Dietary aide Georgia Barnes and the last of her three children, Barachel, 13, helped build their Habitat for Humanity house in Bay Shore, but what they didn't know when they prepared to move in Friday was that stagers and several businesses - from feng shui experts to sod suppliers - had donated everything to stock the home.
"They knew my tastes but they didn't even know me," said Barnes, who now wants to donate the bed, couch and other furniture she had already bought. "The house is perfect."
Usually, a Habitat house is mostly bare at move-in time, but this one was decked out, the idea of Val Allocco, founder of Staged 2 Sell NY in Northport. She borrowed an idea from a Habitat fundraiser in New Jersey this summer, when rooms in a McMansion were set up by stagers. Les Scheinfeld, associate director of Habitat's Suffolk affiliate, suggested staging a real Habitat home - not a showcase home.
Allocco and the new, central Long Island chapter of the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners took on the project. "This would be unique, but I said we can't approach it the same way," Allocco said. "We can't put rental furniture in there and then pull it out. That's mean."
For months, the stagers sought donations from businesses. In lieu of sod, Pam Holland of Holland Environmental Design in Northport got grass seed and big bags of fertilizer, which stank up her SUV for weeks before the yard was ready. Carmela Abella, a Selden-based stager, and the Girl Scouts filled Barnes' home with the necessities of life, even as her father grew sick and came to live with her.
"We feel so fortunate to have met each other," Allocco said of the other stagers. "I feel that by working together, it really strengthens the bonds."