When staging a home, the goal is for your home to no longer look as if it belongs to you. The intent is to make it so potential buyers can see themselves living in it, not the current owners. It can cost from a couple of hundred dollars to five thousand dollars or more, and it can have a big impact on the price your house sells for. Besides this article, be sure to also read our extensive article on selling your home.
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How to stage a home for sale
Staging a home for sale involves going through all the different part of your home, and making sure they are looking their best, in a way that helps a potential buyer see themselves living in the space. It not only means that you will need to de-personalize everything, it also means that you need to get rid of the clutter that has been lying around, that you simply did not get around to fixing.
Clutter can really play a huge role in selling your home, that is you need to make sure that clutter is not a problem. It should be one of the main things you work on getting right from the get go. It not only involves making sure there is no mess, but it also means that you should properly organize all the different aspects of your house.
This includes looking inside the storage closets and making sure that everything is well arranged, so that when the potential buyer opens it, he or she will get a good impression.
In order to increase the visual appearance of the space, it’s important that you do not stuff unnecessary things in there as it will make the space seem smaller than it actually is. Getting rid of excess items will easily help make the space look bigger.
That also means that you need to be careful when choosing furniture, as some of it may end up taking up more space than you wish, and a potential buyer may be turned off by this. This includes stuffing tables or beds in rooms, that simply do not have the space for them.
What you need to keep in mind is that all the objects that don’t help sell the house, do the opposite. While going through the house, pack the things that you may not sincerely need to have out. Each room inside your house needs to be de-cluttered to look its best. De-cluttering really makes a difference.
Be careful when choosing the colors in your home, and make sure that none of them clash, or it can off as being overwhelming for a buyer. It is generally recommended that you use neutral, modern colors that appeal to a broad spectrum of people.
To get some inspiration on the color scheme you can use, read Kylie’s blog post.
Generally, you should try avoiding pink, red, purple and neon shades in the process, as they simply may not appeal to a large range of buyers, even if you think that they’re great colors for your home.
You might think that it makes sense to push furniture up against the wall to free up space, but even if you might have the impression that it frees up space, it’s better to make furniture groupings. A home that has been staged well will increase the value by 6-10%. Meaning, if you’re selling a $300,000 house, that is an increase between $18k to $30k.
If you have very bulky furniture, you may want to consider to rent furniture that is less so.
The lighting that you choose to use in your home can strategically highlight those areas that you are especially proud of, and tone down the ones that you may not appreciate quite as much. Choose a type of lighting that complements your home, and consider rustic lighting if you think it complements your home, like Edison light bulbs, as these are very popular currently.
Most homeowners don’t use enough lighting when they’re trying to sell their home. Using the rule of 3 can make your house seem more inviting, meaning you should have three different sources of light in each room.
Besides adding additional light sources, you should also consider the wattage of the bulbs in the ones you’re actually using to ensure they’re creating the atmosphere you desire. Make sure that the windows have recently been cleaned as this may have a surprising effect on the amount of sun light that you are letting in. This includes both cleaning the inside and the outside.
While this may seem as repetition, making your home more neutral will also ensure more people find it appealing. Use a color palette that will be appealing all year round. It might seem obvious, but if you’re in the middle of a major holiday such as Christmas, it could end up affecting your choice of colors and make it less able to sell your home.
No matter if you have carpet or wooden floors at home, chances are there are marks from the wear and tear of having people going in and out, and if your carpet is severely needing it, consider having a new one installed. If your wooden floors have a lot of marks, get them refinished. Alternatively, the buyer will often draw attention to this and let it reflect in the offer they choose to give you on the house.
If you are unsure how to stage your home, there is also the option of “virtually” staging rooms for photos online. Doing it this way may cost a couple of hundred dollars on average. This involves emptying a room, and sending the picture to a home staging business who use software to place furniture in it.
As you look over these tips, remember that the general idea is that you are attempting to turn your home into a hotel like experience. What this means is that your home should look nice, but it should look impersonal so everyone who walks in can feel at home. Keep this goal in mind when you want to sell your home. Select items that will appeal to the greatest audience, not necessarily ones that appeal to your own specific interests.
