Staging the Interior of a Home
January 3, 2024
Think of two homes that were built to look exactly alike. As you walk through Home A, you notice pet hair on the floor, papers and appliances covering the kitchen counter, bedrooms with unmade beds and clothes on the floor, and a dark, crowded living room. Now, transport yourself to Home B, where you find lemons on the kitchen counter, a pleasant scent in every room you enter, well-lit rooms with warm, neutral colors, and bedrooms that look like they would be found in a five-star hotel. Which home sounds more appealing to you? Home B, of course, because time and effort were put into making the home look clean and livable.
What is Home Staging?
Home staging is about more than just tidying up for guests. Potential homebuyers should be presented with a relaxing and inviting space they can imagine as their own. Think about which features set the home apart and how they can best be highlighted. Additionally, if the house has some minor flaws, how can they be fixed or minimized? The living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and dining room will receive the most attention. Stage these rooms first, and then use them as inspiration for the rest of the home.
Aside from highlighting the home’s assets and downplaying its flaws, home staging also includes removing personal items, rearranging furniture and other items, cleaning and decluttering, erasing signs of pets, and defining each room in the house, among other things. Which room is the master bedroom? Is the room across the hall best utilized as an extra bedroom or an office? Stage the rooms to provide answers to potential questions.
You can stage your home on your own, hire a professional, or ask your real estate agent if he or she would be willing to help. Before deciding, it is best to consider how much you want to spend on staging, how big of a return you can receive on your investment, and the current state of the market in your area.
The term ‘interior design’ is sometimes used synonymously with home staging, but there is a key difference between the two. Interior design captures the specific preferences of an individual and/or other inhabitants of the home. In contrast, home staging is done to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. When looking to sell a house, home staging is more likely to result in a favorable outcome for the seller than interior design.
Why is it Important to Stage a Home?
There are three primary reasons why it is beneficial to stage a home. First, it helps prospective buyers envision what it would be like to live in the house and how they could make it their own. If the staging is done effectively, potential buyers will begin to develop an emotional attachment to the home. Second, it can lead to bigger offers. Homebuyers are willing to pay more for a home they love, especially if there are competing offers. Third, it can help decrease the amount of time the home is on the market. When a house sits on the market for too long, potential homebuyers could see it as a sign that there are red flags.
Additionally, staging a home helps direct your attention to what needs fixed before you list it. If you discover issues that cannot be solved by merely staging the house, then you can determine how you want to move forward before prospective buyers are involved. Staging also helps maximize space and draws attention to the home’s assets. When rooms are filled with clutter, the house can appear smaller than it is and some of its best features can go unnoticed.
Tips on Staging Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Hotels serve as some of the best examples when considering how to stage bedrooms and bathrooms. In most cases, hotels pay close attention to keeping these rooms clean and orderly. This includes the use of white towels, sheets, and pillowcases to provide a clean look.
If you want potential buyers to view a space as a bedroom, then clear away anything that takes away from that purpose. At the least, a bedroom should have a bed, closet, dresser and/or other areas to store clothes, and a window, but too many items will make the space feel crowded. Remove personal items from bedrooms, including family photos. Organize drawers and closets, making sure not to overcrowd drawers and to hang clothing. Also, avoid creating hybrid spaces, such as a combination of an office and bedroom. It is better for each room to have a defined purpose.
When it comes to staging bathrooms, cleaning the space is the top priority. Everything should be cleaned from top to bottom to leave a good first impression with potential buyers, including the bathtub or shower, shower head, toilet, sinks and faucets, mirrors, floor, walls, cabinets, etc. Cleaning also includes decluttering – make sure drawers, cabinets, and other storage areas are organized and contain as few items as possible. It will also be beneficial to paint walls, shelves, and cabinets that are outdated or in need of a touchup. Hang clean, white towels, and empty the wastebasket for the finishing touches.
Tips on Staging the Kitchen and Living Areas
Many of the same best practices associated with staging bedrooms and bathrooms also apply to the kitchen and other living areas, such as the living room, dining room, entryways, and hallways.
Staging the Kitchen
The kitchen should be one of the cleanest areas of the home. And, when it comes to kitchens, bigger is always better. Maximize the space of your kitchen by cleaning and decluttering the space. This can be done by clearing off the counters, cleaning the inside and outside of the appliances, organizing the cabinets, cleaning the floor, and wiping down the sink and faucet, among other things. Modernize the space by replacing outdated hardware and faucets. Put the finishing touches on the kitchen by making it smell fresh and clean. One trick is to rub a cut lemon inside the sink – the smell will last for hours.
Staging the Living Room and Other Living Areas
The living room will receive a lot of attention from prospective buyers. This area should boast plenty of natural light. Bring in even more light and make the space feel bigger by covering one of the walls with mirrors. Furniture should be appropriately sized for the room and should be arranged in a way that encourages conversation. Move the furniture away from the walls and try to avoid making the TV the focal point of the room. If there is any storage space available, make sure it has been decluttered, but also highlight how it can be utilized. As with the rest of the home, remove personal photos so prospective buyers can imagine living out their lives in the house.
Hallways and entryways should be highlighted for their closets and other storage spaces. Do not overcrowd these areas, as the storage space should appear as large as possible. Be sure to clean the floor in the entryway because it is the very first thing potential buyers will see once they are inside the home. Additionally, give the front door a new coat of paint if there are any signs of wear.
Once prospective buyers make it past the entryway, the hallway will be one of their next stops. Declutter and depersonalize this space, making sure to remove any family photos, etc. Also, give it a fresh coat of paint, if needed. Warm, neutral colors are the safest, as they will make guests feel most comfortable.