Monday, February 9, 2015

Staging in Canada - A Snow Day Story

Usually, we aim our posts at homeowners that are looking for some tips and tricks of the trade. But not this time! If you have ever dreamed of a career in home staging (in Canada), here’s your chance to get a glimpse behind the scenes.

If you live in Canada, then you understand the true meaning of being prepared for anything, especially when it comes to the weather. But you can’t let a little rain/snow/sleet/wind/extreme heat/humidity or other natural weather challenge stop you, or you would never leave the house! The same applies in home staging - similar to the old mail courier adage - "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” and so goes the home stager to meet and greet clients, delivery beautiful staging furniture, accessories, and more to provide homeowners with peace of mind, and a swift home sale.

During some of the greatest weather challenges, when I hear of my friends hibernating inside to avoid what the outdoors holds, my amazing team and myself are braving these conditions. If given the choice, I’ll take wind over rain, and snow over wind, and extreme heat over extreme anything else. Since we seem to experience more cold snowy days than anything else, we thought we’d share some experiences of what this actually entails.

It was a cold January morning, that started before sunrise (because in January, the sun likes to hide until later in the morning). On this particular day, sunrise occurred at 7:52 am. As the lead stager that day, I arose at 7 am, dressed in my long-johns and layers, and left to pick up our moving truck just before 8 am. My layers are cleverly chosen to include standard socks topped with thermal socks (pink of course), plus black legging style long-johns over my black leggings, plus a t-shirt, long sleeve thermal shirt, a wool dress, and a sweater (I don’t mess around). Then, the real bundling begins with touque, scarf, mitts, jacket, and boots. By the time I’m done, I’m a few sizes larger, but ready to brave the world. Of course, once we arrive at the house and the truck is unloaded, I spend another half an hour unbundling and removing layers before the staging can begin.

The cold and snow may slow us down, but we make the most of it with laughs and gags, and the occasional snowball fight. That day, we found ourselves approximately an hour behind schedule all day, we almost dropped a beautiful ceramic stool in the ice, a couple of graceful slips and slides, but we made it through. The results? A beautifully staged home, some very happy clients, and a long overdue appointment scheduled with my massage therapist.

In addition to the need to keep warm, winter stagings present a number of other challenges. We face frozen storage locks, unplowed roads, driveways, and storage yards (oh my), not to mention icy driveways and dangerous roads. We travel with our salt bags, our shovel, a mini torch, and extra blankets (just in case). But my biggest annoyance? The rented moving trucks do NOT have heated seats.

Luckily, our BTSH vehicles do have heated seats, but that doesn't mean that the stagings using those vehicles go any smoother. Remember last week’s snow storm? I hitched up a trailer to our trusty SUV, shoveled my way to our storage units, loaded it up, and arrived at my client’s home ready to stage. Unfortunately, the townhouse complex they lived in wasn't as ready for the snow as I was, and it hadn't been plowed. A little creative thinking, and some help from my clients, and we got the job done before the photographer arrived. Luckily I had lots of practice climbing snowbanks as a kid, those skills certainly came in handy!

The truth is, I wouldn't trade these staging challenges for any other career. These stories just make you appreciate the “easier” staging projects that much more, and at the end of the day, we always get the job done. If we manage to grab a great story along the way, even better. But, if you’re considering a career in home staging, you may wish to consider relocating to a more comfortable climate.

Monday, January 12, 2015

10 Things Your Home Stager Did NOT Learn From HGTV

We get it, you've watched all of the home renovation and home sale shows, read all of the online articles and tips regarding setting up your home to sell, and you have checked off everything on every home selling checklist you could find, so why would you need to hire a Professional Home Stager? We often hear homeowners say, “I don’t need a stager, I watch HGTV all the time, and I know that I need to remove the clutter and the personal items.”

These reality shows have really put the home staging industry in the spotlight over the last few years, and have helped homeowners to better understand the importance of preparing their home prior to listing it for sale. But, while these shows provide the basics of what this preparation involves, they don’t provide the full picture of what it really takes to properly style and STAGE your home in order to evoke the emotional connection that your prospective buyers are looking for.

Your home is one of a kind, and it should be treated as such! You want to stand out from the competition, so why would you use the same checklists as everyone else? Would you clean your own teeth, or would you choose to hire a trained professional to do this for you? Your home deserves the right attention with specific recommendations, geared towards your home, from an expert that specializes in doing just that, in order to highlight your home’s greatest features. So what are these articles and lists NOT telling you? As a Home Stager, these are just a few of the things that we have learned, through our professional training and many years of experience

      1.      Where to place YOUR furniture so that the room remains open and inviting, while maintaining function and flow

This does not mean simply moving all of your furniture to the edges of the room. This means understanding proper traffic flow, as well as the latest furniture styling trends. We will evaluate what should stay, what should be removed, and where to properly position your furniture to optimize flow, eliminate awkward spaces, and highlight the best features of the room.

      2.      Shelf Styling

By far one of the trickiest decorating techniques to master, this is the art of filling the shelves to catch your eye, without diverting your attention from the room. This means selecting the right size and style of pieces to compliment the space and the shelving unit, and understanding the balance between too little and too much.

