Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


Recycling a Full Circle Moment

 Last November I took a business trip to China. I went there because the professional designer "me" was needed, however to my surprise the personal "me" was profoundly impacted.

While I was in China, I visited both Hong Kong and a city called Shenzhen (45 minutes from Hong Kong via water taxi)  on the mainland. During this trip it became quite apparent that Hong Kong was all about consuming, and Shenzhen was all about manufacturing.

Shimmering and sparkling, yet cluttered in EVERY nook and cranny of the streets of Hong Kong, were shops, stores and boutiques selling every conceivable thing we stuff into our lives.

In contrast was Shenzhen, a city where pollution is constantly spewed out of the thousands and thousands of factories located there. The pollution was so bad that I could literally and easily look directly into the sun in the middle of the day. At one point we drove over a river that was so polluted it was thick and black as tar. (I am NOT exaggerating.) The sad part is Shenzhen is just one of the multitude of manufacturing cites throughout the world that makes the material goods we "need" in our consumer society.

Upon returning to the states, I came to a full circle moment... when I started to reflect on all I had expirienced and thinking about how it affects my job as a home stager.

I came to realize that in this age of consumption, its kind of odd that stager's job is to "transition" a home back to simpler view. Basic to staging is de-cluttering the mass amount of consumer "stuff" that has built up in a house. In fact, if staging is done well and timed right, the seller can make more money on the sale of their home... which they might use to go out and buy more "stuff".

But now, due to my trip, and if I have it my way... people that use our staging services will begin to look at their lives and their desire for stuff in a new way. I hope to show people, whose homes we transform, that a beautiful home does not need to be STUFFED full of useless consumer junk.  I hope to share with all our clients the fundamental lesson something EVERY interior designer is taught early on in their design education... "Less is More" 

But now, because of my trip to 2 cities in China, I realize our planet's life depends on less being MORE.

Green It Forward...



Comment balloon 62 commentsCraig Schiller • March 16 2007 10:31AM


Craig, I find this incredibly profound!  I have a feeling it has several messages because of what I know about, but never experienced first hand, China, like you have!
Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 13 years ago
Craig, Less is More! I am so glad you shared this post. Over the past few years I have made serious attempts to cut back and to live simpler with a smaller "footprint". It is so hard because of all the various forces that are a major influence. Even my staging vehicle is not nearly small enough or gas saving enough. So I have conflicting feeling about this as well. I guess I have resigned myself to the trying in ways that are doable and committing to working on the ones I have not tackled yet.
Posted by James Frazier (James Frazier Personal Development Coach) over 13 years ago
Love this FC, this is gold star stuff here. What a thoughtful conclusion. I could not agree more my friend. Me
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) over 13 years ago

One more thing; I had the chance, about 13 years ago, to realize through experience how little material things really matter. And now in the last three years I'm thinking as you are, let's work on becoming minimalists for our planet's sake. You rock. 

Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) over 13 years ago
Craig - Glad to hear more about your trip.  It must have been an experience.  It is very difficult to get homeowners to part with their precious stuff but I work on it all the time.  I think deep down we all want a simpler easier lifestyle. 
Posted by Maureen Maureen over 13 years ago
Craig I have to do a little smooching here, but I want you to know that I look forward to your face appearing on the top of my "subscriber" list.  Mies Van Der Rohe is one of my all time favorite architects and his Barcelona Chair is one of my all time favorite pieces of funiture.  Your trip to China made an impact not only to you, but to us that read your statements.....THANK YOU!
Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) over 13 years ago
This is a very nice reality check. Well done!
Posted by Dena Stevens Coriz, Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004 (Rocky Mountain Realty ) over 13 years ago

I had to sit with this and breathe before I could write...because, for me, , this is one of your most moving essays ...totally from-the-heart , yet VERY, Very powerful. and yes without clutter... You have managed somehow to bring the lesson of authentic simplicity Home . Thank you.

Like Ines..I too am a fan not only of Mies Van Der Rohe , but of you.



Thanks for the post. Speaking volumes as usual. I need a good buy in Chicago so that I can benefit first hand from your new vision!

Posted by William Collins, Property and Asset Management (ERA Queen City Realty) over 13 years ago
Isn't that always the case? The simpler, back to basics way is what is the most natural way to be. Then "life" happens..
Posted by Mary Seferian (DIVA DECOR DESIGN) over 13 years ago

Craig - the visual of the black thick water sickens me. How do we stop this ugly machine? Wealth has become a negative if all it is used for is to buy 'things'. Our children are stuck in that black sea of muck. How are we going to tell them buying a Sponge Bob game for their Nintendo is killing them? 

