Overseeing up to 30 potential properties in various states of completion each week, Jeff Marshall— owner and principal of one of California’s leading home staging operations, Marshall Design Group— is on the speed dial of real-estate agents statewide. Here, a conversation with the industry hot property.
Written by Jenn Thornton
Was design always your passion?
Jeff Marshall: Remodeling and bettering properties is just in my blood. Ever since I was a kid, my parents have been buying and selling real estate. I guess I’ve got drywall dust in my lungs, and I’ve always loved being a part of transforming homes into showcases.
What influences you creatively?
JM: Music has always played a huge role in my life and is definitely [an] early catalyst… I started playing the drums when I was about 7 years old. I’ve always found my center and true joy behind the kit. … Music inspires me, and I’ll often lock on to a new creative idea while in its grasp. I was heavily into theater throughout high school, performing as an actor, which even led to some professional roles later on. Over the years, I’ve been involved in the production side of media projects, helping to produce creative ventures for talented up-and-comers. These projects keep me surrounded by amazing performers who continually inspire me, and those creative juices flow over into the design work I do.
It’s about meeting new people, learning and listening. As a home stager, I’m trying to tell a story with my furnishings, like building a composition, creating a vision of the kind of life that could be lived in that space.
Every vision needs a visionary.
JM: I often say it would be great to have a crystal ball to know who the buyer of a particular house was going to be—that way I could dress it to meet their tastes. But being crystal ball-less means I need to make decisions that will hopefully prove inviting to the majority.
Beyond intuition, what’s your approach?
JM: I like to get to know the clients as well as possible; learn about their lives, where they’ve traveled and what they’ve brought back, what their long-term goals are for the property, etc. I also like to know about where they’ve lived before and what they liked or didn’t like about that home. Are they mercurial, always changing styles of furniture and decor, or are they grounded in traditions of style that need to have an important lasting presence? The detective in me wants all the facts before deciding how to proceed.
JM: I’ll make suggestions on improvements, carpet, paint, fixtures, etc., and then I’ll race to the next project… all spread out, from Laguna Beach down south, all the way up to Santa Barbara. We not only offer staging services for properties being marketed, but also a comprehensive interior design service. We’ll make recommendations on everything from landscaping to bathroom fixtures. We’ve even started to manufacture our own line of custom furnishings.
As a family business, what does Marshall Design Group offer clients that is unique?
JM: We pride ourselves in offering a truly personal experience. Like a doctor on call, I’m always reachable, and if there’s something we can do to help our clients feel good about our service, we go after it. There’s nothing better than hearing that a property we staged is in escrow and that everyone was happy with our work. I look at each project as an opportunity to build a relationship that can last longer than the current project I’m furnishing.
In what way is Southern California a factor in your work—do you pull inspiration from a sense of place?
JM: I just love Southern California… there’s truly no place like home. The easygoing lifestyle here has infiltrated my bones and definitely finds it’s way in to my design direction.
JM: We recently staged a landmark property in Bel Air that will be sold for about $40 million. It was a tremendous affair, with every member of my family pitching in—even Mom and Dad helped shop for lamps! We continue to gain a positive presence in Orange County and Palm Springs, and it’s exciting to see the company grow.
Marshall Design Group
310.435.5293 | MarshallDesignGroup.com