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Saturday, November 22, 2008
News staff writer
Staged is a good word for what Tammy Heinss did to Jill Barnhart's home.
When it went on the market in late July, the two-story house in Hoover was like a Broadway showstopper. So appealing was its fresh neutral paint, new carpet, reconditioned cabinets and granite-like countertops that it sold in one day - to the first potential buyer to enter.
The Barnharts applauded. All in all, it was quite a performance.
"We put out some money, but we got it back and also sold the house incredibly fast. We didn't have to spend months trying to keep it clean and nice," says Barnhart, who, with her physician husband Doug, relocated to Salt Lake City.
Home staging, which has entered the vernacular in large part because of cable television's HGTV channel, is kind of like decorating in reverse. Instead of personalizing a home with the owners' tastes in furniture, artwork and accessories, staging involves depersonalizing and sometimes reinventing a space so that potential buyers can see themselves living there.
Professional staging is fairly new to Birmingham, says Heinss, a trained stager and interior decorator who runs Lasso the Moon Interiors (www.lassothemooninteriors.com).
"I think sellers are learning that, especially in the slower real estate market, that they have to make their homes stand out," Heinss says. "Buyers want to see what's crisp and updated. The whole point is to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. A lot of that is removing personal items, stripping it down to the bare essentials and then building it up from there."
Heinss, who had helped the Barnharts decorate their house, put on a different hat and glasses when it came time to staging it. To de-clutter the space and show off the home, Heinss had the couple put a third of their belongings into storage. She also suggested new paint, carpeting and countertops and had the Barnharts paint their front door, replace dated light fixtures and faucets and install updated curtains and bedding.
Among the most important things Heinss did was rearrange the remaining furniture to show off the space to maximize appeal.
"The buyers kept saying, `Oh, this house is done; we can just move in,'" Barnhart recalls.