From screenwriter to actress and model, Meridith Baer never imagined becoming a businessperson, let alone the founder of a leading home staging company at age 50.

Now, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Miami, Meridith Baer Home has flourished into a lifestyle brand that does more than just increase a home’s value.

Photo courtesy of Meridith Baer Home.

What brought you to design?

As a kid I loved rearranging furniture and my mom let me. She bought and flipped mansions in the Midwest and she would take my advice on what to buy or how to arrange. My apartments always looked great with inexpensive finds and friends often asked me to help them pull their places together, which I did gladly.

How does design make you happy?

When I wrote scripts, it was hard to feel realized. So many people get their fingerprints all over what you’re doing and a project can go on for years and may still never get made … or not get made in a way I saw it. But I can stage a home in a matter of days and have a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

What is your favorite room or type of home to stage, if there is one, and why?

All homes present a unique challenge. Making older homes fresh and young is very satisfying. Personally, I love doing modern homes with a mix of styles, even throwing in a bit of neoclassical here and there.

Are there any activities outside of work that help inspire your work? Any that help you escape?

Travel is a great inspiration. I always come home with new ideas. I read every home magazine I can get my hands on. The only way I get away from work is Sudoku. It doesn’t inspire me but it is all about bringing order … which, in part, is what design does.

This modern, double-height living area with elegant contemporary furnishings opens out to an inviting patio featuring a stunning pool and cabana.

Photograph by Bernard André, bernardandre.com

what influence, if any, do you get from where you live?

Living in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time outside and it is very important to me to bring the outside in and the inside out. Growing up I spent a lot of time at the family ranch, so I like to include rustic elements in my designs.

Is there a specific style that you use when staging a home, or is it more particular to what the owner/seller has in mind?

What differentiates us from every other staging company is that we do enjoy doing all styles and have the inventory to do it. Before we begin, it is important that we get a clear understanding of what the broker and homeowner want, as we want to accommodate their ideas.

What is the most important element to remember to keep in any space you stage?

Everything has to look natural, easy and comfortable. Our job is to show the lifestyle one can have when they buy this home.

What colors, styles, and/or themes do you like to play with the most? The least?

I like backgrounds that are white or black … then I bring in color with rugs, art and accessories. I hate when a room has only one look … like everything came

An inviting step-down library features a muted palette and sophisticated textures.

Photo by Wanderlust Photography, thewanderlustphotography.com

from one showroom. However I like groupings of objects … either the same color but different sizes or shapes, or a small collection arranged in an interesting way, or a single simple item. I like to tell stories with things.

Do you tend to “bring work home with you?”

I’ll ignore my home for a month or two, just live in it, then I’ll be walking by the living room, take it in with a long look, and start rearranging. Furnishings don’t need to be permanent.

What kind of design trends do you want to see in the future?

Interior design, like fashion, is always changing. For a number of years now modern has been trending. Unfortunately it has gotten fairly cookie cutter.  So I would like to see more of a mix in homes … modern mixed with different periods and sensibilities.

Any projects you’re working on now, or any in mind for the future?

We’re always coming up with new designs and have begun manufacturing much of our furniture. We’re also in talks about a new television series about e-commerce and hotel design.

This soothing master bedroom suite highlights striking water views with a cool, relaxing color palette and clean, transitional furnishings.

Photo by Rebecca Duke, instagram.com/rebeccamduke

What advice would you give to someone going into interior design or starting his or her own firm?

Go for it!

Traditional and contemporary elements accentuate wood and stone in a study with tree-top views.

Photograph by Jim Bartsch, jimbartsch.com

Comfortable upholstered lounge seating brings the indoors outside, complementing the infinity pool.

Photograph by Simon Berlyn, berlyn.net