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DAY 4 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Clear The Room

This is one of my favorite and easiest ways to update a room and a perfect Friday night project. I know, I’m a party animal. Invite some people over. Have some food delivered. Open some wine. (Yes that’s part of the challenge.) Tonight we…

Often times when I am staging a house, the room just doesn’t feel quite right. I always think I just don’t have enough stuff in it yet. I’m starting from nothing after all. Then it gets to a point that I have to remove some things. Such is often the case in my client’s homes. When I visit homes for design consults, specifically the ones that are having a hard time making the house “feel right”, the problem is simply all the stuff. This is precisely the stuff you hopefully already removed on DAY 1 and 3. Other stuff could be:

  • Something that “isn’t going to stay there”. That hutch that was your grandma’s but you haven’t found a good spot for it.

  • That pile of kids toys that “really should” go or “is going to go” in another room. I hear these two phrases often.

  • That table you have that hasn’t found a home yet.

  • Garbage. In the case of my staged rooms, it’s usually wrappings and tags from things I have purchased, the boxes I toted them around in, cleaning supplies, etc. In your case it might boxes leftover from Christmas, food wrappers, mail, whatever.

  • Stuff that is “extra”. Sometimes, like jewelry, there are just too many things.

Let’s assume you have been in your space for a bit and not just now putting it together…

Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It:

Choose a room. Your living room is preferred, but a bedroom or dining room is also appropriate. Choose the room that needs the most help, but not the kitchen. That’s a separate deal.

  1. Take everything out of the room. Sometimes you can’t take the sofa, bed, dining table or TV completely out of the room because they are just too big or heavy. That’s ok if you know they will stay. If not, like the hutch, get it out. This is when you might need to rally the troops (and where the wine comes in). Try to pull as many things out of the way as possible. Put them in the hallway, the garage or an adjoining room. You should only have maybe a rug and a bed/sofa/dining table.

  2. TV placement: The TV, the ugliest thing in the room, is often the dictator of where everything else goes. Deal with the TV first because everything else will follow suit. Figure out if it is in the best place. Don’t be lazy. Really consider moving it. Unplug that shit and move it. You can survive without it for a minute. NOTE: above the fireplace is RARELY the best spot. It’s usually too high making it uncomfortable to watch or just a bad idea should you actually want to have a fire. Try a corner of the room if it is not gargantuan. Try on a media stand or credenza/buffet. Try getting rid of it altogether or getting a smaller one. DO NOT FREAK OUT ON ME HERE. STAY WITH ME. You can make your own decision, but maybe it just needs to go. <shrug> Don’t let the TV dictate your life.

  3. Try the biggest furniture piece in a new spot. See if your bed or sofa will be better in a new location. Here are some ideas…not all work in every situation so don’t try to force them if they aren’t working:

    1. Pretend you are going to photograph the room. Sometimes I find that the way I would photograph a room is exactly the way I want to see it every day. A bedroom with the bed centered on a wall would photograph well. It may feel better that way to you, too, even if it seems like less space.

    2. One option is to stand in the entrance or doorway to the room. That is the place you will see this room every time you enter it. Where do you have to put the big pieces in the room to make the view better?

    3. Try a new place you’ve never thought of like angled in the room (don’t lose your OCD mind), on a different wall, floating in the room, etc. Try a place that doesn’t seem to make perfect sense. For instance, in The Lounge Airbnb condo I just furnished, many people working with me wanted the sofa to face the large row of windows so one could look out the windows. My thoughts were to put the sofa under the window. While the windows are awesome, they don’t have a great view of anything in particular. Additionally, putting the sofa opposite the window put the sofa smack dab in the middle of the room. This would cut off the flow of traffic and the back of the sofa as the first thing you would see. That didn’t feel right and feelings are what matter.

    4. If the piece just sucks altogether, get rid it! Too often people choose sofas or beds that are just too big for the space. Sell it, donate it, give it to a family member. More on this later in the month.

  4. Move the rug. Again, like the sofa or bed you were working with, try a different angle or position. Take your time to position the big piece with the rug in different locations. It takes time. Sip your wine. Try again. Don’t lose it yet. It will look bare and uninviting. Press on.

  5. Start bringing back in smaller furniture items like side tables, coffee tables, dressers, etc. It’ll start to look a little better but still naked. It’s ok.

  6. Now, layer in the artwork, decor, pillows and blankets that you LIKE. There are two kinds of “like”. 1. You actually like the item. 2. You like the item in the room. You may actually like an item itself, but it just isn’t working with the overall feel. Try taking it back out for the moment. You’ll just feel it. Something won’t feel right. ***Don’t add something back “until I find something to replace it” unless it’s a dresser and you actually do need to put your clothes somewhere.

  7. Steal like a thief in the night from other rooms to complete “the look”. Take from your kids rooms. Take from a bedroom. Search your basement and garage. Even your kitchen might have a tray or plant or something that might finish it off. You should start to see some life in the room now. It will finally feel warmer and inviting.

  8. Anything left over that hasn’t made it back into the room SHOULD NOT GO BACK INTO THE ROOM. Find a spot for your pile of misfit items. They could come in handy in other rooms if you try this clear out again. Otherwise, make a plan for the things that didn’t make the cut (donation, give to a friend, trash, list it for sale, etc).

OK you should have a pretty fresh looking room by now! If you have holes to fill, don’t worry. We’ll get to that soon.

If you tackle this challenge, show us! Use #updatedontrenovatechallenge in your posts or stories to show us your progress and final results!