A good experiment in life would be to pretend you are going to sell your house, fix anything that is either unsightly or annoying, and prepare to let every person in the world see it. Then don’t put it on the market and instead sit back and actually enjoy your home. I guess it’s the premise of that show ‘Love it or List it’, right? Obviously as someone who photographs their home constantly I definitely have things farther along than most people, but there are still so many little things that annoyed me and ultimately even if you have your house perfectly decorated, life is full of clutter, garbage and cords. This room is one that has never been finished and has always had pockets of clutter. But it’s SUCH a great room. For a while it looked like this (see full tour, here):
I definitely liked that side of the room, A LOT. It wasn’t exactly finished but it it felt pulled together and simple. But we moved a lot of those pieces over to our new house/guest room (lamps, carpet, bed, bench, chair, pouf and navy blanket) so it was pretty empty as of three weeks ago.
Then a few months ago we did a sponsored post on Brian’s office side, which looked like this (full tour here):
I love it and that is how it stayed (except no, the rug was not just 1/2 under the chairs – that was for the photo and I can’t BELIEVE none of you called us out on that… I wasn’t there when it was shot, but it was pulled in to add that graphic pattern and texture to the photo. HA!)
But, the other side of the room looked like this, except WAY worse:
There was normally piles and piles and piles of paperwork, camera equipment and of course the fridge/TV situation was not working in any way. I asked Brian to buy a TV that fit the tiny wall (on a long arm/mount so people could watch from bed) and he put that rather large one in there. No one used that fridge and it just looked stupid. And no matter how often you use an elliptical trainer, those lost calories do not make up or how ugly it looked in the room.
Around the same time Target was/is having a huge bedding sale and I needed just the excuse to create some content, stage this room and meanwhile showcase some extremely lovely, and high end looking/feeling neutral bedding.
What you’ll see in the post is how we styled it for the bedding video and then how we shot it for the real estate photos (slightly different nightstands/bench and really pulled back angles). I thought about doing this in two posts, but figured it would feel very repetitive. So here goes.
First up – how we styled it for the video – which is almost all Target except the vintage painting and vintage trunk, rug, hats and blue water carafe.
The story for this portion of the video was all about having a totally neutral room that still feels really happy and inviting. The key? Contrast in textures, tones, sizes and shapes. We used mainly whites, grays, flax, oatmeal, beige, taupe, and brown. And yet, boring she is not.
There are some pops in the painting, trunk and the gold of the lamps, but otherwise it is free of color, safe for all of you color-phobes out there and perfect for a room that you want to still feel really quiet and serene.
Also such neutral bedding is perfect to showcase your straw hat collection.
We wanted to showcase more of the textiles for the video – thus the basket at the bottom and the bench. Fun fact, I have had a gallon of dark green/almost black paint, waiting to cover the bottom of the bench/soffit for 8 months now. I ordered that seat pad from Loom Decor almost a year and a half ago, with the intent that it could be white because the bench would be dark, but alas it’s white on white because I never got around to it.
Something felt weird about putting two pieces of art on the same wall, but that wall was big so we thought well, this is the perfect time to debut Tessa’s so-cal straw hat collection. We used command strips for the shoot then took them down after. I always had the intent to do this, actually, but since we are selling I didn’t want to put unnecessary holes in the wall for hooks.
You may or may not remember that our walls are painted in a lime-wash which gives it a BEAUTIFUL texture that you can only slightly read in the photos (and makes patching much more difficult – more on that here).
Speaking of texture, Target is entering the ‘linen sheet game‘ and competing hard. I haven’t slept on them and Brain Henderson forbids linen sheets underneath his body, but they sure do look pretty. I recently had another conversation about these with some linen sheet lovers. They loved how they stay really cool and feel really crisp, while still being soft. We are a percale family, and I’ve only been allowed linen duvets, never sheets or pillows. But I love the look so much.
The fringed pillow in the back (technically a sofa pillow, not necessarily a euro sham but we loved it in here) is SO good and looks really high end but is really affordable.
Here I am, in my floor length silk dress, and lash extensions (which have changed my life and have made last minute shoots so much easier), layering this blanket for my future non-guests. Please ignore the dust underneath the armoire – we were shooting VERY quickly that day and Brian is in charge of keeping this room clean, so, yeah ..
