- Cheryl Eisen is the CEO of Interior Marketing Group, a New York City-based company that does interior design, staging, and marketing for luxury homes. The homes she stages? They start at $US5 million.
- Her past clients include Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, Bethenny Frankel, and Swedish real estate broker Fredrik Eklund.
- She takes us through her 60,000-square-foot warehouse to pick out the pieces to stage a $US14 million loft in Tribeca in NYC.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: When you’re trying to sell a place, you want to make potential buyers feel at home. But when you’re selling an apartment that’s, say, $US14 million, that’s a 7,200-square-foot triplex penthouse with 3 1/2 bathrooms, skylights, high ceilings, and over 1,500 square feet of private outdoor space, well, that would sell in an instant, right? Not necessarily.
That’s where Cheryl Eisen comes in. She’s the go-to luxury-apartment stager in the New York area. She does more than help sell homes. She sells you on a dream life. The whole purpose of staging is to style and furnish a place for sale, to highlight its selling points for potential buyers, and help them envision themselves living in the space. Cheryl is the CEO of Interior Marketing Group, a New York City-based company that does interior design, staging, and marketing for luxury homes. Her past buyers and clients include Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, Bethenny Frankel, and Swedish real-estate broker Fredrik Eklund. The homes she stages? They start at $US5 million and go as high as $US230 million. The cost of the pieces for a staging is usually about 1% of the listing price of the home.
Today, we’re going to follow Cheryl and her team as she stages a loft that is expected to sell at around $US14 million in Tribeca. But before we get to that, all the magic starts here, at this warehouse in Jersey City.
Eisen: This is where all the magic happens. It’s 60,000 square feet of furniture, light fixtures, art, custom furnishings. Behind me here is the accessories section. And I’m gonna show you today how we tag and prepare for a staging and then we’re gonna go to the Duane Street Tribeca loft that we’re doing. And you’ll see the whole thing happen right in front of you.
Narrator: The aesthetic we’re going for today: a modern, minimalistic look. After the pre-planning, the most important part is going into the warehouse and picking the exact pieces she wants for the space. It all starts at the board.
Eisen: So here we are at the projects board. These are the projects we’re doing at any given time. A lot. This is the one I’m doing today, right here, with the blue tape. I’m gonna show you how we tape for projects. Let’s go.
Narrator: Each staging starts off with a walkthrough with the broker or the client to decide what areas are selling points they want to highlight.
Eisen: So I’m looking for sofas for this project. It’s a really huge loft space, and I want the ceilings to look super high, so I want something that’s really low-profile. We’re doing, like, grey, neutral tones, so I feel like this sofa here, which is really cool and sculptural, is gonna be a good choice. I’ll pull it out, put some tape on it, and this will be part of our staging. This will be in the living room. Then upstairs, we’ve got a media room, and I want the sofa to look a little different, so I feel like this one could be really good. It’s modular, which means you can put it in any configuration. It works in every apartment. I’m gonna put my blue tape on it, and it’s gonna come with us to Duane Street.
Narrator: Staging with Cheryl is not an easy task. All the homes she works on are staged from start to finish in only 12 days. That’s why her custom art, furniture, and upholstery teams are so important. She can get exactly what she needs done quickly, all in-house.
Eisen: So I love this chair for the dining chairs. The only thing is this colour’s a little too light so I’m gonna make it grey in the upholstery room, and I’m gonna make these legs silver. So I’m here in the throw section. I wanna grab a really cool, textural throw for the living room. I’m gonna take these two: a cool and a warm. So here I’m looking for some cute, colourful pillows for the kids’ rooms, which I love doing. They’re so colourful. I’m gonna grab a couple for the girls’ room and then one for the boys’ room.
So for us especially, since I work typically in neutral tones, tone on tone, I love to layer textures, and pillows and throws are perfect for that. I can do, like, a grey velvet sofa, then I can do, like, a textured pillow and a fur throw. And now I’ve got three sort of feelings in that space that really add warmth.
I’ve got the sofas. I’ve got the dining chairs. I’m gonna go to the dining-table section. Let’s go choose a dining table. So we need a huge table to fit in this place, ’cause it’s huge. We’re gonna have to make our own base, actually, because we don’t have one that’s big enough. And I’m gonna top that base with this amazing piece of glass, and I think that will be perfect. So I’m looking for a round top, but I don’t see the exact one I want, and I’d love a black glass top. So I think I’m gonna have one made, send it over, and that’s gonna be our coffee table.
Narrator: Cheryl’s staging strategy is to think about who the demographic buyer is and choose furnishings and decor pieces to show them how they can live in and use the space.
