Emma stages homes before they are marketed and points to the difference: “Interior design is an additive process, whereas home staging is all about editing. It is the personal versus the impersonal.
“An interior designer will work to realise a client’s taste, whereas to an extent I am hoping to neutralise it”.
There is also a major difference in the spend involved. Interior designers may have access to top-end budgets, while home styling is about return on the investment – and value for money.
Emma’s background is in luxury interiors, working with firms in London such as David Linley, and The Rug Company. After marrying a Scot, she started work in Edinburgh for the developer Kingsford Estates.
She recalls: “We marketed 11 apartments in St Andrews Square, and I was asked to furnish a showhome. When the buyers asked me to copy the style in the flats they’d bought, it sparked the idea that this could be a need here.”
The move into private residential work came after Emma reached out to estate agents, who passed on her details to owners of homes coming to market who needed help in presenting their properties.
Clients these days come from agents, her website, referrals and repeat work from developers.
She says: “It is a constant flow of properties and if the sales market is quiet, I find that I get a lot of work for landlords. So as one goes down, the other goes up.”
The rental and sales markets require different approaches, she explains: “The styling for sale is temporary and is about maximising the property’s value. There are design hacks involved which you can do on a shoestring to make a place more saleable and add value.”
The process starts with a free consultation, but Emma can then project manage any changes that are needed, from arranging to store excess furniture, redecorating and deep cleaning, and restyling. She has built up an established list of trades for work needed and offers short-term furniture rental.
But, for a landlord wanting to let a property quickly, it is about furnishing in a cost-effective way, but with longevity. Emma researches the likely rental return before recommending work.
In both cases, online marketing is so important that styling a property before photography can increase interest. Carrying out the service before the Home Report also has benefits. She says: “I have an eagle eye for any small problems which could affect the valuation.”
She says of the home styling service: “It is relatively a new idea in the UK, but no-one in the US or Australia would dream of marketing their property without calling in a professional.”