Monday, January 28, 2008

The Staging Company

I haven't been blogging or visiting blogs much lately, I know.

I'm sorry.

I miss everyone.

I feel a bit out of the virtual loop, but I have a good excuse: These prayers have finally, clearly, and most wonderfully been answered for my husband's job and now everything has changed. For starters, we're moving. Not like last time-- this time we are really moving --and so I'm getting the house ready for showings. You'd think having done this just a year ago I'd be all set, but it isn't like that. The market has changed, for one, and now we need to make a stronger showing of this place.

One of my husband's clients just sold her condo. She got a fast offer because she hired a staging company to come in and give the place an appealing look. They painted and decorated, they even brought in furniture and wall hangings and turned her condo into a showcase studio and it seems to have worked. She sold quickly in a slow market.

I've been wondering about this idea of a staging company. I've been thinking it over in my head as I scrape old wallpaper off my dining room walls (a chore that gives one plenty of of time to think) and I think there is something strangely sad about it. It seems to work great and there isn't anything wrong with it, for sure, but it says something about home buyers and the home buying process in this country. Whoever bought that condo didn't buy the staging company's furniture. They didn't get the wall coverings or decorations, and yet they bought the place for those things. I'm sure it's a fine condo, but it was the feel of the place that sold it quickly--a feel that is completely artificial and doesn't come with the purchase price.

I wondered, too, as I applied dry wall spackle to my kitchen ceiling, just how far did this staging company go? Did they put NYT bestseller books on the shelves? Did they hang pictures of phony family reunions? Did they remove all signs of kids or create the illusion of Pottery Barn style children living perfectly clean lives under a high gloss finish? I don't know any of these things, but I wondered...

It sure would be nice to hire a staging company. It would be easy. I wonder what they would do with our scratched-up and bestickered toddler beds or the pictures Alex drew on the walls inside his closet. I wonder if they'd fix that banister for good that my husband has fixed nine million times or find some way to make it look like a banister had never been there at all. I wonder what they would think of my big, blue square tub or it's Neo-angle curtain rod. Would they like my furniture or haul it all out of here? What would they think of my hardware drawer? I'd like to see it.

My husband says we don't need a staging company because I have such good taste (he's biased). We just need to clean the place up a bit and I am happy to do it. I'm excited about our new prospects and glad to have some hard work to focus all my energy to make this move happen. So many other things will taken care of for us this time around anyway, I'm only glad to do my part.

So, while there may be paint in my hair these days and drywall under my nails, I am proud to say that whoever buys this house will see a bit of our real life at its showings (OK, cleaned up a bit). But those kids in the pictures on the walls are our real kids. This is our furniture-- for better or for worse. Those are my good-looking parents, and my husband's too, framed and smiling on the mantel. That's our wedding picture at the top of the stairs. I made all the curtains in this house. We read all the books on those shelves.

Whoever buys this house will get a glimpse of the real people and faces, the lives and spirit of the family that lived here before them and filled this place with life and love and, yes, some dirt. Our memories will hang here in this house as surely as the curtains we'll leave behind.

We are our own staging company.