Property stagers feel effects of Hamilton's housing boom

Staging stylist Nicohla Waugh and Tiffany Corbett stand in a room they staged from scratch.
MARK TAYLOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Staging stylist Nicohla Waugh and Tiffany Corbett stand in a room they staged from scratch.

Nichola Waugh and Tiffany Corbett sometimes move house three times a day. 

The Design Depot property stagers, also known Furniture Creations, stage at least one home per weekday and sometimes that can involve taking several pieces of furniture from different homes. The pair reckon they are experts at packing. They're strong, too.

And they're flat out. It's not surprising, as Hamilton's housing market experiences unprecedented growth. In August, the median house price reached a record $415,000 as first-home buyers competed with Auckland investors. Waugh said they could be staging every day of the week if they felt like it.

Before:
Mark Taylor

Before:

The job can be challenging, staging anything from an empty new build with pieces from The Design Depot's warehouse to decluttering someone's home ahead of an auction, taking away bits and pieces and replacing them with "timeless, contemporary" styling.

It's physical work. Often it's just Waugh and Corbett and two delivery men. Between them, they pack the necessary items, load them and deliver them to their next destination.

The amount of furniture going into a property depends on the whether or not it is a full or partial stage. 

"We take furniture in and we might take a whole lot in and stage the complete property, or we might go into existing homes and restyle, declutter and and do partial staging," Waugh said. "Sometimes customers are more than happy to take furniture out and we take pieces in to add to their pieces of furniture already."

Developers tend to go for a full stage to ensure "continuity", Waugh said, but the most interesting projects often involve tackling a home with existing furniture.  "You know, it might be an older home that needs to be enhanced and that can actually be a real challenge but very satisfying."

There are no hard and fast rules, but Waugh said they had a selection of timeless pieces that work in a variety of settings, regardless of age or era.

"What we're doing is enhancing the space so sellers can imagine themselves living there and they don't focus as much, they focus on the home. We want them to come in and see the space as the best it can be laid out. And the home itself, it doesn't really need a style. It's just really about the positioning of furniture and enhancing the space."

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And less is best, Corbett said. 

More often than not, there's at least one reluctant party when it comes to paying for a staging, restyle or declutter service before putting a house on the market.   "It's often the guy who doesn't think they need to do that ... but they are the ones who will come back and say,  wow," Corbett said. 

And that is their aim, Waugh said.  "We want the vendor to get the best possible sale price. And it does exceed their expectations ... we get a lot of good, positive feedback about the fact that believe that staging got them a premium."

Each property is different, she said, because they are going into someone's personal space and rearranging it.

"And people could take offence because we're taking family photos down, we're putting away family heirlooms. Each job, it has its own highlights and satisfactions, really. It can be really satisfying to just go in and declutter a little bit. People can get really thrilled by just a small change."

 - Stuff

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