Interior designer Meridith Baer has the distinction of having established every real estate agent’s secret weapon: “home staging.” Her firm, Meridith Baer Home, with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami and the Hamptons offers luxury furniture leasing and private interior design along with staging. It is considered the premier home staging company in the nation.
The firm’s extraordinary track record proves that their staged residences often sell faster and for higher prices than their un-staged equivalents. Take an edifice in the estate section of Santa Monica. It sold in 12 days for more than $1 million over ask. They install over 140 properties per month and many sell in less than 30 days.
MBH maintains over 300,000 square feet of warehouse space nationwide overflowing with furniture, artwork, rugs, lighting, plants, and accessories. They also design and manufacture a signature furnishings collection.
Creating a flurry of buzz, the company has been featured by such media outlets as ABC, NBC, CBS, Bravo, CNBC, The Discovery Channel, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2013 HGTV premiered Staged to Perfection, a docuseries following Meridith and her team of designers staging multimillion-dollar homes, bringing the company to international attention.
Houzz has named MBH Best of Design every year since 2014 and have bestowed upon them their Customer Service, Houzz Recommended and Influencer awards.
HRES spoke to one of the company’s top designers, Briana Smith, who heads the Florida design team from the company’s Boca Raton office.
What is the company’s mission?
We’re essentially in real estate marketing. We want to make sure the design will be suitable to many potential buyers so the property will sell fast. We take into account the demographic, style of home and price point. We seek for our staging to be aspirational. Whether it’s a loft in the city or a bungalow in LA, we try to create a story to appeal to whomever might possibly live there. Is the likely buyer a screenwriter, young actress, someone on Wall Street, young professional or family?
When does your job get challenging?
When clients come in mid-project. Though we move quickly sometimes they will show up as things are being unwrapped and the art is not up yet. It’s hard for a client to envision how it will look when done. We want them to be wowed by the finished product. Ideally there’s the grand reveal where they can compare the before and after.
What is your process?
It starts when a member of the sales team meets with the client, whether it be a homeowner, builder, or real estate agent. After providing a bid and signing the contract, then the designer meets with the client to discuss the overall aesthetic, gather a sense of the spaces, and make a game plan. What style is the home? Are there any flaws to conceal? Are floors uneven? Then the designer returns to the warehouse – for the Hamptons we have a warehouse in Connecticut – to select items to install including furniture, area rugs, lamps, artwork and accessories. It can take from one day to four days.
Why so fast?
We’re often called on when the property is ready to go to market. Things move quickly in real estate. Often the photography’s been scheduled or there’s an open house coming up. We are very efficient and get things installed quickly. We own all of our inventory so we’re ready to go as soon as they need us.
Why do some sellers balk at staging?
These days the idea of staging is more commonplace. But sometimes a homeowner will question why, if it was perfect for them, why can’t someone else see it. There’s a sense of depersonalization. But without staging it’s difficult for buyers to envision themselves there. Buyers like simplicity. We’re there to neutralize the seller’s specific taste to appeal to the largest range of buyers.
Do you have a signature look?
Simple and clean. Meridith loves starting with a neutral base so we use a lot of greys, white, and cream for larger pieces like sofas, then layer in textures and colors. However, we want every house to look different.
When does it get easy?
We love it when we can go in and do our thing seamlessly. I can’t tell you how many people have said they wish they’d had us come in while they were still living there. They’ll say: “Now I don’t want to sell the house.” It’s super rewarding to show it to them in a new light.