Home Staging Course Unit 5
How to Stage a House
Here is the general step-by-step process for how to stage a house. This is the process for working with occupied homes.
If you’ve missed the beginning of the course or just want to review, go back and check out Unit 1 of our home staging course.
Whether you’re a homeowner, a new home stager, or a real estate agent, these steps can serve as your overall staging plan.
For occupied homes, you’ll need to remove extraneous furniture and deal with clutter. Edit and organize furniture and other items.
Home sellers should take this opportunity to pack items that aren’t needed while the home is listed for sale. I always like to tell sellers that staging is the first step in the moving process, and it really is. It’s the first step in detaching from the home and moving on to the next one
If a home is vacant, some of these steps won’t apply. For a vacant home staging you’ll either be bringing in rented furniture or pieces from your own inventory. You won’t have to worry about depersonalizing or dealing with clutter.
Here’s a step-by-step list for you to follow as you learn how to stage a house. This will all become second-nature to you in no time once you’ve gone through the process a couple of times.
How to Stage a House: Exterior
Use these curb appeal ideas and get started at least two to three weeks before your expected listing date.
Curb appeal is one of the key components of how to stage a home.
Make sure the lawn looks good. Start watering a couple of weeks ahead of your target list date.
Trim branches. Trim any branches that give the yard an overgrown, dark, or unruly look. Trim branches away from windows to let more light into the home and look more inviting overall.
Add color. Depending on the season, you can add some colorful bedding flowers or flowers in large pots near the entryway. This will help make the home look bright and cheerful, adding visual interest and some pop to the front.
Get a new door mat. If the door mat looks worn at all, get a new one. If you get one that’s a little on the larger side, it can make the entryway feel more grand. Find one that looks classic, avoid the ones that are too cutesy.
Give surfaces a good wash. Exteriors get dusty. Crevices can collect small bits of leaf debris, spider webs, and pollen. Give everything a good wash with your hose. If needed, concrete areas like driveways, walkways, and retaining walls can be freshened up with a good power wash.
Upgrade the mailbox. We get used to everyday things as simple as a mailbox. But if you really look at it, is it attractive? Is it a wasted opportunity to improve the overall look of the home? Little things add up. A new mailbox with a brass finish can give the home a classic look, and our eyes do like shiny surfaces. If it’s a street mailbox, does it give a good impression? Is it a wacky “art project” style mailbox that may put off buyers? Has it been hit by a car? These may be slightly extreme examples, but don’t overlook the mailbox.
Make the most of the porch. If your home has a porch, even a small one, make the most of it. Buyers love porches. Put a swing, some furniture, or at least a nice outdoor chair out there and make it look enticing.
Make sure the buyer’s eyes are drawn to the lovely porch area, which will get them thinking about how nice it would be to pass the afternoon there, reading a book or chatting with a neighbor.
Spruce up the front door. If you have an HOA, the rules may have some bearing on what you can do with your front door. Front doors need to look nice. If the door needs fresh paint, make it happen.
Red front doors are popular and they tend to stick in buyers’ minds. Make sure it’s super sparkly clean (glass panes, doorknob, etc) and finish it off with a lush, abundant-looking wreath.
Pick up clutter and toys. Sometimes items like leashes, toys, and garden tools tend to accumulate around porches or sometimes front yard spaces. Pick up any extraneous items and keep things put away and tidy.
Take down political signs or flags. Nothing more needs to be said about this one. It’s important to your home sale. A home with political signage can turn into a drive-by for a significant percentage of people, and that’s not what you want.
Paint. If the home really needs paint and you have the budget, get a few bids from painting companies in your area. Talk to your Realtor about whether the improvement to your curb appeal/listing price makes painting a good investment or not.
How to Stage a House: Interior
Do a thorough job and remove family photos, etc., as well as any other personal items and mementos.
In addition, I encourage sellers at this point to paint over personalizations like names painted in kids’ bedrooms.
I know it’s a little sad, and sellers may not be thrilled about the idea.
But you want buyers to picture their own child in the room, and it can be a little bit of a mental obstacle when it says “Madison” in giant letters.
This depersonalization is a very important part of the staging process.
Make sure the home gets a thorough cleaning. Have the sellers hire a service to do a deep cleaning if they don’t want to do it. It will be well worth the money. Everything needs to be deep cleaned — we want a fresh and sparkly vibe.
If any painting is being done, make sure it is completed before you move forward. Make sure the painters understand your time constraints and keep them to the schedule that you’ve agreed on.
Home staging psychology
Use your knowledge of home staging psychology to go over the home carefully.
Make any changes you feel are necessary in order to create the kind of good vibes we’re after.
(We’ll cover home staging psychology in the next unit.)
Rearrange and replace
Switch furniture, make changes to décor, create better flow by moving furniture, add new throw rugs, towels, shower curtains, mirrors, or other items you’re adding/updating/replacing.
Make it pop
Add accents like fresh flowers, plants, a bowl of fruit, a wreath for the door, etc. and create any vignettes you may be using.
Vignettes are fun little arrangements you can use in a home to help activate the buyer’s imagination.
Here are a few examples:
A teapot and tea cup arranged on a tray on the bed with a newspaper or a novel.
A pitcher and a bowl of lemons set up on the kitchen counter as if you’re getting ready to make lemonade.
I love this idea especially when there’s a lemon tree in the yard.
A dining room set up with a centerpiece and pretty place settings as if a fun dinner party is about to happen.
The key to using vignettes is not to go overboard. It’s nice to have a scene like this to help get buyers to think about day to day enjoyment of the home.
Think about one vignette that would help accentuate one of your home’s best features. Set it up physically, if you can, or go over it in detail in your mind.
How to Stage a House: Vacant Homes
If you’re staging a vacant home, in many ways you have an easier task than working on an occupied home. You won’t have to worry about clutter, personal items, or furniture that may be a little too snazzy for most people’s taste.
In this course, I’ve tried to gear the material toward occupied homes since this is one way you can get started as a stager if you don’t have your own inventory of furniture and accessories to work with.
If you do have your own inventory, that’s great! If not, you can build it up over time or you can deal strictly with furniture rental.
Furniture rental companies have really started catering to the home staging industry over the years. You can rent items by the piece or in packages.
Prices vary so much by company and by city so it’s not feasible to give you pricing, but it’s very easy to look into companies in your area.
CORT has nice pieces for staging and you can find them in the following locations:
Salt Lake City
They’ll bring the furniture to your location and set it up where you want it. It’s a pretty easy way to go.
You can also look into any local companies that you have in your area.
Let them know you’re looking for a company to work with for staging, so they know you’ll be a repeat customer. It’s always good to develop a relationship with places that will value your business.
Unit 5 Assignments:
1. Find space in a room where you can create a vignette. Pretend the home is for sale and you want to help draw buyers in to the home and what it would be like to enjoy their time there.
2. Now repeat the above exercise in a different area. Try to use different kinds of spaces for these two vignettes, such as one exterior (weather permitting) and one interior, or if it is all interiors then use different rooms.
3. Find three homes for sale in your area that are in need of curb appeal help. Get a photo of each home (or save a link to the listing) along with a written explanation or list of issues to improve and how you would address them.
4. Find three examples of homes for sale that have home staging psychology problems that can prevent buyers from connecting with the house. Make a list what the issues are with each home and be as thorough as possible.