See How a Home Stager Gave an ‘80s Townhouse a Bold New Look

published Jun 5, 2023
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Empty bedroom before renovation.
Credit: Miranda Tamaska

The 1980s weren’t necessarily known for architectural charm but there’s something about this Nashville townhome, with its rustic wood exterior and wood trim, that gives it a homey, nostalgic feel. Walkable to Vanderbilt University, the place has both the location and a cozy vibe working in its favor, it just needed a fresh perspective to bring it into 2023 before it hit the market.

Realtor David Koellin brought in Spark Home Staging to tackle the staging job. Koellin sat down with the stagers to discuss where the sellers, who were only the second owners of the townhome, would see the highest return on their investment when it came to staging. 

“We met with the Realtor to assess how they could get the most value out of updates on a limited budget. Paint and carpet were what was determined would bring the highest return,” says Erin Sparks, owner and founder of Spark Home Staging. 

That meant embracing much of what was already there and emphasizing the home’s unique features as appealing quirks rather than issues to be updated. That included details like a fully mirrored powder room, parquet wood floor in some spaces, and geometric details that are perfectly ‘80s contemporary.

“We wanted to nod to the ‘80s while making the space feel updated and cool,” Sparks says. “We envisioned a buyer who would embrace and appreciate the ‘80s-ness.” 

Starting with a blank slate thanks to a coat of white paint, but maintaining the wood trim, Sparks worked around the original fixtures and minimal updates within the home, imagining a young buyer moving in, excited about its proximity to Vanderbilt and Nashville’s active West End area.

Credit: Miranda Tamaska

In the bedroom, Sparks worked around a charming nook that was the perfect size for a bed. From afar, the nook looks to have a statement wall — but it’s not painted at all.

“The nook is actually upholstered, and we thought it would be a nice focal point for the bed wall so we left it,” Sparks says. She then gave the space a graphic, bold look with abstract art and sleek, sculptural furniture that feels equal parts modern and like it acknowledges its ‘80s roots. With stark white walls, the rich, moody upholstery stands out, giving the bed a sophisticated, hotel-like feel. The white bedding pops against the upholstery, while the black metal bed frame disappears, almost making the bed appear to float.

Of her favorite moments in the main bedroom, Sparks says, “I love the texture of the giant pouf at the end of the bed and the trio of ‘80s-inspired art above the wooden bench.”

Spark Home Staging’s sister business is Spark Vintage Rentals, so it’s no surprise that the team uses vintage pieces in their staging, especially when it comes to accessories like books, vases, art, and rugs. “In this particular space, we used vintage pieces including the books and the green glass on the nightstand,” Sparks says.

Once it hit the market in late April 2023, the house had multiple offers by day five — and closed for $10,000 over list price just a few weeks later. Turns out the ‘80s aren’t so cringey after all.