Alberta picture

Alberta on Staging

by Jay on October 24, 2009

(Alberta helps me out with questions occasionally with her unique point of view – Jay)

Dear Alberta…I love your old fashioned common sense and your sense of humor so I’m sure you’ll understand my dilemma.  It’ s time to sell our house. The kids are scattered around the country and we heard about deals on condos in Florida. All the agents we talk to want us to “stage” the house. What is this, a Broadway play?  We’ve collected stuff from around the world…good stuff too…and pictures of all  the kids and grandkids and aunts and uncles. Miss Broadway designer lady wants us to box all this stuff up an store it somewhere along with half our furniture. We just want a fair price for the house. Doesn’t anybody have any imagination anymore?

Martha and John in Hoboken

Dear Martha…Isn’t Hoboken where they buried the missing link? If my common sense is old fashioned,  yours should have been buried with the linkster over there.  One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was when one of the grandkids gave me one of those Precious Moments figurines before she could even talk. Of course, I cooed all over her and the next thing you know, that’s what everybody gives grandma for her birthday…and Christmas…and Hanukkah…and Columbus Day. I was overrun by the creepy little things.

Precious moments

When I couldn’t stand it anymore I told the family they were stolen in a break-in (wasn’t I lucky they didn’t take the big screen) but I really gave them to my cleaning lady who seemed to like them but I found out later her son was selling them on ebay for her. When the kids started trying to replace them I had to tell them that no, no my heart was broken and that I didn’t want to be reminded of the trauma of losing them.

Enough with the sentimentality! My advice is don’t store the stuff, throw it out or give it to the urchins and let them deal with the guilt when they throw it out. What are you going to do…decorate your slick condo with 50 year old overstuffed furniture. You wouldn’t be the first, but come on! Turn the page, brush up on your canasta and learn to play shuffle board.

Nobody want to see your stuff. They want to imagine what they would do with their stuff.  Make it easy for them. That’s what staging is all about. Really good stagers can go beyond that. When I was looking for a townhouse down here, Mr. Z took me to see some new one’s where the model homes had been professionally staged.

It was a gloomy day. When I walked into the big master bedroom, all the paint was neutral, there was colorful art on the walls, the lighting was perfect, the bed was turned down and in this beautiful chaise was an equally beautiful shawl and an open copy of House Beautiful.  I thought I’d accidentally walked into Jackie Kennedy’s bedroom in her secret hideaway on Nantucket.  I felt like pulling off my shoes and settling in with that magazine and a Manhatten right then.

I bought one of those units the next day and live there now and probably paid too much. That’s how people buy houses. They fall in love. Nobody will fall in love with your old stuff.  Do what your agent says and get on down to Florida while you can still enjoy it.

By the way, I don’t have a sense of humor any more than I have old fashioned common sense. The only joke I can remember is one I heard on NPR. Do you know why there are always only 239 beans in every bowl of Boston bean soup? Because one more bean would be too farty. Two forty with a Boston accent…get it?

Yours Truly,


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