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Staging to Sell...

How We Styled Our Family Room and Kitchen to Sell

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Well, our first home now belongs to someone else (a VERY lovely family). As you guessed it went really quickly and yes, they bought 80% of the furniture and accessories (very little art or one of a kind accessories that I couldn’t part with). But before we sold it we staged it to sell (and created this video series!!!) which meant for this room, that we really designed it for the very first time.

When we bought it, it looked like this:

We did a lot of updating to it through the years, and even shot it for a few different publications, all styled out.

Here it was in Domino. Geez this looks so dated now.

And here is looking towards the kitchen when it was in Good Housekeeping:

Charlie!!! and little Elliot was in my belly. Simpler days, folks. Simpler days.

And in Styled: 

It was great and looked ok when styled out in pictures but I think the main problem, and why I never loved it, was because of the sectional. It was just too heavy for this small of a space. It was also, so incredibly comfortable and easy to clean. We spent so much time on that beast which is why we always kept it in there.

Turns out it needed a sectional but one of different proportions. Once this exact sectional (borrowed from the lovely ladies of 1000xbetter, although I believe it’s from CB2 and they still sell it) was in there it made so much more sense and the room felt so much better.

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It fits perfectly in the corner, keeps the room feeling open and provides almost as much comfortable seating as we had before. Now, our family couldn’t handle a white sectional in our TV room, especially when it’s shared with the kitchen, because we are disgusting animals who shove food in our mouths while watching any sort of garbage TV, but I do love this look so much more. I will say that this sofa is a 6 on the comfort scale – it’s on the firmer side. Although the Article sectional we used in the living room is really, really comfortable (real down) by the way. I was impressed.

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Once the sofa was confirmed, I knew exactly how to stage this room so that it highlighted the space and appealed to the widest audience.

1. I kept an open and airy color palette. The sofa and rug make for a neutral backdrop for colorful (but not too colorful) pillows and throws with pattern (but not too much pattern). There are a few big pops (the indigo and the mustard) but mostly they are all pulled from the rug and are quiet and neutral.

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We had that Rebecca Atwood piece above the couch commissioned and man, do I love how perfect it looks in this room (we had it custom framed by Framebridge who did such a good job). It’s the absolute perfect scale for the sofa and that large wall. And once we flanked it by those amazing sconces I stood back and said ‘WHY, OH WHY DIDN’T I DO THAT YEARS AGO?’. The truth is that this room was always a disaster because of the kids. The cats ruined our huge pouf, but the kids loved it too much for us to replace it. The sofa was always covered in yogurt (fun fact, I’ve now come to spot clean my furniture much more often and it’s shocking how great it works – turns out I was just super lazy before). I think I just felt like “why invest in this room because it’s just going to look like we were robbed every day anyway?”

Seeing it like this just makes me finally feel proud of it.

Meanwhile on the other side of the room …

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This side of the room was previously riddled with toys as it was their play area. Our Saarinen coffee table was their play table and play dough was typically smashed into all surfaces and crevices at any given time. We got rid of all signs of kid when we staged it, and it’s shocking how it instantly became a real room again. We brought over our white credenza to the new house, thinking that we needed it – only to bring it back and sell it to the new owners, ha! We borrowed this piece from the 1000xbetter staging company in the interim (although it’s from West Elm). It was nice that it was a smaller scale, but I loved the white piece back here a lot (I don’t think I ever shot it in there, sorry!).

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As you know this space is shared with the kitchen and it is ALSO our TV room. We didn’t do much to the kitchen, beyond touching up all the paint, and recaulking the backsplash at the seams. The kitchen was redone only done 2 years ago and it’s held up pretty nicely.

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Before you think – my god that TV is up high, you should know that it usually lives 18″ lower. Such a boring story but we had already moved the tv to the other house, and the day we shot the video we were like – gah! we need a TV to fill that spot! The TV down in the guest suite was brought up, but the brackets didn’t match so we essentially just rested it on the bracket rather than totally mounting it to the wall – thus leaving the TV way higher than it was when we lived there.

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I forced Tessa to take some pulled back more real estate shots and she complied. I love, love, love being able to see the whole space and while I know that this shot would never be in a magazine I think I’m not alone when I say I appreciate how full of information it is.

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That Rejuvenation rug is great by the way. If you are in the market for a neutral that still has some color, it’s a very good one. We sold our framed vintage car photos (framed via Framebridge) to the new owners – but I thought they looked great in this space.

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Man, I have such amazing memories there. Such a happy kitchen that definitely felt like ‘me’.

And here’s the second video we put together with Curbed, all about decluttering a room to make it more appealing to potential buyers:

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That’s how we did it. If you are interested in any of the specific items you see in the pics we have pulled together a “get the look” for you below.

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1. Sconce | 2. Custom Art (framed by Framebridge in Irvine frame) | 3. End Table | 4. Sofa | 5. White Pillow | 6. Blue Patterned Pillow | 7. Blush Tie Dye Pillow | 8. Blue Striped Throw | 9. Rug | 10. Vintage Art (Framed by Framebridge in Mercer Frame) | 11. Blue Roman Shade | 12. Vintage Blue Sham | 13. Crackle Print Pillow | 14. Textured Knot Pillow | 15. Blue & White Stripe Pillow | 16. Table Lamp | 17. Mirror | 18. Credenza | 19. Navy Cross Stitch Pillow | 20. Blue Knit Pillow | 21. Fringe Throw | 22. Yellow Round Pillow | 23. Ceramic Bowl | 24. Urchin Box | 25. Cowhide Rug | 26. Woven Basket

But wait, there’s more. One of my biggest style tips is to keep a consistent color palette, so here’s one more quick ‘Style School’ about how to pull together a color palette based on an item in your space:

Let us know if you have any questions below. Check out how we staged the master bedroom, Elliot’s room, charlie’s room and living room, too.

***After Photos by Tessa Neustadt 

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    1. yes, a lot of times you really NEED to see the entire room to understand how some things work, I like a combination of both types of photos

    2. Me either. The up close actually tend to drive me a little crazy. I love to see the context of the close-ups too!! I feel like only bloggers love those on their own? I love to see a vignette, but I also want to see how the heck it looks in the entire room so I can imagine it in my own.

    3. Completely agree! I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen photos of this kitchen and it’s completely ingrained in my brain, but then suddenly seeing the pulled back shot with the family room! Whoa!! Totally different perspective – it’s like I didn’t even recognize the house!

  1. I love how pintuck cushions are back in style! Now I don’t feel so “granny” with my Baba’s pintuck cushions on my sofa!!!!

  2. Would love to know what you use as a Spot cleaner for your furniture/rugs! I’ve been using resolve but wondering if there is anything better out there.

    Thank you as always for all of the helpful information you provide in addition to the beautiful images!

    1. I personally swear by Turtle Wax car upholstery cleaner (find it in the car cleaning aisle at WalMart). Has a detachable brush that makes it one-stop cleaning!!

    2. I like Woolite upholstery cleaner. It comes with a brush on the spray can and it leaves a nice “clean” smell –not perfume or solvent. It cleans great, too. Probably nice memories for me, too…my mom always used it, 🙂

  3. I love these posts! They are so helpful for me. I feel like the styling is on point, sure the designs are meant to appeal to the masses, but they are still very specific to a style. 🙂

  4. Ah, I appreciate the pulled back picture. I was always confused on how the family room was laid out beside the kitchen.

    1. I second this! The first floor arrangement never clicked for me before these shots. I also appreciate all of the information in a pulled back shot. I would love to see one of these (along with the usual) when you do a reveal of a room.

      1. We are doing that, i promise. In fact if i’m not on a shoot that is the only text I send ‘make sure to take a really pulled back photo!’. I’m with you. xx

        1. I appreciate the pulled back photos, too, but as I mentioned before, even pulled back photos are impossible for me to see on this website because the header and sidebar take up so much screen space. I literally cannot see all of a photo at one time. I’m either looking at the ceiling and upper walls or the lower half with the floor.

          1. Hi Mindy

            You can click on an image and it will pull up a gallery where all the images fit completely on your screen!

  5. Congratulations on the sale of your lovely house! Would you explain how staging typically works? Seems like an expensive proposition for the seller if the buyer doesn’t purchase the furniture and accessories. Did you leave anything in the staged house that you didn’t want to sell?

    1. Hi Donna,
      I’m a home stager from Ontario, Canada. Home staging usually “costs” on average 1500-3000$, but the income results you achieve (if done right) are incomparable. I’ve put cost in quote, cause I think there’s a big misconception. Every good relator or property investor will emphasize that this is not a cost, but investment. I like to look at Scandi brokers’ websites – more prominent ones hire home stagers/property stylists to do the job (that’s why we have so many cute pins). That’s still to come in America, I think.

      I just recently staged a vacant 4 bdr home and it sold in 5 days, way over asking (12.5% to be exact). You have to think about staging as part of marketing. Just like good ad in tv – to produce it you need to invest. But you need that hook – good photos to get the showings. And showings to get multiple offers.

      And yes, in todays market everything sells, but the question is for how much. In other words, visually it has to appeal as cozy, light, specious, etc to maximize your income. Hope that helps!

