top of page

How Staging This Home Changed My Clients' Lives

>>> HOW WOULD YOU FEEL if you had to

unexpectedly pay two mortgages for 18 months? <<<

When I staged this particular home, it literally changed my clients' lives. That is kind of a bold statement for me to make, but it really is true. This is my biggest staging success story.

If you or someone you know has been, or is ever, in a similar situation, let this serve as a guide. Oh, and in case some of you are wondering, even in a sellers’ market, staged homes still sell for more money. :)

Staged Home Exterior and Interior by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)


Carla Gentle

Design Realign, Inc. Logo


How would you feel if you had to unexpectedly pay two mortgages for 18 months? Many people couldn’t pull it off. That happened to my clients before they ‘fired’ their Realtor and hired me to replace her in December 2015. A mutual friend reached out to me to see if I would help this family, and the rest is history.

I used to sell real estate through 2018 and applied my staging skills (acquired through my design business) to my sellers' homes, as well as for other Realtors. I have yet to come across a staging client of mine who regretted having their home staged. I normally stage occupied homes, but this shows you how to address a vacant home.

PREVIOUS AGENT – Listed for 526 Days with No Offer

LISTED W/ ME – Sold to 1st Buyers in the Door!

My clients were transferred out of state from Illinois to Arkansas 18 months prior to working with me. During that time, they were working with another Realtor who had listed their home for sale three separate times for a total of 526 days with NO offers! You heard that right ... NO offers. That is crazy!

NOTE: I will be creating a blog post soon on how to choose the right Realtor, including what to look for ... both good and bad. With my being a former Realtor, you will be getting some inside tips!

Needless to say, my clients' stress level was quite high. The previous agent's lack of care and attention to them and their home truly put this family in a bind; and there is a domino effect to that. And, as you can imagine, this put alot of pressure on me to get this home sold ... and fast.

When the sellers hired me as their Realtor, I made some critical staging suggestions to them to get their home sold. They listened to my suggestions, and the home sold to the first buyers who walked in the door!


So, what exactly was the problem and why couldn’t the other Realtor get it sold? Initially, she had the home priced too high. She did lower the pricing a couple times, but it really needed staging and fresh paint. Secondly, the home was empty; but wait ... that was NOT the problem, because I kept it empty. However, I did stage this vacant home (while keeping it vacant) with what I had to work with, and HERE IS WHAT I DID:

As you can see from the pictures below, part of the problem was the dirty FLAT paint on the walls, the blah kitchen, and the overgrown landscaping, to name a few. None of these issues had been addressed in the past by the previous agent. Shame on that agent! Be sure you go with an agent who you know truly cares about their clients.



Staging The Kitchen

You can see the kitchen cabinets and walls were painted, new hardware was added, and the refrigerator was moved from the basement kitchen to the kitchen on the main floor. What a difference! With my being a color consultant, I knew this color scheme would be a big hit (dark brown cabinets, cream countertops, and a light blue gray wall color).

The cabinets were professionally spray painted at a body shop. They did such a good job, you couldn’t even tell they were painted. In fact, you could see the grain through the paint. They were beautiful, and it looked like the cabinets came that way.




Staged Kitchen (vacant home) by Painting Cabinets and Walls and Added Hardware and Refrigerator from the Basement ... by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)

Staging and Improving the Landscaping and Curb Appeal

Can you imagine how overgrown the bushes and landscaping were after the sellers being gone for 18 months? Nothing was touched that whole time. I wish I had taken before pictures of the exterior but didn’t think of it until it was too late. The front door was a very bland white door, which had no visual appeal against the cream brick home; so, I got my sellers onboard with painting the exterior of the front door with the color ‘Peppercorn’ by Sherwin Williams. I then bought a gorgeous silvery sage winter wreath for the front door, which I kept for myself once the home sold. 😊 The wreath popped nicely against the dark gray front door, and it was now a beautiful entrance into the home.

To no fault of my own, this home was listed on December 23. I know … that is the worst week of the year to list a home! I warned the sellers and told them it was best to wait until after the new year; but they were so desperate to get their home sold and insisted on listing it December 23.

Fortunately, the landscaper was their neighbor down the street, so my sellers got a good deal. He trimmed all the bushes, so they were nice and even; and he laid down premium black mulch. He also took care of the foot-long grass that had grown in the neglected raised garden bed. Even though nothing was in bloom and there were no leaves on the trees, the landscaping was now well-kept, clean, and very presentable and marketable to sellers.

Do not ever underestimate the importance of curb appeal! If your exterior looks out of sorts, you can be sure people are going to judge you and already have a preconceived notion that you do not take care of the interior of your home either. Can you blame them? After all, you live inside the house, not outside.


