Staging Helena’s rural home

Helena found me through our Paso Fino horse club. She and her husband live on 80 acres in Penrose, CO and wanted to make sure her house looked great in order to sell it prior to their big move to Arkansas. She felt the house would be the secondary feature of the property since anyone looking at a property like this would, like her, have horses and the horse houses would be very important to most potential buyers. Well, her horses live pretty well, and the house is in great shape for selling since they had already taken some advice from their realtor to heart and decluttered extensively and painted a fresh neutral coat of paint on all the walls in the main living areas. In fact, the house looks as good as new in some places since they built it almost 30 years ago.

My main advice for Helena was to make every shelf 50% empty. Her gorgeous big kitchen still had 30 years of accumulation behind cupboard doors, and though the living spaces were neat and clean, every buyer looks in cupboards and closets, and if they appear to have lots of room for more items, they enhance the idea that there is plenty of space for the buyer to see themselves moving in and placing their items in those spacious cabinets and closets.

Helena’s three main areas that could use some tweaking were her living room, upstairs den, and master bedroom. The first thing to do in any room is determine what the focal point is; we will discuss this further as we look into each room.

The living room and den share a view to the mountains in the North West. Since the den is on the floor over the living room, they have identically placed windows. The windows create a natural focal point for both rooms so we decided to keep the focus on the view.

The living room has the only traffic lane from the front door to the kitchen, to avoid going through the living room , one can go through the laundry room, but making a path for visitors to follow back to the kitchen is important to maintain the all-important conversation area in front of the window focal point, while keeping that foot traffic from passing between the people that may be in the living room having a conversation, enjoying the view or using the other two natural focal points living rooms offer, mainly a pellet stove and a television.

Helena had already placed her furniture in the best orientation, keeping the sofa and love seat oriented toward the TV which resided between the windows, the pellet stove was to the left of the leftmost window. Having all focal points on one wall makes my job easier as a stager, keep the buyer looking at the exquisite view and make sure the room feels roomy, comfortable and clean. All the work decluttering and painting had already been done, so removing the massive dark wooden breakfront taking up space and visual weight on the wall across from the windows was my main recommendation. This freed up the space for her to move the three Asian mother of pearl inlaid matching shelves and cabinet to create a grouping that was attractive, and took less room than the wooden buffet with hutch. Since the mother of pearl is inlaid into black lacquer, the black will balance the big black TV and create a sense of proportion that will keep the room feeling spacious.

The den lacked a focal point other than the view, but it did have a funny tiled area in the same area the pellet stove is in the living room downstairs. This is plumbed for another stove to be installed. I suggested moving the furniture around the tile to make the view and the tile corner the focus, by moving an existing television hutch into the tiled space, it will make it look like that was set up for a reason. You never want your buyer guessing what something is for or why something is designed the way it is. If you can make an oddity into a design element, you solve a problem, or it never becomes one in the first place.

The master bedroom was the last place to focus on. It had a great big walk in closet and a lovely bathroom with a bay window over the tub, just the right spot to melt a long day of horseback riding away while looking out over the beauty. The first recommendation I made was to move the bed out of the corner and create a matched set of bedside tables. Helena didn’t want to block the windows with the headboard, and while this is a fine way to live, it makes a suggestion to the buyer that the room has something to hide, or it is too small. Even though the headboard would be over a window, it is made of openwork wrought iron and you can see right on through it, and it couldn’t have been a better choice if I had made it for her. Now the buyer won’t be looking at the alarm clock on the window sill and wonder if there isn’t room for two tables in the master.

For Helena, there was one major takeaway to remember. 50% of every cupboard, cabinet, closet and shelf should be open, lending the idea that the home has tons of storage and lots of nooks and crannies for the new owner to make themselves at home in.

Declutter and depersonalize, the mantra of every realtor and stager for selling a home, it makes your house look bigger and better.

Good luck selling yours! Call me if you need help getting ready for your sale! Beth 720-837-0853

Fun tidbit: what do other cultures call cabinets and closets? It can depend if they are built in or not, movable wardrobes and armoires can follow you from place to place. Built in cabinet, cupboard, pantry, and wardrobe may be used to refer to a place where clothes and food are stored. Watch out if you visit the U.K.or India and ask for a closet, you may be taken to the toilet. Or the reading nook, depending on if you made a detour to Elizabethan England.

By Beth

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