To Stage Or Not To Stage A Home For Sale?

Have you staged a home for sale recently?  And did you find that it was helpful in selling your home?  If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

With my mind focused on getting our condo ready to put on the market, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on staging homes for sale lately.  Is it really worth the extra time, money, and effort?  There seems to be quite a bit of conflicting information out there about just how much staging a home really helps.

In the last two days, I’ve read articles that suggest that staging a home can help bring in a higher sale price.  And then I’ve read other articles that say that staging has zero impact on a sale price.  But what the majority of experts do seem to agree on is that staging a home for sale will increase the buyer’s view of the livability of the home, and will make a home sell faster than an unstaged home.  For that reason alone, staging seems like a good idea, because the less time a house sits on the market, the less you’ll pay in continuing maintenance, mortgage payments, insurance payments, etc.

So I have decided to do a little bit of staging in the condo.  My main goal will be to show furniture arrangements that work with all of the built-ins that I’ve added.  After all, the extra storage in our little condo is potentially a huge bonus in comparison to the other condos in the building.  BUT…if a potential buyer walks in, sees the built-ins, and can’t imagine how furniture will now fit into the rooms since I’ve taken up a few square feet of precious floor space in a already-small room with built-ins, then the very built-ins that I think added value could be a liability in the eyes of a potential buyer.  Know what I mean?

For example, if someone without a creative eye walks into the bedroom where I’ve just built the closets…

DIY cabinet style built-in closets - 5

…they may not be able to envision how I planned the furniture layout of this room.  They may just see that one wall is taken up by built-in closets, another wall had a window,  third wall has the original closet, and the fourth wall has the door.  In the mind of someone who can’t “see” my vision, they may think there’s no room for a bed in this room.  So I’d like to be sure that they can “see” my vision by putting a bed in here and arranging it just as I had planned so that there’s no confusion.

It would also be easy for a person to walk into the living room, see the huge wall of built-ins, and wonder how in the world furniture is supposed to fit in there now.

They might especially question it if they’ve seen my neighbor’s condo first.  It’s on the market right now, and this is how his living room photo from the listing looks…

Condo living room next door

That living room looks tiny and cramped.  If someone saw that first, they might not imagine that that room could hold a 12-foot wall of built-ins AND enough furniture to comfortably seat four or five people.

I want to stage the rooms and remove all doubt.  But of course, my problem is not knowing the line between staging and all-out decorating.  Just for my own personal satisfaction, I’d love to see these rooms completely decorated.  I didn’t get a chance to finish the condo before we bought our house, and I regret not seeing these rooms completely finished as I had envisioned them in my mind.  But I also don’t think that this is the time for complete decorating.  Just the basics will serve the purpose of staging for sale.

So here’s my staging plan:

  • Remove all clutter and personal items.  We still have stuff at the condo that we never boxed up and brought to the house, so now is the time to get it all cleared out.
  • Keep the kitchen countertops clear and clean to maximize the counter space.  No decorative tchotchkes on the kitchen countertops.
  • Hang some simple curtains on all of the windows.  I won’t go to a lot of trouble to make lined draperies or anything like that, but I do have quite a bit of fabric that I can use to make very simple curtains.  I’ll hang them high and wide so that I won’t block out any sunlight from the windows.
  • Add a simple furniture arrangement in the living room to show how the space can be used with the huge wall of built-ins.  I imagine two identical loveseats placed opposite each other, with a small coffee table in between.  Hopefully I can find something at a consignment store for a reasonable price.
  • Add items to the bookcases.  I don’t want to fill them up completely from one end to the other with random junk, but just a few sets of books with bookends, and maybe a decorative basket and a few colorful items will make the bookcases not look quite so empty.
  • Add beds with simple bedding to the bedrooms.  Each bedroom already has a headboard, and I have no use for them at the house, so they can stay.  I also happen to have two mattress sets that we aren’t using — a queen size set and a full size set.  So that takes care of the items that would have potentially been quite costly for the bedrooms.  And if I choose simple and mostly neutral bedding, we will always have a use for those.

There may be some other small things I find that I’d like to add along the way, but again my biggest challenge will be to keep it simple.  I certainly don’t want to spend a lot of money on decorating.  My main goals will be to show potential buyers just how livable this small condo really is.  And my second goal is to make the pictures on our listing stand out among the other condo listings in the area.

So if you have any first hand knowledge about the staging tactics that work, I’d love to hear them!  Of course, the first thing that people always say is “neutralize everything”.  That’s the one thing that won’t happen in this condo.  I’ll just hope and pray for a buyer who loves my color choices.  🙂

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  1. When we sold our home, we were living in it, so we didn’t have to stage anything per se. We did not “neutralize” anything. Our realtor told us that it was our decorating that sold the house. We did remove clutter though. I asked my husband if we should remove personal photographs as recommended, and his response was, “they just tell that to people with ugly kids.” LOL!

    I personally preferred empty houses when we were house hunting because I have the ability to picture our furnishings in them. In the majority of the furnished houses we looked at, the owners did not do a good job of arranging furniture, or things looked cluttered. It was a turn off to me. But to someone who has difficulty picturing a furnished home, I think staging sparingly can be of great help.

    1. My sister-n-law is a real estate broker, and she says staged homes sell better, because a LOT of people (mainly) young ones, can’t visualize what it might look like with their own furniture or different colors. So with that in mind, I have always staged homes, and it seems to work better IMHO.

      1. Staging is super plus, but don’t go overboard! I think your ideas for what you are thinking about doing will work just fine. I’ve helped stage my seller’s homes, and it DEFINITELY helps sell the home IF it’s not overdone with clutter and “stuff.” Ever go into a builder’s model home and just drool over the house? Then go to the same house without the furniture and wonder if it has the same floorplan as the model? Same thing happens when that buyer looks at your neighbor’s condo, then looks at yours. Hands down, you win the buyer over.

  2. Sorry, I haven’t had experience with staging to sell as we rent out our previous residences. However, I do believe that is smart to stage because of the additional storage and many people’s true lack of vision. I’d even use some furniture you already have, like those wing backs you have, in the condo living room so you don’t have the additional expense, because they aren’t buying a furnished home. Keeping it more simple also helps them to focus on what they are actually buying and not the decor. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  3. I staged my son’s house last year for sale and it sold the first day…so…here are mine and the realtors that we used stager’s advice…Put pops of color in a painting in an area you want to draw attention to…NO trash cans at ALL in the house…ALL toilet lids down. Bathroom shower curtain and towels hung hotel style for that spa feel and CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN…Set table with setting including plates, napkins, drink glasses…simple, just ready for family mean. Outside areas if any with simple chairs and cushions for relaxing at home at end of day. Front door friendly rug/plant…No plugs ins such as frebreeze, scentsy, etc…indicates a problem…My son’s house sold the first day…YOU have done an awesome job so far…The rest is a snap for someone with your expertise an ability…

    1. I’m taking note of all this advice. Seems like good habits to live with… Adding to the conversation… You may consider mirrors that reflect light for sparkle… Uplights lift the eye and can make ceilings look higher. People also like interesting and creative pops of surprise…where you, Krisiti, are a specialist. So yes, I vote for staging. Sparkling clean and your special touch = big price!

