Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 11, 2019

All the world’s a stage for Elevate’s Smith

Elevate Home Staging and Design owner Mackenzie Smith says she’s always had a knack for home decorating. But she didn’t know she had a passion for it until she started staging her Realtor husband’s listing.

Smith loved decorating her own home, and was so good at it her friends and family members would ask her to help them design their houses.

Smith’s husband, Smith Property Partners founder Sean Smith, was looking for someone to stage his homes. “What about me?” she asked.

Mackenzie was an elementary school teacher in Hamilton County and a new mother. Although she loved her students and her job, she also wanted to stay home with her newborn son, Elijah.

“I thought it would benefit both of us,” she says. “He’d have someone to stage his homes and I’d be able to help support my family while staying home with my son.”

Although Mackenzie was excited about her new venture, she wasn’t expecting what happened next. “After staging two of Sean’s homes, my business exploded,” she recalls. “People at his open houses were asking who did the staging.”

Elevate Home Staging has grown from a germ of an idea into a business that fills a 2,000-square-foot warehouse off Amnicola Highway. Mackenzie has outfitted the space with shelves and racks and packed it with enough furniture, lamps, rugs and decorative bric-a-brac to fill 20 houses.

The size of Mackenzie’s inventory and the variety of the items she owns gives her plenty of options when staging a home. It also allows the personality of a home have a role in her design.

“Houses in Highland Park have a lot of character, so I try to bring a home’s outside color schemes inside,” she explains. “Or, if the house has a fireplace that’s a unique color, I try to use that color in the design.

“I simply take the character of a home and bring it to life.”

Mackenzie says her specialty are challenging spaces like open floor plans and small rooms.

“A lot of the Realtors or builders I work with will compare an open floor plan to a big bowling alley, and ask me to stage it because they can’t visualize where to place the furniture,” she says. “When a potential buyer sees what I’ve done, it gives them ideas about how their own furniture will fit in the space.”

Mackenzie employs her space-defining skills in her own open concept home, which she’s divided into easily recognizable and traversable spaces. A kitchen island anchors her food prep space, which eventually yields to a dining room table she’s placed parallel to the island. From there, a couch placed parallel to the table marks the beginning of the living room.

When it comes to small rooms, Mackenzie has a few tricks up her sleeve for making it appear larger. “When someone doesn’t know where to put their couch, or how their couch would fit in a certain space, I go in and place the furniture strategically so it makes the room look bigger than it is.”

This allows buyers to overlook a home’s flaws and focus on its potential, Mackenzie says. “They don’t see the peeled paint or the gouges on the floor, they see what their life could be like in that home.”

Some buyers are so impressed with that they see, they offer to buy Elevate Home Staging’s furnishings. “I’ve sold full homes fully decorated, right down to the mattresses, bedding and curtains,” she says. “That’s fun. It gives me an excuse to buy new things, which keeps my inventory fresh and up-to-date.”

Although Mackenzie takes on clients of her own, her staging is part of the package of services her husband provides his clients. To keep up with the demand, she’s hired a full-time stager and a full-time assistant.

It’s all part of a career Mackenzie didn’t expect to have until she discovered her passion for home staging.