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12/15 - Design, Staging

The Art of Selling: Beyond ‘Just’ Listing Your Home

Learn Insider Tips from Fox Marin’s Staging & Design Maestro, Kathy Mighton:

The 2023 Real Estate Market stood as a testament to the importance of property presentation, staging, marketing and spot-on pricing. In this article, we turn our attention to the art of home staging and styling, a craft essential for capturing the imagination of potential buyers. At the heart of this discussion is Kathy Mighton, Fox Marin’s seasoned in-house stager and designer whose background is as diverse as it is compelling. From growing up on a working cattle farm to a journey through art history, philosophy and visual merchandising, Kathy’s path to staging and design is packed with experiences that inform her unique approach to residential property presentation!

During her five years at Fox Marin, Kathy has developed a deep-seated passion for what she does. She sees each property as a blank canvas, envisioning the potential buyer’s lifestyle and creating a setting that tells a story. However, Kathy quickly dispels the illusion that staging is a straightforward or a glamorous endeavour. It is, in fact, a complex coordinator of logistics, physical labour, long hours (often unpredictable) and the very delicate management of seller expectations.

Tune Into Our video Podcast for Essential Staging & Styling Insights:

As Kathy outlines, the staging process begins with the seller’s preparation. This preliminary stage involves decluttering, minor repairs, and, often, navigating homeowners’ emotional attachments to their belongings. Kathy’s role goes beyond mere aesthetics; she is part psychologist and logistician, managing sellers’ stress while orchestrating the myriad details of staging and styling. The emotional aspect of staging cannot be overstated. Kathy approaches each project with empathy and sensitivity, understanding that the process can be an emotional journey for sellers. She gently guides them through the process, helping them detach and view their home through the lens of a potential buyer.

Homeowner’s Pre-Staging Checklist:

Declutter and Depersonalize:

  • Remove personal photos, luxury items or sentimental pieces
  • Clear all countertops and surfaces.
  • Organize closets and storage spaces.

Minor Repairs and Upgrades:

  • Fix or replace leaky faucets and squeaky doors.
  • Update outdated hardware in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Replace burnt-out light bulbs and ensure consistent lighting.
  • Clean bathroom tile grout or repair as needed
  • Remove any ill-fitting window coverings and its hardware

Paint and Palette:

  • Apply a fresh coat of neutral paint (like OC 65, Benjamin Moore, Chantilly Lace).
  • Consider accent walls for adding depth, but avoid overly bold colours.
  • Remove all personalized wall decals, poorly installed wallpaper, or canvas art

Furniture Arrangement:

  • Remove bulky or excessive furniture to enhance space flow.
  • Rearrange furniture to showcase room functionality.
  • Consider renting storage space for excess items.

Enhance Curb Appeal:

  • Keep the front porch and entryway clean and inviting.
  • Consider a fresh coat of paint for the front door with a pop of colour
  • Add tasteful landscaping elements, like potted plants.
  • Switch out mailbox and street numbers to something luxe and fresh

Staging Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do focus on creating a sense of spaciousness and light.
  • Don’t overcrowd rooms with furniture or decor.
  • Do use textures and fabrics to add warmth and comfort.
  • Don’t use overly personalized or eccentric decor items.
  • Do consider the flow of movement through each room.

Kathy also emphasizes the critical role of sensory appeal in staging. She notes that a property must appeal to a potential buyer’s senses (something we particularly focus on during Open Houses). For instance, a pleasant scent, subtle background music, and fresh flower arrangements can significantly elevate the appeal of any property- trust us on this one!

Sensory Appeal Checklist:


  • Use natural scents like eucalyptus or fresh linen.
  • Avoid strong or artificial fragrances.
  • Address any pet odours or lingering cigarette smoke smells.


  • Play soft, ambient music during showings.
  • Ensure there’s no distracting noise from appliances or HVAC systems.


  • Use lighting to create a warm, inviting atmosphere.
  • Arrange decor to draw attention to property features.
  • Ensure windows are clean to maximize natural light.


  • Incorporate soft throws, cushions, and area rugs.
  • Ensure surfaces are clean and smooth to the touch.
  • Use textures to add depth and interest to rooms.

Distinguishing between staging and interior design, Kathy clarifies that staging is about broad appeal, not personal taste. It’s a marketing tool designed to showcase a property in its best light to the widest possible audience on and off screen. In contrast, interior design is a deeply personal process tailored to the individual tastes and needs of the homeowner, which is a far longer process (and significantly more expensive, BTW).

Kathy also shares a word of advice for those venturing into a career in staging and interior styling. She stresses the importance of balancing creativity with practicality. Aspiring stagers should hone their organizational skills, develop an eye for design, and cultivate the ability to empathize with homeowners and their emotional journeys. The world of staging, as Kathy reveals, is not just about beautifying spaces—it’s about understanding people, their stories, and how best to translate these elements into a compelling home presentation that speaks to the largest possible buyer pool!

In conclusion, Kathy’s insights as a professional stager provide invaluable lessons for homeowners looking to navigate Toronto’s real estate market in 2024. Her approach, blending empathy with strategic presentation, highlights the importance of seeing a property through the eyes of potential buyers. As the market starts to heat up again, these lessons become increasingly relevant, guiding sellers toward successful transactions that begin with the art of staging and design – and some valuable tips to work through over the Winter months as we gear up for a potentially VERY busy Spring!

Contact Fox Marin, Toronto’s downtown luxury real estate brokerage, today to learn more about the advantages of hiring a quality team!

Contact Us (We’re Nice).

Kori Marin is a Toronto Broker & Managing Partner at Fox Marin Associates. For high-energy real estate aficionado Kori Marin, a well-lived life is achieved by maintaining an “all-in” attitude that realizes every last ounce of one’s full potential. This mindset has driven successful results in every aspect of her life – from her corporate sales and account management experience to her international travels to her years of fitness training and leadership – and is the hallmark of the exceptional work that she does on behalf of her clients in the residential real estate sector in downtown Toronto.