Quick Tips for Staging a Home for Sale
Putting your house on the market? I find that the most difficult but important part of Home Staging isn’t about decor — it’s helping the buyers understand that once their house goes on the market, it’s no longer their home full of their memories of their family, but more like a product on a store shelf that needs to be merchandised for the masses. When sellers can emotionally detach themselves and see their space with fresh eyes, we can make great progess in staging their home.
Part of a Stager’s goal is to strike a balance between making rooms look spacious and decluttered without being sterile. And we need to appeal to all 5 senses to evoke an emotional connection in potential home buyers so they feel that your house is the only one they want. So here are a few tips to help you sell quickly!
- Invite them in. As realtors are unlocking the front door, potential buyers have ample time to check out the state of your entry. Make a good first impressing by decluttering a porch, putting fresh paint on the front door & trim, and adding a welcome mat & a seasonal wreath.
- Deodorize. The first thing buyers notice when they walk in isn’t what they see, it’s what they smell. Open windows as often and as long as possible to air out any stale smells in your home. If you have pets, keep them and their paraphenelia (litter boxes, crates, toys, feeding bowls, etc.) hidden away during a showing. Eliminate pet odors with this “reci-pee.” Spray an air freshener lightly just before a showing, or bake some homemade bread or cookie dough 20 minutes before a showing. Buyers will have a tasty snack and they’ll instantly feel at home from the smell.
- Declutter. Pack up or purge all the excess clutter & furniture from every room. Counter should be completely clear or have no more than 2 major appliances on them in a kitchen. My favorite trick is to clear a room’s furniture out (except the essentials needed to indicate to a buyer what the room’s purpose is) until the room fees too “empty.” Then bring back in 2 items which will make it feel more lived in, but spacious. Place the large furniture items first and fill in any holes with side chairs, tables or bookcases, plants, or artowrk. Purge non-essential items, or pack & move them to an attic or rent a storage unit while your home is on the market.
- Depersonalize. Buyers can’t picture themselves living in your home if photos of your family are everywhere. Remove personal items and photos from tables & walls, and if art is needed on a long wall, replace it with a neutral print, a black & white photo, or create your own art to match the space by framing fabric or wrapping paper in the same color scheme.
- Create focal points for each room. This is important to show off a room’s assests while detracting from its flaws. In every room, decide what the best feature is and manoever the furnture and accessories around it to draw the eye to it like a runway. For example, if you have a fireplace, remove or shift the placement of any furniture that blocks its view from the room’s entry and line up a sofa and side chairs perpendicular to it on the left & right. If it’s a bedroom, make the bed the focus with attractive bedding or a padded headboard that matches the bedding. Don’t have a focal point? Create one with interesting artwork, or paint one wall a darker shade than the rest of the room to draw attention to it. This works particularly well for that tiny or boring bedroom that’s being used as a storage space or Home Office.
- Neutralize the color palette. Bold colors may be great to live in, but no everyone likes them, so to appeal to the widest audience, choose neutal or earth tome paint colors. Here is a list of my favorite paint colors & tips. Try to use no more than 2 or 3 colors in a space. (My favorite color scheme is to use 2 shades of the same color (like a taupe on the walls and dark brown furniture) then let my 3rd color be more bold, like a red, teal, or green pops of color in the fabrics & artwork. And if you have mismatched furniture & accessories, make them look more coherent by painting them all the same shade of dark brown, black, or cream. Spraypaint has come a long way — Rust-o-leum has new shades that cost about $7 can, have a spray trigger for easy use, and don’t require sanding or priming.
- Clean. Make sure your entire home is spotless. I’m talking “toothbrush” clean in the kitchen & bathrooms — every corner & crevice should sparkle. Got a stubborn shower stain? Read my article on how to get it clean and keep it clean. Hire a professional cleaning service if you need help and pay attention to the details like cleaning blinds, fans & baseboards. Have the windows professional washed inside & out, and if your home is natually dark, consider removing blinds & curtains completely while it’s on the market to let the most light in. Powerwashing the outside of your home is also worth the money.
- Add a special touch. Paint a picture for buyers of how much fun it is to live in your home and appeal to their 5 senses by creating little vignettes that make rooms look like you were there just moments ago, lounging or enjoying the space right before they walked in. In the rooms used for relaxation like the living room and master bedroom, cozy up a space with something buyers want to taste and touch, like a breakfast tray with a danish and cup of tea on it, or an open book that’s turned face down on a coffee table, edge of the bed, or nightstand. Toss fluffy pillows and a down throw on a bed so buyers yearn to dive in and snuggle up for a nap. Add fresh flowers for buyers to smell in any space. Show off a gourmet kitchen by making it look like you were just there baking homemade goodies — toss flour on the counter, and set a rolling pin beside a rolled out pie crust or slab of cookie dough that’s half cut-out. Leave a plate of cookies and some cider on a counter with a note to buyers that reads, “Welcome Home!” In smaller eat-in kitchens or sunrooms, a cup of coffee next to a folded newspaper evokes a picture of quiet mornings. For playrooms, set up a board game or pause the Wii and drop two controllers where buyers might be tempted to play a round. Liven up a space with music — we don’t want noise and chaos, just a little soft background music; try soft spa music near an entryway or in a master bathroom suite, and something more upbeat and festive for an outdoor patio where grilling and parties take place. In a sunroom, deck or patio area, set out a pitcher of margaritas, lemonade or iced tea on a table, or set a tub of iced beers next to a grill. It’ll make your home seem like a cozy place to relax and have fun and will get buyers’ juices flowing thinking of all the down time they can have because your home is move-in ready!
With just a little cash and a lot of elbow grease, you can help your home stand out and create a space that buyers can’t wait to move into!