Friday, May 17, 2013

Staging our home - part 2

Welcome to part 2 of staging our home! If you missed part 1, check it out here.

When I first thought of what I would do in preparation to put our home on the market, working with a professional stager was not on the list. Our real estate agent kindly offered to provide one, so we went for it. I will admit....I was very skeptical at first. I thought that our home looked pretty good as it was (well, aside from the unfinished room downstairs that I used for my sewing/craft space), and I was pretty confident that I knew what to do to get it market-ready. But, the stager offered some advice that I never would have thought of, and for the most part, I think it helped the overall presentation of our home.

I had to get over my idea that home staging was only for terribly cluttered and unattractive homes. Now I know that is not the case. Even the most beautiful, well-maintained home can benefit from a little staging!

The first tip the stager told me was to look at my home with a critical eye. Think about it from a buyers perspective. What would they see first? What would their eyes be drawn to? This, of course, is hard to do when I've lived here for so long and decorated it according to my tastes. But like I mentioned in my first post, staging is not the same as decorating. I had to look at our home with a fresh eye, like a discriminating buyer would. It really helped that we had walked through so many homes on the market before deciding to build. I remembered all the good and bad things that stood out to me when seeing them, and I tried to keep those in mind when staging our home.

The professional stager spent about 2 hours walking through our house room by room, while giving me her staging suggestions. I was surprised she spent so long since I had already done quite a bit of staging on my own, but I appreciated how detailed she was. After all, sometimes the little things make the biggest difference in how a house shows.

She wrote everything down and told me this was her "dream list" of every little thing that she would love to see done. Of course, the decision was in our hands, and we could do as much or as little as we like. She was very realistic and understanding that we just might not be able to get everything done, or live in a house that was so staged with a toddler running around. But....we were SO motivated to sell our home as quickly as possible, that we really did every single thing on her list.

Before I get into specific staging advice she gave us, I'll go over some general tips that could be used to stage any home:

  • Clean, clean, clean. Your home cannot be too clean while it's on the market!
  • Open up all curtains and blinds and turn on all the lights.
  • Show as much open floor space as possible. Remove small ottomans, baskets, small rugs, shoes, etc. that are taking up visual space and do not add to the presentation of the home. (Although baskets can be great to hide things when showing a home, too many can just break up open floor space and make a room look smaller and cluttered). 
  • Put away all personal items in the bathroom. This includes sponges and soaps in the shower, toothbrushes and make up on the countertop, robes, etc. If you can live without it, you should even remove the trash can and any toilet brushes or plungers from the corner near the toilet. (Yes, we did this! I thought it was silly, but once I did it, I saw how much better the bathroom looked, and I was sold!). Put out fresh, unused towels!

  • Confine children's toys to their bedroom, unless they are being used as part of the staging in another area of the home. On the suggestion of the stager, we actually used just a few of Audrey's things as part of the staging in the living room. We wanted to convey that this was a family space and "child friendly"since we figured most potential buyers would also have children. We left her piano out, and her chair with a teddy bear and story book in it. Notice how her items still flow with the rest of the decor in the space. The effect wouldn't be the same if I used a bunch of brightly colored toys! 
  • Clear your kitchen countertops of everything possible. Take this advice with a grain of salt, though. If your countertops are not a feature that you want to draw attention to, you might want to consider leaving just a few things out to detract from them. In our case, we had marble countertops that were only 3 years old and in great shape, so we wanted people to see them, instead of the usual kitchen clutter that is kept on top of them. For the open house, we even removed our microwave, but we did put it back afterwards, so it was there for weekday showings. 

Well, that was already a lot, huh?! Hang in there though, I'm getting to the fun stuff! Here are the tips she gave that were specific to our home:

1. Remove my beloved gold settee from the entryway. She felt like the back was high and wide and cut off the large, open feeling of the foyer. She left it up to me on how to stage the space after removing it. I decided to use a smaller bench that we previously had in the foyer, and reposition the mirror over it. This change drew your attention to the size of the foyer instead of the decor itself. 

