My name is Cassee Cunningham pronounced (Cassie). I am the owner of Stella Home. My process of staging is getting to know the space, light, architectural era updates and the personality of the community the house is located in. Once I feel I know the house, I then start to create a highly customized design palette.
I’ve staged dozens of houses in the last few years. Right now, I’m actually staging about one a week!
I love it when all of the hours of packing and moving and sweating are done and the fundamentals (couch, bed, tables) are in place. That is when I can start putting together. I move a plant from the shelf to the coffee table or adjust a book by an inch, or re-fluff a pillow. I get to see the house come alive! I walk around several times, looking at the space from all angles. I play with the mixtures of color and textures until everything is just right.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned between the sweaty moving and the book shifting process that can help you decorate your own space!
Size Matters: It’s important to make sure your furniture fits the scale of a room. You want furniture that is functional and comfortable while still maximizing the space in the room. No one wants to live in a space that fills overloaded.
Define the use of Space: This is becoming a bigger issue as open floor plans and extra bedrooms are commonplace. It’s not only a good to help potential buyers see a home but also for the people who actually live there!
Use some color: Neutrals will always be in style but there are lots of ways to bring in color through pillows, artwork , lighting or centerpieces. Using the same color in the various ‘pops’ will actually unify the home.
Unclutter: I know you’ve seen this one before. It needs no explanation.
Funk it up: Don’t be afraid to try a quirky desk or mix up your chairs. It will make the space more memorable. Leave the matching of styles to a furniture showroom. These funky pieces can add a little whimsy and an element of the unexpected to a home.
Get Artsy: I love big art and I cannot lie! Art is really a statement about you and adds a focal point to a room. Art works best centered in an area or over whatever furniture is below. A good starting point is 60 inches from the floor. Smaller pieces make great accents and bring in color to a space.
Mix Textures: Pillows, throws, arts and centerpieces add visual interest to a room. Who doesn’t want to hang out in a home that is interesting?
Less is more: Entry ways, foyers, porches, and nooks are all perfect places to show your personality and create a welcome and inviting vibe. Functional is fine but oversized furniture, too many knick knacks, or anything that makes you feel cramped can quickly ruin a rooms clean and modern look.
Your bedroom: There is a reason those catalog photos of bedrooms make us ooh and aah. The easiest way to make a bedroom feel luxurious is to use simple white linens and some great pillows. Everyone likes comfy spaces!
The pictures in this post came from one stage. One stage that was so successful the home went under contract in a week! Maybe it was the location or the house layout was perfect for the family, but I like to think the staging made it possible for the new buyers to ‘see’ their future in the home.
Oh, notice there’s not one TV in the photos! The most common question I get from the folks that hire me to stage is, “Where’s the TV?” Here’s the thing. Staging is not about the reality of living in the space — it’s about the dream of living in the space. I never stage with a fake TV. Televisions although we all have them, I have 3, at my own home, are ugly. I stage with art work where the possibility of a TV might go.
If you need a stager to sell your home contact me at 704.330.8326.
So you want to work with a stager… now what? For most people, working with a stager isn’t a regular occurrence and like any ‘first time’, you might be a little apprehensive about what to expect.
It’s important everyone is on the same page in order to avoid potentially awkward conversations. Kind of like the uncomfortable conversation I had to have recently with a designer of a client. The designer was helping my client flip the home… selecting finishes and paint colors. In this case, she was my point person on the issue of the staging. The designer requested to see my warehouse ahead of time. No problem. We talked about styling and color for the stage design. All good. In turn, she showed me homes she had put furnishings in for this same owner previously. I welcome clients who have ideas, questions, and want to have some level of involvement. Ultimately, that helps me deliver exactly what they want! The rub happened when after placing my staging the designer moved everything around, edited out things she didn’t want in each room and demanded that I pick up the leftover items.
The whole thing made me realize that the staging system of operations is not a foregone conclusion. I take staging protocol for granted. If someone hasn’t used a stager before they would have no idea what the rules are.
Let me give you a little guidance.
Choose a stager who’s styling, not style, you like and trust. There’s a big difference. When people ask me my”style” in regards to my staging, I explain that I offer many different styles. My inventory includes contemporary to classic – Mid century to minimalism – shabby chic to SOHO. Most stagers offer an array of style options. The distinction between stagers is often in the ‘styling.’ This idea is more abstract, but a great example would be how I utilize spaces. I use a drafting table v. desks in my office spaces. I like to send a message of creativity instead of work. The styling sets the vibe. If you are aren’t sure if it’s a right fit, ask to see pictures of previous stages they have completed. If you have a positive reaction to a stagers work, they are the right stager for you. You know it when you see it. Once you hire them — trust they will bring that same design aesthetic to your stage.
