Last week I mentioned that we staged our house before we listed it. People sometimes assume that because I’m an interior decorator I must ALSO stage houses all the time. Technically, yeah, I can, but it’s not a normal thing for me. My job is to find the best decorating solution for my clients. It’s catering to a very small group of people and finding their exact needs before I run off and make their house beautiful. It doesn’t matter what the trends are because I’m only worried about my clients and what they like.
Home staging is the opposite of that. Instead of designing for personal taste, staging is aiming for mass appeal. It’s basic. You don’t want anything too interesting, lest a potential buyer get freaked out. (If you’ve ever watched HGTV you know that people will pass on a house because of a paint color, soooo…) I definitely recommend this for anyone who wants to sell. Here’s what you can do:
1. Take down family pictures and sports memorabilia. The whole point of staging is to make your house a blank slate so it appeals to anyone who might wander through on a tour. Think of it as a model home: no wedding pictures, no toddler artwork on the fridge, no bust of Mike Ditka on your mantle. Go ahead and pack all of it now since you’ll be moving soon, anyway. As for your newly naked walls, stick to the most popular kinds of art: landscapes, flowers, maps, or a mirror.
2. Store extra furniture. It may not SEEM like you have extra furniture when you consider your everyday life, but the goal of staging a house is to make each room feel as big as possible. Let’s take our family room for example. Here’s how it looked most of the time:
And here’s one of the listing photos (from another angle, but you get the idea).
We axed the the side chair and the shelf behind the sofa–both went into the fake living room–and the space feels much more open. If you don’t have a faux room to absorb all of your extras, you can always put furniture in the garage; that’s where the dining room table and chairs are now, lovingly wrapped in plastic. (I miss them.)
3. Remove your window screens. This is the one thing I was skeptical about when our agent suggested it. He was like, “Your house will be so much brighter!” And I was all, “Eh…?” But you know what? IT IS. My mind is blown by how much more light gets in, even through the woodland paradise that is our backyard. I never want to put the screens back on.
4. Clear the countertops. Every countertop, not just the kitchen. For bathrooms, just leave a soap dispenser or a small plant. For a laundry or utility room, leave nothing. In the kitchen, it’s okay to leave the knife block (because sharp pointy things can’t just be tossed wherever) and one small appliance if you use it every single day. Otherwise, find a hiding spot. Just like removing extra furniture makes a space feel bigger, so does having a wide open countertop.
5. Take things out of your closets. Seems counterintuitive, since we want to get everything out of sight to make the rooms themselves feel larger, but we want those closets to feel nice and spacious, too. And they’ll look way bigger with less stuff in them. We threw a bunch of our nonessentials into the crawl space, but if you don’t have one, get some of those under-bed storage containers and go to town.
BONUS: Donate and/or sell things now. You’re going to do this when you move anyway, right? Might as well start before the house is even on the market so you have less stuff to keep tidy for showings. Our house has only been active for 7 days and I’m already tired of maintaining this level of spotlessness. And we did a big purge first. I can’t imagine how much more irritated I’d be if we had all of our old stuff hangin’ around, too.
It’s still kind of weird that we’re MOVING! Maybe I’ll do a wrap-up post comparing how the house looked when we moved in to how it looks now. I just glanced over the original appraisal and it doesn’t even feel like the same place. Anybody else moving this summer? Other big plans? Who else has staged a house?