Home Staging

182 – Kevin Htain: Home Staging Extraordinaire

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Kevin Htain of Identity Home Staging, Real Estate Stager and HGTV contributor. Very well known in California, Kevin had an interesting pathway through the design world to end up as one of staging’s most high profile players. Find out more, in this episode of the Chaise Lounge.

The Business

Kevins start t in the interior design business was designing model homes and leasing offices with KB Homes as his first gig out of college. He began as a studio art major in school, but then realized he needed his creative education to have a solid business fundamental. That’s when he discovered interior design. He has since worked for powerhouses like Ikea and progressive businesses like Pacific Dimensions, a merchandising company that seeks to blend traditional staging techniques with cutting-edge design trends. It was the most unlikely of avenues that finally got him into the staging industry though…a call from Mom. She had heard about it from a friend and recommend Kevin look into it. The rest, as they say, is history. Kevin was enrolled in staging training just weeks later.

Staging and Interior Design…What’s the difference anyway?

Kevin believes that home staging is all about putting a home’s best foot forward; if it had legs of course. It is really real estate market driven, so one needs to understand that segment in addition to having a background in design and aesthetics. Interior design on the other hand, is all about customization and personalization. It is design for a particular person or persons in mind. Staging is much less personal but still geared towards that target client. California’s staging market is robust, so staging is seen as a valuable tool at a seller’s disposal. Staging works across the board; in all budgets. Its all about helping the property perform at it’s highest potential.

What it Takes

Kevin has a team of 7. They include his stylists and moving crew. It can be tough to maintain a team in this industry, due to the fast pace and the eventual burn out that team members can face. That is one of the biggest challenges to be overcome. Keeping inventory fresh is another critical factor in keeping installations fresh and having properties show at their best. Some brands are also beginning to position themselves to meet the unique needs of the staging community. Brands like Uttermost, Coaster, and Ashley offer pieces that are striking, yet lightweight and easy to maneuver. Always keep the price point of the property in mind and stage accordingly. The scale and colorway in a million dollar home is going to be different than your average home’s inventory. A really good stager understands this and can market properties effectively.

Getting into the TV Game

Kevin is proud to share that Identity Home Staging has worked on 46 projects with HGTV over the last 3-4 years.  There were originally contacted by the casting agency for the show ‘Flip or Flop’. Its been a great fit over the years and now Kevin will be contributing to the upcoming HGTV show ‘House to Home’. The next steps for Identity Home is to start their own furniture line.  Nick is excited to pass some connections along in that area and to questions why there isn’t a current HGTV show focused solely on staging (hint, hint, casting!).

IAHSP and Kevin’s Commitment to Training Staging Professionals

Kevin Co-chairs training for the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. He is passionate about attending as many of the events as possible and keeping stagers trained in the latest merchandising techniques. His biggest piece of advice to students looking to join the field of staging is to challenge themselves not only to focus on the design side but also to be really well versed in the real estate market. That combination of design knowledge and business savviness is a winning one. Just ask Kevin…he knows for sure!

Learn more about Identity Home Staging online at: www.identityhome.com

Via Twitter @identityhome, Instagram  @identityhome, and Facebook  @identityhome


Chaise Lounge Updates

Join Nick and Porcelanosa on their upcoming trip to Spain. Post a story about why you want to go with the hashtag #letsgotospain. Deadline extended until January 31st 11:59 pm.Look forward to your stories!

Download our E-Book HERE!


Upcoming Markets

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

133 – Sanja Radovanovic: Home Staging from Rome

Sanja Radovanovic: Home Staging from Rome

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Sanja Radovanovic on home staging, her ambassadorship with IAHSP in Europe, and what’s next for her in the world of home staging.

Getting to know Sanja Radovanovic

Sanja Radovanovic, born in Serbia, currently lives in Rome, after residing in at least eight other countries. She met Nick at the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP). Sanja speaks five languages and loves men’s watches, sunglasses, and high heels. She also enjoys Nutella and wine.

How Sanja got into design

Sanja states that interior design has always been a part of her. As a child, her mother’s job kept the family moving, which meant constant renovations and redesigns. Now, she is married to a diplomat, which keeps her family moving as well.

She has been involved with IAHSP over the last year and is on the board of directors. IAHSP is the longest running industry association and is dedicated to advancing the education for stagers and realtors. The organization provides ongoing education throughout the US and is expanding into Europe.

