Staging a house prior to showing it is an important step in the house selling process. A staged house acts as an empty canvas of sorts, allowing potential buyers to envision themselves living in a space and imagine how it would suit their daily lives. As such, a staged house needs to be as neutral without being sterile, and inviting without being personal. It may seem difficult to strike this balance, especially when you’re selling a home you’ve likely spent a good number of years living in, and it may even be tempting to hire a professional. But fret not, house staging can easily be done yourself, and on a relatively small budget too. Use our five-step checklist below to stage your home for sale like a pro, without breaking the bank.
It may seem straightforward, but decluttering for a staging is not like decluttering for guests. When it comes to decluttering a house for staging, you will need to change your definition of clutter a bit. For the purposes of staging a house, clutter is anything that makes the house look “lived in”. This includes personal items such as children’s toys, paperwork, clothes, etc. Prioritize living room first, then the master bedroom, kitchen, bathrooms, and work from there onto other bedrooms and bathrooms in the house. If you absolutely must keep personal items in the home, try to pare them down and store away what you can. For example, if you are showing the home in summer, pack away winter clothes and move the storage boxes to the garage. Another thing that may not register as clutter is furniture – when showing a house, less is more. Anything you don’t plan on taking with you to your new home should be donated or sold, unless it is a central piece of furniture that is in good condition and can help stage the house. Spare chairs, a cozy but well-worn loveseat, or a bookcase whose sole purpose is to store knickknacks – all these need to go.
After you’ve decluttered, it’s time to take a step back and see if there are any little repairs that need to be taken care of. Things like touching up paint in a high-traffic area, patching up dings on walls, and replacing old or broken fixtures like outlet covers. Missing or chipped grout, dingy and discolored caulking, dripping faucets – these all detract from the impression your home makes on potential buyers, and give the impression that the home has not been properly maintained. Take note of these little issues and wear and tear that result from daily life over years in your home, and invest the time to fix them. The same goes for the outside of the house, too. Don’t overlook peeling paint, fraying screens, or missing shingles, they are not a good look and instantly diminish your home’s curb appeal.
After taking care of all those small repairs that have built up over the years, it’s time to do an equally thorough deep clean of every nook and cranny in your home. Take a melamine sponge to any scuffs on the wall, dust and wipe down surfaces, shine faucets, and shampoo carpets. Remember that bright spaces feel cleaner, too, so make sure that all your windows are spotless and that every light fixture and bulb is sparkly clean and free of dust. This goes double for the outside of your home – your home’s curb appeal is its first impression, and first impressions carry a lot of weight. Power wash driveways, trim grass and hedges, pull weeds, and clean out gutters. A clean house is an inviting house, and an inviting house attracts buyers.
Once your house is touched up and cleaned up, it’s time to arrange furniture. If you had to get rid of any major pieces in the “declutter” step, you may want to consider renting furniture to make sure nothing major is missing. When arranging furniture, keep in mind that the furniture needs to guide your viewers through the home and must never impede the natural flow of movement. A good rule of thumb is to leave a space of 45” to walk through high-traffic areas, such as the living room or kitchen, and at least 30” for lower traffic ones. To give the illusion of a larger space, take advantage of a technique known as “floating furniture”, which essentially means arranging your furniture away from the walls. Use this technique in conjunction with what’s known as “anchoring” a space – creating small intimate areas by use of cohesive design elements such as area rugs or a specific color palette – to give each room in the home a clear sense of functionality and purpose.
Finally, make all your efforts shine with the right the little details. These are things like fancy (looking) soaps, fluffy decorative towels, a vase with some flowers, a pretty bowl of fruit – anything you can think of that gives the house a bit of an elevated feel. None of these have to be particularly expensive, and it’s best to set a small designated budget and plan ahead for these to make sure you don’t go overboard. Remember, these are meant to be tiny decorative elements that make the home just that much nicer for potential buyers, not to make it feel like a luxury resort. Use these little touches where they count, such as in master bathrooms and in the kitchen, and don’t feel like you have to add them to every room.