So, you've decided to sell your home? No matter what market you may be in, large or small, city or rural, unless you have a real estate agent who fully takes care of every single step, you MUST stage your home for potential buyers. Now, this process is not only a physical process, but also a mental and emotional process. It is an ongoing process, one you will have to remind yourself of every day when you walk in your door and fail to recognize your own home.
I will describe in steps how to physically stage your home, but first you must prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. You must detach yourself from the home, the memories, the personal way you have it decorated, etc. Yes, the 35 photos of your children in the hallway should be attractive to others, or so you think... People do not want to walk in and see your home. People need to walk in and see a home they can see themselves living in. Therefore, it must appear that way, and I'll teach you how. Buyers will be fighting for your home!
Step 1: Rent a Storage Unit
For all personal items in the home that are not properly organized in closets, the garage, or anything you don't use on a daily basis, move them temporarily to a storage unit nearby. Remove personal photos and all other personal items from walls and outside, as well. I would personally suggest a climate controlled storage unit to better protect your items. Keep them organized and labeled so you can find something in case it is needed.
When you think you've gotten it all, go through your house again. And again. And again. The least amount of things you have in your home, the easier it will be to stage it.
See the photos - on an extra run-through we discovered some decorative but potentially dangerous swords. Taking another look upstairs, we realized the huge, outdated TV was an eyesore, so it was removed.
Step 2: Room by Room Evaluation
Now, go through each room of your home one-by-one. Concentrate on that room and look at it as if you were a stranger. Ask a friend or neighbor for their opinion, as well. Ask yourself what you need to change about that room to update it, to make it more generic, to make it look like the show home of every buyer's dream?
Keep a notebook and camera and take photos and notes as you go along. If you're in a room and it needs something, add it to the list in your notebook of things to get. One good way to do it cheaper is to try to find things in other rooms to help with the room you are working on. For example: If you're in the dining room and you have two extra chairs against the wall and they appear distracting, can they be used as extra sitting in the living room, dressing area, etc.? If not, they go to storage. Write it down on the "go to storage" list.
Be aware, this will not be a one-time room-to-room thing. You will probably go back and forth, changing things over and over until you get the look you desire. See the photos of the large landing loft at the top of the stairs used as an office and family room. It was rearranged several times.
Step 3: Rule of 1, 3, and 5
Every decorator will tell you about this rule. For each area, shelf, wall, there must be 1, 3, or 5 things - not 4, not 2. Try it out! You'll see the difference.
This will help you in moving things from one room to another if it's breaking this rule. If you cannot find a place for it, storage!
Step 4: Dining Room
If you have a formal dining room, you'll want to arrange it where a buyer could see themselves about to have dinner.
Note: In these photos, what does not belong? The piano! Yes, it was removed before the first showing.
Step 5: Kitchen
Each day, be sure there are no dirty dishes in the dishwasher, countertops are clean and following the odd-numbered rule. Candles burning add a nice touch and scent to the room.
Pantries and laundry room areas should be as organized as possible!
Step 6: Bedroom Layouts
Experiment with the layout of the furniture in the bedrooms to show maximum area for usage. Just turning this bed made this room look twice as large and more updated.
Step 7: Bedrooms
As for bedrooms in general, make sure the beds are made every day and no clutter is visible. Keep following the rules for decorations and personal items.
Step 8: Windows and Lighting
What's wrong with the first photo???
Always have the window treatments open in a fashionable style so as much natural light can come in as possible. These curtains were simply tied with decorative rope into three sections. Yes, the rule!
If there are any areas that are dark, light them up! Light gives life!
Step 9: The Outside
Don't neglect the outside of your home. This is the first thing buyers will see, and curb-appeal is paramount! Walk around and take a look at your neighbors' homes and see how yours compares. Do you need to change any colors? Do you need any extra landscaping? If so, do it!
Be sure the grass is cut at all times. If you have an outdoor patio, dress it up with a hammock, seating area, and ensure the outdoor kitchen is ready for service!
Step 10: Final Details to SOLD!
Final details should all be checked, such as touch up paint needed anywhere, scuffed floors, etc. Paying attention to the details can make or break your sale. What you are used to seeing every day will be the first thing buyers see when they walk in.
Walk out and walk in as if you were a buyer and change any last and final details you see.