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Meet the woman Elon Musk and Les Moonves trust to make their homes beautiful


meridith baer

The prospect of decorating an entire new house can be daunting.

Real estate developers are well aware of that fact. That's why so many of them have turned to home staging company Meridith Baer Home, which has worked on thousands of homes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami, and the Hamptons.

Meridith Baer Home's designers will fill an empty home with beautiful furnishings so that potential buyers can be free to picture what their life would be like if they lived there.

"When people want to buy a house, they might have an idea of what it is, but without the lifestyle it's hard for them to imagine that," founder Meridith Baer recently said to Business Insider. "We kind of bring the house to life and put its best dress on." 

To do this, the designer whom the firm decides is best suited to the style of the individual home will do a walk-through, then select the appropriate furniture from the company's warehouse. Meridith Baer Home's Los Angeles headquarters is home to 200,000 square feet of furniture, in addition to other warehouses in San Francisco, Connecticut, and Florida. The team then installs the furniture in the home, considering every detail down to the glasses they keep by the side of the bed.

They can accomplish this pretty quickly — usually in a matter of two to four days. If the client is a property developer, the house will then go right onto the market.

That work seems to pay off — According to Meridith Baer's office, staged homes have been shown to sell 80% more quickly and for 20% more than homes that hadn't been professionally staged. As a whole, the company's designers perform about 140 installations every month. 

meridith baer home beforemeridith baer royal palm florida

But sometimes the client is not a developer, but a new homeowner who wants a full set of furniture installed in their new digs. This product, which Baer calls "Instahome," might be especially attractive to someone who either isn't from the area or is looking to use the new home only as a vacation spot.

"This is when someone buys a house and asks us to install a complete home for them," she said. "They can even look at our website and say, 'That's the house I want.'" 

The company also offers a third product that allows users to lease luxury furniture for a certain period of time. They'll charge an install fee, usually about $30,000 to $40,000, plus a monthly rental fee that varies based on the quality and quantity of the furnishings provided. (The fees for staging furniture are similar, but developers can have free "rent" on the pieces for the first two to three months — after that, they pay a monthly fee.)

Baer said that this particular product tends to draw some very wealthy clients: Elon Musk and CBS' Les Moonves, to name a few.

"They're in a situation where they want to rent furniture for a given period of time, but they want something nice," Baer said. "It might be in the context of a divorce, where they might want to create the same house their kids are used to. Or it could be that they're in the process of building a home, and they're renting another home until it's ready." 

"If Robert DeNiro is in town filming a movie and he's renting a house, he'll want the furniture to be in the style that he wants." 

Baer began her home staging career almost by accident. Originally a screenwriter and journalist, she was in between homes and wanted somewhere to keep her things, so she offered to help a developer friend of hers fill a project with beautiful furniture.

"This kind of service didn't exist, but there was such a need for it," she said, adding that many of her current clients are repeat customers. Her company now gets so many requests for traditional interior design work that they added it to their regular roster of services.

"Usually these people are very busy, and they just want it done," she said. "But every once in a while you'll get someone who's really hands-on. We did an interior design project with Gerard Butler, and he wanted to go to the flea market with us." 

Baer's background in writing influences how she approaches each project. 

"I found that as a writer, I enjoyed creating a mood and scene much more than I enjoyed writing dialogue. I liked suggesting, that part of writing," she said. "It was a natural progression to go into a home and imagine how it could be, and bring it to life." 

SEE ALSO: Netscape's billionaire cofounder Jim Clark is selling his Florida mansion for a whopping $137 million

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