Industry profile: Anthea Baker – Staging and Interiors


If you’ve ever sold a home, then you’ve probably heard the terms ‘property styling’ or ‘home staging’.

Some may think it’s only about adding colourful cushions, but home staging goes far beyond just re-arranging furniture.

Presenting a home at it’s best, is a crucial part of marketing a property and home staging, or styling, plays a very integral part in making that all important first impression a great one.

Homebase is a Staging and Interiors company that offers a range of services to help style and decorate a property.  We asked owner Anthea Baker to tell us a little bit more about her company, exactly what home staging is and her top tips for getting a property ‘open-home’ ready…

Q. What led you into interior design and home staging?

For as long as I can remember have had a love for Design, Colour and Fabrics. When I was a young child my mother would spend hours in fabric stores looking and buying fabric to sew our clothes. This is where I would say I developed my love of fabric – the textures, colours and even the smell. Using my mother’s off cuts I would use the scraps of fabric for the renovations of my dolls houses, adding extensions and making furniture for the new rooms I had made.

My very first job, while still at school was in a fabric store where I found a natural talent for putting things together. After leaving school I became an apprentice hairdresser where I honed my still in colouring. During my lunch breaks I would leave the salon and spend time in furniture stores, I started buying pieces of furniture that I loved, paying them off on layby as I was on a miniscule apprentice wage. The very first furniture item I bought was a chrome and glass art deco tea trolley which I still own today.

Recognising my passion for Interior Design I trained in this area starting with a correspondence course while still working. In the late 90’s I started buying and doing up houses. From the collection of furniture that I owned I would dress them up to add value to them for sale or rental. I saw how this really increased their value. A friend saw what I was doing and asked if I could put some furniture into an empty house he was selling. It took me a week to stage his one property, once it was done the real estate agent asked me to stage another two properties that she had coming onto the market, essentially I fell into starting a Homestaging business quite by accident. Over the next few years I worked and grew the business buying furniture as it was needed into one of Auckland’s largest staging businesses, staging between 60 and 90 properties at any one time.

Thinking back to the time that I was staging my own properties I guess I unwittingly came across a service that is well needed by many people selling their homes. I would use what I had but would find that there were a few bits missing, maybe art, furniture or accessories. I struggled to find someone who could just hire me the bits that I needed. I did ring a Homestaging company at the time to see if they offered this service. I was met with a very hostile response and told that I would need to remove everything from the house and that they would come in with an entire house lot to dress the house. This was not what I needed as the furniture I had was actually very nice. This very thing is a product that we offer to our customers, we call it our “Pick n Mix” service where someone is living in the home and they just need some help with a few select pieces.

Q. What do you love most about what you do?

Every day is a different day, I love working with people to help them achieve the best possible outcomes for their properties.

I also love the instant gratification that you get from Homestaging, at the end of the day I can look back and be proud of what I have achieved.

Q. How does home staging differ to the other interior styling and pre-sale design services you offer?

Homestaging is where we are fully furnishing empty homes to create an appealing home for a potential buyer. Interior Design or Styling is when people are planning to stay in a home and need help to do the finishing touches. Pre-Sale advise is where we  give all of the ideas of how the vendor should present their home for sale using what they have. Sometimes this may mean some cosmetic enhancements as well, for example painting, re carpeting etc. – example of full home staging. - example of partial home staging – example of partial home staging

Q. Much of property marketing is about first impressions and the ability to make an emotional connection with a buyer. What kind of atmosphere / ambience do you aim for in your styling to make that connection happen?

It depends on the location of the property and also the potential buyer in that area. Together with the agent we are able to have a fairly accurate idea of who this person is and how they would like to see the property.

We dress the property to attract this buyer, remember a house is a product, so we need to market to its best advantage.

Q. Do you take a different approach to styling/decorating a clients home that is for sale as opposed to a client who just want’s to redecorate the home the live in?

Definitely, when selling we tend to neutralise the home to attract a wider audience. When someone is planning to stay in a home long term they need to decorate it with their own taste. Which means it could be all painted purple if that is what they like.

 Q. You have an excellent ‘Getting Ready To Move’ checklist on your site.
In your opinion, what is the most simple & effective thing(s) from your checklist that people can do to do get their homes ready for sale, not matter what the condition of their house?

Cleaning, particularly the windows. This helps a property sparkle. Then secondly, look at the entry to the home, this is what is going to entice your buyer. Buyers make a decision if they like this home or not within the first few seconds of standing at the front door.

Visit for more information on the services they can provide and head over to facebook and like their page!

April Property Report – Asking prices ease slightly.


Yesterday, the NZ Government released its pre-election budget and those first-home buyers looking for a leg-up onto the property ladder could be forgiven for feeling a little hard done by.

In terms of housing affordability, the Government’s sole measure was the temporary suspension of tariffs and duties on building products which they claim will reduce the cost of a standard new home by $3500.

As to be expected, Opposition parties have attacked yesterday’s budget with Labour leader David Cunliff, claiming it showed “no vision and very little substance” adding that it offered “nothing for first-home buyers”.

The Government hit back with the suggestion that any “gimmicks or tricks” aimed at getting first-home buyers into the property market would do nothing but increase demand.

First-home buyers not exactly jumping for joy.

So what’s been happening around the country with the property market? Here’s an overview of some of the various property statistics published for the past month…


Asking prices ease: There has been a slight ease in the national asking price to $477,460 after the record high of $484,263 reached in March.

New listings drop: The number of new national listing was down -18% on the previous month, although slightly higher when compared to previous years, with a 2% increase to what was seen in April 2013.

Inventory levels recover: The inventory of unsold homes on the market continues to recover rising another 3% from March and 8% on the previous year, although historically, levels are still below the long term average inventory of 37 weeks.

graphic from

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View regional summaries and full commentary here.

