Tag Archives: occupied home staging

Highlights from a Home Stager: The Listing Photo

27 Mar

Home Staging, South Philadelphia


Hi Everyone!

In our last couple posts, we spoke about staging for vacant properties, as well as staging for occupied homes.  We discussed why staging helps listings sell, and some tips and tricks on how to start staging on your own.  And, we also mentioned some ways that we pro-stagers can help you take things to the next level.

Today, we’re talking about the power of high quality, professional listing photos.  According to Philly’s Mike McCann, The Real Estate Man:

“Professional photos are the first impression one gets when viewing homes. As we all know, first impressions are lasting ones. Nothing is more important in this day and age of the internet than using professional photos to market and represent a property. It will increase the actual activity on the home dramatically, help sell the property and create desire and appeal to the buyers and their friends or family who view it.”   (More from The McCann Team)


Home Staging, Fairmount


The goal for great MLS photos is to act as a preliminary tour of the property.  You want to provide prospective buyers with an understanding of the rooms and their relation to one another.  And, of course, you want to make the property look as good as possible. A professional photographer will produce high quality images.  They will use a lens  that captures a wide angle view of each room, which will provide a clearer understanding of the layout.  They will know how to get the best light and how to get the best angles.


Home Staging, Point Breeze


So, what else do they know that we don’t?  We’ve reached out to our go-to Pro-Real Estate Photographer, Kate Devlin for some insider tips on what we, as stagers, and you, as sellers, can do to prepare for the shoot.  Here’s Kate’s Top 5 Tips:


  1.  Stash all the last minute stuff– As part of your staging, you’ve cleared the magnets from the fridge, you’ve streamlined the wall art, you’ve packed away the majority of the knick-knacks.  But, there’s those lingering items that you can’t just pack away just yet.  The good news is that for photos, you can hide those items in your freshly cleaned out closets.  Stash the toothbrushes, shampoos, soaps.  Clear towel hooks and coat racks.  Hide the pj’s under the bed.  Tuck away the kitchen sponge and random counter items.  And, conceal the kids toys, aside from those neatly displayed in a child’s bedroom or playroom.  Kate says that some clients have been known to pile additional clutter at the far end of the yard or even in the car just to get it out of the way for a great photo shoot.


    Home Staging, Art Museum Area

  2. Lighting- Make sure all light sources have the proper bulbs.  Kate says that a day with light cloud cover is ideal for shooting (as opposed to a super bright sunny day that will produce photos with harsher color contrast), but you just don’t always get that.  Her preference for windows is a clean line window with adjustable blinds but no fabric curtains.


    Home Staging, Francisville

  3. Consider scale & eliminate anything that isn’t right.  If you know your huge dining set isn’t right for the space, consider purchasing or renting a substitute that will not make the space feel small.  Huge pieces of artwork can also overwhelm a small space.  A space-saver shelving unit can make a small bathroom look even smaller.  And even something that seems as minor as a bath towel on a hand towel ring can throw off scale and confuse perception in a big way.


    Home Staging, Fairmount

  4. Keep a few props on-hand.  Now that we’ve told you to put all your décor away, it’s a good idea to have a bowl of fruit and a vase with flowers waiting in the wings.  As a stager- I tend to think of décor in terms of low/wide items, and tall items.  So a bowl with fruit and a vase with flowers are great props because they can fill in where needed, they move from room to room easily, and they add just the right about of color in a natural way.  Fruit and flowers also tend to be easy to attain, inexpensive, and style-neutral.


    Home Staging, Point Breeze

  5. Know what to expect when the photographer arrives.  Kate says that when she shoots, for the most part, she’ll stand at the far corner of the room and her wide lens picks up everything. It’s best if at least 1 floor is completely ready to go when she arrives so that everyone else can go to another floor of the home while she shoots.  Definitely have pets corralled before the photographer arrives, and plan to keep them contained until the shoot is complete.

So, thanks to our readers for hangin’ with us today!  Come back next time to learn a little more about “The Staged Look”.

Thanks to Kate Devlin for her professional advice, and for the use of her lovely photos featured throughout this post and many of our other posts!  If you need a Real Estate Photographer for your listing in Philadelphia or surrounding area, please contact her at photographerkatedevlin@gmail.com

And, Thanks to Mike McCann for his expert insights!  Check out the McCann Team’s website for your home buying and selling needs.

