Christina M. Frey
Volume 21 Issue 22 2013-06-14
Home selling is hardly a hassle-free experience. Gone are the days when one could put out a sign and hope for the best. But amid all our efforts to get things where they need to be, one thing has stood out—and it’s not the paperwork or the market analyses or even the frantic calculations far into the night.
Rather, staging the home for the market has been an education.
Whether it’s a result of shows like The Stagers or just the latest fad, home staging is no longer just for celebrity homeowners. We hired a professional to do the basic package: walk through the house and rearrange furniture, point out what needs to head to storage, and give tips on how to keep the house constantly showing-ready.
There’s something to be said for the concept of home staging. After all, some of us have unique taste in decorating, and a very edgy paint job or old-fashioned wallpapered style will probably give potential buyers pause. Neutral-looking décor is easier for new homeowners to transform into their own space, so it’s more attractive because of the possibilities it allows.
Rooms that have been overstuffed with furniture and knickknacks tend to look larger when some of the clutter’s been cleared—and a trained stager can recognize what needs to go or stay. Moving furniture and pictures to create perspective and depth have a similar, and valid, purpose. And of course, keeping the house clean suggests that the place is well-kept, always a good impression to give.
At the same time, though, there was something that struck me as strange, off, just a little wrong about the whole idea of staging. And after weeks of living in a showing-ready home, I think I’ve finally figured it out.
It takes out the human factor.
We live in a time of tolerance—or at least, we like to say we do. We’re okay with whatever people want to do, believe, or say. When it comes down to, it though? We’ll tolerate anything we can talk about, sure. But God forbid we have to come face to face with evidence of humanity.
Because humanity isn’t clean, spotless, sterile. We’re not the cultured denizens we pretend to be when we place fingers to keyboard. In the reality of the everyday, we’re loud, messy, and opinionated. We spill things and we scatter crumbs and we leave People magazine on the back of the toilet. We burn dinner and veg on the couch with takeout and sitcom reruns. We talk big, do little. We play video games instead of doing homework. We don’t even smell good all the time.
But we’re real.
And yet, when confronted with each other’s humanity—whether it’s during house hunting trips, at Walmart, in the bus station, or while watching Hoarders—we can’t handle it. We roll our eyes and shrug our shoulders. We shudder and mime gagging. We give the finger to the driver next to us. We know the reality of humanity exists, but we’d just as soon roll up our windows and retreat to our remote world of pretend and imagine it doesn’t.
So every day, I sweep away life. I smooth out the beds, arrange the pillows just so. Countertops are cleaned, smudges wiped, the cereal box tucked away in the cupboard. I hide the hand soap from the bathroom counter and the dish soap from the kitchen.
I ignore my spice collection (70 bottles and counting) and make plain meals instead of the curry I’m craving. I hide my daughter’s toys, spiriting away the beloved, beat-up stuffed animal and replacing it with the nicer-looking bear she never plays with. I give up scrapbooking and crafting because no one wants to see my projects when they’re not quite complete and perfect.
Like the angel of death, I whisk away all traces of real, human dwellers.
And as I sweep away each vestige of humanity, I become a little less human myself.
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