5 Home Staging Secrets That Translate into Stylish, Real-Life Decorating Ideas

5 Home Staging Secrets That Translate into Stylish, Real-Life Decorating Ideas

House hunting is a truly wild ordeal. Let’s start at the top: You’re (in many cases) talking about spending your life savings on a piece of property, so there’s just no way it’s not going to be stressful. You’re invasively walking through people’s homes, rifling through their things, and judging their various choices. Add in a global pandemic, where you basically have to act like a shark at feeding time if you even want a chance at scoring a property, and that’s the situation my husband and I found ourselves in less than a year ago. 

Having spent ten years in New York City, nearly every home was four times larger than anything we were used to, so we were immediately wooed by the square footage. That’s where the fantasy stopped though; so many of the places we toured needed serious help aesthetically. While it’s true that you’re buying someone’s shell of a home and not their decor style, it’s so easy for the two to impact one another. One home we walked into was so filled to the brim with cat collectibles that we could barely move, and another had a carpet and wall of built-ins so destroyed by the residing pups that you couldn’t walk into the space. Needless to say, both of those homes did not make the cut.

After a series of unfortunate first impressions, we walked into an immaculately styled home where every detail was thoughtfully considered. The furniture was proportional to the space; the coffee bar was stocked; there were fresh flowers on the table — it felt lived-in but in a way that made you want to picture your life there. While we didn’t end up making an offer on that house, the impact of the staging made a lasting impression on me. Not only does staging make a huge difference when looking to sell your home, but with its practice also comes with sneaky takeaway tips to utilize when decorating — though, make no mistake about, they’re definitely not the same thing.

“The number one difference between design and staging is the intention,” says Leia Ward, founder of luxury staging design firm LTW Design. “Design is intended to reflect the style of the homeowner and is completely subjective. On the other hand, staging is objective and intended to highlight architectural focal points of the home (among other selling points) and create a lifestyle experience in order for buyers to emotionally attach and make an offer. The priorities are very different.”

That being said, many of Ward’s best staging tips also make pretty good decorating ideas. I went through the main rooms in a hypothetical home with her, getting her strategies along with the underlying takeaway decor principle behind them, which can help you make the most of any space you come to call “home sweet home.”

Kitchens are the heart of the home and often can be a huge deciding factor for prospective buyers. While the finishes (see also: appliances, countertops, and layout) are paramount, Ward emphasizes the importance of adding life to the space, turning to large displays of greenery (often tall branches with leaves) to add freshness without taking away from the necessary features house hunters are truly there to see. 

When it comes to decorating your own kitchen, Ward suggests treating the countertops just like you would any other surface in your home. “Even if it’s not functional, decorating the kitchen is important, and we like to style surfaces there just as we would a coffee or console table,” she says. “Create a little vignette by adding a framed piece of art against the backsplash with two coffee table books and a vase.” Don’t forget fresh flowers or greenery either; a little bit of life can warm up an otherwise sterile looking kitchen, whether you’re looking to sell or in your forever home. You don’t have to go over-the-top here, but if you do have high ceilings, for example, why not choose a few dramatic, tall branches?

Perhaps the biggest difference between staging for buying and decorating for living can be seen in the living room layout, according to Ward. “In real life, it’s functional to have the sofa facing the TV, so if you’re designing for yourself, make the most of the space for day-to-day livability,” she says. “However, when staging, the layout must allow for an unobstructed flow, which usually means the sofa is perpendicular to the fireplace or TV so buyers don’t have to walk around it to see the focal point. We want to use less furniture to create negative spaces, which make rooms feel bigger and show off more square footage.” 

Ward also removes any extra clutter and personal photos, encouraging clients to think of it like turning your home into a 5-star hotel. “Nobody wants to go into a hotel room and see a personal item left from the previous guest, right?” she says. “Same concept! Buyers want to walk through your home and envision it as theirs.”

The upshot here? Choose a layout that works for the way you regularly interact in your space, and don’t worry if your coffee table has remotes, coasters, and magazines on it. Just maybe add a tray or basket to corral said items, so they look a little bit more organized and in their proper places. Could you benefit from losing a chair or an extra side table though, putting to use Ward’s staging prerogative on flow? Negative space is never a bad thing, even in a lived-in home.

