How to Stage a House for Sale Successfully

When you’re selling your home, making a good first impression is crucial. The way you stage your house can mean the difference between a lengthy and frustrating time on the market and a quick, profitable sale.

Home staging involves strategically preparing and showcasing the interior and exterior of your house to appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. By accentuating your home’s strongest selling points and minimizing any flaws, staging makes buyers imagine themselves happily living within those walls. This emotional connection helps drive some buyers to make higher offers while making the decision to purchase easy and inevitable for others.

In today’s market filled with accessible real estate photos and data, buyers can get turned off at the first glimpse of an outdated, cluttered or poorly photographed listing. On the other hand, walking into a home that really wows them can trigger an immediate emotional response along the lines of “This is the one!”. Though cleaning, decluttering and maintenance may seem basic on the surface, staging done right requires strategy, innovative problem-solving skills and a good dose of empathy into how buyers make decisions.

The various upfront efforts of home staging aim for one end goal – decrease the time on market while increasing the final selling price to maximize profit. Though the specific return will vary based on factors like location and market conditions, statistics do show how staged homes sell on average for 1% to 3% more compared to non-staged homes. For a $500,000 home sale, that could represent an additional $5,000 to $15,000 extra from staging alone.

Now let’s get into the specific tips and tricks for executing a stellar home staging plan.


1. Simplify and Declutter

One of the key strategies of home staging involves clearing out excess furnishings and decor to make each room appear spacious, clean and tidy. The goal is to eliminate visual clutter so potential buyers can easily imagine themselves and their own belongings occupying the home.

Go through every single room with fresh eyes, even spaces like the basement or garage that sellers may not prioritize as highly. Be ruthless and question whether every piece of furniture needs to remain. If items are broken, outdated or generally unused, get rid of them. For bulky furniture that’s in good condition, consider renting offsite storage so you can retrieve items later if needed.

Likewise, thoroughly declutter all surfaces. Remove everything from countertops, coffee tables, dressers and other horizontal spaces. Store away any non-essential decor items like piles of magazines, decorative bowls, candles etc. Show buyers how much room there is to work with by revealing bare table tops and efficient storage.

Take a careful look at walls covered in lots of framed photos, artwork or decorative displays. While you want to avoid huge empty expanses, too much visual busyness can have the unintended effect of making rooms feel smaller. Streamline these areas to highlight architectural details like wainscoting, crown molding and tall ceilings.

Closets should also be neatly organized without anything spilling out when opened. Buyers will check closet storage space and may feel overwhelmed if faced with a bursting pile requiring work to sort through.

By clearing out the extra stuff and truly simplifying each area, you help visitors focus on the beautiful bones of your home. This showcases why the layout and features fit their needs instead of getting distracted by the previous owners’ belongings still occupying every corner. The next step is tackling any areas of disrepair these decluttering efforts may have revealed.


2. Address Maintenance and Repairs

A freshly painted room can go a long way towards a great first impression, but the little flaws like cracked walls or dripping faucets also need attention prior to listing your home. After simplifying and removing excess furnishings during the staging process, take a careful look at each room with fresh eyes. What stands out as a bit worn, broken or run down?

As you review the interior and exterior, make a list of maintenance tasks and repairs needed – no issue is too minor. Some common areas to inspect closely include:

– Cracked walls and ceilings

– Holes from removed hardware

– Stains on carpeting

– Sticky or creaking doors and cabinets

– Dripping faucets and showerheads

– Grout needing regrouting

– Missing roof shingles

– Faded exterior paint or siding

Don’t let the required effort scare you. Having a squeaky clean home with everything in optimal functioning order is an absolute must for showcasing well to potential buyers. Plus, it’s cheaper to make minor repairs yourself ahead of time rather than offer a closing credit.

If significant remodeling is required, consult a real estate agent on expected cost versus value impact when selling. Updating a kitchen or bathroom to match current trends may be worth the spend, while older special finishes like shag carpet may be better as a buyer project.

Aim to paint rooms in popular neutral shades rather than bold colors that buyers may not share your taste for. Keep all lighting bright with functioning bulbs, especially in naturally darker basement and kitchen areas. Ensure curb appeal shines by mowing lawns, trimming bushes, clearing fallen leaves and adding potted flowering plants if needed.


3. Organize Kitchen and Bathrooms

When staging a home for sale, the kitchen and bathrooms deserve special attention. These spaces boast major selling power for home buyers, yet their functional nature often leaves them more vulnerable to appearing cluttered.

Start by clearing all small appliances off the kitchen counters. Store the toaster, coffee maker and microwave in cabinets to showcase ample open workspace. Clean appliances sparkling inside and out – even update or hide those with noticeable scratches or discoloration.

Brighten up the kitchen by displaying a bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables on counters or open shelves. Add cute dish towels, updated fixtures like cabinet hardware and new light pendants. Consider painting walls or cabinets in the latest neutral shades for a modernized look.

In the bathrooms, replace old shower curtains and upgrade lighting fixtures alongside new guest towels and soap dispensers. Repair any leaky faucets or showerheads. Re-apply caulking and clean all the grout lines in tilework. Ensure ample counter space around the sinks is completely clear of clutter.

While home staging often focuses heavily on the kitchen and master bathroom since buyers conduct a close review here, don’t neglect powder rooms and secondary bath spaces either. Remove toothbrushes, cosmetics, medications from the counters and update lighting, mirrors and hardware here as well.

