The living room in a midcentury modern ranch near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis has vaulted ceilings, a corner fireplace on both the main and lower levels, and a wall of windows that lead to a large deck and landscaped back yard. To make it more appealing to buyers, it needed updating. "This house immediately made me think of Frank and Dino [Sinatra and Martin] and cocktails on the terrace at 6 p.m.," said Lori Matzke of "Some homes have a very specific design aspect that will appeal to a very specific group of buyers, so we wanted to maintain the integrity of that style and play up those features without downplaying the vibe." WHAT WAS DONE

A large club chair was exchanged for a smaller swivel chair that helps to lighten the space. A table lamp that blocked the fireplace was also removed; a combination table/lamp was moved to the family room to brighten a dark corner.

To create more balance in the room, the sofa was moved farther down the wall, a side table that blocked the view of the fireplace was placed in front of the windows and the ottomans were moved to opposite ends of the room.

The coffee table was positioned at a sharp angle to direct attention to the fireplace.

A stereo was centered on the wall nearest the entry to keep the space from looking lopsided without blocking the entrance into the room.

The carpet, which was a nice neutral color and in great condition, was stretched to get rid of a wrinkle that had developed over time.

Staging tip: Not all carpet needs to be replaced. Older carpet that is of high quality and neutral in color can easily be brought back to like-new condition simply by having it cleaned. If it's been pulled out of shape, have it professionally stretched. If it cannot be cleaned or stretched, it should be replaced, as worn carpet is a big turnoff to potential buyers.

Colorful artwork that drew too much attention from the fireplace and back yard was replaced with a single, more proportionate composition with a softer color scheme.

To soften the bricks and draw attention directly to the fireplace, a large potted plant was placed on the hearth. Two smaller pots of greenery were used on the coffee table and side table to add a bright shot of color and move the eye around the room.