How To: Stage for an Open House

By Sklar Furnishings

How To Guides & Product Care

March 31, 2017

Selling a house can be a difficult experience for a host of reasons, from the emotional to the practical. Unfortunately, the longer your home remains on the market, the greater the likelihood that you’ll have to accept a lower price than you had hoped. Clever staging can help impress the qualities and possibilities of your home on potential buyers, leading to better offers in less time.

What is staging?
It’s rare for any of us to have a completely objective view of our homes; we’re too close to them, too used to them, and too attached to our own personal items to see them as other people do. What looks great to one person may look idiosyncratic to another; what seems like an efficient use of space to somebody with a lot of furniture may look cluttered to a minimalist.

Professional real estate stagers bring an outside perspective to the problem. Their role is effectively to make your home look as attractive as possible to the largest number of people possible. This can mean anything from rearranging your furniture and putting personal items into storage, to removing absolutely everything and replacing it with their own furnishings, art and decor. It’s a big job, but the results often speak for themselves when a hard-to-move property is suddenly whisked off the market.

Do-it-yourself staging tips
If you don’t have time to find and book a professional stager before your open house, or the idea of bringing a stranger into the equation just makes you uncomfortable, all is not lost. It’s absolutely possible to make a difference to your own home by borrowing a few staging tips.

  • Great kitchens sell houses, but so-so ones can put buyers off in a big way. Replacing features may not seem like a smart use of money when you’re planning to move out, but investing a little can end up returning a lot. In the kitchen, replace old appliances with new (stainless steel finishes are a safe bet), repaint any cabinetry that’s past its best in a light, modern neutral and replace hardware including doorknobs and drawer pulls with shiny new ones.
  • Bathrooms are another potential trouble spot — if small or dated, buyers immediately start adding up how much a renovation will cost them. Knock out a space-consuming vanity in favor of a basin that stands on a slender pedestal, revealing the real amount of floor space on offer. Old-fashioned or unusual tiling may benefit from being painted over in a neutral shade especially formulated for ceramics, or stripped out completely.
  • As they walk through your home, buyers are trying to imagine themselves living there. Your personal style may not be similar to theirs; your personal items definitely aren’t. Make it easier for buyers to envision a future in your house or condo by removing distracting artworks, collectables and mementos. Similarly, remove any furniture that doesn’t strictly need to be there. Clutter is your enemy.
  • Honestly assess whether your home has a specific smell. Baking cookies before an open house is a bit of a cliché, but buyers are going to have all five senses engaged and may not share your affection for your favorite foods, your perfume, or your pets. Washing your upholstery, soft furnishings and carpets will help; you may also need to board Fido for a few days.
  • All walls should be neutral. Whether you opt to repaint in simple white or an elegant greige, creative color schemes and wallpapers have got to go. Think light. Think spacious. Think of it as practice for saying goodbye.
  • Finally, deep clean every. single. room. This may sound painfully obvious, but many sellers feel that their usual level of cleanliness is just fine for an open house. It isn’t. Hire cleaners, have any carpets or area rugs thoroughly washed, and ensure every surface is spotless before opening your doors.

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