You are a wonderful gift we never thought of asking for. What a treasure. 

Posted by Sheron Cardin, ARTIST - A Home Stager/Sellers Best Friend! (California Moods Inc) over 13 years ago

Craig, wonderful post as always.  My aha moment was when I assisted on Staging a "vacant" home that looked like the homeowners had just gone out for dinner.  They hadn't lived in the house for 3 months, yet every closet, cabinet, room, etc. was full, including the basement.  I was sick to my stomach.

Just this week, I committed myself to a NO PLASTIC BAG policy.  When I found out how many bags we use everyday as a country (and a planet), I resolved to do my part to cut back.  IKEA is now charging 5 cents per bag to encourage their shoppers to bring their own reusable bag.  Here is a great website with more information : 

Green it Forward is fabulous.  I'll add it to my marketing materials today.

Posted by Angel Walker (Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners) over 13 years ago
Hi Craig,  Travelling overseas is always very enlightening.  I was very impressed by the observations you shared in this post.  Thanks for a new perspective on what staging can be and how each of us in whatever we are engaged in can do our part in making our world a better place!
Posted by Lola Audu, Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home! (Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate) over 13 years ago


As a fan of modern architecture and a lover of all things mid-century, I love your choice of photo!  I also love when main-stream media brings the issue of simple living into focus. . . the Chicago Tribune has been doing a great series on living green in Sunday's Home and Garden section.  Illinois seems to be a bit behind the times with regard to eco-conciousness and as a Colorado girl who took a wrong turn in Kansas and ended up in Illinois, I love that Chicago has adopted a green perspective. . .if only it would trickle out to Will County. . .


Posted by Lori Gilmore, One Savvy Move Home Staging (One Savvy Move) over 13 years ago
Craig, I am sad to hear what you saw on your trip and even sadder to know that will effect each and everyone of us. But, I was thrilled to read how you brought it all together ... living with less and less is more. Both are my philosophy, too
Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) over 13 years ago
Craig "less is more" is in the spirit.  It's a cry to come back to simplicity....
Posted by Diane Rice, SFR, SRES, CNC ( Rice Prprty Mgmnt & Rlty, LLC, South Holland, IL) over 13 years ago

Congratulations Craig!

Your article talked to us about how we real estate professionals fit in the "green" market picture...and how we can get up to speed in the that market. Just like dancing, there's a lot to learn!   We have to consider results we might expect... think about what really works for us and our clients...get our minds and hearts involved. ...and look at  what rewards we think actually will show up, and on what levels... while de-cluttering, as you point out. Great advice for real estate professionals, stagers,  and our clients!


Congratulations on winning 2nd place for this blog in the green contest.

Posted by Dena Stevens Coriz, Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004 (Rocky Mountain Realty ) over 13 years ago


Ahhhh. I see the many messages in this post. What a work of art. If you don't mind I would like to address one of those messages. Which one you ask? Consumption. The fact that most of society can't enough of anything that they place value on disturbs me. When I see people who are never happy no matter what they have I realize that the stuff ,and consumption of it, is not the solution. The solution lies in their soul and in their hearts.

Sorry Craig. I guess Misty is around today. Congratulations from my heart to yours.

ROAR it forward :)


Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) over 13 years ago
Craig congrats on winning the green awareness contest....oops I mean being one of the winners!
Posted by Caleb Mardini over 13 years ago
Congratulations Craig!  I am with Caleb!  This post was the winner in my eyes.  It touched so many different levels and as the first responder, I really meant it when I said it was profound!  TLW is so right in her analogy!
Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 13 years ago

Craig - Hope you had a fantastic trip.  Just comparing Hong Kong to Kowloon - across the a picture of diametric opposites.

I've seen what you saw.  Awesome isn't it.

