Speedy makeover

  • Home staging professional Michon Sardella opened up the living space in a Sonoma home by moving the couch further back, and moving a table from the back of the couch against the wall. Sardella also added pillows to bring more color into the living area.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The fastest and easiest way to redecorate requires little or no money and can be done in a day.

What this sleight-of-hand makeover requires is a set of fresh eyes to look at each of your rooms in a new way. You also must be willing to mix things up and apply a little muscle to move stuff around.

It's something professional home stagers do every day — giving a room a whole new look doing little more than rearranging what is already there, purging clutter and changing around a few accessories.

Stagers often work with real estate agents to make a house look more appealing for sale. And they're doing it within a super-tight budget. That means they're shopping in the house itself for whatever they can repurpose.

Interior designer Mishon Sardella, of Big Bang Staging in Santa Rosa, says many of the tricks she uses can be applied to any house, whether you want to spruce it up for sale or give your environment a lift.

Sardella recently staged a vacation home in Sonoma for Pacific Union Realtors that she says is an object lesson in how dramatically a home can be changed without knocking down walls or buying new furniture.

"It was pretty well packed, just as people normally live," Sardella said of the 3-bedroom, 3?-bath house, built in 1971. "But it's a really good example of how you can make little changes that can make a huge deference. You can make even just a couple of changes and it can all feel fresh and new."

The living room makes a big statement. There was a reason it used to be called "the front room." It's often the first space you enter after the foyer. Or, in the case of the Sonoma home, the front door opens right into the living room.

Eyeing the space like a visitor, what Sardella saw was a room with too much stuff in it and furniture arranged so that it was actually difficult to pass through the room without feeling like you were navigating an obstacle course.

Sardella took a large console table that had been set against the back of a wraparound conversation sofa in the middle of the room and pushed it against the wall. While not all furniture needs to be against a wall — in fact, frequently people line their rooms with furniture, leaving an awkward maw in the middle — in this case the furniture was so large that it was actually blocking the views out to a stunning patio area and pool off of the dining room.

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