How to Stage Your House to Sell
Welcome to the first post in the “Charlotte Moves” series! I considered calling it Charlotte Moving and Shaking but that sounded like it could quickly turn ugly, so… keeping it simple. For anyone just tuning in, you’re probably thinking HUH? Head on over to this post to get caught up. We’ve put two houses on the market, and followed the same process both times. Hoping this will be helpful for any of you if you ever have to sell.
First, the basic principles. These are overarching goals for home staging. I’ll get into specifics later on, but know that these are your guiding principles.
Principle 1: Function over Form
Keep your eye on the prize. It’s NOT about style or design, it’s about making your home look as big and roomy and polished as possible. Less clutter, less stuff, less noise. We removed the pair of small green chairs, the benches in front of the fireplace to make our living room feel more open. See before and after below.
Principle 2: Purge-o-rama
Be prepared to get rid of a TON. The first time we listed, I was expecting *some* purging, but I didn’t realize how much. Throw pillows, tchotchkes, wall art, shelf accessories, smaller pieces of furniture, bigger pieces of furniture, side chairs… lots and lots and lots and lots.
Principle 3: De-personalize
The goal is to DE-PERSONALIZE. No family photos. No kids artwork on the fridge. Not human anatomy sketches in the master bedroom. Nothing that will make it harder for a potential buyer to imagine THEMSELVES in your home.
Principle 4: Details Matter
Attention to details. Take a look around for things like chipped paint, broken window panes, and missing switch plates. Individually, none of these things *should* matter, but collectively they give potential buyers the impression that you’re not taking care of the home. If little things like this haven’t been addressed, then how should they trust that you’ve change the dryer vents or had the gutters cleaned out. If you saw my Instagram stories, that meant lots and lots of paint touch ups!
Ok. Now for the specifics. These are all the nickel and dime type things that we did to make sure our house was as appealing and spit shined as possible on photography and open house days.
Tip 1. Rugs
Remove small rugs. We rolled up the runner in the kitchen, and picked up all bath mats and inside doormats. It feels very bare, but looks much cleaner and larger. Especially in photographs.
Tip 2. Counters
Clear all counters. With the exception of a vase of flowers and a bowl of limes, our counters are c-l-e-a-r. Toaster oven goes in the oven. Drying rack goes under the sink. Cooking utensils are shoved in a cabinet. Ditto bathrooms. All vanities are clear of everything except for a small plant or a simple container.
Tip 3. Lights
Lights ON. All of them. No matter what time of day, or what the weather is outside. They all go on. (I didn’t take pictures of this because lights are bad for photography… but they’re GREAT for showing houses.)
Tip 4. Toilets
Toilet seats down. No explanation necessary.
Tip 5. Trash
Be aware of trash cans. I’ve tried to hide most of the smaller ones into a closet. Larger ones get tucked behind a door or out of the way so they’re not front and center when someone enters the room.
Tip 6. Laundry
Laundry. This is challenging. We get rid of most laundry baskets when we’re showing our house and have the kids put their laundry right into the washer each night. Baskets either come with us in the car or… they might go in a closet. Bottom line, you don’t want laundry (clean or dirty) out in the open.
Tip 7. Flowers
Fresh flowers. They’re a nice touch. If I’m at a Trader Joe’s or grocery store, I try to grab a simple bouquet just to have on display. Note: the MINUTE the flowers start to wilt, dump them. Nothing turns home buyers off like dead plants or wilting flowers.
Tip 8. Exterior
Exterior. Pay attention to trash on your property, weeds in your flower beds, garbage overflowing your cans, etc. We’ve moved our trash cans to the other side of the garage so they’re not visible and we keep our patio umbrellas up when at all possible.
Tip 9. Tidy
Be tidy. This seems obvious, but it’s very very easy to become blind to your own little mess. Each time you leave the house check that there are no dishes in the sink, no dirty socks on the floor, no drawers half open, no throw pillows on the ground, no cabinets left open, no random papers on the counter…
Tip 10. Beds
Make the ol’ beds. Every day. Look for sheets hanging down from below. Put away stuffed animals and baby blankets. Pretend like you’re styling the beds for a photo shoot!
Tip 11. Spa
Make like a spa. People *shouldn’t* go digging through things, but they might. I tried to organize closets and areas like under the sink just so it didn’t look scary if someone took a peek. For more obvious places like the showers, I tried to streamline everything so it was like a spa. Simple simple simple.
Tip 12. Smells
Smells. For us, this mostly means Arthur’s room if you get my drift, but… if you’re an adventurous cook and the whole house smells like chili fried catfish, then… try your best to air it out or light a candle for a couple of hours before someone comes through. No smell is the goal, because you never know whether that scent you adore will make someone else have a headache. (Just remember, your Uber driver left his house thinking his cologne smelled AMAZING; opinions can differ.)
I’m excited about this series and planning to chat in further detail about how we keep the house clean and get 7 humans and 2 animals out at a moment’s notice for showings. I’ll talk about what qualities we LOVE about our agent and questions you should ask when choosing one of your own. House hunting (hopefully!) and what I look for. Leave me a comment if you have any suggestions or topic ideas!