Set the stage

Nine tips to make your home look its best at all times from four Toronto-area stagers

Toronto Star - - LIFE - ROBIN STEVEN­SON

Ever walked into an open house and thought “Wow”? That space was prob­a­bly staged to elicit just that re­ac­tion. Stag­ing tech­niques are in­tended to show­case a home in its best light — an un­clut­tered, spa­cious re­treat — to at­tract the largest num­ber of view­ers. But what if you aren’t selling? Here are nine style se­crets from four Toronto-area stagers that will help your home look its best. Make a great first im­pres­sion “A great home is per­ceived by its curb ap­peal,” says Pa­trick For­nasari, lead de­signer and owner, Stu­dio Linea Home Stag­ing and Re­design. “Planters sym­met­ri­cally po­si­tioned at the main en­trance dic­tate a sense of or­der and neat­ness.”

One or two colours in the planters look best, but colour­ful green­ery can also add a touch of the sea­son, notes For­nasari. Think­ing of paint­ing your door? Red is out. Black is in, says Ella Zetser, pres­i­dent, The Last De­tail Home Stag­ing. Cre­ate a wel­com­ing en­try­way Prospec­tive buy­ers get their first im­pres­sion when en­ter­ing the house. Friends and fam­ily mem­bers have the same feel­ing, says For­nasari. “The pas­sage should be kept clear and, if space al­lows, a sleek con­sole ta­ble ac­ces­sorized sen­si­bly and com­ple­mented by large art­work or mir­ror may be used. It’s even bet­ter if you have enough space to po­si­tion a bench or set­tee for prac­ti­cal­ity.” Afresh coat of paint never hurts Af­ter a few years of liv­ing in a room, the walls can be­come aged, dull and worn. “By ap­ply­ing a new coat, the room be­comes fresh and alive,” says Nancy Bakuska, pres­i­dent, Home Decor Stag­ing and In­te­rior De­sign. She sug­gests choos­ing a colour from a prom­i­nent piece of fur­ni­ture, a piece of art­work or your pil­lows. “Neu­tral colours are a def­i­nite for stag­ing but home­own­ers should use a colour that they love. Be sure to buy a tester (a small amount of the colour) and paint a larger square on the wall. See what it looks like in the day and a night. Make sure you like it in all lights.” Up­date your light­ing Light fix­tures have be­come a sub­stan­tial part of room de­sign, notes Bakuska. “Light fix­tures should be big and bold. They are like a piece of art.” Con­sider a chan­de­lier in mod­ern brushed nickel or crys­tal for a more tra­di­tional ap­peal. For­nasari of­ten sees re­cessed pot lights re­plac­ing the tra­di­tional hang­ing light fix­ture. “I love their mod­ern feel­ing, form and func­tion, how­ever, in­stal­la­tion is ex­pen­sive. I of­ten opt to re­place a few light fix­tures, es­pe­cially in vis­i­ble ar­eas. Light­ing strongly af­fects how we per­ceive a room; it re­ally cre­ates am­bi­ence and har­mony a space.” Play with fur­ni­ture place­ment Don’t as­sume your mover put your fur­ni­ture in the right place when you moved in all those years ago, says De­bra Gould, pres­i­dent Stag­ “Experiment with re­ar­rang­ing it to see if you can have a bet­ter traf­fic flow and a fo­cal point in each room.” Still too crowded? “Look at the pre­ex­ist­ing fur­nish­ing and decor to see if the fur­ni­ture feels ap­pro­pri­ately sized for the space, if large el­e­ments are bal­anced against smaller ones,” says For­nasari. “If you have the full set of a sofa, loveseat, two gen­er­ous chairs, a large cof­fee ta­ble and you feel the con­ver­sa­tional area is pretty much cramped, elim­i­nate the loveseat and use the two chairs side by side.” Show the bed­room some love Ever no­tice how the beds in staged homes look serene and invit­ing? Repli­cate the look at home by up­dat­ing your past-prime bed­ding with a light-coloured du­vet cover, co-or­di­nat­ing sheets and ac­cent pil­lows. “If your bed is in the mid­dle of the wall, put night­stands of the same height on ei­ther side,” says Gould. “They don’t need to match ex­actly, but the height must be the same.” Add a co- or­di­nated blan­ket at the end of the bed, place a read­ing lamp on each night­stand and hang a piece of art over the bed for a fin­ished look. Change the art­work over the sofa Staged homes rarely have bare walls. Nei­ther should yours. “Stop look­ing for the per­fect piece of art and put some­thing up,” says Zetser. If us­ing framed art, en­sure the mat­ting and frames are co­he­sive in style. Can­vas art is also an af­ford­able op­tion, says Bakuska. “Make it large. Very large. At least two-thirds the length of your sofa.” Re­think your sofa Why do some homes seem so bright? Look at the fur­ni­ture, says Zetser. “Most staged homes have light-coloured fur­ni­ture.” How­ever, this might not work for homes with small chil­dren. Choos­ing a less-ex­pen­sive couch and chang­ing it out ev­ery three to five years will keep the room look­ing fresh, she adds.

If a new sofa isn’t an op­tion, a few new pil­lows can be a quick and af­ford­able up­date.

“For $30 each, they look great and to­tally change the look of a room,” says Zetser. Edit, edit, edit Stag­ing your home is all about de­clut­ter­ing and neu­tral­iz­ing. That’s not to say you have to lose the things you love, but For­nasari sug­gests re­mov­ing dis­tract­ing items that don’t re­late to the decor scheme such as that tiny vase with ar­ti­fi­cial flow­ers po­si­tioned on a cof­fee ta­ble, mag­a­zines or literature piled up on a side ta­ble, a busy pat­terned area rug, a tiny piece of art­work above the sofa (scale and pro­por­tion) or small frames with fam­ily photos scat­tered along the wall (group­ing pho­to­graphs works bet­ter).


Stag­ing is about de­clut­ter­ing and neu­tral­iz­ing. Re­move dis­tract­ing items that don’t re­late to the decor’s scheme.

Staged homes rarely have bare walls. Nei­ther should yours

Repli­cate the look of a staged bed­room by up­dat­ing your past-prime bed­ding and adding ac­cent pil­lows.

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