Real Estate / Houses

Texas Real Estate Agent Takes Home Staging to an Extraordinary New Level — and High-End Buyers Can’t Get Enough

David B. Atkins' Warehouse of Furnishings Becomes an Invaluable Tool for Moving Million Dollar Homes

BY // 10.20.20

As master of a 13,000 square foot warehouse brimming with home furnishings, David B. Atkins might be mistaken for a furniture salesman or interior decorator. Au contraire. Atkins is actually one of the top agents with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty. The 75 sofas, 300-plus paintings, hundreds of chairs and scores of lampshades strategically displayed in the Gulf Freeway warehouse are tools of his trade.

Staging the homes that he lists has become an integral component of Atkins’ business. At the moment, he has a dozen houses on the market that he has furnished in order to entice buyers who might have trouble imagining a dwelling without appropriate interiors. And so deft is he at creating just the right environment, a potential buyer for 1338 Mickey Way in Spring Valley has asked to purchase a full complement of the staged furnishings along with the house.

That is not what Atkins had in mind when he staged his first Houston house in 2012. He credits the tasteful furnishings with helping sell the house in a mere week.

“That got me to drink the Kool-Aid,” he quips. Thus began a career of furniture shopping, decorating homes and then selling them.

As tour guide through the warehouse, Atkins allows that he shops widely, regularly exploring places including Lam Bespoke, High Fashion Home, Wayfair and more. Embracing a high-low esthetic, he has furnishings from Restoration Hardware and even a $15,000 Oushak rug. Add the Guild Shop and the Blue Bird Circle Resale Shop to his sources.

Dining table chairs come in all varieties in real estate agent David B. Atkins’ warehouse where he stores furniture for staging.
Dining table chairs come in all varieties in real estate agent David B. Atkins’ warehouse where he stores furniture for staging. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)

His merchandise is targeted to houses in the seven-figure range where image matters. “If you have cheap furniture going in a $2 million house, it turns the buyer off,” Atkins says.

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In fact, he estimates that each house he stages is decorated with between $40,000 and $60,000 in furnishings. The move-in, move-out costs alone run around $3,000 each.

The merchandise is highly organized with entire walls of framed photos; banks of some 300 pieces of art; shelves of barware and liquor and wine bottles; a sea of dining chairs; and walls of flat screen TVs (from repair shops that deemed them useless).  Hundreds of throw pillows are arranged by color in open cabinets. Mattresses from twin to king and even cribs are included in his massive collection.

The remarkable cache includes sheets and towels, duvet covers, European shams and all manner of items to fill a kitchen. Louboutin shoe boxes are ready to be placed in just the right closet as are the bright orange boxes from Hermès. Most interesting of all is his wall of lamp shades, a clever display mode that provides visibility for all pieces in the vast collection.

Ultimately, Atkins plans to expand his staging as a separate enterprise to his career by offering his services to other agents. He has already branded his enterprise as Curated by Design. And he continues shopping.

“It’s kind of a work in progress,” he says. “It’s not going to end. I know myself.”

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