Set the stage

Home staging 101

There are thousands of home-staging consultants in business for good reason: staged homes sell faster. Why? Successful home staging enables a buyer to see themselves in your home, and not how you’re currently occupying it. Professional staging consultants accomplish this by following some simple guidelines.

Divide and conquer

Take a good look around your home. Now imagine it with only half of the belongings. Some consultants even aim to remove at least two-thirds of items from a home to allow a room’s features (including size, flooring, and architectural details) to come forward so that buyers aren’t focusing on your collection of ceramic roosters instead.

Follow a witness protection program

Put your home under a “witness protection program” and remove anything that identifies who owns the property. That way a prospective buyer doesn’t have to mentally clear you out before they can imagine themselves in your home. At the top of the list are the family photos on the mantelpiece and notes to each other stuck on the fridge. Prospective buyers don’t need to know that Jimmy won the soccer tournament or that you’re out of milk.

Let there be natural light

Open your doors and windows, clean them and don’t block them! Just because you haven’t used that side door in years doesn’t mean that you should ignore it – keeping it hidden will make buyers suspect that there’s something wrong with it. (If there is, fix it.) Keeping windows clean and the curtains tied back will let more natural light into your home, which is a big plus for prospective buyers.

Out, out, darn Spot

While few can resist the unconditional love of a pet, many prospective buyers would prefer not to see pet hairs or smell evidence of Fifi or Fido. If possible, try to find a place for your pet to stay for a few days and have your carpets steam-cleaned to eliminate any lingering odors. Or try to have your pet reign in one room or on one floor and give the area a thorough cleaning prior to an open house. Remember also to tuck pet beds, litter boxes and food dishes out of the way.

Peek behind closed doors

Take a good look at your closets and cupboards. What kind of impression would they give a prospective buyer? Are they bursting at the seams or do they provide ample room for all your stuff? Take a minute to organize your items, wipe down shelves and air out your cupboards. Clearing out the clutter will work in your favour; interested buyers will always take a peek, even if they don’t admit to doing it.

Follow your nose

People use all of their senses when they evaluate a property, so remember to keep their noses happy. Avoid preparing aromatic foods using garlic, onions or other fragrant ingredients two days before your open house. Tuck fabric softener sheets in areas where shoes and sporting equipment is stored. Need to dispel a smell in a jiffy? Open up all of the interior doors in your home and cook up a batch of ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookies. Not only do they smell delish, you can leave them out on a plate for people to nibble on as they consider your property.

One focal point

Home staging professionals know that the best way to showcase a room is to choose one focal point for it. It could be a window, fireplace or distinctive piece of furniture—the goal is for it to draw the eye in and then around the room. This is why the elimination of clutter and excess furniture is key; you don’t want potential buyers distracted when they are inspecting the floors, molding and overall size and shape of the room. This is when they are picturing how their belongings will work in the space.

Minimize the negative

Stand at the entrance to a room. What is your eye drawn to first? If it’s something you prefer buyers not focus on, like a stucco ceiling or sponge-painting gone wild, your best defence is an eye-catching accessory near the front of the room. It’s done on home-staging shows all the time—they use a bowl of green apples or a vase of fresh flowers to successfully take eyes away from an offending feature for that pivotal moment when a first impression is made.


So there you have it. By investing some time into home staging, you can ensure that your property is set to sell.

Home Staging Checklist


When it comes to selling your home, there’s one thing to keep in mind: people don’t buy houses, they buy homes. Your goal is to make it easy for potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home. The act of grooming and decorating a house to properly showcase its features and make it more attractive is referred to by industry experts as home staging. Here’s a list of house staging tips to help you make the right impression on potential buyers.

Repairs, home improvements and décor


checkbox Walk through your home with a friend and scrutinize every room from a buyer’s perspective. Renovate or fix any problems.

checkbox Repair cracks, holes and chipped paint.

checkbox Tighten loose knobs, towel racks, switch plates and outlet covers.

checkbox Fix tight doors and windows, squeaky floorboards and loose stair banisters.

checkbox Repair caulking, clean around tubs and sinks, and fix leaky faucets. Remove water stains.

checkbox Paint walls with light, neutral colours.

checkbox Improve security by adding window locks and motion-sensor lights outside to boost the attractiveness of your property.

checkbox Add blinds and shutters for privacy.

