Staging Tips That Sell!
The Buyer's agent won’t have to say, “Picture this.” Buyers will see your home at its best. Staging your house can make you money.
Seventy-one percent of sellers’ agents believe a well-staged environment increases the dollar value buyers are willing to offer, according to the National Association of REALTORS® “2015 Profile of Home Staging.”
Neutral decor in a staged living room embraces symmetry when staging your home.
When placing anything from accent pillows and table lamps, go for symmetry, which
is pleasing to the buyer's eye.
Light it up with lamps. Chic lamps provide both added lighting and appealing decor.
Make that fireplace glow. Scrub away soot stains and replace the old screen.
If you’re using staging furniture or buying slipcovers, choose light colors for an airy
and inviting feel.
Other Living Room Essential Tips
Whatever amount of furniture you have in your living room, remove a few pieces to make the room feel spacious
Use bright, coordinated accessories like accent pillows and throw blankets for a chic splash of color
Help buyers imagine their life in your home by setting the scene. Display a board game or tea service on the coffee table, and arrange furniture in conversational groups
Let a slideshow of beautiful images play on your television like a screensaver
Staging the Living Room and Family Room
Staging the Exterior
Create curb appeal
Brighten up your porch or front entry way with fresh paint or stain and add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, preferably red, black, blue, or wood stain, so long as it complements the trim and doesn’t blend. Steer clear of unconventional colors like purple.
Power-wash the house exterior, walkway, steps, driveway, and porch until everything sparkles. Repair any damaged wood or shaky bannisters. If the front door is scuffed or dingy, paint it!
And don’t forget your outdoor living space. Stage your patio like a second living room, with fashionable furniture, accent pillows, an outdoor rug, and other patio-friendly decor.
Pro tip: This is another place that a small investment can go a long way. Get a hammock or bocce ball game or raised fire pit to show off how fun your yard can be.
Hang attractive house numbers that are legible from the road. Make that mailbox look clean and welcoming, or get a new one.
Buy a new doormat to welcome home buyers.
Make sure the locks, doorbell, and entryway lights function and are free of cobwebs and insects.
Plant lots of colorful blooms in attractive pots and planter beds. Trim back trees and shrubs from the approach to the front door and get that yard into shape with fresh sod (if needed). KEEP IT CUT! Dress up any imperfect planting area with color coordinated mulch.
Don't forget that decluttering applies to the exterior as well. Store yard equipment and children’s toys out of sight. Hide trash cans, recycle bins, and garden hoses.
Clear everything from counter tops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit
Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum
Freshen up and modernize those cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware
Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing? Give it the old college try or consider replacing with new models. The Real Estate Staging Association strongly recommends stainless steel. Tip: You can get the look of stainless for the cost of a cheap dinner with stainless films
Staging the Kitchen
Essential Kitchen Staging Tips from Kitchen and Bath Design Professional Wendy Johnson
Remove those fridge magnets and give the door and handles a good cleaning
Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes
Clean cabinet interiors, especially under the sink
Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make it look bigger. Store items in decorative baskets and display a few jars of fancy jam and other upscale condiments
Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight
Keep it clean and simple in the bedrooms
Go gender neutral in the master bedroom. Ditch those dainty, floral pillow shams or favorite team posters.
Pack up all but the clothes you’re not wearing this season to make you closets look larger. While you are in there, swamp out the old plastic mismatched hangers for a set of wooden ones to create a classy, boutique look.
Put jewelry and other valuables in a safe spot. Remove tvs or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize the space and create a serene setting
Consider giving extra bedrooms a new identity as a home office, sewing room, or another functions buyers find valuable.
Staging the Bedrooms
Home buyers want a dining room that is ready for entertaining. Set up your dining room as if you are getting ready for a dinner party. Make it appear as though there is about to be a nice dinner filled with food, company, and laughter. This does not need to be a full set up, but a few place settings, with plate, napkin, and a wine glass is enough to inspire a buyer’s imagination of the meals they may share in this area.
A bare table can make for a cold and uninviting atmosphere. Decorate your table with accessories, while trying to avoid singular, oversized pieces. Use small groupings of smaller pieces to create warmth.
Strike a balance between overly formal and too casual with an attractive runner and a few fun, decorative elements such as a small floral vase or short candle holders.
Let in as much natural light as you can to brighten the room, a dark dining room is not appealing. You want the room to be light and breezy rather than dark and gloomy. If you have outdated fixtures, these are easy to replace, and making some small updates can really increase the appeal of the room. Update any wallpaper with something lighter and more welcoming.
Finally, make sure your dining room has a good flow, and that people can move through it easily. This is one room where you don’t want passers-through to feel stuck. A spacious dining room that is easy to move about in is a major selling feature.
