What mannequins are to store windows, furniture is to the staging industry. It helps the less visionary among us to envision how things should look. But staging a home for sale is an expensive proposition and often not in the cards for today's home sellers.
Voila! Enter inFormed Space and its new line of fake furniture -- so named because the furniture "informs" the space. The company sells full-size beds, tables, couches and chairs made of glossy white plastic that is so light that it can be easily moved around. And a whole house full of furniture can be rented for less than half the cost of traditional staging with no minimum monthly contract. In the company's own vernacular, this stuff is a "quickie."
Just don't try to kick back on the sofa. The "nonfunctional" piece would collapse under the weight of a person, but it makes a great backdrop for a few strategically placed throw pillows. The idea, its inventors say, is to use the pieces as a backdrop for evocative props -- "a pair of work boots resting by the club chair [as pictured above], a half-full martini glass sitting on a cocktail table or a handwritten poem left haphazardly on the seat of a sofa" -- to suggest to prospective buyers what life in the space could be like. And, perhaps more important, whether their king-size bed will actually fit through the door of the bedroom.
The prop furniture is made from Coroplast, the kind of corrugated plastic often used for signs and packaging materials. In addition to being strong and lightweight, it's also recyclable, so at the end of the fake furniture's useful life, it goes into the same processing streams as plastic milk cartons and detergent bottles.
Douglas Pinter is the brainchild behind the operation, and we extend kudos for recognizing the need for an economical alternative to conventional staging. And nothing sells worse than an empty house.
Tom Postillio, star of HGTV's "Selling New York" and a founding member of CORE real estate, will showcase inFormed Space in two of his New York listings -- one of them a $13.65 million property. Just remember: Stay standing.
Faked You Out! Prop Furniture Finds a Place on Home Stage
PROBLEM: Staging often requires returning rooms to their intended purpose, rather than reflecting the homeowners' living style. These Charlotte, N.C., homeowners used the living room as a home office, complete with a large desk, office equipment, and many, many books. Though functional for them, it failed to impress buyers.
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SOLUTION: After stager Cheryl Cox moved the existing furniture to other rooms, she removed the dated wallpaper and painted in a neutral color. To call attention to the hardwood floors, she replaced the area rug with a smaller one.
Stager: Cheryl Cox, StageCoach Home Staging and Design
PROBLEM: The wallpaper in this guest bedroom in a Lake Elsinore, Calif., home was very busy and reflected the homeowner's very specific and personal style. The empty room also didn't help buyers visualize how they could best use the space.
SOLUTION: To appeal to the widest range of buyers, stager Debbie Takahashi removed the wallpaper and painted the room in warm, neutral tones. Cost: $800, plus furniture and accessories rental Stager: Debbie Takahashi, Staged by Design, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
PROBLEM: The owners of this home in Sterling Heights, Mich., were updating their kitchen and dining room in preparation for sale. The large dining table with oversized chairs crowded the room and impeded traffic flow. The tile flooring was loose. The homeowners wanted to make the room seem larger and complement the new kitchen.
SOLUTION: Home stager Carolyn Stieger helped the homeowners select new floor tile for the kitchen and dining room, as well as a rich wooden dining table and four sleek chairs. Cost: $141 Stager: Carolyn Stieger, Images of Elegance, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
PROBLEM: This Atlanta, Ga., home had been totally rehabbed, and the owner wanted it staged for sale. From the front door, buyers could look through the foyer and kitchen to this family room. Stager Jeanne Westmoreland wanted to create a strong focal point, using the fireplace, to pull buyers into the space.
SOLUTION: Westmoreland's strategy was threefold: She showcased the architectural focal points of the room, including the fireplace and the vaulted ceiling. Cost: Approximately $1,500 Stager: Jeanne Westmoreland (with Arow Flemmer, Lisa Romans and Angel Walker), Staging by the Masters, StagingbytheMasters.com
PROBLEM: Left empty, this Bellevue, Wash., custom-built executive home felt cold and unappealing. The builder asked stager Dana Pedersen to highlight the expansive space and meticulous craftsmanship.
SOLUTION: Pedersen staged the space with natural earth tones and used accents of blues and greens to bring the outdoors inside. Potential buyers now notice the view of Lake Washington and admire the room's craftsmanship and architectural details. Cost: $450 Stager: Dana Pedersen, Masterful Staging, Issaquah, Wash.
PROBLEM: Clutter obscured this dining room in a home in Surprise, Ariz., making a poor first impression as buyers entered the home.
SOLUTION: Stager Sherri Halvorsen enhanced the room's size by eliminating the clutter and removing the owner's china cabinet and two of the dining chairs. Cost: $250 Stager: Sherri Halvorsen, Staged to Perfection, LLC
PROBLEM: Buyers found this stark family room in a Yorktown, Va., home unwelcoming and hard to envision living in. They were left wondering: How and where will our furnishings fit? How should the space flow? Will this family room be large enough for our family?
SOLUTION: Stager Therese Robinson created a warm and inviting family room that said to buyers, "Come in, sit down, relax, and enjoy family and friends." Cost: $210 per month, including the stager's time and the cost of renting furniture and accessories Stager: Therese Robinson, Staged 2 Sell, Poquoson, Va.
PROBLEM: This Ann Arbor, Mich., townhouse had been sitting on the market, vacant, for a year and a half. Because it was empty, buyers were keying in on small flaws, rather than looking at the property as a whole. They also had difficulty visualizing where they would dine.
LIVING ROOM AFTERSOLUTION: The stager warmed the space, creating strong emotional appeal, and also established two, clearly defined eating areas.Cost: $1,000 to stage the great room (shown), kitchen and two bathroomsStager: Kathi Presutti, RE:STYLE LLC, Brighton. Mich.
PROBLEM: This bathroom in a Charlotte, N.C., home lacked a focal point, balance and color.
SOLUTION: Stager Barb Schwarz, working with staging students, added greenery to frame the bath and splashes of color for a "Wow!" factor.Cost: This bathroom was staged as part of a class in staging, at no cost.Stager: Barb Schwarz, StagedHomes.com, Concord, Calif.