AT WORK: Home staging business

AT WORK: Home staging business

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — Transforming a home as it hits the market is no easy task, but for Kristen Wilk it’s just a normal day at the office, also known as her Southington home.  The Record-Journal recently sat down with the owner and operator of Key Changes Home Staging in her living room to talk about her career, her passion for creating attractive homes and changes in the industry.

Q: What is home staging?

Wilk: Home staging is helping homeowners prepare their house for the market. Usually it entails a lot of de-cluttering and really de-personalizing because people live in their homes, but when you sell your home it’s a completely different experience.

You’re trying to make your home more appealing to the masses as opposed to appealing to yourself.

Q: How do you know what is going to appeal to the masses?

Wilk: Well it’s really just neutralizing everything, where you’ll walk into some homes that have really personal paint colors like really dark colors. So the trend right now is lighter and brighter, so if someone’s home is very dark we’ll lighten it up with paint.

Sometimes they can’t do that, it’s not in the budget, so we’ll just lighten it up with window treatments, pillows, decor, that kind of thing.

Q: How long have you been doing this?

Wilk: I got certified in 2012 when my youngest son was just about to start kindergarten because I knew I wasn’t going to go back to my full-time job. I wanted to have flexibility and I figured being my own boss was probably the best way to do that. 

Q: What made you interested in this career?

Wilk: About 20 years ago, or a little bit more, my mom and I used to watch HGTV and I think that’s really when it first started. There was a woman and her daughter who were stagers and they would walk into a house and they were so nasty in the comments they made. We would say to each other, ‘wow that’s really not very nice.” 

I remember saying to my mom, we’ve always loved houses, wouldn’t that be the best job ever? It was exciting. 

Q: What are some of the skills associated with this job?

Wilk: Well you don’t have to be a designer, which is nice because I am not a trained designer.

I think you just need to have a natural eye for space and for scale and color and design in a different way. The nice thing about staging is you don’t have to please the homeowner, which sounds strange because they do have to live with it if they are still living in the home. 

It’s not their tastes that you are working with, you are really just coming and saying this is what is going to work and you have to trust me.

Q: Is vacant home staging easier or more difficult than staging a home still being occupied?

Wilk: It’s a lot more work, it’s more physical because you’re having to bring in everything that you’re doing. I’m lucky enough that I work with a furniture rental company so they move in all the big stuff, but I’m still bringing in all the other stuff that goes into the home. 

More difficult? I would say no, only because I’m not working with people. It’s just the house and me.

Q: Where are some of the places that you shop for the props like pillows and decor?

Wilk: I probably own half of Home Goods and T.J. Maxx and Marshal’s. Those are my main ones. Macy’s has quite a few things that I’ve found. Sometimes Target, not as much as I thought.

And then I have a secret store but I can’t tell you. 

Q; Somewhere the competition won’t find you?

Wilk: Yes, exactly. Somewhere they won’t find me and the prices are really low so it’s wonderful because I think that’s what drew me to staging as well. 

It’s a combination of decorating but you have to be so careful with what you spend. People are not looking to spend thousands of dollars to get their house on the market.

Q: What makes you want to do this job every day?

Wilk: Wow, I’ve just always loved before and afters. So especially when I walk into an empty house and then I go ahead and get the furniture in and get the accessories in and then kind of take a step back. I take the after picture and I go, alright it was a house and now it’s a home. Seeing that transformation is a big thing for me.

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