Genoa stager decorates the White House for the holidays |

Genoa stager decorates the White House for the holidays

by Scott Neuffer

In the fast and chic world of real estate staging, it’s the ultimate job, the home of all homes, the stage of all stages.

Genoa resident Bonnie Foster, owner of Shamrock Staged Homes, was notified this fall that she had been chosen to help decorate the White House for the holidays.

A retired nurse turned professional stager, Foster, 72, had filled out an application earlier in the year detailing her business and staging experience.

She was selected from a pool of 1,000 applicants to join 84 other professionals in a five-day decorating spree beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

“We were there for a week, divided into teams and assigned rooms,” she said. “We worked from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.”

During the first two days in Washington D.C., Foster explained, participants worked out of a nearby warehouse, fashioning arts and crafts for the year’s theme: “Joy to all.”

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“There were bows and boxes and styrofoam balls. We used glue guns to attach ornaments and wires and make groupings,” she said. “Then we went to the White House and put it all in motion.”

Foster decorated the stately Grand Foyer, or Entrance Hall, on the north side of the White House.

“We did four trees, plus garlands over all the archways,” she said.

She worked in a special apron labeling her a “White House volunteer/2012.” And she got to see the library, the China Room, and Blue Room, the latter housing the nation’s Christmas tree.

“I saw pictures of presidents all the way back to George Washington,” she said.

Although Foster was on her own for lodging, she was fed lunch and coffee every day by the White House kitchen staff. Besides the apron and a volunteer badge, she received an official ornament for the year, a figurine of President Taft riding in a steam-powered touring car; an official invitation to a Nov. 28 reception, during which she mingled with First Lady Michelle Obama; and a holiday card signed by the Obama family and White House dog, Bo.

“It was a serene experience,” Foster said. “Just to be there.”

There was one drawback to staging the White House, though.

“Security was very tight,” she said. “They would come and check on us quite a few times a day. Of course, that’s the way it has to be.”

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