Home Decor for IndieDwell Container Homes

Recently, we were asked to stage a home that was made from a repurposed, steel shipping container for the Housing and Urban Development Innovative Housing Showcase in Washington D.C.’s National Mall.

It was going to be a challenge to make this 900 sq. ft. home functional and homey for a family of four, but we jumped at the chance—not only because we love a challenge, but also because there’s a big, important cause behind this home.

IndieDwell, the company who built it, has a mission to make affordable housing units much more functional, beautiful, and healthier for the families that live there. Currently, most affordable housing for low-income families is filled with problems like poor energy efficiency, mold growth, and the presence of lead. IndieDwell’s homes are built to be energy efficient, which means they stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and they come with significantly lower energy bills. They’re also clean, modern, and surprisingly roomy for multiple people, finally giving many families that feeling of a real home without the cost.

The HUD Showcase was an opportunity for IndieDwell to get this cause and their homes in front lawmakers and national media. So the pressure was on to stage this home quickly and beautifully—so that everyone could see just how stunning these low-cost, IndieDwell container homes could really be.

You can tour the final design and home here.

Here’s how we staged this unconventional home:

We made it functional for families of four by balancing separate spaces with open concepts

Since these homes are made for families, it was important that each room feel like a private retreat for different family members. At the same time, we also wanted the heart of the home to feel as big as possible, which meant not cordoning off spaces with bulky furniture.

By ensuring that all the furniture in the shared spaces was pushed against the walls and angled toward a central, open space, we created a living room/kitchen/dining area that you were able to freely move around in without feeling cramped.

On the other hand, we gave each room its own specific function—like a nursery, master bedroom, or sitting area—so that there was plenty of privacy for families.

The floor plan reveals how Tactic Staging balanced open-concept home decor with private spaces.

We used light-toned home decor and neutral color to make small spaces feel bigger

We’ve previously written about how to make your small space feel bigger and more functional just by using sneaky home decor tricks. And using those tips for this home was especially important since at least four people would be sharing 900 sq. ft!

The key design choices we made were to keep colors neutral for the furniture and accessories while incorporating natural textures like leather, wood, and real plants. This way, the space could flow without visual interruption (seeming bigger), but it won’t ever feel sterile or boring.

Home decor experts know that light colors and organic textures are a surefire way to make small spaces feel bigger and homier

We made this home appeal to everyone with contemporary and warm home decor

The biggest challenge with staging a home is to choose decor and furniture that feels perfect for each unique space, is modern and updated, and yet appeals to most people. You want the home to feel lived in and inviting while still coming across as something of a blank canvas for potential buyers to see themselves making their own.

This shipping container added another challenge: How do you make a home that initially seems “temporary” really feel like a permanent home?

To give this home a permanent look, we chose beautiful artwork for each room and sturdy furniture. Artwork doesn’t take up any additional space or darken a small room, but it does add those punches of personality that make a room seem less empty. Meanwhile, sturdy furniture like a cozy headboard can add some weight to a room.

How do you make a home built from a shipping container feel permanent? Choose sturdy furniture and punchy artwork

We overcame the narrowness of the home by creating “moments” through home decor

A significant challenge of shipping container homes is that shipping containers are much narrower than traditional homes. So, we had to get creative to make sure that walking through this home didn’t feel like you were running the length of a shipping container.

One of the ways we overcame the narrowness was by finding places to create moments through design, breaking up the length without taking up precious space. For example, we added a charming, mid-century modern-inspired sideboard and eye-catching piece of art at one end of the long living space.

We created a charming corner at the end of the living space to break up the length, making the home feel less narrow

Ultimately, this project was a joy to design! We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to contribute to the success of IndieDwell’s amazing mission for better, healthier affordable housing options. Even though we didn’t get to see the home before we designed it, the end result was better than we could have hoped for.

IndieDwell and their shipping container home picked up a lot of national media coverage, including an interview with the Housing and Urban Development secretary himselfinside the home!

If you’ve got an unconventional house or apartment in the Washington D.C. area that’s proving tricky to sell, contact us for a free home staging consultation.

How to Use the KonMari Method When Moving

As a real estate staging expert, I’ve had a first-row seat to the emotional stress my clients experience as they’re moving house.

