By Vince Mancuso,

Whenever you’re changing homes, you have a lot to think about. Let help you navigate the process with tips on buying, selling, or renting, or with some additional space to help along the way.

How do you stage your home? This is an important question you’ll need to answer when looking to list your property and sell your house at the price you need. spoke with Karen Otto, owner and chief staging officer at Home Star Staging, to learn how to best prepare a home for showing.

Home Star Staging is a company in Plano, TX with a mission to help home sellers maximize the equity in their homes, create buyer-ready properties, and achieve profitable sales for nearly a decade.

Otto recommends basic home staging tips on her website that include easy-to-do steps such as decluttering and cleaning, but also include steps such as better organizing and rearranging your furniture, updating items, and creating curb appeal. While these tips are basic, Otto also gave her top expert tips for creating an attractive environment when staging your home for sale.

1. Take a photo of each room.

“A lot can be determined by viewing the small screen of your phone or your laptop, and it can really help identify what to edit for maximum appeal,” says Otto. She adds that an important thing to look out for is “stuff”—excess decor, furniture, and other personal items that can clutter up a room.

clean living room

“When selling a home, it’s about the house itself; the architectural details, great upgrades, wood floors, flow, counter tops, high ended appliances,” she says. “So anything that distracts or detracts the eyes from the prize of the home itself is best to remove.”

As far as what do with with the “stuff,” Otto says it’s best to use an offsite self storage unit to store the decor, furniture, and other personal items you don’t want to part ways with. This will maximize the floor space of your house and create a fresh, clean feeling in your home and in your photos.

2. Clear out small items.

“Remove everything smaller than a cantaloupe—yes, the fruit—from the space,” says Otto. To give some perspective, the average cantaloupe can be anywhere between five and seven inches in diameter. Items ripe for removal can include small, personal knickknacks, books, and photos.

clean bookshelves with large decor items
Photo courtesy of Unique Exposure Photography

While it may be difficult to store away items that you think are cool or hold personal value, it’s important to remember to view the house through the eyes of potential buyers, not as your home.

“Small items appear as visual clutter,” Otto says, “especially in photos.” Clutter can distract buyers and make a space seem smaller than it really is, which can both be turn-offs.

3. Remove kitchen decor.

“If the area above your kitchen cabinets is not at least 18 inches from the ceiling, remove all decor from the top of the cabinets,” Otto says.

clean kitchen with minimal decor
Photo courtesy of Unique Exposure Photography

Again, keeping decor in this space will make your kitchen appear crowded and small. Home buyers enjoy the idea of an open and inviting cooking and eating space, which is why it’s important to remove any decor that may clutter the kitchen.

4. Use large-scale decor.

“Find the focal point in a room and accent with a large-scale piece of art or decor,” says Otto.

dining room with large mirror
Photo courtesy of Unique Exposure Photography

She says these areas can include a fireplace mantel, the area over the headboard in the master bedroom, or an area in the dining room. While pieces of art can make for great eye-catchers, the use of a decorative mirror can also help the space to appear more open and inviting to any potential buyers.

5. Buy new bedding and linens.

Otto says it’s a good choice to replace any bedding and bathroom linens that have seen their life expectancy. While these items won’t be staying in the home, it creates a pleasing image to those viewing your home.

bed with new linens
Photo courtesy of Unique Exposure Photography

“Think about how you feel when you walk into a hotel room, and you’re greeted by crisp, steamed bed linens and fluffy towels,” she says. Such rooms are designed to make you feel at home, and will produce similar results for buyers.

6. Make the outdoors great.

“Don’t overlook outdoor entertaining areas,” says Otto, “especially when listing during better weather months.”

upscale patio furniture on a deck

This may include basic steps such as sweeping and sprucing up a patio area to restaining your deck. She says you may also have to go as far as purchasing new outdoor furnishings to create the feeling of a fun and modern space.

“Take comfort in that it will be moving with you to your next home!” she adds.

7. Hire a cleaner.

“A clean house says, ‘I’ve been well cared for,'” explains Otto. Most buyers will notice any odd stains or smells that you have become used to over the years. If these aren’t enough to detract the buyer, they may use it as a way to bargain a cheaper price.

housekeeper cleaning a window

She says that if you’ve never considered hiring a professional cleaning company, the time to do so is when selling your home to ensure it has a deep clean.

“Consider what you would pay to have your car detailed prior to selling,” says Otto, “it’s well worth the investment!”

Why Home Staging Matters

Ultimately, Otto says that it’s important to follow these tips and other basic home-staging practices to prevent price erosion, as the list price can be reduced by buyers who find any objection to the condition of the home. They may also account for any repairs or updates they’d have to make when moving in and factor that into their offer.

By taking care to present your home in the best light, you can ensure that your property will make a good impression on prospective buyers. These thoughtful changes can protect your real estate investment as you work to sell your house for the best price the market will support.


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