Staging a historic home can be a real challenge for any property professional. There are 2 primary approaches to historic home staging and each might be ideal for different scenarios. Historic homes are far more common in select real estate markets than in others. In regions where period homes are commonplace, it is especially crucial to make the right decisions when it comes to staging, since buyers are likely to be attracted to the area for its charm and history.
This guide helps stagers and decorators learn to prepare historic pieces of real estate for sale using 2 main approaches to aesthetic enhancement. We will examine the idea of preserving the historical appeal of the home by using appropriate period décor, as well as the idea of maintaining the original charm while still updating the property with the latest contemporary amenities.
Preservation Staging a Historic Home
Many historic properties are currently decorated much in the same manner as when they were first built, many years ago. This idea of interior and exterior décor preservation really helps to sell the home’s image of history and a rich sense of the past. These original design properties generally appeal more to family buyers and older buyers in rural markets, although this is not an absolute rule.
Some properties actually enjoy particular designations granted by governmental agencies that might offer substantial rewards for preserving the original character of the home. Common incentives include tax breaks, participation in tourism programs or status as mixed-use properties, such as bed-and-breakfast establishments. The downside of these designations is that any renovation work might be greatly limited in its scope and might have to maintain the original character of the home.
When the decision to preserve the original look and feel of the home is chosen, the stager will still have to work hard to insure that the furnishings, art and layout are appealing to prospective buyers. This might involve using any of the usual staging strategies and may even entail bringing in period pieces of furniture, art and accessories that will complete the design and show the property in the best light possible.
Of course, using rented or purchased antiques for staging purposes can be a costly proposition. However, it is still possible to minimize the budget by using replica décor items or those purchased or rented inexpensively from flea markets, wholesalers or galleries that will trade the rental for promotional consideration.
Contemporary Staging a Historic Home
In some markets, it is common for buyers to look for historic homes that have either been fully renovated to embody modern décor and functionality or homes that have the potential to undergo such major renovation work. These homes are extremely popular with young urban buyers, professional buyers and buyers who live in some of the priciest real estate markets worldwide.
It must be noted that updated properties should still retain touches of their historic charm, both on the outside and inside of the residence. Typically, the architectural style and accents are preserved, but the functional systems, floorplan, interior wall layout and overall décor reflects a more modern sensitivity and usefulness.
Updated historical homes come in all manner of property types, including single and multiple family houses, apartments, and loft spaces. Particular markets might be well known for offering certain property types, so stagers who work in these specialized real estate locations must be fully versed on what buyers expect from their niche properties.
Updated historical homes are usually much easier to stage, since they can be prepared in much the same manner as any other residence. All it takes is a comprehensive vision of aesthetic perfection and the property will be sure to win-over potential buyers with its combination of the old and the new. However, it must be noted that stagers and DIYers must do their due diligence to be sure that changes are allowed be made to any historical home they are working on. In some cases, certain property types might be protected by municipal regulations and this may prevent the implementation of certain types of renovation and design changes. Always check with local authorities before performing any type of work on a historic piece of real estate.
Suggestions for Staging a Historic Home
Staging always seeks to maximize the appeal of the property to the largest pool of likely potential buyers. This definition does not change even when it is applied to a historic home. Therefore, all the usual rules of home staging still apply, although the techniques and furnishings used in historical homes might vary greatly from most staging work.
Properties with mixed designation, such as guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts, should usually be kept as close to their original design and appeal as possible. However, in some markets, this does not hold true, since guests will demand a more modern interpretation of the historical charm.
Private residences that enjoy governmental benefits for preserving their unique past must be treated carefully. Staging should always fall within the confines of the accepted practices applied to the property in order to receive beneficial status or designation.
For all other historical properties, the decision to keep the old look and feel, or update the property to include a modern design, is very case specific. In some cases where the design should be updated, the cost might be prohibitive, but even with substantial investment in renovation work, the home can still become a very profitable commodity if it fulfills the exact definition of what targeted buyers are looking for.
Generally, I recommend an early stage meeting between the homeowner, the home stager and the listing agent to develop a marketing and design plan before the home is officially listed for sale. This way, no detail will be overlooked and the opinions of all involved can be heard and evaluated to chart the best course for each historic property in question.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that even when a historic home is updated to completely modern standards, it is vital to maintain enough of the old charm to make the property unique. Failure to do so will have niche buyers looking elsewhere for a home that embodies the new, but still honors a rich past with touches of days gone by.