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How to Stage Your Home & Prepare for an Open House

Jazz up your home to entice the highest bidder

Tracy Block Staff Reporter
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7 min read
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Keep in mind that buyers now have access to many homes and home décor trends, so the colors, décor, furniture, and art selected for home staging is extremely important.
- Michelle Rider, CEO and founder of interior design firm Inspired Redesign


Not all homeowners plan to reside in their properties forever. In fact, according to a report on Statista.com, 5.96 million homes were sold in 2018 in the US, and that number is projected to increase to 6.12 million in 2020. If you are a homeowner thinking about selling your house, there’s a lot that goes into the process.

For example, a realtor can help ensure your home is listed properly, and for the right price. Once your home is listed for sale, your realtor can help you prepare for an open house, which will introduce your property to prospective buyers. Additionally, you can take things one step further and consult with an interior decorator to stage your home, which may help boost your home’s current appearance and appeal.

Home Staging Tips

If you’re not familiar with the concept of staging, it is a process that allows you to prepare an appealing home to catch the attention of as many potential buyers as possible. “The purpose of staging is to highlight the best features in the home,” explains Michelle Rider, founder and CEO of Inspired Redesign, a full-service interior design firm in Dallas, Texas that focuses on both residential and commercial property transformations. “To do this, you need to clear all the clutter if the home is currently occupied, so buyers can see the potential of their belongings in the home. If the home is empty, you can focus on adding only key furniture, art, and accessories to highlight the home.”

To start, Rider says to focus on 6 key areas: entry, kitchen, living room, dining area, master bedroom, and master bathroom. Then, you should pay attention to color trends. Rider recommends consulting Sherwin Williams, Pantone, and Benjamin Moore online, all of which release color trends annually. 

“Keep in mind that buyers now have access to many homes and home décor trends, so the colors, décor, furniture, and art selected for home staging is extremely important,” shares Rider. “Using outdated art or color trends from several years ago can make the home seem dated.”

And, when it comes to the kitchen, which Rider calls “the heart of the home,” proper staging will make the kitchen feel large and roomy. “To do this, it’s important to completely clear off the kitchen countertops and then add a few colorful décor items on the island, near the stove, and in one other area,” she says. “Think of a triangle – the goal is to get the buyer to notice featured areas in the kitchen.”

Finally, Rider says to shift the focus to the master bedroom aesthetics, which should be layered in neutral bedding and accented with a pop of color that works with the house’s color scheme. “And, add art that draws a visual interest,” she offers. In addition, to make the room feel more luxurious, add seating, lighting, and a rug.

Still, Rider suggests painting the exterior of your home, a good landscape job, and a debris-free roof and gutters on the outside, along with clean closets, pristine carpets, working lights, and opened blinds on the inside.

Staging on a Budget

If you’re on a tight budget, Rider says It’s not necessary to stage all the rooms in the house. “In fact, one hack we implement when there is a limited staging budget is to stage the main areas and add art to the other rooms just to continue the color scheme and visual interest throughout the house.”

Other staging hacks Rider suggests include:

• Thrifting: If you’re willing to do a little bit of work, you can find unique tables, lighting, accessories, and more at more than affordable prices.

• Embellishing art: Going over the art with acrylic or metallic paint adds a bit of spark and texture to make ordinary art stand out.

• Dressing your windows: Although most stagers do not add window treatments, doing this can make your home look more expensive. Focus on the living room and the master bedroom, and shop for reasonably priced products on Amazon, Overstock, and HomeGoods.

• Installing mirrors: This will help reflect the outside in, as well as create the illusion of more depth, which can give a smaller room a greater feel.

Planning You Open House

Hosting an open house is a great way to literally open your house to potential buyers, so they can tour the property and its features. To get started, first select the date on which you’d like to show your home. “The best way to advertise an open house is through MLS,” says California realtor AJ Olson Whitfield of Villa Real Estate, who has been in the business for 10 years and has built three homes of her own. “This will syndicate it to all of the major search websites. Outside of that, don’t underestimate the power of print. There is still a large contingency of people who rely on the paper, so be sure to know who your target market is.” Lastly, Olson Whitfield recommends advertising the event on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

As you prep for the open house, Olson Whitfield encourages you to take the time to run through a checklist to ensure your home is in top condition. Her tips include:

• Deep cleaning: This is the most important step to take. People visiting your home have the ability to see things that you may otherwise overlook. Additionally, a clean home sends the signal that you take pride in your ownership and that you maintain your home.

• Decluttering: You do not need to throw everything away, but you can rent a short-term storage space for this purpose. For the sake of your open house, you are going to want to remove at least a quarter of your belongings.

• Organizing the garage: Give some special attention to this space by showing buyers that the house has available storage and an actual garage that can be utilized how they see fit. Allow your garage to shine as an extension of your home.

Displaying fresh plants: Add some joy with fresh plants and flowers. However, potted plants last longer, and can make it through multiple weeks of showings and open houses.

• Buying new towels: Buy and showcase fresh new towels in all of your bathrooms, and then store them until the next showing. This is a small detail that makes a big difference.

When it comes to entertaining during your open house, as tempted as you may be to set out bites or freshly baked cookies, consider the current climate. “I strongly advocate no food of any kind,” says Olson Whitfield. Instead, she suggests setting up a water station with glass bottles that look nice, and keep the home safe from other food and beverage accidents.

In terms of last touches, “I always check all the bathrooms and put all the toilet seats down!” Olson Whitfield exclaims. “This is a must.” On a final pass, make sure to check nightstands for small items, like phone chargers, and wipe down kitchen counters to ensure there is no sticky residue left from the day.

Curb Appeal & In-Home Accents

If you live in a competitive market where many homes are for sale, consider upping your curb appeal. For example, sprucing up your front yard will allow your house to stand out from the outside. If not, you may chance your home being passed over in a “hot market.” Additionally, Olson Whitfield encourages you to invest in a professional photoshoot of your home to accompany your listing.

As for in-house photos and family heirlooms, Olson Whitfield says there’s a fine line between sterile and too much. “You want the buyer to come in and see themselves as the owners of the home – not to be distracted by the current owners,” she offers. “I recommend keeping a few photos out to give the home life, but that’s it.”

Should You Attend the Open House?

Your home is your home, and it’s only natural that you may have trouble relinquishing control when it comes to showing your most prized possession. However, Olson Whitfield says your attendance may have a negative impact on the sale of your home. “Please do not attend the open house,” she urges. “The goal is for the buyer to feel welcome and at home.” To illustrate, if the owner is present, buyers may feel awkward asking questions or expressing concerns, which can ultimately be counterproductive to your mission – to seamlessly sell your home to the highest bidder. 

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How to Stage Your Home & Prepare for an Open House

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