House beautiful

Making houses beautiful is Lynne Trinklein’s specialty as a home stager who turns empty properties on the real estate market into irresistible buys with her designer’s touch and a warehouse full of furniture and accessories.
Ozaukee Press staff

Lynne Trinklein isn’t a real estate agent but she has carved out a related career that makes an indelible impact on selling homes and one that has landed her work on national television.

Trinklein runs LynneMark Home Staging from her Town of Grafton home, using a deft touch — and a warehouse of furniture and accessories in the City of Port Washington — to convert vacant houses into warm and inviting homes that get top dollar in the real estate market.

She said she stages hundreds of houses a year — “I’ve lost track,” she said — throughout the greater Milwaukee area, everything from starter homes to luxury dwellings, from single-family houses to condominiums.

She has garnered rave reviews from clients and return business from real estate professionals with difficult to sell properties, and her work has even appeared on national television.

Trinklein staged a house in Racine for “My Lottery Dream Home” for the HGTV’s first  show after the pandemic hit last year. In the show, host David Bromstad shows three houses to recent lottery winners, who then select one as the house to purchase. Because the winners have received jackpots large and small, the episodes feature houses that range from modest to luxury.

“I’m so glad they called me,” Trinklein said. The woman who was arranging for the houses discovered her online and called from England to speak to her about the show, but got her voice mail.

“When I got the message, I was like is this real?” Trinklein said. “It was hard to believe at first.”

She was at the edge of her seat for several days as the two exchanged messages, she said, noting, “I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.”

The house was a small one that had sat on the market for some time even though it had been recently renovated, Trinklein said.

“It was really cute,” she noted. She and her team went in and did their magic, even creating custom artwork for the home — they couldn’t use any artwork, even pieces that are mass marketed, in the house if they didn’t have explicit approval from the artists.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. Because the house was small, they created an accent wall of mirrors to bounce light around and give the home an airy feeling. They used chalkboard paint to create a feature in the kitchen.

The lottery winner didn’t pick the house she staged, instead picking a larger home, Trinklein said.

That’s OK, she said, because even before the show aired the house sold.

Television has been a boon to the home staging industry, Trinklein said, particularly HGTV, where virtually every house that’s shown has been staged.

“Since HGTV, people want to buy homes that look great,” she said. “They understand what’s current and on trend.”

The whole purpose of home staging, Trinklein said, is to make a house look warm and inviting so people can see themselves living there and will buy it.

“Ninety percent of people can’t envision what could be,” she said. “People have a hard time understanding the space when there’s nothing in it.”

Staging, she said, “is all about bringing warmth to a house. It’s about making someone fall in love — people buy based on emotion. Buyers come to the market with a set of goals, but those goals fly out the window if they see something that speaks to them.”

Men, she noted, come to the market with specific items they want, such as a large garage or a man cave while women, who usually have a bigger say in the home buying decision, are looking for a different element.

Staging can completely change the way a house looks to buyers, Trinklein said.

“I can’t tell you how many times I walk into an interview and think ‘Huh,’” she said. “When I’m done, I’ll say, ‘This looks fabulous.’”

She largely decorates in a transitional style, which appeals to the biggest audience in this area, using pieces that are current and trendy. She uses a lot of neutral pieces, adding pops of color and texture with art and accessories.

“But it’s really the property that dictates the look and feel of the staging,” Trinklein said. “That and the market.”

She doesn’t generally use a multitude of furniture pieces, but instead creates ambience by layering, using accessories, pillows and artwork to create the atmosphere she’s looking for.

The difference between home staging and interior design, she said, is that she is looking at creating a pleasing house for the masses, not an individual.

“I get to think about what’s going to be universally liked,” Trinklein said. “I don’t have to worry about whether it fits someone’s aesthetic or desired color scheme or if their heirloom piece will fit in.”

Trinklein got into the business after she and her son Mark tried their hand at renovating properties. They flipped a few houses, but her son was at a stage in life where he needed a guaranteed income.

So she drew on her interest in design and real estate and about six years ago swiveled to home staging, where she found her niche.

When she first got into the business, Trinklein said, she had to educate real estate agents, property investors and developers about home staging.

“It’s a really powerful marketing tool,” she said, one that will sell a house for top dollar in a short amount of time.

She grew her business by word of mouth, she said.

“It was all about building a connection,” she said. “I had a couple agents who gave me work, and that work turned into more work.

“The agents who use staging for vacant houses, once they use it they never go back.”

Her advice to anyone who wants to make their house as attractive as possible for a sale is simple — “Clean, clean, clean. Reduce, reduce, reduce. I don’t tell people to declutter. I tell them to edit their things. Put out only things you love. Make sure your rooms aren’t too crowded.

“Remember. your things are not selling your home. The architecture, the style is.”



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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