Staging tips when working for another

How many of you decorator types have dreams of staging for others? Whether it be in homes or businesses, I’d say it’s fair to admit, most of us have those desires and wonder what it’s really like.

I am currently staging for a restaurant just moments from my home,Β  The Vedder Mt. Grille.

It’s a lovely little restaurant with wonderful homemade meals. The building is an original to our little town so going with vintage decor suited the place to perfection. (Befores and afters coming soon!)

For those of you not having taken the stager plunge yet, I thought I’d share a few tips on what I’d consider to be helpful should you be debating on it.

Staging tips when working for another

1. Bring your camera. AND tripod.

Interiors are difficult to capture, so it’s critical to stabilize your camera rock steady for such pictures. Your aperture wants to stay open longer due to the darker indoor conditions, therefore any motion at all will blur your photos.

Additional lighting would have been nice, however the restaurant wasn’t closed and I felt that would have been intrusive for guests, so I went without. But if you can get away with it, bring an automotive lamp tree for a quick fix.

2. Have a mobile tool kit ready to go. With a bit of everything!

I happen to store screws and hooks in two cute little tool boxes, so it was easy to cart them around with me. And I brought my cordless drill with all the fittings too. But I didn’t end up using those at all.Β  I used an old fashioned hammer and some nails. But what I DID forget was hand held screwdrivers, window cleaner, blades for scraping.. you get the idea.

Set up a mobile cleaning and tool kit that’s well stocked and easy to grab and run and you won’t have to drive back home again like I did. πŸ™‚

3. You need stock.

I’ve staged for friends and family before many times, utilizing things they already had. However, it’s alot different when you walk into a place that NEEDS stuff.

This particular project is about thrift store/vintage, so you can’t jaunt down to Walmart to just pick it up. You either shop for your client with the chances of having nothing to show for your efforts if the pickings aren’t good, or slowly collect things for your own ‘stockpile’ over time when out and about already.

I’ve stockpiled for awhile so I had things to bring.Β  I’m just glad I have a reason to horde collect now! It’s for the sake of others of course. πŸ™‚

4. Try it first. Paint it later. Maybe. πŸ™‚

In a perfect world, all the stock we had on hand would be perfectly prematched for the decor. Or would it?!? I vote to NEVER assume.

I expected to paint and glaze a grouping of picture frames for a themed wall, however what ended up looking best was to leave them all as is. Which also proves another decorating theory I’ve used forever. Don’t touch that paint until you try things as is first!

5. Expect some heartache with the parting of loved items.

It’s inevitable. You’ll look at something in your home that you KNOW will absolutely sing in it’s new location. So you load it into your vehicle, secretly hoping it won’t work. But it does. As you knew it would.Β 

Although the restaurant had some lovely things for me to use right away,Β  I needed much more. Part of this particular marketing stragety is to also sell my creations. So they have to come from… my creations. πŸ™‚

But I admit… it was wonderful to see those items work so well elsewhere. And we can always collect and make new stuff, right Miss Mustard Seed?!?. πŸ™‚

6. Bring entertainment for the kiddo/s.Β  If you bring them.

I brought my 11 yr old son with me. We brought in a laptop,Β  ordered up a chocolate milkshake for him and I was able to create uninterrupted. I could have gotten my son to assist in some areas, however this round, I chose to go it alone as he was perfectly content. In a perfect world, he’d be in school while I did this but I don’t remember the last time my world was any where near perfect. πŸ™‚

and finally

7. Plan your first job at a restaurant.

You won’t have to worry about dinner that night and you can tweak your work while you eat. πŸ™‚

My first day was a unique and new experience for me and way too much fun. πŸ™‚ I wasn’t able to take after pics of what was accomplished as it was too late in the day, however I’ll sneak in there soon and give you a little taste of what we accomplished for certain!

