As Staging professionals, our job is to help best prepare your home for sale. Many times that involves transforming the space that appeals to you to a property that appeals to many different people. What are the most frequent changes we encourage our clients to make?
Entry/First Impression: One of the first things I ask a client is to go outside and enter from their front door. Then I ask what they notice first. Living in our own home, we generally enter it through the garage, which neglects our front entry. Big mistake. This will be a buyer’s first impression so do not forget to give it some love. Make this space light and welcoming. Check to make sure exterior lighting is clean and working. Make sure your door hardware is in working condition. Place a pretty rug at the front door, add a lamp to a console table, and remove all the junk that we don’t even see anymore!
Rugs: Rugs help to ground and create a space so don’t skimp on the size of your rug. One of our pet peeves is either skipping a rug altogether or having a too small rug, so the furniture ends up being cramped on a postage stamp-sized space or doesn’t sit on the rug at all. Rugs should be sized to show off enough floor around the perimeter of the room, but not shrink the room size. We usually suggest having 12”- 18” of flooring show. The front legs of the furniture should be able to sit on the rug. Remove any decorative rugs sitting on top of carpet. This is a common design element that people use to introduce additional color, pattern or texture. But don’t do this when you are trying to sell your home. The look often shrinks the visual size of the room. Buyers sometimes wonder what you might be hiding under those rugs, as well!
Artwork: Artwork enhances any room – it’s a way to introduce color and add personality. But oftentimes people hang artwork too high or too low. When trying to sell your home, a smaller number of pieces is always better and a larger size piece is more impactful than a collection. Use artwork to show your buyer where to look. Art should be hung at eye level. This varies of course by a person’s height so the rule of thumb is eye level for someone that is approximately 5’4”.
Mirrors: When we set up our house for living, mirrors are used to see ourselves. We hang them often in entry and exit points so we can check our outfits or our hair before leaving, or in a bedroom for use when getting dressed. For staging, mirrors are all about reflecting light to make a room show larger and brighter. They are great in a formal dining room, opposite a front window. Or on an interior wall reflecting light from the back wall.
Window Treatments: Curtains, drapes or valances are a great way to introduce fabric, color and pattern into your home. And we know that homeowners often invest a lot of money into their curtains and they have a personal affinity for them. But for selling, they only serve to block light and great views. We normally encourage sellers to take down their window treatments in order to open views, show off their great windows, and neutralize the sense of style and personality.
Furniture Position: The most common ways we see furniture placement include: 1) everything facing one direction to watch the TV, 2) all moved up against the walls of a room, or 3) blocking the visual entrance into a room. We work with clients to set up their living areas to initially welcome buyers into the room– we don’t want to see the back of a sofa or have a sectional block the traffic pattern when entering a room. Then we decide on the focal point (usually a fireplace or a great picture window) and place the chairs and sofas as if we were creating a conversation grouping, while drawing the eye to the focal point of the space. And then we float at least one piece of furniture to give some visual interest.
Freshen up the pillows: Replace the standard pillows that often come with your sofa and chairs with different patterns and textures. This is a great way to introduce some personality. We always recommend going with a larger down insert to make your pillow show large and fluffy. If your pillow cover is 18 x 18, then purchase a 20 x 20 down insert. Mix and match a couple of solids with a pattern or two for visual interest.
Lighting: We often buy a lamp and its’ accompanying lampshade. Then we keep it for 20 years or until it no longer works. Confession: I still have my original lamps in my master bedroom that I bought 26 years ago. They are dated and tired, but why replace them when they work great and at the time, they were really expensive lamps?! We see this every day. Well, the easiest way to update a look is to change out the lampshade and put in fresh bulbs. You can find very affordable white drum shades at your local big box retailer and this will completely change your lamp. For selling, we always recommend using the highest wattage that your light fixtures will allow. If you don’t know what this is, there is often a label on the fixture telling you. Our favorite are 60W incandescent bulbs but if you can’t find these, buy a warm or soft light LED bulb.
Last Impression: Leave your potential buyers with a great impression that will linger. Usually the last areas they view are the mudroom entrance/exit and the garage. But these are also the last areas that a seller will prepare. And often, everything that gets moved from the main rooms, lands in the garage. Our advice is ideally to get all the extra stuff out of the garage, if possible, to show off the space. Buyers love garages. If that isn’t an option, then make sure that things are boxed and neatly stacked along one wall of the garage, again to show off the space. It’s a great time to do a run to the recycling center, a drop off at the dump, and a delivery to a local charity for donation. You will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders!