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Setting Up House

It sounded like the premise for a new HGTV show: A recent divorcé leaves his Main Line home to his ex-wife and wants to move into another fully furnished house in a mere three weeks. TV makes this sort of thing seem effortless. But in the real world, that’s not the case. Just ask Alix Jacobs and Diane Dunning, who run the Haverford-based home-staging business Center Stage.

“This was unlike any of our staging jobs because there was an actual client who was going to be living in the house,” says Jacobs. “Not to mention the fact that we were on an incredibly tight deadline.”

The process began with an interview to assess what the client envisioned his new home to be—something he couldn’t articulate. So Jacobs sent him off to buy a pile of shelter magazines. “I told him to rip out any images that appealed to him,” she says. “An image is worth a thousand words.”

After making an extensive list of everything they needed, they set a budget. “The client wanted us to buy everything from a living room sofa and linens to furniture for his kids’ rooms and kitchen appliances,” she says.

An e-mail from the client early in the planning process reflects the depth of the project: He wanted to remind Jacobs to buy clips to keep his potato chips fresh. “A divorce is not a happy time for anyone,” says Jacobs.

“Unfortunately it’s a reality for more and more families. No one ever thinks about the men who need to set up a new home. It’s an overwhelming task to do this by yourself without prior experience.”

And just like on HGTV, Jacobs’ project came in on time and within budget.

For more information, call (215) 248-3322.

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