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Home Staging Inventory Management Or How To Organize All That Stuff!

Home Staging Inventory Management or How To Organize All That Stuff!

I am often contacted by other home stagers and asked how I organize my inventory. My system has been developed through much trial and error and what works for me, may not work for you.

When I first started staging and was inexperienced, I organized my inventory by item type and color - for example, all green vases in one bin, all red pillows in another bin, etc. This worked OK up to a point, when I didn't have all that much inventory. It basically meant that I had to bring every bin to every staging to pick and choose what I wanted to work with. My company basically consisted of me, and, well, me, and whichever of my friends wasn't working that day and I could guilt into helping me.

Now that I have much more inventory, and many more staging projects under my belt, I have figured out how to organize the inventory to work smarter, faster and more efficiently on staging days.

Here is what I came up with:

  Pasadena home staging warehouse

 Pasadena home staging warehouse

 

"Smalls" are orgainized on open shelves to be selected as needed for each project. Bungee cords keep everything safe on the shelves in case of an accidental bump or an earthquake.

Sets of items, such as towels or bedding sets are arranged in tubs of two different sizes depending upon the volume of the items.

These (left) are some of the towel bins. The blue tags indicate how many towels of each size are contained in each bin. Some of the sets are incomplete because the rest of the set is currently being used in a staging project.

By marking each bin, we know exactly how many towels of each set are still available.

 

In addition, in each (well that is my goal) towel bin we have added a basket arrangement of towels and some, if not all, of the accessories that we would probably use with that towel set. We use foam packing bags and everything breakable in a bin gets put in one of those. They are a great time saver and protect fragile items really well.

 

The bin on the left is a full set up for a bathroom. The bin on the right is the same set-up including some silk orchids.

I use the same techniques for bedrooms, including all the bedding, throw pillows, night stand accessories, etc. The lamps are the only things that travel separately. By using down time to arrange the bins this way, it makes the staging days a lot less hectic and it takes less time to stage. I assign a bin to each bedroom or bathroom, and I can assign an assistant to set it up without a lot of supervision.

Any items that are not used are returned to inventory to be used with a different set or to wait for their companions to return. Since there is a constant in-flow and out-flow of inventory the contents of each bin are frequently changed so the designs don't get stale. Additionally, when we are staging, we bring a few bins of extras to add if the contents of a bin are not sufficient for a particular home.

Every item in my inventory (more that 10,000 items!) is marked with an inventory control number. When we stage we make note of each item used.

Here's a couple more photos of my warehouse:

 Pasadena home staging warehouse

 

 Pasadena home staging warehouse

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Los Angeles Real Estate Staging

2015 RESA Professional Stager of the Year

2014 RESA Top 10 Professional Home Stager2010 RESA Professional Stager of the Year

Michelle has staged hundreds of Los Angeles homes, many of which have sold with multiple offers, above listing price.

She works with home sellers, listing agent, builders, flippers and asset managers to prepare homes for sale throughout Los Angeles and North Orange County.

Moving Mountains Design provides vacant home staging, color consultations, corporate and executive relocations,  and interior design. We also stage model homes, REOs, foreclosures and auction properties for real estate investors and asset managers. Builders hire us to stage their models or to help move inventory when sales slow down.

For more information about our Los Angeles home staging services, contact Michelle at (626)385-8852 or by email.

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Comment balloon 45 commentsMichelle Minch • May 12 2010 04:10PM

Comments

Great post with a wealth of information.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

Posted by Joshua Zargari, MJ Decorators Workshop (MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating) over 8 years ago

organizing is a challenge for me.  It's a time issue and well as a space issue.  Thx, Michelle, for the tips.

Posted by Karen Dembsky, Atlanta Home Staging (Peachtree Home Staging LLC, Home Staging in Atlanta, GA) over 8 years ago

Love seeing all the organized shelves!!!  Inspiration for us all!

Julie

Posted by Julie Davis, Amy Blank - Rediscovered Interiors, LLC (Rediscovered Interiors, LLC) over 8 years ago

OK - I have warehouse envy as mine is currently in 2 different storage units (at least they're right next to each other - but still)  I use a lot of the same suggestions you use here, mine just doesn't look as great as yours ;)

Posted by Connie Tebyani, Platinum Home Staging, Los Angeles and Ventura County (Platinum Home Staging, Inc. : RESA-Pro) over 8 years ago

Michelle - I love your inventory system. We're looking to expand from two 40' storage units to a warehouse and organizing the inventory will be our first task. It's amazing how long it takes to search through everything to find the "perfect" accessory. I also store our towels in plastic bins but I never thought to mark how many were in each bin. Thanks for the good ideas.

