When it is time to put your house on the market, your realtor team may bring in a professional stager as part of their commitment to doing whatever it takes to get your house from “for sale” to “Sold”.
We’ve already covered the bases on how NOT to stage your house for selling, so let’s get down and dirty with my top tips on staging your home, without the need for a professional.
Step One : Remove all art and photos from the walls.
This one may hurt your heart a bit if you’re like me. What I hang on my walls reflects the journeys of our family, things that inspire us and provide our guests a window into the kind of people we are. For exactly those reasons, in order to stage a home for new buyers, these need to go! The purpose behind removing the artwork and photos is to provide a blank canvas – literally – for the prospective buyers to envision THEIR art on the same walls.
Practical Tip : Choose a spot in your garage or in one specific room to stack your artwork. Larger frames can benefit from a washcloth being placed in between the frames to prevent damage and never lay them flat on top of each other, lean them against the walls or closet instead. When you finish a room, make sure to remove nails and/or hooks. Some will suggest you also patch holes, but I’m a fan of leaving that, since otherwise you also have to paint!
Cost : Free
Step Two : Go White
(this is the ONLY time I will ever suggest to you, my friends, that you go vanilla!)
A common suggestion from a professional stager will be to repaint the walls to neutralize, but if you don’t want to put that money into the house, instead choose to bring in loads of white for neutralization. This orangesicle color may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the white shower curtain, white towels and rug, and the planter seems somehow to mute the strong color a bit.
Practical Tip : Instruct your family that these pretty white things are for showings only and tuck your normal towels in a drawer for easy access in between showings. We also purged our towel collection and placed half of them in a tub in the garage, using only 3-4 towels in the whole house. Cuts down on laundry AND it keeps closets looking more organized!
Cost : I purchased the white planter at Ikea ($5) and the white washcloths, towels, rug and shower curtain at Target (approximately $20). Don’t tell them, but I’m returning the linens as I left the tags on and they were only used for show.
Step Three : Purge your closets by 50%
Since we’re on that topic of purging the towel collection, let’s discuss ALL closets. This one will take the majority of your time, so dedicate at least two FULL days to this task. Arm yourself with some plastic tubs and be prepared with trash bags. I prefer to use different color bags … black for the thrift shop donations and white or clear for trash.
Simply start with one closet. Place anything that is no longer usable in the trash bag, anything you no longer need or use into the thrift bag. Work swiftly and unemotionally. When you have purged it by “trash” and “thrift” then reassess the contents of your closet and place 50% of what remains into the tub. This sounds a bit over the top, but not only are you freeing your space for what gets transported to the next home, but you are portraying to future home buyers that you take care of your space, by keeping it neat and orderly. Choose the same area of your garage or room where the art was placed and stack everything nice and neat.
Practical Tip : Make a daily run to the thrift shop! Don’t let the bags pile up or risk overwhelm and curious family members. As soon as you fill a bag, place it in the back of your car and on the next errand run, drop it off. Make sure to get a receipt for your donation! A full large bag of clothes can be equated to $50 and you can claim $3 for each item on a hanger per current IRS regulations. Also, I chose to use vacuum bags for our clothes. I left the Husb’s closet alone, but the kids and I outfitted ourselves with just 50% of our normal wardrobe (way easier than it sounds as first!). All of the vacuum bags then went underneath beds. Easy peasy!
Cost : The cost of plastic tubs can add up, but if you are only using these temporarily, consider going cheap and scouring the shelves at the store for those on sale. Don’t get too large a tub otherwise you’ll not be able to move it when it’s full!
Step Four : Tighten up your living areas
You may roll your eyes at this suggestion, but furniture that is pulled in, away from the walls actually makes the room look larger. It’s quite miraculous actually! You will not compromise the live-able space in a room, yet it DOES increase the visual of how big a room is!
Practical Tip : If you have wood or tile floors, make sure you have the felt rounds on your furniture legs before you move anything. Not only do you want to protect the floors, but also protect your lower back! If you don’t have felt rounds handy, slightly lift one side of the furniture and slide a kitchen towel underneath the leg to allow easy sliding. If you have carpet, make sure to enlist the help of some strong folks to help!
Cost : Free!
Step Five : Pantry Purge and Challenge
Using the same methodology as you did inside your closets, tackle your kitchen storage. Be ruthless and clear things that you never use! If the food has reached its expiration date, toss but if it’s still good and unopened, create a stash for donating to your local food pantry. Now, with what remains, have a Pantry Challenge and just consume food that is ALREADY in your kitchen for at least one week to pare down the contents. If you shop like I do, you have an overload of pasta, canned soup and sauces. Use them up!
Practical Tip : Scour your house to see if you have unused baskets. My favorites are these wire baskets, but any will do. Group like items in the baskets, leave empty room on each shelf.
Cost : Free, if you already have baskets. If you have to purchase baskets, you can use them at your new home AND you’ve just saved yourself money by doing the Pantry Challenge!
Step Six : Shine it Up
First, consider replacing any mismatched door handles or drawer pulls. When we moved in to our home, there was a strange combination of heart shaped pulls and regular round pulls (no rhyme or reason). A trip to the hardware store and bit of elbow grease and now all the handles/pulls match throughout the house.
If you have stainless steel appliances, you know how hard it is to clean those suckers!
Remove ALL magnets and other items from your refrigerator. Make sure to keep all of those items together and handy since they are likely reminders of upcoming events or personal artwork or the like.
Practical Tip : Instead of using harsh cleaning supplies while I staged our home, I mixed equal parts rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle, adding 1-2 drops of liquid dishsoap and several drops of my favorite scent of essential oil. My favorite after trying several scents was eucalyptus (and I now have become obsessed with using this mixture all over the house!). Consider buying a sample set like this one and try various combinations. I found the peppermint was too strong and the orange was too weak.
Cost : Depending on what cleaning supplies you have, this one may be free, but relatively inexpensive regardless.
Step Seven : Add some personality
Just because you need to depersonalize your home, doesn’t mean it can’t hold a new type of personality. If you’re feeling gutsy, repaint the front door red! If you have a bench on the front porch, add some bright yellow pillows.
Set up a little vignette in the master bedroom to help define a space. Create an arrangement on the coffee table with a serving tray, a candle, small succulent and a set of coasters. You get the idea!
Practical Tip : Ask a friend to come in AFTER you’ve finished purging and ask for his or her critique! You may gain a new perspective, as well as having free advice on what other things you could do to really make your home sparkle.
Cost : Free
If you’re getting ready to sell your home, these seven tips will get you started on the way to a successful purging, staging and sale of your home!
Follow me on Twitter or come say hello on Facebook for tips on the process and journey of moving, relocating and selling your home.