We hear this over and over again: “when staging a home you must depersonalize it”. Most folks think that means removing every single speck of personal items and photos from their home before listing it.
Now, I’m not opposed to either action in moderation. Removing the 25 family photos hanging in the hallway is a really, really great home staging tip. And, cleaning the clutter that has been accumulating for years on the bedroom floor is definitely a move in the right direction.
But, too much of both can end up with a home that’s well…boring. And boring doesn’t sell homes.
What makes a home sell over other, similar homes in the neighborhood? All other things being equal, the home that sells is the home that ‘speaks’ to buyers when they walk in the door. It allows the buyer to envision themselves living in the home…contemplating where to put their furniture…how they’ll hang their art…creating an emotional attachment with the buyer.
You want your home to look, well, ‘homey’ and comfortable, not dull, boring and sterile.
Do It Yourself Home Staging Tips to remember!
In my world of home staging, I always strive for three results:
1. Keep the Home’s Personality when Depersonalizing
When it comes time to do the decluttering and depersonalizing of a home, remember that it’s still a home and someone (probably you) still lives there. While buyers don’t really want to be distracted by your children’s photos, trophies and certificates, it’s okay to leave just a few personal items in areas like the Bedroom or the Family Room. To be specific, I mean a couple of family photos that are framed and sit on a dresser or an end table, for example.
Or, you might have a collection of something that you have displayed throughout your home. I’ve been in homes that have w-a-a-a-y too many items on display. Doesn’t matter what they are, they’re everywhere, and are very distracting for buyers. You want the buyer to see the house and the layout, not all your stuff.
Keep a few items out, the ones you love the most, and display them in a place like your bedroom. Take the rest of your wonderful collection and pack it up…then you’ll have it ready for your next home!
2. Edit, Edit and Edit again
Many of the homes I stage are vacant. New construction, remodels, investment homes and homes that sellers have vacated (along with all of their stuff). The process is the opposite of an occupied home that is staged: I bring in the furniture and accessories to create a warm and welcoming vibe for buyers.
And you know what? The editing process is always there. It must be human nature to want to add MORE to something, and it is very true with home staging. So all of you do-it-yourself home stagers pay particular attention, because you will want to keep more furniture and accessories in place than needed. You can’t help it.
I always go back to a room or space that I think is finished with the home staging process, and look at it with a critical eye. What is in this room that is not needed??? It could be an extra piece of furniture…maybe an end table, a foot stool, a piece of art. I look very closely at the accessories, the ‘chachkies’ if you will (yes, it’s the American spelling), and make sure that there is just enough, but not too much.
There is also a tendency to want to add more to a space, or a tabletop, than is necessary with home staging. Remember, you’re staging, not decorating. Those are two different approaches.
3. Find the balance that results in a clean, stylish staged home
This is undoubtedly the most difficult aspect of do it yourself home staging, because it’s not a black and white action or step that you can take. It’s more of a feeling, or a vibe, that tells you that the space has just enough personality…just enough furniture…the right amount of accessories…the appropriate colorful accents.
If you’re uncertain, try this. Take a photo of the room or space and study it. There is something about a photo that will give you a clearer perspective than if you stand there and stare at the space.
Okay, let’s look at some examples of what I mean…
Styling, Decluttering and Editing examples
1) End Table
Here is a simple example of what I mean by editing and decluttering, but keeping the personality and style: (you can click on any image on the page to see it larger and in more detail)
This end table could be found in a living room, family room or den. The photo on the left is a bit wanting. The lamp is nice, but it needs something with it to warm it up and make the area more interesting.
The photo in the middle looks very familiar…I see tables/nightstands/desks/etc. like this all the time. It’s easy to accumulate stuff over time, and it just sits there taking up space and gathering dust. There is also an issue with the height of the silk lavender next to the lamp, it’s too narrow and too high.
So let’s edit this table. We’ll remove the lavender plant in the bottle, no need for it there. The candle sitting on the coasters may have been used at one time, but for home staging purposes those pieces just get in the way. Take them off.