General Home Staging Tips
- Keep it Clean: First and foremost, your home should be spotlessly clean in all areas. For those who are not able to devote the necessary time to get a sparkling clean house the best idea is to hire professionals to do this for you. Homes should never be messy inside or out.
- Reduce Clutter: In addition to your home being clean you also must ensure there is no clutter anywhere in the home. Take the time to box up and remove everything that is cluttering your home. You don’t have to throw these items away, you can simple put it in storage while you are showing your home.
- Go minimalist: Live by the phrase “less is more”. Have the proper amount of furniture for the space in your room. Often we put more in a room than the space can really support. Try to get down to the minimal amount of furniture to make a room look lived in and occupied.
- Give some space: Often it can make the room look more upscale if you keep furniture away from the walls. When placing your furniture try to make the traffic flow obvious. By making this traffic flow obvious you make it easy for potential buyers to understand the layout of the home.
- Use what you have: To save some costs you can also move furniture between different rooms to get the best out of it. An orphan table in a living room can easily become a bedside table with no cost.
- Light it up: Proper lighting is important to make your home look it’s best. It’s always best to have 100 watts of lighting for each 50 square feet. In addition to overall lighting you should address the three types of lighting, ambient, task, and accent. As always use as much natural light as possible
- Match Colors: To make your home seem a little larger consider painting adjacent rooms the same color. This will make both of the rooms seem larger than they are by taking out a visual break between the two spaces.
- Stay Neutral: Boldly colored rooms are a great way to express individuality. This is not the goal when you are trying to sell your home. You should repaint boldly colored rooms a more neutral color to be inviting to the largest audience.
- Accentuate the positive: While your rooms should be in a mostly neutral tone. Don’t be afraid to use a contrasting color for design elements like built in bookshelves or other elements. This will give your room a bit of an interesting look.
- Select Art Carefully: When you are deciding on the art to display in your home keep the art tactful, minimal and relatively neutral. The goal for the art that you choose should liven up a space, not dominate it. So take the time to consider if the picture you want to hang will appeal to all the prospective buyers.
- Be Odd: Odd numbered groups are more pleasing to the eye. So as you are placing out small items to finish off a space keep them in odd numbered groups such as 8 or 10.
- One size doesn’t fit all: Vary sizes to keep it visually appealing. Groups of items that are the same height can look overly formal or forced.
- Go Green: Even if you aren’t much of a nature person, bringing in some greenery will help soften your room and make it much more appealing. So consider a few well-placed plants to bring a more natural feel to each room.
- Fix it Up: Your home has to be in the best shape you can make it. This means that you have to fix everything that you have been putting off. Buyers see damages and ask for price reductions. So repair walls, and any damages that could bring down the price of the home.
- Stack the Deck: As you are staging your home, don’t forget the deck. Give your potential buyers a visual of what they can do on your deck by placing new patio furniture out.
- Moving furniture can be a lot of work. Save yourself time and energy by planning furniture arrangements out on paper or with tape before moving any furniture. This can save a lot of effort in the end.
- Be Purposeful: Try to show the purpose of the room, this will give buyers a sense of what a room can be used for. Everything question that you can answer for a potential buyer will help them make a decision to buy your home.
- No empties: Avoid empty awkward spaces by using small desks or other elements to fill awkward spaces. Balance this goal against not wanting the home to look cluttered with too much furniture.
- Smell matters: Buyers don’t want to know that you smoke a cigar, and have 10 cats. This means that you have to get rid of bad odors from your pets, smoking, and even strong food scents are something you should avoid. Remove the sources of the odors, and use a light scented room deodorizer, nothing strong smelling.
- Visible Numbers: It may seem like a small or unimportant detail, but make sure house numbers are readable. This is actually one of the first things that your buyers will be specifically looking for. Scrape off old, faded, or partially missing numbers and replace them. This applies to both the numbers on your mailbox, and on the front of your home.
- Be clean: The outside of your home deserves some attention as well. Clean up the outside and remove yard debris. Piles of old vegetation and other types of debris have to be taken off to the dump. You can spruce your yard up by putting in some flowering plants.
