How do you position a historic property for today’s modern buyer? Real estate pros Cheryl Eisen of Interior Marketing Group and Wolf Jakubowski of Brown Harris Stevens explain how they took on that challenge.

Located at 327 West 76th Street in New York City, this turn of the 20th century mansion — once owned by Cyrus Clark, known as the “Father of the Upper West Side” — hearkening back to the glory of Manhattan’s past and anchors the Upper West Side.

But how do you position a historic property of such importance for the buyer of today?

That’s the challenge Interior Marketing Group’s (IMG) Cheryl Eisen took on along with the property’s broker, Wolf Jakubowski of Brown Harris Stevens. Here, the two pros share their experience prepping the $12.9M stunner.


Find out how these two powerhouse real estate professionals updated this iconic property with contemporary design elements while still respecting its roots and preserving its character.

What is your strategy when it comes to historic homes? Should an attempt to update always be made, or are there some markets where a very formal look is still desirable?

Jakubowski: There are many townhomes in Manhattan that successfully blend period formality with contemporary living. The key is to have a team of professionals who recognize what elements are dated and irrelevant and update accordingly.

What is your advice for agents as they work with a designer?

Jakubowski: As an agent, you should have a clear understanding of what will excite the potential buyer and how to capture that in photos. Finding a designer who shares those ideas and has the resources to execute them is often the hardest part.

What is your advice for agents or brokers who want to suggest major design changes to a client?

Jakubowski: Major staging can be expensive. You need to have a clear vision and find the right designer. Properly done, the seller will recover the staging cost in price achieved as well as reduced time on the market.

What are some of the ways you add modern style without making it seem out of place?

Eisen: The juxtaposition of transitional furnishings and modern art in an architecturally traditional home creates a more elevated, relatable style with broad appeal. It ensures that the look and feel of the home doesn’t rely too heavily on one genre or feel too taste-specific. Using traditional furniture and art in this type of home runs the risk of looking dated.

How do you decide what kind of palette to choose? Is that determined by the space, seller preferences or the potential buyer?

Eisen: For the most part, I live by my mantra: Neutral tones sell homes. In main spaces, neutrals are a crowd-pleaser and don’t distract from the home’s selling points, such as the views and architectural details. I’ll add pops of color with art and accessories when needed.

Generally, the only time I elect to use vibrant colors is in youth rooms when we want to communicate a fun and whimsical lightness.

What kind of input did you have into the direction of the design?

Jakubowski: I was very specific with the designer as to what the issues were with the house that needed addressing and was consulted by them on material selection, paint colors, lighting and furnishings.

What did the home look like when you first took the listing?

Jakubowski: The home had been decorated some 10 years ago in a heavy “New Jersey suburban style” with some idiosyncratic elements that are no longer relevant today. All of the home’s original period details, including woodwork, mantels and ceiling details, had been restored but appeared dark against the home’s dated colors.

How does the present design differ?

Jakubowski: The home has been repainted, which lightened the entire aesthetic and provided a contemporary background for the historic details to contrast with. The new furnishings and light fixtures were selected to illustrate fun, contemporary living in a period home.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach, and consultant with Writing Real Estate. Follow Writing Real Estate on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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