Real Estate

See How a Stager Turned a Bland One-Bedroom Bachelor Pad into a Hip Two-Bedroom Home

published Apr 3, 2023
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Green sofa in living room before renovating and expanding apartment.
Credit: Molly Marino

It was just the type of project that home stager and Realtor Molly Marino loves most: a space calling out for creative solutions with a hands-off homeowner who trusts her to figure it out. The client, who’d lived in his one-bedroom bachelor pad for years, needed to get the most money he could from selling his condo because he planned on sizing up into a single-family home. Marino, the owner of Home by Molly Marino, was determined to make that happen. 

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Credit: VHT Studios and Mike Pickett

On the plus side, the condo was located in Chicago’s Logan Square, a neighborhood Marino describes as, “hot, hot, hot,” but the inside definitely needed some sprucing up. Because the owner hadn’t put much work into the property, and because it was a below-grade garden condo — which is often harder to sell in Chicago — Marino worried that his value wasn’t going to be as high as the $199,000 neighborhood comps.

As Marino assessed the condo’s super-spacious main living area, she realized that with the size, electrical plan, and window layout working in their favor, adding a second bedroom would be fairly straightforward and could significantly increase the home’s value for a relatively modest investment. After sketching out her vision and running the comps, she felt confident an additional bedroom could increase the selling price to about $300,000. 

Credit: Molly Marino

Over the course of two weeks, and with an all-in cost just shy of $20,000, Marino and her go-to contractors not only carved out a bedroom from the living area (they removed the bulky fireplace to make way for the new wall) but also modernized the rest of the condo. 

Credit: VHT Studios and Mike Pickett

Brightening up the below-grade space was a top priority. The drab wall color was replaced with a cooler greige tone that contrasted nicely with the home’s brick accent wall and hardwood floors. While adding walls can often make spaces feel darker, in this case, just the opposite happened. “Adding the second bedroom created another wall which we painted a light color,” says Marino. “This allowed light to stream through the front window, reflect off the new wall, and brighten the space.”

Credit: Molly Marino

Paying extra attention to fixtures also helped boost the personality and amount of light in the condo. Rather than busting the budget by cutting into drywall, Marino stuck to replacing existing light fixtures with stylish, wallet-friendly alternatives. In the living area, she swapped out the ubiquitous “boob light” for a more modern fixture and added a stylish chandelier over the dining table. The main bedroom got playful starburst sconces on either side of the bed. “The most expensive fixture I added was the $129 dining area chandelier. Most fixtures were under $65,” says Marino. “Lighting is critical and so inexpensive to update!” 

Credit: VHT Studios and Mike Pickett

In the kitchen, a coat of paint breathed new life into the cabinets and worked well with the existing black countertops. Replacing the too-small dining table with a larger one gave the area a more expansive feel. Back in the living room, vintage pieces added warmth, while a funky turquoise guitar inspired the space’s color palette. With the home’s new eclectic, hipster vibe, Marino pictured the future homeowner hosting friends for craft cocktails. And with the condo selling in just three days for $305,000, the current homeowner was no doubt toasting the outcome too.