Chris Perry has always been on the cutting edge of design. Whether it was working the runways of Europe as a fashion model, designing the windows for Paris icon Hermes in Palm Beach or decorating her and her friends’ homes, she has always used her ‘style card’ to influence people’s taste and their environment. Her latest business venture is a Montecito-based company called Stage it Right, Ltd., which works with residential sellers and agents to enhance the interior of their homes and improve their selling capability.

“Home Staging,” as it is known in the industry, is a natural profession for Perry, who has first-hand experience in the art of preparing a home for resale; she has built, bought and sold and remodeled five of her own homes in Florida and Santa Barbara. A resident of Montecito since 1989, she says she saw a need for this service in a community where real estate values fuel the local economy and where homes often have a national profile.

“Regardless of the price or the location, location, location, all homes can benefit from staging,” Perry says. “The desire of all sellers I have worked with is to have a stronger presence in the market, and speed of sale is foremost in their mind.”

For many homeowners and real estate agents the concept of professional home staging is shedding new light on how to promote a home in the real estate market place. CNN Money did a segment recently on strategies homeowners can use to get top dollar in a cooling real estate market. Home staging was the top strategy because the slower the market, the harder you have to work to get the competitive edge over similar houses for sale.

How it Works

Perry works with the flow of her client’s home, eliminates clutter, edits and arranges furniture, and even assists in enhancing curb-appeal. Home Staging can involve elaborate or simple redesigns, extensive or moderate renovations and the addition of furniture, plants, flowers, freshly baked cookies, scented candles, all of which Perry provides as part of her services.

“A good stager focuses on neutralizing distracting décor, deleting personal effects (too many knickknacks) and identifying areas that need cosmetic improvement,” Perry says. “An interior designer or decorator usually creates environments tailored to your personal décor preference. As a stager she feels the seller has to try and take their personal taste out of the selling of their home. Her job is to objectively assess how best to use what the seller already owns or determine if something else should be added or discarded.”

Around town, sellers have accepted staging as a vital component in improving a buyer’s first impression of a home. “Stage it Right was able to take a brand new, never been lived in house and turn it into a home, giving buyers a sense of what it is really like to live there, which really enhanced its desirability,” says Rebecca Riskin, a real estate agent for Village Properties.

Why Use a Stager?

Traditionally, homeowners are left to their own discretion as far as preparing for home showings. While agents are experts in the field of selling and closing, many are not design-savvy. They’ve found getting a home into selling condition in a timely manner without some experienced assistance isn’t easy. Besides, agents admit that the visual appearance can be more important than dollar signs and percentages. “Emotion and subjectivity take over when you see comfort and beauty,” says Diana MacFarlane, a Countrywide Home Loan executive. “You are more inclined to make an offer.”

What it Costs

Costs for services can range from a few hundred dollars for an initial consultation to thousands of dollars to stage an entire home. Prices are usually determined by the current size and state of a home, how much work the seller is willing to do themselves once they receive Chris’s advice and the price point of their home is determined.

For more information call 969-6946 or e-mail to