The powder room or half-bath is one of the few places where Ward’s design and staging ethos meet. “My biggest suggestion for your powder room is actually the same whether you’re staging it for sale or trying to warm it up for yourself: Add live greenery!” she says. “It’s the nicest surprise and is so refreshing when you see live flowers or tall branches with leaves in a bathroom.”

The bedroom is another personal space buyers are going to want to “see” themselves in, so Ward cautions against a palette that is too bright or attention-grabbing when staging your home for sale. “For staging, it’s all about creating a sanctuary for potential buyers — especially in a primary bedroom,” she explains. “Soft neutrals and layered textures (think: cashmere throws, bouclé pillows, linen sheets) will do the job.”

When it comes to decorating a bedroom for yourself though, Ward encourages all the cozies mentioned above but with a personality-packed twist unique to your style and a playful outlook on color, pattern, and texture. “When decorating your primary bedroom, go bold and use wallpaper — we especially love a solid textured wallpaper,” she says.

If there’s one thing most homeowners have on their wishlist when house hunting these days, it’s a home office. In fact, the folks behind Rocket Homes reported almost a 17 percent increase in listings mentioning a home office between March and July of 2020, and that trend is only set to explode with the increase in telecommuting. The solution? A design that melds functionality and decor into one serene space — plus, an added dose of organization if you’re actually living there. 

“When staging an office, it’s all about showing the buyer how they want to live — a neat, clean office without desk drawers or clutter tells buyers, ‘If you buy this house, you’ll live like this,’” says Ward, who shares that she stages offices with small-scale dining tables instead of true desks to cut down on visual clutter, which is a great tip if you like a more streamlined look yourself and can invest in other methods of storage. In fact, for a functional office space you can actually live and work in, Ward absolutely emphasizes the need for appealing organizational solutions. “Style the office with bold accessories that are functional for organization,” she suggests. “Don’t just buy any old pencil cup holder or paper tray. Use that item to make a statement, whether it’s with a concrete, marble, or leather texture.”

Williams-Sonoma Is Hiring 7,000 Remote Workers for the Holiday Season

Williams-Sonoma Is Hiring 7,000 Remote Workers for the Holiday Season

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

If you’re currently on the hunt for a new job and are missing the flexibility of working from home—something that many of us have become accustomed to over the past 18-months—you may be in luck.

Job site Remote.co specializes in fully remote work, and believe there are a number of important personality traits that can define a high-performing customer service professional. These include being communicative, empathetic, patient, upbeat, and adaptable.

According to the job posting, Williams-Sonoma Customer Service Representatives are “people who truly care about creating a seamless experience for our [brands’] customers”.

“Agents are trained in taking calls to assist customers with anything from placing orders and facilitating returns, to locating products and scheduling deliveries for all of our Williams-Sonoma brands,” the post description reads. “If you consider yourself a blend of determination with a heart of gold, THIS.IS.YOUR.OPPORTUNITY.”

Day-to-day duties will include, but are not limited to: addressing customer queries and concerns, providing product information, problem-solving, checking inventory, placing orders, and processing returns.

Salary is marked at $14 per hour and employees can enjoy a range of benefits such as monthly performance bonuses, overtime, fun contests and competitions, paid training from the comfort of your home, and a huge 40% discount on most products across the Williams-Sonoma brands.

The ideal candidate will have a High School Diploma or GED, 1-2 years of previous customer service experience, strong communication skills, and experience in a performance-based or metric-driven environment. Additionally, the candidate is required to have an up-to-date computer or laptop, anti-virus software, a webcam, and a phone.

To apply, candidates need to be based in one of the following 12 states: TX, NV, OK, AL, FL, OH, VA, AZ, ID, UT, NC, and GA. Candidates can apply now through the end of November.

3 Ways I Curb My Emotional Spending (And How Much I Saved Last Month)

3 Ways I Curb My Emotional Spending (And How Much I Saved Last Month)

Most people have growing pains and growth areas when it comes to finances, and I’m no different. Despite being diligent with retirement savings and investments, I know that emotional spending is something I need to work on. As the name suggests, I am prone to swiping my card for an external reward instead of working on an internal feeling. 