    2. Great advice! The only exception is the rug at the door. Small rugs are an accident waiting to trip over. They also take up floor space.

  4. I love the storage you just built, but in full disclosure, I’d probably rip them out because I’m guessing that there isn’t another place to put the bed except between them. It’s not that I don’t understand your vision, it’s just that I wouldn’t like that because there’s no space for end tables, lamps, and it would limit the size bed I’d be able to place. Staging the room would show people who don’t worry about those things how they could make that room work. Now if there is space for a bed on another wall, I’d probably put a nice arm chair, thrown and a pillow in between. In terms of staging, I’d keep it super simple, a simple bed with nice inexpensive bedding and an arm chair somewhere in the room should be enough. I wouldn’t go crazy decorating because only a small percentage is going to love exactly what you love. As you’ve said before, the right buyer will come along and appreciate all the beautiful things you’ve done to the condo…but a lot won’t want to take the time and energy it would take to make it theirs.

    1. And this is WHY she should stage it. There is enough room for a queen bed and two small side tables or shelves. The only bed that won’t fit is a king, but very few people will try to shove a king bed into a space like that anyway. I have helped a few realtors stage homes, big and small, and then ended up helping a few of their buyers after the sale. Every last one of those buyers put the Master bed in the exact place we staged it. It is the “oh, that makes sense” mentality.

  5. As a photographer and a creative mind, seeing someone how you envisioned the rooms to look would definitely help a potential buyer fall in love with the condo. One idea that you could do is to approach a local furniture store (usually an individually owned rather than a chain store would be more willing) to see if they would lend/rent furniture for the house for the time that it’s on the market.
    Perks for each of you:
    You – You get to stage the house with new furniture that you can imagine for the room and it won’t cost you anything/much.
    Them – They get to showcase their furniture for free and get some perks from the exposure that you could offer with your blog. And the buyer could have the option to purchase all or some of the furniture along with the house.

    It’s a really common practice in our area for model homes to be furnished with new furniture from a local store. If the furniture fits the house and the buyer falls in love with the house because of it, they are able to purchase just the house or the house with the furniture. If your asking price is flexible enough for the furniture to be included in the sale of the home, you may have people crawling over each other to buy a move in ready home that they won’t have to do much creative thinking for. **I would check with your realtor on if it’s possible to put the furniture into the price of the home and how that would affect your bottom line (think taxes)

    Just a thought, but if you’re able to work with a furniture store, it could make the process much more fun and much easier to put together like you see in your head!
    Good Luck!!

  6. I sold a house just about a year ago, much aided by the staging genius provided by my realtor. We listed on a Tuesday and had 4 offers and a contract by Friday…very close to my asking price, in spite of the fact that the children of the elderly lady next door almost gave her home away when she went into a nursing home within a week of my house finally being ready to list. (talk about a panic about appraisals!)

    We were in a similar situation to yours…we’d already moved out of the old house while we did some last-minute repairs/cleaning. Honestly, I think it puts you in the ideal situation. You don’t have to worry about people getting distracted by your house full of stuff (which is what comes to mind when I see the other condo’s listing photo), but it won’t look empty/abandoned either. It will look cared for.

    We didn’t stage every room, but we did want to stage the rooms where one’s imagination might need a little help. Less was more, and there was very little in the way of decor. A stack of books on an end table, a vase arrangement on the kitchen table. All curtains down, except for some sheers in the master, because my home had generous windows and she wanted to play up the lighting. (I’m like you…I love deep, rich–in my case, even very dark–colors, but apparently when showing houses, bright and light win the day.)

    The areas we focused on were the weird area of my master bedroom that could provide a sitting area, the bay window that added enough extra space to the kitchen making it eat in, stools for the bar showing that it was truly functional for that, and a desk and a wall full of clocks in what was originally a parlor or sitting room right off the foyer, showing that it was just perfect for the home office that most people would have to sacrifice a bedroom to have. The clock arrangements also made it memorable…imagine a young couple discussing the houses they’d seen, “remember the house with the clocks?”

    I agree with you that while your extra, custom storage is a HUGE bonus, it may stump some people’s imagination. Your plan sounds almost perfect, and I do think it will help. Did you think about some towels, at least hand towels, on towel bars/rings in the bath and/or kitchen? Make sure you have a large stash of toilet paper for the bathroom(s) and some paper towels for the kitchen in case of mishaps.

    Best of luck on your sale!

  7. Sounds to me like you have a good plan. Have you considered just using your overstock chairs with a love seat or sofa in the living room? Might be easier than trying to find two love seats that work together.

  8. Your ideas mesh very well with what our realtor told us to do when we sold our house in 2007 (just before the market collapsed in Arizona, thank goodness!) The one other thing our realtor did was take us to see several other properties in the area that were similar to ours in size and location. It helped tremendously to see what the ‘competition’ was doing and to make certain ours stood out in a good way.

    Good luck!

  9. I staged our house and it listed on a friday, showed Saturday and had a written offer Sunday.

    I also did a lot of reading on things to do to get the house ready.
    First was removing any personal effects like pictures, papers, etc. Cleared out the clutter, especially the cabinets and closets. Home buyers want to know how much storage they have. Replaced some of my choices for decorating with something less personal. For example if you collect snow globes the buyer doesn’t want to see 25 snowglobes. Using one as a decorative accent would work though. Play up key features in the condo. For me we retiled our entire shower, floor, repainted and put up wainscoting in the bathrooms. They had a spa feeling to them so we played on that. A few decorative accents in the kitchen on the counter would be ok, like a really cool cookie jar.

    Also, I don’t expect your condo will be on the market long, why don’t you see what you already have at your house that you can spare for staging. Also check out craigslist. I found the perfect pair of chairs to finish off the front room for 25.00.

    Good luck!

  10. We staged, which mainly consisted of removing a lot of excess furniture, photos, etc., our house last year and it sold in 72 hrs. I think what helps as much as staging is a professional photographer; our agent used Shoot-To-Sell. We’re in the D/FW area; I don’t know if they have a Waco “branch” or not but our house looked fantastic in the photos. Your poor neighbor, IMVHO, has a lousy Realtor for their listing agent; that photo of their living room looks awful.

  11. No staging experience to share but I would recommend solid colored blinds or shades instead of curtains ( unless they are solid neutral colors). If you don’t want to lug mattresses over to the condo, cheap air mattresses could work. Take a look at rental furniture, too.

