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5 Best Home Staging Tips To Stage Your Own House

Staging by Real Estaging

When getting your home ready to sell, there are plenty of home staging tips and tricks you can use to sell your house in a shorter amount of time.

You can spend a couple of weekends doing these easy little projects, and the rewards will be great when you’re able to sell for thousands more.

Here are some of my easiest home staging tips to help you stage your own house.

Curb Appeal

Focus on curb appeal to get buyers to stop and look — you don’t want your house to be a drive-by!

Tidy up the yard, make sure the grass in nice and green and neatly mowed, and add some seasonal bedding plants in beds or pots by the entryway.

Get a nice new doormat with an updated, colorful design.

Clean up the porch or entry, polish up the house numbers, re-paint the front door if it needs it.

Declutter

Put away the day-to-day life stuff that gets in the way of showing off your house. Mail, leashes, shoes by the door, coasts and hats, and anything that tends to accumulate on tables and kitchen counters.

Next, take away any excess furniture that gives you home a crowded feel or an awkward traffic pattern. Sometimes we get used to having to walk around dad’s favorite chair, but would the space be improved without it?

Make space in closets and cabinets, too, since buyers will open doors to check out the storage situation. You can pack away seasonal items or pare down your wardrobe while the home is listed.

Closet space matters, so it you show the home with a stuffed closet buyers will assume the space is just not big enough, and it may become a deal-breaker.

Clean

Give the house a good thorough cleaning. Everything from baseboards to crown moulding, windows, floors, and all surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. Everything should be bright and sparkly.

Freshly-cleaned homes feel great to walk into and they also make your home look its best.

Depersonalize

This part is a little sad for many sellers, but trust me it’s for the best.

You have to put away all of the personal touches like family photos, mementos, doll collections, monogrammed items, and anything else that gives your home a personal look — you want it to look comfortable and appealing, and like people enjoy living here, but you don’t want it to look like *specific* people live here.

Does that make sense? It needs to look happy and beautiful but generic at the same time. That way it’s easier for buyers to imagine living there. Here’s an example.

A couple with a one-year-old daughter is looking for a place to raise their new family. When they look at the bedrooms, it’s harder to picture their life their when there are pictures of other kids, names of other kids, and a master bedroom that says someone else’s initials on the walls.

Yes, people can work around all that in their minds, but why not make it easier for them to get attached by giving them more of a blank canvas?

Decorate

The fun part. Don’t go crazy here, just add some nice little touches and splashes of color to liven up the room. Flowers, bowls of fruit, candles, healthy-looking plants, pretty throw pillows, and decorative mirrors all work well here.

Use these tips and see your home attract lots of buyer attention!

Which is the Best Home Staging Course?

There are so many home staging programs out there these days. How do you choose the right one? How do you find the best home staging course?

Home Staging Certification

First, determine whether you want to get a home staging certification. Bear in mind that there are pros and cons when it comes to home staging certification. Here are the main things to consider:

  • There is no official industry-wide certification in home staging.
  • Schools offer certifications as a way to make their own program seem like the one you MUST choose, when this isn’t the case.
  • Certification may help you get noticed by agents and homeowners, but it isn’t a guarantee.
  • Certification programs are more expensive.
  • Certification programs are sometimes not very thorough in terms of the education you receive. In other words, it can be more of a “rubber stamp” than anything.
  • Home staging certification is not a requirement in the business.

Now that we’ve covered the hot topic of home staging certification, the next thing to consider is whether you want to take a program in person or online.

Home Staging Seminars

It used to be that the only way to learn home staging was either on your own by winging it or in person at a seminar. Seminars are pricey, with a weekend easily running several thousand when you factor in tuition, travel expenses, food & lodging, and incidentals.

Not everyone has the budget, let alone the free time to attend one of these seminars.

Furthermore, what would the class actually be like? Is it in a hotel conference room? Will that be an effective way to learn home staging?

Would you be assigned a good instructor? Sometimes the instructor is new, or sometimes it’s someone who isn’t a good fit for you, and then you’re stuck. Even if you do get some background info on your assigned instructor ahead of time, last minute changes have been known to happen.

Would the class be too full for you to get much attention?

Would too much class time be spent on questions that you find lead to unnecessary discussions? You don’t always know ahead of time what kind of class size you’re getting into.

If you have previous experience or are a fast learner, you may find the classroom setting a little slow for you. Also, think about your personality. Are you more of an introvert?

Maybe you don’t really want the whole social aspect, you just want the material. Nothing wrong with that at all, and the great thing is that now you have plenty of options for online, home-based home staging training.

Online Home Staging Courses

Lots of schools, institutes, and other venues offer home staging courses that you can take online. Some are expensive and some are pretty affordable. Some have been around for a long time and some are pretty new on the scene.

The key to choosing the right online course is to spend some time researching your options until you feel comfortable making a decision. You’ll usually get a gut feeling about which program is right for you, and it won’t always be about price or how quickly you can fly through the program. (Not entirely, at least.)

