December is always a busy month for us, and this past December was no exception. I have no one to blame but myself, because this time I added to the busyness when I agreed to take on the staging/decorating of two new condos. They are located in beautiful Sandpoint, Idaho, where we have a small vacation bungalow, but over 200 miles from where we live full-time. I know, what was I thinking?? *Disclaimer* These pictures are not very good, as the professional shots are being taken this week, but I’m too impatient to wait. Sorry.
The end of November, the realtor contacted me and asked if I would have time to take this project on. I looked at my calendar, saw a free weekend two weeks away and said “Sure!” I know, what was I thinking?? In all fairness to the realtor, she would have waited until after the first of the year, but I was anxious to get them done. And in all fairness to me, these were small one bedroom units in a floorplan I had done for them before, so I was familiar with what would be needed.
Today, while you scroll through the finished units, I wanted to talk a little bit about the distinctions that exist between staging for the vacation rental market and the real estate market. Last fall, I shared the staging of three condos in this same building that were for the vacation rental market. If you missed those blogs, you can read them here: https://tumbleweedtidings.com/2018/09/18/a-tale-of-three-condos-condo-1/,
Unlike the last three condos, these two were “for sale” units that needed staging. The differences between staging for sale and staging for rentals are subtle, yet distinct. When the unit is for a rental, the focus is on hard wearing fabrics that are family and often pet friendly, and functionality for the vacation rental market. Think lots of sleeping capability and fully furnished for someone to stay there for a week or even longer. The kitchen is fully outfitted with dishes, coffee maker, and all of the other items necessary to prepare meals. There are enough towels to accommodate the number of people the unit holds, as well as linens and places to store clothing and suitcases.
When the property is for sale, you aren’t as concerned with the durability of fabrics, but more on the aesthetic value of a cohesive color scheme. A for sale unit doesn’t need linens, or a fully equipped kitchen. The focus is more on making the unit look like a home that a potential buyer can see themselves living in, as well as accentuating the positive and minimizing the negative aspects of the property.
Sometimes the job is to compensate for the fact that the property doesn’t have a view. In that case, you can create a “view” by presenting a new focal point that draws the eye. In other cases, the task is to create an environment that is so beautiful, they don’t notice that it’s short one bedroom or bathroom.
In the case of these condos, the view is amazing. The slider off the living room boasts a spacious deck that has breathtaking views of the mountains and Sand Creek, as well as the marina below. From the window in the bedroom that is tall and goes to the floor, you also have great views. So, view, check!
The challenge in these units was to make them feel as spacious and comfortable as possible. Because these units were somewhat on the small side, they actually looked smaller unfurnished. The realtor had shown them to people over and over, and their comment was always that they felt there wasn’t enough space.
Enter the stager (me) to wave the magic wand. With a few carefully selected furniture pieces, the rooms actually grow in size. Wow, it fits a large sofa, credenza, two chairs, end tables and still tons of floor space? It can’t be that small. It fits a dining table for four or more? It can’t be that small. The bedroom can easily fit a king or queen bed? It can’t be that small. You get the idea.
So, I put in a few maniacal days of power shopping, and got on the phone with my favorite furniture store owner, Clint, at Sandpoint Furniture. TIP: If you are a person in regular need of furniture or anything else for that matter, it pays to have a good, collaborative relationship with someone in that business. Because he knew me and my style, with a few emails with pictures and a couple of phone calls, all of the main furniture pieces were selected without me ever entering the store. And contrary to ordering online, I had eyes on the ground to ensure that these items were excellent quality and fit my usual style. Relationships really do pay off, friends.
Next came the list making, and a quick trip up to Idaho a week ahead of install to drop off the first load of accessories. In a couple of hours we were able to unload, purchase 8×10 rugs at Home Depot and put them in place to “relax.” We hung shower curtains and bathroom towels, hid all of the other items in the closets in case she had showings, and we were done for that trip.
The following weekend, we drove up the night before install and unloaded our JAMMED SUV into the two units. At 9:00 the next morning, the furniture truck showed up. The furniture installers were wonderful, placing everything just where I wanted them. I actually felt like Joanna Gaines for a minute:) They assembled the bed and even took off all of the tags from the furniture. Then my husband and I got to work hanging artwork, mirrors, signs, and dressing up the beds. The kitchen counters were staged with a combination of cake plates, books, greenery and signs. A couple of dishtowels on the appliances and the kitchens were done.
The accessories in the living room and dining area take the longest. No matter how many I buy, we always seem to need a trip to the Goodwill for books, small dishes, brass candlesticks, etc. to finish it off. I used to bring too much, and now I seem to bring too little. You want to leave some white space so the rooms don’t feel cluttered, but you want it to seem decorated enough to adequately fill the walls. When you are shopping with someone else’s money, you try to make it come out just right, so it’s a balancing act.
Then it was time to put lightbulbs in all of the lamps, the pillows on the couches, batteries in the clocks, and all of the little fussy work. Because these units were one floor apart, one right on top of the other, we did some stair running. Luckily, there was also an elevator when we needed it for the heavy bins and rugs.
It may be hard to tell from the pictures, but one unit is in creams, grays and white, while the other unit is in black and white. Both units have wood accents and a live edge coffee table that is narrow enough to not obstruct the walkway to the patio. My “splurge” in the gray and cream unit were the mid century modern brown leather chairs. They are legit in every way and really amp up the design factor in this unit, making everything around them look expensive as well.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing these finished condos. In case you can’t tell, I truly have a passion for staging, and I know from experience that staging really helps to sell properties. If I could do one of these jobs a month, I would be one happy girl. My husband would probably leave me, but other than that….Just kidding.
Staging requires some organizational and budgeting skills, a strong back, and a keen eye for design, but not necessarily professional training or education in interior design. A passion for combining disparate objects takes some creativity, as in knowing when to spend “high” on a chair and “low” on a Goodwill mirror, and then allowing them to live together in harmony. From a decorating standpoint, staging allows you to flex your muscles by experimenting with various color schemes and styles, trying something new each and every time. And that is about as much fun as you can imagine!