The Style Report

Realtor Q & A,  Megan Stilwell Posner Shares Insights on Getting Sellers to Stage

Spring Refresh: Redesign Tips To Freshen Up Your Home on a Budget

Crisp, Clean Navy & White

Home Staging A Tax Advantage For Sellers: Find Out How 


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APRIL 2014                                        V0L 3.4
Photo Credit: Jeff Kaufman Photography

March ended with an incredible storm. My associate, Katie, and I spent two hours trying to navigate our way from Cheshire to Wilton where I was going to be speaking to a group of Fairfield County realtors. Someone was watching over us as we finally made it to our destination, in one piece, and with a wonderful audience waiting for us. I believe that this final day in March has truly launched us all into spring as the weather warms up, the snow hopefully stays away until next year, and we can start opening our windows again. What a breath of fresh air that will be!

Now is the time to consider lightening up our homes -- whether it be decluttering and preparing for the spring market, or updating an outdated master bathroom, kitchen, or other room in your home you have been spending too much time thinking about. From muted pastels to bold color accents, spring interior decor provides wonderful choices no matter what your style. Navy and white, a timeless classic, makes a bold return this season. Take a look at some of the inspiring furnishings we have selected in this color palette below.

Our company kicks off spring with some wonderful interior decorating clients, several properties waiting to be staged, and a new addition to our team. Katie Samuelson, an interior designer and artist, joins PJ & Company as a design associate.

We also welcome and thank Megan Stilwel Posner, a talented real estate agent with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's in Bronxville, NY as a guest columnist. Megan sought us out and believed our staging expertise could help one of her new clients sell their elegant home in Irvington, NY. Please read what she has to say.

Enjoy this Spring issue and let's hope we can continue to keep our windows open, and begin to see the first signs of spring in our gardens.

REALTOR  Q & A: Megan Stilwell Posner of Julia B. Fee / Sotheby's Shares Insights on Getting Sellers To Stage

Recently, PJ & Company Home Styling worked with Julia B. Fee / Sotheby's International Realty agent Megan Stilwell Posner and her clients to stage their $1.9 million Irvington home pictured below. We asked Megan for her advice and tips on marketing a home for sale and she shares her insights along with Before & After photos of the home below.


1. What was your sense of the Irvington property and the updates necessary to appeal to today's buyers?

When I first met the homeowners and visited the property it was clear that to appeal to the greatest number of buyers it needed staging. The home is fabulous and the property is amazing, however the interior had been decorated 16 years ago when the homeowners first moved in. It was not the modern design aesthetic that younger, affluent buyer's look for. Instead there were many reasons to cross the home off their list - reasons we could easily remedy with staging. I explained to the homeowners that in order to attract the largest number of buyers to their home, that an investment in updating paint and flooring as well as staging was prudent. It would allow the property to hit the marketplace with a strong position, as a move-in ready property, which is highly desirable.   


    The Irvington home's living room Before & After staging. 


2. What was the seller's response to your advice to stage their home?


A few days after the listing presentation the sellers contacted me. They liked that I had a number of solutions to help them prepare and market their home. What appealed most is the staging solution I recommended. Patti (Stern) would assess the property and propose updates to the home. Most importantly her team would actually handle the work - managing and executing the entire staging plan. Her turnkey, solution-driven approach was a key point of difference from other stagers and brought the sellers on board.


Previously, the seller's had received a seven page recommendation from another stager but the d�cor choices and execution fell on them. The sellers are unfamiliar with current design trends and unequipped to prepare a home for market to appeal to today's young, affluent buyers. It's overwhelming - they don't have the design expertise to choose paint colors, select fixtures or floor coverings or create a compelling story through design. They needed someone to manage the job, make the decisions and ultimately deliver their home back to them ready for the market, so they are free to address their own priorities.


  A guest bedroom gets a fresh coat of paint and new accents to offer buyers  

a fresh, neutral space.


3. Real Estate expert Barbara Corcoran recently said that staging is no longer optional when selling a home. What is your point of view?

I agree with Barbara! A home has to be neutralized and staged to look like what buyers see in design magazines. Today's younger buyers only see "what is" and have difficulty visualizing how a space may look with a few simple changes. I often walk buyers through a property and they'll comment that they don't like an area rug or paint color. Those things, which are easily changed or not part of the home at all, influence their decision and often will prevent them from considering a property.


Ultimately, sellers who stage deliver buyers a tremendous value by eliminating the coordination which is involved in painting, switching electrical fixtures, etc. A couple with two incomes will pay premium dollar for a move-in condition home because their schedules simply do not have the time in them to manage such projects.


4. For many realtors, getting sellers to stage is a tough sell. What is your advice and how do you educate sellers about staging?

There are three key points I communicate with my sellers about staging. First, I explain to sellers the difference between decorating for yourself and your family versus staging to sell. Many sellers have taken tremendous pains to decorate their homes for their families - they see their favorite color and personal d�cor as assets and to their families they are. But, when they go to sell the goal is to appeal to as large a buyer pool as possible, which means neutralizing and depersonalizing. Making that distinction between decorating to live in a home and staging to sell a property is a key difference.


