Would you like to send this to a friend?

Staging Diva Dispatch, written by home staging expert Debra Gould, is a monthly newsletter filled with real estate staging business tips and articles for aspiring and established home stagers. The Staging Diva shares practical solutions and ideas to help you decorate homes to sell quickly, and make lots of money doing it.


Staging Diva Dispatch

Quote of the Month!

"Doing something unimportant well doesn't make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important. What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things." (Timothy Ferriss)

So I ask: What's on your "To Do" list that belongs on your "Stop Doing" list? It's a constant battle that I struggle with too!

Staging Diva
Fall Course Dates

Want to take the Staging Diva courses live with me?

I only take 15 students in the live courses. They're in a conference call format. All notes are emailed to you in advance and then you get a phone number and password to join me and your fellow students in the live calls on the five designated evenings.

Get the fall schedule and register before it's full.

Staging Diva
Network Members
Chat It Up

The Staging Diva Network Online Discussion Group has a new Live Chat feature. This add-on service is included in the monthly membership fee of only $20. 

I'm hosting a live chat August 24, which is f'ree to all Staging Diva Network Members.

Learn now to join the Network and get one month f'ree

Staging Diva

Peggy, our Manager of Operations is absolutely fabulous. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email her.

Sandy is my Executive Assistant who does a great job getting Graduation Certificates out to you in a timely fashion, keeping the Staging Diva Network humming and many other behind the scenes details. Feel free to email her when you need help!

Peggy and Sandy will quickly handle your questions about registrations, certificates, course downloads, memberships and more.

Don't worry, I'm still accessible but with over 500 emails a day, I need help! If you ask Peggy or Sandy something directly that they feel needs my attention, they always forward your message to me.

Great Book

While I don't agree with their claim that this book tells you everything you need to know to be a home stager, it does have some great content. 

You'll also find success stories of leading stagers (I'm one of them) plus quotes from a variety of others, including Staging Diva Graduate  Lauren Bartell who was discovered by the writer on the Staging Diva Directory.

The FabJob Guide to Becoming a Home Stager

Choosing training

Don't take home staging training just because you want "credentials" since there are none (not official ones at least). 

Anyone can call themselves a professional home stager, there are no requirements or licenses to do so.

The only real reason to take a course is if you feel the content will improve your chance of success.

Consider your own strengths and weaknesses. 

Decide exactly what you need to get out of a program and then find training that offers that.

Look for a trainer that has a proven track record of success in whatever they're going to teach you.

Otherwise, what proof is there that their methods work in the real world?

Look for evidence that there's a genuine interest in sharing real information with you and providing ongoing support for your growth. 

If it's all about "selling a course" then don't expect anything else once you're a paying student.

I also recommend you check out comments from real people who have taken the program

If student testimonials have no names, no photos and no way to locate them, how do you know their comments are real?

No single training program will be right for everyone! You owe it to yourself to research your options and choose wisely, based on your specific needs.

Read the rest of this story

Read student comments about the Staging Diva Program

  Issue 13: August 2007

You are receiving this newsletter because you expressed interest in learning about the business of Home Staging. If you don't want to continue, use the "Preferences" link at the very bottom of this email.

Hi ,

Wow, July flew by and now we're half way through August! Apologies for not having an issue of Staging Diva Dispatch since June. This is highly unusual.

I was caught up with the sale of my home and moving to the new one, plus getting my daughter organized for a month of camp, my corporate year end, media interviews, coaching Staging Diva Graduates who are part of the Business Accelerator Program*, doing an hour long radio call in show and various projects for clients.

I'm loving my new house. I bought my first real estate in my late 20s and it seems only fitting that I've finally found my dream home as I head into my 50s! Well, I'm not there yet. Two more years, but I plan on living here for that milestone.

I hope you find the content of this issue of Staging Diva Dispatch helpful. I welcome your feedback and/or new story ideas!

Debra Signature

Debra Gould, President Six Elements Inc.
Creator of The Staging Diva Program

* The Business Accelerator Program is two hours of one-on-one business coaching with me. You get six months to use your time and you can split it up into shorter session. It's offered to you for only $300 when you order all five courses (live or recorded). Business coaching with me normally costs $300/hour so you s.a.v.e $300 with this option.

In this issue:

Main Section

More on Painted Counter Tops

Staging an Unfinished Basement

Student/Graduate Success Corner

Staging Diva in the Media

Clearing up Confusion about Referrals

Left column

Quote of the Month

Staging Diva Fall Courses

Network Members Chat it Up

The Staging Diva Team

Great Book

Choosing Training

More on Painted Counter Tops

This photo (top right) from the June issue prompted lots of inquiries. It was of my kitchen in the house I just sold. The old 1920s laminate counter tops and backsplash were painted a deep aubergine color.

