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October 03, 2012 09:50 PM

Cardboard Couches

Sioux Falls, SD

Everybody knows it's tough to sell an empty home, but filling it up with heavy furniture can be time consuming and expensive. 

Now, a Sioux Falls couple has come up with a solution, patented their ideas and started a business.

"You want to come into a home and feel, 'oh I want to live here' and you don't get that in a vacant home," Karen Nielsen said.

It only took minutes to turn one home from vacant to livable thanks to a product developed by Karen and Kevin Nielsen.   Karen learned about an easy way to stage a home when she worked as a stager in Washington State.

"When I'd get a job, he'd work all day; I would drag three kids with us and we'd move furniture in and that didn't last too long. He decided there needed to be a better way," Karen said.

"I wanted to come up with something not only less expenses, but more compact; something that could store easily; transport easily; essentially something you could do with one person so I wouldn't have to haul furniture anymore," Kevin said.

Kevin says he got the idea of what to do while playing blocks with his kids.

"I came home one day from work and he showed me this block, we had these wood blocks and he has sketched something out on it," Kevin said. "I have an idea. We are going to build furniture, so we don't have to haul furniture in."

Kevin first built furniture out of plywood, but quickly decided to use cardboard. 

He worked with his brother-in-law in Sioux Falls on the idea and the couple moved here to launch the business and NextStage Furniture was born. 

The cardboard pieces are assembled and then slip covered.

"It all folds into a bag, you carry it in; you set it up. One person could do the whole job," Karen said.

"I think their biggest concern is and one of your first questions was, ‘What happens when people sit on it?’" Kevin said.

And yes, you can sit on it.

The Nielsen's say their patented design holds up to 2,200 pounds. Stagers across the country are ordering their cardboard furniture and it's been a big hit in Canada.

"We're really sensing a big change; a lot more calls, a lot more orders, things are really starting to pick up," Kevin said.

"We decided it was worth putting everything in. If it failed, at least we gave it a shot.  It's something we're really proud of.  We got two patents and I just think if people can embrace the idea it could change staging. It really could," Karen said.

The Nielsens say that $800 to $1,000 worth of their cardboard furniture and slipcovers replaces $3,000 worth of "real" furniture.

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