- Use the Door: Another first thing that your potential buyers will see is the front door. A new coat of paint on the front door makes people want to come in. This is something that you can take a bit of a risk on and paint the door a contrasting color.
- Prep the Yard: Ensure that your yard looks the best. Mow and edge the lawn, trim shrubs. Investing in some sod may be worth it and can help when staging a home for sale.
- Curb Appeal: The outside of your home can turn away potential buyers. If the paint is old and faded, consider taking the time to repaint. Also ensure that you repaint or freshen up the stain on any privacy fencing on the property to improve its curb appeal.
- Wash the siding: If the paint on your home is fresh enough, wash the exterior of the house. Remove any mold or mildew on siding, only power wash if you are sure your paint or siding can hold up to the water pressure without breaking or chipping.
- The centerpiece for most livings rooms is the fireplace. Over time the brickwork of your fireplace can begin to look dated or overly worn. If you have passed the point where the amount of age patina and wear on your bricks fit your room it is time to take action. Painting over the brick can make your fireplace instantly from an old and worn out reminder of the age of the house into a vibrant visual centerpiece.
- The hardware for your fireplace, if you have one, should be functional. The interior should be cleaned of ashes if it is a wood burning fireplace. Gas fireplaces should be cleaned and dusted as well, make sure it lights easily if they wish to try. Potential buyers who can’t light the fireplace will be put off.
- Take a look at your fireplace and if the screen doesn’t fit with the staging decor purchase or borrow a new one. The fireplace screen should fit in with and compliment the rest of the decor for your living room.
- Remember your floors have to look their best. Hardwood floors should be swept, mopped, and the coating fresh as possible. Carpets should be professionally cleaned, free of damage or stains, and ready for people. While they may dislike the color, it leaves a bad impression if it is stained and damaged.
- If there are spaces that are more worn than others the strategic placement of a throw rug for hardwood, or furniture for carpets, can sometimes keep your living room looking the best.
- You may be surprised, but you can often give your living room a bit of style simply with new throw pillows. These can be used to accent areas, or contrast with a neutral color scheme to give your room a bit of visual interest.
- Shelves should find a happy medium between empty and overstocked. Your bookshelves shouldn’t have more books than the shelf can hold in a single row. Shelves devoted to knick knacks should have a few artfully placed pieces. If you can’t see the back of the cabinet, you have gone too far. Books should also not be provocative or distracting to the casual observer. Torn spines and racy books aren’t the best option to make potential buyers feel at home.
- The walls in your living room need to be damage free. Take the time to fill old nail holes, take off scuff marks, repair any dents. Be prepared for the possibility that you will need to repaint the room when you do this. Most home improvement stores will match paint colors from your current walls. Simply bring in a chip about the size of a dime and they will make up paint to exactly match the color of your wall.
- While it might seem a little odd, most decorators suggest removing family pictures from the room. You want the people who visit your home to spend time imagining themselves in your home, not comparing themselves to pictures of your own family. Replace these pieces with small pieces of art, especially on walls.
- Never forget a small touch of the season, if you are showing your home around the holidays a few tasteful decorations make a home feel lived in. This doesn’t mean to cover your walls in decorations and put out the whole million dollar light display. Restrain the impulse to decorate normally, but do place a few decorations to complement your home through the holidays.
Use these tips to make your living room appear bigger than it actually is.
The kitchen is a place most potential buyers will have high on their list to look at. If your kitchen isn’t updated, staging can be best option to show it in the best possible way to get the most out of your home. Doing this is something that can help your overall goal of getting the best offer on your home. It involves making your kitchen look attractive to buyers, which is not the same as making it look attractive to you alone. As you re-arrange your kitchen keep in mind that you are trying to avoid over personalizing the space.
- Your cabinetry is one of the biggest visual elements in your kitchen. If you have the budget you can upgrade the look of your kitchen by buying new doors. This is a cost effective way to make an upgrade without a lot of construction. If new doors are beyond your reach, a thorough cleaning and repainting might be just as good. Ensure to strip the doors down completely to ensure there is no remaining grease. You would be surprised to find out the effect it will have to simply have the cabinets repainted.