  12. I am a Realtor and a small place need furniture to look bigger. Weird, right? MINIMAL is the key. If you have blinds in the windows, I don’t know if I would do curtains. MINIMAL= modern. Since you have a country chic vibe, the curtains would be a continuance of that look, but no curtains would bring forth a modern touch. Young people don’t do curtains. If the rods are there, no worries, leave them up. I would do the bedroom, maybe even make a faux headboard that has a ledge for clocks, a book, etc and then hang swing-arm lamps too?? MINIMAL! I don’t like the 2 loveseat idea since most people want to lay down on a couch and the loveseats will make them question of whether a full couch will work. I would rather see a couch and a chair, armless. Good luck! I enjoy your blog very much!!

    1. I agree. I think although two loveseats will create a conversation area for entertaining, most people want a comfortable place from which to watch television—-which means laying down. My husband is an early to bed-early to rise kind of guy and heads off to the bedroom fairly early, where there is a television. After a long hard day at work, I want to stay awake to decompress and watch some television, but being tired, I want to do it laying down. Loveseats and wing chairs as the only options in the family/living area wouldn’t work for me.

  13. Sounds like you have it pretty well figured out! I think you have the right plan. I might add fresh flowers if you have an Open House.

  14. I’ve just sold a cottage and I did a little staging. Like you, I eliminated any clutter and some personal items so that potential buyers could imagine themselves in the home. I set the table so someone without an imagination could picture themselves sitting there.

    I think you are smart to put some furniture in your condo, as many people have trouble visualizing how their things will fit. Love your idea of some simple drapes that allow the light to come in.

    I also think seeing a home that is devoid of furniture sends the message that the homeowners have moved and might give the idea that the home may be purchased for less money. At least in the upper Midwest, that is what an empty home would signal to most buyers. Good luck, I know you will do a great job!

  15. My suggestion would be to leave down curtains unless you are hiding a bad view. I love my house without curtains and many decorating magazines feature bare windows. More light and a more spacious look to rooms.

  16. I think you should go for simple staging. I often decorating shows and wonder how people can’t see the bones of a messy, cluttered or not-so-nice house but my husband says that not everyone has the ability to envision how things would look with their furniture. So I think its a good idea for you to help them envision it. I just wouldn’t do projects that would last 2-3 days per room to accomplish — unless of course you have that kind of time. I think in this case, built-in especially when storage is minimal is a smart idea.

  17. I think your ideas for staging are spot on. As for the furniture you’ll be using, it might be that a buyer would want a ‘furnished’ condo, especially if they are college students. So letting the furniture go with the condo might be a selling point. Otherwise, using what you have already would be an economical way to go and would not leave you with extra furniture to get rid of later.

    With all you’ve done to the condo, I foresee it selling very quickly.

    Onward and Upward!

  18. I’m concerned with your plan of placing 2 loveseats opposite each other in your living room. I’m afraid it will just emphasize the smallness of the room. And most people have a sofa…not 2 loveseats.
    Can you place a sofa facing the built-ins? And maybe a small chair in the corner of the cabinets,(at an angle) facing the sofa.

  19. Definitely stage! We have bought and sold 3 homes in the last several years. We were relocated to North Carolina from Ohio. I did not stage that home in Ohio because things just happened to quickly and I sorely regretted it. It took 10 months to sell that home while we continued to make two sizable house payments one here in North Carolina and the other in Ohio including all utilities.
    The realtor told us she believed it would have sold much faster had we staged it (thank you for telling us that after the fact). We’ve looked at hundreds of homes and I truly enjoyed the ones that were staged. They helped me to be able to see furniture arrangements. Although I do agree with not personalizing it -there’s a fine line between staging and decorating for your own taste. I do think its okay to have some decor, as it really does make the house look prettier, warmer and more inviting.
    The biggest thing I think is overlooked with all people when they are staging is the TV. Whether you use a fake TV or not I believe you need to show the TV. Its real life for most. I went into so many homes where the houses were staged and the furniture arrangement was beautiful and then I looked and said yeah but where is the TV going to go? People are smart enough to know if there’s no TV it usually means there’s no room for it, and that makes the furniture arrangement less attractive to them. Just my opinion.
    I believe staging also helps if you choose not to neutralize your house. If your home has a lot of color, staging it helps the buyer to see how well it all comes together. Good luck! I know your condo will look amazing and hopefully sell quickly!

  20. We “staged” when we sold our first home which, for us, meant clearing out extra furniture and things other people would see as clutter. Several of the rooms in our house were doing double duty and they really just needed to be bedrooms. I also had a bedroom with built ins similar to yours and I showed it with a crib in between so that people could see that a bed could fit.

    We also finished all the small projects – I think this is more crucial than hardcore staging. I would never repaint to neutral though. Who says that the person buying your house loves that shade of grey/beige?

    Keep up the good work and I am sure it will sell quickly.

  21. I think light staging might do the trick. Honestly- getting rid of all the personal clutter is just as effective. We were still living in our house and we cleared it. I mean CLEARED it of clutter. It also made it easier to clean before showings. We had a storage unit and we just kept adding to it over the preceding year Once we went on the market- it was just a matter of corralling the critters. Luckily- you have another house you actually live in- so the day to day “lived in” mess and stuff is not an issue. I say have fun with it with as little expense as possible. I would put a bed in the room- Because people might see the bedside closets and if they own a “battleship” bed – it might deter them instead of thinking “oh I could get rid of that albatross and just use a normal frame and headboard”, and really- if they own a “battleship”, your condo isn’t probably going to appeal to them anyway. LOL!

    But yes- while we did live in our house- our awesome kick arse agent- adding some awesome touches like large paintings and such to the dining room and living room. Since I had “decluttered”. lol it helped add back that human touch and gave a pop of color and interest to the photos.

    My experience with staging is more on the buyer end. The homes we looked at (many of them) it was good to see and visualize the use of space. How they had it laid out and flow of the place. What size of rug. We had no furniture of real value- sentimental or monetary so we were more open to possibilities since we would base our choices on the house, not buy the house to accomodate our current furniture. So -yes- it helps to put in a couch or rug, bed or such I think you’ve upgraded that condo as far as storage so beautifully. Anyone who has lived in a small space with little or no storage will see it for the gem that it is.

    Plus- if you include it as is or furnished- it might sweeten a deal. I’m excited to see how it goes. 😀 I’m guessing it will be snatched up pretty darn fast. Obviously Texas is different than the Seattle area. But an awesome condo is an awesome condo. 😀

  22. My realtor said 99% of the viewing public cannot envision what the room will look like. I know that is hard for those of us who read this blog to imagine but it’s true. Less is more. Did minimal staging of a condo I sold last July. Sold on first day for asking price. There were several in the complex for sale with prices all over the place. I wanted to do more staging but my realtor said not needed and she was right. I’m sure yours will sell quickly.

