May 2, 2013

May 2: Educate

Today's prompt:  Educate us on something you know a lot about

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not professional home stager.  But thanks to my HGTV obsessions and maybe a bit of a natural knack for knowing how to make things pretty, it's something I've found out that I have a bit of a talent for. 

Basically, I have a crush on Sabrina Soto and I think she and I should be BFF's.

Also, I just think home staging is super fun.  I'm not sure if that makes me weird, but I'm all about making things pretty.

Though our plans changed and we ended up staying in our house (thanks to the awesome buyers who were gracious enough to let us terminate the contract), our home sold in two days.  I don't think it was solely my home-staging abilities, though I'm sure it helped some. 
Recently, a friend asked me to come over and help her stage her house to put on the market.  We went room by room and I gave her a few tips and ideas for rearranging and what to change in each space.  They even recommended me to their realtor and think I should start a staging business - though I don't know if I'm ready for that kind of undertaking.

All that to say, I thought I would share a few of my home-staging tips today since I seem to somehow know a lot about this.

In no particular order:

Make every room look as big as you can.  Put a lot of thought into how you place your furniture.  Remove pieces or downsize to something smaller if you are working with a smaller space.

Use each room for what it was intended to be.  Take your offices out of your kitchens or dining rooms.  Set up bedrooms as bedrooms instead of storage rooms or even playrooms.  A simple guest bedroom will show much better than a room only full of toys.  You can put your children's toys into bins and keep them in closet for showings and put the rest into storage. If you have a large master bedroom like me, create a sitting area or an office space.  (I tore down my craft-making area - so sad).
Don't sweat the garage.  It's a garage.  I don't care what anyone else says - if you're planning on putting your home on the market, you're still living in the space AND you are trying to declutter and stage your home, you will need that garage to store boxes and all the extra stuff you are taking out.  Again, it's a garage.  No one will decide NOT to buy your house because your garage was too full of stuff.

Clear the clutter everywhere.  Less is more.

A fresh coat of paint is always a good idea.  The small white counter that separated our kitchen and living rooms was kind of dingy and gross.  A fresh coat of white paint made it sparkle and look brand new.

Put placemats or a runner and some kind of arrangement on the dining room table.  Even a simple bowl of lemons or fresh flowers will do nicely.  If you're really ambitious, you could even set the table with a set of plates, pretty glasses and decorative napkins.
Empty your refrigerator of magnets, pictures and even your child's fabulous artwork. 

Clean out your cabinets and closets - buyers look in everything! 

Storage is key - even if you have to cram everything in to the cabinets and cupboards and closets that you have - stage them all!  Clear out what you can live without until your home sells.  Keep everything neat and organized so a buyer will be confident that all of their stuff will fit into those storage spaces just as neatly as yours!
Invest in some accessories if you don't have any.  A few candlesticks, large vases, some greenery, some simple artwork or mirrors for the wall, and a few throw pillows go a long way to make things pop and seem more appealing.  And work with what you have.  Repurpose things and move things around.  You have to put your personal preferences aside, and make your home both neutral and inviting.  The right accessories definitely help acheive that.

Get as much off of your kitchen counters as you can.  You want buyers envisioning how easy it will be to prepare dinner and roll out cookie dough and work on science projects on those counters.
Open the blinds and let in all that glorious natural light for showings.

Just say no to brass!  Even if you're home isn't that old, it makes any room look outdated.  If you have any brass fixtures of any kind (the cheap-looking yellow stuff) you can replace it with something new.  Or even better - spray paint it with an updated metallic color like brown, chrome, silver, copper, etc. and you'll save money.  Anything but brass is better! 

Touch up nail holes and paint on the walls.  The cleaner and crisper - the better!

The kitchen is the most important.  If you are going to invest any money on updates of any kind, the kitchen is where you should put that money.

Remove personal pictures on the walls.  Leaving a few things on shelves might be okay, but you don't want buyers looking at your family photos all over the walls of the home they are thinking of buying.  You want them to envision their family in this space.
Don't forget the pantry.  Give it a good cleaning and organizing.

Drawers, under the beds, and large totes or baskets make for great places to hide the things that you need but don't necessarily want out for showings. 

Put all of your bathroom things away.  Don't leave out your toothbrushes and moisturizers and hairspray.  Put those things in a box under the sink and away from immediate view.  Cotton balls or Q-tips in a decorative jar in addition to some greenery or candles and handsoap on top of your bathroom counters, should be all they see. 
Walk in closets - make them feel as big as possible.  Clear out the things you might ordinarily store in there.  Just the clothes, shoes and one or two big pieces on the shelf (like a piece of luggage or a couple of cowboy hats for example) would be all you want to display.  If you don't have walk-in closets, arrange your clothing and shoes as neatly as possible.  Clear out anything that isn't in season and pack away if you are working with an especially smaller closet. 

Curb appeal - spruce up the front of your house.  Fresh mulch, some potted plants or fresh flowers and a neatly mowed yard will work wonders.  If you've lived in your home for a long time you might think about having the home and sidewalks/driveway powerwashed.

And remember - these days, home staging is essential because it has become almost an expectation.  Definitely take the time to clean, declutter and arrange your home so that it is appealing to perspective buyers.  Remember, the goal is to get that house sold so you can get to your new place!

There may be a few things I left out, but there you have it.  Your home-staging expert (wanna-be) has spoken.  Happy staging and happy home-selling!


  1. I think you should definitely explore doing a little bit of staging work. Since you've got a job, it takes the pressure off having to get so much work that you might not enjoy it. But it would feed your creative side and allow you to use your talent to help other people. (Also, I think Genevieve Gorder and I should be BFFs, not because I have design talent in common with her, but because she is super-Midwestern and generally awesome.)

  2. MAN! You just listed off all the things our stager did!! Seriously, try it as a career, or even a side career, if you have the chance. The staging made our house look amazing! As you said, it's something that's expected these days so stagers will always be under demand... :)

  3. Beautiful home Jenn! But I know you'd make it beautiful wherever you lived. Great tutorial and insight on home staging!

  4. "... take the time to clean, declutter and arrange your home so that it is appealing to prospective buyers." Staging is really easy! It doesn't have to be costly, just keep everything in order and your house is good to go.

    -Calvin Mordarski