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Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Declutter and Deep Clean Every Room

Decluttering and deep cleaning every room in your home is one of the most important steps when preparing it for sale. A cluttered, dirty home will turn off potential buyers before they even walk through the front door. Take the time to thoroughly declutter and clean each room from top to bottom.

Start by removing all personal items and family photos from shelves, walls, and tabletops. Pack away non-essential decor items like throw pillows, blankets, and knick-knacks. Clean off counters and clear any paperwork, bills, and clutter. Go through closets and drawers and donate or throw away anything you don't need. The goal is to make each room look spacious and tidy.

Next, do a deep clean of every nook and cranny. Dust ceiling fans, wipe down baseboards, clean out cobwebs. Scrub tile grout, sanitize light switches and doorknobs. Clean inside cabinets and drawers. Wash windows, mirrors, and any glass surfaces until they sparkle. Shampoo carpets and rugs. Make sure walls and trim are spotless. The cleaner the home, the more appealing it will be.

The kitchen and bathrooms deserve extra attention when cleaning. Buyers will inspect these rooms closely. Clean the oven, stovetop and ventilation hood until grease is removed. Empty and sanitize the refrigerator and wipe down exterior surfaces. Organize cabinets and drawers so they appear neat and spacious.

For bathrooms, scrub tile, grout, tubs, showers, sinks, and toilets. Replace shower curtains. Remove soap scum, lime deposits, mildew. Empty drawers and cabinets and wipe down interiors. Replace old towels and buy matching sets. Make sure mirrors and chrome fixtures shine. A sparkling bathroom will give buyers confidence about the condition of the home.

Many real estate agents advise bringing in professional cleaners, especially for deep cleaning carpets, windows, and ovens/stoves. Though it costs more upfront, it's money well-spent if it helps sell your home faster and for more money.

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Paint Walls in Neutral Tones

Painting the walls of your home in neutral, light colors is one of the most impactful staging tips for maximizing appeal and showcasing the space to potential buyers. The right neutral wall color can make rooms appear brighter and more spacious. It also allows the buyers"™ imagination to envision how they would decorate the home themselves.

Greige, beige, light gray, and soft whites are smart neutral paint colors to consider when preparing your home to sell. Avoid bright whites, which can seem stark and cold. Instead, go for warm off-whites like almond, ivory or cream. They will give rooms a soft, welcoming vibe. Light taupes and pale grays work well for evoking a calm, soothing atmosphere.

Steer clear of bold colors or dark accent walls, which can be polarizing. Neutral walls allow buyers to envision the space decorated in their own style. Dark colors can also make rooms feel smaller and drearier. Stick to lighter tones throughout the home. Reserve color for accessories, artwork and furnishings that are easy for buyers to switch out.

If your home has naturally dark rooms due to limited windows and natural light, choose lighter, brighter neutrals like soft gray with a hint of blue or warm almond. This will keep the space feeling open and airy rather than oppressive and cave-like. Conversely, for sun-drenched rooms, avoid stark whites, which may enhance glare. Instead, consider a pale greige which will still feel bright yet warm and welcoming.

When selecting a neutral paint color, choose one shade lighter than you normally would. This way, the color will read properly under varied lighting conditions throughout the day. Different times of day and types of lighting can alter the way a color looks. A lighter neutral will appear soft and inviting at all times.

It is well worth repainting rooms in new, fresh neutrals before listing your home. Outdated wall colors can make a home feel stale and worn. New neutral paint gives buyers the impression that the home was recently updated and well cared for.

Use flat or eggshell paint finishes, which have a soft matte appearance. Glossy or satiny paints can highlight flaws on imperfect walls. The subtle sheen of eggshell offers durability without calling attention to any bumps or cracks. Flat paint is ideal for ceilings as it hides imperfections well.

When choosing which rooms to paint, focus on main living areas like the living room, family room, kitchen, dining room and primary bedroom. These are the spaces buyers will be most concerned with. Also consider painting the main hallways and staircase, which make a strong first impression.

If your budget is tight, just doing one accent wall in a bold color can still modernize a room. Just be sure the other walls remain a neutral backdrop that buyers can easily paint over.

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Let Light In by Opening Curtains and Blinds

Allowing ample natural light to filter into a home's interior is one of the most inexpensive yet impactful staging techniques real estate agents swear by. Drawing back heavy drapes and blinds to let sunshine stream in gives spaces an instant facelift. Rooms feel brighter, bigger and more cheery.