  23. A must…stage!!!! With a home that has a set look in mind like your condo does due to the built in and extras that you have provided it is essential that you stage so that anyone can walk in a see how they can live in the space( even if they don’t like a fixture or a color they will be able to see themselves) Staging a Key to smaller living spaces because a filled/furnished room sells quicker than a empty one when the space is small. Keep the stage simple and basic, allow the flow of the space to shine through, keep it as general as possible so one one taste/style comes through, keep is clutter free. Think business apartment rental style and chic but that everyone would like. I know you will do great and I am sure your condo will move.

  24. When we sold our house 3 years ago and county south of you, we did the “extreme horizontal surfaces”.
    All horizontal surfaces were preferably empty. We did have a big bowl on counter for collecting the realtor cards in the kitchen. Agent thing for judging how many showings…..
    Extreme cleaning too- light covers, windows, air vents and intakes, baseboards were all pristine. D not use
    Window coverings did NOT block windows by day during showings. Want the light coming in for a bright and airy feeling- no lowered blinds and only sheer draperies in use.
    All personal items were stored from walls, etc. Photos and symbols can prejudice people- ages, culturally, whatever. You do want the anonymity until the signing.
    Scents- can be an issue for allergic folks- vanilla, pine, spices can all be triggers.
    *Minimal accessories because prospects have no imagination. Some of our guests were in desperate need of seeing only empty houses- “too cluttered” which made all the agents crazy. Many folks could not visualize space. I think those folks wants a “done, modern” home. rofl.
    Yes, emptying the kitchen cupboards to half used does work. As does emptying the closets to half full.
    Touch up any nicks in your paint.
    Be careful with the tagline buyers can use for your place- “cabbage roses”, “the fishpond”, the “art gallery”, the strange owner (notes everywhere, burned out lights, life-sized dolls up right in the closets, and what looked like oven fire remains in the double ovens.)

    You want to be the clean, best looking option on the market so the buyers cannot easily talk down.
    Also, get your condo inspected at your expense before it is listed. No surprises if you use a good inspector. Everything is then addressed. Buyers should still want their own inspection, but you have less stress.

    1. Oh…good point that I forgot to mention in my comments. In addition to staging, we touched up EVERY single room, whether it had been painted in the last 2 months or 5 years.. My husband is a master at patching screw/nail holes in the walls quickly, and you’d never know they were there. I think it adds to the “cared for” feeling of the home not to have scuffs and holes in the walls. And we left all of the extra paint with the rooms it belonged in.

      1. Yes, we also patched holes (white toothpaste works wonders) touched up paint and left the leftovers in the room they belonged in (on the shelf in the closet) for the future homeowners. It’s a nice thing to do and a little added something that helps to sell the home quicker.

  25. When we were looking for a home, I was drawn to homes that were staged well. The thing about empty spaces is it’s hard to visualize your own things there, and if you see a room fitting a queen size bed or a sofa, it provides a jump-start for your own imaginings of the space along with a frame of reference for furnishings. I was actually one of those people that was turned off by too much “personalization” in a house – like those stick-on wall quotes and family photos – it felt like walking into a stranger’s house rather than something that was “for sale”. Neither of us was a fan of the “neutralize everything” bit, though – we didn’t want to see a home devoid of personality, just one that looked nice and clean and that showed us how we could use the different spaces.

  26. We recently sold our house and staged it simply, using pretty much all the ideas you listed: no clutter, simple decor to highlight the home’s features, edited the furniture and decor, pretty much like they do for a model home. Most people don’t have the ability to visualize what it could be. Staging is like a person getting dressed up instead of wearing old sweats. Same person made more attractive. We got 4 offers right away. From what I saw online, we stood head and shoulders above the competition. You’re in the right track!

  27. We staged a house, very clean and open, no clutter or personal items. It sold in two weeks. I think you have to give people some idea of how furniture will fit, especially with all the built-ins! Can’t wait to see the pic.

  28. You could look at potentially renting furniture for the space. You are more likely to find something that fits your vision quickly for the space, you don’t have to do anything to it, and you won’t be stuck with something at the end that you don’t know what to do with. 🙂 Unless you have the storage space and think you’ll use it… then just disregard this since it won’t necessarily save you any money.

  29. I remember you saying early on that there was a lot of things that you made FOR the condo that would stay with the condo. Does that include the breakfast area table & chairs? That’s the area that popped up in my mind as a “hard to envision” area for a potential buyer if it’s not staged.

    All in all your staging plans sound reasonable to me. I would caution against two loveseats though. Most folks want a couch big enough to stretch out on and if you stage loveseats they may not think the space big enough. How about a smaller sofa (but still “full size”) with a chaise facing the TV area? A small occassional chair could nestle in the corner to the right of the TV with a small table for a drink. Still seating for 4-5 but more what people are looking for.

  30. I helped my sister set up her home with a professional stager a couple of years ago. She had a few rules that she said she always follows:
    1. Put away personal belongings
    2. Keep counters in kitchen and bathrooms clear and open for the illusion of more space
    3. Use the least amount of furniture in each room to maximize space
    4. A few colorful knick=knacks and books on built in shelving also maximizes space
    5. Know the target audience – in other words if its a family dwelling, use furniture a family would use. If its a college crowd, set up a study area (desk) etc

    I’m sure you are aware of these rules and with your taste you will be able to sell this treasure easily.

  31. I sold a house a year ago and the realtor liked it so much, that he bought it
    the day it was supposed to go on the MLS. He rents it out. Yes, staging helps,
    but I would not go out and buy furniture. As someone said, place your wing
    chairs in the living room with a few other pieces of furniture and call it a day.
    If you found a nice, cheap love seat that would go with the wing chairs that
    would work too. Just a few pieces of furniture in the living room, beds and
    a table to go in the dining room is all I would do. Also, as someone said,
    dishes and placemats. Just keep it very simple as the condo is small. Better
    to have too little than too much and make it look smaller. Oh, I would place
    the wing chairs facing where the TV goes. With college kids probably living
    there, they are going to want to face the TV. you could place a small love
    seat facing the window.

    1. Some people would never think of putting a chair in front of built ins, because they may think of it as furniture blocking furniture. The wing chairs are a great idea. you could put a sofa across from the “TV spot” in the built ins and park an angled wing chair in front of one of the built ins just to show that it works. Or, if you don’t have a spare sofa sitting around, skip that. The obvious place for it would be across from the TV. That takes a little less imagination.

  32. A perfectly good reason to stage is because you have put your heart and soul into that condo and take pride in how it is presented. Plus, I, your loyal reader, can’t wait to see it staged. It will be a nice “goodbye” to this condo that most of us have never stood in but feel as if we had!

