When Anne Lasko re-designs a house, her clients can’t wait to sell it.

And that’s the point. As a professional home stager, Realtors and homeowners hire Lasko to re-design a house before it goes on market. She clears out clutter, re-arranges accessories and furniture, and sometimes helps clients pick out paint colors and tile. Lasko and other home stagers create an environment that potential homebuyers will like so much, they’ll buy it.

Or at least that’s the idea behind home staging.

“It’s like theater, almost,” says Lasko, whose firm is Anne Lasko Designs. “It’s an absolutely fabulous way to get that home turned around quickly. People should never underestimate the value of aesthetics.”

The term “home staging” was coined about 10 years ago, and it’s a growing business across the country. For years, many Realtors did the staging or fluffing themselves to help homes sell. The past few years, Dallas home stagers have helped neighborhood Realtors and homeowners get the most out of their houses before putting them on the market.

“It’s kind of coming out of the closet,” says DonnaSue Sealy, whose firm is DonnaSue Designs. “Staging has been around for a long time; it’s just that no one has known the name for it.”

The job begins outside the house. Sealy says she begins working when she drives up. She’ll recommend plants and flowerpots, a coat of paint if needed and a clean, inviting front door.

And once a possible buyer walks through that door, first impressions are everything, says Kristin Parrino, whose firm is Roomagination.

“People make up their mind pretty fast about a house,” Parrino says. “Sometimes, it may be in the first 10 seconds. When you get on the inside, you want it to make a good first impression.”

A big part of that is weeding out clutter. Religious symbols and personal photos need to be put away, as do bulletin boards, rewards and plaques. And kitchen counters should be cleared.

“People who are looking at a home, they want to be able to envision their things in there,” Parrino says. “You want the rooms to appear as large as they can. When they have extra clutter in them, it makes them look smaller.”

And it’s not just small items that are cleared: Parrino says she also recommends moving out furniture if there’s too much – or if it’s ugly, dirty or old.

Once the house is cleared, Lasko says she gets to work moving furniture — sometimes from room to room — to accentuate architecture, make a room flow better or create an idea for a room that a possible buyer might not see.

One of Lasko’s clients had a small, crowded study. After de-cluttering, Lasko moved a chaise lounge from another room and set up a small side table with a teapot and reading glasses next to it. It faced a window, and she placed a plant outside the window. She says it looked like a pleasant place to relax, maybe read a book.

“If they were going to live in this house, would I have done this?” Lasko says. “No. I created an illusion.”

And that is basically what home staging is. Lasko says it is different than interior decorating because staging is about selling your house. A lot of the work is detail-oriented and plays to the subconscious, she says.

 “The way we all live in our homes should be very different than the way we sell our homes,” Parrino says. “The whole point is to get the quickest sale for the most money.”

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