Staging Your Home

When I sold my last home, I hired a staging company to arrange furniture and furnishings to show off my home’s best features. I had moved out, so the company brought in furniture and made the place look great. Some estimates say sellers receive an average of $2 in increased sale price for every $1 they invest in staging.

While it’s great to hire experts, it’s not always in the budget, so here are some tips on how to stage your own home (with your own furniture and furnishings).

First and foremost, pare down! Remove about a third of your home’s contents—get a storage unit if you must. If you have a friend who is decoratively inclined, consider inviting him or her over and asking for recommendations, because it is hard to be objective when it’s your junk.

In determining which third to remove, start by taking out furniture that has seen better days—in a competition between style and comfort, style should win. Then, remove personal photos and children’s artwork, because while they are priceless to you, they aren’t likely to have the same appeal for others. In fact, they can be distracting.

Next, ditch the Hummel Collection or any other items that could legitimately be called knickknacks. Your goal is to remove clutter to make the place feel more spacious. While you’re packing the Hummel Collection, pack up the mounted boar’s head and hunting trophies, too—and anything else that has the potential to offend someone. Who knows, maybe the president of PETA would love to pay top dollar for your home (but if you leave the boar’s head up, she might just put a hit out on your family, instead).

As you de-clutter, you will need to remove more than furnishings. Take a look at your plants: are they healthy and vibrant or sad reminders that you forgot to water them one too many times? Keep the healthy ones; dispose of the others. Go to your bedroom closets and remove enough clothing so clothes hang without touching. A tightly packed closet makes the closet seem small. And replace your wire hangers with a nice matching set. It’s these little touches that can make a difference in how people view your home.

Once you’ve removed all the excess, clean you house. I mean, really clean it—baseboards, ceiling fans, grout between tile, shower doors. Make sure surfaces are clean and clear, sinks are empty, and maybe even consider some touch-up paint.

Now it’s time to decorate. Display furnishings with coordinated, gender-neutral colors. If you ever saw the TV show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” try to channel some of that advice. In the bedroom, for example, it should feel peaceful and relaxing. Remove televisions, computers, strip plugs, or other distractions. Then make sure pillows, bedspreads, window treatments, and artwork blend beautifully to create the right ambiance. In bathrooms, consider purchasing white towels for a clean, spa-like feel and remove everything except soap from the countertop.

In the kitchen, you can quickly modernize without too much expense. Cabinets can be re-stained or painted. Pulls and knobs can be replaced (consider brushed silver or stainless steel over brass or wood). Make the floor seem bigger by removing the little area rug in front of the sink. And if you still have an avocado green fridge, use stainless steel stick-on coverings or appliance paint to neutralize the color.

When you have prospective buyers on the way, turn on lights in every room, open the curtains, and set the dinner table with coordinated settings. You don’t have to use the fine china; simply create a visual point of interest, and don’t forget the fresh flowers.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 35 years.