Monday, June 16, 2014

Urban Loft: Tips on Warming up a Chilly Space - Home Staging Story

Picture this:  an extraordinarily beautiful 1500+ square foot urban loft featuring elegant high ceilings, breathtaking walls of windows facing a mountain in the middle of Montreal, and vast open expanses of space. Exposed concrete columns and ceilings - the works.  All that in a very in-demand, hip neighbourhood. Want to move in yet?


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos


Not so fast.  For all its beauty, this loft was uninhabited and felt too cold and sparse when it came time to sell it, and its owners needed some help to make it feel more homey.



I recently worked on staging this loft to prep it for its sale, and wanted to share the details with you. I've been helping friends stage their homes for years (and have staged my own homes too) but this is the first time I was officially hired to do it for a client, and I'm very proud of the results :)

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Building Entry

Come on in and take a look to see how this already-great-space was transformed to make it ready for primetime on the real estate market.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
2nd Floor, Corner Unit -- the only unit in the building with walls of windows

The Plan


Despite its lovely physical qualities, the loft's owners had already moved out into their new home, originally planning to turn the loft into a rental.  It was empty of any personal touches like artwork, photography, books, food: any signs of human life.  In the past, all the staging I've done centred on getting rid of as much stuff as possible to declutter, make more room, and clear the way for prospective buyers' imaginations.  In this case, it was the opposite: We needed stuff!

Because it was intended to be a rental, they had left behind basic furniture:  a bed + bedside tables, a dining table, desk, bookcase and couches.  And a few plain dishes in the kitchen.  So that was our starting point.

The Must-Do List:

- Warm the space up with personal decor items like artwork, books and flowers.
- Change the layout of the furniture to enhance the gorgeous architecture.
- Keep expenses to a minimum, use what we have on hand.
- Make any necessary purchases with the consideration that they would have to fit into decorating the new house later on.
- I also wanted to rethink and repurpose the pieces that were already there.

To top things off, I got to work with my bestie who I rarely see because she lives in another city. Between all the laughs, the decor decisions and the ongoing declarations of genius, I can't think of anyone I'd rather do a fun project like this with!

Here are some Before and After shots, with comments about why we did the thing we did:

The Living Room



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Living/Dining - Before



My first visit.  Wowed by the space.  After taking in the huge windows and square footage (like a giddy kid in a candy store), I looked around and noted a couple of things that jumped out at me... Knowing this is how a prospective buyer will look at it and get an intuitive feel for the place.  

The living room arrangement was on an angle that felt at odds with the straight lines of the space; the dining area didn't seem inviting (was it the chairs?), and an area designated as an office seemed to chop the open-concept space in two.  

One by one, we would address these points.

The nice part about having your place staged is that someone can look at your stuff in a whole new light, and suggest ways to highlight the bones of the place that -- despite having lived there for a long time -- you may have never thought of doing.  And that's exactly what happened here.



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Living Room - Before



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Living Room - After



We repositioned the living room layout to follow the same lines as the apartment, which is cleaner and simpler.  The diagonal may have made more sense everyday living (such as reducing glare from the huge windows onto the TV), but for showcasing the windows, I wanted to keep the furniture layout more straightforward.  This also encourages people to sit down and take in the view of the mountain.

Additional Changes:
- Moved the huge arching drum-shade lamp in from another area to lend more soft light.
- Brought in some greenery, flowers and a few books.
- Vast gallery-sized, well-lit walls were prime space for hanging cool artwork, which we did.
- There was an abundance of thin, saggy pillows so I doubled them up -- stuffing one into another -- to make them plumper and stand up straight.
ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Living Room - After
ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
An urban landscape photo of LA lends itself well to this space




ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
A unexpected pop of bright pink changes the vibe

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Here's the living room in the daylight...

The Master Bedroom



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
The Bedroom - Before.

In the bedroom, also featuring its vast bank of windows, wall of closets and floor-to-ceiling drapes, we needed to add some personality, a touch of luxury and a welcoming feel.

We did this by adding a framed print of the Eiffel Tower -- Paris being a much-loved and memory-filled city for the owners -- crisp white bedding, and matching mercury-glass Pottery Barn-style lamps.

