What Works and What Doesn’t for Staging a Home to Sell

| April 9, 2018 | Comments (0)

What Works and What Doesn’t for Staging a Home to Sell

Contributed by Katie Mills


When thinking about the question of staging a home, it’s useful to make a comparison with the stage in a theater.  In the theater, quite bluntly, it’s all about what’s visible to the public in the auditorium and likewise in home staging, it’s all about what’s visible to the buyer.  If a show is expected to have a long run, producers may well invest in state-of-the-art purchases for maximum impact, but if it’s only due a short run, they are much less likely to do so and will, instead, look for easy wins to impress an audience.  Likewise if you are planning to live in your home over the long term, you may wish to invest in expensive renovations, but if you are just wanting to prepare it for sale, then you just want to spend the minimum you need to make maximum impact on your viewing public.  With that in mind, here are 6 tips on home staging, what works and what doesn’t.


1.Forget expensive upgrades but make all the affordable updates you can

Expensive upgrades can indeed increase the value of your home but they are by no means guaranteed to do so and even when they do the increase is unlikely to match (let alone exceed) the cost of the upgrade.  Sometimes undertaking major renovation work prior to selling a home can actually backfire on you by making your home less appealing to a potential buyer, for example you install a rustic-style kitchen but your viewer has contemporary tastes.


By contrast, small-scale updates can make a big difference and if they don’t then there’s very little harm done and none at all if you can take the items with you when you move.  For example, if your kitchen storage has your pots and pans out on display, then now may be the time to donate your existing cookware to a good cause and treat yourself to a new set to help make your kitchen look more visually appealing to buyers.


2. Be clear on the difference between decorating and staging


Decorating is about customizing your home so it suits your personal style.  Staging is about creating a blank canvas so that the buyer can imagine the space customized so it suits their personal style.  Basically they are complete opposites.


3. Work in harmony with the bones of the house, not against them


Most houses can be fitted into one of a variety of common categories, e.g. farmhouse, townhouse, condo and so on.  They are going to attract people who are interested in the lifestyle associated with that type of house, which means you need to run with that rather than fighting against it.  Now obviously, you can and should, indeed must, apply some common sense here, traditional farmhouses can still contain modern amenities from microwaves to the internet to steam showers, but there is no point in staging them in a style which suggests sophisticated city chic because people looking for sophisticated city chic would be looking at city centre condos and townhouses and by the same logic, while it’s fine to have natural and rustic touches in city centre condos and townhouses, there’s no point in trying to stage them in the style of traditional farmhouses.


4. Make sure that any vignettes fit the space


This is basically analogous to the previous point.  Over recent years, the use of vignettes seems to have become increasingly popular, possibly fuelled by the vast popularity of Pinterest.  The way to think of vignettes is, essentially, as staging still lifes, which reflect what you would expect to see in that space or at least what could reasonably be seen in that space, so, for example, a typical dining room vignette might be a fully set table and if you wanted to get a bit creative, you might want to create a vignette which showed how the room could also do double duty as a home office.  Do not, however, get carried away by creativity and social media influences and start trying to create the sort of scene which would be repinned on Pinterest or massively liked on Instagram.  Your aim is to trigger the buyer’s imagination so they can visualize the space as their own, not to create an art installation.


5. Remember that leaving a space empty is better than filling it the wrong way


If you have already moved or are in the process of moving, perhaps packing up your home and putting some items into storage until your move, then it is far, far, better to leave a space empty than to fill it with items which are clearly not appropriate to the look and feel you are trying to create.  If you have the budget, you can rent furniture for the sales period, if you don’t then just leave the space empty.


Hint: if you need to clear a room before a home is sold then one option would be to stage it before you clear it and take plenty of clear pictures of the result, which you can then leave in the room as an aid to buyers.  Obviously, this is not as good as having the room properly staged when they view it, but if money is tight, it can be better than nothing.


6. Never forget that staging enhances basics rather than disguising them


You can put as much time, effort and money as you like into staging a home, but it will be completely wasted unless you take care of the basics first and that you ensure the basics stay in good order for as long as it takes to sell your home.  Repairs should only need to be done once, but cleaning is a never-ending task at the best of times, even for adults living on their own and once you add in children and pets it becomes even harder to keep a house looking pristine for even a short period.  With this in mind, if budget allows, it may be advisable to hire a cleaner to come in regularly while the home is on the market and perhaps to offer a “carrot” to older children to motivate them to keep their rooms in good order.


Contributed by Katie Mills [email protected]

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Category: Home Decor for Staging and Living, Home Staging Articles, Home Staging Industry, Housing Market, Stagedhomes.com

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