Lianne Cousvis is a graduate of QC Design School with certifications in decorating (IDDP), home staging and redesign (ISRP), color consulting (ICCP), and professional organizing (AIOP). Lianne grew up in the Bahamas, where colors are celebrated and regularly utilized. She now owns her own design company, ChiChi Fringo Designs, in Toronto, Canada.
Let’s be real for a moment: your home staging training was able to prepare you for a LOT of unexpected scenarios you’ll commonly face in your career. But chances are, it couldn’t have possibly prepared you for COVID-19. In the face of this global pandemic, the economy has taken many hits, and has had to adjust accordingly.
But with cities all around the world beginning to open back up again, the game is once again changing! As a seasoned home stager, you’re now likely one of the businesses currently allowed to service clients again in your area. If so, you might be wondering how to best keep you and your clients safe during these unprecedented times.
On the other hand, what if you’re an aspiring home stager who hasn’t yet broken into the professional world? Fear not! The good news is, it’s still more than possible to have a flourishing career in this industry – so long as you follow some new (and basic) safety protocols!
Of course, before we go any further into that, it’s important to point out that there are many differences between staging a vacant home, versus an occupied one. As any seasoned home stager will tell you, this can be a major factor in how you need to best approach the project.
Now that we’ve gotten the basics covered, let’s look a bit deeper!
Vacant Home Staging
For obvious reasons, dealing with a vacant home will not pose the same amount of COVID-19-related concerns. Just make sure to remind your client that if the home is completely empty, it can sometimes get expensive to fill it up with rented furniture and decor.
7 Tips for Safely Staging a Vacant Home
- For the safety of the stager and the real estate agent, it’s wise to make sure that the home is professionally cleaned.
- Once the living space has been cleaned accordingly, make sure that nobody enters the property afterwards (prior to staging).
- The inventory should be fully sanitized, for the safety of everyone who comes in contact with these items in the staged home. Always ensure to refer to the CDC recommendations when choosing suitable cleaning products!
- When using the CDC-recommended cleaning products, always followed your local guidelines and safety protocols. Yes, this may require much more prep time on your end, but it’s absolutely necessary and worthwhile in the end!
- ALWAYS wear the proper Personal Protective Equipment during the job (i.e. gloves and face masks), as well as maintain social distancing. This is especially the case if if more than one home stager is required to complete the project. If you’re an aspiring stager, it’s not uncommon to work with a seasoned stager, in order to see how a job typically unfolds. This helps all parties take on large homes/projects in a shorter time-frame.
- There should only be ONE trade in the home at a given time.
- If there is no soap and water available, hand sanitizer will be used in its place. Ensure that this hand sanitizer contains a minimum of 60% alcohol!
Occupied Home Staging
An occupied living space means that some (or all) of the seller’s personal belongings and furniture are still within the home. These items can either be used as part of the home staging, or placed safely into storage if they’re to be replaced.
This type of staging will have all of the same safety practices we discussed above, but it will also have a few extra measures for you to be aware of as well.
5 Tips for Safely Staging an Occupied Home
- Wash your hands often, and for no less 20 seconds as a time. If you ever cough, sneeze, or go to the bathroom, always ensure to wash your hands immediately afterwards. The same applies before and after you eat anything on the job. Soap and water will often be available within occupied homes, but if not, refer to the note about hand sanitizer above.
- If new bedding, towels, etc. are required for the job, avoid renting them. Instead, consult with your client and look into purchasing new items that they can then keep afterwards. Most seasoned home stagers will be more than happy to pick out the appropriate bedding for the job, and bill the client afterwards. This limits the number of people coming into contact with these surfaces, and potentially contaminating them with bodily fluids.
- For your own business practices, you should implement restrictions regarding the use of inventory items coming from the warehouse. For example, ensure that the items have been in the warehouse for a certain number of days before using them in a different living space, etc.
- The project can be broken down accordingly, so that a minimal number of people are ever within the home at the same time. When staging the home, you can do this alone (or with the help of your team). Once finished, you can exit the home, so that the real estate agent can enter and assess the space by themselves. Should other contractors be needed (such as a photographer), the same protocol can be followed. So long as there is clear communication among all parties, there’s no need why multiple people will ever need to be in the home at the same time!
- In order to minimize the number of surfaces potential clients touch, you may want to consider leaving the lights on in the home, as well as opening all doors (including ones to the closets), storage areas, the garage, and the electrical panel.
Bonus: Offer Virtual E-Design Services
Consider this a valuable lesson in your home staging training: in this day and age, there is very little that can’t be done online! Virtual design services have been growing increasingly popular over the past decade. Amidst the pandemic, they’ve become a true life-saver; allowing home owners to continue with their projects uninterrupted, and with the help of an industry expert!
Now more than ever, it’s the perfect time to add virtual home staging services to your business.
There are countless resources that can make this possible for you! Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, email, and text messaging all make it easier than ever to set up virtual business services. An obvious benefit to e-design is that it allows you to continue working on a project, while also keeping you and your clients safe in your own homes.
Video chat and/or pictures from the client can give you a very detailed idea of the rooms in their home. You can properly advise on how to declutter the space, place furniture, hang art, select color schemes, and perfect the overall home in order to guarantee a HUGE return on their investment.
On your end, you can also order project materials (such as decor) online, and have them sent to the customer directly! Just make sure to be aware of the fact that timing can sometimes be an issue with this option. Especially during a pandemic, you might sometimes encounter a shipping delay. As much as possible, try to order any needed materials with as much time as possible, in order to provide a bit of a cushion in the event of a delay.
Undoubtedly, it’s truly amazing what can be accomplished with the proper use of technology. Stay safe, stagers!