When your getting ready to sell your home you have no idea who is going to live in it next.  What you do know is that you’re the only person who isn’t.  Your selling design choices should have nothing to do with you.

Don’t be offended when your trusted Realtor marks your 7′ painting of Mr. Wiggles as something that needs to head to the storage unit.  I’m sure your Realtor loves it as much as you, but there are two things you want buyers walking into your home for the first time to think:

1) “I have no idea who lives here” and

2) “I want it to be me.”

Distracting them with your own masterpieces will take away from the selfishness that you want them to feel instead of wondering about you.

Other things to think about:


Light is so important.  If possible have lamps on timers that automatically turn on in the mornings so that there is not a single moment that the buyer has to see a dark space.

Real light is key.  If your home generally has curtains we suggest just removing them all together.  But, the trick is to also remove the hardware.  You don’t want to remind them that they need to buy window coverings and removing the hardware will automatically make them feel that the you lived here just fine without anything.  They won’t even realize that they need to cover those windows until two days after closing when their caught by the new neighbor in their skivvies.

If you have blinds…just, put them all the way up and leave them there.

When choosing lighting don’t buy daylight LED lights, but rather 2700-3000 Kelvin to make it feel warmer.  “Daylight” sounds like a nice light and bright lightbulb choice, but the reality is that it comes out cold and blue.

Demarking the territory

You don’t want any items in a show house that specifically tell a story about your life, you want buyers to have a selfish experience. You don’t want to distract them with stories of your own life, such as missing pictures which could elicit thoughts of death or divorce.  You don’t want to leave Nana’s old walker/wheel chair combo sitting next to the elevation pot.  It might insinuate that Nana just passed, hmmm I wonder what happened. Do you think she died?  Do you think she died in this house?

Pretend your kid’s refrigerator-artwork is the most valuable stuff in the entire world and lock it up safe – out of the house so that those pesky buyers don’t try to steal it.  Also those very valuable refrigerator magnets.  They would also be better off anywhere but on that refrigerator.

Let’s quickly talk about the front door. No coat racks.  Especially if there’s no coat closet. All this does is draw attention to the lack of coat closet. Also all the stuff hanging is a story…, Oh look they obviously ski and mountain bike…hey, I have those shoes! Do you think they’re selling because there’s not enough space?  Keep it about the buyer.

Here’s an easy one.  The bathroom – Remove all bathroom rugs.  Rugs are gross.   Bathrooms should be white: white soap dispensers, white sheets, white cotton balls….white looks and feels clean.

Removing the No’s

I really like this house but I have to do (insert annoying chore here) before I can move in.

Remove the No’s.  Make the home look completely maintained. If it looks easy to do, the buyer will think it’s easy to do. Mow the lawn, clean the windows, clean everything.

No screen doors during listings. They’re just a bad idea.  Staging expert and the owner of Spade and Archer Design Agency, says he’s only ever seen one screen door that added to the style of a home.  For the most part they’re ugly and they’re difficult to work with.  It’s very hard to give your buyer the first impression they need when they have one or the other door smacking them in the ass on the way in.

Here’s an obvious one.  NO dark paint.  paint it neutral. Period.

Remove Evocative Items

As anyone walks through a home for the first time (Average of 5 to 7 minutes) they think completely with emotions. You don’t want anything to evoke the wrong emotions. There’s 3 easy rules to live by here:

Remove alcohol unless there is a wine cellar.

No fur. Dead or alive it, if it has fur it should not be in the house.

Anything “Political” should be gone.  Religion/sports/Guns.  It should all be gone.  We’re a wonderfully diverse nation of people.  Your bibles, buddhas, guns, Huskies or Cougs, paraphernalia, or AA materials could evoke a negative reaction to someone that was otherwise enjoying your home.

The wrap-up

Staging should only do three things: show the use of the room, show the scale of the room and add light. If staging does any more than that it’s done too much.

Thank you to Justin of Spade and Archer Design Agency for clearly laying out home staging tactics in a nicely presented package (much like the homes they represent!).

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