Expert Decorator Q&A: Steve Cox
August 11, 2016
Steve Cox has been a professional decorator for almost three decades, specializing in staging for the last five years. However, his design and real estate roots go much deeper. As a kid, his parents tended to buy and flip houses in each town they lived in. Cox grew up learning the tricks of the trade by helping them fix up these homes.
Summit County Home: What is staging?
Steve Cox: Staging is making your home appeal to the widest array of buyers possible. It's about exciting buyers. In Summit County most of the houses are vacation homes. Buyers purchase a vacation home because they are excited about it. Not only will they sell faster, but they'll get a higher price.
SCH: Can you talk a little bit more about how that works?
Cox: There was a recent article that explained that staged home prices tend to be six to eight percent higher than if they're not staged. Around here, there are a lot of million-dollar homes. That adds up to $60,000 to $80,000. It's all about people being excited. When they open the door, are they jazzed or are they bored? I often talk with the buyers after the fact to see what interested them about the home they bought. It's really an emotional purchase. For example, there was a home that was on the market for over a year. I staged it and 20-some-odd days later they sold it. The buyers said, "This home just kept coming back to our minds. It wasn't over or under decorated. It had a nice aroma." It was great to hear that someone recognized that.
SCH: What does staging involve?
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Cox: I have to work with the architecture, match the existing light and plumbing fixtures. If I get the opportunity, I stick with the mountain aesthetic. … It could be mountain modern or logs. I try to stay somewhere in between. I don't want to turn anyone off. This has led me to have a ridiculous amount of inventory. We just stocked our third warehouse. … We've got a forklift and it's stacked to the ceiling.
SCH: What is in the warehouse?
Cox: Furniture and bedding ensembles, linens, robes, artwork. … I buy multiples of the same dining set. It depends on the price level of the home and the style I'm working with. … I wouldn't put the same sofa in a half million-dollar condo, a million-dollar home or a five-million-dollar home. I've got different furnishings for all three levels.
SCH: What is the biggest challenge of staging?
Cox: It's more challenging when the owners are there. If it's furnished, I want to diplomatically explain why particular pieces should be moved. I focus more on the primary living area. … It's figuring out how to make their furniture work, and where.
SCH: Do you have a favorite among all the homes you've staged?
Cox: There's something I love about each one. I'm such a perfectionist that I won't leave a home until I'm proud of it. … The grand homes help my decorating. It is fun to do a whole new layout. It just really brings it to life.
There are other homes that aren't as grand. There was one in Blue River. … The downstairs was so stacked with stuff; no one knew there was a second fireplace. We were clearing it out and shazam! Every day we just discovered new, interesting things to work with. Just to bring them to life and to bring color and interest and excitement. When I got done, I just sat down in the living room because I wanted to enjoy it for 30 or 40 minutes.
SCH: You spend so much time in other people's homes. I'm curious if you stage your own home.
Cox: I am updating regularly just because of the things I'm exposed to. Sometimes it drives friends crazy that I'm constantly staging my own home. As soon as the meal is over, I'm already setting the table. It's part of who I am and part of what I do.
Affordable Decors, LLC
1795 Airport Road, Breckenridge