Home staging isn’t a new real estate industry term by any means, but it’s been receiving a lot of recent media attention because the current buyers’ market has created a high demand for professional home stagers to come in and work their magic. Home staging is a design technique that makes a home for sale look more attractive to buyers, often by creating a “lived in,” yet clean feeling.
This kitchen is staged with brightly colored accessories, live plants, and fresh fruit. Image courtesy of David Shraff Architect, P.C..
What do home staging and home remodeling have in common? Like staging, many remodeling projects are done to make a home for sale more attractive to buyers. Home staging and redesign work hand-in-hand because both techniques help a home sell by showing buyers exactly what they’re looking for in a new home, and they should be executed in conjunction when remodeling a home for sale.
How does staging my home help it sell?
Home staging is often used in vacant homes for sale. As a general rule, occupied homes are easier for potential buyers to picture themselves in because they look “lived in.” A furnished room actually looks bigger than an empty one, and an accessorized room looks a lot more personable than one with no design or style at all, even if the buyer would make different aesthetic choices.
Realtors often stage a home simply to make it look like someone lives there. Of course, this imaginary person or family never touches any of the staging props or leaves a mess behind, making a staged home sometimes more sellable than one that’s really lived in.
Staging a home with an accessory like a laptop helps buyers envision themselves using the same spaces. This lovely remodeled kitchen by Case Design shows off a wonderful little workstation, perfect for homework, finding recipes, of catching up on Facebook!
Staging relies on making a good first impression. Staging efforts are often focused on the property’s exterior to help give it more curb appeal that invites buyers inside to see more. But it really pays to stage your home based around the features that buyers are looking for the most: updated kitchens and bathrooms, green appliances and building materials, and plenty of storage options.
Remodeling a home with staging ideas in mind
Many homeowners resist the idea of updating a home for sale because they think it’s a bad investment when the new owner would prefer to make their own design choices. In reality, failing to make the right updates can put your home out of the competition when other similarly priced homes in your area have the features that buyers are looking for. It helps to think of home remodeling projects as part of the staging process.
Remodeling as a form of staging makes a home look like what buyers want to see first and foremost. You want to make as much money as possible off the sale of your home, so putting a lot of money into it beforehand doesn’t always make sense. It’s best to focus your remodeling and staging efforts on improvements with a high return and/or a low cost.
Staging your outdoor spaces shows their usefulness to potential buyers. Potted plants, fresh flowers, real fruit, and place settings are all perfect elements for staging. Image courtesy of Celia James.
The crux of a staged remodel is to place fashion above function. Instead of doing a full kitchen remodel, for example, you may choose to replace laminate countertops with granite and the front of an older but functional dishwasher with a stainless steel door, to give the kitchen a modernized look. Without certain aesthetic improvements, a kitchen is likely to leave an “outdated” impression with buyers.
Home staging and redesign tips
These common staging techniques can be used to help you make your home look more appealing to buyers whether you’re doing a remodel first or not. When remodeling a home for sale, staging should always be part of the home’s new design.
Finish unfinished projects. When potential buyers see a half-finished home improvement project – spot primered siding, new tiling without grout, and unframed new windows are all common examples – it sends the message that the home is going to require time and money on their behalf. Make sure you finish any works-in-progress before listing.
Organize your closets, cabinets, and storage rooms. Storage is becoming increasingly important to homeowners because it keeps spaces looking neat and clean. Buyers aren’t afraid to look inside your closets, kitchen cabinets, and even bathroom drawers to see how well they’ll hold their own stuff, so make sure you stage the ins and outs of all your spaces. If you have some particularly full closets, nooks, or other spaces, consider renting a storage unit for non-essentials while you’re listing your home.
Integrating additional storage solutions into closets helps organize your stuff for staging and can be a major selling point for buyers. This custom closet by Case Design/Remodeling, Inc. is a wonderful addition to any home.
Use live plants and flowers. Brightly colored potted flowers and hanging baskets around front porches and other outdoor living spaces make a home’s exterior stand out. Live houseplants and fresh flower arrangements indoors give a home a “real” appeal and don’t make a home look staged the way faux substitutes can. If you’re home’s yard is landscaped, try using fresh cuttings from your own plants instead of spending money on live arrangements.
Fresh flowers and place settings for dinner give this dining room a “lived-in” appeal. Image courtesy of Kate Jackson Design.
Lighting is part of staging too. Don’t forget to turn on the lights before you show your home, especially the table and floor lamps that buyers won’t turn on themselves because they don’t come with the house. These essential pieces of lighting make your home look and feel warmer and more welcoming. When showing your house during the day, make sure you adjust your curtains and blinds to create the most appealing natural light in each room, another important feature to buyers.
A mix of natural and artificial light is used to make this room look warm and inviting. Image courtesy of Talianko Design Group.
Use staging to reduce clutter. Clutter makes a house look too lived in and can be overwhelming to potential buyers. It can also take away from your home’s selling points, in addition to making a house difficult to clean. Using home staging as an excuse to declutter and get rid of some stuff will also help prepare you for an upcoming move when your home does sell.
The cluttered countertops and shelves in this kitchen take away from it’s better features: the countertops, cabinets, and backsplash. Installing additional cabinets above the counters would give this kitchen a major facelift and help clear the clutter. Image courtesy of Tamar Schechner.
Use the right balance of accessories. Accessories are an integral part of staging. Too many decorations and accessories can create clutter, but not having enough makes a home look boring and unappealing. Create displays around the home with accessories and other décor in groups of two to five. Put out towels, soap, and candles in the bathroom. Place a few books or other items on each shelf. Just don’t overdo it.
Accessorizing in groups of two to five keeps design schemes simple and appealing to most buyers. This design by Abby Fenimore Studio Ten 25 uses three pieces of furniture with two to five accessories on each.
Staging should be affordable. Staging doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. For many households, staging is more a matter of finishing works-in-progress and decluttering the home than going out and buying new stuff. Low-budget improvements such as new paint can really give a room a facelift and can be done as DIY weekend projects. If you’re remodeling as part of the staging process, focus your improvements on projects with a high return in order to recoup more of your investments when the home sells.
Go green. If you’re remodeling or replacing appliances in a home you plan to sell, it can really pay to spend a little bit more on green building materials and energy-star appliances. This is currently one of the top features homebuyers are looking for, so the updates make your home more competitive on the market, and you can advertise your eco-friendly home improvements to help the property sell.