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5 Tips for Staging Your Home When It’s for Sale

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In the flurry of our move from Colorado to New York City, so many things were happening all at once — changing jobs, downsizing, selling a house, renting a new apartment, planning a cross-country road trip. While it was exhausting and stressful at times, it was also exciting and ultimately educational. The whole process taught us so many lessons so quickly that moving and buying/selling real estate no longer feels nearly as intimidating as it once did.

Now that things have calmed down and we are feeling more settled in our new routine, I wanted to touch on a few of the biggest things we learned and share some of my top moving tips, too. The first, and probably biggest lesson for us was all about how to stage your home when its for sale.

Tip: Use pillows (like these from Guildery) to bring color to a neutral room.

It’s highly likely that while you’re trying to sell your house, you’ll still be living there unless you’re able to afford two mortgages, a hotel suite, or some other temporary living situation. If so, you win! You can pack up all of your personal stuff and have your house professionally staged.

If that’s not your situation, there are a couple of simple ways you can visually prepare your house while still being able to enjoy your home and keep it functional.

Note: I say visually because I’m not a contractor or handy-woman and can’t say much about what you need to fix or repair before selling your house. I’d also have no clue HOW to fix any of those things so hopefully your house is mostly in working order at this point.

Tip: Use pillows (like these from Guildery) to bring color to a neutral room.

Total side note… I’ve noticed that moving has been a theme around the blogosphere lately { Jess Lively is headed to Michigan, Mackenzie Horan just left NYC for Dallas, and Victoria McGinley returned to California }. Maybe its a coincidence, maybe there’s a move bug going around or maybe its just a sign of Millennials feeling empowered to explore the world. Either way, my heart goes out to anyone going through a move — it’s not easy!

Tips for staging your home when you're trying to sell it
So where do you start? You’re on track to move in a few months — or weeks {eek!} — and you know you’ll be selling your house. Here are my 5 steps for staging your home:

1. REMOVE PERSONAL ITEMS

The first thing is to start packing! Just kidding… sort of.

I recommend taking down any personal photos and overly personal mementos that are on display. Since you’re taking them down, you might as well neatly wrap them in newspaper and store them in a bin or box at the bottom of your closet. We immediately took down all of our framed wedding photos as well as a few Scrabble tiles of our names and a frame of our wedding invitation, even though it was a little sad to pack them up so early.

These type of personal items could become a distraction for prospective buyers. For example, if your photos show you, your husband, and your dog but your buyer is a family of five, they may have a hard time picturing how the house will function for their lives. Removing these items is pretty simple and helps limit any sort of comparison game.

Tip: simplify your personal decor when staging your home for sale (baskets and bins will be your best friend!

2. DECLUTTER ALL SURFACES

Whether it be a kitchen counter, a coffee table, a desk or even a window ledge, the next step is to focus is on removing unnecessary clutter from all of your home’s surfaces. Even shelves in your medicine cabinet and your walk-in closet should be scanned for ways to reduce clutter, if at all possible { I’m telling you, buyers look everywhere — wouldn’t you? }.

I have a tendency to decorate every possible surface with stacks of books, frames, and candles and overstuff each cabinet and closet. But, open surfaces are really your best bet because they help the house feel bigger and more open. Plus, if you’re having professional photos taken before the house is listed, clean surfaces are a must!

Tips for staging your home when its for sale | Bubbly Design Co.
Tips for staging your home when its for sale | Bubbly Design Co.

While this may not sound difficult at first, it’s probably the toughest of the tips to upkeep during your daily life. It’s natural for us to use surfaces in our home to display things, hold things, and generally “store” things for later. However, if you can create and maintain areas of “white space” throughout your home, it will really go along way to making it appealing for buyers.

3. REDUCE, REDUCE, REDUCE

After your initial round of decluttering {during which you’ve hopefully trashed, donated, or packed everything you cleared out}, you basically want to keep going. I mean it. Don’t just throw out old magazines that are sitting on your coffee table, really push yourself to reduce the amount of stuff you have. Furniture, clothing, cleaning supplies. It doesn’t matter! Anything is fair game.

If, like me, you end up struggling to decide whether or not to keep a few items, create a “MAYBE” box that you can store in your garage or basement. This helps you get your house ready for showings faster, but will force you to make harder decisions closer to game time.

Since we were downsizing from 1800 to 700 square feet, this step was critical for us. But even if you are moving to a bigger home, a move is the perfect chance to reassess your belongings and ensure everything you are putting on the moving truck is something you truly want to keep. I still need to read Marie Kando’s book so I didn’t use her approach but instead tried to assess whether each item was important or special enough to pack, transport, and unpack.

Simplify displays like bookshelves when you're staging your home for sale

4. CONCEAL WITH PRETTY STORAGE

So you’ve decluttered surfaces and gotten rid of so much stuff — I’m proud of you! But, what if the house still looks a little hectic and you just can’t get rid of anything else? Here’s where pretty storage like decorative boxes, trays, and baskets come in handy. Although it might be counter-intuitive, it’s worth investing in a few pretty options if you don’t already have them on hand.

As an added bonus, you can take them with you when you leave and repurpose them in your new house!

Tip: simplify decor when you're staging your house to be sold

5. KEEP COLOR + PERSONALITY

Experts may debate this, but I personally think it’s important to maintain an aspect of color and personality when staging your home. Buyers will see that the home is loved and lived in in a beautiful way and will be drawn to that warm, homey feeling you’ve created by designing and curating your home.

Sure, prospective buyers may be turned off by a bright yellow accent wall or an orange rug. Those type of bold design choices can be shocking but can also make it difficult for the buyer to picture their own tastes fitting into the space. However, pops of color brought in with throws, pillows, and tasteful accents like candles, flowers, or artwork are visually appealing and help make your house memorable.

I just spotted Carrie’s post over on Dream Green DIY { her house is for sale } where she brightened the paint on the walls but kept fun bits of personality and color for this exact same reason. That’s what I’m talking about!

Stunning pillows from Guildery | photo by Bubbly Design Co.

In our case, we used a few choiceful accents plus these unbelievably gorgeous Guildery pillows to maintain color, texture, and a bit of personality in our living room. The pillows themselves aren’t overly bold but still make a fun statement. Especially if architectural elements like paint and flooring plus your furniture are more neutral, a pile of bright pillows are a cheerful, memorable addition.

PS — I just have to say more about these pillows in case you haven’t heard of Guildery. They’re made of a super-soft but heavy weight Belgian Linen and filled with duck feathers. I’ve never felt a nicer decorative pillow. Period. And those colors–I’m obsessed and hope to incorporate them into our new space, as well.

Don't be afraid to use color when staging your home - as long as you have a neutral base, it will work!Gorgeous pillows from Guildery via Bubbly Design Co.

After going through all of these steps and taking professional photos, we were very lucky that our house sold insanely quickly. It was actually only on the market for  one day! While I largely credit the hot housing market in Denver, I also think the effort we put into creating a designed home full of personality and truly livable spaces went a long way, too.  And the decluttering certainly couldn’t have hurt!

So what do you think? Do you have any tips to add? Things you’ve learned from previous moves or any secret real estate tips? I’d love to hear!

 

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