This New Jersey Home Had to Be Staged 3 Times — But the Effort Paid Off

published Jun 14, 2021
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Before: Sparse living room with fireplace and khaki-colored sofa
Credit: Amy Owens

Life is all about compromise, and the staging of this home for sale in Montclair, New Jersey, was a testament to that.

Amy Owens, an agent with Keller Williams who also stages listings, saw the three-bedroom, two-bath cottage as a charming blank slate full of potential. After all, the dining room, which had been decorated by a professional designer over 30 years prior, was colorful and over-the-top, so she wanted to follow suit with the rest of the 1,488-square-foot home.

“Our goal was to make the house more cohesive while incorporating the magical feel of the cottage and the fairytale setting,” Owens says. “We wanted to pull more of that color into the other parts of the house. The house is so classic and simplistic that it could handle color and fantasy. Our initial thought was ‘Alice in Wonderland’.”

However, the 94-year-old client was not on board with this idea, and preferred that the staging incorporate more neutrals instead. So, Owens and her team had to restage the house, originally built in 1950, three times before everyone was happy.

That neutral look is apparent in the elegant living room, which, like much of the house, was in its original condition when Owens was tapped to stage it. “The decor was a mix of butterfly-adorned lamps from the ’80s, beautiful antiques, a comfortable Barca lounger, and some art done by family members,” she recalls.

However, the space had a mix of different styles that needed to feel cohesive while neutral elements like the khaki-colored sofa, which remained because it was the right size and the client didn’t want to store it, needed a punch of color. Considering the wallpapered dining room — boasting hues of lime green, pink, and blue — is adjacent to the space, it was a delicate balancing act. “Our theme was light, airy neutrals with antique touches,” Owens said. “We needed to make it flow.”

Credit: Amy Owens

First, the couch remained in place under the picture window, which, in addition to the fireplace, didn’t leave much available wall space in the rather small room. So, the new seating area of two cane-backed black chairs had to be floated in the room instead of placed against a wall. “We usually use them for dining chairs, but they worked well here because of their diminutive size and open weave,” she said. An indoor-outdoor area rug with a white-and-khaki graphic pattern grounds the arrangement, while a couple of coral-colored throw pillows on the chairs echo the dining room’s nearby hues.

For the largest wall, a wood server that had been in the dining room was placed in the center with a large Audubon print over it. Above the fireplace, Owens rehung the original 1920s Art Deco mirror — but positioned it horizontally, instead. “It had been vertical, but the size wasn’t right,” she said.

Credit: Amy Owens

To keep the room feeling light, sheers were hung on the windows, and the client’s glass-top coffee table was used, topped with a few candles and accessories. For further illumination, two antique alabaster uplights were placed against the darkest wall.

The staging was no doubt a challenge, but the results speak for themselves: After six days on the market, the home sold for substantially more than asking price. (As of press time, the home had not closed, so the final selling price was not available.)