Before and After: See How a Home Stager Transformed an Awkward Room into a Beautiful Living Space

published Aug 25, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Courtesy of HAVEN Home Staging and Redesign, Inc.

In the Windy City of Chicago, townhouses abound. That’s because they “maximize square footage with a small footprint,” offering lots of space spread over multiple levels, explains Brad Pierce, creative director at Cheri Kasella’s HAVEN Home Staging and Redesign, Inc., in Chicago.

He should know, having worked on many such properties over the years. But there is a caveat: Thanks to a townhome’s small footprint, “each room in this house format can be smaller,” he says.

That served as the primary challenge when HAVEN was tapped to professionally stage a three-story, 2,000-square-foot townhouse in the Lakefront area, just north of downtown. Although it was built in 2005, the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home plus den/office was in generally good condition thanks to several recent updates, Pierce says.

“As such, most of the finishes and spaces throughout the house showed well, though slightly dated with just typical wear.”

His goal was to “show maximum functionality and flexibility with each room, while at the same time, showing a cohesiveness between rooms and each level,” Pierce says. That included implementing furnishings of a proper, smaller scale and highlighting the home’s many windows.

“Additionally, it was a goal to provide both more formal as well as more informal spaces that appeal to a broad range of potential buyers and future users of the space,” he says.

One space posed quite a conundrum, however: a small second-level family room, one of two living areas, adjacent to the den/office space.

“From a staging perspective, one of the main challenges of this smaller room is that the space presents itself more as a hallway and area of traffic-flow through the home than a room,” Pierce says.

The narrow spot had an awkward layout, including windows with varying sill heights, niches flanking the fireplace, and French doors on one side. As a result, the room was tight and offered limited wall space, making it difficult to furnish, Pierce says.

So, Pierce chose a smaller-scale sofa with a lower back and open sides, “a one-of-a-kind vintage inventory piece,” he says, to anchor the room and avoid blocking light from the windows. A complementary side chair offers additional seating. 

Credit: Courtesy of HAVEN Home Staging and Redesign, Inc.

“Given the unique size and more challenging traffic flow through the room, a [cowhide] rug was selected to soften and minimize the room’s awkward nooks with limited use,” he says. Decorative vertical branches and a floor lamp were selected to fill the similarly shaped niches to the sides of the fireplace.

He even recruited the sellers to help in this plan, recommending that they clean the windows to bring in more light and clean out and stage the fireplace with wood.

“Our staging plan completely transformed this previously under-utilized and undefined room, currently used as a craft space, to a flexible, functional, and inviting secondary living space,” he says.

Pierce and the HAVEN team were thrilled with the result. As for the homeowners? The property was under contract in two weeks.