Why this home stager is partial to a “partial”

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“It’s a partial” has become a bit of a shorthand between stylists and stagers to mean “boy have I got a tricky one here!” 

Plenty of stylists don’t take on partial staging at all, others do it through gritted teeth then vow ”never again”.

I’m going to come straight out and say it: “I’m partial to a partial”

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So what is partial staging?

When staging a property there are 3 general options. The first is consult only. This uses the client’s furniture, storing, keeping and moving pieces and generally pulling a look together from what’s in the house.

The second option is vacant staging. The property is empty and needs hire furniture throughout.

Anything between these 2 options is called partial staging.  Some of the client’s furniture, artwork and accessories are used, supplemented by hire pieces. A partial can refer to hiring just an outdoor lounge to hiring c. 80% of items.  The most challenging partials are when the keep to hire ratio is c. 50:50.

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As I said earlier many stylists shy away from a partial because quite simply it’s a lot easier to stage a vacant property. I’ve found that although partial staging is more challenging (and for that read a total brain scramble), I find that big old rambling partials are really rewarding to do for the following reasons:

  1. It’s creatively very rewarding. To be able to stand in a space and consider what stays and where, what goes and what needs to be hired is like a huge jigsaw but gradually a picture emerges and I can see and feel what the property could become. That’s very exciting. Trying to find those missing pieces at the furniture warehouse is the next challenge but amazing when I find just the piece.
  2. Partial staging plays into my belief that staging shouldn’t look or feel staged. I don’t think that buyers connect with display home perfect staging. I think they connect with and want to buy slightly imperfect properties that are happy and comfortable and feel as though they have evolved over time. Using my client’s furniture and artwork help to give this feeling.
  3. I’m constantly weighing up ‘return on investment’ for my clients. I’m always asking myself “if I swapped out this dining table for a hire one, would the house be more appealing? could it sell for more?”. Partial staging allows me to keep certain items, therefore reduce the overall cost and improve return on investment.
  4. As partial staging is more of a process and it involves the client more it enables me to build a deeper relationship with my clients – a part of my job that I really enjoy.

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How do I stage a partial?

Everything starts with a consult. It usually becomes evident on the first walk through with my clients that a partial stage is the best option. I then tell my clients to leave me alone for an hour whilst I put a plan together. I’ve found that I have to complete this process alone as it’s difficult enough forming a plan without trying to communicate it at the same time. I then walk my client through my plan and get their input. Input is important as there is always an element of problem solving that needs to happen – from 2 siblings not being able to share a room, to needing a workable office, to being able to watch Foxtel once I’ve moved the TV position. I then write up actions by room re: what needs to be stored, moved to another room or can stay in the room. I also specify the furniture, art and accessories I will be hiring. The idea is that if my clients complete their actions and I complete mine it will all come together seamlessly on install day. I started doing this when I turned up at an install once and asked “where’s the bed?”. “I thought you wanted it storing” replied my client. 

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What are the Pros and Cons of a partial stage?

Firstly the pros.

Partial staging gives a less staged more ‘real’ result

It’s easier for my clients to stay in the house whilst on the market because rooms such as the office and the kids bedrooms can stay pretty much ‘as is’.

It’s less expensive than full staging (although in some cases not significantly so)

The ability to focus on key areas of the house that are real features e.g. a fantastic deck area or beautiful formal living room

Staging in a small way can be more cost effective than buying.

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And now the cons

It’s more difficult to do than a vacant stage and in the wrong hands can look like a dogs breakfast!

Adding in to an existing look can be limiting in terms of selecting hire furniture especially at certain times of year when stock levels are low. Every house has a different style so access to a good range of stock is important.

It is logistically trickier for clients as they are effectively packing up twice – once to stage and then again when they sell. There are costs of removal and storage to consider. Some clients find the process a bit overwhelming

If the house doesn’t sell my clients are left with a half empty house.

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In summary

Scrolling through the partially staged houses in this post I remember these houses and my clients very fondly. I can see the pieces that I decided to keep but hopefully you can’t. That’s the point. It should look pulled together, stylish and a better version of itself. Seamless. 



I’m Imogen Brown a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are thinking of selling and think you might need a partial stage I’d love to be able to help. Contact me on 0432994056 or through my website: homestagingbrisbane.com.au 

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