  33. Hi Kristi,
    Me again the ceiling lady. Hope this helps.
    In the last ten years I have bought and sold 5 houses, so I’ve had experience as both a buyer and a seller. Yes you definitely need to minimally stage your house. Like you I can visualize how things will work in a room, however my husband simply cannot. We bypassed purchasing several home options because he simply could not picture how rooms could work, or was so turned off by the decoration or clutter that he would not even consider the house even when I told, him just look at location and the bones of the house. I also noticed that if a room is empty it looks smaller than if there is some furniture in it. Do put up simple window coverings,it makes a difference to a buyer knowing that they don’t have to go in and spend money on window coverings, appliances, redoing kitchens etc.
    In my first home we sold, really the best ,we were not able to stage it, and it took the longest to sell. The other homes that I staged with our own furniture,decluttered, and spotless, we not only got immediate offers but offers to buy the house turnkey.
    It seems like you have this down and are on the right track. Just be sure that you minimally stage. I always need to be able to check out the corners, closets, cupboards, bathrooms,under the house etc. for water damage ,rot what have you, when I look at a house. I have by passed homes where It was so cluttered that there may have been potential problems no one could see lurking behind or under the clutter that even a house inspector would not have been able to see. I always go by how the house looks to determine how well the owner has taken care of it.
    Having seen your condo transformation I would be very surprised if you have trouble selling it.
    Happy staging.

  34. The last house we sold we ‘staged’. We still lived there so we had to rent a storage unit and empty all extraneous items. We had our open house on Sunday and a solid full price contract on Tuesday in a down market. The house next door was also for sale at the exact same time. It sold for 90% of asking price in 9 weeks. The difference was the feel. I emptied all the extra out of the house and cleaned it like it had never been cleaned.

    My realtor has since had me work with a few other clients to get their houses ready to sell and I have done a few friends houses (and we are still friends!).

  35. I’m usually just lurking, but I too have bought and sold several homes in the last 10 years. My two cents is that minimal staging is def worth the effort to help folks see how a room works. So “just enough” to lead them in the direction of them visioning their life there, without sending them off on a tangent of furniture/deco choice, is IMO the key. Good Luck!

  36. I’d fill the spaces with furniture you already have. Borrow accessories in your current home to add character to fill in the gaps – then get it on the market. Staging works, but what it does more than anything is sell faster. Time is money. Every week you wait just delays the process. There is a point of diminishing returns so take care on how you spend money on things you don’t intend to use later.

    Do you have any pictures of the condo to show the front living room furnished? Your realtor could leave this for house hunters to look thru for ideas. I did this for one home we sold.. for the garden. Since it was winter nothing was in bloom and I had several flower beds that were so colorful at different times of the year.

  37. HI.
    All the things you listed you are going to do , DO!
    Decluttering is so important.
    Clean, clean , clean….make sure everything is clean, sparkling ….this will make such an impression!
    Yes, definitely stage the rooms with furniture to make the buyers see the potential layouts etc. Most folks cannot picture their stuff in an empty space or they doubt themselves.
    Flowers! They do not have to be fancy bouquests, but they make sure a different. So invest in some nice bundles of flowers, and place them them in the kitchen, diningroom, livingroom, bedrooms…anywhere you like. You do not need them everywhere, but they add a lovely touch.
    Good luck! gina

  38. We sold our last home while living in it, plus having three dogs. We rented a storage unit and took all of the “extras” out of the closets, cupboards, garage, etc, leaving enough so that it looked like just the right amount of “stuff” with room for plenty more. We also took our travel trailer to the storage lot. Took out almost all personal items. We had the white tile grout professionally cleaned and restained (three rooms, plus hallways). The house was spotless or could be made that way at a moment’s notice. The decor was simple yet quite attractive. Showings were arranged when I was able to pack up the dogs in the car and leave during the showings. Plus at those times I removed the dog bowls, toys, etc.

    The exterior/landscaping was kept clean and neat. Planted new plants in the entrance planters.

    The house ended up in a bidding “war” and was sold for cash. At the time it sold at the highest price in our subdivision.

    So we did “stage” the house and I believe it was the staging that sold the house quickly and for a higher than asking price.

  39. OK, here’s my two cents. I would rather seen an empty house than one that is being lived in. Since we are in the process of home shopping via the internet, I can tell you first hand that I go for a clean empty house over a lived in one. People have way too much clutter. That said, I probably do to, but it is my clutter, therefore I love it! An empty house vs a staged house, I would choose the staged house, especially for the area where we are looking. FL homes have no character. You need to put that in yourself. They have all these high ceilings, tile floors, walls that do not go all the way up, ugh! If there is nothing in the house, you are hard pressed on the internet to figure out where one picture stops and the other begins. You should have your table and chairs in the kitchen, just the way you have it now. Since you have beds, go for it. As for the living room goes, I would add one or two occasional chairs (wooden dining chairs are fine) or ottomans, just to give it additional seating. Lamps, yes, but borrow from your house, or your moms or friends. A few decorative items in the bookcases great, does the tv also go on the bookcase wall? Rather than look for consignment you might be able to rent some furniture at a reasonable cost. I don’t know if Cort (company name) is in TX but they are a biggie for home and office rentals. If you have a local furniture store, or even consignment shop you may be able to strike a deal to borrow stuff, promising to place framed sinage among the pieces stating where they can be purchased and for how much. Maybe the store would offer a discount if they say they saw it in your condo. We do this all the time in this area for show houses, just make sure you place “please do not sit on furniture signs” on the for sale pieces. As far as the beds go, I would not spend the money on comforters and shams. Simply make the bed with clean, crisp, pressed sheets and pillow cases. An inexpensive throw that can be used in your sunroom or breakfast room can be artlfully placed on the bed. Maybe your mom could wip up some colorful throw pillows. What ever you do, don’t set a breakfast tray on the bed….no one lives like that. Candle holders, books, small clocks are all charming additions if you have some to spare. Buy some inexpensive frames and place picturesque greeting cards in them. Whatever you do, don’t spend a lot of time and money. The secret is clean and neat. Also, forget that neutral stuff. No one wants bedrooms with bright blue walls or hot pink ones, but believe it or not, they are for sale all over FL. One last thing, take the time you would spend making curtains and give the windows a really good cleaning. Skip the curtains. Blessings

  40. I think you have all the right ideas. My experience has shown that most people need their hand held regarding furniture placement and how a room can/should be used. I would put a couple things in the closet cabinets to show them off- and remind people why they’re there. Beds and chairs with-as you said- simple comforts. A blanket, throw, pillow. The decor is so fun and pretty- I would play it as the advantage that it is. Is that cool pet station still there? And the baskets in the cubbies? Oh, and show off that super cool laundry area. Maybe a small basket with folded towel and bottle of Gain or other colorful container. I love the condo- can you tell? LOL. I hope the seating area is still set up in the kitchen. Love that. I don’t know your market, but I bet it sells fast.

