5 vignettes every perfectly-staged house needs

When we decided to list our house for sale I turned to Pinterest in hopes of finding some great tips. The good news is that my search was successful. The bad news is that actually implementing all of those great ideas has taken–and still is taking–a ginormous amount of work. Here are some of the tips I found that we’ve utilized in preparing to put our house on the market:

  • In an effort to make the home appear more spacious, remove half the items from closets, cabinets and the garage and store them in an offsite, rented storage unit.
  • Neutralize the color scheme by painting over any bold color choices.
  • Depersonalize the home by removing and storing photos and mementos.
  • Declutter the home–store excess toys, collections and nick-knacks.
  • Fix anything that you know to be broken.
  • Clean up the yard.
  • Deep clean the inside of the house from top to bottom, including the baseboards.
  • Have the carpets cleaned.

Phew (she says as she wipes the sweat from her brow). I can happily report that we can check each of those items off our list. With all of that prep work out of the way, we moved on to another step that–I’m told–is supremely important: staging the house.

The act of staging involves setting a scene in which buyers want to insert themselves. To that end, I’ve pinpointed five vignettes every perfectly-staged home needs. What’s a vignette, you ask? Good question, star student. Here’s what we’re going for.


In this case, we’re looking to illustrate the story your house tells. While that might be an easy thing to do with, say, a beach house, it can be a bit more difficult if you live smack dab in suburbia–or, like me, in the middle of the dusty desert. When I began this process, I didn’t exactly know what story my house tells. I only knew that life lived within it can be pretty darn good. And so I started there. I started thinking about what makes life in this house so good. I thought about my favorite little spot to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, and how our family gathers around the fire pit in the backyard to enjoy s’mores. It’s those spaces that make this house a home–those are the stories I wanted to illustrate.

Of course, I didn’t have an endless supply of funds to stage every room like a Pottery Barn ad, so I had to improvise. I pinpointed five key stories I wanted the home to tell and set out to paint pictures that would “fade into the background without a definite border.” I’m sharing them with you today.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

The 5 vignettes every perfectly-staged home needs are:

1. The First Impression

2. The Welcome

3. The Something Unexpected

4. The Cozy Corner

5. The Parting Gift


 The First Impression


Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Before they even open the front door of our home, prospective buyers have already experienced my first vignette. Located on the porch of our house, the First Impression vignette entices visitors to come in and stay awhile. When they walk up, they’ll hear the gentle trickle of a cascading fountain. They’ll be greeted by a cheery sign. The greenery will leave them believing they’ve stumbled across a cool oasis in the arid desert. They’ll have to resist the urge to pull up a chair and take a sip of the refreshing (not to mention discreetly luxurious) bottled water. If I’ve recently watered the plants, they’ll even smell the distinct scent of mint on our patio. What I hope to convey to potential buyers with this vignette is that indeed this home is a desert oasis. Indeed it does lend to an upscale lifestyle–and all of it is within reach.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale


The Welcome

As they open the front door, guests will pick up the faint scent of something fresh and inviting. They might not be able to decipher exactly what it is, but my secret is safe with you, right? I diffuse essential oils during every showing. My go-to recipe is 2 drops of rosemary, 2 drops of lemon and three drops of lavender. It’s subtle, but pleasant. I take it a step further and also play classical music at a very low volume.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

The first thing potential buyers will see when they step inside the home is my second  vignette: The Welcome. Here, our guests are greeted with a friendly request to remove their shoes. This welcome station also includes the real estate sign-in sheet as well as our staging binder and full-color flyers with information on and photos of the home. Of the five vignettes, this one is designed to be more informational than anything else. Still, it conveys necessary information in a manner that is well-designed and straight forward.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Something Unexpected

As prospective buyers tour the house, we want to set scenes that allow them to picture themselves enjoying the good life within the walls of our home. To that end, we set up a vignette that they wouldn’t expect. We chose to use our gourmet kitchen as a backdrop because it is one of the most beautiful spaces in the home. Just off the kitchen, picture windows allow a full view of the backyard–which features a flagstone patio and fire pit. One of our favorite things to enjoy in our backyard is a family bonfire, complete with s’mores. In order to bring that scene to life, we staged a s’mores station. The s’mores station seemed like a good choice because unlike a bottle of wine and two glasses, s’mores wouldn’t alienate those who might be opposed to alcohol. It also keeps well, unlike a bowl of citrus fruits or bread.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

The Cozy Corner

The cozy corner draws attention to an ideal place to curl up with a favorite book. We adorned an overstuffed leather chair with a cable-knit blanket and a throw pillow that drives home the point we’re trying to make.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

The Parting Gift

As a gesture of appreciation for taking the time to stop by our home, we wanted to offer prospective buyers a little something to go. Again, we want to convey a sense of luxury. To that end, we leave our guests with one final vignette. Prior to listing our house, we bought a couple four-packs of Perrier and a handful of these chewy caramels from Target (priced at a whopping $1.49 each). To start, we equipped ourselves with enough snacks for eight showings. I optimistically hope we won’t need more than that, but if we do, these items are readily-available for quick pick up. Our real estate agent has mentioned supplying us with business cards that depict photos of our home together with our address. Once we have those, I will probably tie one around the neck of each bottle.

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

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You might also enjoy:

How to create a staging binder to help sell your home

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

31 Replies to “5 vignettes every perfectly-staged house needs”

  1. Chris only tells me that I should go into real estate because he hasn’t seen you in action. These are wonderful! Why don’t you scrap the Huntsville plan and come here? Homes are cheaper and we can go into business together. :)

  2. Perfect. You have struck a chord & touched on unique, warm, tboughtful touches that set you & your Home apart. Well done and best wishes! :) -Katie

  3. As a Realtor it is hard to get sellers to do minimal staging let along staging to this effect although I love the Martha Stewart of it all! Not every seller is this dedicated. I love all the ideas and tips but sometimes just getting them to clean and de-clutter is all you can get them to do.

