Kenn Cross, a thirty plus year veteran of integrated interior and exterior staging design, looks to psychology to enhance homes. “Colors, angles, textures and materials stimulate our senses and feelings of well being. I believe it’s important to tap into these “unconscious” aspects of our surroundings so we can feel our most comfortable where we live,” said Cross.

Honesty is the best policy., according to Cross “I’m here as a designer to be honest with the client. Family members, friends and neighbors can be nice…designers must be honest.”

Cross recently staged a mid century home in Arizona that the owners wanted to list for sale. “The first time I visited the home, I could barely see it because of all the toys and tchotchkes splattered all over the floors and walls, the clashing colors inside and out, the dead trees and plants strangling beautiful cacti that didn’t maximize the spatial beauty and size of the house. I gave the owners a list of everything I wanted removed from the house, the paint color I wanted on all the walls, the trees and plants that needed to come out.”

No structural changes, no renovation projects, no furniture alternates, no landscaping replacements…the cost amounted to less than $10,000. One month later, “I came back and was amazed. The owners had done everything I’d told them. The listing agents were completely blown away…so blown away that they raised the listing price of the house $100,000. Within days, the house had generated multiple bids”.

Cross thinks the most common staging mistakes include

  • The wrong paint
    • All beiges/greys/whites are not the same.
    • Some are warm, some are cool; warm and cool colors can fight with each other.
    • Fighting colors make potential buyers uncomfortable, agitate them, make them feel like something in the house “doesn’t work.”
    • Wrong paint colors in the wrong rooms – living rooms, dining rooms, dens, bedrooms, etc. need relaxing colors to help relax people in the room …only playrooms need “lively” colors.
    • Exterior and interior walls need to be bridged/connected with the same color.
    • Exterior and interior flooring needs to be color connected…e.g. terracotta flooring fights with grey walls.
  • Clutter and tchotchkes
    • Eliminate anything smaller than a soccer or softball.
    • Put little things on bookshelves.
    • This includes toys!

Here are just some of Cross’s top staging to do’s:

  • Set the home apart from others with simplicity.
  • Less is most definitely more.
  • Use mirrors in rooms so that potential buyers can see themselves in the house.
  • Straight, not sloped, lampshades look contemporary. Any shape of shade for any style/theme (rustic, mid-century, etc.) works whereas a sloped shade looks old.
  • Color coordinate clothes hanging in the closet so the viewer sees one continuous palette, not choppy/haphazard color splotches that agitate the eye.
  • Make “curb appeal” seduce all senses. The more senses you engage on the way to the front door, the more you welcome the visitor into the house.
    • Make sure the path /steps to the front door are clean, uncluttered and interesting.
    • A trickling water feature captures the eyes and the ears.
    • A subtly fragrant plant captures the scent.
    • Make sure there is something of interest (plant, succulent, pot) at the front door so there is something to look at that makes the visitor curious to see what’s inside the home.
  • Turn down the sheets/duvet/etc. to welcome a visitor into the bedroom instead of “making” a coffin/closed bed.
  • Move things on an angle to relax a room.
  • The current owner’s personality shines through with what they take with them when they move (furniture/art/accessories)…the new owner wants to imagine their personality in the home with what they will bring into it.

Kenn Cross has lived and worked throughout the United States. He is available for consultation at cavecreekcontemporary.com