    1. I totally agree Tracy2. Love the small basket and towels idea lol. I also agree about using a couch instead of love seats. There will be college kids looking at the condo with sleep overs and watching TV. Please, please put a TV in the living room. No not everyone has a TV in the living room but most people do. I love the condo and the dining area you built. That will be a big hit. You know what to do, now go for it! Good luck I know it will sell quickly.

  41. Staging is a great idea…most people don’t have that vision. Grey is very in right now …grey owl Benjamin Moore is a great color. Not too blue or green. Maybe think about marketing it furnished..if your going to use stuff you already have. Whatever you do it will look beautiful and will sell quickly.

  42. You have done your homework! Now comes the finessing!
    Now, for my story…. We sold our 100 year old house in PA in 2009, in the height of the “downturn”. I spent a year ( carpal tunnel surgery on both hands slowed me down! Lol) touching up paint, putting in crown molding, and general sprucing up. We got a storage unit where I could pack all those things we wanted to keep and had THE best yard sales you can imagine! Anyway, in a small town where very little was selling, we had 4 offers and signed the deal in 2 weeks. (Yea for me!)
    You seem to have it all in your head how you’d like to stage the condo, which means you’re halfway there! You’re ‘spot on’ about what to put/not put in the rooms, so it’s just a matter of fiddling to get the vibe you’re looking for!
    My only comment was already stated in a previous post, so I’ll just add to it! Re the living room seating… I’d go with a couch facing the built-ins, as most people have them instead of love seats…maybe a console table behind it ….would there room for a conversation area on the backside of the couch for another space of interest? Showing flexibility is important as some would want that space.
    The biggest mantra I used was “always make sure the baseboards can be seen from the door”. When that first sight of the room includes the baseboards, the room appears larger.
    Good luck! And I’ll be looking forward to your results!

  43. Yes to the staging, many have had great suggestions. I have also made sure my windows were professionally cleaned so they sparkled and let in the absolute most light. I also remember you had cats there, be sure to remove all evidence of them as that would prove a big deterrent to many. Good luck, you’ve got this!

  44. So much good advice here for you Kristi!

    I’ve bought, sold, and staged homes and the staged ones always capture the hearts of buyers and sell quickly. People who say that staging doesn’t “fool” them or make them pay more are kidding themselves. Buyers make emotional decisions.

    With your decorating eye and skills, you should have NO problems. You will sweep them off their feet as soon as the front door opens.

    The fact that you aren’t living there is a plus. Make sure you check the place almost daily because people can leave lights on, toilets running, pillows askew, dirt tracked in… You can’t expect a realtor to be your property manager.

    I second the opinion that photos are as important as the staging itself. Save money by not buying or renting furniture. Lend the condo what looks best from your own new home and maybe your Mom’s. Spend the money on professional photos.

    If you are selling it yourself and showing it yourself, may I suggest that you not tell prospective buyers all the improvements you made, not because they were DIY projects, but because people don’t care. They just want to know what they’re buying — not its history. They may wonder what the place used to look like and envision problems. You could say there are “recent upgrades” but don’t advertise “repairs.”

    Good luck. We know it will look beautiful.

  45. I’ve been a Realtor in the Houston area for 27years and I’m a big believer in staging. I work with professional stagers and see first-hand and on a continual basis what a difference it makes. I think saying that 99% of buyers don’t have an imagination is a bit harsh and unfair to buyers. It’s just that most people are visual and cluttered, ugly rooms distract from the house and hide its assets while vacant houses look and feel lifeless. Proper staging is meant to bring life into the home and highlight the home’s assets so that during the brief time (usually just a few minutes) that the buyer is there, he/she can see, appreciate those assets. Another poster mentioned too that staged rooms make it so much easier to see rooms online, which is usually the first glimpse the buyer will have of house. A picture’s worth a thousand words is a cliche because it’s true and staging paints a picture of life in that home. Finally, imagination or no imagination, a buying decision has an emotional component. Proper staging allows the buyer to emotionally invest in the home. I’ve had investors pay (over) top dollar (and cash) for a beautifully staged home so it’s not just inexperienced buyers who lack imagination that need staging to fully see a home’s potential. Look at it this way — if staging didn’t work, why would builders and developers continually spend money to stage their model homes?

    Whether staging actually increases a final sales price is subjective and difficult to judge as there are a lot of factors that contribute to the final outcome of a sales price, including but not limited to the condition of the property, location, how the property is marketed, financing, what the market is like in your area, how appraisals are keeping up with the market, etc. From my own experience, I’ve seen how staging can bring top dollar to many of my listings when market conditions are right and if it’s a cash sale (with none of the above components to derail it) staging will definitely bring a higher sales price. At the very least, staging does limit time on the market and as you pointed out — time is money. Bottom line — we are visual creatures. If we weren’t, there would be no need for decorating, staging, or any of the topics of your blog.

    Lastly, thank you for sharing your home owning and decorating experiences. Your blog is inspiring, entertaining and highly informative and I enjoy it immensely!

  46. Oh I can’t believe how parallel you are with what I am going through here in Michigan. We have been working on my dad’s house for two months now prepping it for sale and I have been envisioning how we will stage the house, & wondering to what lengths I should go. We had hoped to get it on the market before we started getting snow (we’re in Michigan) but we didn’t quite make that deadline so my biggest fear is we will sit on this house now until spring. Strategic staging will definitely help, I think. Your blog has been a total source of inspiration and strength as I have tackled projects I never would have dared before subscribing to your blog. Thanks bunches! I sure have appreciated all of the comments on this topic.

  47. This may be no help, but the only two houses we ever bought were both vacant when we saw them. There were some homes that turned me off because of all the other people’s stuff in there. It felt too “theirs” and not enough blank slate. I do well with blank slate though while a ton of people I know don’t. I think with all you’ve done you’ll want buyers who want a finished product (and not someone looking for a blank slate) so staging is probably good in your case. 🙂 Good luck!!

  48. Kristi I totally agree on your staging ideas. And having bought and sold homes that were staged I can attest to the fact that staging works. An empty room that looks boxy and lifeless suddenly looks charming and full of possibilities. As you say, it doesn’t take much. Some books in the built-ins. A nice soap dispenser on the bathroom counter and maybe a small plant. Toilet seats down. A full roll of toilet paper holder. Nothing looks sadder than an empty cardboard TP roll. Plush white towels in the bathroom. Kitchen counters cleared of all clutter. Maybe just a bowl of lemons. And a nice tea kettle sitting on the stove. Just little signs of life. A nice kitchen rug in front of the sink. And make sure the appliances are sparkling clean inside and out. Buy a couple of neutral love seats on craigslist. Add a nice throw to one of them. When you sell the condo put the love seats back up on craigslist. You probably won’t be out much if anything. Take pictures of the staged living room and use the pictures on your craigslist ad when you go to resell the love seats. Craigslist ads need to be staged/styled too. Nice crisp neutral bedding. A night stand with a book sitting on top. I don’t think I’d bother with window treatments. People will love them or hate them. But be sure the windows a sparkling clean
    . Good luck Kristi. I’m looking forward to seeing your cute condo all staged. I know it will look wonderful.

