Staging a Country Home to Sell: How to Hit on Traditional and Farmhouse Notes
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Buyers flock to country homes for their expansive acreage and serene, pastoral lifestyle. Inspire them to love the inside of your house as much as they love the land around it with thoughtful staging that celebrates good country living.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 83% of buyer’s agents said staging helps buyers visualize themselves in the home. Staging not only emotionally connects buyers to your home, but it also showcases the building at its best, emphasizing architectural features and downplaying signs of wear.
“When you have furniture in a room, you’re taking away from every little imperfection because the eye focuses on the furniture and the experience rather than that small scuff on the lower trim,” says top-selling Philadelphia real estate agent David Batty.
To help you bring out the best in your large rural estate, HomeLight asked three experts to share their top recommendations for staging a country home: Batty, who sells area homes 72% quicker than the average Philadelphia agent; Jenah Mahan, a top real estate agent who specializes in hobby farms and equestrian properties in Tacoma, Washington; and Janet Lorusso, a professional interior designer with 25 years of experience staging contemporary and traditional country homes throughout New England.
Design for your target buyer pool
When staging a country home, there are a couple interior design styles that particularly resonate with buyers. The best style to stage your home in all depends on the demographics in your market. Does your region attract wealthy buyers looking for a lavish second home? Or is it a sought out location for horse lovers seeking the simple life? The best way to find out is to work with a top local real estate agent — they’ll fill you in on what design style plays best with your prospective buyers. Here’s a brief overview of two of the most popular design styles for country homes:
Traditional Country Design
Traditional interior design is a sophisticated, classic style that blends elements of 18th and 19th-century European decor with elegant contemporary pieces. The style is defined by symmetry, rich textiles, polished carved wood, and antique furnishing. Picture Downton Abbey, Queen Anne chairs, and rich oil paintings. Traditional staging emphasizes impressive, historic architecture and appeals to buyers seeking luxury and sophistication.
Contemporary Farmhouse Style
Farmhouse design celebrates the more rustic, casual side of country life with its warm “lived-in” aesthetic. Farmhouse mixes old and new furnishings for an eclectic, DIY vibe, incorporating natural textures like wicker and rattan, mixed metals, and weathered wood. Think Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper, sliding barn doors, and repurposed mason jars. Currently a top interior design trend, farmhouse appeals to a wide range of buyers and readily adapts to a wide range of architectural styles.
While it’s important to have a vision for consistent staging, most country homes will take cues from a couple different styles, pairing vintage and contemporary pieces to balance feelings of comfort and nostalgia.
“If the house can support it, I think it’s important to do something a little bit different so that people can see that there’s some versatility to the property itself — that it doesn’t necessarily have to just be for somebody that wants that country style,” Mahan advises.
“It could just be for somebody that wants a modern style but a large acreage or large lot.”
Start by staging the living room
According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Q1 2019 Report, 84% of real estate agents believe the living room is the most important room in the house to stage. This is especially true in large country homes where living rooms are of especially grand proportions, often with picturesque views of the surrounding landscape.
Begin staging by establishing an intimate central lounge area. Lorusso notes, “One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re staging is to shove all the furniture back against the wall and try and make it look spacious. Then all the chairs look like they’re in timeout instead of looking like they’re having a conversation. In a large room, it’s really important to show it as having the ability to have groups.”
Group primary seating pieces together so buyers can envision kicking back with company after a long day roaming the property. Opt for neutral and comfortable sofas or a sectional, then add a big dose of country charm with a heavy wooden coffee table and an accent armchair with matching ottoman. If your styling leans classic, stripes are a safe bet. Otherwise, warm-toned leather is a perfect addition.
Anchor the room with a large rug to arrange furniture around. Oriental rugs add subtle pattern and romance to a wide range of decor styles including traditional English countryside. For a playful, contemporary country twist, Mahan recommends layering a cowhide on top of a large, neutral rug.
Particularly large rooms benefit from additional pieces of furniture against the walls. Add a rustic table or antique dresser to fill an empty space. Fashion two classical armchairs or a unique bench seat by the window for a thoughtful vignette.
Add touches of country with home accessories and wall art
Wall art and tabletop accessories are an opportunity to nod at the Arcadian setting, adding interest to every room. Remember these decor items should suggest country — not scream it. Skip the horse paintings, rooster pottery, and miniature tractors.
