Home staging and precious antiques: brown doesn’t sell
Antiques. Love ’em or hate ’em. Collect a few pieces as accents or fill an entire house with them. For many (especially younger) homebuyers trying to picture themselves inside your listed home, however, they just may be the reason you don’t get offers.
New York Times’ Sara Clemence recently reported on the owners of a 2,000-square-foot loft in Chelsea full of antiques — we’re talking a china cabinet topped with carved scrollwork and a grandfather clock standing sentry near the door, all surrounded by Persian rugs.
But it’s a loft. The types of buyers looking at loft living simply don’t picture themselves surrounded by Queen Anne, Louis XIV or Chippendale decor themes. “It didn’t fit with the type of buyer who’d be looking at the space,” said the agent that represented the owners. It was a two-headed battle between agent and client — the owners were resistant to removing the furniture, and the brokers weren’t happy with the initial level of interest in the loft.
What to do? When in doubt these days, go digital. Using staging technology, the agent used photos of the rooms only to digitally “green screen” (empty) them and completely redecorate them for the online listing. The grand wall of windows was now graced by whitewashed walls. Furniture was virtually set into place, with clean-lined modern pieces used to make the space look larger. The result? “It sold within a matter of weeks,” said the agent.
Clemence weighs in on this phenomenon: “At a time when home design television shows and shelter magazines emphasize light colors and pared-down interiors, it can be harder to sell homes that are furnished with antiques,” she says. “Large pieces, in particular, can make a property feel smaller than it is or hide desirable features.”
“Ban the brown” seems to be a new motto in both staging and design. “Antiques can make a property feel dated and less appealing to buyers — especially younger ones, says Clemence. “That can mean delicate conversations between antique owners and real estate agents, who have to resort to explaining, cajoling, and creative solutions like virtual staging to make homes more marketable.”
Brokers agree that the bottom line is about selling the space. If, however, you are a seller who is emotional about your furnishings and can’t imagine why others would not be jaw-droppingly impressed by it when a buyer enters your home, perhaps it’s time to get real. Watch a bit of HGTV. Grab a Restoration Hardware catalog. Take a look at what sells and try to distance yourself from your version of beautiful. Try not to think of it as your home any longer, but more as a house that needs to be properly merchandised to attract the widest range of buyer demographics.
Clemence goes on to explain how the value of antique furniture has dropped significantly over the past few decades. “Selling a 19th-century credenza you love for twice the original price is one thing; begging for offers on Craigslist quite another,” she says. The most usable antique pieces, do not include the Tyrollean armoire your German grandmother left you. It’s side tables, sofa tables or an accent chair that can be reupholstered in white leather. Your midcentury light fixture is probably worth more than your dining room set. To get an idea of current values, check web sites like Bonham and Butterfield or call your local antique consignment store.
If you plan to furnish your next residence with your notable antique pieces, however, take heart. Wrap them lovingly and place them in storage before you list your home. They’ll be happier there. And you’ll be happier knowing they are safe and ready to grace your next abode.
Source: NewYorkTimes, TBWS