Meanwhile I’m very impressed by this faux leather pillow. I’m conflicted when it comes to faux leather, like most people. I prefer the real thing and don’t like it when something is trying to be real, but isn’t (obviously this goes for people, too) but I also appreciate the lack of real dead animals in my throw pillows. I also have learned to love fake logs in fireplaces (ours looks pretty darn real and are extremely low maintenance), fake fur (some are so, so soft and cozy, and far less creepy/disgusting) and many a engineered or even wood laminate (fake) wood has fooled me. Does this pillow look like real leather – definitely from afar, but not so much when you are close-up to it. But, it is still a nice color, and gives the vibe of that style of pillow, in a way more affordable and friendly way.
One of my favorite thigs from the whole new line is the fringed pom pom blanket. I’m desperate for it in a queen or king size (its just a throw for now). Note to all bedding manufacturers – if you can make your throw blankets big enough for at least a queen bed they will sell easier because people will know that they can use them both on sofas as well as beds. I always get so bummed when I find the perfect end-of-bed blanket and realize that it’s way too short (which is when/why stylist just lay the blanket all wonky and crooked over one side of the bottom of the bed – something that I don’t support but have done myself).
There she is! The bed is super pretty, too. Make sure that you have a tall enough mattress because there is a gap between the base and the headboard. Our mattress was 12″ so it fit, and hid that gap.
That there is the guest suite bed, with it’s neutral yet inviting Target bedding and textiles. Here’s what we used:
Tufted Headboard | Rug | Nightstand | Marble and Brass Table Lamp | Sheepskin Pelt | Dotted Lumbar Pillow | Blue and Black Oversized Pillow | Mid-Century Planter | Striped Tassel Blanket | Oversized Cream Fringe Pillow | Gray Fringe Pillow | Stitched Quilt | Basket | Flax Linen Sheets | Leather Pillow | Stitched Quilted Sham
*Also a quick endorsement on that rug – it’s expensive and looks really simple (and it is) but it is insanely comfortable and has a lot of movement, texture and reflection. In other words if you are looking for a simple but high quality wool gray rug, grab a sample of that one and see it for yourself in your space.
Now for the real estate shots and to show you how we staged the other side of the room. We only took four shots – one for each each wall because we have been told that we should really only include 16 photos total for the whole house when we list it. So while my usual MO is to shoot the heck out of a room, this is not the case this time. It’s a little hard for some of us to see photos like this – their pulled back nature makes them feel less intimate and less inviting. But to show the true reality of the space to sell the house, it’s nice to see it all pulled back and totally natural.
I brought back in my vintage nightstands (which I don’t think I have a place for in the new house but I love SO MUCH). We created more space by getting rid of the trunk at the end of the bed (plus the trunk with the nightstands looked a bit too thrifted). I bought that dresser from the flea market not knowing that the drawers don’t open without a skeleton key – of which I don’t have. It was pretty affordable ($200) and is just so pretty, but if any of you know how to replicate that kind of key or how to open these kinds of dressers please let me know.
We cleaned up Brian’s desk a bit and moved some of the art around (based on what we used went in other places in the house).
It really, truly is such a clean, bright and happy room now – sans any computer cords, clutter. I know we can’t really live like this, but seeing the fantasy does make you not want to leave it.
On the other side of the room we kept it super simple – got rid of the elliptical, fridge and TV. That piece of art doesn’t really live there, but we needed something back there to help your eye notice that there is a bathroom – AKA this suite is fully decked out (we put in that bathroom).
Some of the rooms upstairs are making me sad to stage/shoot – I miss my family in them, our photos, our kids – it’s certainly making me nostalgic for the three amazing years we spent here. But this room, having it finally cleaned up and presentable is making me proud.
We shoot the rest of the house this week (living/dining/family and Elliot’s old room – BIG TEAR!!!) and while it is fun to spend one last week here creating content, I am finding it EXTREMELY difficult to not add too much personality, accessories and color into the ‘staged’ version of the house. As a home buyer, I actually liked seeing real books, accessories and a sense of life in the house. But what everybody in the world has told me is to make it pretty and stylish but give it a lot of space, light and airiness so that it feels fresh, easy to stay clean/organize and avoid anything that would create a negative response from a potential high bidder – like a photo of a family with two young kids … so sad.
Wish me luck (and watch it all on insta-story). xx
***after photos by Tessa Neustadt