Meridith Baer’s homegrown empire of staging, furniture and design continues its stylish march forward
Written by Constance Dunn | Photography Courtesy of Meridith Baer Home
In the late 1990s, Meridith Baer was moving and looking for somewhere to store her things. She suggested to a developer she knew, whose property was languishing on the market, that he should let her decorate the empty home with pieces of her furniture and extensive plant collection. He agreed, and the property sold swiftly—and way above its asking price. Baer was asked to decorate another home. And another.
Today, her company, Meridith Baer Home, is a national force in design, staging an average of nearly 150 homes a month, from New York City to Miami, Pacific Palisades to Palos Verdes, and she’s starting in on global properties, too. (When we spoke in early October, her tally for the year had topped 1,600.) Baer’s offices are in glamour pulse points like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, the Hamptons and Miami, and she has a new line of furnishings, The Meridith Baer Home Collection, some of which is manufactured here in Southern California.
Baer’s firm also does private interior design and the leasing of luxury furnishings, all the way down to spoons and sheets. Speaking of, the latter wing of her business, which is growing rapidly, initially came from celebrities who were desirous of having a certain look to homes they were leasing, and wanted it done in as turnkey way as possible. “We’ve even been asked to get Q-tips and toothpaste for clients,” Baer says.
“And we’ll do it.” There was even a network show, HGTV’s Staged To Perfection, which featured Baer and her team staging luxe homes around Los Angeles.
“It’s beyond my comprehension,” the affable home mogul says of her success. So much so, that when she heads to her bustling Los Angeles headquarters (included in Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies for two years running), or surveys her warehouse—a mammoth space that houses a dizzying inventory of furnishings, artwork and other home-styling artillery that Baer describes as “Disneyland for lovers of things and interiors”—she’s still in happy disbelief.
“I look around and say to myself, ‘Holy Moly, how did this happen?’”
At the root of Baer’s success is organization, a strong business mind and public need. No doubt about it, the timing for a nascent home staging business was keen in the early 2000s, as realtors increasingly saw the tangible impact of a home dressed up in a welcoming cloak where potential buyers could aspire to live.
Staging is now a mainstay of high-end homes (and becoming more of a factor in other levels of the market, too), but Baer remembers it being a tug of war in the late-1990s, with her having to sell clients on the idea. “I had to get a big glass of water afterwards I talked so much,” she says. Baer still has her knack for identifying emerging design, real estate and home trends, and being picture-perfect ready to execute them. Take her InstaHome, a new offering that gets homes furnished in a matter of weeks, which is premised on Baer’s understanding of the do-it-yesterday mindset. “They want it furnished in a few days,” she says of clients requesting the service. “They don’t want to wait, and they don’t feel they have to wait.”
But there’s also Baer’s supreme style sensibility and an ever-evolving creativity that keeps her well-heeled clientele coming back. The Meridith Baer look is one that can be shape-shifted to meet a kaleidoscope of tastes, but can always be key-worded as smart, elegant and efficient. “The underlying formula is a neutral background palette that allows for change,” says Baer. This approach allows for Baer and her designers to continually put new trends and modes into play (like the current taste for bold color and earthy, textured objects).
Likewise, when it comes to her furniture line, Baer—who admits to a love for constantly shifting her own home scenery (“I can move my furniture around every week,” she says with a laugh)—can use her pieces to more precisely orchestrate the look of her staging projects. “The collection is always changing,” says Baer, who employs a team of 30 designers on the furniture side of her business. “We’ve become almost a collective in giving each other feedback.”
For someone who never set out to achieve such levels of design success, but has done an exceptional job of embracing and growing it with non-stop momentum, Baer has some tips that have kept her keel even through the years. Among them: Keep fear away by not over-leveraging oneself. “One of the ways that I was able to do it and be able to sleep at night is that I didn’t go to the bank and borrow a lot of money.
Every time I made money, I put it back in the business. So at each point I felt comfortable with where I was—and still do.”
After talking business, the conversation turns to creativity and inspiration.
“I would have loved to have lived in the 1920s,” says Baer, when asked where she might like to visit if offered a spin in a time machine. “The music, the pace, the fun, the dresses. It was such an exciting time.”
MERIDITH BAER HOME 310.204.5353 | MeridithBaer.com