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Presenting your home in its best light can make all the difference when it comes time to sell. According to the National Association of Realtors, 81% of buyer’s agents report that home staging makes buyers more likely to picture themselves moving in.
Effective staging not only captures the attention of prospective buyers but allows them to visualize themselves living in the space — evoking emotions that make your property unforgettable.
You don’t have to be a professional decorator to stage your home and make an impact on potential buyers. You can make some simple changes, work with the furniture you have available, and create a clean and inviting house that shows well.
To help you out, we’ve scoured the internet, talked to a few top real estate agents and professional stagers and boiled everything we learned down to eight essential home staging ideas that are both easy to do and proven to attract buyers.
1. Clean your home inside and out before you stage it
The outside of your home is the first thing potential buyers will see. If your home’s exterior looks dirty and worn, odds are your buyers will expect the inside to be that way too.
The goal is to make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to love your home at first sight.
After you’ve tackled the outside of the house, be sure to apply the same care and attention to the inside of your home.
Consider hiring a cleaning company to do a deep clean to make sure that all of the forgotten places are accounted for, including the grout, moldings, and the hard-to-reach crevices between appliances.
2. Declutter and depersonalize
Read through almost any home staging post on the web, and you’ll find that real estate agents and professional stagers recommend decluttering and depersonalizing a home. In fact, top agents with HomeLight estimate decluttering can add an average $8,000 in resale value.
When potential buyers come into your home, they want to feel like they have counter space, storage space, and square footage to work with. Basically, they want to see a home that has potential to fit their lives and their needs.
If they see lots of knick-knacks on the mantle, a crowded medicine cabinet with every perfume you own, or a wall covered in family portraits, they will envision your life in your house, not their life in theirs.
To declutter and depersonalize:
- Clear off countertops.
- Take down your personal photos.
- Remove excess furniture.
3. Show off your closets and storage
The more items you have in your closets, the less likely it will appear that you have storage space for the potential buyer to work with. Do some rearranging to show off the amount of closet and storage space you have in your home.
To showcase your closet and storage space:
- Taking most of your linens out of the linen and towel closets.
- Remove all of your clothing from your bedroom closet and do a deep clean.
- Purge clothing to create breathing room in your closet. Hanging clothes should have a good 1/2 inch (at least) between hangers, and folded items should not be stacked more than 3 high. If you choose to keep what you’ve purged, store it at a friend’s house, or put it all in a low-cost storage facility.
- Replace clear clothing bins with opaque or solid-colored ones to make the closet look more streamlined. You want to see what your clothing and accessories look like, but potential buyers do not.
- Put away all of the miscellany. Take out your belts, odd pieces of jewelry, suspenders, etc. and put them away in drawers.
- Let the light in. You want the potential buyer to see all that your closet has to offer. So, change faulty light bulbs and replace ugly or damaged fixtures.
4. Balance the ‘clean’ and ‘lived-in’ look with everyday items
We’ve just talked a lot about the magic of cleaning up, decluttering and editing your home, but there comes a point when a house can look too sterile and barren. Potential buyers will find it difficult to visualize where to put their own furniture and personal things if the house is empty.
In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Staging, only 6% of buyers reported that staging the kitchen was ‘not at all important’ during their home search. Thirty percent of buyers, on the other hand, felt it was ‘very important’ to stage the kitchen.
As you’re cleansing and organizing your home, make sure to leave a few everyday home items out on display.
We recommend home items like:
- Cookie jars. Nothing says “home” like cookies, especially if they’re kept fresh in a cookie jar.
- Soap. We recommend a nice, aromatic lavender bar soap for your bathroom sink counter.
- Produce organizer. This item could be a conversation starter about the location of your home, and its close proximity to a local farmer’s market. Fill your organizer with fresh produce, and it will bring a pop of color to your kitchen.
- Spice rack. This simple item will allow potential views to envision the joy of cooking that takes place in your kitchen.
5. Choose a neutral paint color
This is less of a home staging idea than it is a home staging rule. Put a fresh coat of paint on your walls, but not just any old paint or color. Potential buyers don’t want to come into a house that’s painted an alarming red or an uncommon blue. They want the color of the walls in their home to be neutral and easy to match when they decorate.
6. Use decor to add pops of color
Almost all home staging posts on the internet will tell you to paint your walls a neutral color. The next thing they will tell you is that once you’ve painted your walls, you need to subtly brighten the place up a bit. Think of your new neutral walls as the first background layer on a canvas. The neutral environment you’ve provided for the potential buyer gives them the ability to visualize their dream home, but adding a splash of bright color wows them.
Accent colors have a positive effect on our emotions. Small, bright amounts of color keep people engaged, enthusiastic, and happy — everything you want in a potential buyer. Use small home accessories like pillows and pottery to serve as a contrast to your neutral wall color. Contrasting colors like reds, greens, and blues work well with a neutral backdrop.
7. Let in natural light
You want to make sure that all of the work you put into cleaning and rearranging is fully noticeable, so the rooms in your house feel spacious and breathable, but this won’t happen if your buyers walk into a poorly lit room. When you’re staging your home, make sure to let natural light in.
Natural light is a tangible, feel-good elixir. The light your house gets from the sun makes any room brighter and more spacious, and makes the potential buyer happier. Natural light has been proven to increase serotonin levels in the brain, so allowing that sunshine in will make your buyers happier.
Start by uncovering your windows. Refrain from using thick, dark drapes or cumbersome blinds. Instead, highlight large windows and windows with views as focal points by installing see-through curtains or taking the curtains off the windows completely.
If you have a large window, center furniture around it so that it becomes the conversation piece or point of interest. If your house doesn’t have many windows, or the windows are small, hang a mirror directly across from your largest window. This will allow for the light to reflect off of the mirror, giving the illusion that the room is brighter and more open than it is.
8. Use focal points to draw attention to the unique aspects of your home
A focal point is a piece of furniture, a part of the house, or a painting that draws your attention when you first walk into a room. It’s the thing you can’t take your eye off of or the reason the room is used in the first place (i.e. a television in the den, a fireplace in the living room, a window with a great view, etc.). Focal points are important because they allow you to show off the most attractive and unique aspects of your home. A focal point tells the buyer where to look.
Once you’ve identified your focal points in each room, place your furniture symmetrically around the area to catch your potential buyers’ attention. For example, if your focal point is a fireplace, place your couch directly in front of it and have chairs on its flanks. This brings the focus to the fireplace and signals that this house is special because of its fireplace area.
Staging for success
Staging a home doesn’t have to be about complicated feng shui or spending thousands on new hardwood flooring. Just making common-sense decisions based on the type of home you have and the buyer pool you’re trying to attract can have a big impact on your home sale.
In an era where buyers scroll through dozens of homes online before stepping foot into one, first impressions have never been more important. A well-staged home can be the deciding factor that entices a potential buyer to explore further, and it also helps them envision how they would use and live in the space.
Effective staging tells a story — crafting an inviting space that resonates emotionally with buyers. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about creating an atmosphere that screams ‘home’ to everyone who walks in.
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