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?

  • Duni
    May 27, 2016

    Paige, your home looks pristine, but I didn’t realize you’re moving?!

    • Paige @ Little Nostalgia
      May 27, 2016

      Yes! It was a little sudden, but since things are selling well and we made so many upgrades to the house, we’re going to flip it a year early. Woo!!

  • BeadedTail
    May 27, 2016

    All very good tips although the no window screens gave me a heart attack. Clearly the realtor doesn’t have indoor only cats that could jump through an open window! That’s my worst nightmare! My mom was a realtor for many years and she got so frustrated with people who couldn’t see past paint color or furniture or whatever but it’s true, some people can’t. I do hope you sell soon! Keeping up the spotless house is tough. I did that by myself when trying to sell our Colorado home with two dogs and a cat while my hubby was already here in Oregon. It got to the point I didn’t even want him to come home to visit because that’d be twice the water drops in the sink to clean up! Lol! Major pain in the patooty!

    • Paige @ Little Nostalgia
      May 27, 2016

      Yeah, we haven’t been opening our windows much and are relying on the AC. I do miss the fresh air! We crack them about an inch sometimes, but there are so many birds around here that I’d be afraid one of them would accidentally fly inside. Hahaha.

  • Val
    May 27, 2016

    Great tips Paige! I never realized that about the screen either. I may actually remove them for winter months now since it could make the months less dreary. Your house looks like a model home now. My fingers are crossed that it sells quickly for you guys! The people shopping for houses on those programs can drive me nuts sometimes. They are never going to see a house perfect to their taste. There are easy ways to personalize a home after purchasing.

    • Paige @ Little Nostalgia
      May 27, 2016

      Right? Somebody left negative feedback about our house because the gutters were dirty. Like, what? It just rained and you were looking at the house! When were we supposed to clean them? Some people.

  • Kristen
    May 27, 2016

    I never thought about the window screens either, though I did know about the family portraits. That’s going to be a killer for us if we move because we have that whole wall in the living room. It would also be a pain for us to try and keep things neat with the kids and the dog but I suppose you just do it. It looks great and I hope you sell fast!

    • Paige @ Little Nostalgia
      May 27, 2016

      It’s hard enough keeping it clean with just the two of us, haha. No leaving it until later!

  • Natashalh
    May 27, 2016

    What a cool tip about the window screens! Not that we even own a house, but that’s still really cool to know.

  • DancingMooney
    June 3, 2016

    I noticed your post on instagram about this, and was like whaaat?! New floors, and then selling?! But if that was your plan all along, might as well jump on it if you’re ready and the time is right. That’s how you do it! 🙂

    Can’t wait to see your next new place! I always enjoy your style and design ideas. Oh, and food too. Definitely food. LOL and flats. Well, you’re just an all around great gal Paige. *blush* 🙂


    • Paige @ Little Nostalgia
      June 8, 2016

      Aaaah, thank you!! It does feel kind of funny to list the house right after we did the floors, but oh well. Strike while the iron is hot. 🙂 I’ll definitely be sharing the new place. Maybe I’ll do a feet picture in each room, haha.

  • Edi
    June 8, 2016

    I remember when my parents sold their house in Michigan and their realtor told them to take down all the family photos. I thought it was so weird, but it does make sense to make it a more neutral/generic space to attract all kinds of buyers.
    Removing things to make rooms bigger is a smart move. And who would have thought about the screens…you’ve got me thinking now!

  • LeeLee
    June 8, 2016

    Great tips. Your home looks fabulous.

  • Chelsey
    July 5, 2016

    Your place is so nice Paige! Glad to see you settled well and you’re able to sell it early. Thanks for the tips, this will hopefully come in handy later this year for me.

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