See How Real Estate Pros Brightened Up This 100-Year-Old Living Room

published Jul 23, 2023
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Built in 1924 and last sold in 1987, this charming townhouse with a welcoming front porch got a major facelift before hitting the Washington, D.C., market in 2023. 

Michelle DeLucia, designer and owner of Sub | Urban Staging, was brought in to stage the property. She put her stamp on the place after it passed through the hands of renovation expert Jesse Connell of Pitch Pine Building Co. and Tyler Wellington, director of design and listing operations for real estate firm Barley & Barley.

“Connell took a property that had not been touched in ages and transformed it into a brand new, functional space that respected the original spirit of the home and character of the block,” Wellington says of the initial phase of the project.

Despite the porch blocking direct natural light and a dearth of windows in the row home, the living room is the home’s most dramatic transformation, becoming bright and light with some simple swaps.

To kick off the staging project, DeLucia says she pictured a younger family moving into the space, embracing its pops of color and bright personality. “Tyler’s finish selections, such as the wallpaper and lighting, definitely have a hip vibe, and I played off of that full tilt.”

Within this space, Wellington chose Benjamin Moore’s Simply White for the walls and Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray for the trim. DeLucia notes, “Not all white paints are created equal! I take lighting, style of the space, and other wood finishes, like trim and floors, into consideration.”


The neutral palette within the house needed to be warmed up with an earthy color, so Wellington selected Benjamin Moore’s Odessa Pink, a subtle salmon pink, as an accent color on the front door. “Capitol Hill is chock-full of interesting paint schemes, and it gives us the freedom to get creative and bring something fresh and unique to the properties on which we collaborate,” she says.

Working with the colors, DeLucia, who refuses to use bland staging art in her work, first found herself drawn to a piece of abstract, brilliantly colored art that inspired the entire room. “The art came first! The artist is Jenna Marie Ward and I found her on Instagram years ago,” says DeLucia, who recounts that a piece was actually about to be painted over when Ward posted the painting to Instagram to see if anyone wanted to purchase it. 


“I jumped on it because it’s fabulous! Shipping from Utah to D.C. cost almost as much as the painting itself but I absolutely loved it,” explains DeLucia. But disaster struck — the piece was destroyed en route. “She and I both literally cried. But after we both calmed down, she recreated it.”

Using the second incarnation of the painting Ward named Welkin 2.0, DeLucia turned to the rest of the room, letting the art steal the spotlight. She chose light, neutral pieces to anchor space without distracting, including an ivory sofa, clay-colored chairs, light wood accent tables and an ivory and black striped rug. A singular turquoise vase and mustard pillow echo the colors within the painting without drawing attention away from it. Instead, they help create a cohesive palette that flows throughout the room.


The bright makeover and vibrant staging paid off with multiple offers after the home’s first weekend on the market in June 2023, where it was listed by Tim Barley of Barley & Barley. 

“The selected staging rounded out the design scheme just how we had envisioned,” Wellington says. “It perfectly complemented the custom cabinetry, wallpapers, and finishes throughout the home. This is a house with personality and the staging reflected that!”