Start by depersonalizing and decluttering your current decor items, removing collections, knick-knacks, family mementos, and photographs.
Decorate tables with home accessories like hardcover books and vases of fresh flowers. Lorusso suggests corralling tabletop decorations into a tray since small items do not photograph as well as larger pieces.
Plants perfectly fill vacant corners, bringing the outdoors in. Palms, lemon trees, ivy, olive trees, and ferns work well in country homes of all styles.
Here are some design specific decor ideas for inspiration:
For traditional styling:
- Abstract paintings with gold leaf accents
- Oil paintings or prints
- Gold brushed or carved wood-framed mirror
- Antique or wood-based table lamps
For farmhouse styling:
- Black and white photo wall
- Large round mirror
- Glass lanterns
- Aged french windows as art
- Rusted metal monograms
Stage a lovely working kitchen
Open shelving is a defining feature of country farmhouse kitchens, but don’t miss the mark with cluttered shelves. Pare down on contents so only neatly-organized, matching ceramics and glassware remains. To balance out detailed walls, keep the countertops clear by removing knife blocks, knick-knacks, and appliances like toasters.
Sprinkle in some country charm with a couple accessories:
- Hanging brass pots or cake tins
- Ceramic crock filled with wooden spoons
- Wooden cutting boards on a stand
- Bowl of solid-colored fruit like lemons or apples
Set the dining room for entertaining
Buyers will want to show off their new country home to visiting guests so set the dining room table so they can imagine a happy housewarming party. Surround a wooden table with six chairs; Tufted parson chairs suit traditional homes while wooden cross back seats are popular farmhouse choices. Set out plates, bowls, and utensils on light woven placemats for each position.
Flow in the accent color you use in the kitchen into the dining room with rolled, colored cloth napkins. Create a glowing centerpiece with a group of wooden candlesticks of staggering heights in the center of the table. For a more rustic look, place three glass candles in a reclaimed wooden box filled with olive or eucalyptus branches.
Fashion an elegant master bedroom
Only second to the living room, the master bedroom is the most important room to stage to entice buyers. As with every room you stage, start by decluttering to remove any unneeded furniture and personal possessions. Style the room with a few key furniture pieces that reflect the home’s features.
“In a lot of these masters, you’re seeing exposed wood and custom millwork throughout so a lot of the furniture itself has a rustic-looking, antique finish to match,” Batty shares. “That furniture can really pull that theme together with those finished details.”
Balance a vintage vanity or dresser with more contemporary nightstands and bed frame. Keep the bed fairly neutral with a white Matelassé coverlet, accented by paisley or floral pillows and a folded blanket at the foot.
If room size permits, stage a chaise lounge chair with a draped throw next to a book-stacked table and standing floor lamp. Nothing says leisure like a luxurious resting corner.
Keep bathrooms sweet and simple
Present bathrooms as bright and airy with fresh white mats, towels, and shower curtains. Incorporate a couple cheerful accessories to subtly continue the country theme:
- White framed mirror
- Shaded sconce
- Open shelving over the toilet
- Mason jar soap dispenser
- Vase of fresh yellow flowers
Highlight outdoor living spaces
Staging a country home doesn’t stop with the indoors — stage the outdoor areas where buyers are likely to spend time enjoying the property.
Clean up barns and outbuildings
An owner of horses, Mahan stresses the importance of staging the property’s outbuildings:
“I like to see the pictures inside so I would say especially with the barn, get everything out, clean the aisles, just clean them just like you would anything else. It doesn’t need to be spotless because, obviously, it’s a barn. Then show off the different spaces — if this area could be a place to park a tractor or put your hay or something then have a couple of bales of hay in that area or maybe have a tractor parked.”
Create a lovely resting porch
Set the scene with a wooden bench or pair of rocking chairs tipping with the breeze. Add a splash of color with pillows and a small table staged with glasses for wine or sweet tea.
Staging gives buyers a taste of country living
Staging is an essential step to selling your country house for the best possible price. Create a welcoming, cheerful atmosphere with comfortable furnishing and thoughtful rustic touches so buyers can imagine themselves enjoying everyday country life in your home.
Header Image Source: (Benjamin Lehman / Pexels)