"I'm constantly amazed by how a simple adjustment like opening up window treatments can utterly transform a dark, dreary room," says Stacy Winston, a top producing real estate agent in Seattle. "Light makes everything look crisp, clean and inviting. Dark rooms feel small and depressing, even if they're spacious."

Winston advises opening all curtains, blinds and shades completely when showing a home. "Buyers want to see rooms at their brightest and best," she explains. "Natural light showcases architecture and gives an honest representation of the space." She says to consider replacing any drapes, blinds or shades that aren't in impeccable condition. "Worn out, saggy window treatments give an impression that the home hasn't been cared for. I always recommend investing in new blinds and drapes in light, neutral colors that maximize incoming light."

Chicago agent DeShawn Bell agrees window treatments make a big impact. "I've seen gorgeous million dollar homes that show terribly because the drapes are keeping out too much sunlight. Rooms feel so somber, cold and unappealing," he says. Bell suggests homeowners install light filtering window shades or blinds. "They still provide privacy yet allow light to fill the room. My sellers are always amazed at how much brighter and more spacious their home looks after a window treatment refresh."

For patterns, Bell prefers solids or subtle stripes over busy prints. "Bold patterns can distract buyers from seeing the bones of the house," he explains. He says to avoid heavy fabrics like velvet or brocade drapes that absorb light. "Sheer, light linens are ideal for draping over windows to filter light softly into a space."

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Style Each Room for Its Purpose

Properly staging each room to reflect its intended use and highlight its best assets is crucial for attracting buyers. An empty bedroom staged as a craft room or a living room staged as a dining space can confuse buyers. Each area must be decorated in a way that complements its purpose.

"One of the biggest staging mistakes homeowners make is misrepresenting how rooms are intended to function," explains Alicia Thompson, an interior designer and home stager in Austin, Texas. "You need to style spaces in a way that helps buyers envision themselves living in the home."

For living rooms, Thompson recommends arranging furniture to promote conversation and flow. "Angle seating toward a focal point and leave room for people to comfortably mingle throughout the space," she advises. Thompson also stages the room with coffee table books, throws, plants and other accessories that make the room look homey and lived-in.

Bedrooms should convey tranquility and relaxation. Thompson styles beds with plush linens, pillows and blankets to help buyers envision curling up with a good book. Nightstands styled with lamps, books and flowers give a peaceful ambiance.

Kitchens and dining areas should be set up for entertaining. "Display pretty dishes on open shelving and decorate the dining table with placemats and a centerpiece to help buyers picture hosting family meals," says Thompson.

The entryway sets the tone when buyers first step inside, so Thompson styles it to make a great first impression. "I make sure to style console tables or desks near the entry with lamps, books, baskets and vases. Buyers will linger in an entry that looks curated and well-appointed," she says.

Miami agent Carla Santiago says bathrooms must feel like soothing sanctuaries. She stresses the importance of lighting candles, providing fresh towels and styling vanities clutter-free with bowls, soap and just a touch of decor.

Outdoor areas like patios, decks and balconies can be staged to encourage buyers to envision relaxing or entertaining in the fresh air. Thompson may add planters, cushions, throw blankets and other cozy touches to make the space inviting.

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Organize Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

A kitchen can make or break a home sale. It's one of the spaces buyers scrutinize most closely, since it's central to day-to-day living. If kitchen storage is disorganized or chaotic, it leaves buyers with a poor impression and makes the space feel smaller. Taking the time to neatly organize cabinets and drawers demonstrates your careful home maintenance and maximizes how buyers perceive the room"™s storage capacity.

"œI always advise sellers to edit down their kitchen items and organize storage areas before listing their home," says Ronnie Smith, a realtor in Atlanta. "Editing forces you to clear out rarely used items. Organizing shows buyers the kitchen"™s storage potential."

Start by removing everything from cabinets and drawers. Be ruthless about donating or recycling anything you don"™t use regularly. Group like items together and find a home for each category. Keep shelf-stable food supplies like cans, jars and boxes in base cabinets or deep drawers close to the stove and countertops. Reserve upper cabinets for lighter items used less often like glassware, fine china, and sentimental dishes.

