Staging helps sell house


Staging the home for potential buyers may take a professional...

Kelly Hughes sees it all the time.

A couple tours a potential new home, excited about the breakfast nook where they can picture themselves sipping coffee while reading the newspaper and then are simply giddy about the extra storage provided by the two-car garage. But when they walk into the living room and see the loud paint on the walls, their dream home suddenly becomes a fixer-upper.

“Most of us know it’s easy to paint over a garish color,” said Hughes, a home stager who owns Designing to Sell. “At the same time, a lot of people shy away from a hassle of any nature. If they see any work as little as it may be, it’s just another check mark on their to-do list to accomplish.”

Home staging caught on in popularity when the home market peeked a few years ago. Real estate agents and for sale by owners saw the value in bringing in a professional to organize, decorate and sometimes furnish their homes for sale. And now that the market appears to be on the upswing after a lengthy dry period, it’s more important than ever to stay on the cutting edge. Even with a limited budget, there are affordable ways to make your house saleable, said Hughes.

The first step is to depersonalize your home. Pack away the family photographs and replace them with welcoming accent pieces, such as landscape art or an ornate mirror. Stow away any evidence of pets, including water dishes, toys and beds.

“You want to create a home so that people walking around imagine themselves in it, not you,” Hughes said.

Above all, declutter and organize the house from top to bottom. The more space in cabinets, shelves and closets, the more buyers picture their things there.

“People will definitely buy into the ideas you throw into the home,” Hughes said. “When you stage a home, you give people an idea of how they can live there.”

Give each room a purpose. Create a romantic sitting area in front of the fireplace or a calming powder room. Pull out the home’s architectural features with the furniture arrangement — emphasizing the home’s nice view or vaulted ceilings. Head to your local hardware stores for new door knobs, light switch plates and cabinet handles. Check out consignment stores for funky accessories that can pull a look together, from an end table to a lamp.

Create a friendly atmosphere throughout with a vase of fresh flowers and a fresh coat of beige or tan paint on the walls. Play around with lighting by choosing shades that brighten darker areas or adding darker colors to bring out a room’s character.


Don’t be afraid to mix different design styles. If you have a brand new living room set, don’t throw out the end tables that didn’t go with your previous furniture.

“I think the most interesting look is when you blend old and new looks together,” Hughes said. “People like to see the past that you carry with you. It speaks about who you are. I don’t think people like to come into a home and it’s like Rooms To Go.”