Check for testimonials or a student portfolio that you can look at on their website. What kind of materials will you be learning from? If you have to watch a bunch of videos, is that something that sounds good to you?

Or would you prefer more reading material, or a mix of both? We all have different learning styles and only you know what delivery methods will work best for you.

Personally, I can watch a video here and there but I learn best by having material to read, supplemented with photos as needed. I like simple course material that is uncomplicated, and not dependent on a fast internet connection or whatever other tech stuff needs to be happening for it to work.

Staging is visual but it’s also extremely logical, so for me just reading the “how to” stuff always makes a lot of sense. I’ve seen home staging compared to following a recipe and I use that analogy myself when helping new stagers. Just follow the steps in order and you can’t go wrong!

Call the school and talk to them. See if you can get an instructor on the phone. See how they treat you, if they return your call quickly, and if you like them as people while you’re talking.

Sometimes you think you’ve found the right thing and then you get up a little closer and realize it wasn’t for you. (So true in life across the board!)

See if the home staging school seems credible. Is it a real business? Where are they located? Is there a money-back guarantee if you don’t like the program? What kind of certification will you actually receive, and who is the person issuing it?

How much instructor feedback will you receive during the course? Some schools offer pretty limited access to your instructors, unfortunately. Or you may have to pay extra for personalized feedback.

Look online for complaints about the company, just to be on the safe side. You never know what might turn up.

To be fair, I just want to remind you again that you absolutely do not need to have any kind of certification to become a home stager. Your portfolio will make your phone ring a lot more than whatever certification you may have. A lot of homeowners don’t even know what the certifications are all about anyway. Agents do, but not always.

So take some time at the research stage, but not too much time. Don’t forget to take action. The best way to learn how to do things is to do things! (I didn’t come up with that.)

Also keep in mind that with online courses, you have to be good at working independently and staying motivated.

Choosing the Best Home Staging Course

You can reach your goal of becoming a home stager — whether you do it the old fashioned way and learn it as you go, through a seminar, or by taking an online course.

Home staging education has come a long way in the ten or twelve years (who can keep track…) since I got into the business. You have plenty of options, and when you do your research and trust your instinct, you’ll end up with the right home staging program!

My recommendations:

For the best staging training program that does not offer certification, go with the Staging Diva program.

If you do want certification and want a program that’ll get you up and running quickly, go with the School of Home Staging home staging certification course.

Have fun!

How to Stage a Kitchen

When staging your home for sale, your kitchen is one of the most important areas to pay attention to.

The kitchen can make or break your home in buyers’ eyes, so here are some tips for how to stage a kitchen and make it as appealing as possible..

home staging kitchenHow to Stage a Kitchen

Clean

First, your kitchen will need a thorough cleaning. It may already be clean but what we are after is sparkle on every surface.

More everything off of the counters.

We need to do this anyway since we are also removing clutter, so take everything away and then we will put some items back carefully.

Right now, just make everything look shiny and happy. Whether it’s granite, tile, or 1970’s Formica, get those counters to glow.

 

Same with the sink and stove areas, the floor, and appliances.

Edit

If you happen to have a dated kitchen that you have no intention of updating for selling purposes, one thing that might help is to switch the cabinet knobs and pulls.

Sometimes this can be a quick way to update, and sometimes the knobs are the worst offenders when it comes to being dated.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to do this and you can find new pulls in a good range of price ranges to suit your budget.

Now we can add a few things back to the counters.

Microwave, toaster oven, coffee maker are allowed back if they are nice and pretty. Rule of thumb in staging: anything that has seen better days should be put away for now. Knives in a block are fine. An attractive cutting board is fine too.

A lot of what we keep on the kitchen counter is utilitarian stuff or just daily clutter that we need to put away for staging.

In my house, staging means I’d have to start keeping my vitamins in the cabinet, put away my beloved rice cooker unless I’m using it, same with my trusty smoothie blender, and a few other oddities that never seem to find permanent homes.

There are reasons for this fussiness.

  1. We want the kitchen area to look as spacious as possible. And the more empty counter there is, the better. It’s also nice and shiny and it helps create that bright, light space that buyers like.
  2. We don’t want buyers to get bogged down with things like vitamins and stray food storage containers.

Depersonalize

We also need to depersonalize this room. Remove any references to the people who currently live there.

This includes:

  • Refrigerator magnets
  • Personalized artwork (initials, etc)
  • Family Photos
  • Anything that says “Lindsey’s Kitchen” or similar
  • Personal notes, chalk board messages (put something happy and generic up instead.)

Color

I think it’s essential to have some good pops of color when staging a kitchen. It adds life to the space and just looks good.

I like red or yellow in kitchens, but any cheerful color will work.

At this point I sometimes suggest getting a new kitchen rug and dish towel or two with the colors in mind, but it depends on what you already have. It’s nice to add a fresh rug and dish towel, especially if the room is a little dated, this is another way to add a fresh touch.

