In a recent blog post I asked how you would handle a home staging consultation in the living room pictured here.
This room is similar to many you’ll come across in your home staging career. A lot of people actually live like this – with too much furniture jammed into small spaces and no attention paid to traffic flow.
The room here isn’t going to do anything to woo a potential buyer. First of all, when a buyer gets to the couch facing away from the dining room, they’re going to have to back up and turn around to find a different route into the living room! You and I know that whoever buys the house can arrange their own furniture however they like, but in home staging we need to help potential buyers imagine themselves living comfortably in a space because some people can’t see past these things.
The couch acting as a barrier to the living room is the major thing that stands out but the following is my complete list of recommendations for this living room:
These walls are fairly neutral and wouldn’t offend anyone. But for more punch, I’d look at Benjamin Moore® colors like Castelton Mist (HC-1) or Waterbury Cream (HC-31). These are both staging colors I have used in countless homes and recommend in the Staging Diva Ultimate Color Guide: The easy way to pick colors for home staging.
Of course the final decision can only be made in the room since colors look different under different lighting conditions. You also have to put the colors you’re considering up next to any existing fabrics in the room, the floor, etc. Colors look different depending on what’s around them and you want everything in the room to work together.
Rearrange and add furniture
There’s simply too much furniture in here. The wooden Television cabinet on the left needs to be removed – the space is too small for it and it acts as an undesirable focal point in this room.
I always try to eliminate televisions anyway, especially if there’s any other space in the home more geared towards watching TV like a basement or family room. If this client demanded a television I would recommend getting a flat screen to hang on the wall.
I would suggest a slipcover for the couch to update the look and I would move the couch under the window. It might have gone where the cabinet is now, but because there is another entrance to the living room area on the opposite wall, it could look a bit awkward there (this is easier to judge when you’re actually standing in the room looking at it from all the angles a potential buyer would).
There should be a glass-topped end table at each end of the sofa, each with their own lamps. I would also add a glass-topped coffee table in front of the couch with a couple of interesting books, decorative object or flowering plant (a vase will be too easy to tip over on a low table, especially if children live there or will tag along for showings). I like using glass tabletops in small rooms like this to create the illusion of extra space.
With the couch on the wall where the cabinet is now, I would bring in a more modern arm chair to replace the gray one in the corner and rather than the table lamp, I would place a floor lamp behind the chair. A potted plant should go in place of the existing end table and I would add long ottoman below the window. When the couch is moved to the opposite wall, this will create a nice seating area.
With the couch under the window instead, I would place two matching chairs facing it with a small glass end table between them. This would create some visual separation between the living and dining areas, without blocking the path the way the current couch placement does. In this arrangement, an electric fireplace with mantel (and art above it) could be placed on the wall where the tall wooden cabinet is now. This will provide a nice focal point when viewing the room from the living room entrance and generally warm up the room.
In the dining room the black chair should be moved to the side of the table, at least for the listing photograph.
The family photo needs to be removed from the dining room wall and replaced with art. The contents of the china cabinet need to be carefully arranged to minimize clutter and complement the room.
New solid-color curtains should be added to the windows and the rods raised to about 4 to 6 inches below the ceiling. This will make the ceilings look higher. The current print looks dated, even in the photograph. Use pre-made drapery panels to keep the costs down.
A flower arrangement in the center of the dining table would be a nice touch – something small in scale to fit the space.
I would hang a nice piece of art suitable for home staging on the wall above the sofa (if it’s not under the window) and on the opposite wall.
For more living room home staging advice read the Staging Diva Ultimate Design Guide: Home Staging Tips, Tricks and Floor Plans. It’s full of home staging advice and sample before and after photos from many of my home staging projects. You’ll also find my 80 favorite colors for home staging, arranged into color palettes in the Staging Diva Ultimate Color Guide. When you buy both guides at the same time, you’ll save $15.
Home stagers, is there anything I’ve missed that you would do to this living room? Which option would you choose: the couch on the wall where the wood cabinet is now, or the scenario I presented with the couch under the window and two chairs facing it?
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging
Debra Gould knows how to make money as a home stager and she developed the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program to teach others how to earn a living doing something they love. She is frequently profiled in the media for her home staging expertise and is the author of 5 guides for home stagers.
Amy Bly says
I would prefer the couch on the window wall scenario, although this is a tough (small) space to work with! I’m curious if you find you can recommend people buying a new chair or any other furniture to update their space? I don’t feel comfortable doing that, although I will say to move around/swap out furniture pieces where possible. I will also suggest slipcovers, no problem! I also generally just tell people to remove out-dated, frou-frou, etc. curtains, and will only suggest buying anything new if there is a privacy concern. The people I deal with never seem to want to spend $$ on purchasing anything new!
. This is one small space to stage well. Using their furnishings, your suggestions are best for living large. I wish other photos showed right of the DR space; I’m assuming the “L” space is their kitchen/half bath; it seems logical. The “L” wall (corner table wall looking left & right) is not well utilized: once the sofa is moved to the far end, the entire room opens up & with it, other possibilities.
I DON’T SEE A FRONT DOOR. WHERE IS IT?
