Secret Tips to Hip Staging

The latest staging trend is the “non-staged” look.  Buyers aren’t lured in with the standard corporate apartment rental type furniture with a plethora of fake pictures…they want the real thing! They want to see a place that has unique vintage trinkets, designer type furnishings placed in the proper vignettes and sophisticated artwork.  Staging is about creating a space that buyers can aspire to…that cool hip place that people dream about living in.

Here is my interview with Robin DeCapua and Rachel Moore of Madison Modern Home.  They will be sharing their secret tips to hip staging with our MyLALifestyle readers.

I noticed that you add a lot of vintage items to your work. Do you see that as a current trend?

RM: The best thing about vintage pieces is that they’re not trendy. When it comes to styling a room, they’re timeless. Flip through any Pottery Barn or West Elm catalog – the pages are filled with curios. That juxtaposition of new and old makes any room feel instantly more credible.
RD: We have seen bold industrial vintage items used by real estate developers/investors like Better Shelter and house-flipping newcomer Re-inhabit. But I think we’re unique among home stagers in our large inventory of vintage accessories.

Do you have any favorite type of items that you like to work with …?
RM: I’m a lamp freak. Unique lighting adds tons of personality to a space. Rugs are also important for defining areas with an open floor plan — Kilims, sheepskins and cowhides are some of our favorites. We also have a compulsion for sourcing little boxes and baskets that we put atop stacks of books.

Navajo Rug

RD: Did someone say books? We love to use unique coffee table books. We have found several at Crown Books in Pasadena and we always head straight to the book section at thrift stores. Vintage books add so much character to a home, and make it appear to be lived in. Book titles and book jacket art can evoke a specific feeling, like “Shells: Treasures of the Sea” in a beach house or a brightly hued modern art book in a loft, for instance.

Coffee Table Book

… or a particular era that you gravitate toward?
RM: My favorite style era is Mid-Century Modern, but always mixed in with other pieces. Straight-forward Mid-Century Modern can look a bit institutional. When you throw in a hand-hewn African mixing bowl or an ikat textile from Uzbekistan, it warms everything up. It creates a feeling that this home belongs to someone erudite and well-traveled.

RD: Era-mixing is one of my favorite styles of design. I read somewhere that “if you like something, it will go with other pieces you love.” I believe this is true because we’ve seen time and time again that mixing pieces from all different decades – for example, a Deco settee with a Saarinen side table and a Flokati rug — will look absolutely amazing.

Basket wall

Do you have some favorite vintage shops or flea markets?

RM: When it comes to vintage shopping, Pepe’s in Silver Lake has never failed us for a sculptural floor lamp or Danish modern coffee table. It’s a tiny space with furniture stacked up to the ceiling. We have more luck at thrift stores than flea markets, to be honest. The trick is hitting them up all the time. Our favorites are Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store in Glendale, Son of a Vet in El Sereno, and Council Thrift Shop on Fairfax (where we found a Plycraft lounge chair for fifty bucks!)
RD: Rachel’s right, we really don’t go to flea markets. Interestingly enough, we nab so many great finds at the multitude of thrift shops in L.A. that we don’t have to. By the way, whenever each of us travels to other states or abroad, we haunt the local second-hand stores there, too!

Starburst mirror

Do you have some artists that you find typically work in the spaces that you do and what makes them stand out?
RM: We love the local artist community in NELA, and strive to curate the homes we stage with their art. Some of our favorites are the large-scale geometrics of Michael Rascon and mixed-media pieces by Jeremy Kennedy, and Carlos Nieto III’s hyper-realism. There’s nothing more obviously staged than a home filled with mass-produced “contemporary art” from Bed Bath & Beyond. The pieces we use imbue the space with life, while the fake stuff sucks it right out.

“Orange Structure” by Michael Rascon

Do you stage differently depending on what area of LA you are in?
RM: We definitely take into account the likely buyer pool of the neighborhood. Highland Park calls for a “hipster” style, while Santa Monica and Venice get a beachy bohemian vibe.

RD: This may be my favorite part of staging. The fact that we can be staging a totally traditional space one day followed by ultra-modern the next. It stretches us creatively to be able to switch up styles at the drop of a hat. No two properties are alike, so each gets the personal touch and treatment.

You’ve mentioned the term “lived-in” when describing your staging style. Is that something you deliberately try to achieve?
Kitchen StylingRD: The industry has changed since the early days of staging. Now, buyers are much more savvy and can spot a “staged” home a mile away. Our goal is to create an environment that invites, excites and entices the potential buyer to want the lifestyle the home portrays. This can be achieved through careful attention to detail and adding those small personal items that appear to be collected. It’s been said that “nothing should be used in a staging that’s smaller than a football.” It went along with the belief that staged homes should have huge hotel lobby-sized décor. We completely ignore this “rule” by bringing in those smaller accessories to bring everything down to a human scale.


(Image Credits: Madison Modern Home)

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