And, of course, when it comes to professional home staging, whether vacant or occupied, contact Ali at Sunflower Creations

akutner@sunflowercreationsonline.com or 267.207.9898

…Home Staging in 19128, 19127, 19119, 19118, 19130, 19121, 19123, 19125, 19134, 19103, 19102, 19104, 19106, 19107, 19146, 19147, 19139, 19143, 19145, 19148, 19004, 19003, 19035, and all Philadelphia and Surrounding Suburbs.





Highlights from a Home Stager: Occupied Home Staging 101

6 Mar



Rittenhouse Square Home Staging


Hi Everyone!  In our last feature, we talked about why we recommend staging vacant real estate listings.  Now, we want to switch gears a little bit and talk about occupied home staging.  We’ll cover why it is important, how you can do it on your own, and also how we can help you take it to the next level.

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Sooo…  Why is it important to stage an occupied home? (And what does that even mean?)

Well, we’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again- you get a split second to make a first impression.  An agent will send their prospective buyer client (PB) some listings—> PB is going to look at a 1 inch thumbnail caption of your living room and decide if they even want to look at the rest of the photos, let alone come see the house in person.  Make the most of your inch!  The most enticing photos will present clean lines, clear functionality (“Oh, that’s a nice TV room”, or Ah, this one has a breakfast nook”), and simplicity in décor.  Make the space easy for PB to understand  so he/she doesn’t have to think too hard.

Now, think like a buyer.  Assuming you get PB to your door, there are going to be a few things he/she will be considering.  Obviously, overall condition (roof, mechanicals, structure) are ultimately very important.  But, what comes before that is the questions of Do we want to live our lives here?  Does this feel like it could be home?  Staging plays a big role in helping PB envision their idealized life in this home.  And without that vision, your never gonna get to the home inspection.  Here’s some pointers to get you moving in the right direction:


  1.  Take down your family photos- It’s very difficult to envision a home as your own with someone else’s pictures all over the place.  A good replacement would be non-specific nature photos, landscape shots or a mirror.mercer
  2. Neutralize- This doesn’t mean that everything has to be beige, although we do recommend painting walls in neutral colors when possible.  The idea is just to create a presentation that will not be unappealing to any prospective buyer.  For example, you collect clown dolls- some people are very uncomfortable around clowns (and dolls, for that matter), so pack those away.  Or, you have a lot of religious artwork- your PB may not share the same beliefs, so they could definitely have a difficult time feeling at home with those items- we’d recommend packing those types of items.moore2
  3. Restore each room to it’s intended purpose-  I eat at my dining table 3 times a year.  The rest of the time, it is a workspace, a laundry folding space, a dumping ground for keys, bags, and mail.  But, in my next house, I’m going to eat a well-balanced home-cooked meal off of fine china every evening in my dining room.  Probably not, but ham it up a little…  Show a dining room as an actual dining room.  Show bedrooms as actual bedrooms when possible.  PB’s often have a difficult time visualizing bedrooms without beds.  Many times a smaller room will feel bigger with a full bed in it because PB’s would otherwise assume that only a twin bed would fit the space.  This could be a game changer right here.  And, if you have children at home, relegate toys to kids’ rooms or to the playroom.  If toys are everywhere, it sends the impression that the home isn’t big enough (which may very well be why you are moving, but shhhh….)mercer2
  4. While we are on the subject of “big enough”- Declutter, Declutter, Declutter- you have to pack it eventually anyway!  Packing it up before showings begin is a great move.  Less clutter will make your space feel larger and more open.  It will also help you depersonalize because most of the personality in your home is probably coming from those little knick-knack items that you don’t really need, per sePack up out-of-season clothes, small kitchen appliances that only get used once a year, etc.  If you can get a temporary storage unit, do it.  If that is not an option, designate one area (basement or garage?) to neatly stack boxes.  Organize closets and cabinets, and aim for 25% empty.  If PB opens your closet and sees that it is 25% empty, it immediately feels like a big closet because it isn’t stuffed to capacity.ISuk7gf5l6583h1000000000
  5. Have an escape plan- You’ve made your house picture perfect, had photos taken, and are ready for showings.  But, now you have to live here- Yikes!!  Have a closed storage solution in each room.  A storage ottoman in the living room is a great place to toss all the toys when a showing comes up quick…  A little basket for papers and mail is easy to stash inside the dining room china closet.  Grab a few plastic bins from the dollar store to stow toiletries neatly and easily under the sink.  And, I’ll say it…  put a bed skirt on your bed so you can hide the  dirty socks and undies in a hurry.  (Note:  you do not actually need to be selling your home to use these tricks)IS2nmvlt3abb1x1000000000

So, these tips should help you get a great start!  But, if you feel like you could use a hand, don’t hesitate to call us in.  Here’s a list of ways that we can assist you with occupied home staging and selling:

Renovation Consultation–  Planning to paint, tile, refinish, update or upgrade?  Need help making the right choices?  We see a lot of homes so we can help you make the selections that sell.