For Sanja, the switch from interior design to home staging came naturally. She was always attending open houses, though she mentions it’s a tough market educating clients on what staging is. She prepares a home to bring in top dollar in the least amount of time.

Sanja initially established her business in Chicago but has moved, again and again, restarting from scratch, feeling like she has to work twice as hard. She relies on social networks, industry associations including IAHSP, and professional relationships to build her business wherever she is.

What her business looks like

Sanja has never worked for someone else. She has always run her own firm. Interior design clients ask for home staging when selling, and then ask for help designing their new home after they’ve moved. Much of her business has been brought in through word of mouth.

Sanja mentions that interior design requires designing for someone else, which means you need to listen and understand what they need and want, whereas staging is for a home must appeal to a wide number of individuals, so it can sell, not the current owner.

What’s next

Sanja is investing a lot of time and effort with IAHSP expanding across the globe. In Rome, there is less design work currently due to economy, but IAHSP founder, Barb Schwarz, says, “The world is full of money, you have to find it.”

Learn more at Staged Homes and The Art of Staging.

  • Upcoming Events

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

PCBC – June 26 – 28

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

103- Staging Success with Lori Pedersen

Lori Pedersen’s journey into staging

Staging Before and after

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, one of the top interior design podcasts, Nick chats with Lori Pedersen, a Canadian home stager. Lori talks about how she got into home staging, what her business looks like today, and even answers some audience questions.

Getting to know Lori Pedersen

Lori Pedersen has been a certified home stager for four and a half years in Toronto, Canada. She loves wine, including sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. Lori has been more adventurous lately in enjoying a vacation to Alaska where she was greeted with beautiful scenery and fresh air. She can’t leave home without her phone, a cold bottle of water, and her project bag.

How Lori got into Staging

Lori always loved and admired beautiful homes and she always had a creative streak. Early on, Lori was able to work under Miriam, her mother’s interior designer. At the time, Lori was not in the position to go back to school, but she wanted to get to work. Home staging was her next best option.

Lori called home staging real estate marketing. Staging is de-personalized. It highlights the selling features of the home, but interior design is focused on the individual and decoration of the space.

When Lori listed her home for sale, her agent said her home was ready and she didn’t need a stager. This agent continued to send jobs to Lori after she was certified. Real estate agents are Lori’s top clients. She consults on a room by room basis to maximize the value of the home.

What Lori’s Business looks like

Lori mentioned that staging is impossible to do by yourself. Her assistant, Sonja, keeps her focused as well as 8-10 certified professionals she can bring out to projects. Lori warned to

be careful of overhead and recommended to keep costs variable. There can be peaks and valleys that follow the real estate market.

How does Lori get the word out

Lori and her team have established an online presence and continue to network with agents, investors, and flippers. She mentioned that the best marketing is word of mouth and referrals.

Online, Lori uses Facebook and Houzz as online portfolios. She also wants to get into blogging.

Audience Questions

Q: How do you make vacants cost effective?

A: Vacant homes look small, cold, and uninviting. Staging usually pays for itself four times over. It is cost effective that it’s an investment.


Q: How do you charge?

A: Provide a proposal for every property since they are unique and custom curated rather than a flat fee or hourly rate. It is determined on a case by case basis as a  combination for hours and rental cost, but one line item for the client.


Q: What does your inventory look like? Fixed inventory? Rent?

A: Own inventory of soft goods, accessories, but rent in large items. Starting out it can be intimidating or if you don’t have many resources or are remote, you may need to carry more inventory.


Q: Does staging ever lead to customers asking to design their new house house?

A: Yes, it’s an honor to be asked. Every day is completely different. The goal is to make clients happy by selling staging items for the new home or staged items as part of a sale. It’s a good way to fill in less busy times.


Q: What’s the hardest part of running the business?

A: Delegating. As staggers, you have to be a control freak so it is hard to let go, but it’s the only way to grow the business. It takes a conscious effort.

To Learn more about Lori, please her website LoriPedersen.ca

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!


95 – The Business of Home Staging

The Business of Home Staging

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Jennie Norris of IAHSP, Tricia Tomlinson of Staging and Design Network, Lauren Matthews of White Orchid Interiors on a subset of Interior Design, the business of Home Staging.

