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Quick Living Room Staging Tweaks to Turn Heads


In the name of how to leverage AI for good, not evil, let us take a hard look at those listing photos enhanced by digitally added furniture. While the pictures do look good, they also begin to look the same pretty quickly. And worst of all, when it comes time for an in-person walk-through or open house, all that brand-new digital furniture has been replaced with, well, your stuff.

Good news: A few standout pieces can zhuzh your living room enough to convince buyers that they need to upgrade their own lives. Some eye-catching changes may just lead to a nice, fat bid on your place.

Pack a visual punch for a low, low cost

Since Marimekko was founded in 1951, the Finnish design company has injected the world with a sophisticated cheerfulness through its fabrics, clothing, and housewares. Add a small dollop of colorfully-bold pattern via this throw pillow — perfect for adding some gravity if you went too hard on the millennial pink trend or need a lively splash to revivify an overly sensible room.

Compact side chairs can suggest entertaining space without creating a tight squeeze.

Buyers crave more space for socializing, so disguise your strictly-sofa-and-TV lifestyle by adding seating that feels friendly but doesn’t jam up the flow of the room. The iconic mid-century work of Charles and Ray Eames, groundbreaking husband-and-wife designers, can help. Their molded fiberglass armchairs, still manufactured and sold in seven different colors by Design Within Reach, are just the ticket: They’re comfortable but lightweight, compact, and their open base design makes them appear even floatier. Perhaps surprisingly, the orange is poppy but plays well with others. (Everyone would understand, though, if you choose one of the more traditionally neutral colors.)

Opt for flexibility.

Create a more airy and spacious (or spacious-feeling) room by considering pieces that multitask. Ottomans or footstools that double as tables or extra seating are kind of genius. Find one that adds some style to further amplify its usefulness: This kilim-wrapped drum of a footstool brings tribal chic into the room and, at the open house, can be topped by a tray with a vase or a couple of magazines. No one will miss the side table.

Don’t forget the other senses. 

A good rug makes a huge difference in telegraphing the comfort and peacefulness of a home. Not only can they pleasantly muffle sound, rugs can pull a haphazard space into focus. Use several area rugs to delineate areas of an open floor plan so the prospective buyer/tenant will understand its multiple “rooms” or uses: a runner leading into the room from the entry, a separate area rug under a dining room table and chairs, and another under the living room area. Your hardwood floors remain a gleaming selling point, but a rug or two can create a more organized and serene space.

Options for floor coverings are vast. If you want something that doesn’t compete with existing color and patterns, go for a visually neutral sisal or greige carpet. Or you can inject energy into the room with something lively and modern (or even a neutral that isn’t a simple rectangle shape or has a distinctive texture) or a color-rich tribal rug from Morocco, India, or Turkey. Shopping for rugs in person can be an exciting experience if you’re near a store that truly knows its product (like ABC Carpet & Home in New York City or Anatolia-Tribal Rugs in Woodstock, NY). If online is your best option, control your results a bit by searching for rugs made only of natural fibers (like wool, jute, hemp, silk, cotton, or sisal).

Find a place that’s just your style.

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