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20 Must-Dos When Staging Your Home

Last updated on December 23rd, 2021 at 12:55 pm

When you walk into a newly listed home, there’s a good reason why it usually looks and feels so luxurious and inviting. The secret is all in the staging. But there’s more that goes into staging than merely adding in a few pieces of furniture. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide on the essentials of staging. Below, we’ll walk through several simple, practical tips that will help you perform home staging like a pro, including a set of steps you can take to suit the season during which you’re trying to sell.

Staging Fundamentals

Staging Fundamentals

Start with the Entrance

Staging your whole home can seem overwhelming at first. Break it down into small pieces and work room by room. Why not start with the front porch, door, and entryway? Spruce the entryway up with a fresh coat of paint, some nice plants, and a new light fixture.

Remove Nostalgia from the Equation

Selling your home can be an emotional process. It’s hard to take your pictures down from the walls, remove kids’ drawings, clear the fridge of magnets, and so on. However, you need to step aside from your emotions. Potential buyers don’t see the memories and love in the home that made this home so special. Therefore, leaving these up can distract from the actual “work” of examining a property to see whether it suits them rather than you. Clear those thoughts from your mind (only temporarily) and see the strengths and weaknesses of the home like a buyer would.

Quick Facelift

You don’t need to undergo intensive renovations to spruce up the look of your home. Sometimes simply upgrading to new handles and knobs in the kitchen, painting the halls a fresh new colour, replacing the dusty blinds in the bedroom, or giving hardwood floors some polish in the living room can transform the look of a home.

Have a Plan

Most home staging is just cleaning up, decluttering, and giving a quick facelift to outdated features (as mentioned above). However, if you are going to be buying new furniture or accessories, make sure you have a plan. Think of the targeted buyer pool. A starter home for a couple in their twenties, a family home, and a home for retirees will each have very different décor and tones. Keep things consistent and be thoughtful about colour and texture. Remember, the décor should also match the price range. Again, a starter family townhome in Kanata will have different furnishings than a luxury penthouse condo in downtown Ottawa.

Declutter

First things first – decluttering your home is essential. When you have excess furniture and accumulation of personal items taking up the majority of space in your home, it’s not going to leave a very positive impression for potential buyers when they come to view it. Clear the clutter and create more open empty space. This will also give you more room to play around with when you want to shuffle the furniture to improve the layout.

Switch Up Your Layout

Once you do have more space to work with, start by mixing up your furniture and different surfaces. Often by simply moving items around a bit, you can end up with a fresh and appealing new setting to work from. Having less furniture in your home is beneficial for this reason.

Create A Positive Visual Impression

Creating a positive visual impact and impression is easier than you might think. This generally boils down to making space appear bright, fresh, clean, and inviting. When you remove most of your personal items and clutter such as non-essential furniture, you allow more natural light to filter through your home.

In addition, by adding a fresh coat of paint with neutral tones to the walls, this can make a world of difference for freshening up your home as well. Of course, keeping your home very tidy and clean is equally as important. Once you’ve nailed down the foundation of creating that good visual impact, you can begin to add a few more touches.

The Power of Pillows and Throws

For a few effective, powerful touches, you don’t need much beyond a few essentials, like some new pillows and throws. Even if you have some older, dated furniture that looks a little worn, you can easily spruce up the look and even tie in multiple pieces of furniture by simply placing a matching palette of colours from pillows and throw blankets. These are very effective items for improving the aesthetic in any area of the home.

Minimize Your Personal Tastes

The whole point of staging an open house is so that potential homebuyers can wander through your home and be able to envision themselves living there easily. That can be a challenge if you have big, bold items on display – like artwork – that really accommodate to your own personal taste. It’s important to remove yourself from the equation and try to downplay your personal taste. This is a key concept that can be hard to commit to but is so essential for home staging like a pro. So as a rule of thumb, don’t add anything to your home unless it’s in the form of a neutral tone.

Consider the Season

Winter Staging

You don’t always have control over what time of the year you end up listing your home, but one way to get it to shine above the competition — no matter the weather — is by using the seasons to your advantage when staging your home. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter, we have the know-how to get your home noticed and sold quickly. 

Let’s explore each of the four seasons before digging into more specific staging tips.

Winter

Use this time of year to add a little extra sparkle to your home by decorating for the holiday season but be careful not to go overboard. To keep it inviting, stick to a tasteful, neutral, and wintery palette of colours by mixing whites, blues, and golds to keep it fresh and modern. Don’t forget to add some festive lights and décor to your exterior too. If you have a fireplace, switch it on to add some extra warmth and coziness to your home. Remember — viewing a home isn’t just about the aesthetics — it’s about the feeling that buyers experience when they walk through it.

Fall

Since the fall can be a messy season, make sure to clean up your front yard. Rake up the leaves, trim the hedges, and add some potted mums to give your curb appeal a boost of colour. The fall season is also a fresh, colourful, and aromatic time of year, so take advantage by adding some fall-themed accessories throughout your home. To add a touch of autumn to your interior, add textured pillows, plush towels to the bathroom, soft throws on the furniture, and even a lightly scented pumpkin spice candle to add some fresh aromas throughout.

Spring

With the blossoms and rain showers in full swing, get your home primped and primed by rolling up your sleeves and giving your home a good spring cleaning. Add fresh flowers throughout your home, change your winter bedding to something cheerier, add pastel colours using pillows and throws, scrub up your exterior to accentuate your outdoor space, and keep your home bright by pulling back the drapes.