Posted by Lynn Crawford, Staging DC & Maryland (A Different View) over 8 years ago

Joshua: Thanks.

Karen: You will find you have more time once you spend the time to get organized

Julie: Glad I could inspire you

Connie: I hate having to pay for the warehouse space, but it makes my job sooo much easier. Plus when I am super organized I don't get so stressed.

Lynn: Marking the towel bins is a big help. If I know how many bathrooms/towel bars there are, I can glance at a bin and know if I will have enough towels. Its expensive to set up a warehouse (shelving, bins), but it has paid me back in time saved.

 

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Your warehouse is so organized, Michelle. It looks incredible.  Your system makes staging a home a breeze!

Kathy

P.S.  BFF - you always inspire me.

Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager (http://atlantahomestaging.net) over 8 years ago

Kathy: Knowing you, I'm sure your warehouse is just as organized.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Thank you Michelle for your post.  I was very interested to see how inventory is stored. 

Posted by Debra Landy, PA and NY Home Stager (StageTwoSell LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing Michelle!  We are moving from our old warehouse to a new one, and it does seem like the organizing part is sometimes trial and error....Can I ask how much space do you have?

And also...any storage/transport tips for lamp shades?  Seems like I'm always getting them dirty or dented somewhere along the way..

Thanks again!

Posted by Michelle & Joe Kaspari, Essential Home Staging, Sacramento (Essential Home Staging) over 8 years ago

Michelle, this is really well organized.  Hmmm, I need to re-visit my system - or lack thereof...  Note to self - purchase post it notes.  Thanks so much for sharing.

Posted by Sally Weatherley, Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C (EXIT STAGE RIGHT) over 8 years ago

Wow--that's impressive!  I'm an agent and not a stager, but I truly admire your system.  Cheers,

Posted by Harley Ramsey, Chatsworth, CA Real Estate (Keller Williams) over 8 years ago

W O W, you got it all cataloged in plastic bens. Not cards , and indexed so you can find stuff?  Props to you girl! Any other obsessive compulsive behavior : -)

Posted by Randy Dodd, ePro, GRI, TAHS (Rosanna's Realty) over 8 years ago

Great system Michelle,  I am in the midst of re organizing my warehouse, which at the moment looks like aisles from Home Sense (Canadian Home Decor Store) Think I will be investing in more bins.  Most of my soft inventory travels in large sturdy bags that I purchased in the UK, organized by room.  I do like the idea of having everything in one bin!

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Kym Tarr, Its all in the details! (Prep This House Interiors Inc.) over 8 years ago

Michelle - I have bookmarked this. Love your system but what I like the most is grouping rooms like the bedroom and bath and having the accesories already in the box. It is a time saver and thinking ahead. Love the idea

Posted by Linda Scofield over 8 years ago

This is something that I've been working with also.  I like your system better and will try to incorporate it into my things.

 

Seems like the time to organize it is when it's in a staged house and then bring it home in one tub.

Right now there is not much out in the staged homes.

Posted by Virginia Tatseos (Stage-Show-Sell) over 8 years ago

Debra: You're welcome.

Michelle: I have about 1,500 sq. ft. I don't stock any larger pieces of furniture so all I warehouse is smalls. Regarding lampshades, all my lampshades are kept in clear plastic trash bags (pairs or multiples are kept together). When we stage, we stack the lampshades in their plastic bags in tall cardboard boxes. They stay in good condition that way. I have some shades that are over 5 yrs old and have been used many, many times and they still look like new.

Thanks, Harley.

Randy: A little bit of OCD goes a long way:o)

Kym: I like the bins because they are easy to load and unload and everything is well protected from soiling, moisture and critters.

Linda: Packing up for a staging takes about 1 hour (up to 2 hours if its a huge house). When we destage, we pack everything just like it will be returned to the warehouse. It really doesn't take any longer to pack up one way or another and it makes returning stuff to inventory a snap.

Virginia: Thinking ahead always helps:o)

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

I have warehouse envy Michelle!.. I was just driving around looking at warehousing space for my inventory - I'm tired of the 3 units I have at public storage, not very user friendly and when it's full it's very difficult to navigate, we've broken a few things... You wrote this at a perfect time for me.  I really want to get a handle on this and be more efficient.

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes (Home Star Staging) over 8 years ago

KK: I would highly recommend chosing a warehouse with ceilings that are at least 16' tall (taller is better). That way you can always add a mezzanine (like I did) to increase your space without paying more for square footage.

Being more efficient increases your profitability:o))

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Michelle, you said you only keep small items, do you then rent furniture for your staging projects when needed? 

