The Expert: Wyatt and Renée Sullivan

The founders of luxury home staging and design studio Bella Casa share tips on how to get a home ready for market and some of their local go-to decor shops.
Wyatt and Renée Sullivan

Founded in 2001 by Sierra Madre residents Wyatt and Renée Sullivan, Bella Casa is one of California’s leading home-staging firms, staging over 500 properties a year in the Los Angeles area, as well as San Francisco. While buying and selling several homes of their own, the Sullivans experienced the effect that well-crafted spaces have on buyers and combined their knowledge of interior design, renovation, and real estate to create a staging company that stands out.

Bella Casa’s impressive portfolio includes the former home of In-N-Out Burger heiress Lynsi Snyder at 340 Old Ranch Road, Bradbury ($16.25 million), and 1405 Afton Street ($3.73 million), a Buff & Hensman modern marvel in Pasadena’s Linda Vista neighborhood that sold for $1 million over asking price.

What are the benefits of having a home professionally staged versus using the homeowner’s own furniture?

Staging instantly updates a home and often is the reason why it sells. It has been proven that staged homes sell for 25% to 50% higher and much faster than unstaged homes. Most of our staged homes sell for over asking, and we have had several of our staged homes go for a million dollars over asking.

Is there a specific style that is selling better in the Pasadena area?

One of the things that makes Pasadena so incredible is the varied architecture it encompasses. These homes vary tremendously in style and therefore need to be furnished specific to each property’s unique features. At Bella Casa, each home staging is curated as if it were a custom interior design using the company’s vast collection of high-end and eclectic furniture, art, and decor to accentuate and accommodate these different styles—from boho chic, which is great for many Bungalow Heaven homes, to elegant transitional for Pasadena’s more stately Madison Heights and Rose Bowl area historic homes.

What’s your best advice for someone who’s about to put their home on the market?

Paint and stage! Staging can instantly update an older home or one with architectural flaws, and also showcases how a buyer may utilize the space. Today, a home is marketed via photography that is presented on various online platforms. The pictures attract the audience before a potential buyer ever steps foot in a property, making home staging a necessity in today’s marketplace.

What are some staging mistakes to avoid when selling? 

Poorly staged homes can hurt a property if the furniture is dated, the wrong style, or over staged and cluttered with cheap furniture or decor. There is a fine line with staging to showcase a home’s space without taking away from its natural architecture, allowing a potential buyer to visualize themselves and their family living in the home.

What are your favorite local homeware and decor destinations?

We often shop for eclectic and whimsical accents at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and small boutiques throughout Pasadena and San Marino to find specialty items—such as candles from Serafina, small antiques and throw pillows from Maude Woods, and Salutations Home for tableware and linens.