Staging: Small Things Can Make a Big Difference

Decluttering and cleaning are the two most important things sellers can do to get their house ready for showings. But small touches — new bathroom towels, a well-placed bouquet of flowers or an accent color — can liven up your listings.

February 1, 2008

Here, we spent about $70 on fresh flowers and another $400 on props to stage a few key areas of a 1920s bungalow. Other props were borrowed.

Warm it Up

Bring life to a monotone bathroom with contrasting draperies and towels. A towel rack hung upside-down is reversed, so towels can be displayed on the rack rather than the tub. A borrowed table adds elegance and carries the eye upward, making the room feel more spacious. Purchased: Drapes, $80; towels, $25; wastebasket-tissue-box-handtowel set, $18

Photo Credit: Cynthia Howe

Create Focal Points

Above, a bench and mirrored hatstand that blend into the woodwork are replaced with contrasting furniture. The boldly colored chest and pillow combine to provide a focal point. Purchased: Blue vase, $25; pillow, $30

Photo Credit: Cynthia Howe

Pare Down

Books and photos go into storage, replaced with accent pieces and flowers that brighten the dark shelves. Purchased: Square baskets, $10; white mirror, $12; white vase, $30; top-shelf basket, $25

Photo Credit: Cynthia Howe

Accent With Color

Surfaces are decluttered and red accents added to enliven a seating area. Purchased: Nothing except the flowers

Photo Credit: Cynthia Howe

Think in Threes

Odd numbers create tension that provides visual interest. This principle is applied with three grass bundles on the fireplace hearth and three varied-height vases on the kitchen counter below. A painting retrieved from storage and a larger rug improve the balance of and add warmth to the mantle area. Purchased: Grass bundles, $30

Photo Credit: Cynthia Howe

Set a Scene

Kitchen counters are transformed from utility into a welcoming oasis. Purchased: Cream vases, $40; succulents, $12; pear tray, $13; basket, $5; towels, $8

Photo Credit: Cynthia Howe

Buyer’s Reps: Look Below the Surface

A good stager can minimize a multitude of flaws in a home, from awkward traffic patterns and dark bedrooms to dens without a wall long enough for a full-size sofa. As home sellers increasingly use staging to market their properties, however, buyers must learn to look beyond staging’s veneer of polish to see a home’s bones and blemishes.

“Buyers shouldn’t assume that a well-presented home is a well-maintained one,” says Jon Boyd, GRI, a broker-manager with Home Buyers Agent in Ann Arbor, Mich., and president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents.

NAEBA in 2006 surveyed its members and found that 82 percent of respondents said their buyers are likely to be distracted by staging.

The first time buyers walk through a house, they should concentrate on fundamental issues such as floor plan and a home’s location rather than on how furniture is arranged, Boyd says.

Here are some of Boyd’s tips for buyer’s reps:

  • Don’t be dazzled by the light. Halogen lights can make a room seem larger, Boyd says. The same is true for torchiere-style lamps that reflect light up to ceilings.
  • Don’t let shimmer hide realities. Mirrors and glass tabletops both make rooms appear larger. Measure each room to see how big it really is.
  • Beware of tight spaces. Be sure that the furniture in a room is appropriate for the room’s use, Boyd says. A bedroom without night stands might prove cramped when you add in a full-size bedroom set. Also look out for love seats. They’re an easy way to make a room seem larger. Encourage buyers to measure their furniture so that they’ll know how much room they need.

Staging puts a house’s best face forward, which is all well and good, but buyers need to look below the surface and think about what really will be important to them in a new home.

REALTOR® magazine’s House & Home feature this month is sponsored by Lowe’s Companies Inc. Lowe’s is a REALTOR Benefits® partner and a Fortune 50 company, operating more the 1,450 home improvement stores in 49 states.


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