St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


Staging in James Island, SC ... Creating opportunities

Yesterday I had the pleasure of staging a great home in James Island. One that seems to be a problem child.  It has been listed for over a year and has had almost $150,000 in price reductions!  Recently it was listed by a team of agents that I have worked with on multiple occassions and their first reaction was that it needed to be staged.  For the last month we've been working on getting the relocation company to allow us to do the work. 

There were two primary issues listed in feedback... (this house has been shown over 80 times!)

1.  Buyers didn't like walking into the dining room upon entering the home.  There was no real connection to the dining room from the kitchen and there was no other eating space in the home. 

2.  The master bedroom was awkward and buyers weren't really sure what to make of the space. 


Instead of forcing the issue, since virtually everyone hated walking into the dining space, we simply decided that maybe this wasn't the best place for a dining room.  Creating a sitting room opens up more possibilities for the home.

But what to do about a place to eat? 


It seems since we had this great enclosed sunroom off the family room, creating a larger more welcoming dining space here was a plan....


Ok, so now we've solved the dining room issues... what can we do with the master?


That's better!  By giving buyers something to focus on, it is helping them understand the size and scale of this room.  The dormer windows are now not as distracting and actually add to the architectural interest in this room. 



 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 34 commentsMelissa Marro • January 14 2009 01:46PM


Re-defining the space.  Sounds like you took your own training course!  Very nice work my dear...

Posted by Gary Barnett, Home Matters Property Stylist Group, Indianapolis (Home Matters) about 10 years ago

Beautiful use of space!

Whatever the heck can you do with deep dormers like that? They drive me nuts!




Posted by Michelle Molinari, Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts (FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor) about 10 years ago

Great job, Melissa. You totally changed the look not to mention how much better it will appear on the MLS with those great after pictures.

Posted by Dan and Amy Schuman, Luxury Home Specialists (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) about 10 years ago

Aloha Melissa,

I've always dreaded homes where you walk directly into the dinning room. I'm glad you straightened out the property and placed it were it should have been all along. Where would the market be without talent like you, great work as usual.


Posted by Kimo Stowell, REALTOR Associate® RS-76763 - Honolulu Hawai'i (HI Pro Realty LLC RB-21531 ) about 10 years ago

Well done, and very well illustrated.  Who could question your services?  Seeing is believing!  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Ellen Crawford, Alpharetta Real Estate Agents & Alpharetta REALTOR (Crye-Leike REALTORS®) about 10 years ago

Melissa - the difference is literally night/day.  I especially liked how the dining room came out.

Congratulations.  Your post is being featured in the group Staging Before & After Pictures.


Posted by Kathy Nielsen, Atlanta Georgia Home Stager ( about 10 years ago

Great job working with an awkward layout.  This is why we stage - so buyers can see the potential and possibilities - not get caught up in the empty space they envision.  Thanks for sharing this wonderful example.

Posted by David Peterson, Home Stager Portland OR-Synergy Staging-Portland Oregon (Synergy Staging ~ specializing in vacant home staging) about 10 years ago

Melissa: I had a similar project recently, where there were multiple choices for the dining room but no clear winner. I picked the one that made the most sense (closest to the kitchen) even though it didn't have a chandelier. Despite that, once we furnished the house appropriately everybody understood how the house worked and what each room was. You did a nice job with this one. Very challenging.

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) about 10 years ago

I encounter the first 'vacant' photo a lot - and what a fabulous transformation you made in photo number 2 !!

That is one of my favorite before and afters that I have ever seen ! are clearly an expert at what you do :o)

Posted by Sheldon Neal, That British Agent Bergen County NJ (Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited) about 10 years ago

Gary - it's actually what earned me my reputation.  The first vacant house I ever staged had a dining room issue.  It had been on the market over 2 years before we staged it.  It sold in less than 4 months after. 

MM - I know, I hate them too.  I tried a bunch of things, but the space was just too small.  Basically I decided to give them something else to look at.

Dan & Amy - I always give the agents my after photos and create an RES for them.  Having great MLS photos makes for more showings, which makes for a more likely sale!