. (1) In a small space, I’d be deliberate & warm. PANELS: Light & airy, hung ceiling-to-floor. PAINT: One mid-fan color throughout the space(s) w/a “next to” fan color applied to the entire ceiling [my FOCAL WALL] for an “unexpected” wow. The FLOORS appear wood or laminate – a plus to work with. RUG: If the room needed more oomph, add a colorful 5’ by 7’ rug. LIGHTING: 2 windows give natural light: I’d add two- 5 ½ ft+ floor lamps. [Suitable ART & live flowers are mandatory.]
. (2) Using their slip-covered sofa or purchasing/renting The Perfect Small Sectional/chaise placed at far end w/medium-sized glass coffee table in front would update the space & enhance flow. Chairs: one small chair in coordinating fabric for conversation: two small ottomans for added seating. [Extra fabric for pillows, cushions for DR chairs, etc.]
. This space lacks a needed wall: I’d place a well appointed & attractive Room Divider-Screen @ right corner for TV & Components w/the outer screen folding forward to block the TV. (This screen allows light through yet blocks the ugly TV back & bounded wires.)
. (3) Once I know where the front door is,The Perfect Sectional/glass coffee table [where table is now] might allow an alternative staging variation.
. Is my plan feasible? W/O proper photos, “what ifs” are unknown.
Debra Gould says
Sherry, the point of this was to get stagers thinking of ideas. It’s not practical in this forum to show you all angles of the room.
But since you asked such a great question, the window you see is the front of the house with the front door being on that same wall. So, when you walk thru the front door of the house and turn to your right, you’d be looking into the room from just beside where that lamp is on the right of the photo. That’s why I didn’t really want to put the couch on the opposite wall and preferred it under the window.
But, but, but Ms Debra … YOU DID GET ME THINKING OF IDEAS :>)
I stand by my original statement: “Using their furnishings, your suggestions are best for living large.”
HO Ho ho,
Barbara Reyes says
Depersonalize the two rooms. Change color to a cream or off white. Place a longer drapes maybe sheers in between a leaving blinds open for light, re arrange furniture in both rooms, couch by window with a smaller end table with lamp. Remove or replace tv stand with wall tv or take out. Place a ice wing chair and a floor lamp or small table with lamp next to it as we’ll. Greenery in corner. Remove outdated furniture or cover up outdated furniture.
Debra Gould says
Thanks for sharing such detailed recommendations Barbara!
Small spaces are fun. I find its not about the size of the room as much as how its being used and how to make it inviting and functional. In this room, I would place the sofa in front of the window and move the chair to the wall creating an L shape with the two. A medium sized piece of art above the chair. Matching slipcovers for both pieces. Since the window frames are a bright white and the floors are dark, I would place a medium sized shag white rug just under the sofa. I would leave the paint on the walls as-is. I agree about raising the height of the curtain rods and get drapes or light flowing curtains that tie in the colors of the slip covers on the furniture that reach just above the floor. I agree about the glass top tables but would only have a small to medium size coffee table and would use two floor lamps on either side of the sofa. Adding a bowl on the coffee table with some colored glass balls since most of the colors in the room are neutral. I would also remove the tv and cabinet as well as all other art, tables or lamps. I would add a large framed mirror where the cabinet was to add the impression of size to the room with a large plant below it. In the dining area, the china cabinet can be reorginized and the art above it can remain as it does seem to compliment the cabinet but it needs to be hung 6-8 inches higher. If the table can be moved over slightly to create more flow and walking room to open the area that would work well. And of course keeping with the the style of the china cabinet and art, I would add an orchid on the dining table as a centerpiece.
Debra Gould says
Great suggestions Joanna, you sound like a professional home stager! Are you yet?
Dawn jackman says
I would get rid of curtains and make valance. It needs light. Move couch out of doorway or get rid of it altogether and get a cozy little loveseat. You could even replace couch with a piano and no tv. Sitting room with some music and charm.
Debra Gould says
Dawn, don’t think moving in a piano makes sense for home staging. Agree bringing light in is important. Depends on what market you’re in though, in many areas a valance would be considered dated.
Wow! It is really good info! Thanks for sharing this post ?
Nuziha butt says
I would remove the couch from the kitchen entrance and will place under the window and placing the glass end table on both side of sofa with placing table lamp on them and moving the chair in corner where the tv unit is I will remove the tv unit from there and put a wall hanging or big beautiful mirror and behind the chair I will put a floor lamp and I would like to remove the curtains by replacing Californian shutters or put sheer curtains and in dining I will change the place of table by moving couple of inches toward the window and place two candle stand on it and change the curtains with sheer or totally remove them and depersonalize by removing pictures and de clutter the China cabinet
Debra Gould says
Katherine E Wood says
I really wish I see what the rest of the house look like. I would remove all the furniture. Keep the torch lamp maybe get another one. Get some club chairs. This looks like it could have been the parlor at one. so convert back to one. Update window treatment. Or maybe make it a breakfast nook. Thought maybe make that the dining room.
Depending where the kitchen is at. Get an area rug.
Carol J. Bradley says
Change curtains to blinds, move the chair out from the wall, use a love seat instead of a couch, add more pictures to the walls, change the brown thing on the left to shelves to open the living room up.