10 Tips from a Home Stager

January 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Whether you’re preparing your home for the market or just yearning for spring, here are some suggestions we stagers use that might give you or your home a jump-start:

1. Box up what you’re not using currently. This process is the hardest if you’ve been in your house a long time, and it may require someone to help you go through everything and decide what to keep, throw out, or give away. That person may be a family member or a professional organizer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at Step 1, there’s help for you. Ask your Real Estate agent for a referral.

2. Be clear about the original function of each room. If your home office has taken over the dining room table, it’s time to reclaim the room. Move the computer to a spare bedroom or finished basement. At least for now!

3. Neutralize your walls. Neutral doesn’t have to be beige, but light and bright are preferable to dark and moody paint schemes. You will optimize your room size by lightening up the walls.

4. Edit your bookshelves, entertainment units, and china cabinets. Keep out only enough items to display. It’s okay to leave some shelves empty! Space sells! And see number 1 above if you’re overwhelmed.

5. Box up all your family photos and other items of great personal value. This applies to sellers only, obviously, but it’s very important to remove family, cultural, and religious identifiers so that you reach the maximum number of potential buyers. If you’re not moving and you’re just spring cleaning, use this opportunity to group your family photos and feature them where families gather, in the family room area.

6. Highlight key selling features of your house. If you have a beautiful view of the backyard, remove heavy window treatments. If you have a newly restored hardwood floor, roll up the scatter rugs to unveil it. If you have a great fireplace, make sure it’s not hiding behind the sofa.

7. In the kitchen, store all unused appliances and remove artwork and magnets from the refrigerator. Generally a nice coffee maker is fine to leave on the counter during house showings, but again space sells. This time it’s horizontal space on the counter. So toaster ovens, knife racks, dish drainers, and cutting boards go down below.

8. Clean, Clean again, and then Clean one more time. Since kitchens and bathrooms can sell houses, make sure you spend extra time cleaning them and ridding them of all odors and their sources. Squeaky clean and fresh-smelling are the goals. Buyers may overlook the dated Formica in the guest bath, but they will definitely remember the litter box tucked behind the door.

9. Maximize light and create a comfy feel. Open all window shades and turn on the lights for a house showing.  Arrange furniture in conversation groupings away from the walls. Make sure Person A sitting on the sofa does not have to shout across the room to talk with Person B in the chair by the fireplace. You’ll be amazed at how a room can be transformed by simply moving a piece of furniture a few feet forward or to the right.

10. Accessorize. Hang fresh white towels and a new shower curtain in the bathroom, place one large accessory on the coffee table (more effective than lots of little items), and fill a large bowl with fresh fruit for the dining table.

After reaching number 10 on this list of tips, you can kick back and enjoy your  clean and organized house. If you’re selling, you are now ready to throw open the doors to potential buyers. If you’re staying, congratulations. You have a fresh start!

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