10 Staging Tips for Your Home (“Stage Right”)

by Penny Carter, Nouveau’s Professional Staging Consultant
see before and after staging photos

Staging your home while you are still living in it can seem overwhelming at first, but doing it “right” can increase the perceived value, improve the chances of a quick sale and help YOU get a jump start on packing things up!

What is home staging? Staging is preparing your home for sale by removing clutter, depersonalizing it, and making it appear stylish and current. Think of the way model homes are set up: inviting, stylish, clutter-free, and lacking in family photos.

Why stage your home? Most people cannot envision their things or themselves in someone else’s home. Staging a home creatively offers potential buyers with a “sense” of a room and yet plants seeds of suggestions as to how they might see themselves living there and where they would place their furniture.

People form an opinion about a place within the first 30 seconds. That’s all the time you have to make the first impression count.

Here are the top 10 suggestions I offer to people when I work with them in staging their home:

1. ENHANCE YOUR CURB APPEAL: Nothing will make a prospective buyer drive right by a house more quickly than a cluttered yard, un-mowed lawn or shutters that are falling off. You need to entice buyers to come to the front door. Clean up the yard. Mow the lawn. Add rich, dark top soil and some color "spots" toward the entrance. Pay attention to the outside maintenance of your home. Spending $200 to enhance the curb appeal will pay off ten fold.

2. CREATE AN “OOOH” FACTOR: Ideally, your entrance should be dramatic and set the stage for the rest of the house. Making sure that colors are contemporary and fresh, the entrance is free of clutter, the scent of the house is pleasant, and, if you can see other rooms from the entrance, that the colors of the walls are complementary, creating a natural flow into the next room. Fresh flowers from the line of sight add a welcoming element.

3. USE NATURAL LIGHT WHEN YOU CAN: Many, if not most people are drawn to natural light. Natural light elevates mood, illuminates a room and can add a dramatic effect as the sun moves about and casts rays in different areas of the room. Open the drapes, pull up blinds and CLEAN THE WINDOWS! If you have a home that is natural light-challenged, consider purchasing some floor lamps that shine up toward the ceiling so that light can be reflected down.

4. PACK IT UP! You are going to move anyway, why not get a head start on packing? Take a look around. Pack up all personal items (photos, the vase your son made you in art class, the To Do list on the wall, etc.) THEN, take a look at what is simply “eye candy.” Pack these things up too. OR, better yet, make a box for donations. You can take the tax write off at the end of the year! Have someone come in and double check your work. You are often too close to the situation to do it well. ALSO - people will look in your closets. Pack up everything you know you won’t be wearing in the next 30 days. Then pack a bit more! Clear out one-third to one-half of the clothing from your closets. Make sure the closets are neat and tidy. Make sure the garage is tidy as well. You may need to use this as a storage location, but it can still be made orderly.

5. BASICS: Do the carpets need to be cleaned? Do you need to re-grout the bathroom or kitchen tile? Should you pull up the carpeting to expose the wood floors? (YES! - it’s a great selling point!) Does the house need to be professionally cleaned (windows too!)? Try to think about what you would look for if you were looking at your home to purchase.

6. ART: Hmmm. I wonder if I should leave the collection of “Dia de los muertos” dolls out. They ARE colorful! (NOT!) You may have spent many hours and many more dollars on unique art from many places. These are things that hold a great deal of meaning for you. But, these are not things that need to be vying for a buyer’s attention. And, after all, we are trying to sell a house, not an art collection. I almost always recommend most art - but not all - gets removed. I use larger pieces on walls, over fireplaces, in a large entry. But having multiple smaller pieces (on a wall or table) can be distracting. This is a general rule of thumb - and not always appropriate. ALSO - the strategic placement of mirrors can make a room look larger and reflect back light - if placed opposite or cornered to a window.

7. PLACEMENT OF FURNITURE: Appropriate furniture placement can be an art form. The key is to make sure the room appears balanced. There is not usually only one way to do this, but there is usually one way that looks and feels best. First of all, you need to pull out furniture that is extraneous, pieces that by their removal help to create more physical space and can make a small room feel larger. A few large pieces in a small room is better than multiple small pieces in a small room. They will also be easier to place.

8. GO GREEN (and red or pink or white….): Using live plants in a home adds a calming, nurturing element and looks great with any décor. If your furniture has an Asian feel to it, consider a large pot with bamboo. Use of fresh flowers in strategic places (entries, dining room tables, living room coffee tables, kitchen counters) brings a splash of color and creates a fresh feeling.

9. MAKING SCENTS: While it goes against common advice, I really hate it when people bake cookies at open houses. Number one, I’m usually on a diet, and it’s just too tempting. Number two - I simply think it everyone knows what you are trying to do. Serving cookies is okay, but I’d rather come into a home with a fresh scent - say, a light grapefruit candle, than the sweet smell of cookies baking. This may be just my bias. The REAL issue is making sure that no bad odors are present. Get rid of the cat and the cat box for the day. Get a new garbage can, if necessary. Make sure any carpet accidents don’t have a lingering aroma.


10. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! Whether it is a professional stager making suggestions about your home, décor or furniture placement, or a potential buyer making a comment on your choice of color in a particular room - Don’t take it personally! Your home is full of memories and life experiences - which you will always have and be able to cherish. But when your home is on the market, you need to stay focused on the end result: the sale!

One further note: The moment you put your house on the market, it helps to stop thinking of it as your house; think of it as now belonging to the next owner. This may help when determining whether to leave out Billy’s trophy collection or that set of antique beer steins.

For more information on professional staging, contact Penny Carter, Home Stage Consultants, “Helping You See Your Home Through the Eyes of Its Next Owner,” 503.310.7832

before and after staging photos