Center Stage

02 Aug 2023

The art of upselling your home with Denim & Duke

By Judy Royal


As the real estate market begins to cool from its recent peak, many home sellers are seeking new ways to make their property stand out from other listings. Home staging is an artform that can transform both the interior of a home and the buyers’ experience.

Industry experts are quick to sing the praises of home staging—82 percent of buyers’ agents say staging a home makes it easier for a buyer to envision the property as a future home, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, most people don’t have the skills to properly stage their own home and rely upon professionals—like Denim & Duke—to help spruce up their space.

“It’s become more critical than ever these days,” says Jen Hill, owner and designer at Denim & Duke, a home staging and styling business serving Denver, Boulder and surrounding areas. “We want to get your place shined up and ready to go. Stagers have that eye for the emotional touch points of when you walk in a house. If you have too much stuff, it’s not going to happen.”

Hiring someone with expertise in balance, texture and color can make a huge difference when selling your home, whether it’s occupied or vacant, she says.

“It’s just a really good idea to get a stager in there,” Hill says. “I can’t stress the importance of getting an opinion and a plan together. It’s a smart idea for a homeowner to do. It doesn’t mean we have to wipe out everything. Most people just need helping packing up and decluttering.”

Denim & Duke can work with a homeowner as much or as little as needed, offering as little as an initial consultation that leaves the homeowner with a list of suggested tasks. For those looking for a more hands-on partnership, Denim & Duke can provide full cleanouts with Hill bringing in her own staging items to reimagine the home. 

Many, however, opt for the middle ground, which largely uses the homeowner’s existing items and incorporates small details, like plants and accessories. The main goal is to downplay people’s belongings and play up the home’s features so potential buyers will connect with the space, Hill says.

Before moving to Colorado and starting Denim & Duke in 2018, Hill sold her home in the suburbs of Chicago. It was through this process that she realized she had a knack for home staging, which prompted her to become certified in home staging and redesign styling.

“When I sold my home, it was an emotional process,” she says. “I’d been there for 20 years and raised my kids. I knew that less is more when showing a home. I pulled out a lot of pieces and sold them, keeping just a few. It was very natural for me to do this, and when I kept getting rave reviews from real estate agents, I thought this was fun and easy for me. The house sold in a week.”

Developing relationships is Hill’s favorite part of working at Denim & Duke, which is partly named after her 14-pound cockapoo Duke. “It is fun to design and style, but I think my favorite part is really making a connection with people and hearing their stories,” she says. “You see the transformation in these spaces, and to see that end result is such a great feeling.”

Hill helped residents Andy Goldberg and his wife stage their home before they sold it last year. Goldberg says he wouldn’t attempt to sell another house without her expertise.

“What she was able to do was just incredible,” Goldberg says. “She brought in a whole bunch of little knick-knacks that made the house so much more comfortable. We said maybe we wouldn’t have sold it if she had done that first. She just made the rooms feel so much better.”

Brian MacDonald, an associate real estate agent with Compass, enlists Hill’s help for many of his clients who are selling homes. Homes that are staged well will generally go for a higher price and sell faster than those that aren’t staged, he says.

“It encourages buyers to look at the big picture,” MacDonald says. “It puts them in the right frame of mind for them to want to make it work.”

Those who spend money on home staging typically recoup their investment and then some with a higher sales price, says Hill. “You want to get the most out of your home. That’s one of your biggest investments, so why not make it its best for very little money?”

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