The Expert: Annie Carolin

The Pride of Place home-staging founder shares her take on what’s trending—and an easy fix to make your home shine.
Annie Carolin

Located on the Pasadena-Altadena border, boutique staging studio Pride of Place specializes in styling and reimagining homes for sale. Under the creative direction of founder Annie Carolin, Pride of Place’s staged properties boast an organic, textural signature—think sculptural furniture, artfully arranged floral accents, and white oak and teak intermixed with deep, rich tones of walnut, along with the occasional contrasting pop of black to engage the eye. The visual result is a truly aspirational home for buyers, with many of the company’s staged properties selling above asking price.

Since its beginning in 2018, Pride of Place has curated spaces for hundreds of homes throughout the Los Angeles area, including Pasadena, Altadena, Eagle Rock, and Highland Park, and Carolin has plans to open a shoppable storefront in the future.

How did you get into staging?

I would say “on a whim,” but being an entrepreneur in a creative industry was probably always in the cards for me. I experienced a debilitating anxiety attack in 2007 that left me questioning everything in my life to that point. I left my job as a producer in home entertainment and started my own boutique invitation company, spending the next decade designing and manufacturing invitations and paper goods for events. During the long haul of learning to cope with anxiety, I found more joy in interior design than in anything else. A couple of home renovations later and a growing pile of furniture in our garage, and Pride of Place was born!

How does your style differ from other staging companies?

We are constantly pushing the envelope with how we present homes. We live in a city that is design savvy and well-versed with the idea of “living your best life.” We want our homes to reflect that. Each home has its own narrative and our job is to highlight that. We’re constantly staying on top of trends and [trying to] stay fresh. Our style is clean, organic, and modern, with accents of midcentury elements.

What’s an easy fix for someone who is looking to spruce up their home?

Minimize and declutter. The reason staged homes look good is because the clutter isn’t there. Everything needs to have its place. Get rid of the rest. You don’t need it, I promise.

What mistakes do you see people make when staging their home to sell?

Not incorporating character and warmth into the design. When styling a home, it’s important to evoke an emotional response from prospective buyers, and you can’t do that when things look too sterile or lackluster.

What design trend are you seeing now?

The ’80s are back! I grew up in the ’80s and never enjoyed those styles at the time, but I like some of the ways the style is being reinterpreted into contemporary design. You’re seeing larger scaled furniture, but the modern version is less bulky, more refined, and textural—lots of curves and bouclé!

What’s your go-to local decor destination?

My favorite is Angie Dickerson and Jordan Lee’s Bonita Interiors at the Pasadena Antique Center and Annex. Angie and Jordan curate pieces that add an instant punch of charm into a room.