I first painted them because I couldn't stand walking into such an ugly room every morning and for a magazine spread in Women's Day Magazine. They really held up over the years. 

All I did was sand them to rough them up a bit, primed and then rolled on melamine paint. When it was time to put my house on the market 5 years later, I just rolled on a single fresh coat (because I'm obsessive about home staging details).

What you didn't see last time, was what my kitchen looked like before the paint, hardware, and new floor makeover. Here it is below right.

It's interesting that the agent told me the new buyer loved the kitchen, it was part of what sold her on my house. 

This goes against the conventional wisdom that says "neutralize everything." In fact, none of my house was neutral and that's part of why it stood out in a sea of beige houses of similar design, many of which had new kitchens with granite and stainless steel appliances!

Staging an Unfinished Basement

If you've got a client with an unfinished or partially unfinished basement that looks like this one above, there is a ton you can do to improve the situation. First of all, just because it's unfinished, don't assume it can't look like a room.

It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint (even over concrete floors) will do. Here I used Benjamin Moore Dunmore Cream (HC-29) on the walls since some of them were finished, and Sag Harbor Gray (HC-95) on the floor.

If you need help choosing colors, check out the "Staging Diva Ultimate Color Guide: the easy way to pick colors for home staging projects"


The steps to staging a creepy basement:

  • Get the clutter off site.
  • Put in better lighting.
  • Paint walls if possible.
  • Paint floors.
  • Install window blinds to hide bad views.
  • Prop to show a use for the space.

Thanks to Staging Diva Graduate Shiva (Sherry) Gorjianfar, whose inquiry motivated me to write this story and share a few long-forgotten photos with you.

Student/Graduate Success Corner

Congratulations to April Graduate Terri Tough of A La Mode Staging who writes:

"I finished my first staging job which more than paid for my course, as well as my profile page in the Staging Diva Directory Of Home Stagers!  My clients had a real estate agent say she would list their house for $305,000. After I staged it for them, they decided to sell it on their own. They sold 4 days before their first open house for $330,000--- $35,000 more than the agent's estimate, plus they saved her commission! 

What astonishes me more than anything is that one month after taking your course and joining the Directory, my staging business is debt free after only one client! After 5 years of owning a retail business all I can say is, you canít get much better than that! Thank you for helping me embark on the incredible journey!!"

Congratulations to Donna Warwick who in July became the first Staging Diva Graduate from New Zealand! It prompted me to do some research and I learned that New Zealand is actually the most remote country in the world (4,000 miles from Australia across the Tasman Sea), with a high per capita income, and real estate values that went up in the double digits this year.

Congratulations to Staging Diva Graduates Victoria Willits (top) and Sue Parro (bottom) of Fresh Look Design on staging a living room of a spec house for an upcoming show on HGTV.

They had only 48 hours to pull it off and did it beautifully!

If you want to do anything for the media, be prepared to drop everything for them, there's almost never any lead time!



Congratulations to Gary Baugher of An Eye 4 Change who just completed his first year in his staging business. Gary always entertains me with stories of his latest projects. He's really taken Nashville by storm! For his latest project he beat out a stager who has been in the business for 12 years. Gary writes, "this business is contagious. Somehow I always manage to find the energy to do what I love. Thanks for all your support and knowledge."

 Congratulations to Staging Diva Graduate Debra Rowley of Debra Rowley Interior Staging on her first staging project, of a $1.9 million home no less! It earned her over $5,000 and a portfolio of professional shots of a magnificent home that will help her attract future clients.

Staging Diva Students and Graduates, send me your successes so we can celebrate your triumphs and inspire others!

Staging Diva In the Media
I did a one hour call-in show for CBC Radio One in July. The show Ontario Today aired across the province. I was a bit nervous going in, for two reasons:

First, you never know what homeowners will ask. 

Second, while their agenda was to help homeowners do it themselves, MY agenda was to communicate that professional stagers have a role and how to find them on the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers.

I did manage to work that in while (hopefully) not sounding too commercial. I also discovered I love doing radio. The switchboard was lit up for the full hour and I could have kept going I was so pumped!

It was also a nice diversion from unpacking since I had just moved.


Listen to the show online (until August 23/07):

Part 1

Part 2

You can finally read the story I was interviewed for in Dream Homes and Condos Magazine online. It's called:

"Keeping that Brand New Home Look"

In addition to being online, the magazine is distributed f/ree throughout the GTA area with a distribution of 50,000.

