Interior designer and mom-of-four Leah Moss is The Kilner Group’s go-to consultant for real estate staging. Nearly every one of the listings we’ve sold has this year has had Leah’s expert eye on it before we snapped a single photo. We had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about design, staging and the growth of her business:
TKG: How did you get into interior design?
LM: I’ve been interested in interior design for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a family full of artists (my grandfather was an artist and architect, my mom and sister are professional artists), and even growing up pretty simply, being surrounded by “real” art gave me an appreciation for elements that make a home feel unique, interesting, and inspiring. I started considering it as a career after getting married and spending time thinking about how the design of our home could actually improve the way we lived. While working in an entry level job for a Washington Design Center showroom I started to receive a lot of requests for design help, and that was the beginning of Leah Moss Interiors!
TKG: Where do you get your inspiration when working on a design project?
LM: I always start a project with the client’s personal taste in the forefront of my mind, and then I fuse their personal style with the architecture and location of the house. I think most people know what they like when they see it, but sometimes they need help creating a cohesive look that feels personal. So I help clients define their tastes, and then help them find the specific colors and materials to translate that vision into a functional and inspiring home. I’m also hugely inspired by nature, and so I try to incorporate at least a few natural elements into every project I’m working on. The imperfections and unique qualities found in nature help to keep a room from feeling “flat.”
TKG: How does your interior design background benefit you when staging homes?
LM: In my design work, I’ve found that there are some universals in the idea of “home” regardless of differences in the stylistic preferences–characteristics that appeal to almost everyone. Often, when I ask clients to describe how they would like their homes to feel the same words almost always surface: clean, comfortable, functional. I’ve found that if staging clients can focus on those characteristics, they don’t have to strip their home of personality to put it on the market. A home doesn’t need to be a beige boring box or feel like a manicured hotel room, but it should feel purposeful and cohesive. For both design clients and staging clients, a lot of that cohesiveness comes from editing out possessions that clients don’t really like or need in the first place.
TKG: You see a lot of homes, what small change makes the biggest impact when prepping a house for the market?
LM: Lighting!!! It is amazing how differently a home looks when dinky brass light fixtures have been changed out for more substantial, streamlined lights. They don’t need to be expensive upgrades. There are some great fixtures for $50 or less that can transform the look of a bathroom or bedroom or foyer. On an even smaller scale, just removing heavy window treatments can do wonders in helping a house feel fresher and more up to date. Also painting builder-grade bathroom vanities makes a huge impact.
TKG: What advice would you give to other working moms about starting their own business?
LM: If at all possible, find a job that allows you to be flexible in terms of time. A lot of my work can be done around my school age children’s schedule, and that brings some balance to a packed daily planner. Also, I think it’s important to see your role as a mother as an asset in the workplace. Sometimes while talking with other moms, I hear things like, “I don’t have any marketable skills” or “I’ve been out of the workforce too long to be relevant.” At least in my job, my role as a mother makes me more marketable because I know what it’s like to try to build a beautiful house that can stand up to a lot of activity, and also I’m used to multi-tasking, making and keeping appointments, and dealing with high stress situations– that’s commonplace in a mother’s day!
To contact Leah about your next design or staging project, check out her website: www.leahmossinteriors.com.