We’ve seen the shows, heard the advice — selling and buying a home is an exciting process. We know to invest in improving our kitchens and bathrooms, but we also know how much of a difference staging makes. That’s why when one of the most trusted builders in Southern California, Matt White Custom Homes, was given the project of creating eight single family homes in a community called “Tablelands”, they hired Prairie Home to do the staging. The goal was to create a stylish model home that interprets the farmhouse style of the structure in a chic way for contemporary living near the coast. We caught up with Shannon Wilkins of Prairie Home to find out more about what she did for the model home.

What makes Eastside Costa Mesa such a desirable area to live in?
It’s an eclectic family area that really has almost a small beach town feel. There are so many great boutiques and restaurants in the area and you are minutes from the beach.

Sounds ideal! Let’s start from the beginning… What direction for the staging did Matt White Custom Homes (MWCH) give you before you started?
They told us they wanted a warm livable space with a cool eclectic vibe. They really wanted to emulate that laid back Southern California style that is not only popular right now, it’s really the true aesthetic of Eastside.

That’s so true, it really does have that effortless beachy feel! Was there anything that the team at MWCH didn’t want?
They wanted to keep the design stylish yet approachable. We originally proposed an awesome beige toned tile in the kitchen but were concerned that the buyers wouldn’t be ready for it. In hindsight, we are working with buyers in coastal OC with an impressive taste level and would have been okay using that tile. That said, the kitchens turned out fabulous and we’re not sure we’d change a thing!

Speaking of making tough decisions… Is there a risk or a bold choice you took that paid off in the end?
We took a risk with the kitchen pendants because they are so oversized, but they really paid off because they make a statement the moment you walk in the door.

What was it that you were trying to highlight with the design?
We wanted to highlight the openness of the floor plan. But also, by steering away from formulas, we created a comforting, welcoming atmosphere that our homebuyers can immediately picture their families in as soon as they walk through the door.

We’re curious about the process. How do you approach staging differently than when you have a client, are there any similarities?
Staging for a model is different than working with a client because we think less about functionality because it’s really about showcasing the home, its features and styling out every room. When we work with a client it’s all about functionality and how the family lives in the home. Especially if they have kids or pets, that really impacts the choice of furniture or fabrics we use. Sometimes, though, it ends up being similar because a lot of people tell us, ‘I want it to feel like a model home.’ In those cases, we style out areas that we wouldn’t normally focus a lot of energy on like bathrooms or laundry rooms.

Finally, do you have any staging tips for those of us that are looking to sell their homes?
Declutter, fresh flowers, and go neutral with paint!