Though I am still on a journey toward financial wellness, I’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are the four ways I curb my emotional spending, and how much money I saved in August based on my emotional spending triggers alone. 

I know (and name!) my emotional triggers. 

The first step toward curbing my emotional spending habit is to look at, well, my emotions. I’ll save you the stories of trauma and offer this quick footnote: I know now that I am most likely to self-sabotage when I feel I’ve lost control over an area of my life. 

Bad workday? Let’s order a pizza. Bad hair day? It sounds like a great reason to buy $200 worth of hair products. When I am anxious about the future, food and shopping feel like the few things over which I still have a say. 

For me, curbing any emotional spending that arises in this way isn’t about seeking more control or avoiding aspects of vulnerability. Instead, I keep a feelings chart saved on my phone at all times. I reference the chart when I’m experiencing the temptation to overspend. It’s not a perfect system — I have the West Elm curtain rod to prove it — but looking at the chart and naming what I’m feeling encourages me to face my emotions head-on, not douse them with consumerism and distractions. 

I ask myself specific questions before making a purchase. 

My emotions can steer me toward fast fashion, one-use items, or poorly-researched quick fixes that I wind up returning. Depending on the purchase category (e.g., an item of clothing vs. a piece of furniture), I ask myself a series of questions to help keep myself accountable. 

Most often, the following inquiries keep me from experiencing buyer’s remorse later:

The questions work for me because I am encouraged to articulate an item’s value or lack thereof. Ultimately, I am parenting myself and asking, Is this multipurpose? Am I chasing a temporary high? Will this be a staple item? And if the answer is “no,” I typically steer clear of purchasing it. 

I designate one day of the week as “buy-day.”

My longest-standing hack could be this: with few exceptions, I only buy groceries, household items, and fun things on Friday. 

Cultivated out of necessity when I lived paycheck-to-paycheck, I’ve kept the habit since experiencing more professional success. Today it serves as a self-parenting trick; if I truly want it and need it, I’ll still want and need it several days from today. More often than I care to admit, the “need” for an item has left me long before Friday arrives. 

These Are the Best Cities For Thrift Shopping in the U.S.

These Are the Best Cities For Thrift Shopping in the U.S.

Love to thrift? Whether you’re after vintage clothing, unique homeware, upholstered furniture, or forgotten memorabilia, thrift shops, and flea markets are a treasure trove of delights.

A new study by Workshopedia has found the best cities in the U.S. for thrifting, collecting Yelp data and analyzing a variety of factors including number of locations, average online ratings, and prices of thrift stores, consignment stores, and flea markets in order to calculate a numerical score for each city. 

Taking the top spot in the study is Mesa, Arizona, scoring an impressive  40.9 out of 50. Plentiful locations, high ratings, and competitive prices make this the top city for thrift store visits.

Second on the list is Long Beach, California, scoring 38.8 out of 50. With 84.23 locations per 100K residents, 3.97 stars out of 5, and an average price level of 1.63 out of 3, the waterfront city is a thrifter’s paradise.

For the third city on the list, we’re taking things to the East Coast. Another popular location among thrifters is Tampa, Florida. The city has 70.41 thrifting locations per 100K residents, with an average star rating of 3.89, with an overall scoring 33.3 out of 50. Some of Tampa’s most popular thrift stores include Sunshine Thrift Store, Life’s Treasures Thrift Store, and Oh Whatever Decor.

Another Californian city comes in at number four: Oakland. With a score of 31.7 out of 50, there are over 70 thrifting locations per 100K residents that have an average star rating of 4.09 out of 5, and an average price rating of 1.79 out of 5. This makes Oakland, California the place to be if you love a vintage find at a great price.

Looking for the best thrifting tips? Check out more of Apartment Therapy’s thift content below.

What Is a Convertible Apartment and Why Would I Want One?

What Is a Convertible Apartment and Why Would I Want One?

Life in the city can be expensive. So stumbling upon an affordable option on your hunt for an apartment (one that even seems IG-worthy!) can feel like the ultimate find. Luckily, a convertible apartment is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the perks of city life without the big city price tag — or at least not as big.

