Your home is your castle, but putting it on the market requires a paradigm shift: it is now a commodity to be sold. And, it is going to be in competition with others on the market. You must begin the process of detaching which includes depersonalizing and viewing it as objectively as possible. Taking the time and energy to stage your home will usually help it sell quicker and for more money.
Your goals for staging need to include eliminating clutter and personal effects. Scrub, polish and clean until every room shines and there are no pet or other odors. Reduce furniture and strategically place select pieces for showing. And, finally decorate with just a few carefully chosen accessories to add the warmth of a welcoming home.
Here are some tips to help guide you in the staging process in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms.
Staging a Kitchen
Your kitchen will be one of the main focal points for potential buyers. It is worth the time and effort to make sure it is sparkling clean, fresh and as updated as your time and budget allow. A lot can be done without much expense and just some thoughtful planning and elbow grease.
- One of the least expensive upgrades with a big bang for your buck is a clean coat of paint on the walls. Consider neutral colors that will appeal to the largest swath of potential buyers. This same tip applies to all rooms of the home.
- Cabinets need to be spotless and organized with minimal items. If the doors are showing their age, consider painting the cabinet doors. Replace knobs if needed. Cabinet doors can also be replaced instead if your budget permits.
- Remove everything that causes clutter. Countertop canisters or small appliances minimize work surfaces. Better to pack all but a few strategically placed kitchen items. The kitchen should feel open with a clean, polished look. Remove refrigerator magnets and other trinkets. Decorate with a few pretty objects like a vase of flowers or fruit bowl. You can label and neatly stack boxes of things you need to store for moving in the garage.
- Deep clean all appliances, including the handles, knobs and all surfaces. Make sure all glass, stovetop, countertops, backsplashes, walls and floors shine. Check the inside of the oven and microwave – they should sparkle.
- Deep clean the refrigerator. Empty and wash all drawers and shelves. Then downsize extraneous and nearly empty jars of ketchup or leftovers. Organize remaining food items. It should glisten inside and out – with no odors. If the freezer is packed full it could look like there’s not enough room in it. Have some friends over and use up some of that frozen food ahead of time.
- Remove and pack most items in cupboards, drawers and the pantry. If you have mismatched dishes or bulging drawers of plastic containers, consider packing them away. Organize what is left to be neat and tidy. This will help demonstrate the available storage space and look the most appealing.
- Set your dining room table with an attractive, matching set of dinnerware. Finish off the look with a pretty centerpiece to create a warm and inviting look.
- Empty junk drawers. No one wants to open a drawer to find your collection of condiment sacks, pens, batteries, chip clips and other miscellanea. (They will open the drawers)
- Hide pet dishes. Some people don’t like animals in the house and could be turned off by those.
- Make sure trash cans are emptied to eliminate odors and stored out of sight if possible.
- Boil a few bags of cinnamon tea or use a very light air freshener – no strong odors before the showing. The house should be so clean that any pet or other odors were already eliminated.
Staging a Living Room
- Remove most of the furniture so that the room looks airy and spacious. Declutter piles of magazines, books, or other small items. If there are pieces of furniture you don’t want to move, this is a great time to donate or otherwise dispose of them.
- Make sure you have good lighting. Open blinds and play up available natural light. Assure windows are clean inside and out! If the open blinds expose a view outside you’d rather not highlight, use a sheer drape that still allows in as much natural light as possible. Place lamps with the appropriate bulbs for the mood of your room to lighten dim corners and give a warm appeal. There should be at least three sources of light in each room.
- Collect and store miscellaneous items such as remote controls and children’s or pet toys.
- Spruce up sofas and chairs with a few new color coordinated pillows.
- Remove any personal items such as family photos. You want your potential buyers to imagine this as their home, not to feel like guests in yours.
Staging a Bathroom
- Remove all personal items from bathroom cabinets and drawers. Leave no medicines, razors or other personal toiletries. Place a new set of soap and lotion on the sink area. A couple of small new containers of toiletries may be staged in a drawer as a representation of what would be there. Store your own items in baskets or containers in bottom cabinets where you can access them. Or during showings, slide them under a bed or hide them in a closet. This is just short-term and is worth the hassle to present the bathroom as polished, clean, tastefully and minimally decorated.
- Deep clean the entire bathroom. Assure that rust or lime stains are removed. Clean glass shower doors, replace shower curtains if needed. White terry cloth or cotton textured shower curtains are a nice step up from plastic. Make sure there are no mold or stains on the tile grout. Re-caulk if needed around the walls and tub.
- Remove any books, magazines and other clutter. Decorate with real or realistic-looking plants. Add a few tasteful items that resemble a luxury hotel or spa such as a small basket with a few bars of specialty soaps and a loofah.
- Buy a new set of fluffy matching towels and fold / hang neatly as appropriate. Keep this set of towels just for showing and store them away from use between showings. Update the towel racks if needed.
- Remove the bathroom cleaning products. Empty the trash bin and remove it. Fold a full roll of toilet paper like is done in hotels. Close the toilet seat cover. Hide additional rolls of toilet paper and the toilet brush. Remember that showing is to portray a certain look which isn’t really lived in.
- If the toilet seat is worn, replace it. Fix any water leaks. Clean the vanity cabinet around the pipes.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting which might be as simple as upgrading light bulbs to a higher watt.
- If you are up for a few DIY projects, consider changing out builder grade handles with new ones. Paint a worn vanity with high gloss paint.
Staging a Bedroom
Your bedrooms need to look move-in-ready to a potential buyer, utilizing the space to show them what they might do with their own furnishings. There are several tips to help achieve this.
- Remove all personal items like photos. Think of your bedroom more like a hotel from the buyer’s point of view. If you paint, use neutral colors. Decorate the room with a few tasteful non-personal pictures and other items.
- Remove jewelry and any other valuables that could potentially be at risk of theft or loss. You will have strangers in your home. Even with best intentions by Realtors, there are people with unscrupulous intentions. This also applies to documents that might pose a threat for identity theft. Don’t leave mail, bank statements, passports, or other items around where they could be taken or photographed on a cell phone camera.
- If your bed just barely fits in the room, consider buying a smaller mattress or a bedframe with an air mattress for the showing. If your comforter set is not in excellent condition, it could be worth replacing it. The room should look as pristine as possible.
- Closets can sell a home. It is important that you organize your closets and make them as tidy and spacious as possible. This is a good time to empty closets and purge items not needed or used in a long time. Only display a few nice outfits.
- Make sure there are no odors in the closet.
- Closet organizers are a great option and can be purchased at differing price points. They help with small spaces to bring a sophisticated, organized look.
Once your house is staged, make a cheat sheet – a list you can refer to when you have a showing scheduled. Write each thing you need to do at the last minute. For example, take out the trash, pick up the pet food and water bowls, etc.
Finally, knowing that you are prepared the best you can, you can leave for the showings with peace of mind. Let the potential buyers take in all of your nicely staged home as they consider making it theirs.
Pauline is the public relations and marketing director for Consumer Home Value. When she’s not busy with the blog, she enjoys photography, missions work, international travel, outdoor adventures and helping people around the world. Follow her on social media for interesting content on all the things she loves.