Home Staging Tips: How to style your home for sale

We’ve recently gone through the process of selling our house and I strongly believe that the styling and staging of the house has a big part to play in this. What you ideally want to do is create a home that makes prospective buyers fall in love and become emotionally attached. Buyers want to picture themselves living there. I'm going to share some tips to get your home ready for sale, we’re not just talking about the odd ‘chopped’ scatter cushion and the scent of freshly baked cookies. Staging your home is about stepping back, disengaging from the home emotionally, and assessing it with a critical eye.  

1. First Impressions

 A few simple changes around your home can help speed up the sales process and even boost the value of your property. Prospective buyers form an opinion on your house within the first 10 seconds of stepping in the front door so you don’t want them to be put off before they’ve even come inside. You want to create a strong positive first impression so make sure that have a welcoming entrance. A simple paint job on the front door can make your home stand out from your neighbours. Soft greens, greys, blues, or neutrals are perennially elegant. If you can’t re-paint give the door a good wash and scrub so that it shines. If your door knob and knocker is looking slightly weathered perhaps you can replace them with some new, smart ones in keeping with the style of the house. Clean any windows until they sparkle or if you really want to impress you can get them professionally cleaned. If you have a front patio, consider power washing it and scrubbing off any dirt. Replace the worn-out doormat with a new one, add a fresh topiary or planter and keep it watered and trimmed (a dying plant will not impress). If you have a ‘for sale’ sign outside your house having a presentable front door gives off all the right signals to passers-by.

 2. Emotionally detach

It’s important that you emotionally detach from the property. Despite the fact this has been your home for however long, you will have to realise that this will soon be someone else’s home. Start thinking about the kind of person the home is likely to appeal to and what will make it most attractive to them. With that in mind you need to take a long, objective look at your house and view it through a prospective buyers eyes.

 You want the home to have style and charm but also want to help buyers better connect with the property and picture themselves living in the house. Therefore, I recommend de-personalising your home and putting away the bulk of your family photos, both framed photos on walls and surfaces, anything that’s hanging on your fridge and remove anything religious.

3. Clear the clutter, space sells

This sounds like a no brainier, but this is by far the easiest thing you can do to improve the look and feel of your house for sale and should be number one on your list. Clutter takes up space, and space is what sells. Make your home look bigger and more desirable by getting rid of crowded hallways, packing away toys, cleaning bench tops and surfaces and simplifying and rearranging bookshelves. Put away as much of your day to day clutter as you can.

Buyers will be opening your cupboards  to look at their storage potential so they should be neatly organised and not packed to the point of overflow. Make sure to clear bathroom counters of personal items, like toothbrushes and contact solution.

You don’t have to get rid of things forever, but you should certainly be packing them up and getting them out of the house. You may need to rent a small storage unit to store some of your unnecessary furniture or boxes of personal objects. A good tip is if there's anything you don’t want buyers to see (such as a fan or a dehumidifier) temporarily store them in your car.

Spring cleaning has nothing on the cleaning you should do when you’re putting your home on the market. You want every square inch to shine, from the inside of your refrigerator to the skirting boards. Scrub the taps and door knobs to give that brand-new, hotel feeling where everything is sparkling.

Shelves have been having a moment this year, check out our blog on our top tips on how to style shelving. Make sure the shelves are clear of clutter and look visually cohesive and curated. Another tip is to demonstrate how to use awkward areas such as the space under the stairs. Make use of space and keep it clutter free.

4. Create a snagging list

Unless your house is attractive to people that want to renovate, you want buyers to be able to picture themselves living in your house and moving their furniture and family straight in. Now is a good time to tackle scratches, holes, chips and other scuffs that signal neglect to buyers. Go around the house with post-it-notes and stick them on any areas that you notice need a little TLC. You want potential buyers to feel that you’ve put effort into maintaining the property.

If there are unfinished jobs or things in need of repair this becomes the focus for buyers and makes them question what else might be wrong with the house. Deal with anything that might sow the seeds of doubt, such as damp patches, cracks in the walls, shabby paintwork, a cracked window pane or a stained carpet.

The power of fresh, clean paintwork can’t be underestimated. Bright colours and patterned wallpapers aren’t for everyone and can be a major turn-off for buyers. Give the walls a refresh with sophisticated neutrals, such as off-whites, stones, taupes and pale greys.

5. Fresh Flowers

Look carefully at your houseplants. If they're dying or scraggly, it's time to give them a new home or toss them out. Start over with some new plants and flowers that will add life and freshness into the space. Although cliché place a vase or fresh, full flowers in the centre of your kitchen table or island. You can also place some potted plants or some succulents around the house to add some greenery. Faux plants will set the same atmosphere with less work. Take a look at our 'Luxury Faux Olive Tree'.

6. Scent

Scents for the home is an incredibly important part of creating a serene ambiance. Buyers are using their five senses to suss out whether this is the home for them. Use diffusers and candles to get rid of any faint smells and make your house smell fresh and welcoming. If you have pets it could be a good idea get the carpets and rugs professionally steam-cleaned.

7. Selling a lifestyle

Think of each room as a "set" that is selling a lifestyle. You want to create a calm and warm environment that strikes the right balance between a home that's been cleaned up especially for selling and a home that's loved and lived in. Place props such as:

  • Slippers by the bed and a nice clean white fluffy dressing gown in the bathroom

  • A cosy throw draped over the sofa and wood by the fire

  • Perfectly chopped scatter cushions on the sofa and beds to create a cosy and designed atmosphere

  • Place an open book on a chair with a floor lamp to create a cosy reading nook

  • Pile an attractive bowl with fresh fruit on the kitchen island with some beautiful cookbooks

  • Arrange a jar of bath salts and a candle next to the bath

  • Place fresh, clean, new towels in the bathroom

  • A new, full hand soap in all wash areas - I like to use a modern and aesthetic bottle like Aesop. Make sure to take away all your ugly showering items and bottles

  • Clean bed sheets are preferable. If possible keep a clean and ironed set made up in a box or cupboard that you can put on at the drop of a hat if you have a viewing. I recommend that all bed linen is white or neutral. Plump up pillows and cushions and drape a throw over the end of the bed for added cosiness.

8. Less is more, keep it light and open

Brighten up the house by letting as much light shine in the house as possible. Opening the curtains or blinds will make rooms seem bigger. Turn on all the lights in your house for viewings including lamps and closet lights. This well help make your home more welcoming, and also saves buyers from having to stumble around figuring out which switches turn on which lights. A mix of high, mid and low-level lighting adds atmosphere, with a few floor or table lamps giving a soft, homely glow.

Leave your doors open to make prospective buyers feel welcome and free to wander around your home. Rearrange your furniture so that there is as much open, walkable space as possible. Circulation space around furniture is crucial at viewings. This helps buyers navigate the space, and also helps them better visualise their own furniture in each room. If a space feels too tight put some furniture in storage to get it out of the way. Remove any oversized pieces, damaged pieces, and those that don’t match the rest of the room. With the furniture that’s left, rearrange it to make the room look and feel as spacious as possible.

Set up rooms for their intended use, don’t assume that prospective buyers have a good imagination for how spaces work. If you have a third bedroom set up as an office you'll find that some of your prospective buyers will see your house as a two bedroom and not be able to picture the third bedroom as what it is for. 

Most importantly try not to stress. What will be, will be. Wishing you the best of luck with your sale!

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