- This same thought applies to your appliances. If you don’t have the budget to replace them, or are going to be moving them into your next home, they need to look their best. Manufacturers can often provide replacement panels for appliances, this will take care of any dents or scratches that could be distracting to your buyers. If you can’t locate a replacement panel, and it is not stainless steel, a good high quality appliance paint can be the choice of last resort.
- Every appliance must have a complete detail cleaning whether remaining with the property or not. There is no bigger turn off in a kitchen than to open an oven and be met with the charred remains of a thousand pot pies. Always double check this right before your open house days, ensure there is no lingering odor of cleaning chemicals or food in the appliances.
- Another good way to make your kitchen more up to date or at least more attractive is to replace the handles on your cabinetry. This is not always as low cost as it sounds, but selecting higher end hardware can make the kitchen look very different.
- A dated looking sink can also be an easily handled issue. The faucet and taps can be changed out for newer options. This rarely requires a plumber and the replacement of the faucet and handles is usually within the capabilities of most home owners.
- An empty table can make a room feel artificial and cold. Set out plates and silverware as if you were about to have dinner. All of the plates should match, as should glassware and silverware. Don’t forget to also include a nice centerpiece to complete the scene.
- Your countertops need to have minimal appliances on them. It is a good practice to keep the standard and normal appliances to make the kitchen look useful. This shouldn’t be much more than a coffee pot, a toaster and possibly a mixer. The appliances must be new looking or in a good state of repair, and scrupulously clean in order to be displayed. Your countertops shouldn’t look cluttered and overburdened with gadgets.
- Just as you can do something about the dinner table, you should also revisit your cabinets. You should leave only one set of your best looking dishes in cupboards.
- To set off your clean refrigerator make sure to have matching, nice looking containers in your refrigerator. Any food in your refrigerator should be fresh and unopened on the days you are showing your property.
- Clean every drawer and leave only a few matched utensils to show a drawer’s purpose. No prospective buyer wants to open “junk drawers” filled with the odds and ends that accumulate over the years you have lived in your home.
- Make sure there are no odors that would annoy a buyer.
Staging your bedroom for potential buyers doesn’t have to be a chore. Your bedroom does need to look as good as possible on the days of your open house. Potential buyers should walk into your bedroom and be able to feel as if they could move in tomorrow. Your efforts should be to make a space that is both comfortable, inviting, and not overly personalized. The space shouldn’t be decorated to your own personal likes and dislikes, but those of the wider buying public.
A bedroom is one of those rooms that without furniture is normally just a box. You can take this empty box and give someone looking at your home a good idea of what they could do with the space. The idea is to give them the way the room could be used, without putting so much furniture in that it seems small and cramped. Re-arrange the room, and have friends look at it and give their opinion. Also your realtor is a good person to ask for their review of your efforts.
- The biggest thing in your bedroom is likely the bed. However, this doesn’t mean it should have the biggest bed you can find in it. Do your bedroom a favor and put a mattress in that is one size smaller than what you normally use. If you have a king size bed that takes up all the space in the room, drop it down to a size that makes the room appear larger. If you can’t afford a new bed purchase a frame and air mattress, or a full height air mattress. Put new bedding on this endeavor and you have now made your bedroom look larger than it did before.
- Family photo’s, vacation photo’s and other personal pictures should be removed. These can distract your buyers and remind them it is your home and not theirs. Don’t leave these spaces empty though, use tasteful artwork to occupy where your pictures currently are.
- Avoid pieces of religious art in your bedroom. While it may be important to you, if your potential buyers don’t share your faith you may give them an unconscious aversion to the space. Keep all art as non provocative as possible. Look at each item not as something you may or may not like, but how a potential buyer might see it.
- Your master bedroom decor should be fairly gender neutral. Even if your and your spouse have decided the room could be one or the other this isn’t the best choice for your open house. Redo your bedroom to not be either overly masculine, or overly feminine. It should appeal to both sexes to get you the best level of interest.
- Give up grandma’s family quilt. Your bed needs a new comforter, new pillow cases, and a couple of new throw pillows to set off the whole space. Curtains need to not be old and faded. Carpets need to be clean and as stain free as possible. Hardwood floors need to be freshly mopped and clean.
