Student Success Stories

The Academy of Home Staging - Student Success Stories

We love bragging about our students. We are like proud parents, ready to pull out our albums to tell you how great our family is and all the wonderful things they have accomplished. The students are our family and we are proud of each and every one of we are going to share just a few of their Success Stories.

Interview with Kristin Hildebrand

The Academy of Home Staging - Interview with Kristin Hildebrand

What made you go into design and home staging, is this something you have a knack for or something you have always wanted to do?
I always knew I wanted to pursue design at some point in my life. I played professional volleyball straight out of college for 10 years, but as soon as I retired from my pro career, I knew it was finally time to pursue my passion for interior design.

Did you have any experience prior to the course?
I didn't have any formal experience prior to the course. I had renovated my own home which was a really fun and fulfilling process for me, and helped a good friend furnish her home up in Calabasas. Hearing her feedback on how happy she was with the way her home came together helped give me the confidence to take the next step to pursue certification.

What stage is your business at now ?
I've built out my business to a point where it's something I'm extremely proud of! Since going to the Academy in Oct 2018, I've worked on 22 projects and counting! My projects have been primarily located in southern California, but I've also completed projects in Chicago, Florida, Lake Tahoe, and Portland!

What are some other challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
When I got my first remodel job, there were multiple things that came up that - thank God - I was able to talk to Wanda about. There is a lot of planning that goes into a kitchen remodel, and if things don't get planned for and executed correctly, they are very expensive mistakes to fix. Having the ability to talk to my advisor Wanda as I planned and prepped for the construction phase of that project was absolutely invaluable!

What advice would you give someone comparing courses? What advice would you give someone taking this one ?
Take this course and don't look back! This course gives you all the information that you need to get started, and then the support to keep going! I am so grateful to Kim and Wanda, as I can honestly say that finding them and taking the Design course at the academy changed my life!

Crystal Bennett’s remodeled home appeared on the HGTV program House Hunters

The Academy of Home Staging - Crystal Bennett’s Success Story

‘Can I really make a living in design or staging?’ At the Academy of Home Staging and Design, we get this question all the time. And our favorite answer comes by telling you about our students who are doing just that. On July 15, 2018, Crystal Bennett’s remodeled home appeared on the HGTV program House Hunters. Here’s how AHSD helped make it happen.

Crystal grew up in a small Texas town where her father, in addition to 20 years in the air force reserve, spent 38 years fixing factory machines. Her mother worked at the local prison. Crystal always had a curious spirit. She made it a point to learning as much as she could about her work at the coal plant where she worked as well meeting & learning about different people. When the announcement came that a new plant would be coming online, Crystal jumped at the chance to be a part of its planning and building.

But the next stage of Crystal’s life brought challenges.Within three months of each other, Crystal was laid off and diagnosed with breast cancer. After treatment and surgery, Crystal kept asking, ‘Now what?’ She applied for jobs, had some great interviews, but nothing happened. Crystal, a spiritual person, said to herself, ‘Well, I guess this isn’t what I'm supposed to be doing!’

Meanwhile, Nate, Crystal’s husband, had taken a seminar and started flipping homes (he had also been laid off). He was beginning to gain some traction. So even though finances were tight, Crystal told her husband he needed to continue training. “If you are going to do this thing, you have to do it right.” Then it hit Crystal; maybe she should get training. “I understand blueprints. I know how to run projects.” The cancer had made her see she was still young and that her time with her husband was precious. So she went online and started looking for courses in interior design and home staging.

What Crystal learned at AHSD took her to a different level. “All the real-life example from and Wanda (Wanda Colon, Founder and Instructor) and George (George Cambron, Interior Designer and guest Instructor at AHSD)and the forms and contracts I could use right away-they made the Academy something special.”

Something special is exactly why HGTV saw in Crystal’s design work. HGTV’s program House Hunters films clients as they find a new home to move into. The HGTV realtor found the home Crystal and Nate had just remodeled and wanted to feature it on the show. “I had come back from AHSD’s Interior Design program with a heightened sense of design, and was much better attuned to what clients want. But still, it was a total shock.”

In addition to her HGTV premier, Crystal and Nate have flipped two properties, one at a $60K profit, and a third project is under way. Is Crystal tempted to go back to the security of corporate work? Sure. But she can feel it-that Kim and Wanda genuinely want her to succeed, and that keeps her moving ahead. “We love doing this work. And I am still committed to ‘good’ just isn’t good enough. So far, Crystal’s approach seems to be paying off.