  49. A lot of good ideas. Bottom line…..stage it! We’ve sold several homes, full price, quickly, and the realtors loved us. Keep it clean, no lace, fluff, personal. Put a queen bed in that bedroom so people can see it. Towels in the bathroom. A light lavender scent is nice too, nothing overpowering. Lights on, if you can do it. Nothing worse than walking into a dark room. We purchased cheap air mattresses, really cheap, stacked them and put sheets, coverlet, pillows in a room where we had no bed. It had all the difference as it identified the room as a bedroom as well as size and proportion. People really need help visualizing. Good luck

  50. I was one of those buyers that could “see” the potential in a home, my husband was not. I actually preferred viewing a house without furniture, but he like the clean, decluttered, staged ones. My main suggestion is take good pictures – I did the majority of my house hunting on-line, and if the pictures were bad, the house was usually off my list of possibilities. I don’t think you will have a problem with that though. 😀

  51. In the last year I have sold a house and bought a house. I think your plan is perfect. If It were me I’d skip decorating the bookshelves. Nothing on the walls if there is still stuff up. Don’t let the buyer know you are leaving anything until after the offer. It is a distraction to them. 🙂

  52. I like you idea of staging your condo. I think it’s so pretty, and I love the new closets in the bedroom. However, I have to admit that when I saw them in the empty room, I had trouble imagining how they would work with a bed in the middle. Would they make me feel too enclosed, etc? If I were looking to buy, I would want to see how furniture would fit in. You have an eye for beauty. Give someone else the benefit of seeing what could be. It’ll sell in no time!

  53. We recently sold our home. We didn’t stage it, but we did a major de-clutter and cleaning. The rooms were “staged” with minimal decor items. Our house sold in two days and we got more than our asking price. I think you should definitely have furniture in the home when you try to sell it. It will make it easier for the buyer to imagine themselves living there. You have great style, this should be a no-brainer for you!! Good Luck!

  54. One other tip our stager gave us was about the outside of the house. We had a narrow porch on the front, but it was big enough for a small conversation set with a lamp on the table. We wanted to create a sense of warmth and welcome before they even made it into the house. We kept the lamp on, so if agents showed the house at or after dark, they wouldn’t be left on the front porch fumbling with the lockbox in the dark.

    She also told us to be sure to drop by daily (if we could) to keep the front porch clean of leaves, spiderwebs, etc. since there is almost always a delay while the agent opens the door (if they arrive together). The potential buyers need to have something positive to occupy their eyes and minds. It’s the first impression and you can never get a do-over.

  55. I sold my last house (which was a modular home) in four months and at the price I wanted. The real estate agent said the quick sale was because everyone liked how I had my home “decorated” and laid out. All the other listings at the time had homes that looked kind of like your neighbors living room…Nice but sloppy with lack of decor and poor furniture placement. Edited to say, I think “staging” works and you are smart for doing so.

    However, staging can be expensive even if you are shopping the thrift stores. Sofas, beds, table and chairs, even at thrift stores can still costs a pretty penny and that’s even if you can find things that you like or that are not too outdated. May I suggest checking into renting everything. There are several home staging agencies out there now that specialize in staging homes or will rent furnishings and accessories out to people selling homes. I’m sure if you google it you will be able to find some of those places close to you. I’m not sure about prices but even if it was a little more than buying thrift store merchandise it would probably be worth it to get things to stage your condo with that are modern and nice and that you don’t have to get rid of later. Just a thought. PS. I think your built-ins are very nice and I would purchase your condo over your neighbors any day. Good luck!!

  56. I just sold my condo and it sold in 6 days AND the buyer bought all my furniture for cash because they liked it. When you have a unique or smaller space, staging can really help people see how furniture will fit in the room. I just bought a new condo (not staged…and in need of a good wash) and it sat on the market for almost TWO years because of the lack of cleanliness and there was no furniture to show how to layout the unique living room space! And the bedroom has built ins like yours and I would have had NO idea a queen bed could fit between them until I busted out the measuring tape

  57. A completely clear kitchen can feel sterile. You might leave a teapot and canister of utinsels or cookie jar, etc. Also consider baking a loaf of bread before an open house (or finding a candle with that scent). Smells, good or bad, can have huge effect.

  58. Hi Kristy,

    I believe that staging your home will improve your chance of selling. I did it for my two previous homes. Also one of my realtor told me that adding yellow flowers is a welcoming sign for buyers. You can either add them in the flower bed or in a vase on the table or living room depending of which you see first when you enter. On a day of visits or open house, they suggested to have bake cookies or muffin so it will smell yummy and homy. You can add items accordingly to season. Example: I live in Canada, so during colder months, they suggest to add a throw on the sofa or ottoman with a bowl of popcorn in the living room, to make it cozy. The idea is to set a mood or a homy feeling so they can picture themselves living in your condo. You get the picture. You’re the best and I’m sure you can do magic with simple things. Have fun!

  59. We have had several homes sell in our neighborhood and the homes were staged. I walked through two and they put a few things on the kitchen counter, hung a few pictures, had a accent table set up in the living room, and a few items in the bathroom, l must say it did add to the sale of the house, they weren’t on the market very long. In fact one home sold in a week! You won’t regret it.

  60. So, I guess after all these comments, you will be staging the condo, Kristi! It seems like 99% FOR staging. Can’t wait to see how you do it!

  61. I’ve sold five houses; two within the last 3 years. I staged each home but made sure it was on the spare side. I would recommend using your two chairs from your own living room and a love seat. People can move around but will also remember the number/type of furniture. That would be four to five seats along with a coffee table; maybe even your own coffee table – because that’s also seen as a seat:-)

  62. I agree that minimal staging works great, especially if you have nice furnishings. Since staging is selling, make sure you take your inspiration from top selling furniture retailers (Poverty Barn, etc) – places where your market hopes to shop. And unless your views are terrible, dont add any expense with window treatments just for the sale.

  63. Kristi,

    I have sold 3 homes in the last five years and all of them have been staged by me. I declutter clean and clean. I set the dining room table with plates, glasses and a center piece. I put fresh flowers every where. I leave just a couple personal photos. I also think a lot about line of site and how easy it is for the buyer to walk around all of the rooms. I currently have one of my own homes on the market that I just remodeled. In addition to staging I also have a virtual tour and professionals photos of the home.

