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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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