The eight biggest rules to remember when staging a home

One part art and one part science, home staging is the process of de-cluttering, decorating, and positioning your home in the best possible light for potential buyers. Proper staging can help you sell your home faster and possibly for a higher price. In recent years home staging has become more popular and targeted.

An example of what not to do.

When you put your home on the market to sell, it's just like a job interview… for your home. You want to make the most of everything you have to offer, downplay any negative features or missing elements that lessen the appeal. If you take the emotion out of it and focus on your goal- selling your home quickly at a good price- then you have the best opportunity to achieve it.

Whether you are planning to hire a pro or want to learn a few tricks to do it yourself, these eight tips will help you learn the basics about staging to sell.


It's only as good as the photos.
A wonderfully staged home with poor-quality photography is a waste. The number one priority for any home listing is to have fantastic photos. According to the National Association of Realtors, properties with more photographs are more than twice as likely to be viewed by customers online. Consider it the number one priority for you in the marketing of your home.
Take yourself out of the picture. Literally.
Prior to selling, remove all "personal" pictures of you and your family. Your home now needs to be someone else’s, and if they keep seeing things about you in it, they won’t be able to mentally put themselves in your home. This applies to anything personal to you, including children’s artwork, personalized paintings, or religious items. Just consider it “early packing” and put it in storage.
Get a second opinion.

Items to hide include:

  • Personal photos
  • Diplomas
  • Portrait paintings (unless historical)
  • Children’s artwork
  • Personalized wall painting or stencils
  • Religious items, Personal paperwork
It is very, very easy to have blind spots in your own home and that’s a huge problem if you’re trying to get your home sold quickly, at a high price. Do you have a friend that has a good eye for home design and décor? Ask them to come over and take a look at your home with fresh eyes. They might be able to help you identify both the strengths and the flaws that may be invisible to you as a homeowner. To better remember their comments, take notes as they walk through the home.
Right size your stuff
Help your home sell itself by thinking about space in each room in your home. Is your living room on the small side? Can people walk down the hallway easily? Simulate a "walk through" in your own home and see how easy (or hard) it really is. Then re-position and de-clutter as needed.
Many rooms benefit from a significant amount "stuff removal". In many cases, you might be able to safely remove 50% of your belongings from a room and transform the feel of the space.   If you feel bad about how much you have, watch Hoarders on TV. It will make you feel better.
Very few people live in their home de-cluttered that they can just leave it all there. But it’s important to remember that less isn’t always more. Empty rooms can look smaller than staged rooms. So don’t eliminate it all, just remove some of what you’ve got. Very few people live so de-cluttered that they can just leave it all there.
Focus on the front.
Wondering where to begin? Try sprucing up your home's curb appeal. Buyers do drive-byes. And they aren’t going to announce it to you. In advance of listing your home, clean it up, paint, and update everything you can. The first look is critical. Trim foliage, take out dead plantings and mulch. Keep the lights on once your home is listed for sale, buyers will come by at all hours.

Curb Appeal Checklist:

  • Power wash siding and walkways
  • Hang easy-to-read house numbers
  • Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery
  • Mow lawn and reseed or add fresh sod as needed
  • Wash windows
  • Repaint or stain as needed
  • Add a new doormat
Say goodbye to ugly.
There is really no nice way to say it: Every home is ugly somewhere. And for a potential buyer, the minute they see it, you've just created an instant "maybe this home really isn’t for me" moment. And that's exactly what you're trying to avoid.Smart sellers know how to deal with ugly head on. If you can't fix it, at least try to minimize it. Lots of quick fixes will help, like new window treatments for old windows, new shower curtains for old baths, or painting old cabinets to make them appear fresh. Relatively inexpensive things, like adding new light fixtures and new bed linens will help update your home for less money than you might expect.
This home has limited curb appeal.
Know your buyer.
Many home sellers "play it safe" with their décor and stick with nothing but the neutrals and traditional décor. And sometimes the effect is perfect. But frequently, it's not.
Be bold. Sort of.
The colors you should use depend, at least in part, on where you live, and part on who your buyer is likely to be. Urban properties generally can experiment more with color. In a modern context, some bolder colors can really make your property stand out. But use them carefully. It's safer to try it with accents and other details.
Painting an entire room orange might not be the smartest move. Take a hit from professional stagers in the Washington D.C. region. Many have abandoned bland, beige and neutral decorating for more vibrant styles that use more color and eclectic décor.
There should be no forgotten spaces in any house for sale. Assume you’re home is going on an interview and plan accordingly. Put everything you can to work for your home and your space will seem not only bigger, but more appealing and usable to potential buyers.  You want every potential buyer to feel right at home.