5 vignettes every perfectly-staged house needs

Listing your home for sale can be a stressful process. Not only do you need to work with your real estate agent to get everything priced and documented just right, but you also have to make sure that both the interior and exterior of the home are in prime shape for showing. The tips I’m sharing here are kind of like a cheat sheet for how to stage a house for sale. No matter the age, style or location of your property, you can create some vignettes that will allow buyers to see themselves making your house a permanent home.

This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases you make through my links results in a small compensation for me at no additional cost to you. Originally published in 2015, this post was recently updated for 2019.

How to stage your house for sale - 5 vignettes

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

  • 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. 

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 your house is 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 we love to gather on the back patio under the string lights on warm summer nights. 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” like any good vignette should.  

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

 


How to Stage a House for Sale | 5 Vignettes for a Perfectly-Staged House

summer front porch vignette with bistro table

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. It features texture, greenery and personality. 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 welcoming place full of life. Indeed, this vignette, does lend to an upscale lifestyle–and all of it is within reach.

summer front porch with pretty fern

summer front porch layered rugs

summer front porch easy rag garland

summer front porch please remove your shoes sign

Summer front porch welcoming vignette

Some things to remember as you’re preparing your First Impression Vignette:

  • clean away all cobwebs and keep the entryway swept free of dirt and debris
  • apply a fresh coat of paint to any tired front doors
  • make sure all plants are well-watered and look healthy
  • ensure that any decor in this area is seasonally appropriate

The Welcome

One of the most important things you can do when staging your home is ensure that the entryway is well-lit. Natural light is best, of course, but if your house doesn’t have windows near the entryway, you can use lamps and overhead lighting to do the job.

Staircase gallery wall in a home staged for real estate sale

Staircase gallery wall in a home staged for real estate sale

I know that experts will tell you to remove personal photographs when you’re selling. While I see the wisdom there, I don’t entirely agree. Sometimes, family photos are artfully displayed and can accentuate the homes features. Such is the case with our staircase gallery wall. I want potential buyers to find inspiration inside my home. I want them to see that they have a perfect place to tastefully showcase the story of their own family.

Entryway vignette in a home staged for real estate sale

Another important way to welcome potential buyers is to leave an empty space where your real estate agent can place informative brochures, a sign-in book, business cards and any other information they want to make available. I cleared a spot on our entryway console table specifically for this purpose.

Entryway in a stage home for real estate sale

Anyone who visits our home for a showing will also 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.

Something Unexpected

When I set out to learn how to stage a house for sale, one of my goals was to set scenes that allow potential buyers to picture themselves enjoying the good life within the walls of my house. To that end, I 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 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, sip a cup of tea or enjoy a glass of wine. Use textiles and maybe even props to accentuate the coziness of your chosen corner. 

cozy corner in a home staged for real estate sale

Make sure that you play up the comfort level of the space. Use pillows with cute phrases. Chunky blankets (when seasonally appropriate) are another way to showcase your comfy corner. 

cozy corner in a home staged for real estate sale

Keep in mind that your comfy corner doesn’t necessarily need to be inside the house. We have a backyard patio with an amazing forested view. I want to be sure that potential buyers see what an asset that space is to the home. Drawing attention to an outdoor space can be as simple as turning on string lights or creating a centerpiece with seasonal items (pumpkins, in this case).

cozy corner in an outdoor patio staged for home 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. This needn’t be something complicated. Simply fill a candy dish with some individually-wrapped treats and leave a cute note with it.

I hope that these tips have given you some ideas and inspiration on how to stage a house for sale and I wish you all the best with your real estate goals!

Great ideas for staging a home for quick sale

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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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