Staging Homes and Improving Lives
|Local business owners Young and Trish Kim have devoted countless hours and generous financial contributions to HomeAid Northern Virginia. The owners-founders of Staged Interior met more than 30 years ago in Korea; Trish as a teacher, and Young, a student in an English as a Second Language class.“I married my teacher,” Young smiled.
Years later, their careers as decorator and information technology (IT) professional eventually dovetailed into a successful home staging business. Fortunately for HomeAid, the Kims are also very generous philanthropists. Staged Interior completely furnished and decorated one of HomeAid’s largest projects in 2016, Youth For Tomorrow, and have committed to doing the same for HomeAid’s Community Lodgings project in Alexandria. Young and Trish have also pledged additional support to future HomeAid projects. Find out more about what motivates the owners of Staged Interior and why they’re so committed to HomeAid’s mission!
Q: How did you get into the staging business?
Young: Trish was a decorator in 2006 when we started this business, and she had been for almost 20 years. I was in IT and was burned out. When I walked away from my IT career, it was during a time when everybody was flipping houses. So, I became a Realtor®, and we began flipping houses. We were trying to figure out how to marry real estate and decorating, and we heard from a former colleague about staging. We had no idea what that was in a real estate sense, but we quickly learned. We liked what we heard, and so we started small: We stored and used items from our house for staging, and we used rental furniture in the beginning until we got to the point where we could purchase our own furniture. Now we stage everything from $200,000 one-bedroom condos to multi-million dollar estates. We do it all.
Trish: We got in on the tail end of flipping houses. It was really lucrative for only a short time. Two weeks after we learned about the concept of staging, we knew we wanted to do it. That’s when I became an Accredited Staging Master (ASP). At the time, the only ASP education program available was in California, so I went there for training. We’ve been staging ever since. At the time, it was brand new here in Virginia, so there was an educational curve. We educated Realtors and sellers about how valuable it is, which took some time.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your line of work?
Trish: For me, it’s knowing that I’ve helped somebody move on with their lives. For instance, I recently staged a house for a woman who had lost her husband. She had been in that house, where they both had lived, for a long time, and she was extremely sad. It was a difficult time for her. We helped her home look newer and more marketable, yet she was still able to feel comfortable in it after it was staged and while it was on the market. It was rewarding to help her move on to the next step in her life. I feel like we help sellers transition in their lives from one place to another. And, it’s very rewarding to know that they sold their house for top dollar, as quickly as possible, and could move on with their lives.
Young: We love seeing responses from sellers and Realtors. After we stage, they walk in ‘oooing and aahing’ about how great their houses look. Some of them never realized that their houses could look so good. The listing shines and gets sold quickly. The Realtor’s business and reputation grows. Some Realtors have been with us from the beginning, and it is very rewarding.
Q: What is most challenging about the staging business?
Trish: For me, it’s trying to find just the right thing for a particular house. Also, the energy that it takes to keep this business going is amazing. We are all usually exhausted and running on empty. Sometimes we will get a call saying that a Realtor has to list a house right away, and can we come now? We try to make timelines for our Realtors because they’re our bread and butter. But they do understand our load; they’re very kind and flexible.
Young: I agree; trying to keep up with the demand is challenging. It involves working the calendar to make sure we are meeting a Realtor’s timeline. We see photos of the house, we do a consultation, we stage, and then after house is sold, we de-stage. The timing is challenging. We have 16 wonderful team members and have completed 110 stagings so far this year. We do an average of 5.8 stagings per week.
Q: How did you choose HomeAid as a charity?
Young: Last year, we joined NVBIA, and we learned about HomeAid because of its relationship with that organization. We were impressed by HomeAid’s reputation, history, and quality of the builder teams they put together. Because we are professionals, we enjoy working with professionals of all kinds and at all levels. They do their part, they know their stuff, and we wanted to be part of that and contribute our expertise. The Board at HomeAid is made up of top-notch people representing top-notch builders in the area. We enjoy being part of that team.
Trish: We also became familiar with HomeAid through last year’s project, Youth For Tomorrow. We were familiar with that organization through our church, and we wanted to help that particular ministry. Once we got involved with HomeAid, we found that there are so many nice people working there. They’re just lovely. But mostly, we feel that we have been so blessed by our business—we are just overwhelmed by it sometimes. So, we feel that we need to give back for that.
Q: Are you currently working on a HomeAid project?
Young: Yes, we will be furnishing and accessorizing this year’s Community Lodgings project in Alexandria. There are four builders working on it, and it will be similar to any other project for us. We do this day in and day out. We are honored to be doing the Community Lodgings project for HomeAid.
Trish: It is just a shell right now, but we had a chance to go through it. We’ve never done this kind of shelter before, and I am excited about that. They have completely gutted it, so it will help me visualize our contribution when we can get in there after they put the walls up. We have already started stashing stuff away, including a whole room full of art and accessories that we know we will be donating. I think we’ll have to wait to choose the furniture until after we see it. It is a lot of fun.
Q: How much do you estimate Staged Interior will be donating?
Young: Last year’s Youth For Tomorrow project was a 5,000-sqare foot facility with seven bedrooms. We estimated our retail and labor costs at around $85,000. This year’s Community Lodgings project is seven apartment units with different bedroom combinations, but we’re anticipating 15 to 20 bedrooms, seven living rooms, seven dining rooms, seven kitchens, etc. It will be bigger than last year’s project. I am guessing it will be in the high-five or low-six figures.
Q: How do you feel about being a part of HomeAid’s mission?
Trish: There are a lot of people who are marginalized in this area, because it is expensive to live here. With this area’s cost of living, it’s no wonder that people have a hard time finding housing that they can afford. I cannot think of anything scarier than being somewhere where you don’t have a place to go, no matter how big or small. I like being a part of helping people find a place to call home, where they can rest and recoup. The shelter providers with whom HomeAid works counsel children and adults, and help them find positions, careers, and do well in school and life. So, it’s not just the real estate we are contributing to—it’s the lives of those families that will be enhanced. It’s amazing to be a part of that.
Young: In this area, it takes a lot of resources to run these charity organizations. HomeAid comes in by putting these teams together and providing the materials and services that are needed for projects. HomeAid helps these local charities in terms of financial resources, allowing them to outfit houses or facilities so that the charities can use resources where they are most needed.
We would be so grateful for your support. To contribute to this upcoming project, follow the Donate Now link and select “Community Lodging Staged Interior Donation”. Thank you so much for you generosity!