I'm just starting out with my staging business in CT and am building up my inventory as well.  I also take a picture of every item I get and assign an item number for in-flow/out-flow record keeping.  This way, I can view the pictures on my computer instead of going through the items phyically. 

Posted by Erica Ng Hoversten, Stager & Redesigner (Bella HomeScape) over 8 years ago

I remember you posting something similar to this probably 1-2 years ago and tried to duplicate a lot of your ideas since we also carry a lot of inventory but don't seem to be able to find bins large enough for the bedding.  Where do you find them?

I have to say that the towels idea has been an outstanding winner for us!  They are all such great ideas!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 8 years ago

Your system is fab! And I am asking this in all sincerity... How do keep all of your smalls dust-free?

Posted by Palma Minnich, Home Stager, Charleston, SC (In2itive Design) over 8 years ago

Erica: That sounds like a very effective system. I've found, for the way I work, that I'm very visual and need to see the items I'm choosing and the quantity of items I'm choosing so I take the right amount. I couldn't do that by looking at photos on a computer. Cudos to you if that's the way your brain works! Yes, I rent the larger furniture and warehouse the smalls. In Los Angeles, warehouse space and delivery labor is expensive and I could not be as cost effective if I warehoused the larger furniture.

Melissa: Yes, I posted something similar about 2 1/2 years ago, but I've updated it and added new pics. There are so many new members on AR, that I thought the information is still relevant and useful.

Palma: My inventory is rotated out fairly frequently and my warehouse is very clean. Really, my inventory gets dustier in the staged homes than in the warehouse. When we return items to inventory they get dusted, cleaned or repaired as needed. Then they're ready to go the next time they're needed.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Love it!  The organized bins with tags.....sweet!  Now I know what to do in my spare time!! 

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) over 8 years ago

Michelle - this is very helpful and I'm going to bookmark this.  What a great way to organize items for each room.  Thanx so much for sharing some of your staging secrets.

Posted by Mannie Ferguson, APSD, RESA (The Staging Fashionista) over 8 years ago

Melissa: I forgot to answer your bins question. I buy the largest clear plastic Sterilite bins, usually at Target when they're on sale. I know Cindy Lin bought them wholesale direct from Sterilite so you might ask her about that. I bought them as I need them which was better for my cash flow as I was growing my company. If a bedroom set doesn't fit in one bin, I use 2. I'd rather have the bins be size I can carry easily rather than struggling with something oversized.

Janice: Spare time? What's that:o))?

Mannie: Organizing by room makes staging on site go much faster.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Michelle - I agree, many newer stagers would find this information helpful - I certainly wasn't saying it wasn't relevant!  We just moved into a larger space and I'm always looking for ideas. 

I'll ask Cindy Lin about the bins then... thanks!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) over 8 years ago

Thank you for sharing your inventory organization system with us, Michelle!  So neat and tidy...wish my closets at home looked like that!  We have  warehouse space, too, compared to storage units.  It makes it much easier to set up the racking systems like the ones you have.  The table in one of the photos - I'll bet you use that a lot!  We have a table where we "stage" the items to be packed into tote bins for transport to a staging job. 

Posted by Diana Young (Staging Seattle, King & Snohomish Counties) over 8 years ago

MM... we still do the tubs, but have morphed into a little different way of storage. All towels are back out on shelves as well as the bathroom accessories and kitchen. Bedding is still packed though. All dining set ups are tubbed, as well as, kitchen counter sets per color. The reason we put the others out is because we were mixing and matching so much that we realized that the pick and pull was better. We have about 20 small tubs for pick and pull that we stack near the packing station. We pick the items and then transfer to the packing tables which have paper and bubble wrap.

Another thing that we have done recently was to line all the shelves with carpet that have sensitive items such as artwork, lampshades, some ceramic items, etc.  It just seems like a work in progress all the time. Thank you for sharing this.

Posted by Lori Kim Polk, Home Stager - Roseville, Sacramento ( Premiere Home Staging : Home Staging Services) over 8 years ago

Melissa: No worries!

Diana: I usually do the pulling and my assistant(s) do the packing:o) Getting the warehouse was the best thing I ever did. I love being able to back the truck right up to the roll up door - no dodging doorways, elevators or having to close the unit each time you take a load to the truck.

LKP: Thanks for your in-depth description. I usually take a couple of tubs of towels for contrast. We mix it up too, when we get the opportunity. I like the idea of lining some of the shelves with carpet. I'm going to have to break down and do that with my artwork.

