Smart Solutions: The art of home staging

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Well-edited rooms are one of the tricks of the trade for home stagers.

If you ever wish your home could look like the ones that have been staged for real estate showings, there is hope. Kristin Calvert, a former realtor turned home stager, says you can make your home more presentable even if you plan to stay put for now.

“It’s really about living a little bit less cluttered of a life,” says Calvert who owns Staged Detroit in Ferndale. “Your house doesn’t have to be perfect, but you can stage your house for living.”

First, she suggests getting rid of anything that doesn’t speak to you or make you happy. For instance, if it’s something you bought spur of the moment that doesn’t bring you pleasure or make your life easier, let it go.

You can also take a closer look at your surfaces. “Think about what you put on your coffee table,” says Calvert who suggests choosing useful items like coasters and playing cards.

The same goes for your kitchen countertops where everyday items like a coffee pot can be left out in the open, while the block of knives you rarely use can be put away. This way, your home looks staged, but can still be useful to you.

Calvert, who often works with historical homes, offers “staging for living” consultations for those who are not planning a move in the near future. For more in-depth projects, she has an interior designer on staff.

She has practical advice for homeowners who might sell in five years, 10 years or 20 years from now. “That’s the Realtor in me,” she says. “If you’re going to do something crazy, do it in your half bath, maybe not in your master bathroom.”

When it comes to affordable updates, light fixtures are among her favorites. She recommends checking what’s trending on Pinterest and at retailers like Restoration Hardware and West Elm.

Those with a tight budget can try Wayfair or the Home Depot for reasonable fixtures. “It’s a great way for a subdivision home to look more custom and you get to look at something really pretty, too,” she says.

Table lamps from sources like Pier 1 and Target can also make a statement. “Sometimes it’s not the cost that matters, it’s the quality. You can buy really solid foundation pieces that last a long time and accent with curtains from IKEA,” says Calvert.

Interiors that have been staged for real estate showings can provide inspiration for homeowners who may be planning a move a few years from now.

Existing pieces that are showing signs of wear, like a wood dining table, can be refinished. “Clients tell me their teenagers are harder on the furniture than they were when they w,ere little,” she says. “A good can of paint can fix that and make it last at least a few more years.”

Sometimes all you need is a little creativity to enhance your surroundings. Calvert shares a fun tip from her grandma, who was born and raised in New York City before moving to the suburbs where she made seasonal changes to her décor. In the winter, she would hang the bright and cheerful curtains for a pop of color against the barren landscape and switch to the simplicity of white fabric come summertime.

Lastly, Calvert says you should declutter your closet. “It’s so much easier to move when you’ve already done that. The more you have, the more you have to maintain.”

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Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at