‘Staging’ homes in Vail Valley makes them buyer-friendly | VailDaily.com

‘Staging’ homes in Vail Valley makes them buyer-friendly

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado
Denise Bryant-Rives sits in one of the for-sale homes that she staged with her company's furniture at the Mountain View Condos in Vail.
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Chadd Ziegler has sold expensive real estate in Vail for about a dozen years now. During that time, he’s noticed that empty rooms rarely get more than a passing glance from prospective buyers.

Faced with selling several new, unfurnished units at the Vail Mountain View condos, Ziegler decided to use an old tactic – “staging” – in which an empty home is filled with furniture, artwork and other items. A home that looks ready to live in is simply more inviting.

Ziegler picked designer Denise Bryant-Rives to handle the project. The two had met through Ziegler’s wife. He looked at Bryant-Rives’ work, and was impressed. Ziegler hired Bryant-Rives’ company, Mise en Scene – a French theatrical term meaning, roughly, “putting on stage” – and in less than a couple of weeks, she had a model condo ready to show.

Having a home furnished for potential buyers literally brings them into rooms. Ziegler said people will often merely poke their heads into unfurnished bedrooms and keep wandering. Having furniture in a room also gives potential buyers an idea of what will fit.

“I can’t tell you how many times someone’s said ‘A king (bed) won’t fit in there,'” he said. “I can tell them, ‘There’s a king in there now.'”

Bryant-Rives started staging expensive homes several years ago in California. She said even during the real estate boom years there, homes sold faster if they were tastefully furnished and decorated.

The market’s a little different these days.

“In this market, when you’re not getting a lot of action, I wanted to do everything possible to make this work,” Ziegler said.

“I’ve been very impressed with her,” Ziegler said. “So is my client (the condos’ seller).”

While fairly common in California and elsewhere, Bryant-Rives said staging is still a fairly new idea locally.

“What I try to create is an emotion,” she said. “I want to create the feeling like (a potential buyer) lives here.”

To do that, Bryant-Rives has a large and changing inventory of new designer furniture. She has warehouse space in the valley and uses the items there in homes on the market.

The furniture Bryant-Rives uses is all designer-brand, high-end merchandise, and she has enough to have one Mountain View condo completely furnished – including art on the walls – for showing. The penthouse unit upstairs is also furnished, but for a different reason.

In addition to staging, Bryant-Rives sells designer furniture. She considers places like the Mountain View penthouse a kind of “mobile showroom,” and has plans to put on events for potential buyers.

The events, which will run for a weekend at a time, start with an invitation-only reception on a Friday, followed by open sales days on Saturday and Sunday.

The furniture is new, but comes at a substantial discount from the manufacturer’s suggested price. Some items are marked down 50 percent or more from the retail price.

Bryant-Rives is selling furniture this way to create a buzz about her business, but she’s also helping a local charity in the process.

She’s asking a small admission fee for the Friday-night events, with all proceeds going to a local charity. In addition, she’s asking people who buy furniture to donate their old items to the Bright Future Foundation, a local nonprofit that helps women and children get out of abusive homes. The old furniture can help people moving into new homes who may not have much more than the clothes on their backs.

Bryant-Rives said she’ll help those families with interior design of places they move into, too. And, of course, she’s available for design consultations during her furniture shows/sales.

“We’re going to have fresh furniture at fresh locations,” Bryant-Rives said. “I want to make it a fun experience for people.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.