Kimo - you are so sweet.  Staging can definately help correct awkward floorplans. Some buyers may like the dining room there, but they'll be able to see (with the chandelier still in place) that it would fit.  Most won't be able to imagine it the other way around - so we show them possibilities!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

Ellen - We've had great luck moving properties.  Photos get them interested, stats earn the contracts!

Kathy - thanks for the kind words and the feature!  The LA is inviting all the previous BAs back, hopefully this will quickly be a sold property!

David - you bet!  This IS why we do what we do!


Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

Michelle - The challenging ones can be the ones that feel the most rewarding, don't you think? The LAs are visitiing the property tomorrow.  I can't wait to hear their feedback!

Sheldon - Wow!  Thanks so much for your kind words!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

Thanks for being modest, Melissa, but the reason the properties you stage move is because you stage them.  You do great work.  I just staged a house with an awkward family room.  Unfortunately the agent was paying me and only for partial staging so I didn't have the money to do all that  should have been done.  However, i remembered my first rule which I learned from you: Put the most important piece in first.  Thanks.


Posted by Vicki Styons (RoomBenders) about 10 years ago

great job Melissa - every agent in Charleston should use your services

Posted by Randall Sandin, 843-209-9667 - Search for Charleston SC Real Estate (Carolina One Real Estate) about 10 years ago


Wonderful staging job.  I often wonder what architects are thinking when they design a home such as this one.  Lucky for the homeowner you are great at your job!  Keep us posted on the results.

Posted by Patty Hill, BS, CIAS, SFR, Hill & Associates Real Estate Team (Hill & Associates, LLC Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Southern Coast Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Melissa ~ This looks great!  I love how you solved the dining room issue; it actually looks like it belongs there!  I like how you placed the furniture in the bedroom.  A lot of people aren't sure how to position the furniture when there are dormers like that.  Love all the furniture you used too!

Posted by Kathy Passarette, L.I. Staging/Decorating (Creative Home Expressions) about 10 years ago

Melissa, great work!! Glad to see your still out there finding new business.... Keep it up.... How's your home doing? Feeling?



Posted by Eco-Unit, Inc... about 10 years ago

It looks like you resolved all the issues at hand and now it's up to the agent to get the buyers in and put that sold sign out.  Great job!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) about 10 years ago

Hi Melissa....great job sorting that one out!!  I had one slightly similar yet different too. The room looked like a basketball court...a random cheap chandelier on one side of the room....the first thing you saw!  You did a super job with the staging....and hopefully it sells soon!  Regards-Kathleen G

Posted by Kathleen Garvey, Denver's Neighborhood Expert - Listings & Sales (HomeSmart Cherry Creek - Denver) about 10 years ago

Melissa, excellent work! It's great that these sellers had you. Sometimes it takes a 3rd party to come in and see what may not be an obvious solution. I'm sure this home will sell quickly now that you've done your job.

Posted by Annie Pinsker-Brown, Stage to Sell, Los Angeles Home Stager (Stage to Sell - LA Home Staging) about 10 years ago

Hi Melissa,

Great staging job! I love seeing the before and after pictures. That would be so awkward to walk into the dining room in a home; it's much better where you put it. I bet staging is a fun and rewarding job; I think I would enjoy that business a lot--decorating is one of my favorite things to do. Keep up the good work!

Have a great day,

Anne Rains

Posted by The Rains Team, A higher standard in real estate (Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners) about 10 years ago

Vicki - you are sweet!  I'm sure you did the best job on the budget you had.

Randall - Thanks!  But they can't all be as smart as you, can they?

Patty - it's an older home.  I guess they lived differently.

Kathy - I was definately pleased with how the living room/dining room turned out.  It doesn't look at all awkward and flowed quite nicely.

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

John - busy as always... I'm sure you are too.  How goes the eco business in Charleston these days?  I hope the economic woes we hear so much about on TV aren't negatively impacting you.

Sharon - They are already planning an agent open house and are letting all of the previous showing agents know about the changes.

