Tips For Staging Your Home

Yes, you should stage. Staged homes sell for more money than un-staged homes. Obviously, you’re trying to make your home look better but you are also trying to make it look bigger.

Buyers consider three things in a home: size, condition, and location. Staging impacts size and condition and will therefore have a big impact on the sale price.

The best professional stagers try to use mostly your own furniture and belongings. They can really bring an objective eye to what you already have; whereas seller’s sometimes have a hard time being objective. What’s important is for buyers to have a clear, unobstructed view of floors, walls, ceilings, windows and countertops. Less really is more. If you cannot hire a professional stager, I can certainly help you as part of my own services.

At the very least, do these three things:

  • De-clutter; purge! Throw out, or get rid of, as much stuff as you can.
  • Let as much light into the house as is humanly possible. Wash windows, pull up shades and pull back drapes.
  • Make the home spotlessly clean.

Sellers sometimes think their house looks cold and empty after a purging. Not so. Never confuse staging with interior decorating. You’re selling architecture, space and amenities. You’re selling options - to a wide and diverse buyer pool who is trying to envision their own belongings in your space. You need somewhat of a blank canvas.

Begin with Curb Appeal

Staging begins on the outside. Buyer’s make some pretty emotional decisions about your home at three different moments: when they first pull up to the curb, another when they first walk through the front door, and a final judgement when they are done viewing the whole property.

Tips for the Outside:

  • Focus on your best tree: create a circle of medium-sized rocks around the perimeter of a prominent tree - about 2 or 3 feet out from the trunk and fill in that space with a richly colored mulch. This not only draws attention to a pretty tree, but it helps to really define the front lawn. While you’re at it, mulch all the flower beds and around shrubs.
  • Window flower boxes: This can have a dramatic impact on a plain house; or warm it up if you’re selling between seasons when things can look gray and cold.
  • Faded lawn: Allow 2-3 weeks for new seed to sprout before listing the house.
  • Faded cracked driveway: Use a sealant to coat blacktop surfaces. You can apply it with a long-handled paint roller or use a combination squeegie/broom made specifically for this purpose.
  • Outdoor Rooms: Make your total living space appear bigger by staging decks and patios in a way that make them look like outdoor rooms. Put something colorful and bright, visible from a window or sliding doors, that draws the eye from the inside of the house or condo, to the outside.
  • Gutters and Shutters: Clean or paint them and make sure they hang straight.
  • Debris: Put away garden hoses, garbage cans, kid’s bikes and toys and get ride of cracked or faded planters. If the basketball net is old and dirty, get rid of it or just replace the netting and paint the backboard.
  • Garage accents: a weathervane on the roof, or a black eagle over the doors almost always improve the look and adds a touch of charm and class.

The Interior

Tips for the Inside:

  • Crowded Rooms: Remove (and store or sell) pieces of furniture that eat up space like ottomans, extra side tables or chairs. Many rooms don’t need more than 3 or 4 pieces in them, total.
  • The Illusion of Floor Space: Turn certain pieces of furniture on an angle which creates an optical illusion that makes the floor space around it look bigger. (Most of us tend to place everything on right angles or flush against a wall)
  • Mirror, Mirror: It is very expensive to buy quality artwork. Instead, try using a large decorative mirror over the fireplace or above a couch. It’s a great substitute and an inexpensive way to create a focal point. Bonus points: mirrors make a room appear larger than it really is.
  • Look Up: If your home has high ceilings or beautiful moldings, put a tall plant, vase, or piece of art on top of a cabinet or armoire to draw the eye upward.
  • Cover and Splash: Update old or faded furniture with slipcovers and add a splash of color with accent pillows or throw blankets.
  • Classy Mantle: Never over-crowd a mantle piece with too many objects. Just a couple of really good quality pieces are needed here but don’t over do it. Use a light touch. Up the ante on the fireplace with new tools and place new firewood inside. (If the fireplace is not functional, you can place some large tasteful candles inside for a nice look)
  • Enlarge the Dining Room: Most dining room tables will need a leaf removed. Tables can be quite long and can sharply shrink and crowd the room with all the leaves in.
  • Sleek Kitchens: Remove just about every little thing from kitchen counters and the outside of the refrigerator except for one or two like-new appliances; and maybe a bowl of colorful fruit. The kitchen, in particular, needs very little staging and lots and lots of purging. It mostly needs to look extremely clean.
  • Cheap Cabinet Makeover: Update old kitchen cabinets by replacing the pulls with something modern and cool. This is an inexpensive but powerful tip. Paint the cabinets, too if necessary.
  • White, White, White: The best possible tip for older bathrooms, of any color or style, is to stage them with brand new, starch-white towels, shower curtain, and maybe a white window curtain. It takes the eye off old fixtures and gives a feeling of newness and cleanliness. And don't forget to re-grout around the tub just before you list it.
  • Closets Sell: Remove at least a third of your clothes and shoes to make closets appear bigger. And then re-arrange and group what’s left by color - military style. When closets are clean and organized, it sends a subliminal message that the whole house has been well-cared for.
  • Basements and attics: Purge here as well. And of course, you do have to retain some storage areas. Just make sure the storage areas are neat and tidy, too! Put things in plastic bins and stack them. Wipe down the boiler and hot water heater so they appear newer and well-maintained. All these little things send subliminal messages to buyers as they walk through.