      3.     Paint Colour selection

Just because a colour is popular or trendy, does not mean that it’s the best one to use for your home. Colours are selected based on lighting, home style, and the colour of the finishes of the home. Sure, we have our favourites, but each colour is selected to best suit the home.

      4.     What local trades will provide you with the best services, at the best value prices

We have spent a great amount of our time forging valued relationships with highly skilled trades to ensure that you receive quality work, every time. We only work with professionals, and often these professionals will provide special discounts to our clients.

      5.     Where to shop for the final touches and accessories that your home needs

We spend more time than anyone shopping for home d├ęcor items and finding the best deals, and we can provide you with some direction on this to help you to avoid driving all around town looking for the perfect piece. Of course, you would save even more time if you hired us to provide you with the accessories and accent pieces that your home needs.

      6.     Which updates/upgrades will most benefit YOUR house in YOUR market, neighbourhood, and price range

We not only evaluate what upgrades and repairs would add to the value of your home, but we look at what will help to increase it’s overall sell-ability – upgrades are not worth much if they’re not the right ones to entice your specific buyers. We consulted on a home once that spent a great deal of money replacing their kitchen, but for their target market, their funds would have been better spent doing other repairs to the home and minor updates to the kitchen.

      7.     How to make a bed

Forget what your mother taught you – making your bed before work, and styling your bed to sell your home are completely different! I can’t tell you how often we see this common mistake in listing photos.

      8.     How to utilize a piece of furniture for an alternate purpose

This does not mean putting an end table in an office and calling it a desk. It’s about thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding the right piece, often within your home already, to fulfill a purpose for a room and help to clearly define the space.

      9.     How to enhance your curb appeal

Yes, cut the grass, trim the trees, and mulch the gardens, we know that you have that covered. But there’s likely more that you should be doing. If your buyers are not engaged with the home before they get to the front door, you could potentially lose out on that sale. We are property stylists, and we want to be sure to create an inviting space, inside and out.

      10.    How to maintain function and daily life, while living in a staged home
      We understand that it’s not easy to maintain a show-ready home, but we have seen it all and are prepared to provide you with easily implementable solutions to help you to get through the day-to-day. Of course the best part is, in a professionally staged home, you won’t have to maintain it for long before it’s SOLD!

The checklists and tips you find online are a great step towards preparing your home, but a Professional Home Stager can provide you with the specific recommendations that will help you to bring in the buyers and sell your home.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

BTSH's 2014 Reflections and 2015 Plans

Once again, BTSH has had a spectacular year, and we certainly could not have done it alone! A heartfelt thank you to all of our clients for making this year a great success, and making us a part of your home selling or home renovation team.

As we continue to grow, we are humbled by all of those that have helped us to make this happen.

To summarize this year’s milestones at BTSH:

January - Marina joined the BTSH team in the office, and has been an integral part of keeping us running from behind the scenes

March - Stephanie Kropf Gibson joined the team as a Professional Home Stager through the BTSH Home Stager training program

March - BTSH welcomed our Staging Assistant Craig to the team

May - BTSH was proud once again to sponsor the KW MS Walk 

August - BTSH announced our exciting merger with local home staging company Home Selling Edge, and with that, welcomed Jennifer Roth, CCSP to the BTSH team.

November - Shauna Lynn and Jennifer were invited as guest speakers to Sheridan College

December - RESA award nominations were announced, and BTSH was honoured with three distinguishing finalist awards:

Top 10 Home Staging Team of the Year 2015
Top 10 Vacant Home Stager of the Year Canada 2015
Top 10 Redesigner of the Year 2015 (2nd year in a row this honour was given to Shauna Lynn of BTSH)

A few notable accomplishments for the year overall:

- We continue to search for ways to better serve our clients, and with this we have introduced new and improved Client Care Packages for all of our services offered.

- We formed strong relationships with many local suppliers and skilled trades, in an effort to provide a more complete service package to our clients.

- We met with and worked with some of our most memorable clients yet!

- We completed our most notable renovation to date, check out the complete transformation here.

We are so grateful to be a part of such an incredible community, and made extra efforts in 2014 to increase our involvement in local causes in an effort to give back to a community that has given us so much. In addition to our continued involvement with the MS Society, we have worked with a variety of causes, including Smash 4 Cash in support of Strong Start, the local KW Humane Society, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, and the local Family Relocation Program. 

So what is ahead for BTSH in 2015?

- Get ready to pin, because BTSH is putting down some roots on Pinterest, and we’re sharing our inspiration, interests, and expertise with you.

- In addition to expanding our Interior Design team, we have some exciting events planned, but unfortunately you’ll just have to wait for more news on these.

Want to see more from BTSH? We are showcasing many of our works on Houzz, please be sure to check us out and follow us!

You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and of course at

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beyond The Stage Homes Recognized for 3 Industry Awards, Including Top 10 Home Staging Team of the Year 2015

The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) has recognized Shauna Lynn and Beyond The Stage Homes (BTSH) for their outstanding achievements in both home staging and redesign by honouring BTSH with RESA Top 10 Home Staging Team of the Year™ 2015, and Shauna Lynn with RESA Top 10 Home Stager of the Year Vacant Category Canada™ 2015 and RESA Top 10 Redesigner of the Year™ 2015. This is the second year in a row that Shauna Lynn has been nominated in the redesign category. RESA is the trade association for professional real estate stagers and redesigners, and these annual awards recognize outstanding work in our industry.

