Leia T. Ward on Mastering the Art of ‘Interior Marketing’

This week’s DMTV Milkshake guest is luxury home stager Leia T. Ward, founder and principal of LTW Design and one of the “Top 10 Luxury Stagers” in the U.S. (Former clients include Bruce Willis.)

Whether you’re buying a house, selling a house or just wondering if you’re ever going to get around to properly decorating the house you live in, Leia knows exactly what a homeowner needs to do to max out their asking price – whether that’s picking up rugs or adjusting, however temporarily, to a transitional-modern decor scheme. “When we stage peoples’ homes, it may be completely different from the style they were living in,” she says. “If they live in a very traditional, center-hall colonial, we might come in and make it a little bit more modern, so that it speaks to potential buyers. It might not line up with the sellers’ aesthetic – and we tell them that’s okay. We’re just selling your house. You don’t have to like it.” That, though, is often not the end of the story: “Sometimes when they come in and it’s all staged, they say, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen my house like this – I wish I did this sooner. I love it, and can you come design our new house?” Another buyer actually took their home off the market once Leia’s team was done staging it: “They ended up loving the staging so much that they took it off the market and didn’t sell the house,” she says. “So that was a win for the seller maybe, but the realtor, not so much. I felt really bad about that one.”

Also in this Milkshake, Leia reveals the “one weird trick” of home staging and the best advice she’s ever gotten – both as a designer and as a business owner. She also talks about one of the hardest parts of the brief: navigating the intense emotions that can accompany a home sale. “We never know what we’re walking into,” she says. “Someone could be getting a divorce. There could have been a loss in the family. It’s not always that people are moving up into a bigger, better, nicer home. I think the biggest thing that I do is try to manage emotions – just to be empathetic to what the sellers are going through and try to emotionally remove them from the property, to market it and package it as a product and get them on board with that so that they can get the biggest offer. Ultimately that’s what it’s about: Everybody wants the best price.” Tune in for more ideas on how to get it.

Photos by Andrea Carson.

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.

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