Maybe you’ve heard the term, but you aren’t sure exactly what it means – or how to do it. Home staging is putting the best possible “face” on your home in order to sell it for the best price — and as quickly as possible. Professional home stagers will do this for a fee – or you can tackle the job yourself. Here’s how:
Step One: Stand across the street from your house and really look at it. Pretend you are seeing the house for the first time. What do you notice? The first impression is a lasting impression, so you want your home to have ample curb appeal. If the flower beds need weeding, if the front steps need painted, or if the yard is cluttered, take care of those items right away. If the front of your home is somewhat bland, consider adding some pops of color with flowers and painting the front door and shutters.
Step Two: Clear the clutter. Yes, you love your collection of antique egg cups and the dozens of pictures of family and friends, but potential sellers won’t see the gorgeous hand-painted porcelain details or the cuteness of your kids – they will see clutter. Pack up everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Use decorations strategically – a beautiful mirror on the far wall, for example, that reflects the light from the opposite window and makes the room feel larger and brighter. When buyers look at an uncluttered home, they get a feeling of spaciousness.
Step Three: Paint your walls a neutral color. Just because you love fuchsia and aqua doesn't mean the buyers will. Vivid paint colors and busy wallpaper patterns may frighten potential buyers away. Tone it down and go with a muted ivory, cream, or taupe.
Step Four: Rearrange the furniture. You may be using your dining room as an office – take your desk and computer equipment out and put in a table and chairs. You want each room's purpose to be obvious, and if the space isn't clearly defined, it will confuse buyers. Also, place furniture in groupings that allows for traffic flow. Pushing the couch and chairs up against the walls won't make the room look bigger. Instead, place them in an intimate grouping in front of the fireplace. If you have a space that basically is a landing space for clutter – the front hallway, the alcove near the stairs – clean it up and find a way to make the space welcoming.
Step Five: Dress up your entryway. When potential buyers open your front door, you want them to say, "Wow!" not "Oh." If the entryway is a neglected space, decorate it – place some artwork or a mirror on the wall and place a narrow table beneath it. Add a lamp or a vase with flowers and add an ornamental item or two (but not too much – keep it uncluttered). Think of the entryway as the introduction to your home – the feeling potential buyers have when they first open the door will stay with them throughout the showing.
Step Six: Scrutinize the lighting. You don't want a room to appear dark and dreary. If a room doesn't have ample lighting, look around your home and see if there are lamps someplace else that could work in the room. If you don't have lamps to spare, borrow some from a friend or pick up a couple from the thrift store.
Step Seven: Clean up! Give your home a good, deep cleaning. Scour bathrooms, clean baseboards and air vents, clean the oven – you want your home to shine. A thorough cleaning now will save time later. When buyers do arrive, make sure everything is picked up and put away – don't leave laundry on the floor, bills on the counter, etc.
Step Eight: Create a story. When you know potential buyers are on their way to your home, add a few details to make your home warm and welcoming. A tray on the bed with a vase and single rose and teapot, for example, will make buyers think of a cozy morning and breakfast in bed. A scented candle (just one – you don't want an overpowering aroma) is soothing and will make them feel welcome. Or, instead of a candle, create a pleasing scent by baking a batch of cookies right before the showing. Leave the cookies on the kitchen counter so they can help themselves. They will remember your kitchen as being homey and warm. If you have a fireplace, light it – even if it is summer. A fireplace is instant coziness and a major selling point, so draw attention to it.
Step Nine: Create an outdoor space. If your back yard is cluttered with kids' toys, empty pots, and little else, clear all of that away. Try to create an outdoor living room – outdoor furniture, yard art, maybe even a gazebo with lighting. When potential buyers can imagine themselves sitting outside with their morning coffee or evening cocktail, your home's appeal will increase substantially.
Staging your home is very much like getting ready for a party. The right outfit, the perfect shoes, and the hair and makeup are all critical. The everyday look of jeans and sneakers are comfortable and familiar, but they won't make you stand out in a crowd. The same is true for your house, so dress it up!