Learn From the Professionals: Best Room Makeovers from Stagers

See how these staging professionals tackled trouble areas in a home and designed rooms that buyers love.

July 1, 2009

So what would a staging professional do if faced with a less-than-perfect room in a listing? Get ideas for your own listings by viewing some of these staging professionals' best room makeovers.

A Room That Lacks Warmth

Name: Joy and Tom McGuire

Company: Prepare For Sale Home Staging, Kingsburg, Calif.

Problem: "The walls in the master bedroom were worn and the wrong color for the carpeting, which was dirty. The vertical blinds were yellow and cracked, and the window treatments were uninteresting. The double bed was blocking the window and was the only furniture in the room. There also was no overhead lighting."

Solution: "We had the home owner paint the walls in a tone that complimented the carpet, the carpets cleaned, and we replaced the vertical blind panels. We traded the double bed with a king-sized bed from another room and placed it on the focal wall. We brought in some added furniture and lighting and added fresh, luxurious bedding and a simple, contemporary window treatment."

Too Much of Everything

Name: Jill Neugebauer

Company: Selling Impressions LLC, Clawson, Mich.

Problem: "There was too much of everything in this living room — furniture, competing colors and fabrics, too many knick-knacks on the windows and on the mantle, too may personal photos, the pet toys and bed, the area rug, etc. This is the first room a buyer saw when they walked in the front door and it did nothing to showcase the room's best features or the open feel of the main rooms."

Solution: "Mostly editing and shopping the home owner's vast collection of very nice things. For example, the blue flowered sofa was put in storage; everything was taken off the mantle, and some greenery was placed under the three pictures to highlight the custom fireplace. Everything was removed from the windows to let the light in. The personal items and photos were packed away and the sofa table was staged with a few simple items. The area rug was put in storage. The beige sofa was kept in the room and moved slightly to open up the walkway into the room from the front door, and around the back to the kitchen. The wing chairs were rearranged in front of the fireplace. All surfaces were de-cluttered and de-personalized to neutralize the home owner's presence."

Cost: "What was wonderful about this staging was it needed no additional pieces—I shopped the home owner's own things to makeover this room. The cost was in our labor only and it was a three-hour job or $225. Many home owners have what they need...or just too much of what they need...to stage their homes, so staging can be budget-friendly in these tough times."

Bold on Design

Name: Sharon McConnell

Company: Park Ave Home Staging & Redesign, Pennsylvania

Problem: "Upon entering the master bedroom, the bed stops you. There are a lot of bold patterns, which are very distracting to potential buyers."

Solution: "The wallpaper border was removed. I moved the bed, turned the quilt to reveal the solid side, and rearranged some of the art and accessories. The room now feels calming and spacious. Buyers can see themselves relaxing in this room."

Cost: $300. "A family member volunteered to remove the wallpaper border and touch up the paint. Furniture and accessories were re-arranged and re-purposed so nothing new was purchased. The only expense was for my time and expertise."

A Red Bombshell

Name: Joan Inglis

Company: Lake Wylie Home Staging

Problem: "This basement family room was painted a fire engine red—including the ceiling."

Solution: "New paint is the most economical thing you can do to prepare your home for sale. I selected a neutral wall color and highlighted the trim with a lighter color."

Cost: "This room cost the seller about $500 for a professional to prime and paint. This vacant home was on the market for over a year with no offers. After painting this room and staging the main floor and master suite, they received an offer within a month."

An Outdated 'Rotunda'

Name:  Val Allocco

Company: Staged 2 Sell NY, Northport, N.Y.

Problem: "Aside from the obviously outdated carpeting, the sellers had already painted the walls and were not open to re-painting with a warmer color. In addition, the living room (dubbed the 'rotunda room' by the original builder) had a curved wall without a focal point. There was a large cranberry-colored mica wall unit on the single straight wall.  Since the house was a 'flip', there was little to no furniture to work with."

Solution: "The buyers agreed to replace the carpeting (there is only subflooring beneath it).  Because they had already invested so much money into structural improvements, the budget could not accommodate the cost to stage with rental furniture. These savvy sellers actually went onto Craig's List and, after e-mailing photos of various living room sets to me for consideration, they were able to purchase second-hand furniture that was deemed appropriate and acceptable. The bookcase was found in an upstairs bedroom and brought down to add height and interest to the large, curved expanse of wall between the windows.  With the addition of some vibrant accessories, the room came to life!"

An Inviting Dining Area

Name: Ashley Whittenberger

Company: Interiority Complex, Austin, Texas

Problem: "This dining room was way too busy and cluttered."

Solution: "We removed the rug and some pieces of furniture and art on the walls. We opened the sheers and voila—much better!"

Some Outdoor Magic

Name: Tanya Griffin

Company: The Shaping Spaces Group, Los Angeles

Problem: "This outdoor patio was very unattractive and it did not make you want to stay out there long enough to enjoy the great views—and we all know views sell!"

Solution: " I created a chic but warm inviting lounge area outside."

Cost: The "after" photo only shows the main seating area of this large pool deck (other bar tables, chairs and ottomans are not shown). The cost to complete this outdoor makeover was about $1,500.

Taking a Uniform Stance

Name: Tasha Moody

Company: Simply Staged, Atlanta

Problem: "This living room is a perfect example of the necessity of uniformity of color." 

Solution: "We instantly calmed and transformed the room by painting a neutral sage color on the wall (Nantucket Gray by Benjamin Moore); using red as our accent color in throw pillows, rug, and dining centerpiece; and swapping the blue abstract over the sofa for a framed mirror.  A few plants and simple sheer curtains finished off the room."

Cost: $275


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