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The Home Staging Expert

A few touches bring a new room to light

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Home Staging of a home in St. Paul, MN

Despite some good features, the lower level of this house in St. Paul was unappealing to buyers because the space felt cluttered, unfinished and uninviting.

"It felt like an unfinished basement that someone had accidentally dropped a fireplace into," said Lori Matzke of Centerstagehome.com. "There was nothing about it that would indicate to a buyer what a nice family room this would make."

The Solution: This is what Matzke recommended to transform the space to make it look like the lower-level bonus room it was:

Do a fireplace makeover. Matzke cleaned the dirty fireplace bricks using a steel brush and a baking-soda solution to remove the heavy carbon build-up. "It was hard to tell what kind of stone was actually hiding under there." The metal firebox also was in rough shape, so Matzke cleaned it and freshened it up with a rust-proof, heat-resistant paint.

Create uniformity. Matzke painted the trim, wood paneling and stucco walls the same creamy shade of white to create more continuity between all those surfaces. "There were already too many distractions going on with all the doors, tile floors and low ceiling," Matzke said. "The main goal was to simply lighten up the space and keep the focus on the fireplace." She painted the ceiling tiles, too, to brighten the room.

Give the room depth. Matzke put an inexpensive grass-fiber rug layered with a yard of faux fur material on the floor.

Improve traffic flow and seating. Matzke rearranged pieces of the sectional sofa and put some in storage to create a more flexible and open seating arrangement. "The sectional was just too clunky and prevented people from entering the room for a closer look." She also used a glass-topped coffee table to complete the new layout.

Add color and light. A vintage 1960s table lamp with a new bulb was positioned near the fireplace to illuminate the stone. Matzke also used other ceramic pieces with similar finish and tone elsewhere to highlight the fireplace as the room's main focal point.

"Not many people want to hang out in a dreary old basement," she said. "By cheering up the space with fresh paint and a little color, buyers will have a much easier time seeing themselves actually living in this room."

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