Barfoot & Thompson‘s latest market update reports Auckland residential propriety prices cooling slightly during April, with sales down 15% over the same time last year.

Managing Director, Peter Thompson, said this was customary due to the Easter, Anzac Day and school holiday period, but a higher than normal number of listings (3623) was also adding to market competitiveness.

and from the Real Estate Institute of NZ:

From figures released on 12 May, REINZ reporting a sales volume fall in April with 5,670 dwellings sold in 2014 (down 22.5% on the previous month, & 20.2% on April 2013)

All regions saw declines in sales compared to march 2014 and april 2013.

The National, Auckland and Christchurch House Price Indices all recorded record highs in March 2014.

Could you downsize to a Tiny House?


In November last year we posted a blog about Tiny Houses.

For those that aren’t familiar with the Tiny House Movement, it has been growing in popularity over the last few years, particularly in the United States, where many lost their homes during the recession. Simply put, it is a social movement, where people downsize the space that they live in. However, the movement isn’t only about finance, it’s also about looking at the way you live your life and taking steps to simplify it.

With home ownership seeming to creep further out of reach for many, could Tiny Houses really be a solution to housing affordability for some? Can living in a Tiny House declutter your life? Will it allow you to live a simpler, eco friendly lifestyle?

Well, Bryce Langston and Melissa Nickerson, are embarking on their own Tiny House journey that may just answer some of those questions.

With the support of a small design team, they will be designing a tiny house, uniquely built for New Zealand conditions. It will be sustainably constructed, completely off grid, will generate it’s own electricity and capture it’s own water and, will treat it’s own waste materials.

Their entire journey, from design and build, to their first six months of occupying the Tiny Hpuse will be documented on film and also shared on their project’s website

We caught up with Bryce to check in on the build progress and talk about the challenges and surprises so far:

Q. What stage are you currently at with your design & build?

Our trailer is currently under construction, and we are just working out the final few details on our drawings before we begin framing. It’s been an incredibly challenging design process, as we are trying to make the house as eco-friendly as possible, which means we are very limited in regards to the materials we can use. We also have a lot of people following our project and so we feel a great responsibility to really get the design right.

Q. Biggest challenge and/or surprise so far?

There’s no question that the design of a Tiny House isn’t easy. Each and every element has to be well considered and thought out and every millimetre of space has to be well used. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been designing some of the off-grid elements into the house as many off-the-shelf systems are not easily downsize-able. A great example of this is our hot water. From the beginning, I have been against using gas in the house, primarily because I am heavily against fracking, so the use of a gas califont wasn’t really an option for us. As we are electrically off-the-grid (and with a small PV system), it was difficult for us to heat with electricity, and most solar-thermal systems are too large and very heavy. So, when you are creating a small, mobile structure that has to be under a certain weight, there are a lot of limitations. You’ll have to wait and see the system that we have eventually designed for the house.

Q. What do you think will be the biggest adjustment you’ll have to make once you move into your tiny house (compared to your lifestyle / living situation now?)

I think I’m going to have to learn to be a lot tidier. I won’t be able to cook dinner, walk out of the kitchen and forget about doing the dishes. I’ll certainly have to be a lot more conscious of anything that I buy. All in all, there are many minor changes and adjustments that I will have to make, but I think they are all changes that will make a positive impact on the person that I am.


Q. The tiny house movement seems to be just as much about a way of living, as it is about the actual houses. What tips would you give to people who want to try and live a more simple, eco friendly lifestyle, but don’t yet have the resources to make their own tiny house?

One of the reasons a Tiny House helps us to live an eco-friendly lifestyle is that it puts us in a space where we have to be aware of everything that we are consuming, not just in terms of material possessions that we bring into our lives, but also (as we will be off-the-grid) the energy that we use, the water that we consume and the waste that we generate each day. Of course, you don’t need to live in a small space to make yourself aware of these things. Experiment with water and energy conservation, try having trash free weeks, set yourself goals for not purchasing new items. If you do need to buy anything, consider purchasing something second hand, or up-cycling.

Q. In your opinion, what’s the biggest benefit in building & living in a tiny house?

For me, it’s really about freedom and security. I love the idea of owning my own home, and I especially love the idea of being able to accomplish that dream for the equivalent amount of money as a few years rent. The implications of that are of course a lot greater. When you live in a house that is mortgage and rent free (or at least very little land rent), with no utility bills and growing some of your own food, money is no longer all absorbed by the basic necessities of life, but can instead be focused on other things, such as travel, and enjoying life. I believe that’s a huge benefit.

Undoubtably, it’s also about living a lifestyle that is congruent with my values, changing my consumption habits to tread lightly on the earth, and also freeing up my time to do more of the things that I love, with the people that I love.

We look forward to watching Bryce & Melissa’s Tiny House build progress over the coming months. To keep up to date with the latest news on their project, visit the official website

Photos: Stunning results by twilight.


As sure as the sun rises each morning, it’s definitely going to set as well, which means there’s always an opportunity to capture great photographs during dusk, where the fading light intensifies shades and colours.

Twilight: Blomfield Spa

Here at Open2view, we pride ourselves on being able to showcase any property at it’s best, capturing all it’s features using clean, beautiful daytime photography. We also know how to create that extra ‘WOW’ factor, and for certain properties, that can be achieved using Twilight Photography .

This property looks great in the daytime and offers that extra bit of ‘wow’ during twilight…

There are always stunning examples on our website, so we thought we’d pull some together here for your viewing pleasure:


You can also follow our Twilight Photography boards on Pinterest, where we update our favourite pics each week.

New Zealand: Houses by Twilight Pinterest Board

Australia: Houses by Twilight Pinterest Board

To find out more about Twilight Photography, check out our Services page.