Install organizing hardware like drawer dividers, cabinet inserts, spice racks and lazy susans. They provide specific spots for everything and make it easy for buyers to visualize where their own items will fit. Try to store appliances to free up counter space. Use cabinets for stand mixers, coffee makers and microwaves. Dedicate drawers for utensils, cutting boards, pots and pans.

Don"™t underestimate the power of labels. Smith loves to use label makers to identify contents of drawers, bins and jars. "œDrawers may contain multiple utensils. Jars may have pasta, rice or other food items. Labels let buyers know exactly what"™s inside at a glance," she says. Visible labels also give buyers confidence that everything has a designated place.

Strategically place everyday dishware, glasses, mugs and utensils near the sink and dishwasher. Reserve prime counter space next to appliances for frequently used prep tools like knife blocks, cutting boards and bowls. Store healthy cookware like pots, pans and baking sheets where they are easily accessible.

Make sure cabinets and drawers open and close smoothly. Replace any lining paper or shelf covering that looks worn. Consider updating hardware to modern knobs and pulls for an updated look. Add hooks on cabinet doors to hold dishtowels and pot holders. Having a place for everything makes a kitchen feel well-designed and functional.

Smith suggests always keeping surfaces like countertops and islands as clear as possible. "œBuyers associate empty counters with spacious, uncluttered living," she says. "Group small appliances on a rolling cart that can be stashed out of sight."

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Refresh Bathrooms with New Accessories

A bathroom refresh with new accessories can make a huge impact when prepping a home for sale. Outdated bathrooms can turn off buyers, while an updated space feels clean, inviting and well-maintained.

"œBathrooms are one of the first places buyers look when assessing a home"™s condition," explains real estate agent Sandra Dee. "œThey"™re relatively easy and affordable to update. Smart styling with new accessories conveys pride of ownership and captures buyers"™ imagination."

New bath accessories range from budget-friendly to splurge-worthy. On the low end, a new shower curtain, towels, rug, soap dispenser and wastebasket make an instant update. Medium investments like new faucets, showerheads, mirrors, vanities and lighting have dramatic impact. Big ticket changes like replacing tubs, toilets or tile take more effort but can be worth it in the right market.

Dee says refresh updates before listing, then use styling tricks to showcase them. "œDon"™t just toss new hand towels on a vanity - display them folded in a ceramic vase. Prop up new soaps and candles. Create little moments throughout the bathroom that delight buyers."

While trends come and go, Dee says classic marble, brass and porcelain fixtures remain timeless. "œStick to clean, neutral colors that appeal to broad tastes - white, gray, ivory. Pops of color in towels, art and plants add personality."

Chicago agent DeShawn Bell agrees. "œI steer clients away from bold paint colors or heavily patterned tile. Trendy bathrooms can turn buyers off," he cautions. "œThe goal is for buyers to see potential without feeling overwhelmed by strong styles."

Bell says refresh lighting for guaranteed impact. "œNew overhead fixtures, sconces and vanity lighting make any bath feel upgraded. Dimmers allow buyers to envision the space at different times of day," he explains.

While full bathroom remodels are daunting, Bell says small fixes pack power:

- Replace worn toilet seats, hardware, caulking, grout

- Upgrade faucets and shower fixtures

- Install new sinks, toilets if necessary

- Organize cabinets, drawers and counter storage

- Shop vac carpet, de-grime tile, scrub grout

- Clean glass, mirrors, chrome until shiny

"œTaking a bath from grungy and cluttered to spa-like may cost a few hundred dollars at most," says Bell. "œBut in buyers"™ minds, it elevates the whole home"™s value."

Stager Alicia Thompson shops thrift stores to demonstrate affordability. "œI"™ll style vanities with thrifted candles, trays, and ceramic accessories so buyers picture refreshing the space on a budget," she says.

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Add Greenery and Flowers Throughout

Strategically adding greenery and flowers throughout a home's interior and exterior spaces makes a dramatic impact when preparing it for sale. The right plants can help spaces feel vibrant, fresh, and welcoming to potential buyers. Interior designer Ava Li says, "œPlants instantly boost a room"™s aesthetic appeal. They add color, texture, even a sense of calm. Staging with greenery shows buyers how beautiful a home could look and feel with their personal touches."