Especially if you’ve lived in the same home for years, you’re likely feeling many things at once. You may be excited to move into a new place, sad to be leaving your memories behind, and overwhelmed with the looming pile of work that stands between you and your move.

All these conflicting feelings are why you should approach packing up your home with a system that was created to address the charged emotions that are tangled up with your stuff: the KonMari Method by tidying expert Marie Kondo.

Most of us begin packing up our homes with dread. We either pack slowly and painfully over months, or we grab a giant trash bag and whirl through our homes with a thoughtless frenzy. No one can blame us for doing this. But there’s a better way!

The KonMari method can improve not only the practicalities of preparing for your move but also the emotional aspects.

 Here’s how you can apply Marie Kondo’s six core principles for tidying up to moving:

1.    Envision your old home and your new home as perfectly organized

For Marie Kondo, envisioning your home decluttered and organized should be one of the first things you do before tidying. The goal is to inspire motivation for your task. This is even more powerful in the context of moving as you think about the fresh start that awaits you.

Plus, homes that are no longer filled with the remnants of the previous owners—and instead are staged by a real estate staging company with neutral décor and furniture—on average sell for 6.32% more than your list price. That can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket. What could be more motivating than that?

So, before you succumb to stress thinking about everything still to be done, take a moment and just imagine how great it will feel to have your old home completely squared away and your new home organized.

Envisioning your new home organized is a great way to drum up the motivation for tidying and packing. Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash.

2.    Think of everything in your home as part of a category, rather than part of a room

A big part of the KonMari method is cleaning by category rather than location. When you’re moving, it’s tempting to pack up room by room so that you have that feeling of satisfaction when you finish a room.

But when you go by category—such as “papers” or “clothing”—you can get a birds-eye view of how many items in each category you have. Then, you can make a truly informed decision about what to keep and what to give away.

In addition, you will avoid the nightmare of trying to unpack boxes that include a nonsensical collection of items. Going room by room, you might create a box with the books that were on your coffee table, several candles, a throw rug, and a couple of couch cushions…plus some miscellaneous cat toys. This method makes for disorganized and inefficient packing. Going category by category, on the other hand, you’ll have neat boxes marked “Books” or “Pet toys.” Much easier to pack and to unpack!

Marie Kondo recommends the following categories for general tidying: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and sentimental. When you’re moving, you should add categories to account for all of your things. For example, you could add furniture, appliances, décor, electronics, and lighting to her original list.

3.    Follow the KonMari Method order of tidying to avoid getting sidetracked by nostalgia

It’s impossible not to have an emotional reaction to packing up your home. Unfortunately, getting caught up in that forgotten photo album or an old journal can derail your packing efforts for the day.

That’s why Marie Kondo recommends leaving the “sentimental” category for very last. Do your best to ignore sentimental items as you pack, knowing that you will have time to muse over memories once everything else has been put into boxes.

Save packing sentimental items for last, so that you don’t constantly get sidetracked from packing. Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash.

4.    Give away items before packing the “keepers”

As you pile together all your items from each category, you may feel the pull to start packing the ones you’re “certain” you want to keep. But, as the KonMari Method dictates, you should finish giving away the items you don’t want before you even start organizing the ones you do want. This way, you know exactly how many items you’re keeping in that category—and you can judge if you should give away more before you pack.

5.    Even if you’re eager to be done, don’t be thoughtless in your packing

There is so much that you have to check off your to-do list before you can finally consider your move finished. Still, resist the urge to hurriedly separate items into “keep” and “toss.” The most revolutionary takeaway from the KonMari Method is to treat your things with respect and care.

Especially for those “miscellaneous” items, pick up each item and pause for a moment before deciding whether or not to keep it. Ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it does, let yourself feel that joy, and then place it into the keep pile. If it doesn’t, feel good about your decision to let it go. This helps you gain a sense of control over the process of downsizing and reduces the stress that so often comes along with moving.

It may feel silly, but holding each item for a moment and asking yourself, “Does this spark joy?” before discarding or keeping it can help your packing feel meaningful. Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash.

6.    Finish packing before you put your home on the market

The KonMari Method advises committing completely to tidying for a full day or even longer so that you finish more quickly. When you’re moving, commit to packing and organizing by creating a deadline for finishing—before the last minute.

Too many homeowners drag on the transition process for months, essentially living between two homes. Or, they don’t give themselves enough time to properly pack up, not anticipating their home will sell as quickly as it does. Both scenarios lead to overwhelm.

Instead, commit to organizing and packing everything before a specific date. That way, you can plan for the next step—selling your home—accordingly.


Moving house is the perfect time to declutter and downsize your stuff. For many of us, it can be just the impetus we need to finally feel control of all the things we’ve accumulated over the years.

Hopefully, these tips for using the KonMari Method when moving will help you face the challenge of packing with less stress—and maybe even some joy.


All packed up and ready to start your new life in your new home?

Tactic Staging can help you get the highest sale price for your home with expert & tasteful real estate staging.  

Contact us for a consultation!

5 Simple Steps to Stage Your Home for Fall in DC

Fall can be a tricky time to sell your home in Washington, DC. People get busy with school and work and the weather becomes less conducive to a stroll around a new neighborhood. There’s something about the sense of urgency in the air and the declining temperatures that make many of us want to hunker down and snuggle up, not uproot our lives and move into a new place.

That’s why staging your home in the fall season is one of the best things you can do to make your space feel immediately cozy and welcoming to potential buyers. In fact, autumn gives you plenty of opportunity to tap into the magic of the season and use it to sell your home.

Here are five simple steps to staging your home to sell in the fall

Put extra effort into curb appeal. As leaves begin to fall off the trees surrounding your house, the exterior is left exposed and bare. You’ll want to be sure your house still looks warm and inviting from the street.

  • Clean up your yard. Rake the leaves before showings and get rid of any unwanted weeds. Add fresh mulch to flower beds.
  • Make sure everything looks fresh and new. Stain your deck or porch, and get a new doormat.
  • Add autumn-inspired plants and décor around your yard, front porch, or stoop, like pumpkins, mums, bold foliage plants, and fall flowers.
  • Amp up the cozy. Consider adding outdoor walk up lights to make your home instantly feel well-lit and inviting.
  • Don’t forget about your outdoor entertaining spaces. While it might be getting colder, it’ll still be warm enough to use your outdoor spaces until November in DC. Redecorate for fall with a new outdoor rug and throw pillows in warm colors.

Warm up your indoor spaces. People looking to buy in the fall are eager to make their new house or apartment feel like a home right away. Careful attention to decorating details can help make your house feel like the cozy home they were envisioning. (Check out our Pinterest and Instagram for more fall decorating tips.)

  • Bring the bright fall foliage indoors. Place an herb basket in the kitchen, display cheerful red apples or another favorite fall fruit or vegetable in a bowl on your dining room table, and arrange fresh fall flowers (some of our favorites are chrysanthemums or helenium) in vases throughout your house.
  • Emphasize your fireplace if you have one. It’s getting chilly, and you don’t want people to skip over your gorgeous fireplace! Make sure it’s clean and the mantle is well decorated for fall.
  • Use organic textures to make your home feel comfy and move-in ready. Use natural-feeling accessories like textile rugs, and place soft fleece or wool throws over your sofa. Light candles to change the ambiance of a room. Green, orange, and brown accents with warm neutrals are stylish and seasonal.

Aim for sun-soaked spaces. With daylight hours waning, it’s important that you let in as much natural light as possible into every room.

  • Let there be light. Open shades, curtains, or shutters in every room.
  • Get clean. Remove old window coverings and clean your windows.
  • Add mirrors in smaller rooms to create the effect of a larger, well-lit space.
  • Replace outdated light fixtures with new airy designs that mimic soft, natural light.

Infuse comfort into the smallest details. The illusion of high cost and comfort can be achieved without big renovations, simply by choosing luxurious-feeling décor.

  • Think bling. Shiny elements, like silver and gold, reflect light and create the illusion of an expensive interior.
  • Make the master bedroom feel lavish. Layer beds with silky or furry fabrics.
  • Create a spa atmosphere in the master bath. Display plush towels in the bathroom, along with mirrored trays with perfume and candles.

Paint over dirty or unconventionally colored walls. This is a good thing to consider when selling your home in any season, but it’s especially important during the fall, when buyers don’t want to do a lot of work themselves. Neutral palettes allow your autumn decoration to stand out and feel warm and inviting, rather than jarring.

For more easy and on-trend tips for staging your home to sell, no matter the season, or get inspired by following us on Pinterest and Instagram!