Eisen: So because we focus in the luxury space, most of the places really are sort of beautiful already. But they’re not selling for whatever reason. You can’t imagine how someone will live in the space. They can’t get a sense of where you’d put your living room or, you know, how large it is for how much large furniture, how many you can accommodate for a dining space. So we tell that story. We think about who the demographic buyer is. Is it a family? Is it a bachelor? How are they gonna live in that space? And then we tell that story visually with the furnishings.
And I do like a wooden stump kind of a thing to put next to the bathtub and put some towels on it and some soaps, just so it’s, like, an organic moment. So these are all our side tables, which I love. And this guy has been with me for 25 years, this table. It’s amazing. We still use it. Twenty-five years.
So this is the lighting section, which is so important to staging because it really customises the space. It adds ambient light, and it really makes a space feel authentic and different. Lighting can change a room [snaps fingers] like that. Now for this place, it’s gigantic, so we need two huge fixtures. So here we are back in the accessories section.
Now I’m gonna actually choose some pieces for this living room to add some colour. And here we go. I think I want some blue and then a few things that will sort of go with this. Now we’re gonna go over to art and get some art.
So here’s where custom art is made. And it’s amazing what they can do. Not only do they paint and do mixed media, but here’s some photography prints that they print out on our giant printer, which is amazing, onto canvas. And this girl, I love. And April, do you think you can put pink on this to bring this, some colour in this? And then we’ll frame her and bring her over. All of these amazing oversized pieces of art are so important to our staging and our design, because it’s impossible to get, like, a 12-foot piece of art in 12 days that’s gonna be exactly what we’re looking for to fill our giant walls and the spaces we design. And that really differentiates our design from other designers. You can always sort of tell an IMG place because the art is original, gigantic, oversized art, and it really fills the scale of a wall, and it makes a place look bigger.
So now we’re gonna leave art, and we’re gonna go to the custom department, which does our upholstery. They create custom furnishings. And it’s amazing because no one else does this. So if I want a coffee table that’s shaped like a star, I do it in two days, because we’ve got every possible iteration of finishings, of wood. We make our own custom drapes, custom pillows, custom headboards. I mean, it’s amazing what goes on here. So we didn’t love the colour of this really cool chair, so we’re refinishing it in grey like we’re gonna do to our dining-table chairs.
Narrator: Once everything is picked and tagged, the pieces are packed and loaded for the move-in.
Eisen: Here we are at Duane Street. We’re on-site, and we’re about to do this great room. So I’m gonna show you the design plan. So right over here, we’re gonna do the giant dining table, with the chairs all over. Here, we’re doing a giant rug. Cool comfy chair here, cool comfy chair here, facing this fireplace. Here, we’re doing a huge sofa, another sofa facing it, and a cool triptych of coffee tables in the centre to bring it all together. We’re gonna move all the furniture in. All the rest of the rooms are done, and this is the last one to go, but you’re gonna see how it gets done. And then I’m gonna give you the grand tour.
All right, so here we are for the grand reveal. All right, I’m gonna show you the things that we chose in the warehouse that you might recognise. But here’s the gorgeous finished grand space. I mean, it’s amazing. If you’ll notice, this sofa is the one we chose in the warehouse. The three coffee tables, which anchor the whole design. And the coffee-table base that’s mirrored right there is the one that the fabricators made. We added a couple of pops of colour, like blue, that you saw me choosing. And the rest we left really open and airy. And these chairs are the chairs that we made in the upholstery department. They used to be white with gold. And now they’re perfectly grey and in the right colour story. And now that you’ve seen the great room, I’m gonna show you the rest of the house. Come follow me.
So here we are in the media room, right upstairs from the great room. It’s got some pops of colour but you can really chill out and relax in this room, and enjoy this gorgeous piece of art.
Welcome to the master suite. It’s very soft and luxurious. It makes you wanna, like, really jump in here and fall asleep. There’s some tips and tricks we use in staging. It’s somewhat formulaic. To add light, you add lighting. You also add mirrors across from a window because then it’s twice as much light, twice as many windows, and it makes the place look larger as well. To add height, you use low-profile furnishings. It makes the ceilings look higher. You use floor-to-ceiling drapes, make the ceilings look higher.
So here’s the pillow we picked out for the girls’ room. I’m just gonna place it here, casually, as a throw pillow on the floor to add a pop of colour. So this is the final part of the story we’re telling for the buyers, where they would come and relax in this library, have a glass of Champagne, and toast that we’re gonna launch this apartment finally.
Narrator: So I bet at this point you’re left with one last question: What happens to all the furniture and decor when the home is sold? Most of the time, they’re sold fully furnished. And if they’re not, the pieces go back to the warehouse and get a new life at a different staging.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in June 2019.