Cleaning, organizing and furnishing


checkbox Wash floors, walls, windows, ceilings, trim and blinds. Steam-clean drapes, shampoo carpets, and wax floors.

checkbox Scrub kitchen and bathroom tiles.

checkbox Make sure all appliances and countertops are cleared and spotless.

checkbox Spray for bugs, if applicable.

checkbox Throw out or give away anything you don’t need.

checkbox Tidy up cabinets and closets, and neatly stow away toys, books and knick-knacks. Limit items stored on the floor or overhead in closets.

checkbox Clean and organize the basement, attic, garage and shed.

checkbox Pull up old carpets and remove area rugs if they’re covering hardwood floors.

checkbox Pack away some belongings to maximize storage space for buyers. Consider moving some furniture and items into a temporary storage unit while you show your home.

checkbox Remove and avoid displaying personal items.

checkbox Secure valuables or store them in a safety deposit box.

checkbox Remove items you're taking to your future home, like chandeliers and mirrors.

checkbox Furnish empty rooms. Arrange furniture so that rooms appear as spacious as possible.

Exterior prep – curb appeal


checkbox Have the lawn, porch or entryway looking perfect. Plant flowers.

checkbox Patch dead lawn areas with sod or seed. Pull out weeds. Rake leaves or shovel snow.

checkbox Cut and trim shrubs, and remove yard debris.

checkbox Paint doors, shutters, fences and siding.

checkbox Replace broken window panes, and fix torn screens.

checkbox Fix damaged roof shingles. Clean gutters and downspouts.

checkbox Wash the driveway and sidewalk. Patch cracks or holes.

checkbox Make sure outside lights and doorbell work, and your house number can be seen from the road.

Last-minute open-house preparation


checkbox Open drapes and blinds. If there are no windows in the room, make sure lighting is adequate.

checkbox Turn on all the lights, even during the day, including outside entrance, closet, basement and attic lights.

checkbox Clean windows and mirrors.

checkbox Create ambiance by setting up for a formal dinner, lighting the fireplace on a cold day, displaying lightly scented candles for aroma, and adding fresh flowers to your décor.

checkbox Turn off the television, stereo and radio (easy-listening music is OK).

checkbox Put pets in a fenced yard, or drop them off with friends.

checkbox Put out refreshments to keep visitors longer.

checkbox Clear any pet or cigarette odours.

checkbox If possible, leave. If you must remain, be courteous and avoid conversation.

checkbox Ask your agent for feedback after the open house, and make some adjustments if needed.

It may sound like a lot to worry about, but don't panic. Your Royal LePage real estate agent will give you as much notice as possible when showing your home, and will accommodate your schedule. Other agents will also make appointments in advance and give you time to prepare.

Home Staging Quiz


What kind of homeowner are you?

Take the quiz and find out your personalized tips for preparing and staging your house for sale.

