Selling? DIY Home Staging Tips For The Win

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We all know the basics behind staging a home for a sale: fix the obvious and affordable issues around the home, declutter, depersonalize (remove family pictures, obvious personal items), remove awkward / oversized furniture, use a fairly neutral pallet (particularly when it comes to wall color), clean the place like you’ve never cleaned before, and get rid of your cat forever. If you do this, you’re already ahead of the curve. But as I discovered, if you take your staging work even further, your home will make that much more of a better impression.

Opportunity Behind Closed Doors

People know to de-clutter their surface areas – but the fact is, potential home buyers always check to see what’s behind those mystery doors. If someone opened your closet, cupboard, pantry, or cutlery drawer, would it be filled to the brim? That might give people the impression that your home does not have enough storage space. Go through these spaces and see what you can toss, use up, pack, put elsewhere, or better organize.

To make our closet seem more roomy, we packed all our winter clothes and items we didn’t expect we’d need or wear for at least the next month. We still left plenty of items in there (going bare bones isn’t ideal either), showing how functional the space was. In our kitchen, I transferred a lot of our packaged goods into clean, clear bottles – which looked a whole lot more tidy than a mish-mash of opened bags and boxes. This gave the impression of a clean, organized and roomy kitchen – a must for any homebuyer!

Leave a Couple Things Out

You’ve been told to depersonalize, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of everything. Have some popular, non-offensive books? People actually like seeing some of the stuff they already own in a place – it can help them connect and imagine themselves there. Books are the easiest way to do this. If you’re not a reader, I wouldn’t exactly load up at Amazon just to appear well-read, but most of us have some books. Stack them nicely on a bookshelf but don’t overload it. Keep your bookshelf looking like a display – some books, some space, and a few well-chosen home décor accessories.

Tie The Room Together With Colour

While walls should be neutral, no one likes to walk into a nondescript beige blob. Color, used right, can brighten, lighten and tie a room together. Our living and dining room are essentially one room; a space that I wanted to show had good flow. I went to a discount home décor store and found a nice, colorful, large linen tablecloth that I liked for under $15. With zero sewing skills, some pins and scissors, I turned this tablecloth into a runner for the dining table and covered a couple throw pillows for the sofa. This material would have also worked as curtain ties all from the same fabric. I then used some simple similarly colored accessories – like apples in a bowl, a simple vase, and an inexpensive framed print to pop this color throughout the room. It was a simple, affordable but effective way to brighten and connect a space.

Bring Some Actual Life to your Home

And I don’t mean pets, pests or “Crazy” Uncle Frank. Get those outta there! Rather, a vase or jar of simple flowers on the table, or a small herb garden at the window ledge provides color, texture and a bit of freshness to your home. Just don’t get anything with an overbearing smell (like eucalyptus) and be sure to replace the flowers the instant they start to lose their luster. Nothing looks or smells worse than something decaying in the middle of the table.

Take a Whiff-Smells Play a Role in Staging

Speaking of smells, any aromas in your home? If you’ve been inside for a while, you probably don’t notice this anymore. Leave your place for a bit and go for a walk – then come back in with your nostrils wide open. Your home should smell clean and fresh – but not perfumey. Open the windows and get some air flowing through. Take care of obvious culprits like garbage, recycling, laundry, cat litter, old flowers or turned stuff from your fridge. Give all your bedding a wash. Some other sources of stale and unwelcoming smells can include dishrags, sinks, clothes that haven’t been worn in a long time, food in your pantry, and your own sweaty self. I personally think things like air fresheners or tricks like having something baking to be overkill – people might wonder what you’re trying to cover up. It’s better for your home to smell like nothing at all – or at most – faintly fresh.

The Magic Eraser Really Is Magic

I don’t know what this simple looking sponge is made of, and for all I know it will give me cancer, but this is seriously a home seller’s best friend. Little scuffs on the wall? Finger prints on the door? Even a faucet that needs shining? With just a touch of water, the Mr. Clean Original Erase and Renew Magic Eraser erased it – magically! They truly did give this thing the most appropriate name ever. It’s the go-to object we use before a showing to take care of those little things that are left behind when you’re still living in a space that’s for sale.

Storage Units Are Your Friends

I’ve visited homes that had been very well decluttered only to walk into the spare room or basement where boxes upon boxes were stacked. This ruins the illusion they worked so hard to create. We bit the bullet and rented a small storage unit. Totally worth it. The storage company we went with had a perfected operation in place with lots of security, freight elevators, dollies and even a free truck rental to pick up your stuff. And the bonus? When we eventually move into our new home, it’s an easy stop along the way to pick up our already-packed possessions. We’re paying about $120 a month for a 5’ deep x 7’ wide x 20’ tall unit – but there are a lot of options available out there for people with different needs and budgets.

Just a little effort from our How To on home staging can result in a big payoff with an offer on your house. If you have any home staging tips you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.

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About Jen

Jen (but never “Jenn”) Byck, aka the Fix'n Vixen, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and communication consultant who is undoubtedly home fixated (she is also TV fixated, really bad TV fixated and donut fixated). Her approach to home improvement has been rather trial and error, the latter of which is evidenced by the amount of spackle she buys on an annual basis.

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1 thought on “Selling? DIY Home Staging Tips For The Win”

  1. Another common strategy, that goes along with bringing life, color and smell into the house, is having a bowl of fragrant fruit. I like having oranges and lemons/limes in bowls as it adds color, masks any offensive odors and smells clean. If you’d like to have something people can also eat, freshly baked cookies is always an inviting aroma and leaves them happy on the way out.


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