See How Home Stagers Made an Empty Room Feel Super Cozy

published Jul 1, 2023
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Black fireplace mantel in empty living room with lots of natural light.
Credit: Salt + Pine

When it comes to new construction homes, one of the biggest benefits — having a clean, blank canvas with endless design possibilities — can make outfitting the space feel daunting. 

Case in point: This 2023 single-family home by Rhode Island builder Zalo One, LLC. Located in Middletown, Rhode Island, a suburban beach community not far from Newport, the home has plenty of square footage and tasteful finishes. It just needed the welcoming touch of staging experts Kristen Brown and Amy Keeley, co-founders of Salt + Pine Home Staging, to really help potential buyers envision themselves there.

“Empty new construction homes can feel cold and unwelcoming,” Brown says. “When staging one, it is important to highlight to the potential buyers how they can live in the space with the furniture layout or placement.” This is especially true with homes like this one that feature an open floor plan with no obvious room division or parameters for furniture arrangement. 

Brown and Keeley knew they wanted to make the living area’s striking dark fireplace a focal point, but its off-center location in the open-concept living and dining room (plus the two separate entrances to the space) made furniture placement tricky. They opted for a shorter sofa opposite the fireplace and rounded out the seating area with two accent chairs, a pair of cubes, and a glass coffee table. 

“We chose the woven cubes for extra seating, and they also help define the spaces in the open room without blocking sightlines,” Keeley says. You can get a similar look with this version from Target. A bench in front of the windows near the front door offers an additional spot to perch or to drop bags or other items upon entering the house.  

When it came to decor, the home’s location inspired many of Brown and Keeley’s selections. “The home is in a coastal community so we knew we wanted to bring in some natural woven elements to give a beachy vibe as well as to bring texture and interest to the space,” Brown says. 

The duo kept the color palette of the furnishings light to complement the white walls and dark gray fireplace. “We added some woven art on the mantel to bring warmth and visual interest. The wool rug anchors the space and softens the room with a subtle pattern, and its gray stripe coordinates with the painted fireplace,” adds Keeley. 

Credit: Salt + Pine

Many of the strategies Brown and Keeley used to warm up this property can work in any home — new or old. For example, they like layering neutral pieces on a mantel or console table to add interest without overpowering a space. Greenery is another go-to. “Fresh or faux stems in vases on mantels or coffee tables adds freshness to the space,” says Brown. In smaller rooms Brown and Keeley are fans of glass coffee tables (because they don’t feel heavy in the space), and cubes or benches (as they can be easily moved around to provide extra seating).

After the Salt + Pine team worked their magic on this house, it went under contract in about two weeks. The goal is for it to close in time for the buyers to enjoy the summer at their new beach retreat.