See How a Stager Calmed Down a Busy Living Room in This Australian Home

published Dec 1, 2022
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Credit: Courtesy of Coastal Haven

The wonderful thing about art is its ability to evoke a range of emotions from different people. However, not all reactions to art are positive ones, and Simone Canning, founder and creative director of Coastal Haven in New South Wales, Australia, realized this right away when she set out to stage a home in Byron Bay.

The spacious residence, which “was architect-designed and finished to the highest standard by a local master builder,” she notes, was thoroughly decked out in the owners’ personal art collection. “As stagers, we understand the process of depersonalizing a space is one of the most crucial to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers,” she explains. And depersonalizing was desperately needed.

The main living area, in particular, was so full of pieces that it looked like an art gallery. Add in attention-grabbing area rugs and dark, heavy furniture in a conflicting array of styles, and the home’s many perks — like the breathtaking ocean views and stunning architectural finishes — were eclipsed. “With so many striking elements vying for attention, it felt cluttered and chaotic,” Canning says.

Her goal was to let the home’s striking architecture and waterfront locale shine while evoking the laid back-yet-luxe coastal lifestyle that the region is known for. Canning also wanted to create a seamless flow within the space and to adjoining rooms.

The living area already benefited from an abundance of natural light, but she set out to brighten the design and create openness while highlighting the vaulted ceiling, exposed beams, and wood flooring. To do this, Canning divided the open floor plan into four zones: lounge, fireplace, informal dining, and kitchen.

All the dark furniture was replaced with contemporary coastal pieces in a light neutral palette, including a linen slip-covered sofa and matching chairs in the lounge area. The busy Persian rug was replaced by a handcrafted bleached jute rug, which “lends a casual elegance to the bare timber floors and an organic feel of understated luxury,” Canning says. A coffee table with modern lines in a coordinating neutral hue anchors the space.

Credit: Courtesy of Coastal Haven

However, it wasn’t until she removed at least 80 percent of the artwork that the true transformation took place, she says. A few pieces sharing a similar color palette and more subdued subject matter were retained and rehung in new positions. “As a result, the walls of the room were allowed to breathe and the architectural features really began to sing,” she says.

After adding accessories and touches of greenery, the home was ready for the market. “The space was transformed into a harmonious coastal haven, ready for potential buyers to fall in love with,” Canning says.

A “coastal haven,” did she say? Well, as the owner of Coastal Haven, I suppose that is her specialty, after all.