Secondly, selling a home is difficult on sellers. They are living in a way they don't typically live, maintaining a 'model home' look day to day. It's an inconvenience and wearing both emotionally and physically if the home is on the market for any extended period of time. Staged homes, typically, sell in a shorter number of days, shortening the discomfort of keeping a home looking perfect.


Finally, a home that is not updated or move-in condition will stay on the market longer and will not yield the highest price. A home is the single largest asset most couples have and staging is a smart investment sellers can make on their way out the door. In my experience, staging is substantially less than any initial price reduction, which must be considered if the property does not receive offers.


This family room is transformed with new furniture placement and home decor.


5. What has the feedback been since having the home staged?


The Irvington home has received very positive reaction from agents and buyers. It looks phenomenal and is in move-in condition. The sellers were hugely relieved to have the work managed and executed by Patti and her team - who quickly and with minimal disruption got the home updated and ready for the spring market.


6. The Irvington home was professionally photographed after it was staged. Why is that important?


According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of home buyers begin their search online. That means a properties first showing is online. Having a home photographed by an architectural photographer is key. Like staging, architectural photography is a key ingredient to presenting a property in it's best light. It is crucial to  capture buyers who are surfing the web's attention. I achieve this by utilizing a team of experts who prepare and photograph the property to tell a compelling story about the property and encourage people to schedule an in person viewing.



Megan Stilwell Posner is a Real Estate Professional with Julia B. Fee / Sotheby's International Realty in Bronxville, NY. See all her properties for sale including the  Irvington home and contact her online here.  




As we swap out winter wardrobes in favor of lighter, brighter options for spring and summer, it's also time to freshen up your home's decor. Redesigning your existing spaces by bringing in new seasonal accents and decor will give your furnishings a new look and with so many options readily available online and in stores it's easy to find pieces that match your personal decorating style. 

Rugs and Windows

Swap out rugs and drapes in lighter textures and colors for spring.  Natural sisal or jute are a great choice underfoot as are traditional textures in modern geometric patterns including chevron and trellis designs popular this season. Complete a rooms lighter, brighter feel from the floor up with sheer flowing drapes in soft, natural linen on windows.

Repurpose Dated Furniture

Slipcovers are a fun and easy way to experiment with new colors and patterns without investing in a new piece of furniture. Brand name easy fit slipcovers can be found at local home decor stores while more and more online slipcover sources offer custom options. Consider reupohstering a favorite couch or chair. There are wonderful fabrics in all colors, patterns, and textures to update any room.

Accessorize with Pillows

Pillow are one of the easiest most cost effective ways to give a room a whole new look.  Mix and match pillows in the season's top colors and pattern trends such as natural dyed ikat designs, medallions or bright spring florals. Arrange pillows in odd numbered groupings, which are more visually appealing.

Let there be Light

In recent years, lamps have gotten a makeover. From sparkling crystal and mercury glass to ceramic, clear glass to bold colors, you can find a stylish lamp to add to your home decor. Plain wrought iron lamps with ivory shades can also get a modern makeover with a new shade in one of the seasons top prints and colors.

The classic combination of navy and white in home decor is an All American style that creates sophisticated yet inviting living spaces, as shown above in the Irvington Living Room staged recently by our team. Crisp fabrics in navy and indigo blue paired with whites create a warm yet modern style for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Sandy beige tones and even a touch of crisp green or gold in other textures are great compliments. Bring in a coastal flair with natural textures such as sisal or sea grass or other accents inspired by the sea shore to complete the look. 

Be Inspired By Navy & White For Your Own Home 

Tax Time is quickly approaching and while home staging is an investment to get a home sold faster and for more money, it also offers a great tax benefit to home sellers. 

The cost of hiring an accredited home stager is a  
deductible selling expense and falls under the category  
of allowable 'advertising expenses'.

Given professional home stagers are performing a service that supports selling a home the cost of hiring an accredited home stager is a deductible selling expense. It falls under the category of allowable 'advertising expenses'  and will reduce any taxable gain on the sale of the home. 
A few tips:
  • Be sure you hire a professionally accredited home stager - Do-It-Yourself Home Staging expenses aren't eligible for the write-off. 
  • While the homes stager's professional service fees are deductible, expenses for repairs and maintenance are not.
  • Make sure the stager bills the sellers directly so they can take advantage of this great tax benefit. 
PJ & Company Home Styling, LLC recommends any homeowners and / or sellers interested in taking this deduction speak with their CPA.    
We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to send your thoughts, comments, or questions to or contact us at 203-640-3762.

The Style Report is PJ & Company Home Styling's e-newsletter designed to inform, entertain, and engage our clients, colleagues, friends, and other style followers about topics in interior design, fashion, and special events.