A Star Is Born

Staging a home like a movie set could lead to a Hollywood ending.

March 15, 2013

Even if your listings never attract a movie star, you can inject some show business pizzazz into your staging that can get the deal done. Myra Nourmand, a Beverly Hills real estate pro with many A-list celebrity clients, recommends thinking of a home—any home—like a movie set, paying careful attention to detail so that it’s camera- and buyer-ready.

“You don’t have to invest a huge amount of money. It’s the attention to the little things that makes the home shine and separates you from the typical broker,” says Nourmand, a real estate professional with Nourmand & Associates who has listed and sold homes for as much as $30 million. Her client roster includes actress Hilary Swank and pop singer Sheryl Crow. Here are some Hollywood-inspired staging ideas that can bring magic to your listings.

Find the Character’s Essence

As any stager will tell you, every property—regardless of its size or asking price—can benefit from decluttering and depersonalizing. HomeGain’s 2012 Home Improvement Survey found that cleaning and decluttering are the do-it-yourself activities with the biggest potential return at resale, adding possibly $2,000 or more to the sales price.

Buyers like to snoop. So put away personal photos and items, including medicines and toiletries. Also, keep kitchen and bathroom drawers tidy and not overstuffed in case anyone sneaks a peek. Depersonalizing is even more important for high-profile listings, where the famous names attached to the homes want to protect their privacy.

Set the Scene

“Home buying is very aspirational, so play to buyers’ aspirations,” says Brett Baer, a luxury home stager with Meridith Baer Home, based in Los Angeles. Here’s how:

  • Create vignettes: Setting scenes within a home helps to define how spaces are used. For example, display a chess game or playing cards. In an area that may be used for exercise, put out water bottles and towels on a table. “Show what each room is about and how it can be used, and then sell it,” Nourmand says. “You’re not just selling a home; you’re selling a lifestyle that you want them to fit into.” When he staged a home recently purchased by film and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Baer displayed colorful coffee table books, conveying a relaxing scene for the prospective home owner.
  • Go big: Use supersized centerpieces to make a bigger statement, such as a large vase of lilacs on the kitchen counter or the dining room table. Also, push spaces to their max: “If you can fit twelve seats in the dining room, don’t just put in eight seats,” Baer says. Go as big as you can with your furnishings to show how much a space can accommodate, but stay mindful of the scale of the room. And make large rooms multifunctional: A living room might accommodate a small desk in the corner, where family members could plug in a laptop, pay the bills, or do homework.
  • Add color pops: The trend in staging is modern, minimalist style with light, neutral color palettes, Baer says. Add color through accessories. For example, when he staged a Bel Air home once rented by “Twilight” actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Baer used red lamp shades, patterned orange pillows, and large red-orange colored artwork against neutral furnishings and walls to add drama but provide buyers with a clean-slate, move-in ready home.
  • Create a scene stealer: The master bedroom is often the perfect place for this. Create a “sophisticated, elegant, Four Seasons type of space,” Baer says; if possible, use high-end linens. Also, have a sitting area in the room so it’s not just a place to sleep. “It’ll feel more like a suite,” Baer says. In the house Bruckheimer bought, Baer used a light blue velvet chaise accented with a white pillow up against the window to create a quiet retreat. For a spa-like bathroom, use neutral colors, display upscale soaps, and arrange fluffy white towels on the bathroom counter along with a candle and a rose in a vase. Then, consider a modern chandelier. 


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