Canada's Condominium Magazine

Staging your home room by room: even in hot markets, get the most for your home with inexpensive decor tweaks

Not everyone can visualize in empty spaces. This is why condominium developers have beautifully staged model suites at certain stages in their sales cycle. Part of this is that empty spaces look smaller than discretely filled spaces. Another part of this, is that many people have trouble visualizing on a blank slate — whether it’s a white piece of paper ready for a sketch, an empty condo ready for a new owner, or even a patch of empty garden. It’s hard to see past empty. At the same time it’s also hard to see past someone else’s clutter, if you’re selling an occupied condo.

 

Help people visualize how cozy and warm and wonderful your condo could be fore them with a little staging. Most people have difficulty visualizing in empty spaces.

 

Ensure you sell for your full value

For your own sale, one of the best ways to ensure that buyers will see your home’s value, is to stage your home prior to showing it. Homes that are well staged tend to fly off the market, while those that are not typically stay on the market much longer, unless the owner is willing to take much less than the home is worth.

 

New kitchen cabinet door (just the doors), with some accent lighting and props can make a kitchen (and condo) look like a million dollars.

 

My parents condo, which we recently sold, was stalled on the market for awhile with its emptiness and white walls and old appliances. We ended up staging with paint, a new refrigerator, rented furniture and artificial flowers — and then raised our asking price. We sold over asking.

Stage for your space — not for your own taste

If your home is poorly staged or not staged at all, then it can be difficult for buyers to see the potential. The home should be staged in a way that brings out its best features and helps the buyer to imagine how the home can look once they are finished decorating. They should not see an empty or run-down place. They should see a cozy, lovingly decorated home. They should be able to see themselves living there and perhaps starting or raising a family there. So how do you go about staging a home?

 

A typical before/after in a condo properly staged. Even though it’s the same condo, the one on the bottom looks like it’s worth a lot more. It certainly is easier for someone to visualize as “home.”

 

First, you should ensure that the home is spotless and that nothing is damaged. Everything should be working properly. Eliminate clutter and spruce up the place. You should not see any dirt, grime, mold, or mildew. Make any necessary repairs and replace anything that cannot be salvaged. A few hundred dollars in repairs can keep you from losing tens of thousands on the sale price.

Paint makes it new again

The next move should be to paint. Chances are it’s needed, even if you only painted a couple of years ago. Paint makes everything look fresh and new again.

 

Clean, newly painted walls, accent lights and a few discrete props make the difference between “sold” and “let’s look at another.”

 

Though not every home will need to be painted before selling, most will need at least a couple rooms painted. You do not want your walls to be full of holes, ripped wallpaper, and smudged paint. Hire a professional painter if necessary. Making sure that the home looks good as new will help to get the full asking price. At very least, you will get far more than you would have without making these changes. Go for more neutral colours. Earth tones are often the best, as they can make a home feel open and inviting without going too light or too dark. Once all repairs have been made, the home is clean, and the last of the paint has dried, decorating can commence.

 

Bathrooms are the most critical rooms in the house. People won’t buy a condo with a dirty or dark bathroom. Replace all bulbs, invest in new colourful towels, replace shower curtains and consider replacing the cabinet doors under the sinks.

 

Even if you are not big on decorating yourself, you should do so for the sake of selling. Hire a professional stager if you really can’t do it. But it’s not that difficult. Accentuate your home’s best features. Walk through your home, taking note of the rooms that will serve as the biggest focal points. Spend the most time on them, and then move on to the rest of the house after that.

The Kitchen

Does your home have a large, gourmet kitchen? Play it up. Place a few high-end appliances, such as an espresso machine and a kitchen aid, around the kitchen and make it look like Gordon Ramsay designed it himself.  Add subtle decorations but leave it mostly open to draw attention to the amount of counter space potential buyers might have. Fill open shelves and transparent cabinets and organize them neatly.

 

A splash of colour (or two) can really sharpen up the look of your kitchen. All it takes is a small investment in 3 or four cabinet doors. Don’t forget lighting!

 

If yours is a more traditional kitchen, decorate it accordingly. Add personal touches, bright colors, and anything that can make it feel more open and inviting. Floral accents, vases, a bowl of fruit, and other simple touches can evoke memories of one’s childhood. If you can make buyers come into your home and feel like they are suddenly back in grandma’s kitchen, you will almost certainly receive immediate offers. Decorating for any upcoming holidays will also help tremendously and make your place feel more like home.

Master Bedroom

You never know who will end up buying your home. Therefore, a general rule of thumb is to decorate in neutral colors. Avoid any gender stereotypes or personal tastes. The décor should be elegant, yet appealing to a wide range of buyers. Open the closet door(s) so potential buyers can see the size. Add shelving if needed and stage in a way that maximizes space. The bedroom should feel warm and cozy, not cold and clinical. If you have a large master bathroom, you should play it up as well.

 

Props can make a room really pop. Here, a discrete prop on the bed, artfully displayed, makes an instant impression. Large mirrors add a feeling of spaciousness.

 

Living Room

Maximize space by adding sufficient seating. The more seats you can fit without overdoing it, the better. This room should be staged so the buyer feels like they can sit, relax, and unwind after a long day. Make use of decorative pillows, plants, and other accents. Paintings in a few prominent places will help as well. The furniture and décor should also be neutral in color, and it should go well with the walls. Open the curtains to let in some natural lighting.

 

It seems contradictory, but one large sectional makes a small room look larger and more livable. Some inexpensive lighting for accenting colours and shape is important. Staging furniture can be rented.

 

Dining Room

The dining room is one of the most important rooms to stage. This is where families gather around the table to eat and share the day’s events. It is where distant relatives gather during the holidays to enjoy each other’s company and share in a bountiful holiday meal. It is where memories are made as children blowing out candles on their birthday cakes, grandparents regale us with tales of time gone by over meals lovingly cooked using beloved family recipes, and dad’s jokes cause us to shake our heads in embarrassment even though we secretly love them. The dining room is such a central part of family life. As such, it should be staged in a way that meets day-to-day needs while also allowing for holiday meals and other celebrations.

 

Finishing touches

Although the above are the most important rooms to consider, no room should be left untouched. Even the hallway should be adorned with photographs or paintings and perhaps a small cabinet with a mirror hanging above it. Add some flair that makes the home feel lived-in yet sophisticated and clean. When you are finished, the home should look like a newly build model house, yet feel just like home. Follow these tips, and your home will practically fly off the market.

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