Real Estate

Making an old house new again

Posted December 15, 2012
Updated January 15, 2013

By Bobbie McGrath, Successful Staging
For New Homes & Ideas, Jodi Sauerbier, Publisher

New Homes & Ideas

I love stories. I love the beginning. I love the middle and I love the end. I love the way each detail reveals just a glimpse of where the story is going.

Staging a property is just that, telling a story. I imagine the lifestyle and many life moments that will occur in a home and then create a possible window into what it might look like. I look at each house as a new chapter of a book about to be written.

When I first entered 1164 Old Lystra in Chapel Hill, even though it was waist high in construction materials, I immediately felt a connection, a need to create a story. Ryan Edwards of Ecologic-Studio and Curt Hendrickson, owner of Magnum Fine Home Builders, had devised a wonderful plan to retain the charm, character and, to me, stories of the house while mindfully updating the livability of the house.

Built in 1890, this must have been quite a challenge but they executed it beautifully. They had become an integral part of the home’s story. Now it was my turn.

staging a house

Through the weeks of construction I would come by to get a better “flavor” of what the house had to say. Along the way I met so many people eager to share their own stories of this place. I discovered Pulitzer Prize winning Playwright, Paul Green, had once called it home. He raised his family and changed the world in this house. When it had been a bed and breakfast known as “Windy Oaks” weddings and other special occasions had unfolded here, too. Who knows what stories are yet to be written between its walls?

Finally, construction was complete and the hammers fell silent. I was ready to add my chapter. Paul Green created his stories with words; I would now create this part of the homes story with color, furniture, and accessories.

staging a house

First up: the paint color selections. The kitchen was already a rich grayed out blue, which married perfectly with the marble countertops and white cabinetry. It just fell “right” and a great place to start with the color palette. In Staging, you must think of how easy a color is to live with, as you don’t know who the ultimate homebuyer will be and what they might like. When Staging my goal is to keep the color selections to a minimum so the house shows as a unified space. The shades of buff, green and blue were all chosen with particular attention to highlighting the individual architectural details of each room as well as the history of the house. Simplicity is the key!

staging a house

Second: furniture and accessories. Each room has to have an identity and personality. After all, they are the main characters in this part of the story. It’s the details that make the story more interesting. I looked at each space with a heart for what it had been and an eye for what it could be. With that in mind, I began gathering the tools of my trade and set out to set the stage for the next chapter of this tale; furniture with a past; furniture with a future. Bright colored accessories here; subtle, nature inspired pieces there. I often find myself lost in the creating of what I see “done” in my head. I absolutely love this part! When this part is completed I’m ready to tell the story through photos like the ones you see here.

Well, now that I have shared a bit of how I fell in love with this house and created a story within its walls, I would invite you to come by and see her for yourself. She is a wonderful home. The loving restoration of all things past and the inclusion of the luxuries of today really make it a one of a kind. She’s all ready for the next chapter to be written.


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