9 Tips For Staging Your Home To Sell

Karin Carr, REALTOR®
Published on June 5, 2016

So you’re thinking of selling your home, and you want it to be presented in its best possible light to potential buyers.  You’ve probably heard this before, but the way you live when your house is for sale is NOT the way you normally live.  I mean, who do you know that has zero appliances on their kitchen counter?  Or absolutely nothing on their bathroom counters except for a stack of perfectly rolled-up hand towels and a basket of twigs and berries?  Unless you’re friends with a professional decorator, the answer is NO ONE.  Staging your home to sell is for one purpose and one purpose only – to make it sell!

You don’t have to hire a professional home stager and buy all new furniture to get the look buyers to love.  I’m going to go beyond the obvious tips about staging your home to sell that you’ve all heard before – clean like a crazy person, pack up half of your clothes to make the closets look bigger, put away all the knick-knacks and clutter, clean off the counters, and stick any extra pieces of furniture that make your rooms look small out in the garage or in storage.  Don’t put furniture in front of doors that lead out to the backyard or deck.  This drives me crazy when I’m showing homes!  How can we go see your screened porch if we can’t get out there?!

So without further ado, here are nine small details when staging your home to sell that have a great impact with minimal effort and/or money.

#1 – Let the sunlight in

Sunny rooms with lots of light – that’s what buyers love to see.  Pack up your heavy, ornate draperies.  Blinds or plantation shutters are great if they’re clean, but open them before showings.  Sheer curtains are fine since they don’t block light.

The downside?  Now you have to clean your windows.  Sorry.

#2 – Make your bathroom look like a hotel

With the linens, that is.  Sparkling clean white towels make the bathroom look like a spa or luxury hotel.  Buy a set on sale and put them out before showings, then put them away again afterward.  Don’t use them!  They are for show only.  I’ve seen people tie a lovely ribbon around the center of the towels as they’re hanging and this little decorative touch is really nice.

A new white shower curtain and bathmat are fabulous too.  All these white screams clean, and what better word to describe a bathroom?

#3 – Turn the lights on – every single one of ’em!

Here’s a great tip on figuring out how much light your rooms need.  Length of the room x width of the room x 1.5 = the wattage necessary to make a room bright enough.  So a 12′ x15′ room needs 270 watts of light.  I typically have one or two lights with a 60-watt bulb in any given room.  If I’m lucky there’s a ceiling fan in the room that holds 3 bulbs.  That’s still only 180 watts!  So I’m guilty of not using enough lamps in my own house.  Do as I say, not as I do.

If after opening all your blinds and cleaning your windows and turning on the lights your room is STILL dark?  Run on over to Goodwill or Target and buy a few inexpensive lamps.  If a buyer walks into your family room and it feels dark and gloomy, they’ll hate it.  Please trust me on this – I show homes every day and I hear their feedback.  Dark = dreary, depressing, sad.  This is not the impression you want to give buyers.  You are staging your home to sell, not to save a few bucks on your electric bill.

#4 – Give the kitchen and/or bathroom a facelift

Yes, buyers love granite counters above all else.  Better than Corian or Silestone, better than tile, and way better than laminate.  But if your kitchen doesn’t have granite, you don’t need to remodel it now.  Although I’m dying to try a faux granite treatment sometime!  I’ve never seen it done in real life though so I have no idea if it really looks good or if it’s durable.  But if you’re crafty and you know how to paint, wouldn’t this DIY faux granite makeover be cool?

Faucets, light fixtures, and cabinet knobs make a HUGE difference.  Brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze are the two go-to colors right now.

For example, here is my master bathroom before and after.  We bought our house and it was pretty dated.  It was built in 1996 and boy, did everyone know it!  The bathroom walls were electric blue, which I absolutely hated, along with builder-grade brass lights and faucets, and the giant plate glass mirror.  So before we moved in we gave it a makeover.  We painted the walls and the cabinets too!  Light gray on the walls and dark gray on the cabinets.  (Gray is the new beige, after all.)  New towel bars, faucets, and lights, and we removed the cabinet hardware.  Last but not least we replaced the giant mirror with two individual framed mirrors that I got on sale for $29 each at Lowe’s.

