What Being a Psychologist Taught Me About Design and Staging

When I gave up my first career in School Psychology a decade ago, I never dreamed my heart for interior design would take my life in the direction it has.  If you know me, I kinda go “whole hog” on anything I decide to do.  If I was going to forfeit seven years of higher education to pursue my designing dreams, I was going to train and learn and work my tail off to make it happen.  Ends up, I didn’t forfeit that psychology training or the experience I had being a psychologist at all.  In fact, I think that background gives me a unique perspective in the field of design, color, and home staging.


I take every job I accept very seriously, and really want to do my best for every client I am blessed to have.  I am a member of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and recently submitted one of the Nashville staging projects I completed in the fall for consideration in their annual awards.  I’m excited to say that I am a finalist for the award for the 2013 Best Staging in North America.

home staging award



The winner of this award will be announced at the January convention.  I don’t at all expect to be the winner (the competition is STIFF), but I can truly say that I am just so honored to be a finalist for this award that I don’t even care if I win.  Really!


 “I’m just honored to have been nominated . . . “

It is affirmation, of course, which is my love language.  It encourages me as I share with you for the first time that I am in the midst of writing a book on Home Staging and hope to be offering training and certification in the near future for others who want to take the next step in their passion to improve this world one home at a time.

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I covet your input!  I want to know how many of you might be interested in learning how to pursue your own dream like I did in the not-so-distant past.  I’m ready to share the system I have developed for the most effective home staging possible.  If you have read other books on home staging and design, I want to know what you’d like for MY book to teach that others have not.  I want to bring something different and special to the table, and teaching what I know about staging, color, and decorating is my passion!




Feel free to comment here, or send me a separate email with your thoughts.  Love you guys.

UPDATE:  I won 2013 Best Occupied Staging for North America!!! Read all about it here! 




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29 thoughts on “What Being a Psychologist Taught Me About Design and Staging

  1. Elissa says:

    Yes yes yes yes and…YES! I have been asked recently by an acquaintance in the Real Estate business to become his go-to stager (and handle social media) and would love any insight that you have to offer. Your blog is a daily read for me.

  2. Maria says:

    What an honor, Kristie! Congratulations. I have no input on staging, I’m afraid, since my passion is oil painting. But a staging book coming from you will be a wonderful resource, I’m sure. Best wishes!

  3. Cathy Z says:

    I’m so in – both for the book as well as a training seminar (accredited?)! Before and After shots (side by side, preferably same angles) are just huge! I can’t tell you how many I have saved of yours already, it’s mighty helpful. What I like about your clients and projects is that they feel “real” – real houses, real budgets, real kids and dogs. The more transformations of 80’s oak trim and bad additions the better 🙂

  4. Eileen says:

    Wow! Congratulations!

    It’s obvious this is your passion and you do a great job for your clients and in educating all of us! I was telling my daughter the other day (who has always had a passion as a writer), that there was a guy in my high school graduating class that was obsessed with goats. Seriously. Nice guy and all, but most conversations turned to goats, which didn’t necessarily help his social standing. Anyway, fast forward over 20 years later, and my husband was gifted 3 goats to keep the brush and bramble down in our pasture. I went to the internet to learn how to take care of goats, and after a few articles, realized that the author was the same for all of them! Written by “veterinarian and world-renowned goat expert”….you guessed it…..the guy from my high school! I laughed for a good long time, but also did a little cheer. He followed his passion and is making the world better one goat at a time!

    When you’ve got the passion, you can accomplish anything!

  5. Kate says:

    This is so inspirational! I had no idea that your background was psychology but that makes perfect sense! It would be so awesome to see the entry you submitted for the RESA annual awards, if you haven’t already blogged about it. As for your home staging book, I would love to learn “what emotions are potential buyers experiencing when they look at homes for sale? What influences people to want to make a house their next home? What’s really NOT necessary in staging?” That last question comes from tales of people who spend thousands on home staging for an essentially redecorated house and wonder whether or not it was more than necessary. I would wish you luck but you don’t need it – your work speaks for itself!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Thanks for your input, Kate. I just yesterday was working on a section about what you DON’T have to do when staging to sell. I agree – people often make misguided decisions when staging that cost a lot of money and don’t help them re-coup their money.

