See How a Home Stager Brightened Up This 1960s Ranch to Draw in Buyers

published Feb 5, 2023
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Credit: Courtesy of Jenn Brown

If you walked past this modest brick home in the Bon Air neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, you probably wouldn’t look twice. It’s the kind of common 1960s house that a family probably lived in for decades. 

But this 1964 brick ranch, perched atop a hill in a neighborhood full of towering trees and suburban streets, is hiding more than 3,000 square feet of living space — and a staging makeover that took it from dingy and drab to bold, striking, and modern, perfect for attracting the next family to call this place their own. 

When Allison Jones, a Realtor, interior designer, and home stager at The Steele Group with Sotheby’s, was brought in to stage the home listed by agent Jenn Brown, she looked at it through her multi-hyphenate lens. She’s thinking not only about how the buyers will react in person, but how it will translate into listing photographs, and how she can tell the unique story of the house. She doesn’t limit herself to one style or only new items: “I like being more eclectic with my design because the possibilities are endless,” Jones says.

This particular house had been a rental for many years, and while it had potential, it needed a drastic facelift to add light and life to the space. In this living room, there were existing architectural features to highlight, but they weren’t commanding the attention they could. “This was a long, narrow, dark room with immense potential when I first saw it. I loved the beams, the fireplace, the built-ins and the large windows on either end of the room,” explains Jones. 

The first project to tackle was paint, and she decided to go both dark and light in the space. “I wanted it to be an eclectic space that would appeal to everyone and I felt like the contrast between the dark paint color of the beams, fireplace, built-ins, and French doors would create the visual drama that the room needed,” Jones says.

The beams, fireplace, built-ins, and French doors were all painted Raccoon Fur by Benjamin Moore, a rich, complex dark gray, while the walls and paneling were given a crisp coat of Snowbound by Sherwin Williams. This immediately added architectural interest, where the details had previously disappeared into the room. And this wasn’t Jones’ first rodeo with Raccoon Fur — it’s a favorite color of hers, and one she even used in her own home on the bathroom ceiling. “I love that it changes color with the light in a room and transfixes the eye. It’s my go to color for fireplaces, built-ins, shutters, doors, porches and steps. I felt like it would add the dramatic flair the room needed and that it would draw the eye up when entering the room.”

Credit: Courtesy of Jenn Brown

There was also significant square footage to work with, both in this room and throughout the house. Given the size, Jones kept in mind how a family might use the space. 

“I created multiple conversation areas so the room could feel cozy even though it was very long and narrow,” explains Jones. There are areas for a group to break apart and pursue different activities, which is ideal for a large family who might be using the room as a multi-purpose gathering space. And because Jones knew she was staging it for families, she wanted the furniture itself to feel elegant but comfortable. Sophisticated silhouettes in cozy fabrics brought the room to life.

To finish off the space, Jones added a dramatic watercolor, bohemian-inspired woven lamps, and lush plants to the fireplace. Throughout the space, she added an extra layer of texture with textile, an organic wooden bench, and sculptural lamps. A plush white rug keeps the room feeling light and bright.

In addition to the staging updates, photography was also critical in bringing this space to life. Jones explains, “A buyers’ first introduction to a home that’s on the market is through the online photos so I’m always looking for ways to create the biggest visual impact.” Mick Anders of Mick Anders Photography was hired to show this house at its best, and he’s sought after for his talent at capturing how natural light illuminates a space. “He researches the geographical location of each listing to see what time of day the sun is the brightest and sets up the photo sessions during that time,” says Jones.

After listing in September 2022, the photos and the staging worked. The house sold in just a week, and Jones estimates the updates made in staging added nearly $100,000 in equity.