See How a Stager Gave a Dated Living Room a Super Luxe Vibe (Instantly!)

See How a Stager Gave a Dated Living Room a Super Luxe Vibe (Instantly!)

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This Chicago condo had so much going for it: generous size, outstanding views, and a fabulous location on Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast. “It’s one of the most posh addresses in the city,” says Chicago-area Realtor and home stager Molly Marino of Home by Molly Marino. “This condo is in a luxe high-rise building located steps from everything,” 

The condo’s longtime owner lovingly put his own mark on the place. “He built it out tastefully many years ago with beautiful vintage and fine furnishings,” says Marino. “I’m told one of the desks in the home was actually Abe Lincoln’s official state desk.” Besides decorating, the owner made changes to the property’s floor plan. The condo started out with three bedrooms, but the owner decided to take down the wall between the main living area and one of the bedrooms to create an open-concept space. The expansive area grew to include a dining area, formal sitting area, and a spot to chill with a recliner, built-in bar, and television.

When it came time to sell, though, the property needed help getting potential buyers in the door. Given the price point the condo’s location could command, the selling agent knew that the high-end buyers looking at it would most likely want to renovate to suit their own needs and select their own finishes. Still, it was important to get buyers excited about the property, and the agent knew Marino could help. 

Her assignment: Tone down the space, make it seem more luxe, and showcase the views. “He wanted me to bring in furniture to show the spaciousness of the rooms and to give the photographer some focal points to take lovely photos to draw in buyers to experience it for themselves,” she says.

At the top of her to-do list was swapping the dark wall color for a lighter one that reflected the light from the home’s large windows. The seller’s heavy, ornate furniture was moved out in favor of more transitional pieces that resonate better with today’s buyers. This included a large, neutral sectional and a streamlined dining table. Soft goods like throws, accent pillows, and rugs instantly warmed up the space and created welcoming zones. The floors are gorgeous herringbone wood and although it pained Marino to cover them up in certain areas, it was necessary to make anchor points for the furniture to delineate the different areas — dining, living, and office — of the open-concept space, explains Marino.

Adding one more challenge, Marino needed to show that the property could be returned to a three-bedroom home. (The original third bedroom was in the space where the recliner and TV are in the “Before” photos.) This relied on some creative staging for sure. “Of course, I couldn’t put a bed in the living room to show that it could be a bedroom again, so we decided on a desk setup with a see-through bookshelf as a dividing wall,” she says. “This gave buyers the idea that they could indeed close that area in again to make an office or a third bedroom.” The strategies for highlighting the property’s positives worked and it went under contract immediately.



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