Vaulted ceilings, a corner fireplace (not shown) and a large, private back yard and deck.


With a north-facing living room, everglade-green walls and dark furnishings, the space felt heavy. "If you have dark walls like this and opt not to paint, you have to do whatever you can to lighten up the space," said Lori Matzke of Centerstagehome.com. "Buyers look for space and light."

The large green recliner that was blocking entry to the room was stored and Matzke removed several dark pictures in dark frames, a quilt rack and blankets. While the chocolate sofa and chaise combo were new, they were simply too dark for the room, so Matzke replaced them with a lighter sofa and club chair from the lower level. Giving the sofa a soft angle that mimicked the fireplace (not shown) helps create a more functional layout. To create a better arrangement for conversation, the club chair was placed directly opposite the sofa.

A $20 second-hand glass-topped coffee table was angled in front of the sofa. Not only does the coffee table help keep the center of the room from feeling awkward and empty, it also directs the buyer's line of vision directly to the double glass doors and out to the deck.

The double doors feature mini-blinds, a positive selling point, but leaving them down for showings darkens the room and blocks the outside view. Leaving the blinds open floods the room with natural light and provides a view of the deck, creating the sense of a large, more continuous floor plan.

To brighten the room even further, a small table and lamp were placed behind the sofa and another one was positioned near the entry. Matzke placed a decorative mirror in front of the floor lamp to reflect more light into the room.

A small ottoman was placed in front of an electrical outlet, not because the outlet was unattractive, but because the strong contrast between the outlet cover and the dark walls drew too much attention.

Silky throw pillows with a dark green embroidered design add shine. A tall ficus tree behind the sofa and bright green ivy on the table lead the eye to the doorway, visually expanding the room. A pot of flowers on the deck adds color and grabs the buyer's attention.