See How a Home Stager Made a 420-Square-Foot Condo Flow Better
In the heart of Boston’s stately Beacon Hill neighborhood, this condo, with its large windows, tall ceilings, and exposed brick walls, feels more like a loft than a rowhouse apartment. The thing is, its original decor wasn’t showing off those windows or making the most of its petite 420-square-foot floor plan.
Real estate agent Charlie Ring knew the unit had potential — and a great location. However, it needed some imaginative staging to help potential buyers envision the space being used as a place to live, eat, sleep, and work. So he brought in Jess Harrington, owner of Boston-based staging and interior design firm JessFinessed, to reimagine the home and breathe life into the small but mighty unit.
Right off the bat, Ring gave Harrington one goal. “When Charlie first reached out about the space, he told me to ‘think small’ for furniture and scale,” recalls Harrington, explaining that Ring knew she could make it feel bright, well-appointed, and functional, even at just over 400 square feet.
Harrington immediately swapped out the furniture for something in a more appropriate scale for the space. “We used the right scale furniture to do two things: First, accentuate the ceiling height, and second, make the most of every square foot,” she explains. Her process is not just an art — it’s a technical approach to how pieces will fit within the actual measurements of the space.
“Whenever I can get my hands on a floor plan, I’ll generate a wireframe mock-up with dimensions of my staging pieces to verify what I believe will fit and look great,” she says. It’s not worth guessing about, because you don’t want to find out the sofa and the chairs don’t both fit — particularly when you’re hauling all the furniture in on install day.
But that doesn’t mean everything always goes according to plan. Home staging often involves pivoting on the fly. “We removed a piece right before the photoshoot to open the flow up. It’s never perfect science, and I usually have about 48 hours to achieve the perfect stage,” Harrington says. “So my team and I always have to be able to pivot to get it just right.”
In the bedroom, she kept the bed in the same place as it had been, but lightened the room up by bringing in a mirror to replace the bookcase. She also used a metal bed frame that feels airy, taking up less visual weight than a more solid bed would. Light, white, textured textiles add dimension without heaviness, and an area rug softens the entire room. While a buyer might need more storage, the nightstands show that you can fit two pieces of furniture on either side of the bed. When a buyer comes in, they could simply swap those for small dressers. Harrington gives them that inspiration by showing the configuration.
She works with a team of stagers and designers; on this project, she designed, sourced, and pulled pieces for stylist Lis Sartori to work into the space, including pillows, plants, and mirrors. “My favorite moment is the pleated empire lampshades and the bed textiles,” Harrington says. “The shades are both traditional yet very on-trend, which is perfect for Beacon Hill, especially in this price point of this home.”
In the dining area, a round white table with two lightweight chairs and a banquette take up less room than the previous configuration did. Simply changing the color and choosing a slightly smaller table (and less clunky furniture) made a huge impact. In the living area, swapping out the sectional for a sofa and the heavy accent chair for a more open one gives the entire space a more appealing flow. A metal coffee table replaced the ottoman, and a sideboard was brought in under the window rather than the tall dresser that was flanking the sofa. The overall function remains the same, but in a way that feels less crowded to a potential buyer.
With Harrington and her team’s staging, the listing sold quickly — with multiple offers on its first day on the market. “The staging was so important for showing the buyers how much furniture could fit comfortably in each of the rooms,” Ring says. “The mixed colors from Jess’ design warmed up each of the three spaces and let buyers envision themselves there and emotionally commit to the home.”
As a testament to her ability to open up the flow of the space, Harrington adds, “And the small space is perfect for the buyer, who is even taller than Ring at 6’2.’’”