See How a Home Stager Turned This Queen Anne Victorian into a Warm, Welcoming Abode

published Oct 13, 2022
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Credit: Ruum Media

A 1908 Queen Anne Victorian in Portland, Oregon, particularly one that still boasts original details, is a hot commodity in the Pacific Northwest. Buyers flock to this charming and historic style and, when staged impeccably, they fly off the market in hours, not days.

The previous owner of this bright and light Queen Anne is a mover and shaker in the Portland real estate world. While this house was a meaningful place that he and his husband had lived in, entertained in, and brought their son home to, when it came time to sell, he wanted it to be a showpiece. He brought on Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, to transform it from the home that he had made his own into one that would be a standout on the real estate market.

The entire home was lightened up and staged with furniture that straddled the line between historic and modern — but one of the most striking updates was the living room. A relatively small space for a 3,800-square-foot house, the living room had been painted black and filled with furniture that created a homey, comfortable space, but wouldn’t necessarily translate to buyers looking for more open, spacious rooms. 

“The black room made a statement but was very emotionally evocative for most people. They either loved and or they hated it. We needed to make this into a room that everybody would love,” Riordan explains. 

Riordan’s first move was to paint the black walls the same color white as the ceiling, while leaving the stunning wood trim intact. He used that same white throughout the house.

“The house is well over 100 years old and has fantastic architecture,” Riordan says. “Every room was painted a different color, which drew the attention away from the architecture. By painting every single room in the house white, we were able to draw the attention back to the details of the house like the original picture rail, 6-inch baseboards, and beautiful sliding paneled doors.”

Credit: Ruum Media

With the white walls and contrasting trim drawing the eye towards the incredible original architecture, the stained glass above the window popped as one of the most unique features — but it was in less than perfect condition. Held together with scotch tape in some places, the glass needed a refresh. Riordan found a way to repair it without removing the entire window. “A special type of clay was used to hold the new glass in place. The clay hardened over a week or so and became permanent. It was a ‘fix in place’ solution,” he says.

While the layout of the room feels more open, Riordan actually added a second smaller scale sofa. First, he removed the credenza and club chairs to free up space, then positioned the sofas opposing each other across the room, along with two petite chairs and a wingback chair. The buyer persona Riordan had in mind would enjoy entertaining. The dining room could easily seat 10 people, so he wanted to continue that feeling of festive evenings at home with friends into the living room. With the additional seating, he created a space that could comfortably accommodate nine guests.

The white sofas and the white walls helped make the space seem larger and brighter, but Riordan knew it would need contrast for the listing — and for the photographs to stand out. He started by styling a bold black and white rug, graphic black-and-white original “T” painting, and a Mona Lisa print. “From there, we added in the high-contrast black and white pillows and blanket and added a touch of browns to pull the color of the wingback onto the side chairs and sofa,” says Riordan. The entire room is based on a palette of neutrals, but it has depth and texture that makes it feel warm, welcoming, and stylish.

This home hit the market with a bang on New Year’s Eve, and, at the open house, the listing agent gave bottles of champagne to the first 24 lucky people that walked through the door. The floor plan of the home was made for entertaining, and people couldn’t help but hang out in the festive atmosphere. “Offers started flowing in Jan. 2 and sold shortly thereafter,” Riordan says. “If we can make people feel good in the space, then we win the game.”