Job of the Day: Silicon Valley Home Stager

Maria Caldwell is a home stager, which is a person you hire to “depersonalize” your home when you’re trying to sell it. It seems that “staging” and “depersonalizing” are euphemisms for hiding all your ugly shit and making you seem rich:

In the kitchen, Caldwell replaced the family’s old Soup of the Day cookbook, on a plastic stand, with the French Laundry Cookbook — that totem of high cuisine — on a nicer, wooden stand. She eyed a thin layer of grease on the stove, and rubbed her palm over the book’s clean white cover. “I don’t want this to get all dirty,” she said. “I’m gonna have to talk to them about that.”

She also disapproved of the orchid in the kitchen window. “Every realtor wants to put orchids in their house,” Caldwell said. “I just think that looks generic.” In its place, she set two lollipop-shaped topiaries, one on either side of the faucet.

Have you ever considered buying a multimillion-dollar home and thought, “But those orchids, so…generic. I cannot possibly live in a home where orchids have been.” If only there were a lollipop-shaped topiary framing this faucet!!!!

Anyway, we laugh but Maria Caldwell commutes four to six hours to stage homes in Palo Alto, where she used to live but has now helped to price herself out of. I assume, or truly hope, that a commute like that can only be warranted by THE BIG BUCK$$$.

The basics of depersonalizing a home — packing up family photos and religious iconography — have long been important in preparing a house for market. Some experienced home sellers even know to remove furniture and accessories that appear loud, mismatched, or outdated. But professional stagers approach depersonalization with a far higher level of scrutiny.

With the family’s snapshots packed, Caldwell set up her own collection of framed pictures throughout the house. Despite the fact that the homeowners were not white, almost all of the subjects in her replacement photos were. Caldwell also never includes trash cans in staged homes. To avoid clutter, she accents shelves with just a few hardback books, and usually hides the covers behind decorative paper. Her bedsheets are always wrinkle-free and her dining room tables are always set. The clean-pressed, garbage-free, perfectly arranged fantasy makes her business thrive.

No trashcans is amazing; racism is not.

Oh, and she once staged a home that Mark Zuckerberg bought, if you were wondering how the founder of Facebook feels about lollipop-shaped topiaries.

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