Tips for Staging a House for Sale

Preparing a house for sale is a multi-faceted project. This post will cover tips for staging a house for sale.

Here is a video of an apartment we recently had staged. The apartment sold almost immediately, in large part because it was staged!

The saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression is appropriate here.  In our combined over 45 years of real estate sales experience, one of the most important things a seller must accomplish is to make a great first impression!  That said, how do you do it?  You stage your home…as if you were preparing for a magazine shoot. Or you can hire a professional stager.

How do you Stage?  The golden rule is to “put yourself in their shoes!” Buyers are looking for their new home, and they’re not interested in visiting yours!  You must create a space which lends itself to someone else moving in!

Staging occurs both in occupied homes and empty homes.

Occupied Homes

  • Clean and de-clutter spaces:  Move or completely remove items.  Your plan is to move to another home, right?  When moving day comes, are you going to take all of your “stuff” with you?  No, you’re not!  So get out the trash bags and prepare to make 3 piles:
    • Keeping
    • Donating/Giving Away
    • Trash
  • Look around each room of your house objectively and move things you still use into cabinets, closets, etc. and REMOVE items which really don’t belong.  Organize closets so they’re not overflowing (no clothes hanging on doors please!)
  • The Kitchen:  The most important room in the house is the kitchen.  So make the space as clear and serene as you can.  Tuck away pots and pans, hide prescription bottles, and remove all the personal pictures and magnets from your refrigerator.
  • REMOVE most (if not all) of the personal photos and items which relate only to you and your family.  Buyers will have a harder time relating to their living in the space if you have all your pictures everywhere.
  • Odors?  It happens!  If you have pets, you’ll most likely have pet odors in your home.   Have someone you trust honestly tell you about any detecting odors. Be prepared to eliminate lingering odors. Remove pet fur from couches and other surfaces, wash blankets and bedding, and clean litter boxes several times a day.  Have a professional come in to clean and deodorize carpeting and furniture.

Occupied and Empty Homes

Keep in mind our best advice when it comes to staging:  Staging is the opposite of interior design.  Although similar in many respects, staging is to present a home for someone else…not you.

1. Paint Colors must be colors which are popular, in general. When in doubt, go neutral. Do you like gray? Or pink? Or blue? There are over 1,000 shades of white, which can bring in hints of any color you like, while still remaining neutral. However, we often advise that a room have one (or sometimes two) walls with an accent color. Perhaps a “Verizon” red….or maybe a deep, rich chocolate brown!  Doing this brings drama into a room and can accent and enhance architectural features or home furnishings.   Look at the boring white of the condo before (in the pics below)….and how a fresh color palate brightened and modernized the space!

2. Lighting is key:

  • Natural lighting & views:  Clean all the windows and open all the shades & draperies open.  Let in as much natural light as possible.  And if your lucky enough to have a view…..feature it!
  • Interior lighting: Turn on all lights when showing.  Bring in lighting (and accent lighting) when needed.

3. Furniture & Accessories:  You want your home to feel spacious and livable; serene and          practical.

  • So if you have too much furniture, remember to “remove” some. It’s about making the space look its best!
  • Accessorize: Bring in coffee table books, interesting objects d’art.  Utilize artificial  flower arrangements and large house plants only if they look real!
  • If your home is empty:  bring in the items of furniture that will give buyers the sense that the rooms are large enough, that the home can accommodate their furniture.  You can use your own furniture or you can rent furniture…or you can hire a professional stager!
    • In the video (above) you can see where we put a small breakfast table in a small space which, if l we had left empty, might have appeared too small for one.
    • Also in the video, notice how we put a desk in the entry foyer to show buyers that this condo even had room for a small home office!
  • Professional Staging: The pro will be able to come in and furnish/stage as many rooms as you’d like. Plus, they know what furniture is not only appropriate for the spaces…but the furniture which is popular….the right color…..and will help you sell your home! In our experience, staged homes sell quicker AND for more money than a home that isn’t staged!  Believe us….It’s money very well spent!

Credit here for the staging shown in the video above goes to Sid Pinkerton in NYC at Manhattan Staging. He’s simply the best in the business!


living room

Living room: before staging;  This was a large, 585 sq ft studio with a working fireplace.  Boring white color, boring furniture layout  Check out the final staged condo in the video, above.



Living room: before staging (with previous tenant’s furniture).  Ok for rental, but we really changed it when we were ready to sell it!



Bathroom: before staging;  just adding some towels, plants & a new shower curtain helped dramatically.  Check it out in the video, above.

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