Staging the Dining Room
Staging the Bathrooms
Staging time means it’s de-griming time
Scrub and sanitize the walls, floor, shower door, virtually every surface that comes in contact with steam. Spend extra time scrubbing that tile grout and re-caulk around the tub if necessary if there is any chipping, peeling or discoloration. Fix leaky or running toilets and replace toilet seats. If your bathroom tile is dated, try paint instead of replacing it. Start with a high-adhesion primer and either epoxy or latex paint. Try vinegar to remove any hard water stains on fixtures.
Take a daring sniff of the drains. Odorous? Clean them out, and deodorize with baking soda, boiling water, or vinegar.
Remove clutter from the countertop, tub, and top of toilet and clean surfaces until they gleam. Pack up and hide all your personal products from medicine to razors. This depersonalizes the bathroom space and allows the potential home buyer to envision themselves relaxing in the tub.
Create a luxury spa look with a fancy soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, decorative baskets, candles, plants, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat.
Pro tip: Time for a new sink? Try a pedestal sink to optimize precious bathroom space
Pick up your paintbrush
It's time for a fresh coat of paint. If any rooms are painted in dark colors, repaint white or beige and paint adjacent rooms the same color to make the whole space feel larger. Make sure to patch nicks and holes in walls, and touch them up with paint.
Pro tip: According to a recent Zillow study, homes with blue bathrooms, including lighter shades of blue or periwinkle, sold for $5,440 more than expected, Zillow found. Kitchens with light blue-gray walls sold for $1,809 more than expected, and walls with cool, natural tones like soft oatmeal and pale gray also had top-performing listings.
Sorry, wood paneling, it’s time. Paint over paneling with a neutral color or to really cover your tracks, use wood filler between panels and paint over the entire thing. Make sure every switch plate and outlet cover matches and looks brand new. Wash the windows, inside and out and repair any holes or tears in screens.
Pro tip: If you have standard sized windows, most whole house screen replacements will cost less than $500 and is a small investment that will drive big returns. Check out our vendor page for details.
Replace those family portraits with interesting art placed strategically throughout the house. Avoid leaving dead space on walls.
Pro tip: Have a dark corner or hallway? Brighten it up with a decorative mirror.
Prepping the Walls and Windows
Consider it pre-packing for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them neatly in the garage or (preferably) a rented, off-site storage unit. Don’t forget to include memorabilia , family photos, diplomas, and the kids’ artwork in those decluttering bins.
Keep closets, basements, and attics as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space.
Transform underused areas of the house, such as the alcove under the stairs or the end of a hallway, into functional spots by adding a desk to create a mini office, or a chair and small bookshelf for a reading nook.
Swap dim lights for high-wattage bulbs.
Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap out any faulty or dingy hardware. Replace any damaged flooring.
Finally, do a deep (deep, deep) clean. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom before viewings.
Thin it out
Don't let your pet be the center of attention!
Most people love pets, but buyers don't want to be reminded of your pets. Scrub those pet stains on the carpets and rugs until totally gone or replace them if necessary. Try cleaning formulas made especially for pet odors. Pet odors soak into your best friend’s favorite things. Completely remove pet beds, blankets, toys, play structures, and food bowls. Also repair or remove any furniture that’s been scratched or gnawed on.
Use air fresheners that eliminate odors, rather than simply masking them. There’s nothing worse than the smell of artificial pine with kitty litter undertones.
Clean all pet “presents” from the yard. Keep indoor cat boxes immaculate and hidden away. Store food out of sight.When you leave the house for a viewing, take ALL of the family members along with you.
Pro tip: Make a pet hair sweep the last thing you do before you leave the house.
Don't Forget the Pets
On Showing Day
Last minute prep ideas to make a big impression
Add a seasonal touch. Simmer cinnamon sticks in the fall and set out fresh cut lilacs in the spring.
Tidy like you’ve never tidied before.
Avoid cooking any food for your own meals, but do bake some cookies or other baked goods to leave a welcoming aroma behind.
Take off! After all that staging work, you deserve a trip to the spa while potential home buyers are busy falling in love with your home.
Let the sun shine in, and turn on the lights. Open all blinds or curtains, and make sure the house is well lit.
When your house is meticulously organized, buyers will envision themselves living a stress-free life in your home.
Clean every inch of your house, and don't forget to make your windows and floors sparkle. If your carpet appears old and stained, think about replacing it. Also, make sure there are no offensive odors. Purchase an air-neutralizing spray that will help remove odors without creating an overwhelming masking odor. Clean homes sell!
Be sure potential buyers are comfortable when touring your home. If it's freezing outside, leave the heat on, and if it's summer, turn on the air conditioner.
Keep it ready to show
It may be a little inconvenient, but until you accept an offer, keep your home in tip-top shape at all times. What this means is that each room should have a clear purpose, nice flow and be clean and clutter-free. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves and their things in a room, and taking these steps will help ensure that.
For more information on staging, please check out these great resources: