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Behind the Scenes - 21 Staging Design Tips

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1. Color:  Neutral colors are going to be best, although it does not have to be light beige. Buyers are not as afraid of color as they use to be, however you still need to chose a color that the majority of buyers are willing to live with. White walls are not going to make a homeowner a nickel.  White walls are boring, clinical, and are uninviting - especially online.

2. Art: If you are unsure how high the art should be hung use this rule as a guild: 60 inches from the floor to the center of the art. In an occupied home if there is no decent art at all, take it out! It is better having empty walls than unappealing art.

3.    Formal Rooms: To achieve a more formal atmosphere, you need balance. Think in even numbers. For example: in the master bedroom use identical lamps on each night table. One side should mirror the other.

4. Casual Rooms: For more of a casual look, think in odd numbers.  Three pieces on a coffee table - greenery (tall), clock (medium), and candle (short).

5. Fabrics:  Solid neutral colors are best in sofas, loveseats, and chairs.  Strong fabric patterns (especially floral prints) will get you into trouble and take the buyer away from the overall feeling of the room. However, a pop of color or a print is perfectly acceptable in accent pillows.

6. Unique Furniture: No matter how interesting, take it out. You don't want conversational pieces to distract your buyer.

7. Spacing: Three to four feet around everything! For instance, if you do not have enough room between a dining table and the barstools - take the barstools out.  It is much better to show space, than a crowded room.

8. Use Glass: A glass table makes the room look larger. I love using glass, it shows proper size, yet they seem to disappear.

9. Shelves: Do not fill every nook and cranny. It's okay to have empty shelves. To avoid a cluttered look, use neutral colors. You can go as far as color coordinating books and DVDs. Start with dark at the bottom and working your way to lighter colors at the top.

10. Rugs: Unless you need to define the space or to add needed color, take out all rugs. Buyers want to see the condition of the carpets or hardwood floors. Doubts regarding the condition of the floors can cost you an offer. In addition, many people have a phobia of bathmats for their lack of cleanliness. It's best to remove them as well.

11. Lines: Make sure you have a combination of straight and curved lines in all rooms.  Straight lines are more masculine and curved lines are more feminine.

12. Simplify: The best way to begin is to take everything out of the room and start with a clean slate. Most rooms have too many anchor furniture pieces.  Start slow and add little by little.

13. Textures: Add a touch of interest to the room by including a pillow or throw with some texture. This will add some life.

14. Brass fixtures: Replace brass faucets and spray paint brass shower door frames. Chrome, bronze, black, anything but brass.

15. Lighting: Replace your dated lighting (no brass here either!). It is the number-one thing you can do to update your home. The eye goes to light first. Many home improvement stores have great fixtures that are economical and easy to install. Furthermore, when potential buyers are on their way to see the house, turn on every light and pull back the window treatments.  If you have a vacant home set your lights on timers or make sure someone is available to turn the lights on and off for you.  Most buyers' agents will not run in the home to turn on all the lights before their client walks in the door.

16. Fresh Flowers: Whenever possible use fresh flowers, but don't go nuts.  We have seen many homeowners over do it. Three to four tasteful and simple vases will do it.  We did a home a couple years ago that had at least 150 "forever" flower arrangements (plastic flowers) in the living room alone. The agents nicknamed the home, "the funeral home house."

17. Drapery and curtains: We take them out 90% of the time. In most occupied homes I find dated and frilly fabrics. You need as much natural light as possible shining in.  If you have a great view, show it off.  If you don't or need to hide a neighbor's poor taste in yard ornaments, use panels and a thin rod. Don't forget to wash the windows.

18. Dated Countertops: There is a company that I have used hundreds of times and adore - Redrock Resurfacing. They come in and spray a coating over the old outdated laminate countertops. Very economical and we recommend them highly.

19. NO WALLPAPER: I know that wallpaper is making a comeback, but not in a home that is on the market.  Nothing kills a buyer's opinion of the home faster!

20. Replace the Large Old Mirror: For an updated look in the bathroom, replace the large older mirror with a large framed mirror. It may just be the ticket to update your bathroom. Also check out mirrormate.com.

21. What is this room/area for?! Buyers do not understand what they can't see. Formal dining rooms should not be offices or dens. Do not use a bedroom for any other purpose other than a bedroom. Make small areas something special. For instance, a large landing on top of the staircase may have a chair, floor lamp and small bookshelf.  Be creative. Think outside the box to find those quiet and relaxing areas in the house.

Helping you get your listings SOLD,
Angela Voss
Designology Home Staging
Spokane WA

Disclosure: Designology may recommend other companies for contract work, but will not take responsibility for their work.

Comments (19)

Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Excellent post and well written.  Thanks.

May 24, 2010 05:27 AM
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

You nailed it, Angela.  Great explanation of a formal room using even numbers and mirrored items, as opposed to an A-symmetrical set up that tells a more casual story.  Lots of great tips here.  

May 24, 2010 06:04 AM
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, www.homes

Great tips for the new and seasoned of us here Angela. Thanks for sharing!

May 24, 2010 06:22 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Angela- great design tips and well written.  Lighting is such a key and thanks for reminding everyone to turn on all of the lights and pull back the drapes.  What a difference it makes!!!

May 24, 2010 08:13 AM
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Hi, Angela:

Great information. I am going to forward this to a couple of clients who are getting ready to update their homes.



May 24, 2010 11:42 AM
Cheryl Cudmore
Sapphire Staging - Brantford, ON
CSP, Brantford to Burlington ON

An excellent and detailed list of tips. Thanks for mentioning that not every shelf needs to be filled. Many of my clients have a hard time with that one!

May 25, 2010 01:55 AM
Mary Lou Teague
Home Style and Staging Knoxville. TN

Great post, thanks for sharing. I h ave book marked for future use.  I especially like the section about art, if not appealing take it out..for sure !!!

May 25, 2010 03:01 AM
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

Well done! You have touched on several topics that I rarely see discussed here. I keep a stash of sheers and thin rods as replacement window coverings.  Unique furniture, rarely commented on here, and quite important!  Though wallpaper is discussed...when they are not willing to remove, we always say, "listen to your feedback", but often, 'the thrill is gone', and the moment is over, once the wallpaper has been seen, especially the tiny "country cute" patterns...

May 25, 2010 04:11 AM
Diana Young
Staging Seattle, King & Snohomish Counties - Edmonds, WA

Hi Angela,  Great info!  I especially agree with the "no white walls".  White is always cold, no matter how much you punch it up with artwork and furnishings.  It just doesn't photograph well.  We often recommend a subtle golden yellow color from Sherwin Williams called Ivorie, or a warm beige, especially if there is white wood trim.  And, paint is relatively cheap!

May 25, 2010 07:53 AM
Linda Thompson
Selling By Design-Staging - Fresno, CA

Excellent suggestions Angela. Good post as always.

May 25, 2010 06:00 PM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Great ideas that all sellers should pay attention too.

May 26, 2010 05:14 AM
Angela & Stephen Hardiman / HouseTie.com
HouseTie.com - Spokane, WA
When first impressions count...

Ron, Alexandra, Sally, Karen, Kathy, Cheryl C., Mary Lou, Cheryl M., Barb, Diana, Linda, and Lyn - Thank you all so much for all your feedback and great ideas.


May 26, 2010 01:35 PM
Charlene Storozuk
Dezigner Digz - Burlington, ON
Home Stager - Burlington Ontario

This is all very good advice Angela.  You've written a very well thought out post and included everything!

May 27, 2010 02:40 AM
Julea Joseph
Reinventing Space - Chicago, IL
Julea Joseph House Stager - Reinventing Space

Great suggestions - Be careful of #14 & #17

14- The upcoming trend in fixtures from faucets to window hardware is ANTIQUE BRASS.  It came out in drapery hardware in 2009, and I've seen it now popping up in lighting, finish hardware etc...  Just like stainless steel is on its way out, there is always some new metal on its way in. Maybe restate is as "shiny brass..."

17 - Texture and rhythm w/in a room is SO important, especially if your home has 9' windows. Also, if the pedigree dictates - a window wardrobe is a must!  Like the shiny brass statement, may state cheap, dingy or dated window treatments.

May 28, 2010 12:36 AM
Birgit Anich
Birgit Anich Staging & Interiors, 203.807.4040 - Norwalk, CT
CT Home Stager Fairfield & New Haven County

Angela, great post with such important points to keep in mind when preparing a house for sale.

OMG - these shiny brass fixtures, door knobs, switch plates, hardware,.... I just had a staging job where the entire 4000 square foot house was completely filled with these - I am still having night mares...


May 28, 2010 04:02 PM
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

Thoughtful suggestions, Angela.  I love the name of your company as well.

May 28, 2010 05:15 PM
Judy Colburn
ProStaged Homes - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Glendora, San Dimas Covina, Home Staging

Great post with great tips and points Angela.

May 29, 2010 05:58 AM
BethAnn Long
RE/MAX of Spokane - Spokane, WA
Realtor, CRS, e-PRO, CLHMS Spokane Wa Real Estate

Excellent as usual Angela ! :) looking forward to seeing you soon!

Jan 14, 2015 12:27 AM