My morning toast was the first to go. The toaster oven footprint – too large for my kitchen counter. All these years, who knew? How do I make toast or grill my veggies now? In fact, how am I supposed to live a normal life when everything that means anything to me is tucked away?
Responses from staging clients often parallel my feelings. The question is, “How soon and for how much do you want to sell your home?” Staging is in my designer DNA, so I never quite understood the frustrated home seller’s resistance to what I saw as “the obvious”. Suffice it to say I will have more compassion in the future. (She says as she is loading yet another box for Goodwill.) In case you are getting ready to join the home “marketeers” clubor have been sitting in it idly, following are a few staging tips from my recent experience on the front lines.
Get the moving boxes ready. Pack and store anything beyond neutral that says “me” or “my life”. Your favorite collection? Too personal. No matter how rare, unique or beautiful, if your collectibles are adding excess “drama” (and accept that they probably are); they become a distraction for your potential buyer.
As a rule, moving creates its own drama. If your buyers want drama, chances are they are prepared to create it themselves.
Finding a new home is overwhelming. If a buyer gets lost in your style, their own possibilities will most likely “fly the coop”. I learned this through experience during a past house-hunt when I toured a nicely designed home. While I saw the underlying possibilities to make it mine, I couldn’t imagine changing anything. Nada. A few months after my move, a new friend invited me over. Say what?! A completely different space, my friend and her husband had purchased the “nice” house. It was prime property for the two creatives who were searching for a home with the right bones. It shows there is always a buyer, but at what price?
Put away toys, loose books and papers – in a drawer, bin, chest, closet (neatly in the closet). If you must have “clutter” in the open areas, try your best to create a tidy organized corner.
Hide as much “stuff” as possible. Your place should feel open and orderly with a splash of accessories for a glimpse of unemotional personality. Less is more dotted with some cheer, a few plants, flowers, and nondescript art that talks like the Mona Lisa (i.e. to everyone). No personal photos!
Most buyers spend approximately 11 minutes walking through a home. 11 minutes to see if their lifestyle will fit into your home’s walls, floors and rooms, i.e., space; leaving very little time for imagination. “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Fresh paint in a soft neutral palette tops the structural list.Make sure to try a sample on the walls. Trust me on this one!
Shampoo carpets, re-grout tile, replacing the extremely worn and/or dated.
Inexpensive hacks like changing the fixtures, cabinet knobs, door knobs/hinges, and outlet covers refresh your home, updating its overall presentation and perceived value.
New or painted commodes, vanities and appliances appeal at a lower cost.
Paint dark cabinets white to update and lighten a kitchen without a total renovation.
Home improvements are a judgment call based on value and your return on investment.Our major investment was in the update of our flooring and bathrooms. Kitchen granite counters with the free new sink gave our kitchen a lift without a complete fix. Other improvements were priority over my choice painted white cabinets. We improvised by adding a white island and changing the cabinet knobs to complement our new faucet and overall look (a very easy fix requiring a screwdriver).
Observe the counters and table top design in magazine home decor advertisements.
Check out local homes for sale that are similar to yours.
Find bathroom and kitchen hacks from local model homes.
Choose your realtor at the very beginning of the process to create a plan of action. They can also give you names of contractors and professional stagers if all this sounds just a little overwhelming!
In essence, your staged home is preparing you to leave. Focus on next. Keep your rooms and closets uncluttered, your walls neutral and your lighting on. You will definitely want your home to be bright and inviting!