  6. Barbara says:

    Congratulations! You’re a talent! Talent isn’t enough though, you’ve got to be able to present it in a way that teaches and inspires. You’ve captured that and the doors will continue to open for you!
    All the best,

  7. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    O yes! The seminar & the book. I’ve been debating about an online course for a year now, which takes 21 days & lots of downloads. With our budget online downloads are big up-charges on our bill. A weekend in Nashville could do it for me, I’m thinking!!! Besides I believe: “It’s not ‘what’, it’s ‘WHO’.”
    I made that up, but it is always true. For example: it’s not the dentistry-it’s WHO is the dentist?
    WHO is the carpet layer, etc. It’s not the church, it’s WHO is the pastor. I want to learn staging from the best! And that’s you, Kristie. I’m impressed that you were a school psychologist, too.
    Work with people, much? (ha)

  8. Ginny says:

    So resonate with this Kristie, as I was first a teacher before following “my heart for interior design” (love this).

    I look forward to your book, I am sure you will put a fresh and exciting spin on Home Staging!

    Congratulations on making the top ten in Stagings in North America and all the best at the awards in 2013!

  9. Anne says:

    Congratulations Kristie – excellent to see your work and talent being recognised by your profession.

    Could you please say a bit about the emotions involved in selling a house and how to manage them. I suspect I am not alone in struggling with feelings of rejection – which seem all too personal – despite understanding that my home is now a piece of real estate which will not appeal to everyone.

    Many thanks.

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      Yes Anne! I’ve already written several pages on that very issue – it’s an important subject to discuss and understand, because it has a big impact in getting a home sold. Thanks so much for your input 🙂

  10. Leslee in TN says:

    Congratulations on making Top 10!!! And good luck in the final outcome! Will look forward to that book!!! I can use all the help I can find!!!

  11. Brenda says:

    So glad I found you. This is very timely for me and I look forward to the book and training seminar. Had a local realtor tell me that many homeowners have recently been happy to stay in their home once the recommended updates have been completed.

  12. Reflections Interior Designs says:

    Wow, what an honour to be one of the finalists , I’m sure you’ll get first place.
    Yes, I’d definitely purchase your book. As an interior designer, I don’t do too much staging, more new home construction, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. I recently staged a large bathroom to get some professional photos and realized how much work it is, and how different things look on camera than in real life. I’d love to read a section on how to stage for photographs when selling your home or just photographing it! 🙂

  13. Lisa Lucas says:

    It all makes so much sense now why your blog posts are such good common sense and I look forward to each one of them. So many stagings I see daily forget that this business is not about being a good decorator but rather putting aside our personal tastes in favor of making decisions based upon a buyer. Creating environments that makes someone “feel” the house is right is the key that you certainly tapped into. I look forward to your book that acknowledges how much of this business is truly the psychology of buying decisions rather than just making things pretty.

  14. [email protected] says:

    I was so inspired to hear that you went from being a school psychologist to an interior designer/stager. I’m a Master’s level therapist who, like you, spent a lot of time (and money) on a career that I’m no longer passionate about. It pays the bills, but I’m dreaming of the day that I can start my own business as an interior designer/stager. I’ve been looking at courses on Home Staging in my area, but I’ll need to save up since they’re spendy. I would love to take a course from you after seeing what you’ve done for your clients. That’s very exciting that you’re writing a book. I would say that you should include something about how much more money the seller will get when they use a home stager or stage their own home and use real figures to show the savings.

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  16. Carol says:

    Kristie, this is so exciting! I have already learned so much from you with your design of our son’s condo and now our home in Florida. I am in the process of getting a real estate license in FL and was already thinking about taking a staging course to help my real estate clients! I will definitely be buying your book and any classes you offer. I would love to see a chapter on discussing the need for staging with clients. Congratulations on the Olioboard win, too!

  17. Amber says:

    Hi Kristie,

    I just found your blog yesterday-thanks to Pinterest-and have read every post! You do amazing work and offer wonderful advice. Best of luck on the book and fingers crossed for best stager! 🙂


  18. Terri says:

    Yes, please write the book as I would be very interested.  I have worked in corporate America for the past 30 years and I am so bored. I love to decorate and stage people's living rooms, bedrooms, patio's or whatever they will let me.  Everyone is very pleased with my ideas and suggestions but I would love to take it to another level and I don't know how.  Perhaps you could also have a chapter designated to what steps should be taken in utilizing your talents for a career. Thank you for sharing your talents and creativity with such a graceful and genuine attitude.  Congratulations on the nomination, you have already won in so many levels.

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