Small Stage

I’ve always been one to get excited for the Parade of Homes. Heck, Jon and I used to create our own Parade of Homes when we would take walks in Chicago at dusk and hope we could see the interior design of people’s houses as they were lit up from the street. OK, that sounded creeper-esque. But you get the idea. We were incredibly flattered and excited to be asked to stage a condo in ICON Tower for the Downtown Living Tour coming up in Syracuse this weekend. Here’s what we were working with 1) Two weeks notice. 2) A one-bedroom condo and by one bedroom, I mean itty bitty. 3) We weren’t allowed to paint or do anything with the kitchen. What first presented as challenges, we looked at as opportunities. And anyone who knows Jon and me will tell you we thrive on competition and are always up for a challenge.

We had seen some of the “competition” (see, it’s coming out of me, this is not an actual competition by the way) and they had some beautiful pieces in the spaces, but many looked a lot like a corner in a furniture store. We wanted ours to feel like someone could actually move in there, pull up a stool and take in that beautiful view. Just back from five years of city living in Chicago, Jon and I looked to our experiences there to translate to the vibe we were going for in the apartment. When staging a property, whether for show or to sell, we start by envisioning who would live there. I staked out the joint for a few days before really nailing it down. I popped in to a local coffee shop, had a soup at the deli a block over, and saw her. She’s a young professional with an about to be live-in boyfriend. She’s got a unique style, great job, a vibrant personality and likes to have colleagues over every Friday for a martini. Oh, and she takes the stairs to the 10th floor apartment once a day for exercise because, who has time for the gym? Here’s how we styled it:

When staging a small space, we like to keep the same colors and theme throughout. This view is really something and definitely the highlight of the condo. For that reason and many others, we used an array of mirrors in our design. First, they’re a great way to reflect light and enjoy that skyline from different angles. Second, what young, attractive woman doesn’t like mirrors? And last, they create interest, draw the eye up to showcase those high ceilings, and help make it feel bigger than it is. Mirrors come in so many shapes, sizes, materials and price points. They are a great way to flaunt your own personality and add dimension to any room, especially a challenging one. 

Another thing we didn’t want to do was overcrowd the apartment with furniture. We kept it really simple so that you actually have room to move around in there (this chick does yoga). The kitchen table is a great place for her to test out her culinary skills with family but also doubles as a desk for those work from home days. In all of our homes as well as our listings, we always put out a candy display. It’s something we started so many years ago and it’s a real treat for anyone who comes by (who am I kidding? I “come by” and grab a handful on the regular). We change it out for special holidays or as a fun way to add a new pop of color to the space when it gets a little boring. We see a lot of staged properties when out with clients and my biggest staging pet peeve is when a table is set with service for six and every dish you’d need for a seven course meal. WHY? You will never see that in anyone’s real life house.

When people are working with a small space, they’re afraid to add large pieces. Don’t be. Add your big pieces in forms of art, or wall hangings, but you’re right, leave the big furniture out unless it’s one piece, like a couch or a bed that you need. One of the things Jon and I have a lot of fun with is mixing new with old to add layers and some flavor to the space. We used some eclectic vintage finds like the salvaged letters, old fan, candle sconces, bourbon decanter and knick knacks from garage sales to give it more of a well-traveled, lived in look. Speaking of travels, we thoroughly enjoy hitting up local salvage yards to shop for gems. Some of our favorites in CNY are Curator of Cool in Baldwinsville, Vintage Love downtown and Sweet Salvage in Jamesville. (I’ll do a post on what to look out for and how to shop salvage right, soon.) Also, never underestimate the power of fresh flowers. Swing by your local farmer’s market and load up on that lipstick.

We gave you a personal tour of this adorable apartment, here or you can see it in person this weekend at ICON Tower in 1005 at the Downtown Living Tour!

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