BTW, everyone, Lori Kim was the one that got me started on the bin packing system. Our systems are very different now, but it has its origins in LKPs brain:o)

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

WoW Michelle...You are super organized!!! I am forever working on improving my warehouse organization...it is definately an ongoing process for me. Thanks for sharing...you have inspired me to take it a step further and be super organized as well!!!

Posted by Valerie Sagheddu, ~Home Staging Professional, Poconos, PA (Apostle Art Home Staging & Design) over 8 years ago

Michelle - thanks for the great information.  I have real issues with keeping my warehouse organized.  I really need a better system and your system is great...THanks!

Posted by Wanda Richards, Shows Great Home Staging (Shows Great Home Staging and Web Solutions ) over 8 years ago

Michelle, this could not have come at a better time!  We are in the process of moving our accessories from a storage unit to a storage room at my house and are deciding just how everything's going to be organized.  Our inventory is relatively small in comparison but if we can develop a good system now, we're ready to grow.  Thanks for the inspiration!

Posted by Michele Rose, Burlington County Home Staging & Redesign (Rose-Colored Staging) over 8 years ago

Valerie: Being well organized will make you more efficient.

Kathleen: Since I worked in the movie industry before becoming a stager, I used the Hollywood prop houses as a model for organizing my inventory. This gave me a little head start:o)) Its better to start out organized when you are small than to try and organize when you get big.

Wanda: I hope it works for you as well as it does for me.

Michele: I agree. Good luck with your move!

 

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Hi Michelle, I always like to see how other stagers organize their inventory. I liked the idea posted here about placing carpet on the shelves to avoid things slipping.Great idea. I place like things in each bin. Still like to mix and match  a different story for each home I stage. Probably would save time doing it your way. I have found that removing the shades from the lamps and storing in cardboard boxes an excellent way to keep them from harm and clean in transit. thanks for the post. You are always a wealth of information.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) over 8 years ago

Michelle: I do my mixing and matching in the warehouse before we load up. That way I'm not hauling a lot of stuff I won't use. But that's what works for me. You have found a system that works for you. I'm like you...I like to see how other stagers do things.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 8 years ago

Oh Michelle, how I envy you. My warehouse is my basement and garage and they are both filled to overflowing. 

Posted by Susan Peters, The Better it Looks the Better it Sells (Dove Realty Inc.) over 8 years ago

Hi Michelle!  Great ideas you've shared here.  We've just moved to a bigger warehouse and already need to do much reorganizing after we've had many stagings hit at one time. 

I've got a question about artwork....how do you store it?  I've set mine up on several large shelves sideways and added dividers so they don't slide but I'm finding that isn't working so well.  

Posted by Teresa Meyer, Home Staging Cincinnati-OH. (Cincinnati Home Stager) over 8 years ago

Just joining the thread here. After 4 years of staging part time in Nashville I'm getting really busy right now. Struggling with all of these issues even more so now that the pace is a bit hectic and I'm still working alone. Thanks for sharing. Anyone have any great ideas for storing PILLOWS? I have tons of them and can't seem to figure out a good way to keep them out of the way, clean, visible and accessible. Elizabeth  - See more at: http://activerain.com/blogsview/1641503/home-staging-inventory-management-or-how-to-organize-all-that-stuff-#17184703

Posted by Elizabeth Chauncey about 5 years ago

Elizabeth: Most stagers store their throw pillows by color in open shelving. It makes it easy to grab what you need when packing for staging.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) about 5 years ago

I just found this thread and wanted to comment on how helpful it is.  I wish I had seen this in the beginning!  I have started getting really busy after a year and a half in business and have acquired a growing inventory.  I have been using space bags for pillows but find that they are only good for one or two uses before developing a leak.  They take up so much space, but maybe I'll try placing them on open shelving.

 

Posted by Carolyn Rush (CR Interior Designs) over 3 years ago

Hi Michelle,

What a great article, I've shared it with a home staging colleage of mine. Am very curious how you organize big stuff like sofas and mattresses?

Posted by Lars Thurfjell, Declutter/Reorganization Expert in San Francisco (Declutter Dude) about 3 years ago

What you need when you're trying to declutter or clean up your house is a lot of those storage bins! And I second the use of exactly the sort that are shown here - the clear type boxes are perfect for putting things away without having to worry that you'll forget what exactly it is that you've packed off!

Posted by mark grogan (Supercheap Storage Wollongong) over 1 year ago

Hi,I have a clients that ask about the linens being cleaned between uses and how they are stored. Do you clean them before they are stored and then again before you stage a new house?Thank you,Debbie

Posted by Sam 11 months ago

This is a great article! Thank you! What do you use for inventory control? Just numbers and an excel spreadsheet or perhaps an app?

Posted by Courtney 8 months ago

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