There is a method to the madness. Watching staging being moved in, unpacked and shifted around is like watching sausage being made. It’s not attractive. However, after it’s put together it’s delicious (the sausage and the staging). If you are the homeowner, give the stager time and space to change and create. Don’t worry when you see bins and boxes spilling out in the living room. This is sausage being made.
Don’t move staging. It is perfectly fine to ask the stager about design choices and voice opinions. However moving, editing, or adding to the stage once in place is a no- no. Remember staging is about bringing a space to life and creating a beautiful and interesting story that pulls potential buyers in. Staging is not catered to the client’s personal taste. Talk to your stager if there is a particularly objectionable piece or set-up. Please don’t take it upon yourself to move it.
As a stager I am hired to showcase the best use of a space, create a beautiful picturesque design, and evoke a positive response from viewers. I always want the client to be happy with the end result and trust the process. You’ll like it, I promise.
Let’s hear it for summer! Sunshine. Relaxed routines. Trips to the beach.
You don’t have to go “away” to enjoy the lazy days of summer. So often we spend more time exploring places we don’t live. Perhaps we just assume that because we live here there’s no rush.
This summer I challenge you to make the most of your down time in your own town! I’ve made a list of 5 must do things that just might change your perspective about where you live.
Go to a Charlotte Knights Game. Baseball and summer go hand in hand and the Charlotte Knights are a great excuse to spend an afternoon or evening uptown. The game is a fun change of pace for a date night, night with friends or for the whole family. The stadium is great. The food is better than your traditional concession fare and the view can’t be beat! Grab a ticket and root root root for the home team!
Eat some ice cream. This should be mandatory for everyone. Any 7 year old will agree with me. What’s your favorite flavor? Charlotte has some great ice cream spots that offer way more than just the usual. It might seem obvious to put ice cream on a summer to do list but I encourage you to try a new place this summer. Don’t get it to go. Sit. Talk. People watch. Heck, get crazy and try all of the spots on this list …
Party in the Park. Summers are perfect for turning a regular old Wednesday night into something special. Charlotte is full of events thatspotlight live music or offer a movie under the stars. One of the most fun is at Romare Bearden Park. It’s a beautiful park in the heart of our city. You’ll find young and old dancing around by the bands. Local vendors offer food and drink. Here’s the schedule.
Go to the airport. What?? Yes. Go to the airport. All the extra summer fun can add up to big bucks. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the few airports in the country that has a public overlook area and it doesn’t cost a thing! Take a picnic or just sit on a bench and feel the vibration as massive jets fly take off and land before your eyes. It’s a cool experience for the young and old. One important thing to note… there’s no bathroom so go before you go.
Take a walk. Charlotte parks and neighborhoods are wonderful places to explore. I know the Carolinas get hot. Some days it’s so hot you might think it sounds like a better plan to stay in the air conditioning. Stay inside though and you might miss the new flowers planted on the corner. You can’t pet your neighbors cute dog inside. Introduce yourself to someone new. Meet a running buddy. or stop in at that local business you’ve been too busy to stop at when you are in your car. It’s like a social outing and your exercise all at the same time. Of course, if you are going to walk in the day, make sure you bring a bottle of water.
Our area has a lot of great attractions to enjoy during the summer… museums, theme parks, spray grounds. My list may be a little unconventional but give it a try and let me know how it goes!
One of my favorite things about staging is that it gives me an excuse to hoard cool, seemingly useless, treasures. Outdated or misunderstood prints and wall hangings, old postcards, clocks that don’t work, a metal ceiling fan vent from the 50’s that’s dented and rusted, and a paper mache elk head aren’t just examples of such treasures. They are actually things I have kept and stored in anticipation that one day I will find the perfect use for them.
Like kittens and puppies, these items just need a good home. A great way to use these often misunderstood pieces is to include them in a wall collage.
I recently posted a photo on my Facebook page of a wall collage I finished for a home I was staging. So many people messaged me about it that I thought I would help you create a wall collage of your own.
Here’s how to do it. There is a little experimenting and personal preference involved to get it ‘just right’ but here are some general rules.
First, choose your wall space. The size of the space will determine how many ‘things’ you can include in the wall collage.
