Choose an edition: Wash DC | Chicago

Setting the Stage: Chicago Real Estate and Home Staging

  • March 18, 2011

by Jacqueline Zenn

Recently we had the chance to talk with Lisa Vaisvila, a Chicago area home staging professional who has had a hand in getting dozens of difficult properties sold – quite a feat in the current market. She got into the business five years ago, right when the real estate market started to shift. Her original plan was to get into rehabbing and renovating properties, but she quickly discovered her natural talent for staging and design. The agent on her first deal suggested she get into staging when that property sold after only five days on the market. She went into business for herself and got her ASP® (Accredited Home Staging Professional) designation through, and the rest is history.

Chicago real estate professional staging
Before and After

“You need to have a vision and creative eye, and know what works. Put yourself in a buyer’s mindset,” says Lisa.“It’s all about the presentation.”

Of course, in this market sellers need all the help they can get to stand out in a crowded market. Also, because most buyers these days start by looking at real estate listings on the web, having cluttered, poorly lit, or otherwise bad images online mean prospective buyers will click right on by.

Lisa’s had some success already this year. Her homes staged since January 2011 have averaged 23 days on the market, and she works with vacant properties as well as homes that are currently occupied.

One example is a condo in suburban Wood Dale that was on the market for two years, with hardly any showings and zero offers. The owners finally changed realtors and ended up working with Lisa. She recommended that they remove the dated wallpaper and change the paint colors, remove the carpeting in the master bath in order to show off the original tile that was in great shape, and make some other minor cosmetic upgrades. The end result was that it sold in only six days. As Lisa says, “If a place looks like granny’s living room, people aren’t going to be able to visualize living in it. They want to be able to move right in.”

Another property in a similar situation is pictured below. As you can see in the first photo, the original dining room has lots of glass decor, which may suit the owner’s particular style but probably isn’t neutral enough to appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers. By removing the wall decorations and swapping the glass table for something more neutral, she made the dining a blank canvas, allowing visitors to see the potential of the space rather than be distracted by the current owner’s furniture and artwork.

real estate staging - before
480 East Montrose Dining Room – Before staging…
real estate staging - after
…And after

Here are three homes currently on the market that Lisa believes could benefit from the efforts of a staging professional:

  • 4622 West Shakespeare Avenue – This Belmont Cragin home has great bones, but some of the rooms are cluttered and the lime green walls in one room are anything but neutral. It has been on the market for nearly 200 days, but addressing a few of these issues could go a long way toward getting this home sold.
  • 876 West Morris Avenue, Addison – Like many properties currently on the market, this is a great home, but the listing doesn’t communicate its true potential. It’s totally empty, and the fishbowl effect in the photos make the floor and walls look oddly curved.
  • 25 South Euclid Avenue, Villa Park – This property has a lot of stuff happening in the photos, including a switched-on TV. This busyness could cause many buyers to miss the great hardwood floors and fireplace in the main living area and the potential charm throughout.

For comparison’s sake, here are some properties that have been staged:

To learn more about home staging and see further examples of Lisa’s work, click here to visit her website. For those of you who love a good makeover story, there are plenty of before and after pictures as well.

See other articles related to: staging

This article originally published at

Choose an edition: Wash DC | Chicago