IN 2015: SOLD TO 1ST BUYERS IN THE DOOR (NOT during a housing boom)

Painted front door Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (from white) to provide visual interest and contrast against the cream brick, trimmed bushes (after 18 mos. overgrowth), and laid premium black mulch.

(NOTE: This home was listed with previous agent for 526 days with no offers!)

Staged Exterior and Interior of Home by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)

Staging the Living Room and Dining Room

So, now that you know how the new entrance into the home looked, what did it look like once you stepped inside? Well, let’s just say it was some more of the same blah as in the before picture of the kitchen above. Moving your eyes from floor to ceiling as you stepped into the home, you had cream-colored tiles in the foyer, and to the right was dirty beige carpeting in the front room and dining room with light oak baseboards and 12’ cathedral ceilings of that same dirty yellow on the walls. Everything was bland, the color choice was bad, and the walls looked very dirty because of the flat paint.

I had the foyer, front room, and dining room painted in the same light blue gray color as the kitchen, and once again, just that alone, made a huge difference. I also took off the fabric curtain tiebacks so the curtains looked more updated and flowed to the floor. I steamed them with my handheld steamer to get the wrinkles out (I took the before pictures after I took the tiebacks down, but if you look closely, you can tell they were tied back). Normally, I would have the sellers steam the wrinkles out, but because they lived out of state, either I had to do it or leave the tiebacks up, which really dated the look of the window treatment. I suggested to my sellers that they have the carpets cleaned and they agreed.

Little changes like taking down the tiebacks can make a big difference, and many changes don’t even cost any money. The more changes you make, the more appealing the house becomes. If you find yourself selling a vacant (or occupied) home, always be thinking about how you can improve the look or function or what is already part of the home. This could include making changes for an updated look to your drapery, fireplace, or light fixtures, for example. And, you will notice none of those have to do with furniture or decluttering, but rather more to do with things that are attached to the home that are there even when the home is vacant.


BEFORE & AFTER of living room when you enter the home.



Staged Home (vacant home) by Painting Walls and Taking Down Drapery Tiebacks by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)
Staged Home (vacant home) by Painting Walls and Taking Down Drapery Tiebacks by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)
Staged Home (vacant home) by Painting Walls and Taking Down Drapery Tiebacks by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)

Staging the Family Room and Fireplace

You took four steps down from the kitchen to enter the family room, and you could see the fireplace located at the far end of the room. The problem I had with this room was the fireplace should have been the focal point, however, it was anything but. I could tell the sellers had tried to make that a focal wall by painting it a much darker color (dark brown) compared to the surrounding walls (rust). However, the oak fireplace surround did not stand out against the dark brown accent wall. You had light brown on top of dark brown. It was ugly, quite frankly.

I told my sellers a simple and inexpensive solution to this was to paint the fireplace surround a creamy color, as well as the other walls, which were a rust color. They agreed. Now, when someone stepped into that room … BAM! The first thing you noticed was the pretty cream fireplace pop against the dark brown wall.

The only other change I made in that room was I took down very heavy, thick curtains. The curtains reminded me of heavy upholstery material and that look was hurting the room. The sellers already had nice cellular shades in the window, so we just went with those. The leather sofa you see was the only piece of furniture the sellers left behind, other than the basement kitchen table and chairs.

The last of the staging in that home was I had a handyman install a ceiling light/fan combo in the bedrooms. The master bedroom was the only bedroom that had a ceiling light (and fan). With the home being listed on December 23, it got dark by around 4:30P. Anyone who would have seen the home during the week after work would need the lights on to see those bedrooms. With no ceiling lights, I could have put lamps on the floor, but need I say more?! It was a problem.


BEFORE & AFTER of family room fireplace



Staged Home (vacant home) by Painting Fireplace Surround, Cream Wall Color and Taking Down Heavy Drapery by Carla Gentle with Design Realign, Inc. (Sold to 1st buyer in the door in 2015)

NOTE: The cellular shades are pulled up to the top of the window in this picture.


Most people feel you don’t need to stage a home in a sellers’ market. It is true that homes can sell quickly in a sellers’ market without being staged (as long as it is priced right), …


Regardless of whether it is a sellers’ market or not, THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS … STAGED HOMES SELL FOR MORE MONEY. That is a fact. It’s a no-brainer, if you ask me.


You can clearly see from my own success story above (I have several), that staging was the key to getting this home sold. I didn’t even have to fill it with furniture. I knew what it needed to sell, so all I had to do was get the sellers onboard; and because they trusted me and allowed my suggestions to come to fruition, they reaped the rewards.

My goal is for you to have a better understanding of the true role staging plays in real estate. A home doesn't necessarily have to be filled with furniture, but rather it's about doing your best to work with what you have. Remember, staged homes sell faster and for more money; and yes, even in a sellers’ market.

Design Realign Blog ... A Blog About All Things Home


bottom of page