Nov 27 2015

Anatomy of a style makeover

Posted in: Home Staging, Interior Design

On an expansive estate overlooking the harbour in Buckland’s Beach, a grand English country-style beauty was recently transformed as part of a top to toe makeover by Living Edge Interiors.

Managing Director of Living Edge Sharon Laffan explains, when a home goes on the market, it’s no longer just someone’s home. It becomes a product. “Our role, together with the agent, is to identify who the potential buyers will be and to stage the home appropriately to broaden its appeal.”

Sharon looks at the property for sale as an entity to devise a total look that suits. Being such a large, traditional home with many living spaces and a huge garden, she anticipated the new owners of this property would probably be people aged in their 40s or 50s with family.

Antique with Modern

“To attract that audience, we felt it needed a more modern look with a warm, inviting balance of antique and contemporary furniture. It’s the way people are decorating today.”

Sharon travels extensively overseas to collect furniture unique to the New Zealand market. She also has her own brand of sofas for sale. “Living Edge has a fantastic range with the ability to furnish any style of home from old villas to very contemporary homes. We also cater to the commercial market.”

Most weeks Living Edge stage between from 10 to 18 homes in Auckland and there’s the interior design side of the business as well. However, for this extra-large property, Sharon collaborated with Meredith Lee from European Antiques who sources European antiques and decorative items from France, Belgium, Sweden, Italy and the UK.

Says Sharon: “For each room we selected one or two key pieces – like an antique sideboard or table – to anchor the scheme with a rich base patina. Then we built up layers around those pieces to ensure an eclectic mix of old and new that is lighter and gives a wonderful relaxed ambience.”

A Flawless Backdrop

In the earlier stages of the transformation, carpets were changed, gardens groomed, exterior brickwork water-blasted and new curtains added to create a pristine backdrop. Finally, existing furniture was removed and it was over to lead stylist Lucy Miles, the creative visionary behind Living Edge’s furniture styling and layout.

Lucy is intimately acquainted with the ranges she has to work with. Planning involves systematically going through each room, noting sizes and shapes to gain a visual memorandum of spaces before selecting pieces that showcase the home at its best.

Start with a Story

“In larger homes like this, you need some kind of thread or story to start with. But I think it’s nice to give every room its own personality or wow factor. For each room, I always take my cue from a dramatic starting point.”

For example, from a neutral backdrop in an upstairs lounge, inspiration came from the colour and texture of a traditional wingback chair and a classical painting. “I used the beautiful reds, blues and oranges – and really went the whole way with it.”

Occasionally she departed from her theme. “I created a sumptuous hunting lodge feel in the cottage with lavish traditional navy and green tartans, ducks and shooting imagery.”

In this project, the clients were more than happy to put their own furniture in storage and to present their property with a fresh new look. But Lucy says it can be difficult for clients to understand staging a home is often key to successful marketing.

All Chattels Available for Sale

One of the best things about Living Edge staging for buyers is that once the home is staged, a chattel list is available. If they like the look of particular pieces, they can purchase them – along with the home.

Sharon explains staging makes it easy, especially for international buyers. “The sourcing is all done. Buyers can simply walk in to a ready-made home – right down to the finer details – and relax.”


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