5 designer tips for staging your home

Household 6 min read

Selling a house can be a challenge. Prices rise and fall, markets wax and wane and there can be any number of steps between setting your price and finding the buyer who will meet it. Along the way however, there are some key things that you can do to make your selling experience successful. One of the most consistently overlooked of these is staging. Simply put, staging is designing your home for presentation to prospective buyers. It’s more than a spruce-up but less than a full-scale renovation, and done correctly, it can actually raise the value of a house—the amount you actually sell it for—by tens of thousands of dollars. Because of that, it’s important to do it right. The best way is to contract with an interior designer, either contacting a firm through your real estate agent or by sourcing one yourself. However, if that isn’t in the budget, there are some important things to know that can help you show your home in the best possible light.

1. Have a concept

“Having a concept” for your design is a rather abstract way of putting it, so it can seem unhelpful at first glance. But not only is it an incredibly important place to start, it can also be one of the hardest parts of the process. There’s two main points to consider, so let’s take it a step at a time.

First, when creating a concept for staging your home, it’s important to remember that the concept is not you. You are not designing the home for your own tastes or your family’s comfort. In fact, you want to depersonalize the space as much as possible in order to allow prospective buyers the mental space to imagine themselves in the home. Your open house should feel less like a visit to your home and more like an invitation to what a buyer’s life could be in that space.

Secondly, your staging should make the home look like the price that you are seeking. It is important to note that it is not a matter of how expensive the furniture used in the design is, but instead you want to make buyers feel the value you’ve set on the home. Make your home look like the life someone dreams of and chances are good that they will buy your house.

mid century modern living room

Photo Credit: Patrick Cline (patrickclinephotography.com/)

2. Accentuate your home’s built-in beauty

A lot of modern spaces are what we refer to as “white boxes.” Not only are the walls white, there’s no real adornment such as moldings, built-ins, or other accents. Take all of the furniture and accessories out of them and they are, quite literally, white boxes. Given that trend, if your home has any of the aforementioned architectural details, that’s something you’ll want to bring attention to. If you have high ceilings, make sure that your curtain rods go all the way to the top of the wall to bring attention to the height of the room. If you have original molding, accentuate it with art. And if you have a gorgeous brick feature wall—treat it as a statement piece to be highlighted in the space.

This room does a lot of things right for staging. Not only is everything oriented towards the unique feature of the brick wall, but the neutral, minimalist style of the bedding and furnishings is a cool counterpoint to the industrial look of the brick. It gives a contrast of textures as well as colors, augmented by the neutral yet textured look of the rug. It’s a perfect way to add layers of elegance over a rough, industrial feature and the perfect amount of cool that anyone can imagine themselves waking up in.

exposed brick bedroom

Photo Credit: Genevieve Garruppo (genevievegarruppo.com/)

3. Bathrooms are key

They might not seem like the most attractive spaces in an interior, but buyers pay particular attention to bathrooms when looking to make an offer on a home. That means when you’re looking to sell, it should be one of your biggest concerns. It’s a well-known cliché that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. These are spaces that homeowners will use time and again and buyers have expectations that include these rooms being practically designed and hard-wearing. Because of this, the bathroom is one of the parts of the home that might need significant work before your house is ready to present to buyers. But it can be time and money well spent if you hit the right notes with the finished product.

When renovating a bathroom for staging, you can’t go wrong with classic themes and clean lines. This bathroom showcases a classic black-and-white color palette that comes across as modern, luxurious, and absolutely timeless—an aesthetic that can appeal to a multitude of buyers. It doesn’t take much space to make a design statement, and in this bathroom it starts with the tiled floor. Beyond the floor, major upgrades have been made, including a soaking tub and watersense toilet. Just a few upgrades in this space can make a big difference when you set your asking price for your home.

bathroom with dark vanityPhoto Credit: Chinasa Cooper (chinasacooper.com/)

4. Kitchens are king

Moving into the other most important part of the home, we find that the rules remain largely the same. Like bathrooms, kitchens might require a bit more targeted work to make things appealing for your would-be buyers. Stainless steel appliances and contemporary amenities are a plus, but you also need to stage a kitchen so that it conveys a sense of home.

Though its overall size is something less than cavernous, this kitchen does an excellent job of evoking the types of feelings that make people want to be in a space. The color of the brick feature wall and floor tiles create an instant sense of warmth that pervades the space and is accented by the overhead cabinets, china cabinet and rug. These designers continued that feeling by mixing vintage elements like the china cabinet with boutique pieces like the small table and thonet chairs that create an intimate cafe setting within the space. Finally, little touches like the plant on the china cabinet and the hanging herb garden on the brick wall complete the scene and the cozy feeling that makes this kitchen a dream for stagers, realtors and buyers alike.

small kitchen designPhoto Credit: Patrick Cline (patrickclinephotography.com/)

5. Invest in your outdoor space

Not every house comes with an outdoor space, but for every house that has one, it’s a staging opportunity that should never be ignored. Good staging turns every room in the house into an aspirational moment, but the outdoor spaces can also be treated as special. These are the spaces where people dream of lazy summer days, late night parties and quiet moments in the sun. At the right time of year, a well-designed outdoor area can be its own mini-vacation, an oasis in the middle of everyday life. And your outdoor staging should have everyone who sees it anticipating that moment.

Design is often about the form or look of a space, but this outdoor space shows the importance of function in your staging. The color palette, patterns and furniture of this space are all wonderful, but there’s more to the story that will receive a seal of approval from even the most discerning house hunters. The high walls ensure a good measure of privacy and will drown out sound from the neighbors. The tiled floor is easy to clean and maintain. It is also durable and able to take years of use and wear. Finally, the separate dining and seating areas means that parties of just about any size will be comfortable enjoying the splendor of the warmer months. It’s a perfect combination of functional traits and design smarts that will have buyers looking closer.


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