staged living room in green

If you’re planning to sell your home, hopefully, you’re already working with a trusted real estate agent.  You’ve probably heard about staging – and may even have a few ideas of your own.  But stop – this is the time to let a professional go to work.

Cleaning and straightening up your house for company and “staging” for a showing are 2 different things entirely.  There’s no harm in making suggestions – or asking questions – but if they veto your idea, there’s likely a good reason for it.  And whether staging will be done by your realtor or a professional stager, remember that they’ve been through this many times before – and are well-versed in what will make your house “show” and sell the best.

staged living room with afghan on couchSo don’t let this process hurt your feelings!  Your home undoubtedly suits your family perfectly just the way it is.  But keep in mind that prospective buyers want to be able to picture themselves living there.  But at the same time, they want to see some furniture and home decor there to envision how much space there actually is and what they can do with that space.  A tricky balance.

Some staging changes are minor – to both you and the buyer.  But others?  Well, there are some home staging decisions that can make a huge difference in the way your house shows – and ultimately affect potential offers.


So, here’s what you might expect from your stager – or things to keep in mind if you decide to do your own staging.  Don’t make these common mistakes!

Too much furniture

You may think that large pieces of furniture will illustrate that a room can hold that much furniture.  But the opposite is true.  Too much – or too large or heavy-looking ­– furniture can make a room look crowded.  And ironically, make the room appear smaller.  Exactly what you don’t want!

Too little furniture

Removing too much furniture, however, can make a room look cold or empty.  Not inviting.  You’re going for warm and appealing.

Shoving furniture against the wall

Here’s another one that goes against what you’d think would make sense!  In a large room, your room will actually look larger if furniture is placed further into the room or even at an angle.

Leaving out knick-knacks and excessive decorations

Sad to say, but one person’s collectible is another person’s dust-trap.  What to you are memories from your favorite trips, or every size and shape of elephants imaginable, will just appear as clutter to prospective buyers.  A simple plant or vase in that space will show much better.

Not changing light bulbs

lights in kitchen above tableMake sure your lamps and ceiling lights have working bulbs.  Not too bright and not too dim.  And if 3 are “bright white” don’t use a “yellow white” in the same room.  Is this a deal-breaker?  No.  But it does speak to your attention to detail.

Too bright

Don’t use bright colors where it’s difficult and/or expensive to change – walls, carpets, tile, or fixtures.  Orange carpeting may very well clash with your prospective buyer’s furnishings and could cause them to lower – or rethink making – an offer.  Use color in pillows or home décor instead.

Too neutral

Yes, neutral provides a blank slate.  But it can also be, well, dull.  Boring.  Unimaginative.  And that makes your house look less appealing.  Keep the bold colors off the walls and flooring but be sure to mix in some pretty throw pillows, plants, or colorful throws to add a pop of color to your room.

Too much art

You may have lovely (i.e., expensive) art you are proud to display.  But too much art can make your home look like a museum – or a consignment shop.  That makes it look less inviting.  And remember, not everyone’s taste in art is the same!  Nudes?  Probably not the best choice for staging.

Too many toys and games

We understand.  It’s hard to live in a place while showing your house.  Especially with kids and pets.  Just about the time you put it all away, they drag it out again.

But when you know you’re having a showing, make every effort to put toys and games in a designated place (cupboard, toy chest, bookshelves) so the room doesn’t look messy and cluttered.

No plants

plants arranged in living roomYes, decorate with plants!!!  Of course, if you have no green thumb, no plant is better than brown, crinkled and drooping ones (you don’t want buyers to thing you have too much or too little light for their plants).  But in general, plants provide a touch of color while giving your room some life.  If you don’t have plants, or don’t have healthy ones, they make some really good fakes these days.  But whatever you do, don’t decorate with fake plants that, well look fake!!

Leaving rooms empty

Even a couple air mattresses covered in bedding and a little home décor strategically placed within a room will show the room’s potential – as well as take attention away from any room imperfections.

Not cleaning well enough

You may not notice dirt, clutter, or dog hair on a day-to-day basis, but prospective buyers surely will.  Don’t cook?  Doesn’t matter!  But be sure to clean any grime in your oven or cooktop.  Wipe away fingerprints on your fridge.  And despite its name, your mudroom should never be muddy!

This may sound overwhelming, but let your stager take charge.  Once it’s done (right), the sooner your house will sell and the sooner you can make your new house feel lived in again!


man plugging nose - odorsYou know those commercials about being “nose blind?”  Well, it’s a thing.  You get used to the smells in your own home.  Pet odors, cooking smells, or the worst odor no-no of all – smoke.  Nothing turns off a prospective buyer more.  Have someone else assess your home truthfully.  Does it smell?  If so, do whatever it takes to get rid of the offending odor before the first showing begins.  Clean the carpets.  Change them if necessary.  And while a little Febreze or the smell of cookies baking, are good choices before a showing, don’t overwhelm house hunters with strong aromas from candles, wall outlets, or diffusers.