If you’ve already started reading up on how to stage your home, then you know the spiel by now: clean, declutter, and depersonalize. But why (as you struggle to move your couch) is staging your house for sale so damn important?
Staging matters because it helps buyers visualize themselves in your home. And not just a few of them, but more like the whopping majority. According to the National Association of Realtors, 77% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for their clients to visualize the property as their own.
This makes staging one of the easiest things you can do to convince the vast majority of buyers that they love your property. But how do you get your staging to that level? And what are the inside secrets to make your home more appealing than others?
We’ve interviewed top staging experts and done research so you don’t have to— identifying three lesser-known tips all the staging pros do— but rarely talk about. Read on for three secret (and simple) staging tips that will give your home that competitive edge.
Home Staging Tip #1: Create Vignettes Around the House
Vignettes are small scenes that create a focus and set a mood in a room. Vignette staging is one of the top insider tricks used by pro real estate agents for two reasons: it’s easy and cheap. While staging a home with new or rented furniture can get pricey for the frugal seller, vignette staging is all about using inexpensive items to create little scenes or “vignettes” in key locations throughout your home.
Top real estate agent Ryan Cave, who ranks in the top 1% of Collins County, TX agents says, “I like to use vignette staging— light pieces out in the kitchen, or master bath, that can help warm the place up.”
Cave says, “You don’t need to put full rooms of furniture in a vacant home, just use key inexpensive pieces.”
So, how do you get started with your vignettes?
Here are a few of the staging tactics used by the pros:
- Stage scenes around a light source
- Use a variety of textures
- Include a vibrant pop of color in each scene
Most vignettes start with a theme, say a plant and a garden hat by the backdoor, or a part of a dining set laid out on the table. Working from there you can add pieces that enhance the theme, like a vase of flowers or a wicker basket.
The best vignette staging involves taking objects you have around your home and creating warm and inviting spaces with them. Or, to quote home decor blog Such The Spot, “The act of staging involves setting a scene in which buyers want to insert themselves.”
Think of a cozy corner or a charming tea-set. What would make you never want to leave? That’s the feeling we’re going for.
Additional Vignette Home Staging Tips:
- Gather inspiration from Pinterest and home decor blogs for good examples of vignette staging.Here are a few of our favorites:
- Arrange items in odd numbers, and remember to keep the content neutral. Nothing political or religious should be included in your vignettes (or anywhere else in the staged home).
- Don’t go overboard! Arrange a few items and leave them. Try to create a cohesive theme (if not throughout the house, then at least in each room).
Home Staging Tip #2: Sterilize the Place
If this word makes you think of a hospital, you’re not wrong. And although we aren’t suggesting you bleach everything in sight and don a pair of scrubs before your open house, sterilizing is the preferred term used by Cave’s team member Ashlynn Petrocco, who’s known for her expert staging advice.
Says Petrocco, “Typically sellers are overwhelmed at everything, and so I like to paint a picture of what they’re aiming for: a very sterile home. We know someone lives there, but there are so few items, so little clutter, and neutral colors— my best word is sterile.”
The reason sterilizing makes our list, is that it’s a great way to check your progress as you go about staging a home. Instead of running through the checklist of a million requirements, ask yourself- does this look sterile? And sterile doesn’t mean boring or blasé.
Explains Petrocco, “Say you walked into a model home for a builder, you can tell someone lives there but only bright fun things are there. Like a fake family lives there.”
For detailed instructions on how to go through the home and sterilize it, check out the exhaustive guide we put together: Deep Clean Like You Mean It – Your House Cleaning Checklist. If you’re still not sure how to sterilize your home, we’re pretty sure it will make more sense after tip number three.
Home Staging Tip #3: Hide the Evidence
Shopping for a home should be as blissful as walking into a Crate & Barrel. Everything smells good, looks cozy and chic, and everything just makes you want to sit down and stay a while. This is the effect staging should have on your buyers.
Crate & Barrels, while nothing at all like hospitals, are still very much in line with our term “sterile”. Walking into one you can imagine someone living there, but there’s no evidence to really suggest someone is living there— that is to say the dirt and everyday mundane evidence of real life.
We get it, you live in a house, and not a Crate & Barrel. But when buyers knock on your door, all evidence that you actually lived (or live) there should be tucked away. This includes extra cooking wares, towels, and cleaning stuff.
Here’s an example from Petrocco:
“Put away cleaning items. It’s something you don’t want people to think about— cleaning a house etc., you don’t want them to think about maintenance. Especially in laundry rooms, they know it’s a laundry room, but take down the detergent and hide it.”
We love that you used Lysol wipes to clean the counters before guests arrived, and fully appreciate your Swiffer efforts as well. And of course your laundry room has laundry detergent.
But here’s the question: does Crate & Barrel have detergent? Nope. Because that store (and all the ones like it) don’t want you thinking about mundane housework or the grittier day-to-day aspects of life. They want you fantasizing about spaces, and falling in love with motifs. They want to woo you with home decor. As you should be wooing your buyers.
“It’s like when you’re on vacation and you see a maid cart in front of the hotel room, it brings you back to reality,” says Petrocco. “You want to keep your buyers on Cloud 9 as long as possible.”
The longer they hang out there, the more in love they’ll be. So if it’s not something the fake family would need (and let’s be honest, they don’t need much) go ahead and sterilize away, and hide that evidence.
Bonus Home Staging Tip: Get Professional Help
You can tackle most of the staging tips we’ve covered here on your own, but at its core staging a home for sale is all about placement, and this is where it really pays to get help from a professional. Most real estate agents either have home stagers on their team, or provide external home staging services as part of their packaging.
Even if you think you have it under control, it never hurts to have a home decor professional double check your work.
The good news is, staging your home doesn’t have to take days on end to complete. Most buyers expect certain areas to be staged over others— leaving you some wiggle room to focus your attention on these spaces.
According to a recent staging survey by the National Association of Realtors, the most common rooms that are staged include (in this order): the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and dining room. Focus your efforts on these spaces before moving on to the laundry room or other corners of your home.
Your Quick and Dirty Home Staging Checklist:
- Clean, declutter, depersonalize, and start gathering inspiration for your vignettes.
- Create vignettes in the most important rooms first: the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and dining room.
- Sterilize your home and hide the evidence. If it doesn’t look like a Crate & Barrel, there’s probably more evidence you can hide.
Hire an Agent to Find a Good Stager
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