Summer

Summertime is patio season, which means your front and backyard should be looking superb. Be sure to add some flowers to your garden, keep the grass cut, and set up a cozy seating area on your back or front patio. Then, add some seasonal flare inside by switching up your textiles to feature cool and refreshing tones, placing floral arrangements in your bathroom, kitchen, and living room.

Our Seasonal Staging Tips

Christmas Tree

Light it Up

Dark exteriors and interiors may not only look unwelcoming, but they can create a negative first impression and turn off potential buyers before they even step inside. So, the first step is lighting it up. Add some simple, clear, holiday lights along the exterior to highlight certain features like your windows, roof, and walkway. Just make sure to not go overboard. Stick with a neutral colour and focus on complimenting features in a subtle way.

Decorate the Mantel

If you have a fireplace, this is a great opportunity to highlight this popular selling feature. Decorate it with some classic greenery, pinecones, bows, and candles. Then finish it off by adding a small string of lights tucked throughout to make it catch the eye of buyers when they’re touring the open house.

Make it Cozy

Make your home cozy for potential buyers by lighting up your fireplace, turning up the thermostat to ensure it’s toasty when they arrive, and add some quaint throws to your couch, chair, and bedroom. Creating a cozy environment is all about playing with light, textures, and accent features like blankets and cushions.

It also helps to make your home smell great so that when buyers walk in, they are greeted by a cozy décor and delicious fragrance. Try mixing some cinnamon sticks, orange peel, and allspice together in some water and let it lightly simmer on the stove. This will infuse your entire home with delightful aromas.

Keep Your Tree Simple

If you plan to put a Christmas tree up, make sure it’s also simple and uncluttered. Stick to a colour theme that’s easy on the eyes and will compliment your other decorations and interior nicely. Leave a good and lasting impression when potential buyers view your home by taking advantage of the holiday decorating season. 

Spruce Up Your Exterior

Since the exterior of your home is the first thing people see, keeping it well-maintained and clean will attract potential buyers when they’re viewing your property. The fall season, in particular, is a great time for maintaining your home, as it’s easier to do so than during the snowy and icy months ahead. During the fall, the lawn should be mowed and falling leaves should be neatly raked away. 

Keep the Exterior Clean and Tidy – and Safe – in the Winter

On that note, never overlook the importance of wintertime maintenance and welcoming staging to bring folks in from the cold. Sure, there may be snow and ice and even slush surrounding the exterior of your home, but you should make the most of it and use the winter and holiday season to your advantage. That means placing a few decorative potted urns near your entranceway, or perhaps stringing some lights to highlight your doorway. 

In addition, always keep your pathway shovelled and salted and try to maintain any shrubbery that might need pruning. This is important not only for aesthetics but also safety, as you are liable for any injuries sustained by a visitor to what is still your property.

Add Some Seasonal Flair

Each season brings with it many opportunities to add some more appeal to your home with seasonal touches. One idea is adding some seasonal flowers to your front yard, such as mums or goldenrods. These will bring a welcoming splash of colour to your home exterior and catch the eye of potential buyers. If you have a covered porch area, consider adding a cozy throw blanket and some pillows with vibrant, seasonal colours, such as red or orange in the colder months.

Protect Your Floors

Remember that various times of the year, such as during muddy or snowy conditions, can bring with them some messy footwear. Protect your flooring by using a mat in the entranceway, as well as a runner or two for the hallway just in case a few pairs of boots land past the entranceway.

Interior Design

Taking care to ensure each room in the interior of your home is clean, decluttered and organized will make a great impression on potential buyers. From there, get creative as you stage and set the mood for each room. Adding a fresh coat of paint, in a neutral but warm colour such as cream will do wonders in revitalizing your interior. Adding appropriately themed accent pieces to various rooms in your home can also create an inviting ambiance. 

Emphasize Inviting Features

Take note of the features in your home that help create a warm, inviting mood, such as a fireplace, and use accent pieces to emphasize them. Fall or holiday-themed accent pieces can be anything you find inspiration from, but you can’t go wrong with a vase filled with an autumnal bouquet or a bowl filled with classic accents like pumpkins, unlit candles, subtle holiday-themed table runners, a tasteful wreath on the door or otherwise. In the spring or summer, consider a strategically placed vase of fresh and healthy flowers, or perhaps place settings using lighter pastel colours.

Let in Light

Ample lighting is crucial to highlight your home’s best features, particularly in the fall season as the days get shorter. Let in the golden sunshine by opening your blinds and add lamps strategically where light is lacking.

The Benefit of Hiring a Pro Stager

Home Stager

While you can certainly stage your home on your own, or with the guidance of your Ottawa real estate agent, sometimes it helps to hire a professional home stager who does this for a living. Sometimes it can be hard to see things from an outsider’s eye, especially when it’s your family home. A professional stager will ensure your home looks its best to potential buyers, not just the sentimental homeowner.

Staging your home is one of the most effective ways of getting the kind of deal you were hoping for. That’s because it helps removes the distractions from your home so that buyers can objectively view your home, envision themselves living there and then hopefully fall in love with it. So always remember to remove yourself from the equation and focus on these essential tips when it’s time to place your home on display.

Interested in buying or selling your home in Ottawa or the surrounding area? Contact our real estate experts at RE/MAX Affiliates Geoff & Bobbie McGowan Realty today! We specialize in residential real estate and can assist you with the entire buying and selling process from beginning to end.