Arts & Culture: Diversity Dialogue

Cultural Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts in New York State’s Southern Tier

Stage Right – by Maija DeRoche

I maintain that staging homes for sale, for a house tour, for a party, is an art form.

Standing in front of a painting creates a variety of feelings within you; feelings of joy, sadness, rage, calmness, curiosity, empathy, sympathy, and so on.

When you stand on a threshold of a room, you look for a feeling telling you that you want to walk in. You want a room that invites you with its balance of space, light, and color. You want to stay a while.

When selling a house, there are rules about staging, rules to make your house appeal to the widest audience. You need to declutter, depersonalize, decolor, clean, and remove any signs of pets or children, the last being a rather cruel notion. It can be understood only when you admit that the minute you list your house to be sold, it no longer is your home, but commodity on the market.

Decluttering is a useful endeavor, ideally accomplished on a daily basis, never to become an overwhelming task.

Depersonalizing includes removing from the room the photographs of the children and grandchildren, the bowling trophies from the 70’s and the picture of the 100 lb. tuna you caught deep sea fishing.

It is also useful to tone down the 1980’s’ red dining room with the rose border or the bright purple bedroom your daughter lived in when she was still at home 20 years ago.

At times, staging takes on a much larger purpose, that of dismantling a household, selling the home and liquidating everything in it. It is an emotional, heart wrenching experience for the owner to go through years’ worth of memories with every closet you empty, every drawer you pull open. Oftentimes, the items will end up with strangers, as antiques, for instance, the ultimate recycled items, are not always preferred by family members. One can hope that, in the future, the items won’t be missed. I remember a two-seater antique rocking chair my mother found oh-so-tasteless and promptly had it chopped for firewood. What I would give for it now, 50 years later…

Today’s homebuyers seem to have a list of requirements: a master bedroom with an adjoining bathroom with two sinks, kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and an open floor plan. This open plan allows the cook to be part of the party and converse with the guests while working in the kitchen. Apparently, today’s young cooks are very neat when they work. I would not want my guests to watch me create anything with flour, for instance…

You may declutter, clean and depersonalize to the point where you have a perfect neutral space, the final touches come from the right colors, right placement of furniture, and the right accessories to create the feeling of “Come on in and stay”.

Yet, two people looking at the same painting will never see the painting the same way. Two people walking into a room are apt to have experiences very different from each other no matter how neutral and tasteful the room.  However, for both viewers, the art/the room needs to be memorable to be effective.


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This entry was posted on May 28, 2010 by .


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