See How a Stager Instantly Upgraded a Dark, Dated Kitchen

published May 3, 2024
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Kitchen in apartment before renovation.
Credit: Home by Molly Marino

When the owner of this condo, a two-bedroom investment property on Chicago’s Gold Coast, was ready to sell, she knew just who to call. Realtor and expert home stager Molly Marino of Home by Molly Marino had successfully staged and sold the owner’s primary residence a few years back and she trusted Marino to figure out what needed to be done to get this property ready for sale — and to make it happen.

“As a Realtor, I often focus on ‘pain points’; those things that someone sees when they walk in that will give them a reason not to buy the home,” says Marino. “In this space, the floors needed to be refinished and the lighting was absent because these old concrete high-rises often don’t have overhead fixtures.” In addition to that, the kitchen and “hideous” guest bath were in need of some cost-effective updates, so Marino embarked on what she calls a “baby rehab.”

Credit: VHT Studios

The most significant changes happened in the kitchen. There, Marino’s plan included refinishing the floors, painting the cabinets Sherwin Williams’ Pure White, swapping out the hardware, installing quartz countertops, and replacing appliances and overhead lights. After an awkward section of wall between the front door and kitchen was determined to not be load-bearing, it came down to make the space feel less cramped and improve access to the refrigerator. 

Marino also turned one of the first “pain points” buyers would see, an outdated kitchen desk — which had become a dumping ground for assorted junk — into a space that is both useful and beautiful. After having the soffit and light removed and the old cabinetry replaced (it was cheaper to get new Shaker-style cabinets than to reuse and extend the old cabinets), Marino chose a lively green (Sherwin Williams’ Evergreen) to add a swath of color behind the floating shelves she added. New countertops, pendant lights, and accessories turned an under-utilized space into a chic nook that can work as a bar, coffee station, additional prep space, or anything else the new owner can dream up. “It wasn’t a hard project, but it had such a huge impact,” she says.

Credit: Home by Molly Marino

In the guest bath, with some elbow grease and a $400 budget, Marino transformed the space from dingy and depressing to grown-up and graphic with the addition of a small storage vanity, chair rail halfway up the wall, Sherwin Williams’ Tricorn Black paint, and bold black and white peel-and-stick wallpaper that Marino installed herself.

Credit: VHT Studios

The home’s other bathroom, bedrooms, living room, and dining area were freshened up with stylish furniture, rugs, and decor. Marino based the pop of deep green in her design plan on the condo’s prime location across the street from the lushly landscaped Cardinal’s mansion. “The condo has the most exquisite view of the treetops which are so vibrant,” says Marino. “I brought that out in the furniture, paint, and rug selections.”

In the end, Marino’s “baby rehab” had a huge impact. The condo not only received multiple offers and sold within days on the market, but it also boosted the value of its neighboring units, says Marino. “We got [the price] we wanted and pushed up the price point for the building,” she says.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: See How a Stager Instantly Upgraded a Dark, Dated Kitchen