This took us about three days, mostly due to waiting for the paint to dry.  Luckily my husband is very handy and we were able to do it all ourselves (meaning he did all the hard stuff and I handed him tools.)

Here is the before.  So awful…


And here is the after!  I’m thinking of adding brushed nickel hardware to the cabinets but haven’t decided for sure yet.


The total was right around $550.  It’s not a total remodel but it’s a major facelift and now it looks modern, clean, and of this decade.

#5 – Replace family photos with art or mirrors

Neutral wall art (aka the stuff you buy at Kirkland’s or TJ Maxx) is inexpensive and unoffensive (no nudes please, no matter how artistic or expensive.)  While family photos are homey and welcoming, the goal is to make the buyers visualize themselves living there.  If all they see are photos of YOUR family and YOUR vacations and YOUR child’s graduation, it makes it harder for them to picture themselves there.  Remember, you’re staging your home to sell so you need to make it look up-to-date, welcoming, warm, and inviting without making it feel like it’s so you that no one else would ever be comfortable there.

Mirrors also give extra light to a room so instead of a giant family photo in the living room, try hanging a mirror instead. If it’s across from a window or lamp it should also illuminate the room that much more.

#6 – Add some sparkle

It’s easy to update a home and make it look more modern and luxurious as well simply by throwing in some metallic accents.  A dish on a hall table, throw pillows, silver chargers on the dining room table… metallics are neutrals with oomph.

#7 – Ditch the rugs

Hardwood floors are a major selling point for the majority of buyers.  I’ve had numerous buyers refuse to make an offer on a house that had carpet throughout the main living area.  So if you have wood floors, show them off!  A stained rug not only looks bad, but it can also trap odors.  If you have dogs or cats that rug might also smell like them, which is not a good thing.  If your floors are in good condition, show them off by putting the rugs in storage.

#8 – Set the temperature

This may seem silly but having the house be a comfortable temperature is a huge deal that no one ever really thinks about.  I live in Georgia.  It’s 95 degrees and 1000% humidity at 10 am at least 6 months of the year.  If my clients and I walk into a house that’s overly hot and stuffy, it’s miserable.  And in the winter if it’s raining and 38 degrees out, walking into a house that’s 65 degrees does not a welcoming impression make!

If you normally turn down the thermostat to save energy and turn off the lights to save on your power bill, more power to ya.  I get it and I agree with you – when you are not staging your home to sell!  Hopefully, your home will only be on the market for a few weeks (and in a hot seller’s market like we’re in now in the Atlanta metro area it might only be a few days!)  So resign yourself to increasing your power bill for a month.  Then when you move to your new home you can go back to your energy-efficient ways.

#9 – Rearrange your furniture

Ever noticed how on TV or in decorating catalogs the pieces are always floating in the room?  They’re not pushed up against the wall.  Try pulling your couch and loveseat away from the walls and have them face each other with the coffee table in between them.  Angle chairs to face the conversation area rather than the TV.  A quick search on Pinterest for “how to arrange furniture” will give you tons of examples.

Again, staging your home to sell doesn’t mean it’s going to be terribly comfortable or convenient for you, the homeowner, in the meantime.  But making it look clean, contemporary, filled with sunlight, spacious, and welcoming means your home will appeal to buyers and THAT, my friends, is what it’s all about!

Want more ideals on updates?  Check out this short video blog post I made a while back.

About the Author: The article above was provided by Karin Carr, an authority on Savannah area real estate and a leader in the field of real estate blogging and vlogging.  Karin has helped literally helped hundreds of families buy and sell homes since 2005. 

Looking to buy a home in the Savannah area?  Check out our virtual reality home-buying program.  It’s free of charge and will save you a ton of time and gas money!

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I help people buy and sell real estate in the following Savannah areas:  Rincon, Guyton, Pooler, Richmond Hill, Savannah, and the islands.

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