Designing Mind

By Carol Tisch Photography by Rod Millington July 1, 2010

We asked Louise Stewart and Pat Walter of Stage III Design for the inside scoop on home staging. The husband-and-wife team has complementary talents and expertise: Louise is an ASID professional member and accredited staging professional; Pat is a builder, photographer and designer.

What makes a home saleable? Louise:First impressions are everything. The buyer’s response to a home is immediate. We walk through as if we were buyers and try to determine what is going to sell us. Pat: We look at everything from the path you walk to the front door to obstacles blocking the view to the patio, outdoors and water—which should be visible as soon as you enter the home. 

What’s the easiest fix? Louise: The biggest obstacle to a sale is traffic flow, and the easiest fix is switching furniture around so that the buyer can walk comfortably through the space. We are constantly thinning and rearranging—rethinking to find the most comfortable arrangement. It’s all about space and light-cleaning up and accessorizing.

You’re also professional decorators. Don’t the same principles apply to any interior design? Pat: Our business is half staging and half interior design. The most common mistake we find in both areas is that people don’t know how to arrange things, whether collections, souvenirs or art. Louise: There’s no balance to the arrangements, so the house ends up having a choppiness. Whether we’re staging a home or working on the home the clients live in, they are happiest when we take what they already own and love and make it livable. 

What made you decide to go into the staging business? Pat: We had a design business in New Mexico before moving to Sarasota, and Louise is also a realtor. When we looked at the inventory here, the homes were all vacant. Louise: We knew we could fill a niche here. We own our own furniture and accessories for vacant listings—we rent it, deliver it, arrange it.

You recently remodeled your own home in the Sanderling Club. Did you follow your own decorating rules? Louise: We purchased our home five years ago and totally renovated it. We did follow the rules, adding a completely new entrance, raising the ceilings for better light, rearranging the floor plan to make better use of the space. It took three years, and Pat did almost all the work himself.


Green Report 

The latest platform.

A commitment to sustainability has earned Copeland Furniture the second annual “Sage” award for environmental excellence from The American Home Furnishings Alliance. The company uses wood that grows no more than 100 to 500 miles from its plants. Scrap wood is used for fuel. Copeland was noted for urging its suppliers to formulate better water-based finishes, a challenge for eco-minded furniture makers. The Bradford, Vermont company just introduced its cherry hardwood Astrid collection with a true platform bed that’s considered an engineering marvel.

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