Irwin Weiner ASID -- I recently had an atypical design project. The assignment was to take a power penthouse on John Street, in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, fluff it up on a very tight budget (all rooms for under $30,000), and make it look move-in attractive to prospective buyers.
Is it possible to make a $2-6 million penthouse look like it's worth every penny when you only have a $30,000 decorating budget? The three small photos in this column show that it's possible to get a great look for less money, particularly in the hands of a design professional. I had completed a similar project in Midtown for the same client, and the results were impressive: before the decorating and home staging, over 100 showings had yielded no offers; after the decorating, the next showing turned into a sale.
For this project, I used auction and flea market finds as well as items from a variety of retail stores and lower-end catalogs. My staff and I shopped Target, Home Goods, and Kmart. Lesson learned: there are great finds in the big box stores; it all depends on how you put "the look" together. Assembling all elements quickly, I staged the rooms and did the job of assisting a real-estate marketing firm to take some brochure photos and quickly sell their properties. That's no small feat these days, right?
This is part of a huge movement around the world to "stage" homes to get them looking exceptional so that they will be appealing enough to sell. For new construction, design staging is particularly important. Empty rooms look lifeless and potential buyers are oftentimes unable to visualize themselves living there. It seems that bedrooms are particularly hard to visualize empty. "Will my king size bed fit the space?"
Consider hiring a home staging professional to help you decorate your home within a tighter budget than what it would take to hire a certified interior designer. Home stagers can help you clear away the clutter, get organized, find storage solutions that meet your needs, and add a few new furnishings and items -- and maybe some new paint and colorful accessories -- to jazz up your living space. Be sure, however, to insist on adding old and antique items along with new items to get a less static "hotel" look!
And here's the best part: the buyer of one of my fluffed penthouses, who could afford mega-bucks designer furniture, bought all the furniture and accessories and kept everything exactly as found from the home-staging process. So if it's good enough for a high-powered executive, home staging might be a great interior decorating solution for you.
Here are video records of the penthouse staging in process. Enjoy!