2. Remove the loveseat from the living room (and use it to stage our downstairs room). Her thought was that this would really open up the living room and give the feeling of more space. While I agree that it did just that, I really didn't like how the room photographed without the loveseat. The gray cabinet just seems to be floating awkwardly in the room all on its own (instead of being grounded by the loveseat). We ended up leaving the loveseat out of the room, since we used it downstairs, although I would have preferred it in its original spot in the living room!

3. Pack away my craft room, and remove the bed and sofa from the downstairs room. Now this really broke my heart! I packed away all of my craft supplies in the name of selling our house! I really didn't want to, but the room down there was so messy, it would immediately turn off any potential buyer, so I knew it had to be done! 

On one side of the room, I created a cozy seating area in front of the fireplace.

On the other side of the room, the stager suggested creating an office space. This was done with items I already had. A good tip she let me in on was that, with staging, you don't need to be literal. You just want to do enough to create imagery of what the space "could be". In this case, a desk and a chair were enough to convey "office space" without literally purchasing an entire set of office furniture.

4. Guest bath: new bath mat, remove shower curtain, remove etagere. We originally had 2 small, white bath mats in here, and the stager suggested replacing them with a larger, patterned bath mat to detract from the less-than-pretty vinyl flooring. She also thought removing the etagere (aka shelf above the toilet) would open up the space. I ended up hanging art there that used to be on the opposite wall as you can see in the picture below. The last tip she offered was to remove the printed shower curtain because it looked too busy in photos. I removed it and left our plain white liner up (not vinyl) and tied it with a gray ribbon to match the bath mat. 

5. Master bath: Draw attention to the large size of the room and the high ceilings. I put some tall branches in a vase in the corner to draw the eye up to the ceiling. I also purchased a new, very long, patterned rug to draw the eye from one end of the room to the other. 

6. Put something attractive in bedroom loft spaces. I would have completely ignored this space if it weren't for the stager's suggestions. In each of our bedrooms, there is a loft type of space above the closet. In reality, we used it for storage bins (things like winter clothes, Audrey's baby clothes, etc), and I honestly would have left them there, but she made a good point. Too many storage bins left out in the open could convey "there's not enough storage in this house!", which would be a huge negative for any potential buyer. We removed the storage bins and put some prettier things in their place. Just a little something to draw the eye up and say "hey! look at this cool space!". In the master and guest bedrooms, I put a vase with branches and a couple of candles next to them. Audrey's room is my favorite though...story books, a teddy bear, and a toy basket.

Ahhhh. Are you worn out yet?! I think I could go on and on with more things we did to stage the home after meeting with the professional, but you might not be my friend anymore! 

These were definitely the biggest changes we made, and I think they made a positive difference in the presentation of our home. The stager was so complimentary of my work that she told me I should get licensed as a professional stager and to call her if I had any interest! Sounds fun, but I think for now, I'll just stick to taking care of Audrey and blogging:)

Before I leave you...a few really quick points on things I did for the open house (and some for midweek showings as well):

  • Put out fresh, colorful flowers in the kitchen and the master bedroom.    
  • Baked chocolate chip cookies and left them on a cake plate next to a stack of pretty napkins in the kitchen.
  • Lit a couple of lightly fragranced in the kitchen, one in the master bedroom. 
  • Played light classical music at low volume. 
  • Put away Audrey's high chair.
  • Put away all coats/shoes.
  • Put away Lola's bed and food dishes.

Well, I think that is all my friends! Hope this was helpful to you! Please comment below if you have additional suggestions for staging your home! I'd love to hear them! 

Have a great weekend! XO


  1. Thanks for sharing your tips and experience! It's amazing the stuff you don't think of. The changes you made were excellent - my faves being the guest bathroom & office/craft space.

    1. Thanks so much!! Glad you like the before and afters!

  2. This post was so informative. It's amazing how different it makes a room look. Glad your house sold quickly!

  3. You did not bore me! I love reading this stuff, so interesting!

  4. we just put a home on the market and are now under contract ( 3 days later ) ! I think it being very clean and uncluttered helped. The pictures of our nearby competitors were full of furniture and cluttered - people need to see space for their own belongings....

  5. I am now more than willing to pack away my craft room rather than just clear out some of the clutter! Wow what a difference! Thanks for sharing


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