When it came time to sell my old house, it was time to get help as I knew I hadn't followed any of your typical decorating rules. A friend, a professional organizer recommended two home stagers and I ended up working with both of them. The first stager gave me an extensive list of projects to get the home ready for sale. The second home stager took charge of shopping and managing the overall project, and we've collaborated on many projects since.
Color is a key component of home staging and even home stagers will offer different strategies. My red kitchen was my pride and joy — I almost cried when I finally accepted the red had to go, and that's when I knew the house was no longer my home.
We owned a gorgeous Victorian and it was decorated with an eclectic set of furnishings from contemporary Scandinavian furniture to Japanese antiques. Fortunately my decorating style is simple and sparse so there weren't too many nick knacks to pack up. In fact the stager had to supply most of the accessories used to show off the house.
Tip #1 – Color Makes an Immediate Impression
It really is all about the color and bright isn't good as your personal colors won't resonate with many prospective buyers. Home stagers deal with room colors many different ways — the first stager said the red was okay, as long as the entire room was painted that one color versus the single accent wall. Yikes, we painted the entire kitchen/family room red, and 3 months later changed the color to a soothing green based on the second stager's recommendations.
Homes are easiest to sell when the buyer can move in tomorrow. That means you want to stick with fairly soft, neutral colors for your walls and floors. Inside the rule is you want to use “move in colors” for things that will stay in the home, and decorate with moveable colors in the form of accessories like throw pillows, towels and artwork. Different stagers have rules for painting the house and one guiding rule for your home's exterior is 3 colors. If your home is gray with white shutters, it's okay to use a third color and one that most people will like. When one of my handyman customers had a bold blue front door, my stager immediately recommended painting it black.
That's not all. Paint is your best decorating tool as these before and after photos illustrate. Remember home staging is about showcasing your home's best features and that's what this simple paint project did. Starting with an all white stairway (white ceiling, light fixture, walls and stair treads), the stager made the front entrance to this condo spectacular by adding color to the walls (medium gray), treads (dark brown to match railings and banister) and a new ceiling fixture that complimented the rich brown wood of the stairs. The white accents from the stair risers, balusters and ceiling were dramatic and highly effective against the gray walls.
Tip #2 – Get Rid of the Clutter
We've all got too much clutter so use this opportunity to simplify your life. You're selling your house and that's what the buyer's want to see, not a busy wall filled with too many family photographs or a room filled with too many plants. When you move you'll have to sort through and decide what moves with you versus what gets given away or relegated to the trash.
Consider this project, step 1 in your eventual move. You'll save yourself time and make better decisions because as stressful as it might seem now, it will be even more so when you're juggling 2 closings, the movers and a long list of related projects.
Tip #3 – Clean, and Keep It Clean!
One of the biggest challenges in selling a house is leaving it spic and span every morning, as you run off to work. Having lived and therefore sold homes in 5 states, it's true that customs are different. Many states use lock boxes so real estate agents can enter your home at any time, and newer systems keep track of when they arrived and left your house. Other communities schedule showings which I find tedious — the buyer's agent has to call my listing realtor, who in turn will call me and it's too much phone tag for me.
When you think about clean, it's about how the home looks starting at the street, walking through the home and into the backyard so now you'll look at the garbage cans with new eyes. People may also be sensitive to smells so make sure your home smells as nice as it looks but don't go overboard with air fresheners as they might wonder what you're trying to hide.