See How a Home Stager Gave This Dingy Alcove Space a Moody Makeover

published Dec 9, 2022
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Over the past few decades, homeowners have gotten used to seeing home stagers take dark rooms and lighten them. They paint everything bright and white to make the space seem bigger, friendlier, and more universally appealing — or so they think. At best, it works. At worst, it takes away the space’s character. And at the very least, it creates a blank canvas.

One reason I love this project by Sayde Mark Designs is that they did not paint it white. Instead, they took a white room devoid of personality and went dark and vibrant. In other words, they didn’t shy away from bold choices. Rather than trying to create a space that would be seen as made for everyone, they looked to create a sophisticated, design-forward space. The small alcove lives off a bedroom where they freshened up the white paint to show off an existing fireplace and brought in a modern, brass light fixture, so it reads like a small hideaway — a retreat with breathtaking views of the city.

In this alcove, they had space (and windows) on their side. The Pacific Heights home is a timeless Georgian with over 6,000 square feet and eight bedrooms, so using every square foot for function wasn’t a necessity. Instead, they could focus on making this room catch the eyes of buyers drawn to both historic architectural details and gorgeous paned windows.

The team at Sayde Mark Designs chose a dark gray shade that evokes a rich and moody vibe and totally envelopes the space, yet doesn’t feel overwhelming thanks to the gorgeous and large windows in the room. This was also a choice made out of practicality. While white paint is often seen as the solution for a home in need of a facelift, they decided to go the opposite route. Heather Forbes, founder and owner of Sayde Mark Designs, explains, “We were going for an elegant look because the property is grand and palatial, but honestly a bit run down and in need of updates. Gray paint helped achieve the sophistication we were looking for.”

With the dark backdrop, they brought in lively art and a strong color to anchor the room. “We wanted to use this orange couch because it brings so much energy to a room. We love the contrast of orange and any shade of blue together,” Forbes says.

Gray can easily veer into “cold” territory, so the team went the extra mile to add in textiles, rich wood, and various textures to bring a sense of depth. Forbes notes, “To warm the space up, we used layered wool and calfskin rugs with velvet upholstery and pillows on the couch. The mood feels global and comfortable with all the textures working nicely together.”

The staging — and the bold decision decisions — resonated with buyers. The house received multiple offers and sold quickly. But perhaps the biggest testament to a design well done was the number of requests they received afterwards for the specific dark gray paint color.