Convertible apartments are often found in large cities like Chicago and New York, where the demand for housing is high — along with the prices. For example, in Manhattan, the average rent is nearly $4,000 a month, and the average apartment size is 700 square feet. Increasingly limited housing options, coupled with a lack of space, often means renters have to get creative.

Convertible apartments allow for flexibility and the option to pay lower rent while still maintaining the feel of a one-bedroom — or larger — in a desirable location. 

What is a convertible apartment? 

A convertible apartment is essentially a studio that has a space specifically allocated for a bed. This type of apartment is larger than your typical studio but doesn’t quite have the square footage of a one-bedroom.

The sleeping area in a convertible apartment isn’t completely separate from the living space, but there is a clear designation that leaves some room for creativity. The sleeping area can be designated with an alcove, partial wall, separate room with a sliding door, or a hallway to create a buffer between the main living and sleeping spaces. 

Is a convertible apartment the same as a flex apartment?

The terms convertible apartment and flex apartment are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences.

In flex apartments, a one-bedroom flex means that the apartment has one existing bedroom with the option of “flexing” to add a second. A two-bedroom flex means that there are two bedrooms with the option to add a third. Whereas, a one-bedroom convertible means that the apartment is a studio with the option to add a sleeping alcove. A two-bedroom convertible means that the apartment has one bedroom with the option to add a second sleeping area.

You might also see the term junior one-bedroom pop up in your search. This type of apartment falls midway between a one-bedroom convertible and a one-bedroom. It’s usually a smaller version of the building’s one-bedroom floor plan but without the bedroom door and sometimes without a window.

How much does it cost to rent a convertible apartment?

The short — and frustratingly vague — answer to this question is: More than a studio, less than a one bedroom.

Because housing and rental markets vary widely depending on the city and current demand, the actual number is dependent on the area, the building, the local market, and more. As a ballpark, convertible apartments typically run about 5 percent less per month than a one-bedroom, but the actual price to rent or buy varies widely.

Ready to look for a convertible apartment? Here are some tips.

Because the terminology can get a little complex, these tips will help make the apartment search easier:

Steph Mickelson


Steph Mickelson is a freelance writer based in Northwest Wisconsin who specializes in real estate, building materials, and design. When she’s not writing, she can be found juggling kids and coffee.

An Ontario Artist’s Home Is Filled With Cool Sculptural Accessories

An Ontario Artist’s Home Is Filled With Cool Sculptural Accessories

Name: Mellissa Baugh
Location: Downtown London — Ontario, Canada
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 775 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I’m an emerging artist living in Canada. I spend a lot of time at home, whether just hanging out, entertaining and even working from home, so I wanted to create a comfortable and inviting space. This apartment is located in the downtown London area. It is not quite in the heart of the downtown region but rather a balanced intersection between the downtown core and the semi-suburban part of London I believe.

My apartment has two bedrooms. Although I live alone, I love to entertain and have guests visit from time to time. My home has become my sanctuary, especially since the pandemic. It’s where I find time to fuel my art passion. Some of the artwork around this apartment is done by myself and reflective of my personality. I’m an abstract painter, so I admire abstract and eclectic designs in my space because it speaks to my creativity.

I think your home should reflect your personality, and in designing this space I aimed to achieve a welcoming, warm, and cozy, yet modern feel. Hence the warm and neutral color palettes combined with the bold colors like the green, for instance. I love to make statements and stand out, but at the same time, I love simplicity and comfort, so I tried to capture all of that in this small space.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Cozy, stylish, modern, vibrant, and eclectic!

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the living room as it’s where I spend the most time. My couch is very comfortable, so it makes the time spent in there relaxing. I also love unwinding and watching a Netflix show or two after a long day there.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I purchased recently was this CB2 large terrazzo ball in black. I think it’s a really unique accent piece that elevated my space.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Any advice I would give is to make your home comfortable to you and your personality/creative style. It is so easy to get caught up in what’s trending or in style, but you shouldn’t let what’s trending stop you from incorporating your personal style and creativity into your own home. The key to creating a home you love is to incorporate elements that have meaning and significance to your life and mixing into your space.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.