Family Room Home Staging

How to Stage a Family Room

Staging a family room is all about adding a "come and sit down" look and feel to this room. Potential buyers want a space that is cozy and comfortable while maintaining the feel of lots of space and organized cleanliness. Winning over potential buyers in the family room will depend on your ability to appeal to their senses of sight and touch.

Comfy and cozy are achieved by using texture and visual cuessuch as furniture placement. Buyers will ask themselves if their sofa will fit, where will the TV go, can a family enjoy time spent here, will it be comfortable here.

What you do now in staging the family room will answer all these questions for the buyer with an enthusiastic "yes!"

At this point we will remind you of a few key home staging points that bear repeating.

  • No personal photos should be displayed at any time. You love your families and pets, but buyers should not be distracted by personal pictures.
  • Any memorabilia such as political emblems, college banners or anything remotely religious in nature should also be packed away. You don't want to risk alienating a potential buyer who may not have the same allegiances that you do. This also includes books arranged on bookshelves. Cull out the ones that are obviously partisan to a particular cause or leaning.
  • No artificial flowers or plants should clutter your home anywhere. Think about the impression polyester flowers and plastic plants make: fake, not real, dead. Not very appealing in any setting. You want to make an authentic impression on potential buyers - get the real thing.
  • Remember, interior design and home staging are not the same. Home staging is done to please the potential buyer. Interior design is done to please the home owner.

Task 1. Assess the color palette

Cozy and comfortable are apt descriptions of the best staged family rooms. Coziness comes from warm textures and colors so we choose colors for the family room that are from the warm end of the spectrum.

  • Our top colors for painting family rooms are North Hampton Beige (Benjamin Moore AC-38) and, if we need neutral yellow undertones we use Butte Rock AC-8. Both of these colors will provide a richness and warmth without being boring.
  • Oftentimes, family rooms have paneling or wood mill work. If you want contrast, then choose a neutral beige that is either lighter or darker than the wood color. If the wood is not too overpowering, then you can choose your neutral wall color to blend more easily - neither contrasting too much nor too little. However, if the paneling is very dated but in good shape, we will paint it just as if it were a wall. A fresh coat of paint on dated paneling is the quickest and least expensive way to update the look of a family room.

  • Keeping the walls of the family room neutral will allow the architectural features of the room to stand out. Brick fireplace surrounds will add warmth through their color and texture. If the room has wood floors, then these should not be overpowered by color elsewhere.
  • To reinforce the coziness of the room it is best to have upholstery coverings that are not too busy in a warm, neutral shade. This will keep the eye moving through the room. You don't want someone walking in the family room and being hit with a bright red sofa and miss your great fireplace hearth and lovely 5" oak crown moulding. Keep the fabrics soft, simple and subtle.
  • Using color at the windows is tricky but here's a simple rule of thumb. If the window or the view out of the window is the main focal point of the family room, then it is okay to use a punch of color on window coverings. Do not block the view out the window. Select side panels to draw the eye to the window. If the room is neutral, you can use a warm color for drapery panels such as a harvest gold, persimmon or deep salmon. Because these are strong accent colors, then try and use them elsewhere in the room for pillows or even a chenille throw placed carefully on a reading chair. If there is another main focal point in the room, such as a fireplace or bookshelves, then keep the window panels in the same color as the walls or sofa fabric.
  • Keeping a soothing color palette allows you to use furniture placement and accessories to highlight the features in the family room. Keep in mind what you are selling - space, architectural features, views, function - not the furnishings.

Task 2. Furniture placement

The activities that take place in the family room dictate the furniture that should be in there. Remember that most people will use their family room for TV watching, reading, game playing and socializing.

  • We stage a family room with a sofa, one or two comfy chairs, and at least two side tables with lamps.
  • We usually allow for one more piece of furniture if space permits. This could be a media cabinet, piano, or bookcase. Choose only one extra piece. Any more than that and buyers will perceive there isn't enough room for their family.
  • Find the main focal point of the room. This could be a fireplace or a large window. The focal point is something that goes with the house, not a TV. Arrange the sofa so that it is facing the focal point. Group the chairs so that they make a conversation grouping with the sofa. End tables with lamps should be positioned so that you could use the lamps to read in the chair. Hint: You don't want the TV fighting for attention with the fireplace because you are probably going to take the TV with you. You can always hide the TV in a cabinet as your extra piece of furniture. Flat screen TVs also look great over fireplaces instead of a framed art piece.
  • If the room does not have a focal point, or the view out the window is not appealing, then you have to create a focal point. We will usually use tall bookcases (at least two units side-by-side) to achieve this. The size and height of bookcases mimics the mass of a fireplace and usually does quite nicely. A few books artfully arranged on shelves, perhaps some games also neatly stacked, will do the trick.
  • Make sure that the traffic patterns in the room are unblocked. You want to be able to walk into the room and through the room without tripping over the furniture. If there is a window with a killer view, then make sure you can walk into the room and to the window to see out and that no furniture blocks the view. Think about an oceanfront condo and how much the view determines the price of that unit. Views are very important to buyers. If you have them, flaunt them.

Task 3. Flooring
Hardwood or tile flooring in family rooms can be big selling features in a home. These hard surfaces need balancing and adding texture in the form of an area rug is a good idea. Keep it simple in shape and color, dark beige or chocolate brown usually are good choices. The rug will also help keep the room from feeling too bare or empty acoustically.

If the room has wall-to-wall carpeting, it too should be neutral and not detract from the architectural features of the home. Choose a color that blends instead of contrasts. It will be more soothing than a strong color or pattern.

Task 4. Lighting

We don't want to take "cozy" to an extreme and have a dark, cave-like space so you want to make sure your family room has lots of light.

  • The family room will need natural light from windows so you will want to make sure that the windows are not blocked by furniture or heavy window coverings.
  • General lighting is also needed and this comes from ceiling fixtures such as pendants or can lighting.
  • Lamps will provide a bit of general lighting but they will mainly be used for reading and other activities requiring light such as playing games. We suggest two lamps at a minimum. The bottom of the lamp shades should be just above eye-level height when seated in the chair or sofa next to the lamp.

Task 5. Accessories and art

The accessories used in a family room are dictated by the activities in the room as well as the need for adding texture to the space.

  • Books make great staging accessories. One or two nice books on a coffee table or end table is really all you need to keep these spaces from looking too bare.
  • One or two live plants helps add life to the space. You can choose a floor plant such as schefelera to place by the window. If the room needs more warmth, then a golden mum plant would be perfect. Flower arrangements are just too stiff for a casual family room. goes without fake, plastic or silk plants!
  • Another good staging item that you can use on a coffee table is a board game. Keep it simple, perhaps the board and one or two pieces from the game and that's it.
  • As we mentioned above, a chenille throw can add some texture to the room and give it a punch of color which. This double-duty makes it a great accessory.
  • Use framed art to fill large expanses of blank walls, if any. We like to choose art that features colors similar to our accent colors. Landscapes, abstracts and simple subjects work best in family rooms. Make sure the frame is plain and casual.
  • Above all, don't overfill the room. Accessories should add life, or texture, or color, or indicate a function of the room. If it doesn't do one of those, then you really don't need it in the room.

Another room all staged and ready for action? Terrific. Next we'll tackle the home office. If you want to review our tips and techniques for other rooms, you can go back to our main staging page and select another room to stage.

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