The Do’s and Don'ts of Staging a House for Sale

If you’re getting ready to put your house on the market, you’re probably here because you want to know what staging a house for sale entails. I’m glad you asked! Let’s get to the point: There is more to staging than just physical aesthetics. There’s a large psychological component to it as well.



It’s vital that you send the message that your home is turnkey because if you have outdated furnishings, overwhelming décor, and visible personal belongings throughout the house, buyers will have a hard time looking past that. (Sure, they could use their imaginations, but no one wants to have to do that.)


Not only will a well-staged abode spend less time on the market, but according to a Maritz Research staging poll, 63% of potential buyers are willing to pay top dollar for a home that’s “move-in ready” — often more than the asking price! So if you’re on the fence about putting energy into staging your home, jump off and dive in because you literally can’t afford *not* to do it.


To help prospective buyers visualize themselves living in your home (and thus prompt them to make an offer), you should follow these five “do’s and don’ts” in each room of your home.


1. The Dining Room

Don’t have an overwhelming amount of décor on the main dining and/or buffet table. If your buffet table has a lot of small decorative items with hardly any space in between them, it looks tacky.



Do get rid of knick-knacks and sentimental items, and keep basic décor items for an uncluttered look. When a few classic décor pieces are evenly distributed, it provides a much more aesthetically pleasing look. It’s amazing what a difference it makes!



2. The Living Room

Don’t have personal photos of family members and pets out on display. You want prospective home buyers to picture your house as their house, and it’s hard to do that when they see pictures of your kids and dog staring them down. (I know they’re cute, but remember, it’s all about the buyers, not the sellers).



Do put away personal photos and replace them with two or three statement pieces. Candle, vases, small clocks, flowers, or small nature-inspired prints are safe choices for providing a professional, neutral look on tables and shelves.



3. The Kitchen

Don’t have any appliances or copious amounts of cookware on the countertops. It doesn’t look appealing to prospective buyers when they see every single item that you use in your cooking routine. Remember, you want them to envision how they’ll use the kitchen.



Do put away the toaster, blender, coffee maker, and any other appliances, and just have a few well-placed items that serve a purpose in both form and function (such as a napkin holder, utensil crock, tea kettles, etc.) to provide a clean, uncluttered, impartial aesthetic. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots here really prove how important this is!



4. The Bedroom

Don’t leave your bed unmade. When staging a house for sale, I know this seems like a given, but… it’s been done (*facepalm*). Also, don’t showcase old, worn linens, and don’t leave personal items on your nightstands. Again, this is where that psychological component is at play. You don’t want a buyer to feel like they’re invading your personal space, especially something as personal as a bedroom, so make it look like a model home, not a home that’s lived in.



Do make your bed (like you’re getting it ready for a photo shoot) and add throw pillows. Make sure your nightstands are clear except for a few tasteful decorative accents. That’s much better!



5. The Bathroom

Don’t leave any toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, etc.), personal care items (such as medications), or hair tools (curling iron, blow dryer, brushes, and combs) on the countertop. It’s an absolute must to get rid of all signs that you just took a shower and styled your hair in that bathroom a few hours earlier.



Do wipe down the mirror and countertop, and only place items such as hand soap, tissues, a hand towel, and one small decorative item. Now that looks like an inviting vanity!



Staging a house for sale can seem overwhelming, but the key points to take away are:


  • Keep surfaces (tables, countertops, etc.) free of clutter.
  • Put away family photos and other personal items.
  • Limit the amount of décor – less is more!
  • Replace old, worn out linens and pillows (couch throw pillows, bed comforters, etc.) with new ones.
  • Clean, clean, clean until your home shines!


You’ll be thankful that you took the time upfront to do these things when your home sells after one open house.


Images used with permission, courtesy of Kelly O'Roark

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