A well-presented product sells faster. This nugget of common sense is the reason we get dressed up for dates and job interviews. It explains why we clean the house before the in-laws arrive and why Apple’s cutesy iPods outsell other MP3 players. But sometimes we need a little outside help with the presentation. We call friends for wardrobe advice before a first date, our mothers for cooking tips before a party, and Kelly Coty when we need to sell our house. Coty owns Prix de Solde, a home staging and design company that spruces up, rearranges and de-clutters property before it goes on the market.
“We can have a house ready in about five to seven days,” says Coty, sitting on a sample couch in her 12th Avenue South storefront. “We work with the real estate agent and homeowners to get the home on the market. Once it’s for sale, it usually sells within a 45-day period.” Coty is quick to point out that her designs can’t take all of the credit for such a quick turn-around time. “Nashville’s hyped-up real estate market is really good right now, of course.”
Coty started Prix de Solde after a move from Los Angeles to Nashville failed to establish her in the country music fashion industry. She was searching for something to do when a friend asked Coty to redesign her house that was for sale. She did, it sold, and suddenly Coty had found a new career. “That was back in 1995. I remember going on the Internet, the brand new Internet, to find out about home staging. I found some companies in San Francisco that did it, which made sense because San Francisco had the hottest housing market at the time. But that was pretty much it. The home staging concept was very new back then.” Coty ordered some business cards, got an email address, and Prix de Solde was born.
So how does it work? “I tackle the large fields first,” Coty says, referring to the dominant areas in a room that draw the eye: walls, carpets, bedding, sofa. Small, dark bedrooms look more attractive with smart bedding. She likes to leave one wall in each room without any art, “to give the eyes a place to rest.” Carpets hide ugly floors and can even make awkward rooms look livable. And of course, there’s the sofa. “I feel like I always bring a sofa.”
Her most popular product to use in both home staging and design is a product called FLOR, square modular carpet tiles that can be connected to create a rug of any size. Coty likes FLOR because it’s easy to install and the tiles can be washed in the sink. With endless combinations of color and texture, the rugs can look as traditional or modern as clients want. Interface, the eco-friendly company that produces FLOR, will even recycle old tiles for free.
“I get everyone from hipsters to the elderly asking for FLOR,” says Coty. “It matches everything, no matter what.”
Every service Prix de Solde offers is something clients could do themselves. But repainting, de-cluttering and redecorating take a lot of time and effort, and when people are trying to sell a house, they don’t always have a lot of time. “Besides,” she says, “if it was really so easy, wouldn’t they have done it years ago? Sometimes you just have to tell someone, ‘Look, your house smells like dog and your furniture is ugly. This is what you need to do to fix it.’ ”
Of course, it’s not always that bad. Sometimes a house is just dated. Coty frequently works with elderly clients who need to update their home’s interior to appeal to younger buyers. “One couple had a nice yard on a quiet road, perfect for a family with children, but inside you just saw Mamaw and Papaw.” So she stored their furniture, brought in some new designs, turned the basement into a media room and, just like that, the house was ready for a new generation of homeowners.
Adrienne and Cliff Lippard hired Coty in 1997 after their ranch house sat on the market for over two months. “She took down a ceiling fan, removed some doors, did some very, very minor painting, and took up the carpet in a room that had hardwood floor. Oh, and she helped us de-clutter. That was probably the most important thing. And you know what? The house sold at the very next showing.”
The Lippards turned to Coty again last year, when their home was featured on a local home tour. “The short ceilings upstairs made our bedroom feel like a bonus room. When she left, it looked like a fabulous master bedroom.” They were so pleased by the outcome that when they sold their house and moved to a downtown loft, they used Prix de Solde to design the entire thing. The Lippards had a number of bookcases they wanted in the new loft, but sitting on the floor under 14-foot ceilings, they looked like doll furniture. So Coty hung them on the wall and used them to display the Lippards’ knick-knacks. Adrienne loved it. “When we were just staging our home, she used a lot of new materials. But in the loft, she worked with the things we already owned to turn it into something that was uniquely us.”
In fact, so many customers liked Coty’s work that Prix de Solde has expanded into the design business. “About 60 percent of my business is still staging,” says Coty, “Forty percent is design.” Two years ago, she hired three people to help her manage the workload, although Coty still designs many of the homes herself. She does apartments, houses, lofts and commercial spaces. Prix de Solde will open a second location in early April on Eighth Avenue. You may have already seen the brightly colored mural painted outside the new storefront. “Isn’t it wonderful?” Coty gushes. “I just know it will make people take notice!”
Prix de Solde is located at 201 12th Ave. S., 385-2112.