    Hope this helps.

    Beautiful work a usual.

  64. Definitely stage it. You’ve nailed all the points in your post. I’ve sold several homes and always staged. They sell faster. It’s amazing how many people can’t see through clutter and someone else’s personal stuff and it seems difficult for many to imagine furniture in situ. So…

  65. If you haven’t already you should check out Kristie Barnett’s blog She is a professional stager in Nashville (I think???) and her work is pretty amazing. All of her stages are simple but still well decorated and she really nails down furniture arrangements and paint colors to sell. Anyways, you might find some inspiration on there!

  66. Hi Kristi,
    I like your plan. When selling my condo I found the light staging and non neutral decor actually added interest and helped sell it. Good luck.

  67. Hi, Kristi

    I’ll add my vote to staging. Here is some info based on what our stager asked us to do for when we sold our house. Definitely stage that bedroom with the closets you built.

    Yes, she had us put two sofas/loveseats facing each other with a coffee table in between.

    One of the rooms we had to stage as an office, with a simple desk. I also left an old flat monitor and an extra keyboard.

    Bookshelves should be mostly empty, but can be styled a bit. We were asked to use “tomes” or books that have a pretty spine and look like they would be on the shelves at a law office.

    In the master bathroom we were asked to leave small decorative river rocks pooled at the bottom of the sink. And we had to set out nice hand towels and a couple of pillar candle. Make it spa-looking.

    In the kitchen, we were asked to leave a small bowl of nice-looking fake fruit on the breakfast table. We were also to set a mixing bowl, kitchen towel and mixing spoon along with a cookbook on our island. Everyone knows that nobody was cooking there, but it helps create a vision in the buyer’s mind of a usable kitchen. Otherwise all countertops free and clear. People love lots of counter space.

    Whatever the main dining area is should be set with simple place settings involving only placemats, plates, coordinating napkins and goblets.

    Other things our stager asked us to do:
    – People want to see light. So blinds must be open at all times to let in natural light.
    – Table or floor-lamps should be on all the time (use low $$ bulbs) for ambiance
    – Nothing personal
    – Nice-looking welcome mat outside front door

    Hope this helps!

  68. I am a stager in Kennewick, Wa. I personally think you should stage it. I am shocked at how many people just can not see the rooms of a house unless there is furniture in it. It is overwhelming for most to see nothing but empty space. Everything I have staged except one house has sold. 6 days being the quickest sale and one home had 4 offers.
    I don’t agree about being neutral color but be very careful not to show case anything that may turn off a buyer. (no collections of diecast cars, hello kitty bathrooms or religious stuff….I’m just giving examples, I have no hard feelings against hello kitty =) )

  69. I “staged” a small condo I previously owned and it certainly helped sell it faster (in one day), and it also got me top dollar. It also appeared to be responsible for starting a bidding war. Most of the condos in my building were owned by older couples/retirees and their places weren’t as nicely decorated as my place. Staging may have been overkill, but let me clarify what staging means to me. In this neck of the woods, “staging” a home normally means you hire a professional to specifically place furniture and objects in each room to demonstrate how they could be used. As hard as it is to grasp the concept that most people don’t live in houses that are as well-put together as yours, staging may be necessary for some people when it comes time to sell. Staging also reduces clutter. I have to admit that on a normal basis, my house would probably be considered already “staged” since I like to keep each room well-decorated and ready to be photographed. Also, because of camera phones, it seems like my house is being photographed much more often. Mom always said that you don’t want to be caught in an emergency situation wearing your oldest underwear! Now I add to that statement the fact that I wouldn’t want my rooms appearing in the background of photographs if those rooms are confusing, messy, or just plain ugly. Photographs hang around a long time. BTW, my realtor believed my condo sold fast and for a higher price primarily due to the décor in the master bedroom. She said it’s all about knowing who your potential buyer is and decorating accordingly. In my case, it was all about the dark hardwood floors, black metal French canopy bed complete with gauzy white bed hangings, pale sage green walls, crème crown moldings and high baseboards, mahogany bookshelves, armoire and dressing table, dark green velvet window drapery – all supposedly aimed at sophisticated suburban professionals.

  70. Kristi,
    I’m a Professional Stager in the Chicago area, and have had amazing success this year with staging. I just staged a tiny house for a RE Investor (flipper) and it sold for a higher price than the agent was going to list it empty…because empty rooms look “smaller” and are more difficult for young buyers to figure out.

    You might be able to purchase new loveseats cheap (Value City or Overstock) and sell them with the condo. If someone is starting out, they might pay you $1500 for the contents (and you could probably buy 2 loveseats, coffee table and some lamps for less than that). Also make the bedroom simple, but have the right touches of lighting and soft chenille throw. Try to touch as many of the senses as you can … you’re “selling the dream”!

    I tell sellers, “Young buyers today want a ‘tooth brush ready’ home … where all they need is their own toothbrush”.

  71. Personally I am neither here nor there about staging when I go to see a house. Though I do agree about removing excess furniture and clutter. Sometimes when I walk into a room stuffed with someones junk its hard to get a good grasp on the actual size of the room. I have hoarders in my family and friends, some extreme, some just to the point that they have furniture along every inch of wall space. I have helped move lots of these people and I cant tell you the number of times I walked into a room and went “Wait was this room really that big?” after we cleared it.

    I do like it when people have basic furniture in a room, because while I can easily walk into a room and imagine what I want to do with it, I cant tell how well a bed will fit here or there or if there will be room for a dresser if there is already a bed in there etc. So things like beds, dressers (if needed), couches and a table with chairs are all necessities to me for staging. It lets me gauge the actual size of the room. It especially makes small rooms look larger when someone can see how the bed actually fits. I didnt realize how big the rooms on my first house were until I actually got a bed in them then realized I had plenty of space left to do what I needed.

    I think the best plan for the living room to appeal to buyers might be to get one love seat and place it facing the built in and then place the two overstock chairs in the room slightly in front of it facing the tv at an angle. It gives you 4 seats and facing the built in implies you can have a tv there and kick back and relax. I imagine it would also leave some room where someone could see they could put a coffee table etc.

    I think putting a few things on the built in is good so people can see how big it is and how much would fit there. Over all though I think you have the right idea, get some furniture in there so people can picture things. As far as nuetralizing, I think most people realize that if they dont like paint they can paint over it, and if they are the kind of buyer that is going to be picky about paint colors to the extent that they are going to walk away or demand new paint… its NOT the kind of buyer you want to work with because its the same kind of buyer that will make you fix every scratch on the floor or nick on the walls.

  72. If all clients did their research and were as thoughtful as you. I think you avoided extremes, and that’s good. And you got a lot of pointers in the string of comments received. Good luck!