Five years ago, Mary Cronin was just starting out in the staging business. Now, she runs a full-service firm that consults with Realtors and sellers on not only staging but bath and kitchen remodels, facade colors and interior design.
“We’ve become a one-stop shop for agents and sellers,” said Cronin, whose firm the Design Shop stages and remodels roughly 100 homes per year around the Bay Area. “The last 5 years we’ve really exploded.”
Cronin credits the Design Shop’s success to her network of craftsmen, contractors and designers.
Cronin commissions artist Amelia McAndrew to create original paintings and textiles and turns to Amanda Goldberg of Planted Design when she wants to incorporate a living wall into a home. She leases furniture from Lorinda Savage of Cisco Home and leans on Anna Watkins Porter’s 25 years of experience in design for help coordinating the big picture.
Cronin admits to being a control freak when her firm started, but over time she has learned to trust her team and let them practice their craft.
“I surround myself with experts and give them autonomy,” she said. “I’ve been really lucky to find quality workers who share the same passion — expert attention to detail and a strong work ethic.”
Though the Design Shop provides interior design consultation, their work focuses on preparing homes that will soon be available for sale.
“Staging a home for market is different than designing for living,” Cronin said. “For example, you might place a bed differently because it will show better in photos. There’s definitely a distinction between designing for living and designing for staging.”
Prospective home buyers pore over photos on the internet, so it’s important for a property to look its best, she said.
“If it doesn’t show well in online, buyers won’t come out,” she said.
Her latest showpiece is 16795 Mission Way in Sonoma, a custom-built contemporary farmhouse set on more than an acre.
Whitewashed trusses brace the great room’s 20-foot vaulted ceiling while a white quartz island anchors a kitchen equipped with Viking appliances. All four bedrooms open to decks, and the listing that includes a detached guest house on a bluff can be purchased fully furnished for $4.295 million.