Sunday 21 July 2019

How to stage your own home for sale on a shoestring budget of €2,000

42 Baggot Lane, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 €875,000

Judy Gilroy pictured in her home on Baggot Lane
Judy Gilroy pictured in her home on Baggot Lane

Words by Katy McGuinness Portrait by Mark Condren

If you have noticed a certain ubiquity to the interiors of houses for sale these days, that's down to the - relatively new - phenomenon of staging. The idea is that in order to show a house to best advantage, and for prospective purchasers not to be put off by the vendor's taste, be it in art, furniture or bed linen, the seller ships out his or her tatty, mismatched bric-a-brac and a professional stager arrives with a truck full of 'better' stuff - everything from chairs and tables to orchids and cushions. The result is a harmonious and inoffensive 'look' that will appeal to potential buyers.

Judy Gilroy and her then-fiance (now her husband) Eoin McGuckian put the Ballsbridge mews house that Eoin has owned for 15 years on the market last year, shortly before the couple's wedding in July. And they hired a professional to stage it.

The couple had already moved into their new house in Dublin 6 and taken most of their furniture with them. Their brief to the stager was to help the '90s property, one of a pair of semi-detached mews designed by the architect Stephen Byrne, make an impact online.

"We were really happy with what the stager did," says Judy, whom you will know from her frequent appearances as a fashion stylist on Xpose and Ireland AM and her work with magazines such as VIP. "The photos turned out very well and we went sale agreed within a couple of months."

Staging is expensive. Judy and Eoin paid a fee for the initial staging along with a weekly rental for the furniture and accessories, that ran up costs of at least €8,000. Therefore, as soon as the sale was agreed, they called the stager to come and take all the furniture away.

Unfortunately for them, the sale fell through the week before their wedding and just before they were about to head off on honeymoon.

With the furniture gone, Judy and Eoin saw little interest from potential buyers and neither could they rent it out short-term on AirBnB. The couple decided to take the house off the market while they focused on settling into married life in their new home in Ranelagh.

Recently, they decided it was time to put the house back on the market. New photographs were needed and, rather than spend more money on more staging - Judy estimates that to do it again, keeping the furniture until a sale closed, could have cost up to €20,000 - Judy decided she would do it herself.

"I do really believe in staging," she says, "and it got us a great result the first time around in terms of the price we agreed - it was just a pity that the sale fell through. Obviously, the work that I do in fashion is visually creative, so it wasn't too much of a leap for me to use those skills in making the house look good. I set myself a strict budget of €2,000, to be supplemented with whatever bits and pieces I could borrow from friends and family."

The result is an eclectic and stylish interior that has a different personality than some of the staged interiors to which we have all grown accustomed.

"I can spot the work of all the different stagers working in Ireland from the photographs that I see on the estate agents' websites!" says Judy.

"I decided that I would stage our house for the buyer that I envisaged. I think that it's going to be someone who works hard and wants to live very close to the city centre and be able to go to all the great restaurants nearby.

"First of all, I stripped the kitchen of clutter and played to the pine cabinets with lots of plants and jars of pasta; it's a bit of a '90s retro vibe. I bought the glass-topped table for about €100 and used my own dining room chairs from home, because I'm not one for formal entertaining - we eat in the kitchen, so we won't miss them for a few months. I wanted to show that there was room to have a proper dining table."

The living room is kitted out with a Chesterfield borrowed from the office of Eoin's father, a bright yellow armchair from Ikea and an upcycled (chalk paint, new knobs) side table from Judy's mother's house.

Judy sourced most of the light fittings from Homesense in Blanchardstown, handy for the Virgin Media television studios. "I love that shop," says Judy. "That and Dunnes Home are my absolute favourites.

"For the hall, I picked up a bench from Ikea and styled it all Hygge and natural, with cushions, plants, trays and candles. I think it makes it look more dressed, and most of the stuff came from Penney's so cost very little. In the loo downstairs and the en suite and bathroom upstairs, I rolled all the towels to give that hotel vibe."

On the first floor, Judy reconfigured the landing as a reading area, with logs stacked on shelves either side of the (gas) fire and carefully chosen books on display. Talk Like Ted, Stalingrad and the Steve Jobs biography all feature, but there's no Marian Keyes - despite the author being one of Judy's favourites.

"I think the buyer is more likely to be a man," she says.

The bedroom headboards came from Auction Exchange in Ballymount - "a great resource for anyone doing up a home, where lots of stuff from the show-houses ends up; the prices are great" - and the neutral bedlinen and throws are Judy's own.

When the house is sold, Judy plans to return the various pieces of borrowed furniture to their rightful owners and sell the rest on Done Deal.

In the meantime, she's doing without her garden furniture at home to show off the town garden to the back of No 42. "It's what differentiates the house from an apartment," she says.

Any other tips for would-be self-stagers? Make do with fake flowers and plants. "I do love a faux flower. I have lots in my own house." And only invest in fresh flowers for open viewings - "You'd be broke otherwise."

Era: 1990s
Size: 105sqm
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (01) 269 8888
Viewing By appointment

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