See How a Home Stager Modernized a ‘70s-Style Chicago Condo 

published Feb 22, 2023
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Empty bedroom before home staging. Green walls, bare floor
Credit: Molly Marino

When the owner of this one-bedroom condo in the Chicago suburbs passed away, clearing out her home of more than two decades and getting it ready to sell was a daunting task for her out-of-state family members. They needed reinforcements on the ground, so they called in home stager and Realtor Molly Marino, owner of Home by Molly Marino, to get the space showing-ready. 

Once a professional organizer had the rooms cleaned out, Marino got to work freshening and modernizing the home’s kitchen, living and dining areas, bedroom, and bathroom. The condo complex was a mix of older residents and first-time buyers, so Marino knew many of the home’s potential buyers would likely come from those groups as well. She understood that a buyer might not have the desire, vision, or budget to make the needed changes, so she aimed to get the whole place move-in ready.

After lightening and brightening the main living areas and giving the kitchen and bathroom a refresh, Marino focused on the sole bedroom. “The bedroom had carpet from the 1970s and a really outdated paint color. It felt like you stepped back in time,” she says. “However, those were simple things to fix and the large bedroom had a lot of potential.” Taking down the dark and dated window treatment, replacing the past-its-prime carpet with budget-friendly laminate flooring (which Marino ran throughout the condo except for the bathroom), and painting the walls white brightened the space and gave her a blank canvas to create a cozy, updated escape. 

Unlike many home stagers who favor a completely neutral color palette with unremarkable furnishings, Marino takes a different tactic. “I scour estate and garage sales, antique markets, and fleas to find interesting pieces I can weave into my staging. I always strive to add a few pieces that are memorable, that make a design statement, and that show how people can live in the space,” she says. 

Credit: Molly Marino

For this room, that meant bringing in a vintage dark walnut dresser to contrast with a modern desk which Marino paired with an industrial-style chair. The desk was an important addition in this work-from-home era. “With more people needing office space at home, it was critical to show buyers how to incorporate a desk without crowding the bedroom,” she says. Over the desk, Marino displayed a simple DIY. After painting a vintage picture frame a gunmetal color, she hung it around a mirror. “Layering frames like this lends lots of texture to the walls without having to find specific artwork that fits the space,” she explains. “I do this often!”

Fresh white bedding, accented by colored pillows and a wool throw, and a modern headboard flanked by stylish nightstands combine to make the bed an appealing focal point. An eye-catching patterned area rug energizes the space. The result? Not only were potential buyers interested in the condo, Marino received offers on all of the furniture and decor as well. Ultimately, the former homeowner’s relatives were thrilled to sell the condo very quickly and for more than they thought possible.