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As part of our BREL Spotlight series, today we’re talking with Kiel, our Designer and Stager Extraordinaire. He’s been part of BREL since 2016.
Why did you get into staging and design?
Before joining the BREL team, I had recently moved back to Canada to study design, after years of being away. After finishing my second year of a three-year program, I was less than enthused about the direction it was taking me. I decided that if I found a job in design that summer, I would take the two-year diploma instead of the three years one I had planned on. I applied to a staging position I found online and the rest is history.
What did you do before becoming a Professional Stager?
Prior to BREL, I was a student, and before that, I was working on a private yacht in Miami. After completing a four-year undergrad degree in Communications, I spent the better part of my twenties travelling. I sold natural gas and waited tables in Vancouver, taught English in Korea and Laos, worked at a hotel on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef region of Australia, and ended up catching the yachting bug in the south of France. Long periods were spent wandering in between and though it wasn’t a straight road, I’m glad my path led me back to Toronto and to BREL.
What’s it like being on the BREL team?
Being on the BREL team is like being on a rollercoaster. It’s fast-moving with unexpected twists around every corner. Just like a ride, it’s always exciting and leaves you wanting more.
What do you love most about staging homes?
The thing I love most about my role is the variety. Every day is different and no two properties (or clients) are the same. I get to design several spaces a week and it’s entirely hands-on, unlike my design experience in school. I interact with design and trade professionals all over the city, with an array of interesting clients, and I’m constantly being forced to evolve as a designer by working in different spaces with different needs. The satisfaction of having a client fall in love with their space all over again is pretty great too.
Tell us about where you live.
I live in the glamorous neighbourhood of Moss Park, but you can call it Cabbagetown South if you like. It’s a little rough around the edges but I’m surrounded by some of my favourite neighbourhoods and parks, close to many of my friends, and have a killer view.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Home is where I relax after a long day. It’s my happy place, designed for me, by me. I feel at home when I visit friends and family where I grew up, but I also feel at home wherever I live after hanging pictures of loved ones on the wall and styling it to reflect my current tastes. Years of travel have helped make the notion of home flexible to me. It will always be a feeling more than a place.
What’s your craziest real estate story?
One of my craziest experiences on the BREL team happened not long after joining. We had a listing come in that had to hit the market within days. My senior colleague became ill and had to take some time off at the same time. I found out about the listing on a Wednesday and had to have the property photographed on Thursday. After a late-night of shopping and gathering items in the warehouse, I arrived at the property feeling overwhelmed on game day. It was my first stage without my colleague. In the end, the client was thrilled and the listing was featured as a property of the week in Toronto Life. I had arrived.
What we about Kiel:
By Melanie, Broker/Owner
A lot of people misunderstand staging and think it’s just about adding artwork and pillows – but it’s SO much more. Kiel blows us away with every single home he transforms. As agents, we know what the ‘befores’ look like – and it’s truly unreal what he accomplishes.
Beyond his great sense of style and design talent, he’s somebody we know we can depend on and he regularly saves the day for us (and more importantly, our clients). Kiel’s the consummate diplomat too- and given how stressful staging and selling can be, his genuinely kind way of telling you he wants you to get rid of your couch and the 20 wedding photos on the wall is appreciated by all. You never feel judged, no matter what your furnishing or design choices are.
Kiels’ such an important part of our team – not just for his work, but for who he is. Everyone at BREL adores him.
Kiel also writes our design blog over at UPstaging, where he shares his design tips, tricks and inspiration. I learn from it every single week – but I really understood how impactful it was when I visited my Mom in her new condo a few weeks ago and she quoted design advice that she ‘had read somewhere’ – and it was Kiel’s advice! I was so proud. If you’re into interior design, you should follow his Instagram account too.