OK, so you don’t have a warehouse full of designer furniture, accessories and home décor items or a degree from an interior design school. Don’t let that stop you from fashionably staging your home before you put it on the market.
Staging isn’t merely the act of decorating a home; it is primarily an appeal to emotions. A lot of psychology goes into determining colors, textures and furniture arrangement.
You can see this psychology in action in model homes. Every element of each room is thoughtfully chosen to evoke an emotional response from the potential homebuyer.
Overall, the designers hope to create desire – they want to create a sense of longing for the home. How they get there is by making homebuyers see themselves living in the home.
The first rule of home staging
There’s a reason that most articles you read about home staging start with the admonishment to “clean the home.” Studies show that clean homes sell faster and for more money than dirty homes.
And, by “dirty,” we don’t necessarily mean slovenly. Something as everyday as a pile of laundry, dishes in the sink or children’s toys scattered about can turn off a potential buyer.
“You’re asking people to forgive the mess and still pay top dollar,” stager and interior decorator Darrow Samberg tells Lena Katz at forbes.com.
By “clean,” we mean from-the-ceilings-to-the-baseboards immaculate. Yes, it’s challenging to keep it that way while the home is on the market. But, it will help the home sell quicker than it would if you don’t take the time to clean.
Another hot topic among those who write about staging is “depersonalizing” the home. Most will advise you to remove family photos, certificates, diplomas, kids’ artwork, collections and anything else of a personal nature from the shelves, walls and surfaces of every room.
By doing so, you not only allow potential buyers to more readily see themselves living in the space, but you’ll also be taking steps toward decluttering the home (the third step in the pre-staging process).
Get rid of clutter. This includes the aforementioned collection of items on countertops in the kitchen and bathroom, stacks of newspapers and magazines and anything else that isn’t decorative.
DIY staging on the cheap: Start with your furniture
The best way to make a small room appear larger is to remove overly-large furniture. Then, rearrange what’s left so that it advertises the purpose of each room.
In other words, move the baby’s changing table out of the master bedroom and ditch that exercise equipment that clutters the family room.
Next, arrange the furniture that’s left to maximize space and create a cozy feeling. Pull the living room and family room furniture away from the walls and reposition chairs, sofas and coffee tables to create a conversation area.
The pros at Better Homes & Gardens suggest “arranging the seating pieces to face each other over a shared coffee table …”
Spiff up kitchens and bathrooms
For years, surveys of homebuyers have shown that the most important rooms in a home are the kitchen and the bathroom. It only makes sense, then, that your attention should be focused on these two rooms.
Thankfully, there are easy, inexpensive DIY projects that require nothing more than a bit of energy. Start by removing everything from the drawers and cupboards, thoroughly cleaning the interior of all of them and then returning to them only what is absolutely necessary.
Arranging the contents neatly gives the impression of roominess and storage space is a hot button for many buyers.
“Turn all coffee cup handles facing the same direction,” suggests Elizabeth Weintraub at the balance.com. “Buyers will notice and think you are meticulous about the rest of the home, too.”
Speaking of cupboards and drawers, consider purchasing new hardware for them if yours are dated.
Bathrooms are easy to update on the cheap. A fresh coat of paint (even on the cabinets, if needed), new lighting and fresh, matching linens will help add a wow factor to a dated bathroom.
Here are some inexpensive ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Tour model homes to get staging ideas. Don’t forget to take your camera to snap photos so you can copy the décor.
- Go through the attic, basement and garage, looking for anything you can use in staging.
- Shop for decorative pieces, if necessary. Craigslist.org, flea markets, garage sales and second-hand stores are great places to find inexpensive decorative items. Look for art work, vases, baskets, rugs, mirrors, pillows and any other items you need to stage the home.
- Create focal points by adding colorful accents.
Some additional tricks of the trade include painting, which gives every room and instant makeover, and replacing faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms.