Stage Smart, Sell Fast, Make More

With over 10 years of experience in staging and home design, Deborah Ellis lives and works by the tagline "Stage Smart, Sell Fast, Make More." It's a good tagline to go by, considering staged homes have been proven to sell faster and for more money.

While her work at Deb Ellis Designs often takes her to towns all over New England, she frequently finds herself back in Boston and the South End.

"The South End is unique. The layout is never exactly the same. Historically interesting spaces are often converted and updated for today's savvy clientele," Ellis said. And what sells the South End, which is North America's largest Victorian residential district, is transitional-to-contemporary styling. 

After Deb Ellis Designs staging.

After staging, this beautiful Rutland Square single-family home sold over asking price with only 7 days on the market.

Ellis first "tours" the space with the client to get an idea of its current use. She takes careful note of the layout and the items most in need of improvement, paying attention to function as well as cosmetics. Staging can range from simple reorganization, to complete refurnishing as some homes need only "a little sprucing and accessorizing, while others are empty," Ellis said. Her long established relationships with specialists like handymen, floor refinishers, tile and granite installers, landscapers, furniture rental companies, and art distributors allow her to work quickly and effectively. And while the owner of the home is a part of the process, Ellis' report offers a valuable objective view of an otherwise personal space.

"It's my job to isolate the most important improvements to the space and to find the solutions that will make the home most appealing on a budget that allows for the greatest profit," Ellis said.

Depending on the size, budget and configuration of the rooms, most homes take her between three and ten days to stage. Big projects that include new baths, kitchens, lighting, flooring and more, however, can take months. By balancing tasteful appeal with a neutral aesthetic, Ellis creates subtly engaging spaces where function and fashion work together. She gets to do this hundreds of times a year, working with the latest trends in fabrics, textures and colors.

"Every day is different, every space is unique," Ellis said. "Staging keeps me current and, I strongly believe, makes me a better designer."

But the most fulfilling part of staging, Ellis said, is the satisfaction she gets when the home sells and both the owner and broker who trusted her to make the right choices are happy.