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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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