- Remove all personal and sentimental objects from shelves, drawers, or other places people may be near. The fact that strangers are in your home should never be forgotten. All valuables need to be removed and placed in safe locations. Don’t forget to also remove anything that might be able to be used for identity theft, mothers names, birth dates, calendars with all of these types of information.
- First and foremost your bathroom must be very clean. It should ideally be cleaner than when you moved in. Every nook and cranny must be cleaned to the best of your ability. Soap, scale, and rust must all be removed. Mold or mildew must be taken care of. Clean inside drawers and cabinets as well to make sure there is nothing that could turn a potential buyer away.
- All medications and similar items should be removed from cabinets and drawers. There should be nothing of interest to anyone who opens a drawer or a cabinet. Creams and tubes of over the counter type medication should be removed as well prior to showing your home. Leave only one or two small items in a drawer to give it a sense of purpose.
- Purchase a bathroom set. Having a coordinated set of bathroom items gives your bathroom a sense of style and helps to make it appeal to those looking inside.
- The door to your shower, if there is one, must be free of soap and hard water deposits. This is occasionally not as easy as it sounds, and depending on the age of your door may require removing the glass to be treated with special chemical solvents.
- Old dated tile can be repainted to bring your home into the modern era. This should be done carefully and with high quality paint to avoid making your bathroom just appear to have been haphazardly painted, making it look even worse.
- Small bathrooms can often benefit by changing to a pedestal sink if it is something that you can afford. This option is only really a good one if your flooring extends under your cabinetry. If you or a previous owner tiled around the cabinet, you will be left with mismatched tile that will only ruin any benefit to pursuing a new sink.
- Don’t have a bathroom with a whole bunch of shampoo and conditioner bottles sitting in your shower area. A single shampoo/conditioner set is all that should be in your shower, if any at all are placed there, and remove cleaning products from the bathroom.
- Your shower door must open and close easily. The track needs to be clean and the doors must roll back and forth without a lot of effort involved. Your potential buyers will have an instant bad impression if they are not able to open the door. Leave the door open so they can easily see inside of your shower area.
- Make sure you buy a new set of towels if you have a towel closet in your bathroom. These should be neatly folded and placed in the correct areas to show the purpose of the cabinet. Also they should match the color scheme of the rest of the new bathroom items that you purchased to stage the bathroom.
- Remove and replace any worn items in the bathroom. Towel rods, Shower curtains, robe hooks, all of these should be replaced if they have become in any way worn or corroded due to the humidity in your bathroom.
The closets in your bedroom are an important aspect to making a potential buyer want to put an offer in on your home. If your home is older the closets are probably relatively small. Newer homes come with larger closets, which need to be staged differently. The size of your closet will decide on how best to best prepare it for a sale. Many buyers will pass on a home if they aren’t able to picture their clothes fitting in a closet. This means that your efforts should be towards maximizing the utility of a closet space. These tips are focused on making your closet appear as large as possible to potential buyers.
It can be difficult to get rid of things in your closet. Parting with clothes can often be a daunting task. If you have time a decluttering trick is to turn all of the hangars in one direction. As you wear clothes replace them in the opposite direction. Anything remaining in the same direction at the end of your test period should be donated or put into storage. This trick works well for an initial purge of your closet. You should purchase a few tasteful outfits and use these.
- The size of a closet is one of the main considerations. Make sure you remove almost everything in the closet. A closet stuffed full of clothes looks small and cramped, which is not how you want your closet to look. Remove all but one or two outfits, and a pair of shoes. Enough to show it can fit some clothes in it, but without enough that it overwhelms the space.
- The clothes that you pick should be new, in good repair and good quality. Old shoes and clothes that are dated need to go to storage until you get into your new home.
- A small closet can be the perfect spot for a custom closet organizer. A closet organizer makes the best use of the vertical space in your closet by adding drawers or shelves. This can be as simple as a few hundred dollars or more into a thousand or more.
- The closet is also a place that may have an old musty smell. Old shoes and clothes can turn your closet into something not very appealing. Our noses can become “blind” to familiar scents after awhile. Consider asking a friend to come over and give a quick test to be sure it’s got the inviting scent you hope for.
