Staging on a shoestring….getting started

Dress your home for a successful sale!

Dress your home for a successful sale!

In a tough real estate market like this, showing your home in its best light can determine whether or not it sells quickly. Even if your home has appealing features and is priced well, it still needs to show well to gain that extra advantage.  Many sellers are choosing to have their homes professionally staged.  Professional stagers are highly skilled artists and designers, and bring in a vast array of items to “dress” each room, creating a dramatic atmosphere to capture all five senses of prospective buyers.  Staging makes your home look bigger, brighter, cleaner, warmer, and more inviting.  It’s what you do after cleaning, de-cluttering, painting, and making minor repairs. With that said, however, if you can’t afford the luxury of a professional stager, there are inexpensive ways that you can dress your home up yourself to show at its best.


Start with curb appeal, which is the first impression a buyer get s of your home.  Use buyers’ eyes to look at the front entrance as if you’ve never seen it before.  Clear any cob webs out, wash the front door and the area around it (or touch up the paint if necessary) , sweep or mop the stoop or porch, and if you have glass clean it on both sides.  Place a small seasonal arrangement nearby: pumpkins and dried weeds in the fall, fresh potted flowers in spring and summer, and some pine and holly berry sprigs in winter.  Replace the worn door mat…you can take it with you when you move.


Inside make sure all blinds and window coverings are open for showings; there’s nothing gloomier than walking into a dark, closed up home; brightness makes it seem bigger.  If you live in the home, turn all lights on for the showing before leaving, and the agent can turn them off on the way out. Try not to use overhead lights, as they will make a room seem cold…table lighting is softer and cozier.  Since you’ve already ‘de-cluttered’, carefully choose some of your most artistic knick-knacks and place them in units of 1, 3, or 5.  Position a large house plant in several rooms, and make use of smaller silk flower arrangements in bedrooms and bathroom counters.


A bowl of fruit (fresh or good quality fake) looks great on the kitchen table, and setting the table with new, colorful cloth place mats, napkins, and some of your best tableware looks very inviting.    Take personal photos off the walls and tables, and leave only a few pieces of your best art on the walls in each room.  If your upholstery is looking worn, slip covers and some bright new pillows can really freshen things up.  Likewise, some new, inexpensive bed spreads and designer pillows make the bedrooms look comfortable and plush, and you can take those with you, too.  If your colors are neutral, pick out a complimentary, brighter color for things like decorator pillows, silk flower arrangements, etc., and repeat that color at least 2-3 times in one room.  Try to air out the rooms before the showing, and in the winter judiciously spray a little deodorant spray around or light a scented candle; bedrooms and bathrooms can smell stale.  Bowls of potpourri also work well.


The bathrooms and kitchen need to sparkle or buyers can be totally turned off.  Treat yourself to some new, thick towels and bath mats, and bring them out only for showings.  Place unused soap in the soap dishes, and remove all personal bathroom items from view.  A new shower curtain does wonders, but keeps the pattern simple and the color homogeneous with the new towels. Think clean, bright, and uncluttered.


Nothing can guarantee a successful sale in this tenuous market, but effective staging can only help, and will appeal to the buyers’ senses and emotions.  Don’t just show your home, show it off!

Love at first sight…the value of curb appeal when selling your home

The first thing a buyer sees.

The first thing a buyer sees.

Never underestimate the impact of curb appeal when listing your home for sale, as this is the first impression to greet a buyer.  If you have it, it draws the buyer in and signals a well-kept home inside as well as outside.  If you don’t have it, and the exterior looks neglected and run down, the buyer may immediately conclude that the inside is not worth looking at and refuse to even go in.  Dressing your front entrance to show well is one of the least expensive projects you will do to get your home ready; it merely takes some time and elbow grease.

Aside from attractive and well-kept landscaping, there are often many other overlooked areas needing improvement, from the curb to the front door.  Take a hard look with “buyers’ eyes” and use some of the following tips as a check list for a proper makeover.

1)  Front door.  Your front door should be clean and cobweb-free.  If the paint is chipping or peeling, give it a fresh coat and consider a new, dynamic color to draw the eye.  If there is glass in the door or side lights, clean it inside and out.  Use metal polish on the doorknob, and replace it if it’s past polishing. Also replace any worn out trim.

2)  Railings.  Inspect railings and balustrades, sanding and painting any chips or cracks.

3)  Hardware and lights.  Clean the metal and glass of any light fixtures, and replace any old, worn house numbers with some new shiny brass ones.

4)  Doormat.  Throw out that old, worn mat and replace it with a plush new one that blends in with the colors surrounding it. This not only looks inviting, it will make for cleaner shoes tromping through your home.

5)  Shutters and trim.  Consider integrating some of the contemporary composite or fiberglass window shutters and trim in colors complimentary to or contrasting with  the outside of your home.  They’re easy to install and relatively inexpensive.

6)  Lighting.  In addition to a porch light, inexpensive low voltage or solar lights along the sidewalk add drama and visibility, especially in areas with no street lights.

7)  Flowers.  Whether you live in a wooded area or on a sunny street, container pots with fresh flowers in the summer add inviting lush color around the front door.  Additionally, window boxes installed under nearby windows can continue the color theme.  In winter, buy inexpensive pine boughs and spruce tops at your local
nursery to insert into the pots and window boxes, along with some sprigs of colorful berries.

8)  Mailbox.  Dress up (or replace) a tired mailbox with paint, stain, fresh numbers, and anything that coordinates it with the home design.

9)  Gutter and downspouts. Distressed gutters with holes in them and full of leaves signal neglect.  Repair any holes, touch up any paint wear spots, or replace sections.

10)  Porch and front stoop.  Stone tile in luscious colors and textures can be laid over cement floors of a porch or stoop for an attractive update.  For less work and cost, cement floors can also be painted with an outdoor paint to blend with surrounding colors and sparkle with freshness.

11)  Walkways and driveways.  Chipped and missing pavers and sections of cement and stone walkways not only look run down, but can be a safety hazard for a buyer to trip over and should be repaired before any showings. Driveways should be weed-free, with any cracks filled in.  A fresh seal coat on an asphalt driveway can make it look new and prevent further cracking.  To really dress up a tired walkway or driveway, try adding some contrasting pavers along the sides.

When you home is actively listed, leave the outside lights on until later in the evening to show off your hard-earned curb appeal.  If it’s a second, vacation home, leave some lights on timers.  Make arrangements to keep your lawn mowed, leaves raked, and snow shoveled when needed, especially if you’re not there often.  All of this attention to details will make your home stand out, bringing more buyers eager to see inside, and can pay you back with a fast sale at a better price.