Small Talk

Reverse home staging

October 18th, 2010

Home staging: what you do to make your home attractive to prospective buyers, when you're trying to sell it. You highlight the strengths and downplay the weaknesses. We went to Olivia's godfather's house over the weekend for a lunch and a swim in the pool. Paul and his wife live in a home that looks permanently staged. (I say this enviously.)

They live in a sumptuous home in Kahala with no kids and one cat. They are both working professionals. Their home looks like it could be in the pages of a magazine. Clarification: not Real Simple magazine's "before the home makeover my house was a total wreck" photo shoot. The Architectural Digest magazine with only nice looking houses.

When his wife invited us to their house, I asked, "Are you sure your house is child-proof?" Previous encounters have all been at our house.

"Oh, sure. It'll be fine. We have a cat," she responded, I think a little too trustingly.

"No, really. A cat is different from a three-year-old," I pressed. It turned out this is a small cat who hides in a basket in the closet. A cat is very different from a toddler.

"Naw. It'll be great. Plus, we have Paul." I'm not sure what that meant, but I accepted her answer. I bet Paul leaves his toys all over the floor, too.

The three of us poured into Paul's house on Sunday bearing snacks and swim wear. The first thing Olivia saw was the pool, and she gasped. "Mommy! They have a big AND a small pool!" she cried. The small pool was actually a hot tub, but her point of reference is a kiddie pool.

Predictably, she asked to go in immediately. I love to send her in the pool because it keeps her occupied and wears her out, so I was happy to oblige. I brought all her pool toys, too.

In the space of 30 minutes, the entire 25 meter pool deck was covered with a sprinkling of kiddie toys and accessories, not to mention the lanai and the floor inside the house. It was a little funny that we come, and within minutes, so easily destroy the carefully cultivated appearance.

We left a half a day later. The carnage was a little bit worse, since Olivia had briefly also spent time in the living room and the dining room. Claus and I looked around and laughed.

It looked like a really nice house when we walked in, and it looked completely lived-in by the time we were ready to leave. (We cleaned up after ourselves, naturally.)

I'm wondering if there could be a new, niche industry here? We could give you the opposite of traditional home staging:  we could make your beautiful house look like someone really lives there, primarily with the help of one small toddler. If there's a market for this, I've surely got it cornered.


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7 Responses to “Reverse home staging”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    I've never been a parent, so if someone tells me that what I'm suggesting is simply impossible, I guess I'll believe it.

    But it seems to me that if a child is physically capable of carrying a toy from where it is kept to someplace else, like the middle of the living room floor, then that child is also capable of taking it back later on. By not requiring the child to put things back, and by having Mom and Dad do that for her, it simply teaches her to be irresponsible and that "the government will do things for you if you're too irresponsible to do them for yourself."

    And here's another thought: How about one toy at a time? Play with a toy until that toy is all played out, and then take it back and get another one. This rule would work even if it's Mom or Dad who does the taking back. "I'll take this toy back for you since you're not able to do it for yourself, but come with me so you can watch me choose your next toy." Then, as the child gets more capable of taking her own toy back by herself, she also gets the privilege of choosing for herself which toy will be the next one to play with.

    The concept of "staging a home" for sale to make it appealing to a buyer should also be seen as a concept of "staging a child" to help the child grow into a responsible adult.

    There's also the concept of "kuleana" here: privilege and responsibility go hand in hand. Every "right" or "privilege" (like taking a toy and playing with it) carries a corresponding duty or responsibility (like putting it back when play is done).

  2. galekaminari:

    Diane, thanks for the fun and happy story! Sounds like you all had a wonderful time!

    How great that Paul and his wife are able to be relaxed enough about their staged home to allow you and your family to share it. A couple of my friends who live like that cannot stand to have other humans, especially small ones, share the space, even for a few empty minutes (empty as in we brought nothing with us and merely breathed). I think it was a violation of their sanctuary.

    Ken Conklin, there is a school which teaches the concept you espouse, created a long time ago. My child went to such a school. However, I am not sure that the children generally fare very well. Perhaps with only one toy at a time, the child gets isolated and solitary, rather than creative, sharing, and cooperative with others. With that take and replace system, what seems to get taught is to maintain the status quo, rather than improving things. I guess I can understand that from a child's perspective.

  3. Rosette:

    oh geeessh reason why I stay home too lazy to pack the freaking toys....also reason why I wont have a pool...too lazy to clean that and I am too lazy to watch a kid swim..ha ha ha! lesson why I stick kid infront of clean up omg after rasing two kids I relax.... if the toy is annoying just break it in half garbage.... !

  4. Rosette:

    imagine my brother has pool and all sorts of things .... I send my husbnad to visit so I don't have to be stuck watching my son swim around like a fool next thing I be screaming I am not washing that darn swim suit time just sit the corner drives me crazy all sorts of nonesense !

  5. Rosette:

    one time my cousin put a small toy in the pool it go suck into the thingy..oh bring big toy... or no toy...I tried my best teaching my toys to be creative..then darn glue gun everywhere I almost next drawing...crampled paper everywhere...SO BACK TO T.V.. no mess...omg darn kid !

  6. Rosette:

    oh when my oldest brother didn't have kids he used to say he wont eat at MacDonalds....or buy the I visit his house full of Macdonald toys...

    I used big shovel to put my boys toys into toy box! FINALLY I toss my son to my I relax! imagine I train my boys to clean thing the toys will be out so just patient until the darn kid at school full time then I pack the toys ... slowly ease them .... my husband needs the toys ... !

  7. Rosette:

    correction yes teaching my boys to be creative....

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