How to Stage Your House for Sale

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first floor

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:

Vinyl Plank Flooring

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.

upstairs bath

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?

House for Sale!

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It’s been a little quiet around here lately. This is the busy time of year for me and the design biz, so that’s part of it, but we’re ALSO gearing up for a huge project at home:

house exterior

basement projector


WE’RE MOVING! The house went on the market yesterday! These are listing photos! Aaah!

We bought low in 2012 and now that the market has (quickly) bounced back, we’re flipping the house ahead of schedule. We thought we’d be here until next year, chillin’ with our brand new hardwood floors, but our neighborhood is having a hot streak NOW. So we’re jumping on it.

living room

living room2

Our agent had us stage the dining room as a fake living room. I miss the rug.

The last 10 days have been a mishmash of final details we just hadn’t gotten to yet: updating the last few light fixtures, painting the office gray, getting a new doorknob–and then doing a deep clean and staging the house.

I am exhausted.



upstairs bath


I’ll have a post for you next week about staging a home for sale, because it’s very different than designing for yourself and it was a bonkers adjustment for my brain to make. I’ll also spill the beans about Casa Ronchetti 2.0 when we find it, but that’s a couple of months away. Unless somebody in the equation needs a quick closing. Gaaaaah! One thing at a time, Paige.

It’s going to be a busy summer. Anybody else moving?

House Tour: The Dogtrot

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front of house

This cute little house is something called a dogtrot–two separate living areas connected by a screened porch. These are more popular in the south, where it’s 9 million degrees in the summer, and the idea was that everybody could convene out there to escape the agony of a house without air conditioning. What I DON’T understand is why this is raised to far off the ground. Does it stay cooler? Are they on a flood plain? Is it for maximizing a view? There’s no garage, so maybe they’re just parking the car under the house?

Mysteries of the exterior notwithstanding, this would be a great place to live:



Yaaaaaas. That is a great use of space AND an excellent place to throw a party. That’s actually how I gauge the success of a smaller house like this one: is it little enough for my lazy self to maintain, yet still big enough for company? Boom. Winner.


Helping the room feel airy are the vaulted ceilings and mega-sized windows. If you look at the standard door to the right, and then over to the windows on the left, you’ll see they’re about 8′ tall.

And what’s that? Is that a familiar shoulder and ear peeking out from the painting above?

BETSY COW! You sassy old girl. Nice to see you popping up in somebody’s portfolio.

betsy cow

I also dig the blue-gray trim (and doors). It feels fresh without being too trendy.


That empty wine rack is a bummer.

Let’s talk specifics. The interior square footage is about 1250, and if you add the porch it brings the total living space up to 1556. There are three bedrooms, a bunk loft, and two full bathrooms. And all of that random space under the house for your secret lair.

If you’ll pardon me sounding like a Buzzfeed article for a minute, the master bedroom is giving me ALL THE FEELS.


The happy pillows! The chest of drawers! The old leather bench! The antlers freak me out, but I know I’m in the minority with that trend. Hubsey would like them. He’d probably give them names.

One of the bathrooms. I like the basin and am jealous of the counter space.


Finally, here’s the famous porch that makes this place a dogtrot. Those doors go to additional bedrooms and the second bath, so this is also the world’s biggest hallway.


Totally cute. If I could magically live somewhere warmer, I’d also magically give myself this house. Are you into it? What’s your favorite part? Who else likes a place this size?

All pictures via Small House Swoon.