Watch for a feature story on low-cost kitchen makeovers in the Back to School issue of Together Magazine this fall. I haven't seen it yet, but it may be out.

Like many writers, this reporter realized that instead of contacting kitchen designers, she'd help readers more by talking to a home stager. In addition to several of my tips and my own before and after photos, I'm expecting links back to stagingdiva.com and sixelements.com to provide new project leads for graduates of the Staging Diva Program.

With a circulation of 350,000 this magazine is distributed through local public schools and at Canadian Wal-Mart stores.


  And for both US and Canadian Graduates, I'm really excited about the home staging story for this fall's Better Homes and Gardens.
With a circulation of over 38 million, this article will send significant traffic to the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers this fall! To buy a tiny ad in Better Homes and Gardens costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. The value of being part of the editorial content is even higher because readers put more faith in editorial than advertising.

The writer still doesn't have the publication date, but she'll let me know.

For less than the cost of an evening out (or a Yellow Pages ad), you can be part of the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers! Once I build your profile page for you (you don't need to know anything about websites), I "host" your information on the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers for only $45/month. You'll be advertising your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on a site that I work on getting visitors to, so you don't have to! If you're a Graduate of the Staging Diva Program, I don't know what you're waiting for!

More information on how it works and how to get listed in the Directory.

A growing number of reporters are grabbing their stories right off my websites without even interviewing me. If any of you see me in a local paper or magazine, I'd appreciate you letting me know! According to a new student, I was apparently mentioned on HGTV recently. If any of you knows what show, please let me know! I'd be happy to send you a thank you gift in exchange for a copy of the story!

Clearing Up Confusion About Staging Project Referrals

I'm re-running this story because I still get the same inquiries about how the referral system works.

A homeowner or agent contacts me because they want a stager. 

We direct them first to The Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers and if they can't find someone there, they're invited to complete a form at the Staging Diva Home Stager Locator Service.

If the client finds a stager on their own through a listing in the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers, there's NO referral fee charged to the stager.

If the client fills out the form using the Locator service, I post an article on The Business of Home Staging advertising the project.

If a stager wants to apply, they use the link in the story that takes them to the Home Stager Project Referral Service.

Stagers who apply and complete all the information requested are recommended to the client after I've seen their website/portfolio.

It's then up to the client and stager to follow up with each other. 

If the stager gets work, I collect a referral fee. 

If they don't get work, I've invested considerable time and effort and the stager has gained experience dealing with a potential client at no cost to themselves.

Who can participate in the Staging Project Referral Service?

To participate in the Referral Service stagers must:

Please don't apply for projects unless you meet the criteria indicated above. We will not accept emails of brochures or portfolio photos as a replacement for having a professional looking website or profile page on the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers.

If I've sent projects your way and you haven't let Sandy know what happened, you won't continue to receive referrals.

Reasons not all project leads turn into paying work

Even though I've been staging homes for a long time and I'm well known, not everyone who calls me to discuss their project actually hires me. This is a reality of the business and one that you can't take personally (though this is sometimes hard, especially when the prospect sounds so interested at first).

I've heard from a few stagers who have had project referrals through the Staging Diva Project Referral Service and then are frustrated that some leads don't seem to go anywhere right away. The reality is that not all leads will turn into projects, regardless of their source. Some of the reasons for this are: 

  • homeowners are talked out of hiring a stager by their agent
  • the house sells before we find them a stager
  • the homeowner decides to take the house off the market instead of staging (which means they might still contact the stager when they sell later)
  • some agents lose the listing they were hoping to have staged
  • like any industry, there will always be "tire kickers" who ask for information but never follow through
  • some people hire someone else before I've managed to find someone appropriate for them
  • some stagers do inadequate follow-up preferring to wait passively for the client to contact them. Meanwhile the client assumes the stager isn't really interested or available.
  • some aspiring stagers make up bogus projects to find out who is in their area (when I catch them doing this, I keep their names on file)
  • not everyone is impressed with the people I recommend either because of their portfolios, their demeanor on the phone, their follow up, or they just simply don't emotionally connect (that's human nature and happens to everyone including me)
  • some "urgent" projects get delayed because the client's priorities change, they may fail to tell you this and suddenly you hear from them three months from now

I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions about this program. If anyone has suggestions for how it can be improved, I'd love to hear from you. 

Learn more about joining the Staging Diva Directory so clients can find you on their own and you avoid referral fees!








™Staging Diva and the Staging Diva Logo are trademarks of Six Elements Inc.
© 2005 - 2008 Six Elements Inc. All rights reserved.
Republication or dissemination of this content is expressly prohibited without written permission.
For more information contact: 416-691-6615.