October 17, 2018

Staging tips to sell your home

Have you ever gone to an open house where the smell of freshly baked cookies hits you as soon as you walked in? That’s home staging in action.

When you’re selling a house, first impressions are everything. Buyers make up their minds pretty much as soon as they walk in the door, and the tour of a house usually just confirms their initial reaction. That’s why staging to put your home in the best light is so important.

According to Kathy Nixon of Staged by Kathy, a professional home-staging firm that has prepped more than 80 Westside for-sale properties in just the last year, most buyers do not have much imagination. “Buyers can’t see past any clutter, dirt or ugly furniture to imagine how beautiful a home truly can be.” Nixon says. “They overwhelmingly prefer homes where they can just move in and start enjoying life.”

Nixon has provided the following helpful tips, which may help you sell your home more quickly and at a better price.

Clear the clutter

Keep furniture to a minimum. If you have extra chairs, tables or lamps, hide them in the garage. Stash toys, clothes and personal tchotchkes in closets and drawers. Also, figurines, plates, dolls and crocheted items may give your home a dated feel, so put them in storage.

Accessorize …

A trip to Ross or HomeGoods should yield you some stylish but inexpensive finds. Find some new decorative pillows for your sofa. Put pictures on the walls so the rooms look lived-in. Display all the decorative and nice-smelling candles and soaps you’ve received as gifts.

… But be generic

Buyers also need to imagine themselves living in the home. In their heads, it needs to be able to feel like their home now, not yours. Therefore, Nixon recommends putting away family photos. Sorry, those wedding photos also need to go. Also, remove any religious or political items. Pay attention to what kinds of books you have on your bookshelf. Self-help books are a big no-no. You don’t want buyers to notice you’ve been reading “How to Take Your Ex-Husband to the Cleaners.”

Use neutral colors

Shades of white are preferable, Nixon says, because colors can be polarizing. If a room is painted blue for example, potential buyers don’t think, “I can repaint the room.” They think, “We can’t buy this house because the living room is blue.” Again, buyers have no imagination. Furniture and bedding should be neutral as well.

Spruce up the bathroom

The bathroom is the one room that buyers look at to see how well-kept your house really is. So be sure your bathrooms are spotless. Lower the toilet lid. Hide the toiletries and shampoo. Clean the tub, get the soap scum off the shower door, or buy a new shower curtain. Stock up on new, white fluffy towels and roll them up like they do in spas, but don’t use them — they’re only for the open house. Wrap plain soap bars in decorative paper and display them. And place some greenery on the counter, like an orchid or succulent plant. Nixon recalls, “Once I was looking at photos of a home online, and I kid you not, the toilet seat was up and the cat was walking out of the litter box. Another time a man with an undershirt and a tattoo on his arm was walking in front of the camera carrying a laundry basket!” Yeah, don’t do that.

Brighten the space

Even if your home does not have a lot of natural light, there are steps you can take to brighten your space. Check all the bulbs in your light fixtures to make sure they use the maximum wattage. Then leave on all of the lights during the open house. This is not the time to conserve energy. You can also use candles for soft, ambient light. (However, if candles will be unattended, use battery-operated, LED candles instead.) Replace curtains in darker rooms with sheer curtain panels, which will let in light while still screening out the view of that ugly building next door.

Set the table

Break out the good china and Bubbe’s silverware, and set the table to look like you’re getting ready for a special occasion. It makes the buyer dream of future parties or family dinners. You can even place a nice bottle of wine on the table. (A good bottle, not the cheap stuff.) Candles and a beautiful centerpiece also add to the setting.

Flowers everywhere

Don’t stop with a centerpiece for the dining table. Display flowers or plants on countertops, fireplace mantels, coffee tables and end tables. They can be very simple. Even a vase of leaves or a single branch can make a big impact.

Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at