Jumping into conversation with Jennie Norris (5:50)

Located near Denver, Jennie Norris has been staging since 2002. She has also been involved in the International Association of Home Staging Professionals in many different roles and is currently the chairwoman for the entire organization of thousands of members.

IAHSP is hosting an educational conference and expo coming up in February from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The theme of this event is “Raise the BAR” and will focus on business, applications, and resources. Not only will Nick of The Chaise Lounge be presenting on keeping your sales and marketing funnel full, but Jeff Lewis from Bravo’s Flipping Out will be sharing his expertise too.

Overall, Jennie said that home staging is physical and demanding. She mentioned that TV shows today show that staging is necessary and focus on furniture and décor, but what they don’t show is the actual business.

IAHSP’s Educational Conference and Expo is coming up on February 10-12. Please click here for more info!

Next in the lounge, Tricia Tomlinson (13:45)

Tricia Tomlinson is calling in from Kirkland, WA right now, but is hoping to expand to other locations soon! Tricia runs the Staging and Design Network, which is the only shared rental pool in the marketplace for home staging. By fulfilling this function, Tricia and her company can handle all payment and logistics, which allows home stagers to focus on the homes and design.

Tricia started in real estate with a company that provided staging, and she fell in love with it. She knew she needed more resources when her staging projects started to borrow furniture from her own home!

The Staging and Design Center allows stagers to receive income on rented furniture, art, bedding, rugs, etc as well as expand their inventory to be able to rent from other stagers. It’s like the Amazon for the home staging industry.

Tricia has seen great success and plans on expanding within the next six months. In the meantime, the company is providing webinars from educational providers on being successful in the industry. And, Nick will be presenting on marketing coming up in January!

When asked about the difference in interior design and home staging, Tricia mentioned that staging is the only industry where you can show your talent. Interior design caters to homeowners’ taste, while staging appeals to the broadest audience. You must do your homework on the market in that area.

Find out more about Tricia and Staging and Design Network on the company website or email her at tricia@sdninc.net. If you are a professional in the industry, please check out Tricia’s LinkedIn Group.

Last, but not least, Lauren Matthews (39:00)

Lauren Matthews is calling from her home office in beautiful Newport Beach, California. She is originally from Colorado and spent time skiing and road cycling at a high level of competition. This allowed her to travel and see great design. When her sports career wrapped up, Lauren decided to focus on this interest.

Initially, she thought staging was just rearranging and decluttering, but soon landed her first job staging a $2 million vacant home. It was a huge success, and from them on she has been fulfilling the need for luxury vacant home staging in Denver.

Lauren started with no inventory and sent fliers out to real estate agents. In naming her company, she knew she wanted it to be bigger than her, so she landed on White Orchid Interiors. The business now employs 12 individuals who stage more than 300 $1+ million vacant homes each year from two permanent office locations (Colorado and southern California).

When thinking about the staging industry, Lauren commented on the quick turnaround time that happens more often than not. And often, you just have to work with what is in your inventory and get the job done to make it work, while also keeping high end luxury expectations in mind.

Lauren describes home staging as selling a story, but the story changes from the homeowner to the actual home itself, and interior design focuses on the characteristics and personality of the homeowner.

For more information on Lauren Matthews and White Orchid Interiors, please check out the company website, which includes a helpful quoting tool.

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

93 – Host of the new show Your, Mine, or Ours, Taylor Spellman

Taylor Spellman New York Interior Designer

Host of the new show Your, Mine, or Ours, Taylor Spellman

Today in the lounge I have an amazing interior designer and home stager, Taylor Spellman from New York, that has just launched a television show on Bravo called Yours, Mine, or Ours.

Get to know Taylor Spellman from New York (4:06)Taylor Spellman

Taylor is currently in SoHo. She loves a heavy-bodied red wine, her bedroom because sleep is scarce, and her family’s annual tradition of vacationing to Rhode Island.

How did Taylor get into interior design? (10:10)

Taylor has not had any formal training or education within the interior design field, but rather attended Fordham University for dance. She then moved to New York to continue dancing, but soon realized a disconnect between the lifestyles of the people around her – great jobs, nice restaurants, a tasteful wardrobe, but they go home to a nightmare apartment and drink wine out of plastic cups!

