Right up there with kitchens in terms of important rooms in the home for buyers are bathrooms. Every do-it-yourself magazine or television show, and every realtor I have spoken with confirms that kitchens and baths will help most in determining resale value.

A clean countertop is important

Clean and bright with up-to-date fixtures are the keys to staging a bathroom. Add luxurious and you’ll get an even better reaction form potential buyers. So…

  • If your bathroom fixtures (handles, spigots, etc.) are outdated, replace them with sleek and modern fixtures, but stay away from anything trendy.
  • You’ll want to have some high-quality plush towels on the towel rack. And they should be color-coordinated with the wall paint and rugs as well as any decorator items you have in there. 
  • Fresh flower arrangements are a must. They look and smell marvelous here.
  • Make sure the bathrooms look as if they belong in a model home. Any signs of use will be a big negative. Get the soap scum out of the shower and off the counter tops. Make sure the fixtures are freshly shined.
  • Shower doors need to be spotless. You can take them outside for cleaning with muriatic acid and water (1/10) if need be. Use a little steel wool and elbow grease and you’ll be good to go. 
  • Are the sinks in good shape? If not consider replacing them along with up to date fixtures. It will be money well spent.

It all boils down to this. If the bathrooms and kitchen are first rate, realtors will make a big deal of it. You’ll be half way to a sale already.

Regardless of anything your home’s bedrooms may have that set them apart, a skylight, direct access to the patio, or a fireplace for instance, the most important aspects of staging a bedroom comfort and space. That’s what potential buyers want to see and feel in a bedroom.

You do this with neutral paint color, furniture arrangement, lighting, and perhaps a few accessory pieces.

So with that in mind:

  • Earth tones (or any soft color) for paint and overall color schemes will appeal to most buyers. 
  • Keep the furniture to a minimum; a bed, dresser, and one or two other items is enough unless you have an unusually large bedroom. Either way, the idea is to make the room seem as large as possible. Too many furniture pieces will likely convey a cramped feeling. 
  • Thin out the clothes in your closets, and I suggest you really take out most of them. You’re going to have to pack them eventually, so get as much of it done now as you possibly can. Your closets will appear larger and that’s a good thing. A home can’t have enough closet space.
  • Buy new, top quality bedding. It will improve the look of the bedrooms, and as you will be taking it with you when you leave, consider it an investment in getting your home sold.
  • Remove personal items such as photos. The purpose here is for buyers to see themselves in the home … not you and your family.

The idea here is to make a bedroom seem as an ideal place to relax. Do all the things outlined above and you will have done that well.

Kitchens have a lot to do with resale value because people spend a lot of time in their kitchens. Properly staged, the kitchen will help them see themselves in the home and that will help increase the likelihood of a sale, the whole point of home staging in the first place.

Here are some ways to stage your home’s kitchen in order to get the maximum positive reaction from buyers.

  • Kitchens are notorious for being full of clutter. When you stage this area of your home be ruthless about removing unnecessary items. Countertop appliances, utensils, the coffee pot, should all be put away, out of sight, as shown here.
  • Pay particular attention to cleaning the sink, counters, stove, etc. Everything needs to be extra special clean and sparkling.
  • Lights should be on and the curtains open to showcase the sparkle. If you have dark areas in the kitchen, consider adding some lighting there.
  • If you’re in a buyer’s market, it might be worth thinking about upgrading your cabinets, even the counters. With a budget in mind, an inexpensive way to make the cabinets stand out is to invest in some new hardware, or install hardware if it isn’t already there. You’ll be amazed at what a few knobs or handles can do.
  • If it doesn’t make sense to pour extra money into cabinetry, try staining or painting the cabinets. You’ll get a big improvement at a fraction of the cost. 
  • Changing out your kitchen faucets, lights and other fixtures is another relatively inexpensive way to update the entire space.
  • Don’t forget the effect of a fresh coat of paint. And the comments about painting the living/family rooms apply here as well. Also, if the kitchen is connected to the living/family room, use either the same color paint — or one shade lighter or darker. This will make the eye flow from one room to the next, making the entire place seem more spacious.
  • Finally, if you have an eat-in kitchen make sure buyers can envision that feature. Show it to them by setting a small table there complete with flatware, glassware, and every day dishes. A single silk flower in a small vase would be a nice touch too. 

As people spend a lot of time in their kitchens, devoting some extra time and/or money in staging the kitchen is a real good idea. Realtors will confirm that kitchens sell homes more than any other room in the house.

These rooms in the home are usually where families gather most often.

The two rooms will also serve as entertainment centers for both the family and guests.

You can expect potential home buyers to look at these rooms accordingly, and it is essential they be warm and inviting.

It is particularly important to remove personal photographs (both on the walls and on tables) that remind buyers they don’t live there. After all, you want buyers to be able to envision themselves in your home, and that’s difficult when looking at others’ photographs or portraiture.

  • Arrange the room so as to promote conversation, if it’s not that way already. 
  • A warm paint color for the living room is a good idea. Use neutral tones here but that doesn’t limit you to beige. There are plenty of warm colors you can try, such as soft shades of green, blue, or brown.
  • "Neutral" never has to be boring. A neutral color scheme can be brought alive with colorful accent items, such as pillows and rugs. Color-coordinate these items for a professionally designed appearance.
  • Too much furniture tends to create a crowded, even claustrophobic, feeling. The room needs to breathe. If it’s hard to walk through because of having too much furniture, remove some items and place them in storage.
  • Consider renting furniture for staging purposes. You may love your old college furniture but potential buyers won’t.
  • If the furniture has that worn look but is otherwise in perfectly good shape, I suggest using a slip cover as a low-cost way to enhance the appearance of your sofa and chairs. Slip covers can also help soften overly bright or "loud" fabric colors.
  • Make sure the mantle is not overloaded with knick knacks. Opt instead for a  vase or flower arrangement. Just a couple of items should be sufficient.
  • Here’s an important tip. A fireplace (if you have one) should be the focal point of the room. Arrange seating to face the fireplace. And, believe it or not, if you have a huge television, consider removing it. It will draw attention away from the fireplace.

