We are often asked to stage newly renovated homes for sale. There are some outstanding reno jobs that are a pleasure to stage! The space gives us numerous options in terms of décor, furniture selection and placement and is just plain versatile! Buyers see the versatility of a great reno job! It makes the home that much more appealing to that many MORE buyers!
However, just as often we see renovation blunders! It is critical to think beyond the building materials when planning a design! In your design you must allow space for furniture and for traffic flow – typically rooms require a 3’ wide walkway. Placement of furniture is critical to how well a space shows. We are limited by walls, islands, stairs, changes in flooring surfaces (carpet – vinyl), placement of light fixtures, doorways, and focal point in a room.
We must do our best to arrange the furniture to highlight the focal point in a room. The most common focal points in a living room are a TV or a fireplace. The problem arises when the only logical placement for the furniture is contrary to the focal point. For example, most people want their sofa to face their TV. If the renovation has placed the TV on a wall that doesn’t leave adequate space for a sofa to face the wall and still allow for a walkway, we must arrange the furniture to maximize the space. If we set up the furniture to accommodate the TV – there is simply no room to walk through the room. This would be a reason for buyers to exclude your property. Even if a property is not staged, buyers see that there is simply no room for a sofa to face the TV. Furniture placement factors significantly in a property purchase! If their furniture won’t fit, many buyers will walk away!
One of the more common mistakes is adding an over-large kitchen island or peninsula. Renovators (whether paid or DIY’ers) need to keep in mind the kitchen is one of the central hubs of the home. There is a lot of traffic in a kitchen. If your island design only leaves 20” inches between the wall and island – people will have to turn sideways. It’s just not functional! The space will seem too small – not to mention that it is against building codes. It is equally critical to ensure you have adequate space to open the range door, dishwasher door or fridge! This seems really basic but it is shocking how many people do not take this into consideration when renovating. Just because it seems like a good idea at the time and may look good on paper, doesn’t mean it actually is functional! Stop and think about how the space will be used and ensure that it is appealing to buyers!
Light fixtures also dictate furniture placement. Quite frequently we will see rectangular light fixtures hung lengthwise across the narrowest part of the space. Remember we center the table under the light. If the space is rectangular, we typically use a rectangular table. We will place the table lengthwise in the room rectangular room. If your light fixture is installed widthwise – it simply doesn’t look good! Think about how the table will be placed before you install the light, then install the light accordingly. It is also important to ensure that the light is placed far enough from a wall to allow for a table. Again, lights should be centered over the table, if the electrical box is not centered, most light fixtures come with an adjustable length that would allow you to install a hook to hang the light from in order to have it centered over a table. Just ensure you leave enough space for a walkway!
Quite often we see patio doors installed in a dining room or kitchen. Most times this works beautifully and leads to a nice outdoor deck. However, we have often seen cases where the walls limited the space so it becomes impossible to fit a table and still allow a walkway to the patio door. This makes either the dining room or the patio doors non-functional. A lot of wasted time and money for an unappealing and unusable renovation.
Changing flooring surfaces defines a space. If you have a vinyl floor and a carpet or hardwood floor joined in a room – the floor dictates a division of the rooms function. We cannot place furniture on this dividing line. It must be placed on one side or the other. If the space is very small, this can create a significant challenge to showcase the space with the correct size of furniture. In smaller open concept spaces, I typically recommend keeping the flooring surfaces consistent. It actually gives the visual illusion of a larger room whereas 2 different flooring surfaces give the distinct illusion of 2 smaller spaces.
Doorways and walkways must be left open and accessible. We cannot place furniture into a walkway, particularly if it is a means of egress from the building. Quite often when renovating a space, people do not consider the walkways and doorways – these walkways actually take away from the functional “living space” of a room. The living space and seating arrangement is outside of the normal walkways through the space. So, when planning a renovation, ensure you leave adequate space for walkways as well as a comfortable furniture placement in that room.
Finally, in smaller houses, stay away from adding structures that split up an already small space to make it appear smaller. There are so many other ways to define a space using furniture and lighting. Adding a structure just limits what you can do with the space and made a small space even smaller. We’ve seen closets turned into powder rooms – when you need a minimum of 3X5 inside dimensions that just used up quite a bit of floor space in the middle of your small room. It limits your functional furniture placement and closes off any open concept designs.
Essentially, when planning renovations, it’s always a good idea to have a professional identify a working floor plan that is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing! After all, most renovations take a significant amount of both time and money. A quick consult for a few hours and $200 – $300 can save you thousands of dollars on a renovation blunder!