Styled, Staged & Sold

Bringing you the latest home design and staging trends. From REALTOR® Magazine.

Best Staging Makeovers: January 2021 Edition

Draw inspiration from the recipients of the Home Staging Resource's new monthly "Best of the Best" awards, recognizing the work of stagers nationwide.

By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource

Best of the Best

The Home Staging Resource is kicking off 2021 by launching a brand-new monthly recognition program for designers and stagers whose work stands out from the pack. Check out some of the before and after photos below from January’s “HSR Best of the Best” recipients.

Shades of Green

Photo courtesy Sylvie Becourt, EZ Home Staging

Captivating is the word I would use to describe this “Best of the Best” photo by Sylvie Becourt of EZ Home Staging in Las Vegas. I love the use of color in this space and how she ties it all together, from the poufs to the curtains, art, and carpet, and even the way she lays the little teal pillows on top of the larger pillows. The result? A memorable, soothing space.

A Dramatic Kitchen Redo


There are quite a few of these dramatic before-and-after photo winners in our January 2021 “Best of the Best.” Many of these drastic improvements showcase how home stagers are not only about moving furniture and inserting inventory. Home stagers are specifying finishes, working with contractors, and instructing clients on what kind of cosmetic improvements they can make to get the best return on their investment.

Photo courtesy Angeline Kelly, Apple Blossom

In this kitchen, Angeline Kelly, a home stager with Apple Blossom Staging & Design in Cedar Falls, Iowa, found clever ways to stay within her client’s budget. First, she decided to refurbish existing cabinets, saving the seller a lot of money. Paint went a long way on these classic cabinets, which are unique in an older, historical home. Kelly changed out the items that were most important: the flooring, the appliances, the countertops, and the backsplash. The backsplash becomes the “bling” in the space.

Leveraging Neutrals

Photo courtesy Charlotte Harris, home stager

Charlotte Harris creates an amazing and tranquil bedroom in this staging job. You just want to sink into the space. And while she uses a trick that stagers and designers use by going very monochromatic with her neutrals, it doesn’t feel sterile and cold. This bedroom uses multiple layers of several textures to bring it all together.

Toning Down the Hues

Photo courtesy Kate Patino, Dark Horse Interiors

Imagine this outdoor space with nothing in it. Do you think you would like the contrasting finishes? The pinkish-gray concrete juxtaposed with the golden yellow rock walls would be all you would have noticed. Kate Patino, a home stager and designer with Dark Horse Interiors in McKinney, Texas, understood this problem all too well. So she overcompensated by styling this outdoor room to the tenth degree. It’s another example of why it’s important to connect with a stager or designer if you’re picking finishes for a remodel—you don’t want different aesthetics fighting each other for attention in one space. Kate earns a “Best of the Best” award for transforming and merchandising this space so that the eye is drawn to the lifestyle and not the finishes themselves.

Going Bold

Photo courtesy Denise Crowe, home stager

This vacation rental designed by Denise Crowe earned a spot in January’s “Best of the Best” because of its creativity and “Instagram worthiness.” It’s another example of how stagers don’t just stage homes. Crowe does design and redesign, and she’s doing a lot of vacation rentals or stage-to-rent lately.

Bathroom Overhaul


How many of us have bathrooms that look similar to this very common “before” bathroom? Donna Allen, a designer and home stager with Dramatix Decor in Chicago, did a magnificent job on this bathroom transformation by picking the finishes beautifully. Allen went through the Home Staging Resource’s Certified Color Expert program to master how colors in finishes can conflict with one another. Allen knew exactly what she was doing and brightened and updated the space without breaking the client’s budget. Allen earned a “Best of the Best” by taking this bathroom from blah to beautiful.

Photo courtesy Donna Allen, Dramatix Decor

Adding in Some Lux


What we love about this photo is that while many other home stagers would have stopped at one piece of art, a couple of pillows, or one lamp on a side table, Gina Gailing added more luxurious details. Gailing, a designer and home stager based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., really takes pride in her work by fully furnishing the space and creating a space worthy of a “Best of the Best.”

Photo courtesy Gina Gailing, home stager

A Paint Transformation

Living Room

This is actually one of my personal favorite staging transformations by Heather Odean, a home stager and designer with Karis Home Solutions in Charlotte, N.C. At first glance, this is a very standard home built in the ’90s. There was a lot of pink beige back then. A lot of people are afraid to paint the wood. But a little paint goes a long way in this home!

Living Room
Photo courtesy Heather Odean, Karis Home Solutions

Odean talked the client into removing all their furnishings—and bam! It’s hard to believe this is the same space! The combination of paint and furniture rearrangement to emphasize the focal point makes all the difference. Odean made the fireplace and built-in wall the focal point that it should be, and then she emphasized the focal point by rearranging the furniture so that you’re streamlining your view toward it. The space is nearly unrecognizable from its previous state!

Designing a Vignette

Photo courtesy Jennifer Dobson

This photo is our favorite vignette for January’s “Best of the Best.” We liked the arrangement, various textures, mixed elements, and photography. This vignette was done by Jennifer Dobson, a home stager with The Queen of the Castle in Cincinnati.

The Perfect Pendants

Photo courtesy Jodi Grant, home stager

There's not much that we don't love about this kitchen designed by Jodi Grant. Look at those pendants over the island. Normally, people might be a little concerned about their large size, but in this case, they fit brilliantly to the sconce lights. They also compliment the entire setup Grant has to the right with the coffee bar.

Attention to Shelves

Photo courtesy Kelly Sharp, home stager

We fell in love with Kelly Sharp’s staged living space as a “Best of the Best.” Again, another home stager might have done a lot less on those shelves, and it would not have looked nearly as well. We also loved how the photo captures the spectacular light fixture in the space through the reflection in the mirror.

Clearing the Clutter

Before Staging

Mary Diaz worked a minor miracle in this living space as a classic example of how home staging benefits every home regardless of size and luxury. She didn’t get fancy here, but this is a “Best of the Best” because it was so dramatic. You can really see the work that was put into this compared to what it looked like before.

After Staging
Photo courtesy Mary Diaz, home stager

We really love how Diaz used a large rug to cover that not-so-attractive floor and helped to raise the eyes of buyers to the coordinating artwork and pillows.

Rearranging the Space

Living Room
Living Room
Photo courtesy Cindy Tovell, home stager

What we love about this staging example by Cindy Tovell, a home stager in Columbus, Ohio, is that it shows the dramatic difference rearranging a room can make. We call this “zero-budget” staging, since the seller is paying very little for dramatic results. A lot of homes with nice-enough furnishings can greatly benefit from staging, such as editing, space planning, and shopping for updated items that then coordinate with the seller’s existing furniture.

Lightening the Mood


This is a before photo of a kitchen by Sherry Rampy that, of course, has to go on the “Best of the Best” list because the changes she made are so dramatic.

Photo courtesy Sherry Rampy, home stager

This kitchen is another great example of how stagers can really do it all. A lot of people don’t realize that stagers are not just about staging homes. They really do it all: vacation rentals, remodels, model homes, etc.

For more information on our award process and to see future award winners, visit the Home Staging Resource.


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