Occupied Staging Consultation–  We’ll walk your home with a buyer’s perspective.  We’ll go room-by-room and throw out as many suggestions as you’re willing to hear in order to help you get the most out of your home sale.

Supplementary Rental–  Need a staging bed for that empty bedroom, or a more contemporary sofa in the living room?  Did you give away your dining table when you turned the dining room into an office?  Not sure what you need?  We can help cross your T’s and dot your I’s.

Quick Detail–  Do you have your photo shoot lined up, but you are a pillow-fluffing disaster?  Call us in for a little primp-session.  We’ll come in and detail each room (like only a stager can do) to help it show it’s best.

Well, thanks for reading all that!  Feel free to share with your seller clients,  friends and family.  And tune in next time to hear some tips from the photo pros!

Contact Ali at akutner@sunflowercreationsonline.com or 267.207.9898 to get that ball rolling. Or visit us at Sunflower Creations Home.

In general, for vacant home staging, a consult 2-3 week’s prior to intended completion date is ideal. And in the case of occupied home staging, the more time we have prior to listing, the more we can help you perfect your product.

…Home Staging in 19128, 19127, 19119, 19118, 19130, 19121, 19123, 19125, 19134, 19103, 19102, 19104, 19106, 19107, 19146, 19147, 19139, 19143, 19145, 19148, 19004, 19003, 19035, and all Philadelphia and Surrounding Suburbs.



Highlights From a Home Stager: Hands-Down, the Coolest House in Philly

6 Dec

No offense to all other houses, but this one takes the prize for awesome-

Standing on the street in Northern Liberties, one would never know that behind an inconspicuous industrial garage door lies this incredible, self-contained residential oasis.


This courtyard/Zen Garden is the absolute perfect place to relax and enjoy the meditative sights and sounds of the water feature and Koi pond.

4th1And here are a few aerial shots of the interior, just to give you a sense of the whole space:


Just an FYI tidbit- the TV room floor is the original cobblestone from when this land was a cross street.  And, that plexi-glass panel in the ground is encasing a well that was excavated during the renovation.  You can still see water levels rise and fall.

4th104th9So, we were called in a couple of years ago when the homeowners first began thinking about selling.  Through a series of walk-thrus, revisions, and fine tuning, we were able to help these homeowners get this property in prime shape for listing.  And, once listed, the sellers got their asking price in less than 3 weeks- which I really can’t say is a surprise…  The place is amazing, and they really followed our staging advise to the letter.

This is a great example of how a staging consultation can help you sell your home.  In this case, the majority of the furniture belongs to the homeowners.


We provided recommendations on pieces that worked well for staging, and items that needed to be toned down, amped up, or adjusted.  We also provided supplementary art/accessories where needed.  This enabled the home owners to move the vast majority of their belongings out of the home prior to listing, which made their move more orderly in the long-run.


We assisted the homeowners by providing a neutral eye.  This, in turn, helped them showcase all the right features.  Clearly, they had a good sense of design because they created the space.  But it’s often helpful to get an outside perspective to help see a home through the eyes of the prospective buyer.    In this case, the space, itself, is really the focal point.  The prospective buyer is clearly going to need to fall in love with the space, or not get it at all.  It’s just that kind of home.  So, we did a lot of editing.  We wanted the property to really be the main event here- and everything else was kind of just dressing to show function and warmth.  The key was finding the right balance.



In “His” office, we spent a great deal of time on simplifying the built-in shelves that were packed with books and collectibles.  The owners were really great about following our recommendations.


And, we helped create a “Her” office/studio space out of what had previously been used as a bike room.  We provided area rugs, furnishings and art where needed– but the large majority of the items were already there for us.  Just a matter of moving some things around…



In the rear portion of the home, we made a few layout adjustments in order to maximize use of the space, and in order to differentiate the spaces from the other sitting/eating areas in the front of the home.  Notice the very clean-lined and simple styling of the décor- This property needs so little in terms of “frills”.


And finally, this common area that connects the three 2nd floor bedrooms-  The homeowners had previously used this as gallery space for their art collection.  We wanted to make it function in a way that would feel at home to any prospective buyer.  So we created this relaxation area to feel like a really cozy place where you can drink your coffee on a Sunday morning, or cuddle up with a book late at night

Click here to see the full property listing.

Click here to see more occupied home staging projects.

