Stage Your Own Home

June 13, 2007 § 5 Comments

If you are selling your home, or even if you’re not, there is lots of advice out there for how to prepare your house. Television shows like Designed to Sell (HGTV) give you a crash course in updating, but for many home sellers, the thought of redoing kitchens and baths and floors without the benefit of a designer and crew of workers is just too overwhelming.

Here are a few suggestions for staging your own home, enough to get you started, at least.

After weblivrmafterstage.jpg

weblrbefstagebrk.jpg Before

Box up all the stuff. You’ve heard it before, but clutter is the biggest turn-off to people who are looking to buy your house. Clutter makes the house feel smaller and it simply makes the house look like yours and not theirs. And you want the potential buyers to see themselves in your house. But you’ve lived in the house for 20 years and accumulated an overwhelming amount of stuff? That’s okay.

1. Start by taking down all the family photos, wrapping them up and putting them in a box labelled “Family: Open First.” You can even put the box in your car and carry it with you. The hardest part is now done. You can now start thinking of your new house as your new home and your current house as somebody else’s.

2. Now create three piles: Keep, Throw Out, and Recycle. Just like the show Mission Organization, take a day and dedicate it to going through your bookshelves, closets, home office, and kitchen with a quick, yet critical eye for what stays and what goes. When in doubt, throw it out. As a general rule, leave lots of open space on the bookshelves, no small knick-knacks anywhere, and as few cords as possible. If you can live without the printer or the DVD player, box it up.

Lighten Everything Up. You’ve removed all the clutter, but everything seems dark. In older homes with lots of dark woodwork, it’s really important to lighten up the room any way you can.

1. Raise all the shades on the windows, push drapes all the way open or remove completely, turn lights on (for a showing), and add white to the room to create some contrast. In this room, we found a bigger piece of art for over the fireplace, moved a white settee next to the fireplace to highlight the room’s focal point, and put a white pillow in the dark blue chair for contrast.

2. Remove all the extra furniture. Keep all the walkways open, bring the furniture away from the walls, and cluster seating to provide intimate conversation areas. In this room, we removed a sofa table that blocked the entrance.

Make it Squeaky Clean. Whether your house is old and worn or brand new, everything in it needs to be clean. Windows, walls, floors, kitchen counters and cabinets, bathroom tile, sinks and tubs. If your walls are dingy, you’ll need a fresh paint job. The potential homeowner should enter a home that smells fresh and looks really, really clean. The same goes with the outside, especially the front door area. Make sure the yard and the front porch are spruced up.

The Rest is Gravy. After de-cluttering, removing extra furniture,  and cleaning everything in sight, you’re almost done. Just make sure that each room’s best selling features are evident. If you have beautiful hardwood floors, make sure you can see them (remove unnecessary scatter rugs). If you have a great view, make sure you can see it (maybe even take the drapes down). If you have a terrific marble fireplace surround, call attention to it (put a comfortable chair next to it or a piece of art over it). Put a bouquet of flowers somewhere visible as you come in the front door and let your house sell itself.




§ 5 Responses to Stage Your Own Home

  • Christopher says:

    thanks for the tips…

  • This question is important to determine if you are speaking to a  professional or a hobbyist. A hobbyist will tell you theyve been staging for  years for themselves, friends and family. How nice for them, however, this does  not tell you if the friends and family would feel the quality of their work was  good enough that they would pay for this persons services. If they are just starting out, and they tell you that up front, great, you  are ready to move on to the next question. Of course you have to get a yes but there is more to the question than  just getting a look at the persons portfolio. Follow up questions: Are the photos in your portfolio your own or are they examples or photos  provided by your trainer? Did you select the accessories, furniture, paint, etc. or was it a  collaboration with others?

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi An outdoor fireplace (#2),

    I totally agree with you that there are many hobbyists and well-intentioned loved ones out there who are available to give advice. But there is nothing like the experience and training of a professional.

    In conjunction with my interior and exterior decorating business, I am a professional home stager and all the photos in my portfolio are my own. The photos above were taken in a home with all existing furnishings. I worked with two other colleagues on this particular home, but in vacant homes (see photo under July 17, Updating Old Furniture), I have selected all the furnishings, paint, and accessories myself.

    Thanks for suggesting the questions to ask.

    Your Home & Color Coach

  • Megan says:

    Hi Barbara,

    It’s been nearly 1 year since I came to your site desperate for door color advice. You advised me that black in the northeast was a must for a pink brink colonial and you were right. It looks amazing ( I have pics to show you – please let me know the best way to attach or send them to you).

    My question today is in regards to staging or furniture placement if you will, since I have no intention of moving. We have a very ackward living room which happens to be the largest, unused space in the home. We recently purchased furniture but because of the uncentered bay window and 2 large entrances into the room making it look right is a challenge. Even after we created the “seating area” and “focal point” as I’ve learned about from HGTV I am still at a loss for this back wall that make a “L”. Again, I have photos to show you so if you will let me know how to get them to you that would be great.

    Thank You!

  • bmeglis says:

    Hi Megan (#4),

    So glad to hear that you like the door color advice!

    If you send the photos to my email at, I can insert into the blog for you.

    Your Home & Color Coach

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