Fresh, clean and decluttered bathrooms make all the difference toward buyers happily picturing themselves preparing for each new day in your home. The soothing ambiance then motivates buyers to conclude that this whole place just “feels right” as they envision the rest of their lives here as well.


4. Furniture Placement to Showcase Rooms

With the decluttering and repair checklist complete, now focus on the furnishings that remain in each room. Pay attention to the placement of larger items like beds, sofas and dining tables to ensure the overall layout makes sense. The goal is to facilitate buyers visualizing themselves living comfortably within the existing floorplan.

Walk through the space and pay attention to the traffic flow and functionality. Can room doors fully open? Do tables allow multiple people to relax or move around them easily? Are televisions visible but not overwhelming in relation to nearby seating options?

In living spaces and bedrooms, pull furnishings away from walls and more toward the center of the room. Curate vignettes by angling furniture to balance empty areas and create an inviting atmosphere for conversation.

Dining rooms should feature a table with ample walking space on all sides. Stage the tablescape with decorative plates and chargers to inspire homeowners to host elegant dinner parties there.

For offices and dens, clear papers and clutter from desktops while highlighting built-ins and storage solutions. Remove extra chairs and rearrange computer desks to maximize functionality over just fitting custom furniture oddly.

Take note of any striking architectural elements like large fireplaces, exposed brick walls or beautiful windows. Then position key pieces like sectionals or beds to highlight these while still keeping a good flow. Buyers adore homes boasting character details and thoughtful design.

Be willing to remove oversized items or pairs of furnishings that cramp spaces even if you enjoy lounging here daily. You want visitors to see themselves fitting their own belongings, not weirdly inheriting and working around your armoires for years to come.


5. Create a Warm and Welcoming Environment

Home staging goes beyond just decluttering and furniture arranging to also focus on the overall ambiance conveyed. As buyers initially walk through the front door, you want them feeling immediately welcomed and able to envision happy memories being made here.

Pay special attention to entryways by adding tasteful decor here like a large urn with dried vines or a unique console table lamp. Add a fresh doormat and potted flowering plants or impeccably trimmed shrubbery lining the exterior walkway up to your home’s entrance.

Living rooms, family rooms and primary bedrooms often become focal points during showings and open houses. Set the stage for relaxation by layering in textiles like woven throws and plush pillows in neutral earth tone shades. Update dated lamp shades or purchase coordinated lighting that gives off a soft glow.

Incorporate special touches like unscented candles, natural wood trays stacked with coffee table books related to cooking or travel and small floral vases or potted succulents. These finishing embellishments convey a comfortable, peaceful ambiance perfect for unwinding after long days.

Beyond items to buy or rearrange, also pay attention to lighting during daytime and evening showings. Open all window coverings fully to allow ample natural light to fill rooms. Turn on all interior lighting including overhead fixtures, lamps and under cabinet lighting to brightly illuminate the beautiful features you’ve showcased during staging.

Finally, consider playing almost inaudible, non-lyrical background music to subtly underscore the welcoming environment you’ve staged without distraction. The sensory experience helps motivate that emotional pull where suddenly a house just begins to distinctly feel like “home”.


6. Keep Things Clean and Neutral

After putting in all the effort to stage your home through simplifying, repairing, rearranging and decorating, keep up the work with ongoing cleanliness and attention to visual neutrality when photos or showings occur.

Schedule a deep clean service to steam carpets, scrub tile floors, dust ceiling fans, wipe down walls, baseboards, light fixtures, window treatments and clean inside all appliances a day or two before big listing photoshoots or open houses. Consider repeating at least portions of this deep clean monthly if the home listing extends across seasons.

For everyday upkeep, maintain strict tidiness and cleaning routines including immediately dealing with dishes, mud at entryways, pet hair and kid toy clutter that accumulates. Plan to wake up early on the day a showing is scheduled to vacuum, run a Swiffer over hard surface floors, clear counters and do a final pick up.

Limit strong smells from foods like onions or fish when showings occur. Keep pet odors at bay by cleaning litter boxes twice daily and washing pet beds weekly. Strategically place unscented candles, lemon water or fresh flowers to emit pleasant aromas instead. Essential oil diffusers work well too.

Remember to preserve a neutral visual style inside your home regardless of holidays or changing seasons. Avoid playing up your family’s religious beliefs or political affiliations through lots of obvious decorative displays. Also skip overt seasonal embellishments both inside and on the exterior around entryways – so keep the wreaths, lawn inflatables and fake spiderwebs in storage no matter how much you love celebrating.

The same guidance applies to personal photos, children’s brightly colored toy bins and sentimental collections prominently displayed. You want buyers focusing on envisioning their own lives unfolding inside your property’s walls instead of being distracted wondering about the backstory of your family pictured throughout the years.


Final Thoughts

Though the entire process requires substantial effort, home staging is an invaluable investment when selling a property in order to maximize your profit and ensure a timely sale.

By thoughtfully decluttering, making repairs, arranging furnishings and enhancing ambiance and first impressions, you allow potential buyers to instantly see themselves happily living within these walls. Staging facilitates making an emotional connection with your home, motivating buyers to move quickly and pay top dollar because they just can’t imagine not being able to call this place their own. Put in the work to showcase your home’s full potential for a successful sale.