To sum it up for these rooms, people want a living room or family room area that seems open, airy, and inviting. When people naturally want to sit down and spend time in the room, you’ve achieved your home-staging goals for the room!

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A clean, uncluttered entry hallway

Here is where the potential buyer first transitions from looking at the exterior of your home to the interior. It’s where the first and perhaps most important impression of the living area is made.

As with curb appeal, if the buyer first sees a well maintained entryway the proper mindset has been achieved. On the other hand, if there is clutter all about, you will have lost an important opportunity for a good first impression.

Here are some tips for properly staging the entry area of your home.

  • Keeping the entryway free of clutter will make the house seem larger. That’s usually a good way to start.
  • To the extent possible, make sure the entryway is well lit or otherwise bright and inviting.
  • Is a new welcome mat needed? It’s essential it be what it is supposed to be, welcoming. If need be, buy a new one.

Bottom line here is, don’t neglect the entryway when you’re staging your home for resale.

curb appeal - clean and tidy

A wonderfully simple, appealing curbside view

The home’s exterior is an equally important (but often overlooked) home staging priority.

Curb appeal is when potential buyers pull up to the curb in front of your home and see it for the first time. First impressions are lasting, and if buyers have a frown on their face as they leave their cars and walk to your front door, you have problems.

Here are some tips to stage the exterior for maximum curb appeal.

  • Go out to the curb in front of your house with a notepad and pen. Jot down anything that “leaps” out at you.
  • And here’s an idea. Get a friend to do the same thing. Others may see things you’ll miss for one reason or another. Then combine the lists and you’re off and running.
  • How does the paint look? How about the front door and shutters? Make sure everything looks as if it was recently done.
  • A mowed and trimmed lawn and garden beds are a must. Depending on where you live you may have to mow and trim every few days to keep things looking first rate. 
  • Mulch your garden beds and trim flowers and shrubs. Mulch is inexpensive and easily available.
  • Use potted plants to brighten up the entrance area. There is evidence that yellow should be the color of choice. Look at the picture here and notice the effect of the yellow flowers among the red. Psychologists suggest yellow makes people comfortable and at ease. Take advantage of it. And potted plants can be moved around to create different effects.
  • This next item falls into the “I don’t want to…” category for many people, but it is really a must-do. Make sure there are no weeds in the garden, and look several times a week because those pesky weeds can sprout overnight. Oh, and keep looking right up until the house sale closes.
  • In the fall, be sure to rake leaves from your lawn and also from flower beds. Do this every couple of days, or as needed to keep the lawn free of leaves. Trim bushes and trees as needed to give a tidy appearance. In particular, make sure they are not blocking windows or doors.
  • Make sure windows are spotless, and this means inside and out. Be sure the window frames and shutters are thoroughly cleaned as well. This adds a lot to your overall curb appeal.
  • If you have a porch with railings, make sure they’re clean.
  • Is the porch large enough for furniture? Does it look inviting as a place to sit and relax? If so, give careful consideration to putting some comfortable furniture there if you haven’t done so already.

Remember, the outside of your home is the first impression. Make it count!

You have to think like a buyer. This will help immeasurably as you prepare your home for viewing by strangers.

  • Getting organized early. You are going to have to pack everything when you move, right? So clearing out closets and reducing clutter on shelves gets you started on that chore. It’s called de-cluttering and it is of paramount importance.
  • The prospects of selling your home improve. Buyers want to see a clean and well organized property. Staging helps in that regard tremendously.
  • Staging can have a dramatic effect on how fast your home will sell. And it goes without saying that speed is good. Once you have decided to move it’s usually a process you want to finish as quickly as possible, particularly if you buy a new home before selling the one you’re in now. Two mortgages can ruin a savings account.
  • Staging just might be the difference in getting what you’re asking in terms of price. There’s little doubt that a seller’s market means little or no haggling over price. But a buyer’s market means you will need to do everything you can to justify the asking price. Staging can go a long way in that regard.
  • You might even enjoy it. Yes, it will be a lot like work, but it is really a creative endeavor first and foremost. The challenge of using your creative ideas to make your home more attractive to potential buyers can be immensely rewarding on more than just an economic level. Achievement in conceiving and executing a plan has its own rewards.

  • I like to think of home staging as the process of getting your home and its contents ready to present to a very wide audience. Hopefully lots of different people will visit your home and they will represent a whole host of differing ideas of what’s appealing and what isn’t. How well you complete the staging process will have a major impact on a buyer’s impression of your home.

    Let’s be clear too on the difference between getting your home ready to sell and staging the home. They’re not always the same. A thorough cleaning and making needed repairs is necessary and part of your overall preparation, but staging is something else entirely. Think of staging as more of an artistic endeavor; furniture layouts, lighting, removing nonessential items from shelves and so forth. That’s staging.

    The purpose of staging a home to sell is simply to make your home appear as attractive and enticing as it possibly can be in the eyes of a large and diversified audience of potential buyers.