By: Monika Bhondy
The most important rule when it comes to furnishing a home is that there is a distinct difference between decorating a house to live in versus staging a home to sell. Sounds much the same, but one key factor makes these two décor styles very different: personal preferences work well for owners but not necessarily for potential buyers. Staging to sell, just like curb appeal, has always been important, but current data shows that getting it right is more important than ever.
When staging a home to attract potential buyers, we really don’t know their personal preferences, so custom styling isn’t an option. On your initial walkthrough of the property, determine the style of home—whether it’s a colonial, farmhouse, Cape Cod, contemporary, etc.,—and assess the neighborhood’s features (family-friendly, first-time home buyers, retired community) and go from there. These staging tips should get you started.
The safe bet is to keep all décor a neutral shade, with no vibrant colors that might be an eyesore to potential buyers. You want well-fabricated furnishings that don’t feel cluttered so as not to make the home appear smaller potentially. Regarding furnishings, take a minimal approach and remember: quality over quantity makes the difference.
This brings me to the next tip; don’t over-accessorize the home! Allow the property to feel open and airy. Too many items can feel messy and, worst of all: unkempt. Your goal is to allow the potential buyer to be able to envision themselves in the home, with their own personal property in there so kitchen countertops, living areas, garages and especially outdoor spaces like backyards and patios. Keep things neat and tidy. If needed, see if the current owner can remove and store their belongings if there are too many.
Here size does count. The bigger, the better. Instead of filling your walls with floating shelves or a dozen small picture frames that can look busy, opt for 1-2 oversized paintings or exclusive prints that fill the space. Note: choose artwork that’s preferably not from HomeGoods where there’s a multiple of the same. If budget is a factor, check out Esty or local vintage stores for more unique, one-of-a-kind pieces to give the home an elevated touch.
Make sure all your lighting is the same color. There’s nothing more off-putting than walls and rooms looking different with different shades of light. Check bulbs and fixtures to make sure everything matches up and is in working order.
This is a big one if you want to elongate the room and create a touch of elegance. The rule is to go from ceiling to floor and not window height to make the ceiling height appear higher. Remember to keep the neutral palette in mind, but you want to make sure you’re not washing out the room with window treatments. It’s a fine balance, so don’t be afraid to try a couple of options before settling on something.
We’ve all heard the saying that “first impressions last.” Well in the case of scent, it’s absolutely TRUE! To help a home give off the right vibe, make sure you have a pleasing scent throughout the home. Some tried and tested favs: clean linen, floral, pine/fir. It’s also a great way to neutralize any smells—cooking, pets, etc.—that might have been lingering. Burning a candle an hour before having company removes any odors and sets up showings and open houses for success.
Bedrooms are an important part of staging and not to be forgotten. Potential buyers almost always place emphasis on the bedrooms, especially the main one. In this space, the bed is the focal point, so that’s where you want to maximize your efforts. To create a luxe feel, opt for white linens with huge, full cushions and make sure the bed is wrinkle-free. If there’s a large wall above the bed, make sure to use some oversized artwork when possible, and if there’s a window above the bed, follow the drapery tips to bring the space together.
Bathrooms need to look clean and fresh. Again, using white gives that touch of elegance. Your instinct might be to hang towels on the towel racks, but for a well-kept, clean and tidy look, fold them instead and place them in a basket. Surfaces should be clean and dry, and make sure any touches like shower curtains and rugs make the space feel light and airy.
Remember that when staging a home, the goal is to create a space in which potential buyers can imagine themselves. Once staged, walk through the space as though you are a client, and visualize the home as though you’re seeing it for the first time. Use these staging tips and keep an open perspective, and you won’t go wrong!
Monika Bhondy was born Brit who moved to North America and now resides in the Chicagoland area. Monika comes equipped with vast life experiences with over 20 years of experience in the service industry under her belt. Her attention to detail, a keen eye for esthetics and uncanny ability to connect with others has seen her passion for styling evolve into a lucrative real estate business. A licensed REALTOR® since 2016, Monika accomplished $2 million in sales in her first four months in the industry, earning her Million Dollar Guild™ status, which she has held since 2017. She’s a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist® and a member of the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing™. Want to know if your home is priced right? As a Pricing Strategy Advisor, she’ll get you there. One of the few real estate professionals who is also a Certified Staging Consultant (held by less than 1500 brokers in Illinois as of 2020), she proves her passion for exquisite styling and knowing what works is always on point.