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For Reals? Neh, it's all virtual now baby...

virtual staging by Tracy Yarkoni Odell
photograph by Kirk DeLaurenti

Used to be that if you wanted your house to sell, hiring someone to "stage" your home was your best chance to make that happen fast. Instead of your mish-mash collection of home furnishings, a pro would come in and decorate/re-organize the place from top to bottom. The fees can range around the thousands of dollars, especially if renting furniture is required. But a well staged home can raise it's selling price an average of 3%, making staging a pretty safe bet.

Enter Rhapsody Marketing of Seattle, and their innovative See Through Staging division...

Nowadays, with Photoshop, a drawing tablet, an extensive library of furniture images and a photographer - staging can be done completely virtually. This is just what I've been doing for the last few months with Rhapsody. It isn't easy, but it's incredibly rewarding when it all comes together in the end. Here's a simplified walk through of what I do to get a room done...

Stage 1: Initial Assets
I receive raw images of the property taken by a professional photographer, a "Design Inspiration" image from the client, along with a brief description of the look they want to achieve.

Stage 2: Shopping
I'm no fan of shopping, I love buying, but shopping can be so annoying. Lucky for me, I have a resource library of over 14,000 pieces of furniture and accessories, from many different vendors, that I can choose from right on my computer. It was a little overwhelming at first, but after much hunting for just the right pieces, I've become pretty familiar with the various vendors and know where to go for certain styles. The fun part is coming across pieces you love and can't wait to use, like these beauties from Roche Bobois:

Stage 3: Rough Staging
I usually end up with many options for the major pieces, like sofas and beds. The next hurdle is finding them in a perspective that will fit with the room. I may have found the perfect sofa, but if it's only photographed dead-on, that's the only angle I can use it. Some perspective adjustments can be tweaked, but only by about twenty degrees or so. For example, I love the sofa set in the image below, but there's no way I'm going to be able to fit it in the far side of the room at this angle...

So I gather together all my initial picks, then see what will work where in the room, and then which accessories will best fit with my main pieces. I also decide which wall will have an accent color, which then helps me decide what color my window treatments need to be. I end up with a pretty messy picture at this stage, since everything has only been roughly 'cut out' from original images:

Stage 4: The Magic...
Now comes the dirty work... 'cut out' each piece cleanly; adjust perspectives; if removing bits (like that painting leaning on the sidebar, or price tags, or like the bookshelf above whose bottom shelf was hidden by a sofa arm), then re-draw parts of furniture where the unwanted item was; add bits, like the bar counter had to be cut and copied over top the bar stools (see below) so they look like they're underneath it; put new colors on things, like the curtains, possibly the pillow, the sofa, etc.; make glass objects 'see through'; adjust lighting and shading on each object, since almost all of them came from different lighting situations; color correct each piece, and possibly the room itself (some objects will be warmer or cooler than others, again due to the original lighting); add convincing shadows; add reflections on any shiny surfaces, like the bar counter and table top and windows, if necessary.

Often times there's another bout of shopping to do for other accessories, like in this case, I had to find a new painting that would bring the room together; also, the sidebar and bookshelves were sadly empty and I had to find pieces for them.

Fingers crossed, and with some more tweaking, it all comes together, hopefully ahead of schedule - and I get to gaze at the fabulous new room I wish belonged to one of my friends so they'd invite me over for a glass of wine to oooh and awe over their gorgeous digs...

living/dining pieces from Bo Concepts; vase and clock from Roche Bobois

Here's the some more of the apartment:

photographs by Kirk DeLaurenti

See more of my virtual staging work here...



  1. Love what you've done with the place. ;)

  2. You know... we are trying to sell our house now so we can move out there with you guys...

  3. oh wow -- good luck!! hope the market is picking up ;)