See How a Stager Took This Apartment from Dark and Dated to Airy and Bright

published Jan 4, 2024
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Couple sitting in living room before remodel.
Credit: Terry Mainord

Take a look at the before photos of this Brooklyn living room, and try to guess the year.

Probably didn’t think of 2005, did you? 

This apartment, listed by Daniella Guetta and Paul Hyun from the Prospect Team at Compass, had location, square footage, and small building size going for it. But the finishes made the unit feel stuck in the early aughts.

“It’s only 18 years old, but it seemed even more dated because of the finish choices the developers made. The seller was one of the first buyers in the building, and she didn’t change anything over the time she lived there,” explains Terry Mainord of Terry Mainord Design.

Credit: Terry Mainord

And those finishes made for a different challenge than Mainord typically takes on in her staging projects. She’s often flexing her creativity by using a client’s own items. She comes into a space and makes it practically unrecognizable by rearranging and styling in a way that feels fresh, inviting, and intentional. But this home not only needed work on its bones — it needed furnishing from scratch. 

Mainord immediately came in and started to brighten the space, emphasizing its high ceilings and spacious living room. “The soaring loft space was a natural canvas for white walls. Because the apartment gets so much light, and we were not planning on using window treatments, I didn’t want a super bright white. I chose Benjamin Moore’s Simply White OC-117. It’s bright, but not harsh. It’s a clean white.”

Mainord notes that the seller was highly motivated to update, which led to the design decision that totally shifted the look within the room — and it’s a move that could be seen as controversial.

They took out the trim. (Yes, a gasp is the right reaction!)

Credit: Michael Muchnij, Home and Hearth Productions

“We all discussed it and decided to take out the trim to modernize the rooms,” explains Mainord, referring to the dark trim that previously weighed down the soaring scale of the space. “The overall loft-like design made it a natural for a simpler, more modern window style.”

Around the ceiling and windows in the living room, the absence of trim highlights the ceiling height and the size of the windows. Meanwhile, switching out the dated, low-hanging light fixture for something more modern that’s mounted higher makes the entire ceiling soar. “I nearly always change fixtures; it’s one of the most economical ways to update a room,” adds Mainord.

Credit: Michael Muchnij, Home and Hearth Productions

Guetta lauds the decisions. “Terry helped transform this one-bedroom space that screamed early 2000’s into an airy, modern, loft-like unit. She had the beige, dark wood entire apartment painted white to streamline and open the space, and she switched out smaller details throughout.”

A stain refinish on the floors and white upholstery to contribute to the loft-like look finished the space, giving it a modern, gallery-worthy aesthetic.

“Because this apartment is only a one-bedroom in a trendy neighborhood, I expected that the buyer would be a younger single person. I try to envision how this person would live in the space, and use that to inform my choices. It really helps a buyer to connect in a subconscious way when they feel instantly at home,” says Mainord. 

The light, bright, and soaring staging worked, and this trim-less living room helped the once-dated unit sell quickly and for asking price in a tough market.