I just happened upon a The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging your Home, which is how you know some concept has officially entered the collective consciousness. Naturally, there’s also a Home Staging for Dummies.
I only saw a single staged home when searching for properties around Boston, and I was more than a bit surprised. I saw many, many houses that looked like the owners (or previous owners) hadn’t even bothered to run a dust cloth over the windowsills. Personally, I was mortified when I couldn’t really even tidy up when showing my old apartment. Yes, I could clean the cat hair out of the corners, but the mountains of boxes made staging utterly impossible. However, the apartment was in a desirable area and cheap to boot, so it was snapped up quickly.
Why stage? According to a study conducted by Realtor Joy Valentine, staged homes tend to sell more quickly than their un-staged counterparts. Even better, the average difference between the sale price and the list price is 6.3%, versus a paltry 1.6% for unstaged homes. That means mo’ money. It’s pretty easy, too, when you consider the basic rules: declutter, let there be light, give a good first impression, show off your trendiest and more beautiful stuff, make rooms look bigger, and hide life’s detritus.
You are, after all, selling a HOUSE not a HOME, and there’s a big difference between the two. My mother-in-law had a beautiful house filled with fabulous antiques that really enhanced the space from the point of view of someone living in the house. But her house didn’t sell until she took the advice of her Realtor and put all those wonderful pieces in storage. He said, and I quote loosely, that people coming to see the house were gushing over her antiques and forgetting all about scrutinizing the structure housing them. Oops!
Here are some basic staging tips from About.com:
- Arrange sparse pieces of furniture in an appealing grouping known as a vignette
- Showcase a generous usage of soft fabrics such as silk, lambswool, satin
- Display unusual knickknacks in units of 1, 3 or 5
- Drape window coverings with simple lines
- Add unique elements to shelving, bookcases and fireplace mantels, which draw attention to predetermined areas
If your furniture isn’t that hot, pick the best pieces and stow the rest. If you don’t have any high-end knickknacks, pick the funkiest, hippest ones that will have mass appeal–think a kitschy vintage glass elephant statue, not a penis-shaped lava lamp. Frankly, I try to keep my kitchen and living room at a staged home level of neatness all the time because, hey, I never know when the Queen or Patrick Stewart might drop by.
Whatever you do, for goodness sakes don’t “chop” your pillows. That was considered cool for about a week until someone finally had the guts to tell the San Francisco staging company that started it all that chopped pillows look ridonculous.