This room wasn't even in the original MLS pictures. Because of the size – roughly 220 sq ft of floor space, the owners were counting it as a 4th BR, but because of the gabled ceilings it was really difficult to tell how to use it.
The room was very long and narrow, the roofline gave very little headroom and the 'room' was subdivided by a load-bearing structural wall that could not be removed. You could really only stand up or walk down the very center and furniture placement was a challenge.
You walked from one small space with 9 or 10 ft of height at the very center, but absolutely no headroom under the eaves to another smaller compartment with even less headroom. Anyone taller than 5 feet could only stand up in the very center.
I’m only 4’11 and once I walked through the door I could shimmy 6 inches to the right or left before I had to crane my neck and bow my shoulders! It wasn't even practical for storage. Without furniture it was almost certainly perceived as wasted space.
The narrowness and awkward angles in the larger part of the room made it impossible to put a bed anywhere without eating up precious floor space in a room where there were already so few spaces any adult could stand up straight.
I didn't want to sacrifice that valuable real estate by setting up a bed of any size - even a twin mattress or daybed. It would have seemed cramped and jammed under the eaves and still left a question about what to do with the hobbit room in the back.
The homeowner suggested I stage it as an office or playroom for children (ahhh... how I love homeowner suggestions). I told him I would stage the entire space as a 'teen suite retreat'.
Sellers need to understand that staging isn't just about decorating and design. It is also about the psychology of sales and defining purpose and usefulness.
I was reluctant to stage it as a nursery or playroom because the other 3 bedrooms in the house were downstairs and the staircase leading upstairs was narrow and a little tricky. Not completely unsafe, but not where you would want to put your small children out of sight and out of earshot while you went about your daily affairs on the first floor. And there is no way you would want an infant that far removed from the master and main living areas.
I was reluctant to make it an office because that essentially leaves you with a three bedroom house. What if a family with 3 children wanted to buy and they needed separate rooms for all of them and had no use for a home office? If we’re calling it a 4th bedroom, we need to show how it can be used as a bedroom.
Feedback Realtors had gotten prior to staging was that the owners were kidding themselves by calling it a 4th bedroom. Buyers perceived it as well-finished, well-lit, well-carpeted storage space. Somewhere that would be good to stash boxes and X-mas decorations or files – easy access and few insects to worry about.
The problem with that was – the attic had been finished in such a way that there was lots and lots of that under the rest of the eaves and gables throughout the second floor. There was already about 200 sq ft of easily accessible, relatively clean storage space. We needed to show that the room was valuable living space, not storage. The house already had more than enough storage.
The room was simply odd and there were no two ways about it. However, it was adjacent to the bonus/media room and a space that was currently finished as a walk-in closet, but that was wired and plumbed for a 4th bathroom - A project that would be easy enough for the buyers to complete if they chose. So the room made perfect sense as a place for tweens and teens to entertain their friends.
The bonus room was around the corner – perfect for movies and video games. The layout of the upstairs bedroom did not lend itself to a master suite without reconfiguring some walls and raising the roof – which someone may choose to do someday. But there was plenty of room for an adolescent to feel like they had their own space to hang out with friends away from the rest of the family, yet it was not so far removed and isolated that parents would feel uncomfortable with the set-up.
I chose to make the tiny room that you couldn’t stand up in a sleeping alcove. Even though there was no room to walk around, there was enough floor space for a king size bed!
Imagine the cozy private retreat this created for a teenager. It was enough room to have a big comfy bed. There were two small windows through which you could see the sky: day or night, but you could also make it dark for sleeping in on Saturdays and summer mornings!
I envisioned a teen-aged girl lying across the bed talking on the phone, using her laptop, or reading books – although the general concept would work just as well for a boy. The outer area was large enough to accommodate a large screen plasma TV I set up on a coffee table in another windowed nook. There was a funky cheetah print chaise lounge and zebra floor pillows (courtesy of the homeowner). It was almost like having a little studio apartment.
That would have been the coolest room for a young person! When I described it, the homeowners didn’t see my vision. Neither did my business partner or my live-in stager. Everyone was like: if you think that will work…. O-kay…
Then when I finished it they were all excited about how well I executed it. That’s one thing I love about being a stager – the opportunity to make ‘problem’ areas make sense to buyers and sellers alike.
In the end, I don’t know what the buyer will do with the space, but at least I have given them one option they may never have thought of when they saw it empty.