Posted by Rob Robinson- Lehigh Valley PA (Bertrum Settlements (Title & Abstract)) over 13 years ago
Good post Craig, Congrats. Your post proves the grass isnt "greener" when you have everything (over consumption). Simplify, simplify =Happiness.
Posted by Michele Connors, Your Eastern North Carolina Realtor (The Overton Group, LLC Pitt & Carteret County) over 13 years ago
Green staging - a great concept! 
Posted by Mary Pope-Handy, CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley (Sereno Group Real Estate) over 13 years ago
Craig, congratulations, buddy! Nicely done as usual!
Posted by Jeff Turner (RealSatisfied) over 13 years ago

Craig, Great article.  I have been swamped and not on AR much lately so I missed the original but I am glad got a star today. 

What a fantastic way to change your business and your life.  Nicely written! 

Posted by Virginia Halter, ABR, CDPE, CRS, GREEN, SFR, SRES (RE/MAX Signature Properties) over 13 years ago

I agree with Mary.  Green staging is a fantastic concept!

great post and very well written.  thanks for sharing!

Posted by Jennifer Walker-Derby, Real Estate Extraordinaire (Re/Max Westside) over 13 years ago

Unfortunately, we live in a country and world consumed by "indulgence". I agree that "LESS" is more and also that our future depends on our society as a whole grasping and applying this important concept.

Posted by Kelli Fronabarger, Realtor - Bend Oregon (Bend River Realty Inc.) over 13 years ago
I don't understand why everyone feels obsessed (including me) with collecting everything.  My sons fiancee collects stuffed animals (has literally probably 5000) and if there is a give away at a bank or something will pick up dozens of whatever the trash is.  I try to get rid of anything without emotional attachment that isn't enriching my enviroment.
Posted by Chris Tesch, College Station, Texas Real Estate (RE/MAX Bryan-College Station) over 13 years ago


Just another insightful comment from a person in our industry. I think we can set a great example going forward that less is more.

Posted by Colorado Springs Real Estate over 13 years ago

Wow, Craig! This is a pretty powerful post, here. Congratulations on the Contest Win - Very Well Deserved.

Stuff. Ugh. I am by no means perfect, but I can't handle "stuff" - I go through my house about 2x a year and toss/ donate sooooo much "stuff" ... Stuff that I forgot I ever had! I need to be better at not getting all the "stuff" to begin with, though. Thank you for the reminder, Craig.

Posted by Derek and Mariana Wagner, The Artisan Group - Colorado Springs REALTORS® (The Artisan Group- Keller Williams Premier Realty ) over 13 years ago
Craig,thought I'd come on over here too, and let you know what a superb author you are and how I think you should be mentoring a blogger, as well. You have a great nack with your words. I enjoyed reading your article and how you managed to get your message across so well. Congratulations.
Posted by Gena Riede, Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699 (Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792) over 13 years ago
Hi Craig, very well put.  I have traveled to Central America (Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua) in my life and it amazes me how people can live so contently when they have so little.  It seems we Americans are so caught up in posessions that they can't function without them. Then there are the pack rats that have to save every little gift or momento no matter what it is.  I had heard about staging in the past but just in conversation.  I never realized the power of it until I joined Active Rain and boy has it opened my eyes!  I hope some day soon I will find a good local professional stager so we can test the power of staging her in S.W. Idaho.  Thanks for writing a thought provoking post.  Have a great day.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 13 years ago
Congratulations Craig!  I'm so pleased to see your post Featured and getting a Win!  I knew it was fantastic the first time I read it & it's wonderful that the power of what you communicated was so clearly received that all the pollution that is a part of our lives including (the excess of busyness) could not dim the "sun" & brilliant truth in your blog post.
Posted by Lola Audu, Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home! (Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate) over 13 years ago
Very insightful Craig and oh-so true. When I get overwhelmed by "stuff" I have a garage sale and cart the rest over to a thrift store. Of course, while I'm there I usually take a peak around...
Posted by Kelly Kilpatrick, Broker-Associate over 13 years ago

Good article, Craig. What a terrific experience, and life-changing realization.

I know people who have used stagers and have KEPT their homes more minimal as a result, once they realized how much better they felt and that they did not NEED all the stuff they had acquired, and ultimately got rid of


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 13 years ago

As a packrat with years of stuff I cannot think to part with and the ever awakening awareness I cannot take it with me, I totally agree with your wonderful thoughts!   NOW how do I get rid of this junk!   I just cannot get it into my head that the garbage can is the place for 1970 memorabilia.  Perhaps eBay?

Wonderfully said and I have this conversation with my sellers often!  Living it is another story.  

