Defining Homes • STAGE fright

Robert Jory offers relief in the daunting task of getting your home ready to sell

The staged living room, left, is both minimal and cozy, while the cluttered home, right, will lack appeal for potential buyers.

By Jonanna Widner

Selling your house isn’t just an ordeal, it’s a competition. As potential buyers head to sites like or for research, those sites offer peeks inside to give an idea how the house can be used.  Does yours look like a livable space or is it a click away from missing out?

Dallas Realtor and stager Robert Jory offers tips on both preparing your home to sell and when it’s time to call in an expert. Staging can sometimes be just a deep cleaning and clever furniture rearranging, but Jory points out that every so often he needs to point people in the right direction. And with so many, getting started it can be overwhelming.

“We provide basic staging services free, like arranging furniture and giving color advice,” he says. “We point out to the homeowner what needs to be packed away and which furniture needs to be removed.  A lot of staging is removing and arranging furniture in an appealing way. “

It’s all a trick of the eye. Less furniture makes a room look larger. This is good, but staging should convey something about the house’s character and still resonate with a buyer. Buying a house is one of the biggest financial investments anyone will make and a lot of emotion goes with that.

“If you can create a good emotional feeling then you are 80 percent of the way to selling that home,” Jory says. “Balance is key. You don’t want potential buyers spending all their time admiring items. People feel good about homes where there is no clutter and a minimal amount of decorative items.”

Robert Jory

Clutter is a big issue and Jory stresses that point the most. If but one thing is to be done before anything else, he advises to edit down. Even if there isn’t time to set up or stage everything else.

“De-clutter!” he exclaims. “It is very difficult for people to remove the items they have lived with for years.  They don’t realize how much stuff they have.”

While you create the ideal image of both a house and home, ironically you don’t want it to be too personal. Family pictures, odd souvenirs, religious and political items might steer potential buyers away.

“You don’t want the buyers to be thinking of you,” he says “you just want them thinking of your great home.”
Of course, Jory could just do the work for you. Depending on your budget, his job can be to do the quick stuff of arranging the house, or it can extend to repainting a room and even new furniture of the temporary kind.

“After we provide a free home preparation report which outlines repairs and improvements room by room, then the homeowner can choose what they want to do depending on their budget,” he says. “After improvements are made, we come out and stage the home with either the homeowner’s furniture or sometimes we’ll use rental furniture or provide our own if available.”

For this market, such lengths are worthwhile. The goal is to sell and a nicely wrapped package can do just that.

“Ultimately, if [a buyer] falls in love with the home, it’s sold,” he says. DH

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Sunny and sharing: Chaz Bono is a new man


Transition by Chaz Bono (with Billie Fitzpatrick), (2011, Dutton), $26; 245 pp.

The face in the mirror is instantly recognizable: The chin, the eyes that droop when fatigued, the mouth that’s etched parentheses around itself. The hair, they eyes, the nose. But what the little girl America knew as Chastity Bono saw on the outside was not what she felt inside.

In Transition, the biological daughter of pop icons Sonny and Cher explains what it’s like to feel like you’re in the wrong body, and how a tiny Hollywood darling went from daughter to son.

On the wall of his home, Chaz Bono has a picture of himself and his parents, taken when he was a toddler. They all look happy, though Chaz says he doesn’t remember the day it was  taken —or much else of his childhood, for that matter. What he does remember is that he always felt like a boy.

As a kid, he dressed in boy duds as often as possible and answered to a male nickname. He played with boys at school, including his best friend. Nobody thought much about it, he says — that’s just how it was.

Puberty was rough; eventually, Bono came out as lesbian, but something still wasn’t quite right. He didn’t identify with women, gay or otherwise, and distant feelings of masculinity colored his relationships with them and with his family. Still, he lived his life as a woman: falling in love, starting a band, buying a house and trying to stay out of the public eye.

Bono’s father seemed supportive of his lesbianism; his mother had trouble with it.  Happiness eluded Bono so he turned to drugs to cope with the frustration. By then, though, he thought he knew what he needed to do.

On March 20, 2009, he “drove myself to the doctor’s office… I felt only confident that what I was doing was right. … After all the years of fear, ambivalence, doubts and emotional torture, the day had finally come. I was on testosterone, and I have never looked back — not once.”

Chaz says he was never very good at transitions, though he did a pretty good job at this one (with a few bumps along the way).

Transition is filled with angst, anger, sadness and pain, but topped off with wonderment and joy. It’s also repetitious, contains a few delicately squirmy moments, and its occasional bogginess is a challenge for wandering minds.

For wondering minds, however, Chaz is quick to defend and explain away his family’s reluctance to accept his gender reassignment, but he’s also willing to admit to being hurt by it. Still, contentment and awe shine forth at the end of this book, and readers will breathe a sigh of relief for it.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas