Mombo Interiors Connects Buyers to Their Future Homes Through Staging Services
Founder Lynne Henderlong Rhea sets sellers up for success in Austin’s hotter-than-ever real estate market
By Amanda Eyre Ward
Photos by Hayden Yates
When I sold my Avenue G bungalow twelve years ago, I did the “staging” myself. I bought brand-new, plush white towels from Target, made the beds neatly, and when there was a showing, took my golden retriever on a long walk. Someone told me to bake bread so the home smelled of fresh bread, but please.
Times in Austin, Texas have changed.
“Today’s buyers really expect the HGTV experience when they tour a home,” says Lynne Henderlong Rhea, founder and owner of Mombo Interiors. “Staging not only increases the perceived value of the home while creating an emotional connection for buyers, but usually translates into higher offers.”
“Online photos of staged homes get more ‘eyeballs,’” she continues. “You want to be a swipe right for your listing. Everyone looks online and in a hot market, that’s where today’s showings and open houses are. You only get one first impression!”
The staging process starts by hiring a certified home stager for a home consult. Lynne and her team meet with sellers to discuss cost-effective updates to get the highest return on investment. They can also stage a home with furnishings if empty.
“Creativity and problem solving is in my blood,” says Lynne.
I stopped by a Jack Boothe Construction in East Austin, designed by Architect Dawn Moore of Moore-Tate Projects in the “Modern Casa” style to see Lynne and her team at work. She and Shelley Ahmadi, lead designer, were in the midst of furnishing the home to ready it for sale.
In a sunny living room, Lynne had placed a dove gray couch that called to me, making me want to sink down and admire the view. Next to a built-in coffee maker, she’d arranged a gold tray with coffee mugs, as if beckoning me to make a hot cup and stay a while.
In the bathroom, Lynne had rolled snowwhite towels (at least I’d gotten something right in 2009!) and placed a loofah, bath salts, lovely woven baskets and plants. And on bedside tables and desks, she’d drawn from her wide collection of books to stack travel books in one bedroom and a colorful design book in another.
It was fascinating to listen to Lynne describe her process. As a Top Ten Best Vacant Home Stager of the Year, she certainly knows her stuff, and is able to conjure the perfect buyer for a home, then create their fantasy interiors. The East Austin home had a pool in a side yard, and Lynne told me how she decided the vacant room that opens into the pool area needed a “pool room vibe.” At the top of the stairs, what could have been a wide hallway had been transformed into a sitting room, complete with coffee table books about the Austin music scene and a cozy throw tossed across one chair.
I spoke with my favorite Austin realtor, Jessica Licona, owner of Licona Team Compass Real Estate, to get her take on staging.
“Staging is the difference of emotionally helping a future buyer connect with the home,” Jessica told me. “In fact, a staged home sells 73% times faster and for more money statistically than a non-staged home.”
I am lucky enough not to be buying or selling right now, but I couldn’t help but dream of how Mombo would transform my lived-in home. My meeting with Lynne was inspiring — maybe I’ll grab some new towels and art books for myself, then sink down into my well-worn couch and admire my own Austin view.