Selling in NYC? Here's how to stage your outdoor space even if it's winter

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By Emily Myers  |
February 8, 2021 - 1:30PM

Furniture, lighting, and plants add depth to the outdoor space of this one-bedroom condo in Greenwich Village.

Sotheby's International Realty/StreetEasy

When you are prepping your New York City apartment for sale, don't forget to stage your outdoor space. That's the advice from brokers and designers who say an attractive and useful outdoor space can be key to selling your apartment fast and even above asking price. The pandemic has made outdoor space a priority for buyers so if you're selling and you have a balcony or private access to the roof, you want to maximize its appeal, even in winter. 

A key to staging an outdoor space, whether it's warm or cold outside, is to make the space cozy, says Brian Ferrick, a lead designer with the staging company Meridith Baer Home. You can achieve this with furniture and plants as well as lighting and textiles. Keep in mind you are trying to show off how functional and attractive the space can be, so adding color and depth is also important.

Stage with furniture

If there's enough room, try to add furniture—either a dining set or lounge set. Deep benches, pushed against the wall and stacked with pillows can set the stage for a casual lounge area and also be a setting for dining. "Round tables that can be kept in a corner with plants and lanterns and pulled out for dining are very useful," Ferrick says.

A barbecue grill also adds major utility points, says Susan Hum, manager at Greenehouse NYC, a real estate staging and photography company. "Cooking is a great way to spend time at home and grilling or smoking is something you can do all year round," she says.

Even smaller spaces like a balcony can benefit from having a cozy table set, she says.

Harriet Kaufman, a broker with Warburg Realty, agrees, saying this "gives the impression that you can eat outside." An outdoor heater or awning is another way of indicating the space can be used throughout the year.

Flowering plants add color

Consider putting some flowering plants on a balcony, Kaufman says. "They are pretty, colorful, and lend the feeling of being in a garden, regardless of the size or quantity," she says.  Hum says showing off your outdoor space as a place to grow plants, flowers and even fruits and vegetables can maximize the space in new ways. 

Amanda McAvena, a broker with Compass, says staging the balcony of a one-bedroom co-op at 91 Sixth Ave. in Park Slope with table and chairs and a herb garden, played a major part in the apartment selling quickly and above asking. 

A decorative trellis

Don't forget to utilize your wall space. Ferrick says large mirrors, either learning or hung, can really help open up outdoor spaces and add depth. A trellis is one way to work in shading and even grow vine plants on or cover what might otherwise be an unremarkable wall or fence. 

Dividing up the space

If you're lucky enough to have a sizable outdoor space, consider breaking it up for different uses. Parisa Afkhami, an agent at Warburg Realty, recently recommended this strategy for a seller with a large ground-floor outdoor space on the Upper East Side. This included an area to plant flowers and herbs, a place to have a barbecue, a dining area, and a sitting area. "Whether it is a patio or outdoor space, use it and integrate it into your apartment," she says. 

You can add a family-friendly touch by adding a play area that might include a sandbox. a small inflatable pool, or a basketball hoop.

If you're staging in summer you might focus on casual entertaining but in winter, it's best to have one central seating area. Ferrick suggests furniture "pulled in tight around a fire pit or around a coffee table that you can style with garden lanterns."

Don't forget lighting and textiles

The right lighting sends the message that you can enjoy your outdoor space after dark, Kaufman says. Using different types of lighting—fairy lights as well as a lantern, for example—can add dimension and create different focal points

Adding heavy throws over the back of chairs and textured pillows can also help create the feeling of warmth, Ferrick says.


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Emily Myers

Senior Writer/Podcast Producer

Emily Myers is a real estate writer and podcast host. As the former host of the Brick Underground podcast, she earned four silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Emily studied journalism at the University of the Arts, London, earned an MA Honors degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and lived for a decade in California.

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