Next, choose what to hang.
Mixing the same medium is usually easiest–framed art, or photographs
If you want a cleaner look, frame pieces that are the same size and same medium, black and white photos with B&W photos and of course with same type of frame.
If you want a more boho (short for bohomenian) look, mix frames and mediums of art. graphic prints + photos + painted art + B&W etc. Never mind the frame type.
If you really want creative and boho add texture. Mix in metal letters or animal skulls, macrame art, empty frames are especially cool.
If you are like me, I have saved things from the trash that have no purpose other than they look interesting, like, fan vents old clocks that don’t work. I even saved a broken thermometer from a space heater. These are all game.
Plan it before you nail it.
Use the floor space below the wall space you have chosen and lay your pieces out on the floor. Play with arrangement. If you’re like me you will edit and add things.
If you’re going with the same size and type of frame for a clean look, choose a linear pattern and make sure to space evenly. Hang your first one and use as a guide for the corresponding piece beside, below and above.
If you are using different sized frames. Multiple frames look best when based around the following shapes: rectangle, diamond or square.
Groupings look most cohesive when frames are spaced tightly together (about 1 to 2 inches). However, if there is an extra large piece in the mix, give it a little extra room to breathe (an extra ½ to 1 inch should do).
Start with the biggest pieces first and then work around them if you are mixing sizes.
Plan out your collage on the floor by placing the frames on top of a big piece of butcher paper.
Fourth, take the test.
If you think you’ve got the look you want on the floor. Outline and cut out pieces on butcher paper that match your chosen pieces and tape to wall. Feel free to move the shapes around as you like.
Frames should hang at eye level.
If you are adding other than flat or framed pieces, you’ll have to use your imagination a bit.
Finally, hang time.
Once you feel confident about your collection, nail just above the cutout and replace cutout with intended hanging.
Try not to worry too much about messing up. You can always spackle and paint.
I love collections and collages. That’s why I am so excited that wall collages are trending in the world of design. It’s given new life to my collection of misfits. Whether you want funky or measured or modern, collages are a great option to consider. And I promise you, done right, it will give your guests something to talk about!
Modern Farmhouse design is the centerpiece of the hit show ‘Fixer Upper.’
Oversized pendant lights, open shelving, and a sliding barn door are all the rage in home renovations and wish lists.
For me, it’s nothing new.
I grew up in a farmhouse back in the heart of the midwest. That Indiana home was 120 years old when we lived there. It was my grandparents’ house first. My Mom lived in it after them and renovated it.
I can still remember her taking up carpet and the old vinyl flooring that covered the thick wide planked wood floors. Come to think of it, maybe I got my penchant for renovating from her! She brought the home back to its glory days, even pulling down asbestos tiles to expose hand hewn beams.
We ate countless meals on the farm table she salvaged from the barn. I loved that house and it’s effortless connection to nature and people. I have recreated that same connection between nature and people in other homes over the years.
You don’t have to live in a farmhouse to incorporate a modern farmhouse vibe. Some of the elements mix well with other styles. In fact, you can bring a little of the design fundamentals into any home!
Here are a few key elements.
1. Light!!! Let the light shine in. If you can get away with no window dressings then go for it.. especially in the kitchen. If not, choose window dressings that disappear and let as much light in as possible. Heavy curtains do NOT achieve a modern farmhouse look.
2. Natural elements. Wood, of course, is the key to this look because any/all farmhouses were all about wood — not only in how they were made but also in every piece of furniture. The more accidentally weathered the wood looks, the better. Stone accents or beautiful rocks are another natural element to consider.
3. Natural fiber rugs i.e. seagrass, Sisal, Jute. These add fantastic touches to a room.
4. Lots of healthy plants and potted herbs are another signature element of Modern Farmhouse style. That shouldn’t be surprising since the word ‘Farm’ is in the name of the design.
5. When it comes to paint and color palette, stick to natural neutrals the color of woods, grass, sky, or stone
6. Keep it clear and clean. Make the look comfortable and relaxed. Keep it open and feeling and looking light.
7. Choose furnishings that have lighter leg and arm styles to introduce a modern edge. Throw a cute old quilt over the couch or a great chair while you are at it!
It’s no wonder the trend of modern farmhouse captivates me. The feelings that this style evokes takes me back to my childhood farmhouse.
I love it even more now with the modern part. Marrying the farmhouse pallette and materials with modern lines is just breathtaking.
I’m not sure why the world looks better looking out from a farmhouse sink, but it does.