Selling Weedy Acres...time to stage

weedyacresJanuary 15, 2012

After successful completion of a 5-year DIY whole-house remodeling project, we are reluctantly selling our Weedy Acres to move 100 miles away, where I bought a business 2 years ago.

So I'm enlisting your help as we go room by room over the next couple months and get everything in tip top shape, to offer your generous advice on how to make the house as appealing as possible. We don't have a large budget, so need to make do with what we have, can borrow, or can acquire inexpensively.

To provide some context, this is a 4400 square foot home on 3.5 acres with 4 bedrooms (5 if you count the bonus room) and 3 1/2 baths, and will be priced in the upper 10% of the market.

First on the docket: the bonus room.

This was the last room we "remodeled." New paint, carpet, trim. I need some ideas on how to stage it. It was going to be Mr. Weedy's man cave, but not any more. Ideas? Options? Furniture? Layout? It's a 13'x20' rectangle with a 4"x6" dormer bump-out. I want it to look welcoming instead of just a big bland room.

The two interior doors lead to the upstairs furnace and a tiny closet in which we've hidden a 4-drawer file cabinet.

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Since this is a bonus room, why not leave it empty? People can envision what they would like to put there (play room, game room, computer room, office).
Use your funds for the other more important rooms in the house.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 9:57PM
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I had a bonus room with angled ceilings like this in my last house. We moved before I actually got around to doing actual decorating. I had mine staged as a bedroom.

I would be tempted to put a comfy reading chair or window seat in the bumpout with a small reading table and a good book. I'd add some sheer white curtains and a green plant to soften the look.

I'd stage the rest of the room as a guest bedroom. Put those mirrors up and some wall art. Add some nice textured bedding with a couple of accent pillows.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 10:21PM
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Desk under the windows? Flat screen on the wall opposite the doors? Big work table?

Honestly, I think this kind of bonus space might be better left completely unfinished. People will be delighted to find a blank slate for their kids' playroom / pool table / mancave / office / craft room. This is one space they won't have difficulty imagining as their own, particularly if they are upsizing to your house size.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 10:36PM
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What a lovely space.

I agree that since it's a bonus room, you should not spend too much time and effort with it. Let people envision their own stuff!

But since you already have the chair, I'd do what someone else said - make a little reading alcove there. Sheers on the window so you don't hide the view, a little table, lamp, your chair and an afghan thrown over the back.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 10:37AM
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It will look bigger with at least a little furniture in it.

If you own a desk...stage it as a study/home office? Lots of people telecommute these days. Desk under the window... bookshelves along long wall, comfy chair and reading lamp under angled part of wall? put the bookshelves along the "less headroom" wall and the chair and lamp along tall wall...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:17AM
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I agree with the posters above, I'd add a few pieces of non-specific furniture, like the chair, table and plant, maybe a bookcase with a few books and some decorative items, and let the buyers make it what ever they envision, game room, play room, office, guest room, etc. It will look smaller empty.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:34AM
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First, I would think about the competition. If your competition houses are likely to have 5 bedrooms, I would stage as a bedroom. If not I would stage as an office, craft room, or similar (depending upon what you already own). Most buyers are not gardenwebbers; they don't have the vision to see an empty or non-specific space and think about what could work in that space. If they see a beautifully organized room- whether it is a bedroom or something office like- they can begin to imagine how their own things will work in that space. You want to avoid people seeing the bonus room and thinking, "what on earth will I do with this odd space?"

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:50AM
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Yes, check out your competition. What they have, you should have "better". But after you decide what the room should be, I'd repaint it. The wall color is way too close to the carpet color, and while they are both neutral, it makes the room look "builder grade blah and forgotten" rather than just a calm blank slate waiting on a purpose. I'd pick a color at least two shades darker than what you have now, but I'd let whatever upholstery makes the final cut dictate which color family to hunt for the paint.

