Heather Kerley owned a salon for seven years that she was always updating and decorating.
“I had closed my salon and was staying home with my children,” she said. “I had considered getting back behind the chair, perhaps a salon suite or converting a she-shed, but I found out that I was more interested in decorating it than working in it.
“That was pretty much a telling sign that I needed to switch gears.”
In November, Kerley launched Heather Kerley Lifestyle, offering home staging and interior decorating services.
“When my husband and I got married, we bought a 1940s Craftsman,” said Kerley. “It was in really rough shape. We completely gutted and renovated it. We did all of the work ourselves, turned an attic into a master suite and knocked down walls.”
Then, three years ago, the couple built their forever home.
“I love taking a space and customizing it,” said Kerley. “During that time people would say ‘you need to come to my house’. They would ask me to help them decorate.
“We kept our first house and updated it before renting it out,” she said. “I seemed to really thrive in that atmosphere, giving it a new vision for somebody else.”
A need for home staging
Another motivation to start Heather Kerley Lifestyle came when she was helping her sister look for her first home.
“There is such a need for more staging and updating,” said Kerley. “The little details that realtors aren’t having their clients do is holding them back. I like being able to go in with those fresh eyes.”
In a home Kerley staged, she noticed that there were beautiful built-ins that were not allowed to shine. “I decided to utilize them to showcase the best aspect,” she said.
“I can see something in a space that other people can’t see. Sometimes they have to have the picture painted for them.”
According to a 2020 survey of 13,000 staged homes, the Real Estate Staging Association found that 85 percent of staged homes sold for 5 to 23 percent over list price.
“Even with the market booming and homes not lasting on the MLS nearly as long, there is still the aspect with staging that there will be more traffic,” said Kerley. “People who are looking online will be more drawn; there are still better offers on homes that are staged.”
While some people can see the vision for a house and want to put their own stamp on it, Kerley said others will look at a home and see only the work, the time and money investment to change things out.
“My main goal is to set up and define spaces and show the scale of the room and help people see what will work and what won’t,” said Kerley.
Tips for home staging
Depending on the condition of the home, Kerley said washing the walls, touching up paint or completely repainting always goes a long way in both freshening up and updating a home.
“Another thing that I don’t think people take into consideration are smells. People become desensitized,” she said. “Don’t try to mask the smells that can be a huge turnoff. Do what you can to clean it, shampoo the rugs and change out the air filters.”
Decluttering and purging is essential and should happen before moving, so why not rent a storage unit or have a professional organizer come in before the home hits the market.
“Everybody says to remove personal items,” said Kerley. “We are such a diverse city and community; keep it very neutral with no religious or political affiliations and no cow hides on the floor.”
“I am not a licensed interior designer, but I can look at a space and design it,” she explained. Kerley can provide a virtual consultation, create a design board with links to where the materials, furniture and décor can be purchased and provide step-by-step instructions to execute it.
One of Kerley’s biggest tips is to shop your own home when decorating. “It is a great way to give an updated look without spending the money,” she said.
Kerley said it is useful to have someone help narrow down choices and help guide the remodeling or redecorating process. Instead of Googling, Kerley has a list of her preferred people she uses for trades to organizational services.