St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


What I learned in Matthew Finlason's Advanced Home Staging Training - YES! Even I still learn new stuff!

There is so much to share about what I learned from Matthew Finlason in his Advanced Home Staging Training course.  While much of what he had to share I already do, what I really learned were some key differentiations.  I've focused on staging for demographics, buyer demographics and psychographics for years now.  I have all kinds of aesthetic shots in my marketing and have even taught webinars on portfolio photography. 

I've been in business for 6 years now and run a very successful company.  Still I have much to learn.  I don't necessarily measure upgrades in my education by learning completely new skills, but rather on creating slight differences that can radically improve my marketing ability, language, and business skill sets.  I've been working with Matthew for months on helping direct, edit and pull this class together into an incredible value for the staging industry.  Perhaps what I didn't expect is that as I sat in on the first class, held in New Jersey a few weeks ago, that I would still manage to pick up tidbits of value and direct upgrades to my current techniques.  Personally, I learned enough that if I had really been a student in the class that I would have felt my money was well spent - and I had already edited both the power point and manual as well as spending dozens of hours with Matthew on Skype working on the project. 

While I can't really elaborate too much on the things I learned, I thought it might be interesting to share one of the little moments of clarity - an Ah Ha! moment, if you will.  Many of you have seen my close up shots that I always use to showcase my staging work, as opposed to the standard full room shot that we use for agents.  To the right is an example of one of them.

It's an OK photograph.  Honestly it's not one of my favorites, but it actually does appear in my portfolio.  I have dozens of these shots.  I try to take at least 4-10 in every home I stage.  I've been of the opinion that clients always want to know WHAT we are putting in their homes, not just how the end results turn out.  They want to see what we use that will appeal to the right buyer. 


Enter Matthew Finlason's new Advanced Staging techniques.  Matthew spends a fair amount of time explaining clearly about demographics and psychographics.  He helps you hone in your research and then pulls it all together by teaching about optimal and alternative floorplans and creating a company aesthetic (or many of them - so you have a portfolio ready for each type of property or client that you stage for).  He talks about exactly HOW he creates some of the photography that creates so much emotion in his portfolio.  

staging photographsToday I needed to swap out some bar stools for a home that team member David Moon was working on.  Neither of us were particularly happy with how they looked, even though we both agreed that they would work in the house originally.  Sometimes this happens.  What's important is that you fix it if you don't love it.  Since I was in the house & taking photos of the swap out, I thought I would take a moment and try out some of these techniques.  Now I'm not a photography genius.  I don't own an expensive camera.  As a matter of fact, I'm kind of embarrased to say that I still photograph my staging jobs with a coolpix point and shoot camera.  I'm telling you this because I want you to know that you can still have great photographs, even if you don't have an expensive camera.  You can still learn these techniques! 

What I love about this particular photo is the fact that the background is out of focus and the details in the actual staging props are clear.  You are focused on one specific thing, not the entire grouping.  To me, this made the photo far richer.  Why did I not think of this in all of the years that I've been doing these photos?


Here's another one.  It was a simple bowl of cherries on a table.  It's just in front of a window that has an amazing marsh view.  Is this about the house? Not at all.  Does it create an emotion about our staging?  Yes, I think it does!

dining table

Even this simple photograph of a napkin & ring on the dining table (yes, we set them here in Charleston - it's a town built on entertaining) is far more alive and interesting than the shot of the tulips above. 

So the big question is, "How does this help my business?"  Better photographs, ones that create more emotion and show off our actual work, help us get more clients.  Not only that, but we can command higher prices than our competition because we come across as more professional & cutting edge.  You aren't hiring "just" another home stager.  You are hiring someone who is concerned with every aspect of the staging job.  You are hiring someone who understands your buyer and will play up their stage with the right pieces to draw them in. 

For more information about Matthew Finlason's Advanced Home Staging Training class, please go to   


 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 19 commentsMelissa Marro • March 18 2011 11:49PM
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