When people think of having their home staged, they might picture a professional sweeping into their space, turning their nose up at the decor, and completely changing everything.
However, staging doesn’t have to be dramatic to be effective. Subtle changes can make a big impact, but an experienced eye is essential. Knowing what to keep, what to replace, and what to move can make all the difference. When done well, the room may look like a similar but better version of itself.
Set in a picturesque wooded area, the four-bed, four-bath timber frame house was truly something special — in fact, a bit too special. Inside the 3,349-square-foot home, the owners had an eclectic collection of antique and rustic decor.
“This very personalized collection would not be fully appreciated by buyers and would instead distract them from the features of the house itself,” Nelson said. The first time she saw the home during a consultation, she had a hunch she’d be returning to stage it. “Fortunately, the owners were very willing to do whatever I told them to prepare for the sale,” she said.
To lighten up the home overall and showcase those appealing features, including timber framing, high ceilings, and plentiful windows, she sought to retain yet tone down the rustic decor. “The primitives worked well in this style of house, and I wanted to use them selectively to highlight various features and add to the charm and beauty of the house, not distract from it,” she said.
Nelson wanted to ensure the remaining decorative pieces were integrated into the overall aesthetic and didn’t stand out on their own. “I want the buyer experience to be such that everything used in the staging complements the house so much that the overall feeling of each room is ‘home,’ but not so much that the buyers notice specific items,” she explained.
The primary suite on the first floor is a perfect example of her subtle curating approach. Curtains and too many furniture pieces made the spacious room “feel dark, closed in, and definitely smaller than it really was,” she said. “None of these would be great selling points for buyers, nor draw them in with the photographs.” Meanwhile, features like tall windows and French doors leading to a back patio were obscured by the busy look.
Her goal was to transform the room into a light and bright space while maintaining just enough of the original aesthetic. “The prospective buyers would most likely be people who would enjoy the rustic charm of the timbers and the lifestyle that comes with that, so I wanted to accent this yet keep it neutral enough that it didn’t take over the design,” Nelson said.
While leaving the furniture layout essentially in place, key changes made a big impact. She felt that the wrought iron bed was a good fit for the room, but she debated over the handmade quilt on top.
“I decided that the quilt, although not something I would usually leave on a bed for a staging, was perfect in this room for the type of buyers who would be coming through,” she said, noting that the earth-toned blanket matched a framed quilt on the wall above the headboard. “So I used that to determine the style and colors of the room.”
The nightstands could stay, Nelson decided, as long as everything was removed from them except for the Edison lightbulb fixtures. She cleared out a large wooden box and filing cabinet from the foot of the bed. Not only did they add to the clutter and make the room feel smaller, but they got in the way of walking to the patio doors.
Additional furniture in the room included a dresser to the left of the bed, a big armoire to the right of the French doors, and another dresser by the closet. All but the latter remained in place, and that dresser was slid into a walk-in closet.
“It was the first thing a buyer would see when entering the room, and it took the focus off what I really wanted them to see and feel,” Nelson said. “Moving that dresser also helped give the room that spacious feel that I was going for.”
A red accent chair with a cute footstool matched the color scheme, so it, too, stayed. She took down all the drapes and curtains to brighten the space, but left the window shades as they were functional and coordinated well with the room. Meanwhile, she kept a neutral area rug since it helped ground the bed and lighten the space.
Finishing touches included removing personal items; adding rustic yet elegant accents, like a white orchid and leather-wrapped candle holders; and, last but not least, making one tweak to the bed.
“On the staging day, the homeowners had removed the items I had requested, but we hadn’t discussed the bed skirt,” Nelson recalled. “My assistant looked closer at it and realized the frame had a nice, wide black metal strip going around the whole bed and suggested we just remove the skirting. It was a little tricky, but what a difference it made!”
That small change is just another example of how Nelson’s careful editing didn’t have to transform the home’s identity to make it shine brighter than ever before.