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Bedroom, After


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Bedroom - After


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
New shimmery mercury-glass style lamps

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Crisp white bedding

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
A simple, luxe feel.  Rich colors go together.  Making use of a tan bed cover that was on hand.

As if by happy accident, the golden champagne tones of the bed coverlet and drapes work in easy harmony with the lamps and print of the Eiffel tower.


The Office


The challenge here was that this giant bookcase was dividing the space in two.  This was handy for living, but not great for the sale.  My main goal here is to wow people with the giant amount of space, so I want to move anything that's in the way.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Office Space - Before


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Office - Before

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
A view toward the inside of the loft - Before



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
The Office - After



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
The big picture - After

The Kitchen & Dining


The kitchen is well-sized and very functional.  The goal here was to clean it up and make a breakfast nook on the island to make it inviting.  While the plain Ikea barstools were okay, I rented two white-leather-and-chrome barstools to bring things up a notch and make the space feel more elegant & grown up.

I also got a set of 4 sleek dining chairs that work well in the space, in a style similar to the new barstools. We repositioned the dining table parallel to the kitchen island so they would photograph better together.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Kitchen - Before

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
The white seating is elegant and simple.



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Kitchen Island place setting

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Kitchen Island place settings with a view onto the park below

I find that staged table settings can really be hit or miss.  It's hard to get it just right.  I tend not to like those that are too fussy and feel too put-on, too stagey...  Particularly when there is just too much silverware and glassware and it evokes a formality not suited for everyday living.  In this space, I did place settings to offset the starkness of the concrete slab, keeping things to a minimum and leaving out silverware (which inevitably gets crooked and calls attention to itself).

The Bathroom


This room had some simple repairs that needed doing, and needed cleaning to bring it to a shine.  After that, it was about making it lush like a high-end hotel bathroom.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Bathroom - Before


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Bathroom - After


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Bathroom accessories - After

The Front Hall


The front hall started off crowded with stuff, which got hauled away little by little.  I ended up moving this sideboard piece elsewhere into the apartment, to make this hallway as bare as possible.  (Note, there is a wall of closets and drawers to the left, so additional storage was not necessary here.)


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Front Hallway - Before

Introducing some color...

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Yours truly :)



We repositioned the full length mirror, which now reflects this lovely and soothing new piece of art.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Front Hallway - After


Behind the Scenes...

Roadtrippin'


To obtain 4 dining chairs and 2 stools for the kitchen island, I reached out to Rentan Rentals in Montreal. They were easy to work with and we were happy with the prices.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
1st time working with our friends @ Rentan Furniture Rentals


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
The Rentan Showroom


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Checking out stool options @ Rentan


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
My idea of Heaven.  Am I normal?

And my personal favorite part...  The backstore...  (cue the choir of angels)


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
More Heavenly options

Then it was off to IKEA to round up the missing bedding, bathroom goodies and greenery.  Yay!  I heart IKEA!


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos



ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Scoping out plant options @ IKEA -- Faux Bamboo plant.  Tall and skinny, exactly what we need to fill a corner.

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
A trunk full of goodies from IKEA.  Um, yes.  Double like.

Our Challenge:

The gigantic empty bookcase.  A tricky X-Large 5x5 bookcase... That's a lot of cubbies to fill!


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos


My plan was not to fill them completely with carloads and carloads of stuff, but rather have colorful things that catch the eye and distract from the sparseness.

Here, a cut-up event calendar from a magazine makes for an interesting visual to fill an empty frame.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Filling an empty frame with a colorful magazine page

Long-stemmed faux-hydrangeas were cut short and put in a little juice glass.  You can never go wrong with white flowers.  Plus, I wanted to use what we had on hand.

Boxes of books and magazines later...

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
The bookcase starting to look a bit fuller -- we have a long way to go!

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Warmer...  warmer...

Side Projects


This wall had some sticky gunk on it that couldn't be cleaned off, but we didn't have the time or desire to do a full repaint job.  So we got crafty.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Getting crafty with an old calendar, and some inexpensive frames

ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
This is how we camouflaged it

And then, we made one more.


ZenShmen Home Staging an Urban Loft Tips Photos
Another piece of Homemade art using an old calendar page


And there you have it.  Next time I'll come by gorgeous out-of-date calendars, I'm going to stock up!  

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  I look forward to doing lots more of this kind of work, I just love it.

Till next time,

Val


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