See How a Stager Took a Living Room from Bland to Bold in This British Rental

published Dec 6, 2022
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Credit: Fabienne Interiors

Home rental website Airbnb has become so saturated with listings, from cozy log cabins to million-dollar mansions, that property owners need to go the extra mile to make their place stand out.

This was the task laid before Fabienne Miler, property stylist and owner of Fabienne Interiors in Coalville, England, when she was hired to stage a townhouse (known as a “terrace” house across the pond) in West Midlands. The owners wanted to rent the two-bedroom, one-bath home to both leisure and business travelers, so the staging had to appeal to both.

The main living area was key in making a good impression. “As a typical terraced house in the U.K., the main room acted as an entrance as well as the living area, which means it had to work in terms of flow but also as a room to relax and watch TV,” Miler says. 

In addition to this layout challenge, the space was dark and bland, so her goal was to use color, pattern, and texture “to lift the general gloomy feel” and make the rental more inviting, she says. Miler decided to implement a design that combined a bohemian vibe with an industrial feel using black, metal, and concrete accents.

Since the owners didn’t want the room to be completely painted, the white walls were adorned with overlapping black-and-orange blocks of color. This striking design was meant to catch the eye of potential renters and highlight the floral print artwork and black-framed mirror on the wall. Black and orange were thus established as the color palette for the space.

Credit: Fabienne Interiors

Next, Miler needed the living room to work as both a passageway to the other spaces in the narrow home as well as sitting area. The placement that worked best comprised two chairs — one a woven wicker and the other a rich teal — and a gray loveseat facing the fireplace. In the center, a round concrete-topped coffee table with black metal legs ties into the industrial vibe. Finally, she “zoned” this sitting area with an orange-patterned area rug that delineated the space and separated it from the walkway.

This layout meant that the TV needed to go in the corner of the room. “I did not want the room to be dominated by the television, which, in front of a white wall, can be very overpowering,” she said. “I therefore planned for a black background to make it disappear.” However, to maintain the warm atmosphere, Miler chose an off-black paint with a hint of red.

To ensure that the fireplace meshed with the color scheme, she painted its beige surround the same black. Some touches of green, including in the accent chair and live plants, helped freshen up the design while warm metal finishes emphasize the cozy atmosphere, Miler says.

In order to further brighten up the room, she chose a woven drum light on the center of the ceiling and a standing studio light in black for the corner near the sofa and fireplace. Among the decorative accents, Miler is most fond of the black wire bowl full of oranges on the coffee table. “They were almost there to symbolize the room — welcoming and happy in an urban way,” she notes.