Help us sell our old, empty home




My client had lived a few paces from the sea for many years and decided to move to a bigger house on a larger lot. She already had purchased her new home and moved in.

She was finishing up her home-sale preparations and wanted my help staging her property. I showed up on the appointed morning with my tool kit in hand to find the house full of painters and their supplies, with not a stick of furniture in sight.

“Yipes almighty!” I said to myself, “How am I going to pull this off when the painting isn’t done and I have nothing to work with?” My client showed up as I was scratching my head and shared her plan: We’d head over to her new home – a charming farmhouse that overlooked fields of cauliflower – and select the furniture and art we needed while the painters finished up. We’d fill our cars with accessories while her husband drove the furniture over to the beach house. Still feeling a wee bit nervous about pulling it off in time, we headed down the coast to “shop.”



I decided it would be best to stage the living and dining rooms with furniture and the kitchen and bathrooms with accessories, while leaving the bedrooms vacant. That way, the house would look lived-in and nicely decorated in the common areas, leaving potential buyers to figure out for themselves how the bedrooms might be set up.

Bedrooms tend to look lighter and larger when unfurnished, so leaving them vacant would still make a favorable impression and make the staging process easier.

As I “shopped” in her farmhouse for pieces to stage her beach house, I looked for furniture to create a simple seating area and for accessories that reflected a beachy, coastal feel. We needed the small living room to appear spacious, and to emphasize the home’s closeness to the water. I made my selections and we headed back up the coast, arriving just as the painters were cleaning up.


• Paint cans and painting equipment filled the room. What is this room? Where’s the furniture?

• This was a small living room – we needed it to look spacious while creating a conversation area that made sense.

• Since the house faced the ocean, we needed to play up the beach-cottage look.

After • Thank goodness the painters cleared out in time! We were left with a blank canvas.

• The space had to say “living room” so that buyers wouldn’t be confused about its use. I picked a few basic pieces for a seating area (when staging living or family room you only need seating for 3 or 4 people) and a cottage-looking dresser to round out the grouping.

• Coastal homes generally are light, airy and fresh looking. Colors used were beiges, whites, blues and aquas, evoking sand and sea. I was able to find a few accessories with those qualities to sprinkle around the room.

The house sold right away and for a great price.

CTW Features

Kit Davey, an interior designer based in Redwood City, Calif., helps clients redecorate their homes through the creative use of their existing furnishings.

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