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Home Staging Tips: Eliminate Clutter, Focus on Details, & More

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A certain rug, a particular couch, a well-chosen wall hanging—each decision can totally alter not only the look, but the feel of a room, transforming it from simple to inviting. Kelley Proxmire, principal of Kelley Interior Design, has been staging homes for more than 15 years now. Her job involves aiding homebuyers to imagine themselves in a new multi-million dollar home, convincing them that this oh-so-stylish listing could be theirs. According to Proxmire's website, her passion for interior design began in her pre-teen years. The thrill she experienced from publications like House Beautiful continued into adulthood with her participating in over 20 show houses since 2001. Her work has been featured in publications like The Washington Post, Home & Design, Southern Living, and more. Proxmire was able to take some time out of her day to answer a few of Curbed's questions. See what tips she has to offer for those looking to stage their own homes with the below Q&A.

How did you discover your passion for home staging?

It is a passion, and it's also very practical. I have done over 20 show houses … and so I had a lot of pieces of furniture, and then I thought, "Well, what do I do with it? Do I sell it, or do I work with it?" And I thought, "Well, I can work with it." And that's how I started staging.

What's the process of staging like?

The process that I do is a little bit different in that I don't work with what clients have. I like everything to be totally empty. In the past, I've done the rugs, the window treatments, the wall hangings, the furniture, the accessories, and down to the last living or artificial plant. But really, it's been a whole service of staging.

Why do you think staging is important for homes on the market?

Just because it's hard for a lot of people to imagine what it could look like … I think people can't quite envision what a house could look like without furniture.

What are the biggest tips you would give to others trying to stage their homes?

Edit, edit, edit, edit. And when I say edit, I mean—and it's pretty brutal—but maybe they can have a friend, or a designer, or somebody with them to assist them, but I say take everything off the table. Take everything off of all the tables in the room, and then put [anything] back sparingly. And often times, people are used to saying, "Well, I've always had that box in that table," or, "I've always had that plant or that photograph." Maybe you need new eyes. Just try new things. Put things back sparingly.

Are there any easy mistakes people can make while staging?

Sure, there are. I think it's just the clutter, and one of my pet peeves is house plants that don't look healthy. Throw them out, or hide them, or do something. Also, be aware of any scented candles.

How have you seen staging change over the years? Any trends?

I don't know. I think that probably—and I'm guessing on this—that [staging] is being utilized more. And what I try to do when I stage is I stand at the front door, and I think, "What are people going to see immediately?" Those spots I pay quite a bit of attention to. Are they going to see the living room, or are they going to see the hallway? You've gotta make that part attractive.

What do you think is the most challenging part of your job?

The physical aspect that we have movers, but I think it comes down to the details and the accessories. It takes an awful lot of time. When you take the window treatments and make them look good. Just a lot of time spent on the details.

Take a look at more examples of homes that Kelley Proxmire has staged with the photo gallery below:

· See more past interviews [Curbed DC]
· Kelley Interior Design [Official Website]