Posted by Toby Davis (Keller Williams Realty) over 13 years ago
Awesome post. Again, Congratulations on a job well done. I am guilty of buying stuff. When you are in the store, it really feels like you NEED it. But after you have it for awhile and it collects dust, you wonder why you bought it....
Posted by Christy Powers, Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 13 years ago

I have a brother that lives in Beijing and we visited in October.   Some other things I found amazing were the amount of people on and how truly "clean" the streets were.  The fueling by coal is still hugely popular in the large highrizes...   But ultimately, I found the culture to be of such beauty..   I would return for a visit anytime... well as long as my brother was there too translate.  

Great post.



Posted by Desiree Daniels (RE/MAX Tri County) over 13 years ago
Great post and inspiring!  
I will try and continue to do my part and spread the green
Posted by Aziz Abdur-Raoof, Howard Co. Real Estate Scoop (RE/MAX Rewards) over 13 years ago
Wonderful photo Desiree
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) over 13 years ago
Craig - wonderful post, and you are absolutely right.  Thankfully we're hearing more and more about green living ....  it's starting to catch on, though we still have a long way to go in raising awareness. Your blog  is a step in the right direction and has started a lot of "thinking green" dialogue which is great!  "Thinking green" is no longer an option.  It's become a necessity for us -  our children - and our children's children!  It gives a whole new meaning to the term . . . getting back to basics, doesn't it?
Posted by Jeannene Edwards (Home Staging by Interiors Defined, Inc.) over 13 years ago

Craig... good post and as so many mentioned, you are so right.... I have seen several homes that have been stuffed.


                                                jeff belonger

Posted by Jeff Belonger, The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans ( Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc) over 13 years ago
Thanks for the eye opener!!!  Live green!!! -Aloha
Posted by Kengo Ueno, (R) (Prudential Locations LLC) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig-Loved this post.  It is so true, less is definately more.  I grew up with a pack rat mother, so since a very early age I became a thrower outer.  I despise clutter and overconsumption of any kind. 

On another note, I have a Chinese sister in law.  She and my brother just returned from a month long visit to china to see her family.  My brother and never been there before, and he too, was blown away by the culture there.

I think we Americans, can all cut back a little on our "stuff" and make some efforts to advance the "greening" of the planet.  It is definately something to think about!!!!!!!!

Posted by Maureen Graziano (Third Eye Home Staging) over 13 years ago
So true that our lives become cluttered with crap. It seems to snowball out of control.
Posted by No Longer Active (Real Estate) over 13 years ago

I was telling my husband this morning - I'm feeling overwhelmed by the staging props we have in our own house/garage/closets (I just destaged 2 houses last week and don't have any vacants in the immediate future to store them in so I'm feeling a bit suffocated) - I love the Less is More look we're creating for our clients but unfortunately until I can afford to get a warehouse to store it my house is the "clutter ground".  You bring up many points to ponder and it has left me thinking... We do make every effort recycle what we can and it's going to take each person to commit to keeping our planet healthy for future generations. Thanks for bringing this to light.

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, (Home Star Staging) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

Thanks for the post and I couldn't agree with you more.  My first time to Hong Kong was an eye opener.  See those that lived on the water in the harbor and dumping (although it was supposed to be illegal then) right in the harbor itself.  Later on another trip to Mainland China we spent time in the interior of the country and saw the polluted air and rivers you speak of.

This also placed things in a much different perspective for me too!


Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) over 13 years ago
Hi Craig - nice job on this post.  Very eloquantly written, from the heart.  I always think of a routine George Carlin had many years ago about "stuff" and how people moving on need bigger places for more "STUFF".  To me, a move is an opportunity to get rid of all the accumulation of my life.  Very well done, Craig.  It hurts to think that our focus on consumption is creating the picture you painted of those beautiful, historic cities. Liz
Posted by Liz Foley, Cheerfully serving your real estate needs! (Keller Williams Realty - The Steven Chicoine Team) over 13 years ago

I will follow up on TLW's comment. With a few introspective questions - Consumption - What is it that we are trying to fill up by consuming "things?" What drives that insatiable appetite? Can we even slow down and get out of our heads to actually feel the hole that we are trying to fill?

Maybe a few of more basic questions would be: What brings us closer to our self? What truly satisfies us beyond instaneous gratification? What keeps us from living an integrated life?