When selecting houseplants, focus on low maintenance varieties that are resilient and hardy. Succulents like jade, aloe and echeveria add sculptural allure with minimal care. Snake plants and pothos vine are nearly indestructible yet elegant. Peace lilies, philodendrons, and ferns thrive in low light indoors. Groupings of potted palms, orchids or bamboo elicit a sense of tranquility.

Houston agent Linh Mai loves to style empty corners and bare walls with tall statement plants. "œTowering palms make a striking impression in an entryway. A lush fiddle leaf fig or monstera leaf in the living room helps buyers visualize the space styled to perfection," she says. For tabletops and bookshelves, smaller potted plants like succulents, air plants and cacti add organic texture.

Outdoors, Mai suggests potted trees and planter boxes to frame a home"™s architecture and soften hardscaping. "œI stock walkways and patios with pots of flowers like hydrangeas and azaleas to create an inviting outdoor oasis," she explains. Hanging baskets brimming with ivy, ferns or flowering vines infuse vertical spaces with life.

Chicago realtor DeShawn Bell says a bit of extra yard work and TLC can make landscaping shine. "œI advise spring sellers to edge planting beds, mulch, fertilize and prune overgrown bushes. Vibrant gardens capture buyers"™ imagination for how they"™d utilize outdoor space," he explains. Bell also repots flowering annuals in neutral ceramic planters by the front door to make a stellar first impression.

No matter the climate, Bell suggests showcasing native, low-maintenance perennials and evergreens. "œLush, healthy landscaping communicates a well-cared for home," he says. Strategically placed shrubs, trees and flowers frame the home"™s architecture, direct sightlines, and add pops of seasonal color.

Stager Eva Chen includes fresh cut flowers throughout her staged listings. "œNothing says "˜welcome home"™ like fresh florals on the entry table, kitchen island and nightstands. I change arrangements weekly when holding open houses so interiors constantly feel fresh," she says.

Chen varies arrangements by room. Entryways feature casual wildflowers and greens in whitewashed vases and galvanized buckets. Kitchens and dining rooms get loose arrangements of sunflowers, daisies and gerbera daisies evoking cheer. Bedrooms are styled with simple bud vases of roses, lilies or ranunculus for a romantic feel.

Spruce Up Your Space: 7 Simple Staging Tips to Wow Homebuyers - Stage Outdoor Areas for Curb Appeal

First impressions matter tremendously when selling a home. The exterior spaces buyers see as they pull up to the property - the front yard, walkway, entryway and patio - need to be styled to make an incredible first impression and draw them inside. This area is known as the home's "curb appeal".

"You never get a second chance to make a good first impression," says Martha Stewart, renowned lifestyle maven and interior design expert. Stewart advises homeowners to step back and view their home's exterior through a buyer's eyes. Is the landscaping lush and well-tended? Are walkways free of cracks and debris? Is the entryway and front porch clean and inviting? Ensuring outdoor areas make a strong first impression motivates buyers to take a closer look inside.

Denver real estate agent Ty Williams focuses on maximizing curb appeal for every listing. For the yard, he advises mowing grass weekly, edging planting beds, clearing leaves and debris. Pruning overgrown shrubs opens up sightlines to showcase architecture. Flower pots or planter boxes by the entry filled with cheerful blooms give an inviting impression.

Powerwashing walkways, driveways, siding and decks removes grime buildup. Repair cracked or uneven pavement. Sweep porches and tidy cobwebs. Buff out exterior scuffs and scratches. Wash windows until they gleam. Enhance lighting along paths and entries so spaces feel safe and welcoming in the evening.

Remove any clutter from the yard while staging. Neatly stow hoses, trash cans, gardening tools and kids toys out of sight. Fill in muddy patches in the lawn. Motivate buyers to imagine how they would utilize outdoor areas. Set up patio seating around a firepit, arrange loungers overlooking the pool, display gardening toolsheds stocked with supplies.

Curb appeal updates don't require huge investments. "Small touches like a fresh coat of paint on the front door, stylish house numbers, new welcome mat make a big impression," Williams explains. Limewashing brick siding or stained wood gives exteriors a refreshed, lightened look.

While renovations like new roofing or siding are major investments, they may pay off for sellers. "Outdoor updates that enhance livability, like building a deck or patio, can boost perceived home value in buyers"™ eyes," says Williams. But avoid personalization or overly trendy finishes that may turn buyers off. The goal is for outdoor areas to appeal to broad tastes.

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