Remember the old trick of the blow up bed if you need to for a bedroom staging. Then a chair and reading lamp in the nook would complete the room. If you do it as an office, a desk area in the nook and a sofa and a bookcase in the main area. Haunt craigslist if you don't have enough furniture to create a purpose in this room. Don't leave it blank! Just "sketch it in" with the bare minimum rather than treating it like an actual office or bedroom.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 12:10PM
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I agree that the paint seems too light and seems to blend in with the rug. However, since you just painted and it's fresh, I would suggest staging with some color for window valences, pillows, and maybe even a slipcover for the chair.

I'd also add a bookshelf.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:53PM
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I like your wall color. It provides a seamless transition and a cohesive feeling, especially since the room already has numerous doors, the angled wall and the dormer bump-out.
My initial thought was to add a small bookcase opposite the blue chair, next to the window but not under it, as a small reading nook.

Then either add a second chair out in the open to have a small conversation area. Or add a daybed instead to imply additional sleeping room.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 2:55PM
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A vote to create a bedroom/office type room.

1)Single bed along the wall across from the window.

2)Add single white-painted night table with lamp.

3)Add white desk to window nook. Add a lamp or two. Add basic white chair.

4)Add short white bookcases along the shortened wall (where the large chair is sitting) This move will demonstrate that ALL of the wall space is very usable.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Depends on how much work needs to be done in the rest of the house. To decide how to stage an empty room, you really have to know what else is in the house. It wouldn't make sense to stage the bonus room as an office if one exists elsewhere in the house. A bedroom might be a good idea, but not if two of the other bedrooms are empty.

You have a large, expensive home and a small staging budget. I strongly suggest developing a staging plan for the whole house that focuses your resources on the things that will deliver the best return. That means knowing what's important in your market and working from most important rooms to the least important. The bonus room probably isn't one of the more important rooms, unless a 5th bedroom matters in your market. If it isn't, a chair with a cozy throw, a table, lamp, a book and a nice plant may have to suffice to give potential buyers a sense of room size.

Have you engaged a real estate agent yet or at least started interviewing them? Part of the interview process can include what they think the strengths and weaknesses are of the home. A good agent should be able to tell you what kind of buyers are looking in your area. Thank kind of information will help you with a staging plan.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 4:38PM
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Thanks for all the input so far. I'm trying to mesh the differing opinions with what I know of the market and the competition (not to mention our budget).

I've been watching the competition since last August and typically 5 sleeping rooms aren't required. Bonus rooms are usually pretty non-descript catch-all rooms. My goal is to make it feel part of a put-together house rather than an empty room out of context with everything else.

The other 3 non-master bedrooms will all be staged as bedrooms, sparse (they're all guest rooms, so clutter-free) but neat and bright.

Based on the feedback above, I'm leaning toward something like this:

BTW, I erred a bit on the size. I re-measured when I got home and it's actually 11'x19' plus the 4'x6' dormer.

I found a queen size mattress on CL that I dragged home tonight for $10. We've got Mr. Weedy's TV recliner that I will banish from the family room once we're ready to list, so that's a possibility for this room. The other chairs shown in the photo already have designated rooms, so they're not available.

I think I can pick up a dresser at a consignment store or keep watching CL. I also saw this $50 credenza that could serve as the desk:


    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 10:15PM
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P.S. There is no office in the house (as in the kind where it's a separate room downstairs), but we do have a 10 foot long built in upstairs in the loft area that serves as computer center/study area. We'll stage that with a single computer, no peripherals, and some books or something studious. Having the desk in the bonus room would give us a spot for the 2nd computer while clearing space in the loft.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 10:22PM
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I would not use the large dark recliner in the room -- and would strongly vote for using white-painted furniture. Even a white painted rocker would work as the bonus room chair ....

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 12:22PM
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What's your rationale for recommending white instead of dark furniture?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 8:41PM
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I am not sure what I would do with the room itself, but I would for sure have a large plant in that bump-out!That would fit in with almost any use the rest of the room is put to.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:34PM
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I wouldn't use more than one case piece on that wall. A dresser plus desk will reduce the path around the bed and make it feel crowded. Besides, adjacent case pieces on the same wall usually don't look good.