With the largest home staging inventory locally, we specialize in staging vacant properties, so this is truly an honour. 2014 has been an exciting year, and we have our incredible clients to thank for allowing us the opportunity to work with them (and for trusting our expert advice)!

These awards are voted on by RESA members across North America. The winners of all three awards will be announced January 15, 2015 in Las Vegas at the annual RESA® Home Staging Convention

Beyond the Stage Homes (BTSH) provides home staging, decorating, and interior design services to Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and surrounding areas in Southwestern Ontario. Offering a variety of creative services and a talented team of professionals, BTSH has become a leader in their industry. Through their unique ability to combine top quality style with the comfort of every day living, BTSH provides million dollar service to every home, for sale or for renovation and redesign.

For more information about the work and services of Beyond The Stage Homes, and to see the full team of professional, visit

Read the full story here!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Everything I Know... I Learned from Bartending ~ by Shauna Lynn

When I began bartending in my third year of University, I had no idea the long-term impact that this would have. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, which is why I studied Business as my minor, but little did I know that the best business lessons I would learn would come from my real-world hospitality experience. I often joked that I was getting paid to make drinks and socialize – two of my favourite past-times! I didn't realize then that I would later attribute much of my success to this fun industry. Bartending helped me to graduate from University debt-free, while still allowing me the time I needed to complete my studies. Following school, it acted as a great “break” from a stressful career as an analyst. And when I was laid off from my last corporate job with mortgage payments and bills to pay, it provided me with a full-time income and the time to re-evaluate my life focus and next steps.

As I began my career as a Home Stager and Interior Designer, bartending provided both the financial and mental relief that I so often needed to get through until my new career became a success.

In the spring of 2013 I officially bartended my last shift at a local restaurant, and the day was met with somewhat mixed feelings about this. Everything I am, and how I have shaped my business to where it is today, can be attributed to the hospitality industry. You can take me out of the bar, but you'll never take the bartender out of me. Some things that I have learned through my bartending over the years and will continue to apply in my business, as well as in life:

If you don't have the answers, ask someone. When that fails, fake it and hope no one 
No matter how badly you screw up, apologize, take responsibility, fix it, and smile.
When things get crazy, keep moving forward - you'll get to the end eventually.
It doesn't feel like work if you're having fun.
You get what pay for.
It never hurts to ask.
Snapping your fingers or waving money around does not get you things faster, but 
        sometimes a smile will.
"Shut up and listen" is an effective strategy.
Don't be afraid to state the obvious - "that sizzling plate is hot", "the suicide wings are 
        spicey", "be sure to make the bed before showings" 
Everyone has a story, don't pretend you know what it is.
When all else fails, cheers to another day!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Receive $25 Off ALL Home Staging Consultations With Donation to KWAR & RESA Toy Drive

We are pleased to announce that Beyond The Stage Homes will be taking part in the KWAR & RESA Toy Drive for the Salvation Army this holiday season! We are offering $25 off ALL home staging consultations with a donation to the KWAR & RESA Toy Drive!

To participate, simply book your consultation to take place between November 14 and December 10! We will make arrangements to pick up the donated item(s), or can purchase them on your behalf (conditions apply).

Please contact us at or 226.240.0766 for more information, or to schedule your consultation!


For more information on KWAR, visit:

For more information on RESA, visit:

For more information on the Salvation Army, visit:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Home Selling Edge Announces Merger with Beyond the Stage Homes

Stagers now operating under largest home staging company in the region.

Kitchener, ON - Home Selling Edge has merged their operations with Beyond the Stage Homes, the region’s leading home staging company. “I have collaborated with Home Selling Edge on several staging projects over the last year, and I appreciated their style and visual eye. We have always operated with very similar models, philosophies, and core values, so we knew this would be a natural fit,” said Shauna Lynn Simon of Beyond the Stage Homes.

Jennifer Roth of Home Selling Edge said she “realized combining efforts, and working together on projects just made more sense than doing it separately.” Roth received her diploma in Interior Design from Sheridan College in 2008, and began operating Home Selling Edge in 2011.

Beyond the Stage Homes has been providing home staging, interior design, and interior decorating solutions to homeowners since 2008. As the largest home staging company in the region, they are proud to provide the largest home staging rental inventory selection, all of which they own.

In 2014, Simon was voted as one of the Top 10 Redesigns in North America, and in 2013, Roth was voted as one of the Top 10 Rising Star Home Stagers in North America by the Real Estate Staging Association. Both businesses have built and maintained exceptional reputations in the region. Beyond the Stage Homes has seen an increase in the volume of home staging and interior design jobs, which led them to seek out a merger with Home Selling Edge. “We have been looking to grow our team with talented and creative individuals. We are a leader in our industry, and hire the best,” said Simon. “We hope to complement each other’s style and provide the best service and experience to our clients.”