As a trained traditional staging design professional turned virtual stager, you may wonder how my virtual staging process differs from my traditional staging process. Truthfully, the only thing that differs are the physical demands, no more physical labor such as moving furniture, toting heavy accessory bins up and down stairs or on the job injuries, such as hitting your thumb with a hammer while hanging artwork.
The number one thing I hear from my customers is that my virtually staged images look so different than virtually staged images they’ve seen from other companies or DIY applications. I’m going to share with you my step-by-step process for approaching a virtual staging project using Apply Design, that will result in a finished virtually staged image that will stop buyers in their tracks.
Step 1: I personally consult with the real estate agent or home owner about the property to understand the specific goals and expectations for the virtual staging. During this consultation we determine who the prospective buyer is and discuss any specific features that need to be highlighted. This helps to ensure that I select virtual furnishings that are to the price point and style of the prospective buyer. Just as in traditional staging, you want to virtually stage the main areas of the home, which are the living room, dining room, family/bonus room and primary bedroom. Since working from home is such a selling point these days, I always like to suggest virtually staging one of the secondary bedrooms as a home office.
Step 2: The client supplies me with high-quality images (at least 2,000 pixels wide) of the complete photoshoot of the property. I request to see all the images of the property so that I can really get an understanding of the layout and traffic flow of the rooms. If they have a Matterport tour or floor plan that’s an added bonus. I want to ensure that every item we place in the vacant photo can actually work in real life. We don’t want to block and doors or walkways that might not be showing in the image. This is what makes my service so different than other “Big Box” companies, where you upload the photos and hope for the best.
Not all images are good candidates for virtual staging, so I suggest to my client which photos and angles are going to tell the greatest story of how it is to live in the home. Starting with high-resolution, well-lit images of the vacant home provides a solid foundation for virtual staging. We will talk about virtual staging photography tips and tricks in a future blog.
Step 3: Now it’s time to upload the images to Apply Design by dragging and dropping the images on the upload page. The image then goes through the uploading process, which is going to take between3-6 minutes. Apply Design is so fast, normally by the time I’m finished adding all my images the first image is already ready to design.
Now the fun starts!
Step 4: I like to start with the main living room image first, as it sets the overall style for the home. A great place to start is to choose from Apply Design’s comprehensive collection of pre-curated room bundles that are like no others in the industry. However, I like each of my virtual stages to be custom, so I take the time to individually select each item. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we love an eclectic mix of wood, stone and metal.
Just as in traditional staging, I start by placing the rug first, centered on the gorgeous fireplace and windows and then build from the back of the room forward. One of the first things I do when designing a room is to ensure that the first piece of furniture placed is properly scaled. This is done by using the measurement tool to define the ceiling height of a room. If you need help with this, Apply Design has a detailed Help File that explains room scale and any other question you might have.
Next, I select the largest piece of furniture, the sofa. Since I don’t want to block traffic flow nor do I want to look at the back of the sofa, I’m going to place the sofa centered under the window. I’m going to choose a rather low-profile sofa that isn’t going to block the windows. I like this sofa because its coloring compliments the flooring and stone fireplace. This model has a muted green pillow that enhances the green undertones of the wall color and a muted red pillow which picks up the flecks of color in the rug.
Next, I select a coffee table, the second largest piece of furniture in the room. I’m choosing a rectangular wood coffee table because it balances well with the sofa and draws attention to the focal point the fireplace. I love the deep rich tones of the wood coffee table so I’m going to flank the sofa with end tables that are from the same family. I chose to use round end tables instead of square end tables, this soften the space and provides variety.
Now, I select the lamps. Note, these end tables aren’t the largest so I pick a tall lamp that has a small base. I’m picking a lamp that has a pale green ceramic design, to help weave in layers of visual texture.
Looking at the right side of the image you can see that there is a door that swings open into the space. I want to ensure that the doorway and main traffic area remains open, so I select a single oversized armchair to position next to the fireplace and pair it with a decorative pillow with an American Indian pattern and a metal side table.
Now for the finishing touches, adding art and accessories. To really add to the realism of the space I wanted to incorporate a bit of greenery, glass and a few shiny bits. This is where Apply Design really excels! They do a fabulous job on lighting, shadows and reflections. If you look at the final render you will see how realistic the glass vase on the coffee table looks and appreciate the sublet reflections on the metals. I’ve tried all the other DIY virtual staging programs out there and nothing compares to Apply Design.
This fireplace is actually wired for a TV and in real life that is most likely how the homeowner will use it. I however didn’t want to detract from the fireplace, so I chose a large sun burst mirror and stacked neutral geometric art on the side of the fireplace to continue to draw the eye up to the amazing ceiling.
Step 5: It’s time to render and review the final results. A great feature of Apply Design is the ability to add a custom watermark. Before you use the custom watermark feature, be sure to check your local RMLS regulations, as custom branded watermarks are not allowed in many areas.
I review the final render, looking to ensure that the size, perspective, and lighting of the virtual items blend seamlessly with the original photograph. Most often I don’t settle for the first design I create. Apply Design offers endless renderings, so it makes it easy to experiment with different layouts, furniture selections and color schemes to find the most marketable staging options.
My first priority in each virtual staging project is to deliver a final product that is so realistic, that it’s difficult to distinguish from a physically staged space. That is why Apply Design is my go-to application for virtual staging.
Amy Lang, the owner of Bridge City Staging LLC, trained with the Staging Studio to receive her Master Level Staging Design Professional certification. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University specializing in Graphic Design.
Bridge City Staging LLC is a local Oregon based Virtual Home Staging company serving the Portland metro area.
Amy is a power user of Apply Design, advices Apply Design regularly and curated most of the furniture bundles in the application.