She turned this observation into a business that took off. She catered her interior design business to single men to start, but in time women and families showed interest. Taylor fondly remembers her first client, Sal, from nine years ago, who showed proof of concept for what some thought was a far-fetched idea.

What does Taylor’s business look like today? (14:30)

While the bachelor focus was a great launch-pad and competitive advantage, the business has been rebranded as Taylor Spellman New York. Taylor’s seven person firm focuses on high-end residential design as well as staging too.

Taylor saw staging as an opportunity due to lack of competition in the market, with just one other prominent company. Like interior design, the is a self-trained stager. She had the opportunity to stage one of Ryan Serhant’s listings,which had been on the market for years. After Taylor’s staging, there was a bidding war and now she works with Ryan regularly.

Being on TV (19:15)

Taylor’s show Yours, Mine, or Ours launched this week. It’s a 10 episode series that’s both funny and kind. In each episode Taylor and Reza Farahan (from Shahs of Sunset) meet with a couple who each have their own homes. Taylor resolves the design issues in their current homes, while Reza shows the couple two new homes. In the end, the couple must choose between these four options.


The Taylor Touch (25:16)

As Taylor’s company grows, she has had to be lessTaylor Spellman Interior hands on, which she mentioned is good, but challenging. She is learning to delegate and oversee. Taylor is still involved with initial meetings and consultations, but then hands projects off to her team for execution. She is able to keep things moving forward, and then provide some finishing touches – The Taylor Touch.

Taylor also mentioned that she is present on all home staging projects. Her goal is to maximize the price per square foot, not just provide a beige couch and a taupe rug. She wants to make everyone feel at home instantly.

How did Taylor learn to do this if she didn’t go to school? (32:00)

Taylor Spellman has always loved interior design. She decided to do what she thought was right for her and make it work. To some degree, it is innate and instinctual. In the beginning she received feedback about not having a portfolio, education, or ASID behind her name, but didn’t let that stop her.

As of Monday, Taylor got what she wanted. Her company is up and running. She is helping others turn their home into the sacred space they need. And her TV show is launching. She is sleeping better than ever, until the next challenge arises!

Business and beyond (37:02)

It has taken Taylor ten years to get to this point. She now feels comfortable taking interviews. She has her point of view on design. In order to get her business to this point, Taylor has had to put processes in place and make the company scalable. She is moving into the lifestyle market with flower arrangements and table scapes and hopes to be the next modern day Martha Stewart!

If you would like to connect with Taylor Spellman, please visit taylorspellman.com and check out Yours, Mine, or Ours Monday nights on Bravo at 10/9C

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!


83 – Vanessa DeLeon: Reality TV Designing Star

vanessa deleon and associates

Vanessa DeLeon:  Reality TV Designing Star

Joining me today in the lounge is my new friend Vanessa DeLeon, an interior designer based out of New York. A featured designer on the hit shows Restaurant Impossible-The Food Network, HGTV’s Generation Renovation, Designer Challenge, Bang for your Buck, Design Star, DIY’s Rev Run’s Renovation, Ice Loves Coco, and Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. She has made guest appearances on The Better Show, NBC’s Today Show, and is a contributing designer for Open House NYC. Vanessa had a segment on PIX 11 “Vanessa to the Rescue” and was a featured host and designer for You Tube’s Channel Spaces TV ” Your Place is a Deal Breaker”.

In my normal fashion, I start our conversation asking Vanessa how she got into interior design, where she tells be about growing up in her family’s furniture business.  No doubt this is where she learned her love for interior spaces and her drive to work hard. From there we talk about her experiences on numerous designer reality shows and the resulting effects on her interior design firm.

One of the biggest themes that came out of talking with Vanessa is how hard it is to build an interior design firm.  From the outset, a lot of people could look at her and determine that it is a lot of luck and good fortune.  In reality, if Vanessa had not shown up each day to figure out how to leverage each opportunity and maximize her exposure, she would not be sitting on a successful design business.  To balance out her abilities and her time, she had to find someone that would be present and action on her design vision on her projects.  Vanessa talked about finding that person in her right hand project manager Tim Davis.  As the business owners, we need to find those people that compliment and can do the things that we either do not like doing, or that we are not as skilled at.  Vanessa shared that she does not like to deal with the production side of things.  From my point of view, if she didn’t have a competent project manager, her company would not be as successful. 

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business.  See ya!