The next step is about color, but it’s also about connecting with buyers on different levels – engaging the senses and using a little bit of home staging psychology.

If you have flowers or fruit that grow in your yard and are in season, make a display of them for the kitchen.

Imagine a pretty bowl of apples on the counter – if they came from the back yard, that really can stir a buyer’s imagination about living in the home. (The buyer pictures harvesting apples with smiling family members on a crisp fall day.)

Or roses, or peaches, or lemons…

If you don’t have such things available on the property, that’s OK. Just find something at the store that looks good.

I like lemons and apples for the bright happy colors, but any fresh fruit and/or flowers will work just fine.

I hope this helps you stage your kitchen like a pro!

How to Stage a House

As a long-time staging consultant and home staging teacher, I pretty much talk about home staging all the time. I love teaching homeowners how to stage a house for sale. One of the things that helps people new to the idea of staging understand the process is to just lay it out in a step-by-step format like a recipe.

It basically is the same thing as following directions — just like a recipe.

So here are the steps in a simplified format. I discuss each home staging step in greater detail on other pages. This is just meant to be a basic order to follow. You can easily stage your own house with these tips.

How to Stage a House
how to stage a house

Declutter

This is pretty clear, and it includes everything from removing pieces of furniture that make rooms feel crowded to getting rid of that pile of mail and papers on the kitchen counter.

One of the most important things we’re doing when we stage houses is making space. So, pretty much everywhere you look around your house, see if you can find ways to create space. Removing items and organizing what’s left (like in closets and cabinets) is one way to get this done. Crowded spaces don’t feel good. They feel kind of overwhelming and jumbled. People like to have enough room for all of their stuff. You definitely don’t want to give buyers the impression that your house is too small or they might lose interest right then and there.

Once you have done a thorough job of de-cluttering, you can move on to the next step in staging your house.

Clean

Spring cleaning time! Clean everything. Cleaning is one of the most important keys to how to stage a house successfully. Windows, baseboards, light fixtures, everything you can think of. Make every surface as shiny and sparkly and fresh-looking as possible. If you don’t want to get that involved with it yourself, find a good maid service. It’ll be worth the money to pay a pro to come in and do a deep clean for you. It will make a huge difference and it’ll instantly make the house have a better vibe.

Don’t overlook the carpets. Rent a carpet cleaner or hire a carpet cleaning service. You can find good deals if you shop around a little.

Do the same with your yard. Make sure all trees and hedges look tidy, keep the lawn mowed and watered, and pick up after your dog. Also, if you have kids’ toys or pet toys around the yard, keep them neatly in a basket or bin.

Depersonalize

This is the time to remove your family photos and mementos, decor and artwork that are very taste-specific, along with your collections, personalized items like signs with you family member’s names, etc.

Remove anything that makes your house look different from what you’d see in a home decor catalog. Meaning, make it look like people live here quite comfortably… but not specific people.  This makes it easier for buyers to imagine living there.

This is a huge, very important part of the home staging process, so make sure to be thorough!

Quick Updates

Without spending much money (if you don’t want to), look at your house with fresh eyes.

Try to imagine seeing everything for the first time. Should you replace that shower curtain? Does the kitchen rug look a little worn? Are the throw pillows dated? Inexpensive updates that add color and new life to the house can add a lot of appeal.

Look around for easy targets that you can switch out to give your home some easy, inexpensive updates.

Lighten and Brighten

Buyers love light, bright houses!

Go through your home and find ways to bring in more light. Pay attention to your window coverings. See if you can find ways to add more natural light to the home. A large wall mirror can help bounce light around in a room that’s a little on the dark side.

When the home is being photographed, make sure to let is as much light as possible. Do the same for showings.

If you are selling in the fall and winter when it may be dark when buyers visit, add some new, brighter light bulbs in some of the fixtures (pay attention to the maximum wattage allowed for each fixture!) so the space looks bright and airy and cheerful.

Add Color

I like adding some pops of color to go along with the updates you may have made in step 4. A bowl of apples or oranges in the kitchen, some fresh flowers in the dining room or by the bed, a pretty scented candle in the bathroom… those are all good examples.

Humans like looking at color! It reminds us of nature, which makes us feel good. We like the life that color brings to a space. Looking at homes for sale online, one of the biggest problems with so many of them is the blah factor. I mean, beige walls, beige carpet, white appliances, white blinds… how dull is that? People like spaces that seem alive and energized, not bland, dead, dull, and stagnant.

So, add some life to your rooms! Use accessories, flowers and fruit, tasteful art work (landscapes are good), throw pillows, maybe a rug or two.

I especially like adding items that will appeal to multiple senses, things that look good AND smell good. Natural materials are excellent because humans respond on a deep level to attractive flowers and fruit, and these things convey a feeling of happiness and abundance.

I hope this home staging to-do list has helped you learn how to stage a house.

Staging your house is really easy if you just go step by step 🙂