Last April, I posted a story about staging an adorable little bungalow in Dover, Idaho, call All the World’s a Stage. You can read that blog here: All the World’s a Stage…

Well, I am up in northern Idaho again this week doing another type of decorating, so this seemed like the perfect time to explain some of the different types that exist today, and why using a professional can often save you time, money, and from making mistakes.

• Decorating a New or Existing Space – This is the type of decorating that most of us think of when we think of using someone to help improve anything from a single room to a newly built residence. A decorator can help you select paint colors, source furniture and accessories, and pull the entire look together. If you aren’t ready to do a complete renovation but just want to tweak or update your look, it can be easy to get stuck. Sometimes it just takes an impartial eye to move you forward.

Because real life is seldom like an episode of a television home improvement show, few people want or even need to start with a blank slate. A decorator can help provide just the inspiration you need to utilize many of your existing pieces, but freshen up the space with new items that can make it function better and feel more “now.”

Once you give a decorator your budget, they can determine how best to spend it. Sometimes all that is needed is to start with a new furniture arrangement, which costs nothing. Other inexpensive changes can be adding a fresh new paint color, some new pillows or artwork, and a few new accessories.  A good decorator or stager will shop anywhere from thrift shops to high end stores, and since shopping is such a large part of their job, they know where all of the hidden gems and best prices are.

A good decorator can also make suggestions for future purchases, once you have additional funds. Advice on which items would be a good addition or next in line for replacement, will save you from making costly mistakes. Decorators usually charge by the hour for consultations, or by the job for larger tasks. The scope of work and fee structure should be discussed on the initial conversation so there are no unmet expectations.

• Decorating or Staging a Space for Sale – Thanks to the myriad of flipping shows on television, today’s buyers expect a property to look “picture perfect.” In fact, thanks to the internet, most people eliminate many potential properties, just by the pictures alone. Gone are the days where you can vacuum, dust, make the beds and hang out the “For Sale” sign. In other words, staging is big business and it works! Staged houses typically result in quicker sales, for higher prices.

Decorating a space to prepare it for sale can be done a few different ways. In some cases, you meet with the homeowners, and by editing and utilizing their existing possessions, make the house look desirable to a potential buyer. Often all that is necessary is putting many of their belongings and furnishings into temporary storage to make the home look more spacious and less cluttered. Occasionally, the stager will augment the client’s possessions by bringing in some fresh new pieces.

In other cases, the stager is hired by a real estate professional, developer or owner to do either a full or vignette staging. With vignette staging, the decorator will bring in small tables, chairs, lamps, and artwork, as well as accessories, to warm up the empty spaces without full out decorating. In this case, the stager typically charges by the job, and the fee includes providing the inventory of décor items.

A full staging, like I did in a bungalow recently, is where the decorator selects the furniture and accessories, at the owner’s expense, and fills the property to showcase it to its full potential. The furnishings don’t necessarily need to be durable or long wearing, but rather the focus is on making the property look beautiful and desirable for purchase. In this model home arrangement, the contractor, seller or owner sells the home with the hope that the ultimate buyer will purchase the property as-is, with all furnishings included. That is what happened with the bungalow I staged. The buyers came in and said “we want it all!”

• Decorating a Space for the Vacation Rental Market – In many resort communities, buyers purchase with the plan to recoup some of their costs by entering the vacation rental market. In other cases, the vacation management company will maintain ownership of some of the properties and hire a decorator to prepare those units for that purpose.

Over the past two months, I have spent untold hours selecting, ordering, and curating all of the items to fully furnish three brand new condos in Sandpoint Idaho. Each unit has its own distinctive color scheme and décor, but they share some common elements as well. And since they sit on the waterfront at a marina, they each have a slightly watery palette.

When decorating for properties that are going to get the heavy use of a vacation rental, it is important to maximize sleeping capacity to make them functional for large families, and increase potential rental fees. Therefore, these units typically have a sleeper-sofa in the living area, as well as a bunk setup in secondary bedrooms.

All fabrics need to be durable enough to stand up to heavy use, and be kid and pet friendly. This is the right time to make commercial grade choices for the furniture fabrics, as well as hard wearing, easy washable quilts for all bedding.

For rental property decorating, another consideration is to keep art and accessories to a minimum, allowing for more space for renters to place their items and (sadly), discourage theft. Try to aim for the middle ground of something between the austerity of a hotel room and the full decorating of a model home.

I cannot wait to show you the reveal pictures of these three vacation rental condos! I am hoping to do that next week. In the meantime, you can dream of what changes you would make, if any, with the help of an imaginary decorator.

Good tidings,

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