How to Stage a Home for a Real Estate Showing

by Kevin on October 29, 2010

Our house has been on the market about a month and has received a lot of good foot traffic.

But before we could call an agent, have photos taken, and get the property in the MLS we first had to stage the home.

Today I’m going to share some of the tips we learn along the way in hopes that it will make your home staging experience a little bit easier.

Declutter Your Home for Staging

You own too much stuff.


If you live in America and have owned a house for a year or more… you have too much stuff.

It is an inevitable part of our culture. We have to have Christmas decorations, spring decorations, winter clothes and spring clothes, a different set of pillows for the summer…

The list could go on and on.

Having all that stuff is okay, but having it about in your house when a potential buyer is walking through won’t result in a sale.

Walk into the room you are going to stage. Look around. Look carefully. Think of all the items in the room. Think of the things under the guest bed and in the drawers of the night stand.

Now take half of those things out of the room. Put them in the attic, donate them to charity, or sell them to someone. But at least half of what is in that room needs to go.

And yes, you have to do this in every room of the house.

You’ll start this process thinking you don’t really own too much. But on your 17th trip up to the attic to hide more stuff it will dawn on you that you own way too much. (There’s no time to address that now — you’re busy staging!)

Painting a Home for Staging

Once you’ve cleared your rooms of all your stuff it is time to do painting or paint touch up.

Here’s an easy method to determine whether or not you need to repaint the entire room or not:

  • Option One: The room is a neutral color like white, beige, or a very light green.
  • Option Two: The room is any other color.

With option one you can get away with doing paint touch up. (More on this in a second.)

With option two you must paint. I don’t care if the bedroom is your favorite romantic red or the kitchen is neon yellow and these just happen to be your favorite colors ever. It doesn’t matter if your favorite neice hand stenciled those amazing flowers on your living room mural.

None of that matters. It doesn’t matter what your favorite colors are. It doesn’t matter if you think everyone should love the color.

They won’t. If your home is ugly — even if it is just paint that the new buyer could cover up — your value goes down and you might not get any offers to begin with.

Back to paint touch up. This is what we did. Our home is all neutral colors — white, light beige, and light green. Colors that make sense and don’t shock potential buyers.

But through every day living over the last 3 years some of those walls have gotten scuff marks or stains or whatever. For certain walls we went down to the paint store with our paint colors (we still had the names from when we bought the house new) and had them mix up batches of matching paint.

You have to be careful matching colors! We learned this when we got to the paint store. They said, “Yea, that’s the right color, but contractors will take our colors and go get the cheapest paint they can find. It won’t match exactly.”


We were able to get around this by painting entire walls where needed. Paint to a corner, let it dry, and you’ll be able to tell if you need to end up painting the whole room. It’s a cost, yes, but not doing this can cause your house to get no traffic or really low offers.

Declutter Again

Remember how you got rid of half the stuff in every room?

Yea, you need to do that again.

Take almost everything off your kitchen and bathroom counter tops. Scrub the showers again. Get rid of all the knick knacks that pile up.

Do a Clean Sweep the Morning of the Showing

The day of the showing you’ll want to make sure your house is pristine for your potential buyer. Vacuum the carpets, clean the counters (again!), and spray a light air freshner like Febreeze throughout the house, and start crossing your fingers.

It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. It’s a lot of hectic “why yes, of course, we can show the house in an hour and I work 30 minutes away from the house…” moments.

But you’ve got to stage to have a shot at selling. It’s effort we’re glad to take.

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{ 1 comment }

Golfing Girl October 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

You couldn’t be more correct. Every weekend we spend at least a few hours tackling one overcluttered area it seems (whether it’s the junk drawer in the kitchen, the bathroom cabinet, etc.). And we keep telling our parents to quit giving us/our kids more “stuff” for that reason. The feeling people get when they walk into a home plays a huge role in their decision making process, whether they realize it or not. No one wants to look at pictures of the buyer, or wants to see their collections of [email protected] all through the house. They want to see something off HG TV, which means fresh paint, minimal decorating and well placed furniture. Don’t forget about curb appeal too!

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