Tips for Staging a House to Sell

Tips for Staging a House to Sell

We have big news, you guys. JOEY SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT LAST NIGHT! I don’t mean that silly “5 hours is sleeping through the night” thing that the experts try to convince parents (though we were ecstatic when that happened, too). I’m talking 8 solid hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. without a peep. Whoa. Keep it up, kiddo! 

So I wrote this post a while ago and somehow never posted it. I thought some of you may find it interesting to know what we did to prepare our old house to sell.

When we decided to move, we knew we wanted to make the extra effort to stage our house well. It’s really one of the most important things you can do to put your house in the best light, and it could potentially make a difference in the quality of the offers you get. Staging is also the simplest thing you can do, because it doesn’t really cost anything. It’s not about big renovations or buying anything new, but just working with what you have to put your house in the best light. I figure whatever you can do to try to get that better offer is worth it!

We were pretty shocked when we were looking at new houses that some of them were a huge mess and no one had put any effort at all into staging. Why would you do that when staging is so easy?? One house even had prescription medicines lying around on the counters during an open house! Whaaat??? I mean, seriously, people, it’s not that hard.

We had already spent a lot of time setting up/staging our house for the Ohio City Home Tour last May, so we didn’t have a ton to do before selling. But staging for selling does require a different perspective. I’m going to use our formal living room as an example because we made a few changes in here. You’ll see that it’s all kind of simple and subtle, but also makes a difference. Here’s what our living room looked like in May for the Home Tour:

Then the photo below is what the same room looked like when we put it on the market in October. I feel like this is one of those “find what changed” games! A few little tweaks made the room more sale-ready instead of real-life-ready. Can you spot them?

I’ll break down what we did with three easy tips.

1. The absolute most important thing to do is DECLUTTER. I can’t even emphasize this enough. You want to show off your house, not your stuff. We had a bunch of paintings and old photographs layered on top of the piano, which was always a fun conversation piece when we had guests, but when we staged the room, we packed all of those away and replaced them with just three simple — not distracting — decor pieces. The relatively random things we put on top of the piano aren’t what I’d consider “well-styled” from a designer perspective, but having fewer things up there opened up the room, made it feel bigger, and let your eye focus on the room instead of the stuff in it.

Before we started decluttering, we literally had rooms that we were only using for storage, but since we were marketing our house as a 5 bedroom, it was important that we clean out those rooms and make them look like awesome, usable bedrooms. It took us a loooong time and a loooot of work to get all of that clutter thrown away, packed up and moved out, but then we were able to stage the rooms with a purpose, like “hey, look what you could do with this space if you lived here!” We also borrowed an air mattress from a friend, put it on a cheap metal bedframe and covered it with a comforter to set up a bedroom.

2. Put away most of your personal items. We had a big photo from our wedding above the bookcase, so we replaced it with a different piece of art, even though the other one was a little too small for the space. Buyers don’t necessarily want to see pictures of you, mostly because it’s awkward to think about the people who live in the house you’re thinking about buying! Likewise, hide away your hairbrush and all those personal items you don’t want anyone seeing. Remember, people who are looking at your house will look everywhere — your closet, your medicine cabinet — so make sure you don’t have anything out you don’t want a whole lot of strangers to see!! I bought a few decorative boxes and bins that made our closets look really neat and organized while also giving us a place to hide things.

3. Place furniture to make the room look the most inviting and to best emphasize the room’s good qualities. We didn’t do much to rearrange the furniture in this room, but I did move the side table and lamp to the other side of the chair to make the room look more like a nice place to sit and read. In other rooms, we removed things like extra chairs that we felt were making the room too cluttered.

There’s a fine line between too much and too little furniture when it comes to staging a room (and decorating in general). Have you ever noticed that when you take all the furniture out of a room it looks smaller? It’s so weird how that happens, but on the other hand, a room with too much furniture will feel too cramped and tiny. For staging you need to find that sweet spot in the middle, where you have only the necessary furniture and just enough art/decor to keep the room interesting. Definitely aim on the side of minimal.

Obviously there’s no guarantee that staging your house is going to get you more money, but I truly believe that putting in a little time and effort and following these three really simple tips will at least give you a much better chance. So why not try???

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