  1. After finishing your dinner, you...
    1. Leave everything on the table and come back to clean up later.
    2. Take the dishes off the table, put away the leftovers and pile the dishes in the sink or dishwasher for later.
    3. Clean the table, put away the leftovers and wash the dishes right away.
  2. Your home office has a desk that is...
    1. Covered with papers, receipts and random objects.
    2. A pile of stacks. There is enough free space to do your work, and you can still find what you’re looking for.
    3. Clean and neat. Everything has its place, and papers are filed right away.
  3. You’ve just finished your laundry. You...
    1. Leave the clothes in a pile on a chair. It’s easier to find them later this way.
    2. Fold and put the clothes in any drawer with available space.
    3. Fold and put away your clothes in their appropriate drawers.
  4. In your household, you have...
    1. A dog or cat that is allowed indoors.
    2. A smoker who often/always smokes indoors.
    3. Neither of the above.
  5. How do you accessorize your house?
    1. I like to display personal mementos, souvenirs and family photos around my home.
    2. I love decorative accessories and like to feature eclectic ethnic artifacts and antique items around my home.
    3. I prefer clean and tidy surfaces, and display few decorative or personal items around the house.
  6. Which of the following best describes your house?
    1. My home is eclectic and fun, with bright colours and accessories throughout.
    2. My home is traditional, with warm paint colours and lots of dark wood.
    3. My home is in a modern and simple style, with neutral colours and few accessories.
  7. Spring has arrived, and your yard is in need of some maintenance. You...
    1. Rake the yard and generally get rid of debris.
    2. Clean the yard of debris and mow the lawn.
    3. Clean the yard of debris, mow the lawn, clear the weeds, apply fertilizer and plant new flowers.
  8. Which best describes your house?
    1. I haven’t had the time to properly decorate most of my home, and a couple of the smaller rooms are used only for storage. Some minor repairs are still waiting to be done around the house.
    2. The main areas of my home are decorated and furnished, but I never got around to properly decorating and furnishing the basement or guest room. Some minor repairs are still waiting to be fixed around the house.
    3. I have taken the time to properly furnish and decorate every room. I have also undertaken several renovation projects throughout the years.

Give yourself a score of 1 for every a, a score of 3 for every b, and a score of 5 for every c answer.

If your score is between 8 and 16...

You need to roll up your sleeves and get working to prepare your house for sale. Based on your responses, your home will need deep-cleaning and de-cluttering before showings start:

  1. Deep clean your house, making sure each room and surface is spotless. Make sure to remember your appliances and windows, too.
  2. Get rid of the clutter to allow buyers to properly see your home. Pack away unnecessary items and make sure counters and tables are free of appliances and personal items. If any rooms are used for storage alone, pack away the items and properly furnish the rooms. Don’t leave them empty, as buyers will have a hard time visualizing living in a space without any furniture.
  3. Put away collectibles and family photos to help de-personalize your home. Buyers will be able to imagine themselves in your space better without your personal items around.
  4. Your fun sense of décor and colour may suit your personality, but go neutral for the sale. Adding a fresh coat of neutral paint and getting rid of unusual accessories will ensure that your home appeals to a larger pool of buyers.
  5. If pets or a smoker reside in your house, remember that you probably won’t notice the smell if you’re around them all the time. Have a trusted friend give you an honest opinion, and deep-clean to get rid of the odour.
  6. And lastly, don’t forget curb appeal. First impressions count, and buyers begin to form an opinion as soon as they pull into your driveway. Keep your yard neat and tidy with your lawn and shrubs trimmed, and flower beds weeded. Store away your children’s toys and garbage bins, and give the exterior of your home a good wash or a fresh coat of paint.

If your score is between 17 and 32...

There are a few easy steps you can take to make your home more appealing to buyers:

  1. Clean your house from top to bottom, paying special attention to kitchens and bathrooms. Make sure to de-clutter and reorganize your home. Remove any excess furniture to enhance the feel of openness and space. Storage space is a top priority for buyers, so clean and organize your closets and storage areas. Get rid of anything you don’t need, and make sure your closets are not overflowing with items.
  2. Brighten and lighten up your home with a fresh coat of neutral-coloured paint. Soft neutrals such as pale yellows and greys can give a house a nice, sophisticated look that appeals to most buyers.
  3. Store away your eclectic accessories, and create more room on your counters and tabletops. Your unique items may be an expression of your personality, but they might also make it hard for buyers to visualize themselves in the space.
  4. And last but not least, fix that leaky faucet and any other minor repairs you’ve been neglecting around the house.

If your score is between 33 and 40...

Your house is in top shape and will only need a little bit of work to bring in that sale:

  1. One great way to stimulate buyers’ imaginations is to set the scene. Put fresh flowers on the mantle, and set the dining room table for a formal dinner. If it’s a cold day, light a fire in the fireplace. Look at your house through a buyer’s eyes, and create an atmosphere that will help them envision themselves living there.
  2. To further enhance curb appeal, spruce up your flower beds with new flowers and ground cover to give your home additional touches of colour.

For information on how to stage and secure the highest possible price for your property, contact me directly anytime.