Thanks for looking!

Sunflower Creations is The Philly Home Stager because we are dedicated to:
Providing quick, reliable and professional service
Creating fabulous looking homes at competitive prices
Helping to sell your home quickly and profitably
Making every project our number one priority

We’d Love to Work With You On Your Next Project:
Vacant Home Staging and Furniture, Art, Accessories Rental
Occupied Home Staging Consultations
and more…

For a complimentary consultation, please contact
Ali Kutner, Home Staging Coordinator
or visit us at Sunflower Creations Home

…Home Staging in 19128, 19127, 19119, 19118, 19130, 19121, 19123, 19125, 19134, 19103, 19102, 19104, 19106, 19107, 19146, 19147, 19139, 19143, 19145, 19148, 19004, 19003, 19035, and all Philadelphia and Surrounding Suburbs.

Staging an Occupied Home with Sunflower Creations

23 Apr

1(eliminate unnecessary furniture to create a streamlined look)

Most of the time, the pics we share here are vacant homes where we bring in all the furniture, art and accessories in order to create “the look” that connects with potential buyers.

But, Sunflower Creations also offers home staging consultation services for occupied homes.  In this process, we generally work with the homeowner’s furnishings and accessories in order to prepare the property for sale.  We can assist with space planning, depersonalization, pre-photo detailing, and more- in order to create a picture perfect look for photos and showings.  We also help create solutions for sellers to be able to maintain the staged look, while living in their property while it is for sale.

5(organize the playroom so it appears orderly, and the kids can still have fun!)

The process begins with a walk-thru, where we assess the space, as well as the needs and desires of the occupants.  Some sellers are looking for assistance with home improvements, such as paint color and finish selections.  Others may need us to help them eliminate furniture from over-crowded spaces.  And others may need us to supplement under-utilized spaces with our furniture.

Once we see the space, we put together a consultation report.  This will act as a room-by-room instruction manual for the seller, with detailed suggestions and floor plan drawings when necessary.  At this point, the seller can decide to carry out our plans on his/her own, or have us come out and prepare the property for them.

The photos in this posting are from occupied home stagings in the Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods of Northwest Philadelphia.  Both are beautiful old homes with some modern updates.  We wanted to accentuate the uniqueness and old charm, but give the spaces a little contemporary edge.


(Although most of us do not use our formal dining room all that much, show it in it’s ideal state!)3 4 6

(A contemporary rug pulls this room into 2014!) 7

(Going minimal on the accessorizing gives these deep blue rooms a slightly more contemporary feel) 8 9To see these full property listings, click on the following links:

Mount Airy listing

Chestnut Hill listing

Staging Consultations can be an invaluable and low-cost tool for selling a home quickly and for top dollar.  So, if you , or someone you know is preparing to list a home for sale, why not forward this post!

As always,

Thanks for looking!

…Whether ultra-modern new construction, a charming rehab, or a traditional redesign–We understand the subtle differences.


Our “look” helps homes sell quickly and our process keeps clients coming back time and again.


If you need help with home staging or interior design services, please contact us:


Ali Kutner, Home Staging Coordinator






or visit us at Sunflower Creations Home

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The Case of the South Philly Home that Needed Staging, by Sunflower Creations

29 Nov

kimball1It’s a classic tale:  Once upon a time, a super sweet young family lists their home for sale in the Bella Vista section of South Philadelphia.  Even though the home is in a great neighborhood, and is really adorable, it sadly sits on the market for 40 days with little interest from potential buyers.  Their realtor suggests consulting with us, and we are able to identify a couple of issues right away…

We were ready to work with the homeowners on a consulting basis, to help improve the success of their showings.  But, at the last minute, they decided to move out and have us stage the home completely.  This was a really good move!

The general theme that seemed to keep reappearing is that there is a big difference in the way we live in our homes, versus the way we envision living in our homes.  For example, when we stage an empty living room, we tend to use accessories that suggest relaxing with a cocktail, or getting cozy with a book– something that seems happy, fun, enjoyable to potential buyers.  This is appealing, it is what we want to do in our living room.  Forget that most of us will turn a living room into a playroom, office, craft room and dining area!


(Living Room Before and After)

kimball3Common in many older South Philly homes is this big landing that seems like a whole additional room.  The trouble with this space is that it is tough to figure out what to do with it.  It’s a common area because you need to walk through it to go downstairs, but it is definitely bigger than a hallway.  Our solution is to turn these types of areas into something special or functional, somewhere that a potential buyer would want to spend time.  In other words, we want to turn the space from a question mark  into a memorable selling feature of the house.