I'm also a fan of a large plant in the dormer. Healthy plants make me think that the homeowner pays attention and takes care of things.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:58PM
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OK, just had another suggestion offered to me: what about putting a desk under the window (also suggested above) and put a couple comfy chairs under the sloped part of the roof with a table/lamp or short bookcase between them?

Need to find a friend with some comfy chairs I can borrow.... :-)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 12:47PM
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OK, an update on the bonus room from Saturday's work day. Feedback?

The chair will have to be a different one, as the one pictured goes to the sunroom, but I've included it for scale. The bed is a bit of a placeholder. I think I need to make it taller and punch up the bedding. Any suggestions on color for the bedding? I've got a stash of blah comforters, and I'll probably just make an inexpensive duvet cover and buy a few coordinating pillows. I'm also thinking headboard made from an old stained door we've got sitting around at work.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:47PM
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Since you are staging, maybe a coffee mug and rolled up newspaper, and house slippers, all near the chair. So the buyer can imagine reading the paper and drinking coffee and relaxing in that chair, with the natural light from the window.

Wonder how the bed would look if you angled it into the corner...take the pillow side of the bed and tucked it into the corner where the center of the bed (between the 2 pillows) is centered into the corner.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 7:56PM
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I gotta ask, is that a desk lamp on the desk? It's a bit too modern and odd to work, but yes, you do need a desk lamp. If you do a substantial sized headboard, you can get by without art here, but the bedside table also needs a lamp, and a book. Good move on the plant in the corner. Brown and blue is a popular color combination right now and you ought to be able to find some second hand bedding or fabric at the Salvation Army. I just found some gorgeous silk drapes for $5 a piece and I'm going to use them to make pillows in my guest room.

If you find an inexpensive ottoman to go with your chair, that would be a nice touch. You could use the brown shower curtain currently in your bath as a throw over whatever chair you pick. I have picked up chairs off the side of the road when staging. They don't have to be able to really seat people, they just have to not smell. You can use a thrift store sheet and some safety pins to create an instant fitted slipcover.

Window treatments here will be problematic, but it still needs to happen. Maybe just a tension rod and a sheer across the bottom of the window and that's it. Cafe curtains basically. Enough so that it feels dressed, but no enough that it obscures the view and the light.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:52PM
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OK, I just fell in love with a Walmart of all places, hunting for cheap bath accessories. Could I use this in this room? I really like the red sedona.

It won't let me paste the photo in the message, so I've linked the page below.

Here is a link that might be useful: red comforter set

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:55PM
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That's a really jarring red. And especially with the tan carpet and walls. I wouldn't use it anywhere if I were selling a home.

Angled ceilings tend to create an impression of darkness due to the 'closed in' effect. You don't want bland and boring, but you DO want warm, comfortable, relaxing, luxurious...and coordinated in style AND color.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:58AM
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I think the green or teal one is better and if you added a bit of chocolate you would create continuity with your Jack and Jill rooms.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Perhaps you can find some inspiration at Eddie Ross

Here is a link that might be useful: Before/after

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:11AM
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-Added a headboard made from a door, got some bedding and made the bed taller.

-Tried out a leather chair in the corner, and put its mate in the corner where the plant was in the last photo.

-Removed the modern lamp and replaced with a smaller one (sorry, not showing in the photo).

Still keeping my eyes open for another chair possibility, both for the desk and the corner.

Thanks, live wire, for your creative budget solutions. They've got my brain cells moving in the right direction.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:46AM
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That bed looks much better now! How about a small pillow on the chair?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:33AM
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It looks nice. You might want to run an iron over the bed skirt and pull the comforter down a bit, so the sheets don't show. (Or is that the top of the bed skirt?)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:57AM
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