Even a Beautiful Historic Home Often Needs a Transformational Touch!

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Dallas is lucky to have so many beautiful historic homes that have been magnificently maintained and updated over the years. Selling one can be challenging because we all live in our homes in a way that does not usually align with best practices for presentation. 

It’s hard because we love our homes, we think the way we decorate is flawless and that our taste is perfect. And it is — for us. But not for a target demographic that is house-hunting.

This is especially true of a historic home like this 1918 Bryan Parkway Craftsman

It had been on the market but was not getting the right traction. That’s not at all unusual with any era of home, because, as I said, we are often reluctant to let go of what we hold dear. Marketing a home is a process, and a large part of that process is letting go.  

Another part is bringing in a specialist.

Elizabeth Mast is the Landmark Commissioner for District 14 and holds an Advanced Certified Historic Home Specialist certification. She has lived in a historic home on Swiss Avenue for almost 15 years and is the owner of the popular East Dallas store Talulah & Hess. She’s also a Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s Realtor!

When it comes to selling a historic home, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more qualified to market it than Mast.

“This home is on one of the best streets in East Dallas,” Mast said. “Bryan Parkway is a family utopia. I knew there had to be a problem when I heard it was not getting the right traction, and I specialize in solving historic home problems. When I walked in, I realized this house was not being seen in the right light.”

historic home
Formal living room before paint and staging.
Formal living room after neutral paint and staging.

Paint Matters

The first issue was multiple colors, common in historic homes. However, they can visually chop up a house and make rooms appear smaller. Mast advised a neutral, light palette with all rooms painted the same color.

“This creates a sense of continuity, which is harder in a historic home as we don’t have an open concept floor plan,” Mast said. “It also allows for a neutral canvas so you can see the historic detail rather than be distracted by color.”

Staging is Essential 

“Staging helps the buyer imagine how to use the room, especially in a historic home,” Mast said.

“You want to capture a broad audience, so we use transitional furnishings and layer in rugs, art, and accessories to provide pops of color. We also look at staging from a psychological perspective and create usable spaces,” she elaborated. “For instance, in this living room, we have an intimate conversation space for four. When you move into the more informal family room, there’s a sofa you can imagine yourself laying on and watching TV. We’ve made the house visually accessible for today’s buyer.” 

historic home
The family room after paint and staging.
Put your color into furnishings and accessories rather than the walls.

Scale Matters

The dimensions of a room are critical in selecting the right furniture because every home has challenges. In this historic home, the staircase hugs one side of the dining room. The original table was smaller and set on a rug, which created a sense of being confined. Mast said people tend to decorate with smaller-scale rugs and furniture, which only creates the illusion of a smaller space. To showcase the room’s spacious size, she installed a larger table with sleek lines that looks like a true place to gather. Not using a rug here removes that sense of psychological confinement.

historic home
The dining room before paint and staging.
historic home

There Must Be a Sanctuary

“I’m a firm believer in making the principal bedroom a sanctuary environment,” Mast said. “It cannot be a multi-tasking room, especially in our current environment. We have so many demands today with virtual schooling and working from home. People need that sanctuary space.” 

A multi-tasking environment is not helpful for relaxation.
historic home
The principal bedroom is now a light, bright, and airy sanctuary.
This house had an attic conversion with two bedrooms, a full bath, and living area upstairs.

Know Your Buyer

“You have to cater to your potential buyer,” Mast said. “I see a buyer for this historic home as a young family or an older couple who have kids and grandkids. It’s great for empty-nesters with kids coming to visit because it has a main-floor principal bedroom. That’s unusual in historic homes as they were not generally built that way.”

historic home
historic home

Hats off to the sellers who were amazed at the transformation. As much as they loved their look, they were closing on their next home and decided to take the plunge, following all of Mast’s recommendations.

This historic home at 6000 Bryan Parkway is now ready for its’ next chapter, and perhaps your first!

Ready to see it in person? Stop by the open house Sunday, Dec. 6, from 1 to 3 p.m.

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Karen Eubank

Karen is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for over 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying for his masters at The New England Conservatory of Music. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap.

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