If you are selling your home due to marital problems, you want to make sure it isn’t obvious from the closet, as it might lower the bid you get on the house.
The entryway of your home is one of the first things a buyer sees in your home. Taking the time to use our entryway tips to turn your entryway into a welcoming and inviting area will draw potential buyers into your home. Entryways come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and it is impossible to address each potential area in specifics. The entryway of your home should be decorated to appeal to as many people as possible. Your entryway is only the first step to ensuring your home is looking perfect.
- The first thing to address is the rug inside your entryway. The rug you place should be new, and fit into the design of the rest of your home. Find a solid color, or simple patterned rug to replace what you may have at your door currently. Remember, when you make design choices that you are trying to appeal to as many buyers as possible, not your own personal tastes.
- Some homes are made without closets, or have extremely small closets by the entrance. If you don’t have anywhere for coats to be hung, purchase a coat rack or something else that you can hang up coats on. This will make sure your buyers don’t stand right inside the door asking themselves what to do with their coats.
- Outside of the front door should be someplace that you make sure to spruce up as well. Make sure to get a new doormat that fits in with how you stage the rest of your house. Avoid overly “cute” welcome mats, or ones that don’t make your buyers take your home seriously.
- A small table beside the door is another good addition to your entryway. A small flower arrangement makes the entryway feel more welcoming. The table should be just large enough for the flower arrangement and possible some keys. For smaller entryways consider a corner table. This can sometimes work out best as you use what is normally dead space.
- The first task is to make sure that if you use your basement for storage that everything is put into a different location. Rent a storage facility and move everything out of the basement. Piles of boxes and old furniture turns your bedroom into a cramped and small looking area. You want buyers to imagine what they can do with the space, not wonder how you fit all of your things into it.
- Your downstairs can accumulate wall drawings, or drawings from your children. Depending on the basement this may be the main way the walls are decorated. All of this must come down and be covered up. Take pictures of any children’s artwork for posterity.
- You can never go wrong with a fresh coat of paint on your basement walls. While you should still stay in the neutral tones, you should also avoid darker colors.
- Basements are often a clammy environment. As they are below ground moisture works its way through the concrete and your basement ends up having more moisture than is usually comfortable. This situation needs to be addressed as part of your basement staging efforts. Also make sure that if your basement has a sump pump that it is fully operational and no standing water is a distraction on open house day.
- Cleaning your basement comes with some special considerations. It is likely the only room in your home with an open ceiling, allowing a view of the joists. Take the time in your cleaning efforts to ensure you address layers of dust and cobwebs that have likely accumulated in your floor joists.
- Due to the moisture issues pointed out above, your basement can often have a musty smell.The day before your open house use some fans and air out your basement. Also put an air freshener in the space, nothing overly strong though.
- The floors in your basement need some attention probably. Either they are bare concrete, or the paint may have worn through from moving boxes around over the years. A fresh coat of paint or other basement flooring option can freshen up the place and make it much more desirable.
- While you should remove almost everything from a cluttered basement, you should leave enough to show what the space can be used for. If you have a pool table, or an entertainment area leave it. This can turn an empty box into a welcoming and fun addition to your home.
Should you get a professional home stager?
As mentioned, properly done staging will increase the value of your property by 6-10%, and if you have a high-end property, you should look into the cost that would be included in staging vs. the increased value in doing so. If you’re looking to sell your home fast may also expedite the process. It generally makes more sense to stage a high-end home, simply since the 6-10% increase will justify the additional investment.
There are reports that show the actual effects of staging in terms of the amount of time a home is on the market as a consequence. Homes that were staged before listing them averaged 23 days before they were sold. Use this calculator to see how much you save by staging your home, when you take into consideration the size of your mortgage and other carrying costs.
It’s important to remember that home stagers don’t just make your house look its best – they have worked on loads and loads of houses prior to yours, and they have a trained eye and ability to showcase it the way that best makes sense.
If you still need convincing that you in fact need to go through with this, here are 10 reasons to either DIY or have it done profesionally.