Home Staging Tips From the Experts

Through market highs and market lows, price reductions and price increases, excited “welcome homes” and reticent goodbyes, the all-encompassing question still remains: what ultimately sells a home? While not entirely dependent upon the physical attractiveness of a residence, successful sales with today’s high expectations often stem from the effective use of home staging, a powerful tool that aims to make anyone and everyone feel at home. With the recent surge in HGTV and DIY Network shows, buyers are more readily influenced by the fabulous trends and end results seen on TV, which set the bar extra high. “Regardless of price range, a home has to ‘feel right,’ and not to mention be hazard free and structurally/mechanically sound, while also having ‘the look’—straight out of Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn,” comments Ridgefield agent Paul Gervais, who additionally serves as an expert home stager with his business partner, Coree LaManna, also an agent in our Ridgefield brokerage and seasoned interior designer. “With such expectations, what does a seller do?—Hire a home stager!”


Home staging is a strategic art that combines design excellence, livability, as well as an overall neutral, clean environment that maintains personality and character. In order to effectively achieve this goal, one must consider what potential buyers might be thinking, luring them in by carefully crafting a setting that allows them to envision their future at a particular residence. “A home stager is much like an interior decorator,” explains Gervais. “They are familiar with color schemes, furniture placement, etc. But unlike a decorator, whose goal is to decorate to satisfy the lifestyle of the homeowner, a home stager’s goal is create a look and feel in a home that will satisfy a broad range of tastes and lifestyles.” As real estate agents, Gervais and LaManna include staging as part of the service they offer their clients, waiving all fees if elected to represent the sale of a home. Melissa Colabella, an agent from our Bronxville brokerage, provides similar services, using her passion for interior design to help execute creative, stylistic home decorating and staging.

BEFORE: family room at 7 Eden Hunt Place in Armonk, N.Y.
AFTER: staged to perfection by Melissa Colabella

“The main purpose of staging is to present a home in the best way possible,” says Colabella. “I can compare it to a wedding. It’s the same reason that a bride employs a staff of make-up artists, stylists and professional photographers on her wedding day—it’s her shining moment. As a Realtor, it is our job to hire professional photographers, develop a marketing plan and place advertisements, potentially around the globe, in an effort to get our sellers the best possible pricing. It is your home’s chance to shine.” In order to shed some shining light on a listing’s best attributes, there are a number of key tasks and details to consider. While each case is unique depending on the specific home and budget, certain necessities consistently remain.

BEFORE: 7 Eden Hunt Place’s living room
AFTER: Another example of Colabella’s design expertise

Stack Of Paint Brushes, Paint Tins And Color Wheels

“A good home stager will work with the homeowner to understand what needs to be done not only inside the home, but outside as well,” adds Gervais. “From identifying trees and shrubs that need pruning, as well as addressing rot and peeling paint, to recommending de-cluttering, organizing, furniture and accessory placement, and even focusing on towel and linen selection, a stager is meant to best prepare and present a home for market.” Melissa Colabella’s home staging website, which can be accessed here, highlights other essential tasks including color choice to make your home feel larger, furniture that enhances architectural design and maintains proportion and scale, and eliminating overly vibrant, bold décor while making proper use of space. Colabella goes on to further explain the crucial importance of removing anything that can negatively affect the sale of a home. She stresses how, for example, a garage filled with boxes or a messy kitchen can imply there is not enough storage in the house, and that improperly scaled furniture can disrupt the flow of circulation, causing the buyer to question the residence’s functionality for their own family.

Staged by Paul Gervais and his business partner and expert interior designer, Coree LaManna
Bright living room staged by Gervais and LaManna

“While staging is not a foolproof way to sell one’s home, other than pricing, it is a key component,” concludes Gervais. “In a hot housing market, you want to make sure your house hits the market running, standing out right out of the gates. It’s really plain and simple—you always want to be the house getting the attention.” Clearly, with the power of home staging combined with the sheer talent and skills of agents such as these, attention is exactly what your home will get—and in the most positive light possible.

Interested in selling and staging your home? For more information, please contact Ridgefield agent Paul Gervais by phone at 914.319.0661, or by email at [email protected]. His home staging partner, Coree LaMana, can be reached by phone at 203.470.3889, or email at [email protected]. Bronxville agent and expert home stager Melissa Colabella can be contacted by phone at 914.438.0139, or by email at [email protected].     

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