  6. Hi Emily,

    These rooms look beautiful! I was wondering if you could give a source for the rug in your kitchen, I’m looking for one just like it.

    Thanks!

    1. The rug is actually vintage that I grabbed from the flea market years ago, so unfortunately I don’t have a source, although etsy, chairish, and ebay are great places to find small vintage rugs like that. xx

  7. This seems like one of the only posts where you mention the cats have damaged or destroyed a piece of furniture. I was wondering about the cats when you showed the new chaise in your insta story – I would be terrified of cats getting hold of all that gorgeous velvet and fringe. How much (if at all) do you consider pet-friendly fabric choices when you are designing and choosing upholstery? I feel like this is never really mentioned.

  8. Feel bad saying this since you’ve spent so many posts and videos (and a book) teaching us how to style pillows on a sofa but I still haven’t figured it out in my own living room. Styling above looks effortlessly fantastic as usual. Unfortunately I can’t just copy a look cushion for cushion from you either since I’m not in America. Going to go back and study Styled again now and try to nail it but it is most definitely not as easy as you make it look! Thanks for the constant inspiration though

      1. Your pillows always look flawless Emily! But you know its really hard to find a good mix of shapes…I’m always trying to find smaller rectangles and I have so much trouble! Maybe could you do a pillow round-up soon? Specifically targeting how to find unique shapes? Thanks Emily! Love your blog!

  9. For the Rebecca Atwood art piece, how large is it? And is it just a large swatch of fabric, framed? In case we want to recreate the feel without commissioning it custom–could you do the same with the stock fabric sold on their site?

    1. Kayleigh, not to knock Rebecca Atwood at ALL (obsessed with her work) but you could pretty easily recreate it custom yourself which would feel a lot more unique than simply framing her fabric (and cheaper) ! Buy a large piece of cotton or linen (probably best) from the fabric store and fabric paint. Cut a potato into quarters, dip it in the fabric paint, more or less depending on how much texture you want/how dark you want the color, and use it as a stamp! I’m assuming in this case Framebridge custom framed the textile piece, but if you wanted a slightly simpler option you could do the stamping on a large canvas! Happy making! 🙂

  10. Emily, could you share the dimensions of the family room? (Mostly interested in the distance between the TV wall and the wall that the back of the couch is against)

  11. Gourg as always. It wa great to see how the kitchen related to the living/tv area.
    Can you give any specifics on the window treatment for the slider? Or point me to a post where you’ve discussed it. I have a slider that is the direct sight line from my entry door and I would love to remove the vertical blinds (yuck) but was at a loss until I saw the valance in your pictures, love it.
    Thanks!

    1. It’s a smart TV so we didn’t need any of it 🙂 We don’t have a dvd player and the components are elsewhere because its a smart tv so its all wifi. xx

  12. I had never seen that angle of the kitchen, and had been wondering where the fridge and oven were! The pulled back image really helped, I too had been confused about how the family room and kitchen connect. I actually thought the kitchen looked onto the big living room with the fireplace…

  13. I have this rug and I felt so proud when I saw that you used it in a design!! I love that it acts like a neutral but is so interesting!

  14. Those sconces and the large artwork look fantastic. And I love the “real estate” shots mixed in with the closer ups. Congrats on the quick sale!

  15. I am LOVING your blog. It is seriously one of my favorites by far. I am no professional by any means but that doesn’t let me hold back my passion for interior design and home decor. I always learn something (generally a whole lot of things) from your posts. Can’t wait to keep seeing more. I am launching my blog on the 1 April and have a home decor section. I can only hope to aspire to your level one day!
    Thanks for adding a little bit of something extra beautiful in my day 🙂

  16. The staging of your whole place was awesome. I love your design normally, but the staging, even though it’s supposed to be more pulled back, appeal-to-the-masses, is just lovely.

    If anyone finds a knock off for the sconces, let me know!

  17. Yes, I thought the TV was really high, but then I looked at ours and tried to think of why it was so close to the ceiling. Then it dawned – kid fingers, through maybe 3-4 years.

  18. This space looks great! It is always hard to combine spaces but you did a great job. I enjoy that you carried blue through each room, although decreased the amount of blue that is in the living room area. It creates a cohesive feel without overwhelming the eyes with a sea of blue! I also really like the throw pillows and how you organized them. They create a sense of depth and draw the eye.

  19. One thing I love that I didn’t see you mention is the framed piece to the left of the Rebecca Atwood piece… Is that a collection of polaroids?? They’re adorable! Could you share how you had them framed? Is this something Framebridge did for you? Thanks!

  20. Where was the blue hallway rug purchased from? Love the blog and inspiration (especially being a working mom also)!