How to stage your own home: Part 1
What is staging and why should you do it?
Staging is the process of preparing your home for sale by styling it for listing photos and open houses so that it’s attractive to as many potential buyers as possible.
Your aim when staging your home is to:
- Create a good first impression
- Highlight its assets and downplay its flaws
- Make it look spacious for both living and storage
- Make it easy for potential buyers to envision living there
Staging increases a home’s value in the eyes of potential buyers, and the International Association of Home Staging Professionals says that homes that are staged can sell up to 30 times faster and for up to 20% over their list price.
With those statistics, you can’t afford not to stage your home!
Staging on a budget
Professional home stagers and interior stylists can work absolute magic by recommending paint colors, fixtures and finishes, furniture arrangements, and other improvements that will show your home in its best light.
Many of them also have warehouses of au courant furniture and accessories that they can bring in.
They are well worth the investment and you'll be amazed at how they can make your house look like a photo out of a magazine!
But what if you don’t have the budget for professional staging? That’s OK! There are plenty of things you can do yourself, many of them on a shoestring, to make your home shine in photos and open houses.
Read on for Part 1 of my list of tips on how to stage your home on a budget.
Let's do this!
Realtors say that the areas that benefit most from staging are:
- Living room
- Dining room
- Master bedroom
So if you have to prioritize, start with these areas.
This tasks below may seem overwhelming, but if you think of them in terms of helping you prepare not only to sell, but to move, they're well worth the effort.
And as with most things, the earlier you start, the less stressful the process will be!
1. Declutter and depersonalize
Excessive “stuff” can make rooms feel smaller, darker, and dirtier. Edit down your belongings in each room to only what you need to live there and some light decor.
You want the home to look spacious, clean, and generic yet aesthetically pleasing — think Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel catalog — and the best way to do this is to remove clutter and personal items.
This is the most challenging part of staging, because we’re all emotionally attached to our belongings, especially if we’ve curated special collections of art, books, and décor over our lifetimes.
The key is to not take this task personally. Removing these items is not an insult to your taste, it’s simply trying to create a blank canvas for the future owners’ personal touches.
Remove anything that will make buyers feel like they’re peering into someone else’s life, including:
- Family photos
- Anything related to sports, hunting, politics, religion & sex
- Stuff related to your hobbies
- Holiday-specific decor
- Unique artwork
- Notes on the fridge & papers on your desk
- Evidence of pets
- Kids’ toys
Also, remove dead or creepy-looking plants (and replace them with healthy new ones!)
An added benefit to doing this step is that it kickstarts the moving process. As you’re decluttering, separate out the items you don’t want to pay to move and pack the items you’re keeping. Label and store packed boxes neatly in your basement, garage, or (even better) temporary storage unit, and they’ll be ready to go when the movers arrive.
Then call a local organization who picks up donations and watch your clutter disappear!
2. Make repairs
Ensure that everything broken and annoying in your home is made right before your first open house. People will open and close anything and everything, so you want things to be in working order.
Here are some things that you or your handyman can take care of:
- Adjust doors, cabinet doors & drawers that don’t close right; oil squeaky ones
- Replace broken light fixtures & burned-out bulbs
- Tighten hardware throughout the house
- Repair loose stair treads
- Fix leaky faucets
- Replace bad or discolored light switches & outlets, including the plates
- Replace water-damaged ceiling tiles
- Make sure all appliances that will be sold with the house are working properly
Making repairs gives buyers the impression that you’ve taken good care of your property over the years and that the home is move-in ready.
3. Deep clean
This should go without saying, but your home should be sparkling clean and smell great when you list it. No one wants to see someone else’s grime, let alone buy it.
- Steam clean floors & carpets
- Get rid of odors
- Scrub soap scum, mildew & hard-water stains
- Clean kitchen appliances inside & out, especially the exhaust hood
- Polish all faucets & fixtures
- Clean globes, pendants & glass covers on light fixtures
- Remove cobwebs (look up!)
- Wash all windows inside & out
- Clean the garage floor, including removing oil spots
This is one area where hiring a pro might be worth it to you. They’ll get all the spots that have become invisible over the years, and you can better spend that time working on something else.
You’re on your way!
Starting early and addressing these things systematically will make that crunch time before your listing goes up less stressful.
You’ll be amazed at how your home looks sparkling and fresh, and you'll be excited to show it off to potential buyers.
Learn more budget-friendly DIY tips for staging your home in Part 2!