a very dear and supportive friend who offered me a little startup capital.
As much as I didn't want to start out in debt, I also knew that opportunity knocks when it wants to, not when you are ready.
I had only 3 weeks before the property would be ready for staging. I had to hit the ground running. Or more accurately, hit the internet, furniture stores, and Home Goods.
Sofa's and chair's and rugs, oh my!! I have to admit it was such fun..at first, but then it just became a bit scary. Even though the loan was a decent amount, I quickly discovered it wasn't quite enough to purchase all the furnishings needed for an entire house.
So I cranked up my bargain hunting skills into high gear and stretch that budget as far as I could.
The house was a 3bd/3ba with a huge family/bonus space on the lower level and amazing view of SF Peninsula and bay.
When I arrived at the property for my initial walkthrough, this is the condition it was in;
I took my photos and room dimensions and headed back to design the space.
On a side note, using a floor planner with 3D options saves me so much time. I can determine the layout, adjust furnishings to the size of my inventory and move the layout around until I'm satisfied, enabling me to have the project's inventory organize and ready to go when the movers arrive.
It'd not always easy to determine if a rectangle or a round dining table works in the space when you see it person. The floor planner tool helped me determine which dining table would work best.
The 3D feature is great for examining the room from all views.
As you can see from the photo above and below, the console table with the lamps in the 3D photo didn't work in the actual space.
Planning out the space ahead of time helps keep costs down, reduces tweaking from major to minor, and saves me loads of time and money (movers are paid by the hour, tick, tick, tick, cha-ching cha-ching!
The bonus space in the lower level was a bit of a challenge. It was very long and very narrow (barely 13')
With a fireplace in an odd location:
A family entertainment space would work best. The floor planner program let me try all sorts of layouts. Unfortunately I don't have those screen shots to share. What you see below is the winning layout; the space to have a desk area, family room space defined by a 10x14 flokati rug, and a game table area.
I dress all 3 baths (the one below is the lower level full bath)
The master (missing the mirror over the headboard, artwork over the console, and the chair in the corner.)
I couldn't find the slats for the bed, so we had to prop the inflatable up with boxes. I thought the boxes were well hidden, ummm nope, guess again genius.
I never knew whether the client noticed the boxes or not and was not about to ask.
and kitchen (missing the table and chairs only) which the client DID notice.
As if those booboos weren't enough, I made a few more doozies.
First, I thought renting the bigger pieces (the 2 sofas and 4 accent chairs), would enable me to stretch that budget even further. Problem was, a week after I priced out those pieces, the monthly rental price had literally doubled and their minimum rental amount increased. A huge unexpected hit to the budget.
Second major faux pas, I should have assembled all of the pieces before the staging date. That poor planning cost me hours! There were 6 dining chairs, 3 console tables, 8 side tables, and (what I thought was a 36" counter height) table and 2 chairs for the kitchen. If it wasn't for my son-in-law's help, I'd probably still be assembling those pieces.
And that table and 2 chairs never appeared in the kitchen because after we assembled them, it turns out the table was 41" tall, instead of 36". I misread the dimensions when I ordered it. Anyway, it looked horrid and shrunk the kitchen, so back to storage it went.
All this compounded by the fact that the realtor had scheduled the photographer for the very next day, so the house had to be finished before 10am the next morning.
The stress mounted with each passing hour. Being very self conscious about not having more inventory to choose items from was salt in the wounds.
By 2.30-3a.m I started to panic. Stressed out, in debt, not enough furnishings, loads left to do, and completely exhausted, I broke down...yep, cried like a little baby.
Everything said and done, I did get through it. My son-in-law helped me until 4am, I finished by 8am.
My new client didn't mind my limited inventory and was very satisfied with the result. Especially since they received over 25 offers the first week. I was thrilled (and relieved) to learn the property sold for a great deal over asking.
Despite all the woes, Staged Interiors Inc. was officially open for business.
Are there things I would have liked to do different? Absolutely! I am going to take my "lessons learned" and keep moving. Now on to the next staging project!
Oh, and if you don't mind, that bit about my little melt down...let's just keep that between ourselves.