Kathleen - ug... your situation sounds aweful.  I'm sure it was stunning when you were done though!  You have an amazing touch on those homes!

Annie - actually the LAs knew exactly what to do this time, but didn't have the resources or time to do it themselves (good golly that's not their job, now is it?)  so they called me.

Anne - actually, strangely, I don't enjoy decorating all that much.  I view staging completely differently.  If I had the money I would actually pay an interior designer (preferably Candice Olsen) to come decorate my home. 

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

Melissa,  Beautiful job and I'm with you on the decorating thing.  I'm not the best at it and see staging almost like a mini flip!   Thanks for sharing this job.  I like to store away staging tidbits and ideas.  :)

Posted by Sheri Walker (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

Sheri - I was always told I should be an interior designer, but I never liked having to deal with the personalization thing.... I like the simple way of staging appealing to the masses

Vivian - Thanks so much!  Now, all we need is an offer!

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

Absolutely love the reassignment of room purposes to address the feedback. Brilliant!

Posted by Pangaea Interior Design Kitchen & Bath Design, Remodeling (Portland Oregon) about 10 years ago

Melissa, everyone has already said what I wanted to say so to avoid redundancy, I'll just simply say- you really did a great job ~ Congrats!

Posted by Tosha Tate-Dickson (Finair Management Group Inc.) about 10 years ago

Fantastic work Melissa!  Sounds like you solved a major objection to this home by potential buyers.  Great "thinking out of the box". 

Posted by Michele Hess, Home Stager Rockford - Simply Staged Inc (Simply Staged Inc.) about 10 years ago

Hi Melissa love the assorted chairs in the dining room. Ads lovely pop of interest. The house feels much more upscale and elegant with your lovely staging.

Posted by Kym Hough, Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA (www.Staged-to-Sell ) about 10 years ago

Beautiful staging you really redefined the spaces and showed them in their best light.  My previous home had those dormers and I never could really figure out what to do with them.

Posted by Wanda Richards, Shows Great Home Staging (Shows Great Home Staging and Web Solutions ) about 10 years ago

I love the ottoman, I have one, that I haven't used yet, I keep forgetting about it.  It's still in the box.  They are so comfy to put the feet on.

Posted by Cindy Bryant, "Houston Home Staging Pros" (Redesign Etc. Home Staging) about 10 years ago

Hi Melissa, Beuatiful work in solving a disadvantaged home design. Love your floral and solid chairs for the dining set. I think I will try that look some day.

I too had a home with an entry into the dining room. It was a long buganlow with a hallway to the right of the dining room set up and that walked past a childs room (not good placing your most prized posession so close to the front door, past the stairs that led down to the basement, to a very large open concept room that held a designer kitchen with every bling item you could imagine, the eating area immediately after that and the main living area to the left with the master off the main living room. It was  total nightmare of a design. The master  bedroom was at the very back of the house away from protecting their children and the dining room seemed like it was acres away from the kitchen. It is still listed for sale as the homeowner will not move the dining set from the front room to the very large eat in kitchen. Time will tell if this house will ever sell.

Posted by Michelle Finnamore, Preparing your property for sale (Toronto GTA, Alliston, Newmarket) about 10 years ago

Pangaea - Thanks!  That is one of the great things about staging.  It can really help to not only enhance the overall look and feel of the home, but alter the floorplan according to need and desire, without having to bring in an architect!

Tosha - thank you!

Michele - it's what we are paid to do right?  Where exactly is that stupid box anyway?  How do so many people find themselves trapped in it?

Kym - I love to mix up the chairs.  I don't know why but I think it almost has become a signature for me.



Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

Wanda - the dormers are great from the front of the house, and they do let in a lot of light.  The problem is that most people don't know how the room will work around them!

Cindy - this is one of my favorite ottomans!  You simply must get yours out of its box!

Michelle - that does sound like a real problem, more than furniture could solve.  What were the architects thinking?  Sounds like it will sell to someone who does not have young children for sure.

Posted by Melissa Marro, Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging (Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team) about 10 years ago

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