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It’s no surprise real estate agents representing buyers and sellers agree that living room staging is a top priority when selling your home, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Even if your living room is run-of-the-mill, you can turn it into a head-turning showroom using affordable living room staging touches that sell.
With this advice from top-performing real estate professionals and expert stagers, you’ll have buyers thinking about cuddling up on the couch with a good book, hosting a game night with friends — and ready to make an offer.
Declutter your living room to make space for buyers’ imaginations
Professional home stagers and top real estate agents shared that the number one tip for staging your home is to declutter it.
A living room should evoke a sense of comfort and connection, serving as a communal space where memories are made. But when it’s brimming with personal knick-knacks, overflowing bookshelves, and excess furniture, it can feel more chaotic than cozy.
“Some people are comfortable in their home, so they think other people are going to be,” says Stephanie Woods-Lembac, a top real estate agent in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
Woods-Lembach advises that getting rid of years of stuff should be the first step for DIY staging. By decluttering your living room, you pave the way for potential buyers to visualize their own lives unfolding within its walls.
Decluttering isn’t only for books, magazines, family photos, and office accessories. Furniture, rugs, lamps, and curtains may also be adding to that cramped feeling. If you aren’t ready to part with certain items, you can pack them up and store them. The key here is to narrow down the items in your living room to make it feel fresh, clean, and open.
Clear surfaces, minimized decorations, and thoughtful furniture arrangements create an inviting blank canvas, allowing buyers to project their own tastes and aspirations onto the space.
Once you have pared down the items in your living or family room, you can put what’s left on display and allow it to shine.
Deep clean your living room for a spotless showing
After decluttering, it’s time to deep clean your living room. You could hire a professional cleaning service to make your life easier, but with a few dedicated hours, you can get the job done yourself without spending the extra money.
Dust: Every surface that can be dusted, should be. That goes for lamp shades, blinds, window sills, ceiling fans, baseboards, and every possible corner. We recommend the best-selling Swiffer Duster, available on Amazon. Don’t forget to clean under your furniture, too.
Wood surfaces: Make sure wood surfaces are unscuffed and polished. Color match the polish to the stain on your furniture, and for that extra shine for coffee and dining tables, entertainment centers, and chairs, you can’t go wrong with Pledge Lemon Clean Furniture Spray.
Floors: Floors in the living room, like every other room in your home, should be spotless during a showing. How you clean them will depend on the surface. For carpet, you’ll need to vacuum and rent or borrow a steam cleaner to lift away as much dirt as possible.
Paint your living room with colors that evoke simplicity and coziness
Arti Ramnathkar, a professional stager and designer, says to stay away from what she calls “danger colors” in bulk — oranges, pinks, reds, and any fluorescents — as these may be off-putting to potential home buyers. Neutrals like grays and beiges are always in style and will appeal to the masses.
For color help, consult Sherwin-Williams’ Colormix forecast to see what’s on trend for the year.
A DIY living room paint job will probably require about two gallons of paint, with most gallons priced between $20 and $30. You’ll also want to account for the costs of primer ($10 to $20 per can), plus brushes, tape, a paint tray, drop cloth, and paint rollers, which you can expect to spend between $25-$165 on.
If repainting your living room before showing your home isn’t in your budget, touching up the walls can make them look almost as fresh.
If you don’t have extra paint in your garage, you can use a razor blade to take a small swatch from the wall (to be touched up later), and color match it at a paint store. A quick tip for holes in the wall is to fill a Q-Tip with paint and then place it over the spot you need to fill. Or, try this touch-up paint pen available on Amazon, that you can fill with any color.
Achieve the “wow factor” with a few statement pieces
“A potential buyer probably makes a decision in the first 30 to 60 seconds about how emotionally connected they are to your home,” says Ramnathkar. “You want to make sure that it’s showcased at its best.”
Creating that connection is about displaying an open and inviting space, which you can do by adding what Ramnathkar and other stagers call a “wow factor” — a single item or a few key pieces that draw people in. In the living room, it could be: a statement piece of art on the wall, a sculpture on an end table, or a bold rug. Even placing a few accent pillows in varied textures on a couch can add to a living room’s atmosphere.
Ramnathkar said whatever you choose for the “wow factor,” keep it restrained to appeal to a wide audience. Adding a “focal point in the room that isn’t too feminine or too masculine that most people would enjoy,” is what Woods-Lembach recommends.
You also will want your statement piece to tie together the colors in a room, so you may want to pick your color palette first, or you can find a piece that you like and fit everything else in the room around it.
The key here is to draw people into the room by giving them something beautiful to look at.
Bargain shop for budget-friendly living room accents
If you’re not confident in the statement pieces you already have, finding affordable additions for your living room can be a fun bargain shopping adventure. Here are a few ways to find budget-friendly decorative items to amp up your living room staging:
1. Consider visiting your local discount homewares store. Try Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, or Ross..
2. Check out a thrift shop. Look for items like vases, lamps, sculptures, and pots for plants, that are new or gently worn and have a classic, undated style.
3. Search Craigslist’s “for sale” section. Try searching for keywords of items you might want like artwork, chairs, or sofas. You can even try the “free” section under the “for sale” heading.
4. Borrow items from friends. See if any friends would be open to letting you borrow pieces that they may have in storage or in a guest room to use while you’re staging your home, and return the items once your home sells.
5. Invest in pieces that work well for staging that you’d also be happy to keep. If you know you want to buy furniture for your new home, purchase it to stage in your current home while it’s on the market, and then move it later.
Accentuate the ambiance with greenery and lighting
Staging invokes a feeling of home for potential buyers. In the living room, you’ll want a sitting area where people can gravitate, watch television, and relax.
1. Remove anything that doesn’t feel like it belongs in the living room. “Make it look like what the room was intended for — not the kid’s playroom or your workstation, but truly a living room,” says Woods-Lembach.
2. Breathe life into the space with greenery. To make the space even more homey, add fresh flowers and plants. Decorating with greenery can help fill awkward spaces and make a room feel more calming.
3. Add texture with the creative use of rugs. A throw rug can tie the room together and add to the sense of comfort. Vintage-inspired rugs and colorblock designs are especially popular.
4. The more light, the better. Be sure the windows are clear to make the room bright and inviting. If your living room doesn’t have ample natural light, brighten up the room with table and floor lamps.
Help buyers feel at home in the living room
A living room is often considered the heart of a home, so it’s important that you stage your living room to captivate potential buyers.
Simple, budget-conscious changes, like decluttering, cleaning, and adding a statement piece, can dramatically transform a mundane space into one that exudes warmth and allows potential buyers to see the living room as their own future haven.
Header Image Source: (khiemtran87/ Pixabay)