You Have to See How a Stager Flipped This Living Room (It’s So Eclectic!)

published Jun 3, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Empty living room with gray walls, wood flooring, and ceiling fan.
Credit: Molly Marino

If you’ve ever hunted for an apartment online, you’ve seen the endless listings peppered with dimly lit, poorly angled photos that don’t do the units any justice at all. These issues can often be fixed under the tutelage of a trained photographer — or at least a visit to the unit in person. But when you’re trying to sell a home, it’s best to take it one step further to maximize your online appeal and hire a stager as well. 

That’s exactly what the owner of a one-bedroom rental unit in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood did when she decided she needed to list her unit. She had previously been renting out the home, but decided she was ready to sell

Credit: Molly Marino

“When I saw the unit I realized that it needed a proper dustup,” said Chicago-based Molly Marino, the stager who worked on the rental. The entire project included painting the kitchen cabinets, glazing the kitchen floor and bathtub, and turning a room that was previously being used as a closet into an office through staging. “The living room was one of the only rooms that basically was just transformed with staging and lighting.”

For Molly, this living room was fairly simple. “This was basically just a staging project with some painting thrown in,” she recalled. “Other than hanging a light fixture from the ceiling in the corner, it’s all furniture.” 

Credit: VHT Studios, Mike Pickett

Molly anchored the room with a stylish area rug before adding in a couch, accent chairs, plants, a pouf, and artwork. She kept the vibes eclectic and chic to appeal to the 20-something buyer demographic that her client was trying to target.

The owner spent about $1,600 on painting and glazing, and the entire project only took two weeks. The staging fee was included in Molly’s listing agreement with her client, but would have otherwise cost around $3,000 for this project.

“I often get calls asking me to stage with furniture, but when I show up to the property, I often have many other ideas on ways to make the space really shine,” the stager said. Molly’s goal is to view whatever space she is working on through the eyes of the buyer or renter, which may conflict with her clients’ personal style. 

Credit: VHT Studios, Mike Pickett

“Sometimes I will even advise that if they don’t have the funds to both make updates and stage, they skip the staging and focus their money on the updates, like painting and tile work.” 

Those looking to hire a stager should, according to Molly, try to find someone who will be honest in assessing your space. In her experience, the owner will get the most bang for their buck when they invest time and money into making impactful changes. 

“When the whole design comes alive, the buyers are excited and the offer prices reflect that,” she said. 

According to Molly, the unit sold within just two months on the market. “It sold for a much higher amount than she would have netted had we not staged and done some renovations,” she said. The stager estimates that the client probably got an extra $25,000 than if she hadn’t invested in the staging.