Staging Takes Center Stage in Home Listings | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Staging a home was once thought of as an elitist activity to fill large rooms in luxury homes before they hit the market. Now, staging apartments, condos and homes of all sizes have become common practice. That’s where Inhabitr comes in. As one of the fastest growing startups in Chicago, Inhabitr offers customized and pre-curated packages to furnish everything from small studios, to multi-units and large Victorian homes. We caught up with Inhabitr to learn more about the staging dos-and-don’ts.

CR: What is staging?

Inhabitr: Staging involves dressing the interior and exterior of a home on the market to make it stand out among the rest, and ultimately, be more appealing to your target segment of buyers. This is typically done with the help of a professional stager who uses
rental furniture to furnish the unit.

CR: Why should you stage a home?

Inhabitr: Staging goes beyond decorating a home. Decorations, while important, are just accents — vases, flowers and frames. As a REALTOR®, you have a very short window of time to help potential homebuyers fall in love with a home. To maximize on this
short time frame, staging is critical. It is all about creating a balanced design layout to make sure everything in each room flows and helps visitors envision themselves and their lives in that space.

Furniture follows fashion; the trends are constantly updating. Staging allows you to experiment and try different things to see what best appeals to visitors. This is particularly helpful when taking marketing photos. You can remove and replace furniture as needed to get the desired effect and make the home attractive to potential buyers.

Staging a home can decrease a home’s market time and increase its selling price. When properly staged, buyers perceive the home at a higher value, as they can better understand the home’s functionality. Staging can also impact the speed at which a home sells, as it gives buyers a favorable first impression.

CR: What are some current staging trends?

Inhabitr: In terms of color palettes, grays are still very popular, but bolder colors are starting to make waves. We have some accent chairs and couches that have bolder colors – navy and burgundy. Metallics and stone are also very popular.

Millennials are driving the market right now, and they are fascinated by minimalistic furnishings that have modern features. Knowing this, we’re adding a lot of sleek couches and they’ll each have USB ports in them, so you can plug in your phone.


Along the same line, homes are becoming a lot smaller, which calls for lighter pieces.

At Inhabitr, we use technology and artificial intelligence to understand the preferences and trends that appeal to different target segments. We approach staging with a “design thinking” approach, which is a relatively new concept brought to life by companies like Apple®. Design thinking encourages us to understand who the ideal buyer is, what problems we need to solve for them, develop solutions to meet their needs and test our findings before we execute. This enables Inhabitr to be at the forefront of staging trends and create the perfect package to upgrade a home before it hits the market.

CR: What is the timeline for staging a home?

Inhabitr: For REALTORS® who haven’t worked with Inhabitr before, our staging experience is probably much different than what they’re accustomed to. Sometimes when working with a stager, you can spend a lot of time in the consulting phase. Then the stager goes to a third-party rental company to facilitate all the logistics that come with getting the furniture to the property. Working with Inhabitr is different. We work directly with furniture companies and have our own team of designers who have done the pre-work. So, the moment you have a property ready to go, we are, too. Our process removes anywhere from seven to ten working days from the
standard timeline.

First, we recommend decluttering the home and taking care of all repairs. After that, the consulting process can begin. Ideally, this should happen two to three weeks before your initial showing. However, if you need something quicker than that, our pre-curated packages and supply chain allows us to give clients a 24-hour turnaround on consulting and a 48-hour turnaround on furniture delivery.

CR: Where is staging most important?

Inhabitr: A REALTOR® has about 15 seconds to sell a home. This means the first impression is critical. You don’t have to stage everysingle corner of your home, but you do want to evoke emotion. The goal is to help potential buyers envision themselves in the space.

Think about the key rooms. We recommend starting with the master bedroom and the living room. You want to create a bedroom that feels luxurious, yet comfortable and relaxing. In the living room, it’s all about maximizing the space. Staging can help prospective buyers visualize the different ways they can entertain guests in the space or spend quality time with their family.

Also, consider the outdoor space. Curb appeal is crucial. We have a full line of outdoor furniture to help sellers really enhance that space. Next, look at the entryway and hallways. While they don’t need a lot of furnishing, they are spaces guests tend to remember. Adding an accent item, like a console table or desk, can really make a difference and make the whole house feel homier.

Remember, furniture stokes imagination. Really take a moment to think about which spaces may appear difficult to furnish or utilize, and enliven them with the perfect staging to help paint the picture for visitors.