Maureen Torrisi, proud owner of her own Design Firm in Massachusetts.

The Academy of Home Staging - Maureen Torrisi Success Story

Maureen L Torrisi had always dreamed of opening a design business but never had the courage until after graduating from The Academy's Course. Maureen L. Torrisi, now proud owner of MLTDesign Group of Andover, MA, had always dreamed of owning a design business but never had the courage or confidence to actually go through with it. Maureen certainly had the experience and the drive.

After many years working in Real Estate Development as a Project Manager in the home improvement sector, life had a way of taking her in a different direction. Marriage and children became Maureen's priority for many recent years. When her life changed again, Maureen found herself in need of a job to help support herself and her children.Maureen got her real Estate License and tried her hand in selling real estate. "I couldn't stand it, and knew what I loved was getting homes ready to sell, or to live in " said Maureen.

After graduating from The Academy's Course, Maureen jumped right in to start MLTDesign Group and was almost immediately inundated with work handling everything from remodels to selecting all the materials to completely renovate spec homes. Maureen is happy to report;

"I am fully equipped with the tools and knowledge I received from The Academy and contribute my confidence and future success to Kim and The Academy.'s training". The Academy couldn't be more proud of Maureen and all of their students. Maureen's story is typical of graduates of all their courses since 2007 when The Academy was founded."

How Prathibha Kokkalera Makes the World a Better Place one Home at a Time

The Academy of Home Staging - Prathibha Kokkalera Success Story

The only thing better than using your talents to make a difference,
is when you are doing what you love.
Prathibha Kokkalera is doing exactly that.

Prathibha saw people losing their homes to foreclosure. Not only were they losing their their homes, they were losing their futures. Prathibha created a business to help these people. She buys houses before the bank forecloses on them so the owners can protect their future. Prathibha creates a home for a new owner, and the neighborhood gets an upgrade. This helps everyone, including Prathibha who loves combining her passion for interior design with serving people in need.

“My education at AHSD in interior design made it easy for me to visualize, transform and remodel every room I was flipping. And my home staging education helped sell the properties faster!” Prathibha now makes six figures, and owns two companies, and

She thanks AHSD and Founder/Owner, Kim Kapellusch’s on-going mentoring, for her success. For those who have similar aspirations, she believes AHSD is just the ticket.

Prathibha says, “If you are considering doing one or both these courses as I did, you will have no regrets. Apart from the knowledge and intense training, the continuing help Kim and her team extend after the program is valuable. It is sure to put you right on the path to success!”

Ellen Silverstein and Julia Parker of JUELL DESIGN, are two of The Academy of Home Staging & Design’s Alumni who are living out their design dreams, with a creative and lucrative career in Home Staging & Interior Design.

Their latest project is a collaboration with Architect and Client, Jeffrey Kamen.

They recently competed a gut renovation of a “Tiny House” project, which is a year-round bungalow located in Rockaway Beach, New York.

Starting in 1910 there were over 7,000 thousand bungalows built in the Rockaways, dominating the beach. Now only about 100 remain. Part of this area is now included in the National Register of Historic Places.

They were built along Rockaway Beach, which was then newly accessible from Brooklyn and Manhattan by train, allowing beach access to thousands of people.

In the 1950’s the area grew out of favor and sadly the neighborhood spiraled into economic decline. The area was further ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when thousands of homes were either lost or severely damaged.

"Our design goal for this 370 sq ft bungalow," stated Ellen and Julia, “was to turn it into a high-quality year-round rental unit. Given that this project embodies “tiny house living” we had obvious additional challenges in trying to make it as modern and comfortable as possible, like carving storage areas out of nooks and crannies, keeping the kitchen small but usable, including an 18” dishwasher, making sure the bedroom could hold a queen-sized bed, and that the bathroom was comfortable, all while using updated and stylish finishings."

Ellen and Julia are very excited because they are currently working with Jeffrey Kamen, Architect on a second bungalow, their goal is to be “the be the catalyst for the redefinition and reshaping of Rockaway Bungalow’s into modern stylish ‘Tiny Houses’.” The team feels strongly that, “these Tiny Houses maintain the intimacy and the communal spirit that will integrate them into the Rockaway Bungalow Community."

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