The Design Visionary
Highly regarded home stager Meridith Baer on the meticulous process of transforming spaces from bare bones to hands-down exquisite.
Imagine being able to walk into a home and almost instinctively and instantly design it “to the nines” in your mind. Then, with that vision in your head, you mosey over to your own massive warehouse to hand-select the perfect furnishings, art and accessories.
That pretty much describes the job of Meridith Baer—the “go-to” gal for countless high-end real estate agents and event planners from LA to the Hamptons. Here she ruminates with Ventura Blvd editor-in-chief, Linda Grasso, on the virtues of white, rooms with a view and having a wine fridge.
So your job sounds like fun. You’ve got this big warehouse, and you get to raid it and deck out beautiful homes.
Yes, I try to paint the picture I think home buyers want to see every day. I often compare staging to storytelling. As with film and TV, staging is about creating a mood. Every detail counts—props, lighting, colors, etc.
When you walk into a room, how do you attack it?
I start with a neutral palette and work with the furniture, then add layers or details to the room: art, potted plants and lighting. From there, I try to figure out how to make the room feel more comfortable.
There are so many decisions when re-doing a kitchen: Warming oven? ice machine? Gigantic fridge? What items should one really consider?
What are the “hot” colors right now?
I try not to think about trends when it comes to staging a home for a sale. I say stick to white and different shades of white, because it makes everything look new. Neutral colors can also make a room appear bigger.
If a room is white, potential home buyers can imagine painting the walls in any color. If a room is purple, it can be difficult to imagine anything else … especially if purple is their least favorite color.
When it comes to exteriors, can you offer a few tips for folks putting a home on the market this spring?
Do not forget about the outside of your home! Paint your front door an unexpected color, like red or yellow. This gives the impression that your home is well cared for. Find unusual objects to use as planters for your backyard. This gives the outdoors a fun personality. Make sure every window of the house has a beautiful view filled with flowers, a statue or a seating area.
I also love Sub-Zeros with the glass doors on them so you can see through and you can style what’s inside and make that beautiful. It’s almost like a painting in the kitchen.
Definitely an ice machine. And I think double refrigerators and dishwashers, which are really hot right now, are key. Also have multiple prep stations so a few people could be in the kitchen cooking together.
What is your own “must-have” kitchen item?
One of my favorite things is my Sub-Zero wine fridge and just to be able to pull out a glass of wine and sit down at a large, beautiful table in a kitchen.
Discuss the entry of a home.
A home’s entrance is one of the most important rooms because it makes the first impression on potential buyers. Make sure it is bright and inviting. I usually have a large mirror or sculpture here to set the tone for the rest of the house.
The one piece of furniture you should splurge on is a great piece for the entryway. The entryway immediately tells the story of what’s going to go on in the rest of the house, so you want to give a great first impression. A console table or a chest—just focus on the entry vignette.
All-time favorite home you’ve staged?
After all these years and projects, my favorite is still my home in Brentwood. I moved 250 truckloads of dirt to create the yard that wasn’t there. The best part about owning a staging company is the ability to continually change the look of my home every month and switch out the art, vignettes, the decorative pillows and tables.
Favorite area of your home?
Each room was built to enjoy the outdoors, so the gardens are my favorite part.
Paying it forward.