(landing before and after)kimball8 kimball7Finally, the house was listed as a 2 bedroom home, yet upon walking the property,  we could only find one bedroom!


The long story is that since the couple have a small child, who frequently wakes up in the middle of the night,  it became easier to just sleep in one room on the second floor with the built-in crib.  The short story is that potential buyers were not envisioning the fabulous 3rd floor loft space as a master suite, since it looked more like a storage/makeshift office.




The open space is even equipped with plumbing, for a bathroom renovation, or at least a wet bar– Who wouldn’t want that in their master suite!

kimball11 kimball12 kimball13

This home definitely had an artsy vibe, from the multi-colored linoleum tiles on the 2nd floor, to the pegboard walls in the kitchen and master bedroom.  It is these unique traits that people will fall in love with, and it is these same traits that people will run from.  So, we just made it a point to try to neutralize these oddities a little as we worked our way through the home.

kimball2 kimball4 kimball6So, now for the happily ever after:

Once staged, this home went under contract in 1 WEEK!!

kimball9 kimball10Thanks so much for looking!


If you are getting ready to put your home on the market, or if you are having a tough time trying to sell your home,


contact us for a consultation.


Our “look” helps homes sell quickly and our process keeps clients coming back time and again.


Contact Ali Kutner, Home Staging Coordinator






or visit us at Sunflower Creations Home


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Trying to Sell Your Home While Living in it? Call Sunflower Creations for Help Staging to Sell

25 Nov

Blackwell 1

We’re always blabbing about how staging a vacant home makes it feel lived in, cozy, and energized–  Yada, yada…

But we do not talk as much about the other scenario- The lived-in home, that appears, perhaps, a little too lived in, too cozy, and too energized!

Now, we are not just Stagers;  We are human, too.  And we know a few things:

(1)  We never have enough storage space

(2)  The longer we live in one place, the more we accumulate

(3)  Our own weird furniture  and personal junk is THE BEST!!  And, everyone else surely thinks so, too!

Um, well, some of these statements are true…

So, when we get called to consult for a lived-in home staging, we start with a walk-thru, and end with a room-by-room plan of attack.  We know that in many cases, we are the last call before the property gets listed, so at this point, home owners are not looking to do major renovations (Although, if they are, we can manage those projects, as well).  In many cases, we are called in to fine tune.

We were asked to consult with these Headhouse Square home-owners/sellers,  in order to create the best presentation for showings.  I must say that these guys did an amazing job of decluttering and depersonalizing.  Ironically, the home-owners told me that they had pared down so much before listing, that they had been repeatedly told that the property looked sterile.

blackwell2 Blackwell3

We brought in some generally appealing art and accessories to mix in with the homeowner’s beautiful book collection.  We also packed away a ton of books, and rearranged shelves to create maximum impact for MLS photos and showings. We did similar reworking throughout the house–  Moved art around, added focal points, created storage solutions for the kid’s rooms, and provided a quick pre-showing check-list for the home-owners to follow at a moment’s notice.

blackwell8 blackwell9 blackwell10

When we consult on this type of project, one thing we really keep focused on is how to make it work for the life-style of the home-owners.  We assisted a Queen Village family with three small children.  They had this fabulous entry parlor with a cool modern fireplace, but because of their busy lifestyle, the space had become a bit of a mud room.  It (a) did not make the phenomenal impact that they wanted potential buyers to feel upon entering the home, and (b) called attention to their need for more closet space.

We provided paint color suggestions for some accent walls throughout the home, a de-cluttering plan, and staging for the newly-fabulous entry parlor!


(Before and After!)leithgowWe also used a trunk with storage as a coffee table so that the home-owners could stash our breakables away from the kiddies between showings.  Then all they had to do was whip out our pictures to reference, reset, and go!

Next, we run over to a Society Hill condo with amazing views and need for just a little space planning!  These sellers had some really cool furniture, and we removed about half of it!  We flipped the sofa around to open up the space, and to draw the eye to the beautiful skyline.  Just a little more rearranging, decluttering, and primping before photos/video/listing

towers towers2 towers4 towers5Thanks so much for looking!

Incidentally, two out of the three properties featured above sold in 47 days and 14 days!  The average number of days-on-market for Philadelphia homes in 2013 is 84 days.

If you are having a tough time trying to sell your home while living in it, or if you are getting ready to put your home on the market,

contact us for a consultation.

Our “look” helps homes sell quickly and our process keeps clients coming back time and again.

Contact Ali Kutner, Home Staging Coordinator



or visit us at Sunflower Creations Home

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