Special considerations for Staging historic homes: what are they? I grew up in Fairfield, CT, in a lovely old (old, old) Colonial revival, and admit to having a special affinity for historic homes. When these houses are on the market, they require a special buyer. Some REAs in Fairfield County, CT, specialize in these homes. When it comes to Staging these houses, in addition to the usual cleaning, decluttering, editing, traffic flow, paint, decor and budget issues, the historic nature is yet one more layer of consideration.
The inherent nature, history and architecture of these homes must be respected and highlighted. Sometimes you have to demonstrate how they can handle modern lifestyles. Sometimes you just have to leave them alone and let them shine.
How would you advise someone selling an historic home?
Fairfield County, Connecticut, Home Staging company Nestings was called in to consult on three such historic homes. The budgets were very tight; two of the homes are owner-occupied.
Ca. 1700: Tiny historic house close to the road, with a large contemporary addition on the back. Artistic tenant is currently using the living room as a studio. There is no Staging budget and no furniture available for use.
When the tenant leaves, the art supplies will go with her. I recommended removing the little antique bottles lining each window sill (way too granny), as well as the distracting brass fireplace doors. The biggest issue with this part of the house was the musty smell, so all the junk and carpets in the rooms had to be removed, and the whole place cleaned. This would allay any fears and prove it to be a livable space.
This portion of the house would basically be empty, showing off the floors and beams.
I provided the agent with information on the house's history, courtesy of the internet. I envision the target buyer as a designer, architect or artist whose primary residence is New York City, but wants a country home to completely overhaul.
Ca. 1860: Adorable farmhouse with original wide plank floors and exposed wood beams. Minimal budget was largely relegated to paint and new bed linens.
In the dining room, I suggested swagging a chandelier over the table. Removing the china cabinet and floor lamp would improve flow. Removing the wallpaper border and dark valance would return the space to a more timeless look. I also recommended a new wall paint that would work better with the furniture, floors and beams.
Ca. 1920: Lovely family home decorated with lots of antiques, mostly in the Craftsman style. Craftsman is not everyone's cup of tea in this area; it's thought of as too large, bulky and uncomfortable. But that's what we have to work with, so editing was key. There was too much furniture in each room.
Removing the sofa will allow buyers to enter and cross the room to a dining room and sunroom. Now it channels visitors straight through that door down a hall to the kitchen. Two Craftsman armchairs will flank the fireplace.
Almost every room was wallpapered. (Would you believe I have the same raspberry striated paper at home?) Of course, all the paper has to go, along with the heavy window valances and colored sheers. A neutral wall paint will still highlight all the architectural details, and the family photos will be packed up.
If we had lovely, huge Staging budgets, I could do a lot more with each house. One thing I probably would NOT do is rent historically accurate period (or reproduction) furnishings. Rather, I would use more transitional or even classic modern pieces to give each house a new vibe.
So what's your experience with historic homes?