Now we’re left with the small stack of books. They are a good height and size for that table, but alone they’re kind of boring. I added the HOME plaque for two reasons. One, it adds some height and visual interest to the space. And two, it’s cute….and memorable.
Keep in mind that the books on their own, or the HOME plaque on it’s own, wouldn’t have been enough on this table. But when they are combined, they’re just right.
2) Dining Area
Here is another example of editing, decluttering and styling in the Dining Room, with the emphasis on editing and styling.
There are a couple of extra chairs hanging out in the space, the 2 pieces of art are hung too high on the walls, there is a teeny little candle in the center of the table, and there you go. Yawn.
This is what we did:
- took all of the chairs out of the space and added 4 colorful parsons chairs
- removed both pieces of art and hung one piece of canvas art at an appropriate height
- set the table with simple, colorful pieces
- put an area rug under the table/chairs
By the way, this home had been on the market for a number of months with no offers. We staged the empty living room, styled the dining area as shown above, and the home was under contract in about 6 weeks. BAM.
3) Living and Dining Rooms
The next example demonstrates the power of editing and simple styling. This living room and dining room were in a home that had been on the market for several months. The first thing a buyer saw were those two rooms. They were unremarkable, cluttered in some areas (dining room) and a bit depressing.
First, we removed all the extra stuff that had been hanging around in these rooms for a long time.
- rearranged the living area a bit, adding an end table and small shelving unit
- added accent pillows to break up the large sectional
- added window treatments in both areas – made a huge difference in the feel of the space
- added table lamps in the living area
- added a couple of small accent rugs
- added a small silk tree
- removed the art in the living room and brought in 2 pieces of colorful canvas art
- removed the table cloth from the dining table
- took 2 of the dining chairs and put them in the corners of the room
- added a runner and a trio of candlesticks to the dining table
Here is the result:
Not a lot of money was spent as the client had a small budget. But, the entire vibe of the space changed, and the home was under contract within a week! Yay!
Do you see how some editing, decluttering and simple styling creates a warm, welcoming look? That is the goal of home staging!
4) Entire Home – selected areas shown
The next example shows a lovely home in Naples, FL that had some beautiful furnishings, but was lacking in the finishing touches and needed some furniture added in the Office. Here are the ‘before’ photos:
The goal of this home staging project was to take what was in the home and make it stylish and beautiful. We brought in the accents…lighting, art, accent pillows, bedding, and lots of decorative pieces appropriate for the function of the room being staged. (We actually staged the entire home…you’re seeing just a few of the rooms.)
We’ll look at each of the rooms individually to see how the home staging was done:
In the living room we added a number of accent pillows with a variety of colors (within the established color palette) and patterns to make the large, older sectional more attractive. We added a beautiful tray with a trio of candlesticks to the coffee table.
The art over the console was changed, and we added lighting and decorative accents there.
If you go back to the ‘before’ photo of the living area and look beyond it into the kitchen and nook, notice the plates, etc that are above the cabinets in both areas. Notice how much cleaner and stylish the area looks in the ‘after’ photo…removing those items and adding some softer art makes a world of difference. That is what I mean by editing out and creating a stylish look.
We added decorative accents and some art on the other side of the living room as well, to complete the look.
The dining room didn’t need a lot of changes, but the things we did made a big difference:
- removed the table cloth that was draped over two chairs
- added a trio of contemporary candlesticks – the table decor needed to be tall because of the size of the table and light fixture
- added colorful wall art
- added a silk tree in the corner for color
The goal in home staging is to create a warm, welcoming environment that allows a buyer to see themselves living there. So, in the Office we staged the built in desk and shelves as if someone was living and working there. The usual stuff you’d expect to see, along with some decorative accents. We gave this space an animal theme, so the elephant on the desk fit right in and would be something memorable for a buyer.
It’s amazing what some new bedding, canvas art and decorative accents can make in a bedroom! We added a few other accents on other pieces in the room, to bring in some color and style. Nice.
This home was under contract within 3 days of going on the market. Another successful home stage!
Finally, here is a gallery of images to help you along the process of Home Staging made easy for you, as a do it yourself stager. Study the photos to learn what is, and is not, part of each room or space. You can learn a lot from a picture!