• Aimee.Dillon

Beginner’s Guide To Home Staging

Updated: Mar 4, 2019

In today’s market, it’s more important than ever for your home to stand out from the competition. Putting effort into how it’s “packaged” will create a stronger first impression, which leads to higher offers and a quicker sale. That’s what home staging is all about. Home stagers, highlight the best aspects of a property so buyers notice them immediately while creating an atmosphere that is inviting and relaxing. Buyers look at countless homes, so to make yours the one they feel confident enough to put offer on, you have to make it as appealing as possible. If you’re new to home staging or wondering how it all works, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to home staging to give you a quick overview of how it works, why it is so effective, and how to use it to help sell your home.


Understand a Buyer’s Psychology

When it comes to selling anything, it’s crucial to understanding your buyers first. Selling a home is no different. In fact, a home is the largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime, so a lot of factors go into their final decision. Creators of products invest a lot of time, money, and effort into packaging their products in a way that attracts buyers, which is the same concept behind home staging. Put yourself in the shoes of the home buyer. They’re looking at countless homes, under a lot of pressure to make the right decision with their money. There are also as many emotional factors to it as there are practical ones. Home staging is not only about highlighting the strengths of a home, but taking it a step further to make it feel like home so buyers develop an emotional attachment and can feel confident that their money is being invested wisely.

Create a “blank canvas"

The goal of a staging expert is never to create a “perfect” home. Why? Because no two buyers have the exact same preferences. Instead, the staging professional will aim to create a neutral, tasteful environment that showcases the potential of the home. The goal is for the prospective buyer to be able to immediately visualize how he or she would personalize the home.

Direct the Focus

You want a buyer’s attention on the positives of your home. Things like clutter, personalized decor, and family photos are big distractions. It’s nice to think that buyers can see past these things but the reality is, most of them can’t. Clutter makes homes feel small and cramped, personalized decor can be off-putting if the buyers don’t share the same tastes (and makes them think they must invest a lot of money to change it), and family photos make most buyers feel uncomfortable because it reminds them that they are walking through someone else’s private home. Home staging takes care of all three of these issues. First, you want to declutter the entire home. Get rid of things you no longer want (either throw them away or donate them) and pack away the rest. Take it a step further than you would if you were going to live there. The fewer items there are around, the larger and more open the home will feel. Next, neutralize the decor and colour palette. Get rid of brightly colored walls, wallpaper, and any decor that is very specific in taste and style. In home staging, you want to keep with a neutral palette and a contemporary style to appeal to the highest number of buyers possible. Inject only a few colorful accents to give it some character. This will allow buyers to see the home a nice light while also allowing them the room to imagine their own decor in its place. Finally, remove all your personal photographs, toiletries, and other personal items. You want buyers thinking of the home as theirs, not someone else’s.

Put Your House’s Best Foot Forward

Before you put your home on the market, make any repairs that need to be done. While it’s probably tempting to leave small repairs (or even big repairs) to the next homeowner, they are a huge turn off to most home buyers who will see dollar signs and either take it off their offer or simply move on to the next move-in ready property. Also, be sure to give your home a deep clean before you start showing it. We recommend hiring professional cleaners who will get every nook and cranny with the best equipment. Then, keep it maintained while it’s on the market. Don't for get simple things like making sure all the light bulbs are in working order.

Set the Stage

Once you’ve made all the repairs, cleaned and decluttered, neutralized the color palette, and de-personalized the decor, it’s time to bring in some special touches. If you’ve ever been to a model home, you’ve probably noticed things like a coffee maker and set of coffee cups on a tray in the master bedroom or a pair of white robes hanging in the bathroom. These things aren’t just there for fun — they actually have a big impact on a buyer’s psychology. Add in a few of these little details to make buyers smile and give them the feeling that they’ve stumbled upon something special.

Here are some of the easiest ways to make your home stand out from the rest.

Fresh Flowers-

Not only do fresh flowers give a more, upscale air to your home….they can actually lift one’s mood. You definitely want your buyers to be in a good mood while walking through your home. I place fresh flowers in the kitchen, I put them on the dining room table and even in the master bedroom. You don’t have to spend a ton of money at your florist either…I get all of my flowers for very little from my local fruit and veg shop (The one in Mairangi Bay next door to our office).

Scent- Scent can be a major emotional trigger. One surefire way to make buyers love your home is having it smell like freshly baked cookies as soon as they enter the door. Before each showing, I made sure to burn a sented candle in the kitchen. My favorite scents are Sugar Cookie, Birthday Cake and Vanilla Cupcake. I would advise sellers to avoid any heavily fragrance candles like florals or cologne-type scents.

Just keep in mind, that a candle will not mask pre-existing odors. Be mindful of what I cooked in the kitchen right before an open home….I would refrained from steaming brussel sprouts or broccoli and stay away from fish. Before each showing, made sure the trash is out of the house.

And for you pet owners…..you need to the get the litter box out of the house. If possible kept dogs either outside or in the garage and make sure any pet fur is clean up prior to your open homes. If your pets ever soiled the carpet, you need to have your carpet professionally cleaned. The stench of pet urine is one sure way to turn a buyer off.

Welcome Your Buyers- You want your home to “welcome” and envelope potential buyers. While scent is one way to do so, cozy throw blankets (placed strategically on the couch ) make your home feel inviting.

Another nice touch, is displaying baked goods in the kitchen or putting some fresh fruit in a pretty bowl…just be sure it doesn’t look cluttered. Displaying some muffins on this cake stand in the kitchen always looks nice.

As I said, however, you need to be careful not to contribute to clutter or chaos when trying to establish the finishing touches…there is a fine line between classy and junky. This is especially where a home-staging expert can be of great help.


Lighting is often overlooked by realtors and home owners alike, but is a very crucial aspect in the presentation of your home. Nobody wants to live in a dark and somber home. Before exiting your home for a showing, go through your house and make sure all of the blinds and drapes are open so that optimal lighting fills your home. In darker rooms, you may need to turn on overhead lights or lamps. I once had a night showing, and made sure every light in the home was on…I even was sure to use my dimmers to emit the most flattering, welcoming light possible. Let me just say…. I absolutely love dimmers! Never overlook the power of ambiance!

Background Music-

One last touch is appealing to the sense of sound. Before each walk thru put on some light jazz music at a relatively low volume. Just like scent, music done correctly can make potential buyers more receptive to buying your home. Just be discerning with your choice of music…nothing offensive or intrusive.

So, now you probably see that home-staging is no joke. If you truly want to present your home to sell for optimal price, and in fast time, you have to commit a lot of time and effort. While I am not claiming it to be easy, I am saying that it will be worth it.

If you feel a little overwhelmed or unsure, I would consider investing in a home staging service. After all, your home is your biggest financial asset and you should treat it as such.

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