I can’t wait to get back in there. Laurie is shopping for a cool vintage sofa and we’re going to create a Starbucks style coffee area for those java/laptop types. I may even be the very first to try it out… “I’ll take a pumpkin spiced latte while I SNS away on a Friday night, pretty please!” πŸ™‚

Stagers! Have any tips for this newbie and others that are debating on making the plunge?Β 

How about stager wannabes? What’s your dream staging job you’d love to dive into?

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28 thoughts on “Staging tips when working for another

  1. Great post! Thanks for all the tips.
    If I could stage anything, I think it would be fun to do a cottage style beach house.
    One question… What’s an automotive lamp tree? I googled it and I didn’t come up with anything.

  2. Well, this is just awesome. How fun it must be to stage. I would love that. πŸ™‚
    I am about to have a runaway to see the entire staging, all finished..
    xo bj

  3. A long long long time ago, (25 years) I had a job where I did the window dressings of a store called Pier One Imports in Boston’s Harvard Square area. I guess it was staging, but all I knew was that whatever I artfully arranged in the windows sold out in the store!! So that was very satisfying and the beginning of my staging career..this was fun to read Donna, and you do have such a talent! I love the numbers on the wall with the hooks below…can’t wait to see the whole thing put together.

  4. I am so excited for you! It is rewarding to see things look so good in another space, isn’t it? You’ll find that you’ll create new things, maybe even better things. I can’t wait to see some pictures of how it looks.

  5. I look forward to seeing the results of your work. I actually stopped in there for lunch after being at your house for that Yarrow Arts tour (can’t remember the name of the event!) and the food was amazing! I will definitely be eating there again.

  6. SO COOL!
    I am anxiously awaiting the “after” photos.

    As I was reading your post I started thinking about the enormous room of furnishings we have in storage. Now if I only had an eye for decorating I could put the stuff to good use. Hmmm wonder if there is a need for “renting stuff” for staging?

  7. What great tips – and OH what fun!!! πŸ™‚ My “inner stager” has been inspired. I’ve helped friends too – and also enjoy staging/setting up our booth space at the Springfield Extravaganza. So, I’ve had a little practice, now I need to find a client or two! Can’t wait to see more pics!

    Have a great day!!

  8. My poor mom received a new living room each time I went over there for a visit! πŸ™‚ During the commercials of Survivor of course. LOL (true story)

    There is NOTHING like gutting a room and starting over. LOVE.


  9. For years…use to be a visual display manager for department stores… they don’t contract around here… you have to be employed and it was low pay (but got to travel). I loved the way it challenged and tested my creativity. Use to photo style for a website, too… loved it… and it was contract… which meant good pay! I miss it all… but for the time being… I guess my house is my playground for displaying!

    Can’t wait to see what you did at the restaurant!


  10. I’m really looking forward to the before and after photos! Will you be serving esamples from the restaurant to celebrate? πŸ™‚ Have to finish reading this later; right now I’m darn jealous of your green grass as I head out to shovel. Again.

  11. I am SO looking forward to what you DID WITH THE PLACE! It sounds like a such a nice restaurant with creative type owners!! They are so lucky to have you there and will NOT be disappointed!!!

    In my past life:
    worked with interior designers
    worked in high end retail/store & window displays
    sales rep for high end furniture/home decor/rugs
    trade shows for all of the above

    That realm was a blast, but HIGH END STRESS – shall we say?!

    I am way more creative in my current life, believe it or not. Current Job Title: Stay at home mother and blogger! hee!

    If I ever were to stage anything I would choose to do what you are doing – independently!!! Amen!!

    Now get over there and take some photos because WE ALL WANNA SEE YOUR CREATIONS!!!


  12. The only reason my friends have me over any more is because they know it only takes a few minutes and I start changing things around.

    My calendar for Christmas decorating is getting full!!! Happens every year and then I don’t have time to do my house!!!

    I can’t wait for the pictures! I love your taste in decorating!!

  13. Great post. I was wondering why I kept feeling the need to have a stockpile. LOL. Now you have given me permission. Oh this is heady stuff I am breathing now. Lord help me not take it too far.

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