Posted by john harper over 13 years ago


Those are excellent questions. I hope that everyone that reads those will answer them with honesty and feel the truth that lies within them. When I was young and dumb I thought the answer to everything was the stuff and consumption of it. Now that I'm older and much wiser I realize that the more someone consumes the more they want. This creates a never ending cycle of consumption. If we don't sit back and answer the type of questions you have put forth we get caught up in a life that has no real meaning beyond the stuff and the consumption. You know that old saying about 'he who dies with the most toys wins'? I read a good rebuttal to that saying...'he who dies with the most toys is still dead'.


Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) over 13 years ago

Mother Misty (TLW)... I don't "hate" much in this world. Because I believe with all my heart that LOVE conquerers all.

But I have to admit I have always DETESTED the saying "He who dies with the most toys is the winner."

I think there is a blog there... you write it. I slide in the pew and read it.



Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago


You got it. I'll put it up next Sunday.


TLW aka Mother Misty...ROAR!

Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) over 13 years ago
Everyone listing a home needs to read this post---anyone remember the story about the wanderer that picked up a blanket, and it made his life better. Then he collected more and more until all of the possesions crushed him and destroyed his life. We have a lot to learn from the Asian countries---both in eating habits and in how they live.
Posted by Sandra Williams (Rancon Real Estate) over 13 years ago
Thanks for sharing the details of your trip.  The correlation to our homes is very pertinent.  Sorry to hear the Chinese are spewing such pollution everywhere.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 13 years ago

Hi Criag.

 Several years ago I visited Korea..These people are all university trained..yet Coal is the cheapest form of fuel for industry there. I asked then if they were concerned about air pollution, the answer everywhere was the pre veiling winds sent the air to Japan, not our Problem... I often wonder if they think differently now.

 Cheers, have an awesome day!

Fred Carver

Posted by Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation, Accredited Real Estate Consultant (RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate) over 13 years ago

Hi Craig,

Just arrived home after a Carribean cruise ---- the waste of food was incredible!!! You could feed a small village on that waste!!! The mind bending call to spend, spend spend is incredible.

9 cruise ships at once in St. Thomas the selling and spending was frenzied.   But get away from the madding crowd and it is hertbreakingly beautiful.

Less is truly more.


Marilynn CSP abbotsford/chilliwack bc

Posted by Marilynn Currie over 13 years ago

Uh oh The heat must have got to my head  , wet noodle swipe -------- Caribbean Caribbean Caribbean   maybe after twenty times I will spell it correctly.

Marilynn Currie Abbotsford/Chilliwack B.C.

Posted by Marilynn Currie over 13 years ago

Hey Marilynn, I'm pretty causal here.

You are welcome to take of your shoes in put them up on my coffee table... anytime.

I'm pretty easy going, especially when it comes to typos.


Posted by Craig Schiller over 13 years ago


Very inspiring post and some very thought provoking ideas. It is sad that so many people feel they have succeed when they are able to stuff their homes full of prize possessions. I recently went on a trip that inspired me in a similar way but for the opposite reason. I was fortunate enough to participate on a 12 day trip to India seeing various cities - Dehli, Bangalore, Agra and Mumbia (or the old Bombay). It was incredibly difficult to see the conditions so many poverty stricken families were living in. For me, the hardest was to see the children. They say the caste system is gone, but it truly isn't. This particular trip also reminded me that we truly are so fortunate to live in this country we do, but we should not get carried away and indulge ourselves too much. I found myself wanting to help so much that I suggested to my husband that we adopt a child from India. We'll see if that happens, but regardless will be contributing in whatever way I can to help those that we saw struggling to get bath water, find shelter or even rest on something other than the dirt floor.  

I will be going to China in a couple of months and will certainly see some of the same cities you did. I always look forward to experiencing things that remind me of what life is really about...people, not THINGS.

All the best,


Posted by Minnesota Home Staging Firm, Minnesota (Minnesota Home Staging Network~ MN's Top Home Staging Firm) over 13 years ago
Craig- Nice post. I am sure I would feel very clausterphobic in China. I like my space. I like greenery. I like fresh air.  I think all of us benefit from the less is more philosophy.
Posted by Debi Braulik, Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale ( over 13 years ago


The Less is More philosophy is a great one. Unfortunately it is diametrically opposed to the capitalist system we live in. So many folks use buying stuff as a way to feel good. Of course, alot more can be said about that... Thanks for bringing up the entire concept!

Posted by Bill Westel, ECO (Eco-Steward Realty) over 13 years ago