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An Apartment Stager Picks Her Favorite Affordable (But Expensive-Looking) Staging Furniture

One of Cheryl Eisen’s white-on-white staged apartments. Photo: Donna Dotan Photography

Cheryl Eisen, celebrity designer and founder of Interior Marketing Group, stages on-sale apartments so well that when she designs a place with a James Bond theme, James Bond himself buys the apartment. Here’s how it happened: She reached out to Fredrik Eklund from Million Dollar Listing because he had this Tribeca penthouse that just wasn’t selling, “I said, ‘I’m a stranger, but I stage apartments, and I can help you sell this place.’” It had a bachelor-pad vibe, “so I said, ‘Let’s make this James Bond cool.’” She decked it out in white fur rugs and a white sofa, and after the very first open house there was a bidding war. Daniel Craig won the bidding war.

And since she stages all kinds of apartments, Eisen’s also used to putting together great-looking places on a budget. That’s what we tapped her for here. The goal was a starter apartment and the budget was $3,000. Here are Eisen’s starter-apartment go-to furniture picks.

“I love using a firm upholstered ottoman as a coffee table, especially in small spaces, but also everywhere because when you’re watching TV, you can put your feet up and you can also put your drink down if you have a tray. This one is particularly great because it has storage. That’s always useful.”

“I chose this tray to put on top of the ottoman, so that you can use it for things like drinks, remote controls, and flowers to make it feel even more like a coffee table. It gives you a good solid surface. The horsebit detail on this tray also looks very Gucci. It’s reminiscent of their double-G logo.”

“One of our staples in making homes look larger and brighter are giant mirrors. It creates the feeling of space and light, especially if you place them across from a window. That doubles the amount of light in a room. Sometimes, I’ll even put three of these next to each other. When you walk into a room and see that, it can look like the room goes on forever. It’s very dramatic. Ikea has some great choices that we love. I chose this one because of the warm brown wood frame, which goes with the rest of what I’ve picked out here. It adds a contrasting warmth to the white-on-white tones.”

“I love a bar cart; it’s a crowd-pleaser. In small apartments, it’s also great to have this extra little thing on wheels that you can move anywhere. Obviously, you’ll use it for alcohol and glasses, but if you’re entertaining, you can also put food on it and use it as a buffet. This one has mirrors, so again that reflective quality.”

“Most floor lamps are so generic-looking, but this one is actually really pretty. Plus it’s affordable, and it also fits in any corner because of the scale. It’s narrow and tall and in keeping with the small-space high-functionality; this really has a very tiny footprint.”

“This under-$1,000 sofa with very clean lines and tufting adds a little moment of style and luxury. The texture is beautiful, and we find that white is a very soothing color for a sofa. Varying shades of neutral is the theme we usually go with, which also works for our celebrity clients like Kim and Kanye. They were coming to New York for the summer and we had 24 hours to design a beautiful penthouse for them downtown. We found the products they liked, and they would FaceTime with their manager to see it all before they arrived. They were very particular about the accessories — like how many there should be, what color they should be, and where we should place them. They were like, ‘Move that one to the right just a little.’”

“It’s very convenient to have a side table next to the sofa. It’s pretty and it extends the length of a sofa. The marble here adds elegance. The footprint is small and it’s a nice accent piece.”

“This velvet pillow adds another elegant layer of texture and warmth. Some people really love a pop of color, but we use pops of texture instead because if you have a monochromatic room and a red pillow, your eye just goes straight to the red pillow. I reserve pops of colors for kids’ rooms.”

“We always try to get the largest possible rug because the larger your area rug, the larger your room feels. If your room is big and you can’t find the exact rug size, you can always put two together, and suddenly it’s a 16-by-10 or something like that. This rug is eight-by-ten and the fabric is very warm and soft. There’s a texture to it as well, which, again, adds a layer of elegance.”

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An Apartment Stager on Her Best Expensive-Looking Furniture