    1. Shannon, as a professional home stager in Houston, Tx., we work as a team with our realtors. We educate them why staging sells homes faster and for closer to the asking price. We are in a challenging market right now due to major layoffs and staging becomes even more important. Our realtors educate their sellers why staging sells home. The small investment they make in staging is part of their home investment and brings a higher selling price. Hope this helps you.

        1. If you can’t find a stager ask someone you know to be objective for you and help create these vignettes. My sister and I helped stage each other’s home and used or borrowed what we needed – with very good results. Thrift store shopping is a great way to find items to punch up the look.

          1. Looking for a stager in any town, check with top selling realtors of builders that are busy they both should know of good people in the biz. If you declutter and pack everything you do not need, you won’t need a stager for very long!

    2. Our realtor paid for professional photos and professional staging of our home for a quick sale. Farm out professionals and don’t leave it all the the stressed out owner!

  4. Great ideas…and easy enough to accomplish when sellers are packing and downsizing. I’m an agent in the Phoenix area with a husband that’s retiring in less than a year. We are preparing to downsize for our last move to Pensacola. I will be using the sign regarding shoe removal …. That’s always a difficult situation to approach. Thanks for the advise.

    1. Patricia-your comment got my attention because I live in the Pensacola area and am helping my son and wife relocate to Phoenix area! Good luck on your future move!

      1. Hi, Sharon. I love the Phoenix area and Arizona as a state, there is so much to do here and the weather is perfect most of the time. Right now we in our Monsoon season, which means dust storms and rain. Where in the valley are they moving to? We live in Laveen (southwest) of downtown Phoenix, dairies and fresh produce. We will be moving to Pensacola in May 2017, southeast Pensacola Heights. We also just purchased a rental property in Navy Point, it’s super cute. Here’s my email if y’all want to contact me. Have an awesome day.

        1. Patricia

          My email is sgabreski@aol.com. For some reason yours did not appear in comments. It is raining quite a bit here right now- we have a tropical storm!! It is normally very nice and the beaches are wonderful. You will love the Pensacola Heights area- I live in Gulf Breeze which is on the other side of the bay- however we have lived all over the area so if you have any questions — I might have answers

          My son and wife will be in North Scottsdale area for now- they plan to rent for a year while they get to know the area. He will work in the Mayo hospital area and she in Tempe

          1. I’m just getting back to you…we did a road trip to Modesto, CA, family wedding. My email is triciaquan56@gmail.com, please pass it on to your son and his wife as well. Even though I mainly work from home, my Broker’s office is in the north Scottsdale area as well as many of our doctors. I will keep touch with you and would love to meet up when we make our final move to Pensacola.

  5. Would you be able to share the other title pages?
    I love your style
    Thank you for sharing your great ideas

  6. Thank you for all the great tips! I followed almost all of them and we sold our home in 2 days from listing!

  7. Great ideas! We are preparing to list our home. I’m in the decluttering/de-personalizing stage. What a ton of work!!

  8. Our home was a brick home which we completely landscaped, almost 3/4 of an acre. It was bare land and two years later it was a complete oasis inside and out. New patios, sidewalks, hydrangeas, trees flowerbeds, fruit trees, and bluestone patios. On each patio I had fresh lemonade and cookies, or bottle water and fruit. I had the marshmallows and Hershey bars at our fire pit. But what I did which I thought was really clever, was I made a looped video with photos of all the diff stages of our extensive landscaping, complete with the background song of “Brick House” by the Commodores.

    1. We plan on selling our home next year. One of our distinctive features is our backyard. My thought was to take pictures throughout the year showing the many perennials and run the slideshow on our big screen tv in the rec room (the last room buyers will tour).

      My concern is that buyers will look at the lovely landscaping and think it will be “too much maintenance.” How did you deal with that situation.

      1. Well, Cher, since we were selling a home in Arizona with mostly rocks and artificial turf, landscaping was not a concern. However, if you’re worried about it, I would recommend that you create a staging binder and address the issue in writing there! You can search my site to see the staging binder I created.

  9. I am going back to my home to put it up for sale after 2 years of someone else living in it. There will be no furniture or clutter, but loads of dirt, work, and revamping. My budget is almost non existent other than the very necessary repairs, paint and adding curb appeal. What minimum staging can I inexpensively do, to make my home more warm and ready for a new family?

  10. I am grateful for your post because that’s big thing for us realtors. I am always concerned with my client, selling fast at top dollar, and staging is one of the major factor of it. Thanks again.

  11. I wish I had even $100 to stage my Mom’s house. Anything worth staging with moved with my Mom to Assisted Living. My sister lives in another state and all she wants is it sold. I am bringing things from my own home but I can’t move my furniture over here. I am thinking it maybe better to just leave it empty.

  12. I just sold my home that had been rented for 2.5 years. I restored the hardwood floors with restore from Home Depot. We painted every room with soft neutral colors. We added one wall of bead board to cover a damaged bedroom wall and it became a feature wall. We covered the kitchen ceiling to conceal some bad stains. It looked great. Deep cleaned everything. The house sold in 7 days at full asking price. This was quick and cost less than sheetrock repairs and was cost effective.

  13. Hi there! Your posts have been so helpful to me in getting ready to sell our home FSBO. I took advantage of the links you provided for the PDF’s for the Home Notebook. Do you also have a PDF you’d be willing to share for the shoe removal sign you made?

    1. I’m so glad you found the printables helpful, Heather! I don’t have a pdf of the shoe sign, unfortunately. I will try to create one and update this post soon!

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