You’ve heard it on TV, from realtors, in magazines, etc. that in order to sell your home you need to stage it. It appears in many venues that in order to do this effectively, you need to (1) hire a staging company (2) re-decorate your entire home (3) remove everything that has any personal meaning to you at all (4) move out. None of these are essential and can be so costly that you never recoup what you’ve spent. If cost is not a factor for you and you want to go the professional route, go for it! BUT if you need to keep your expenses down so as to reap the most profit from your home’s equity, here are a few ideas to help you create a warm, inviting and saleable home!

TAP INTO YOUR NETWORK OF FRIENDS: Most of us have one of those friends whose home looks like it was professionally decorated when in fact they did it themselves. Everyone says, “Wow, their home looks like a magazine layout…she/he definitely has an eye for decorating.” Invite them over for coffee and ask if they can help you create a ‘staged’ look. Many people who have this gift, love to share it! Keep in mind, it’s important, if you do this, that you are not offended by any of their suggestions. It’s hard to be objective about your own home so listen with an open mind to their suggestions. (Once it’s finished, say thank you with a nice dinner or small gift!)

CHECK OUT MAGAZINES & CATALOGS: If you don’t have one of those friends, grab the most recent magazine that focuses on your style of home (Cottage, Traditional, Contemporary) along with Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, etc. magazines and websites. Look at how they have created their spaces and using your own items create the same ideas. (ie: Set your dining table as if you’re hosting a dinner party. If you have a breakfast bar counter, Interior Designset that as well. Fill vases with fresh flowers right before a showing and for photos) Also, have fun walking through model homes. These are professionally staged. If you see an idea that you’d like to duplicate in your own home, use your phone to take a pic to refer to later. All these sources offer lots of ideas. Just make them your own!

DE-CLUTTER TO CREATE A STARTING POINT: The obvious starting point to all of this is to declutter and clean. Sometimes, that alone will change the entire ambiance of your home. Even if you don’t have a ‘decorator’ friend, you probably have one who will honestly walk through your home with you and let you know what jumps out to them as ‘issues’. Just like I said previously, it’s hard to be objective about your own home so keep your mind open to their suggestions. Go room to room with a note pad jotting down what needs to be removed, moved, cleaned or enhanced. This way you’ll have a list to work from once you get started. This will save you from roaming from one space to another without focus causing you frustration instead of satisfaction.

FOCUS ON THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES: Try rearranging your furniture to create a more spacious layout. If your furniture looks worn, purchase a sofa or chair cover to freshen up their appearance & add a throw across the back. Dining table beat up? Add a nice tablecloth and then set as described above. Clear off your counters, shine your windows and mirrors, dust or wash your window treatments, minimize personal photos but retain High Ceilingsartwork, stage your coffee table with design magazines & a candle setting, organize closets & closet floors. Instead of putting down new carpeting or wood floors, clean what you have. If they need to be replaced, consider offering an allowance instead of putting the money out of pocket. There’s nothing worse than seeing all that new carpeting out at the curb because your buyer wanted hardwood floors. Make sure your listing notes the allowance being offered so the buyer can get excited about getting the floors they want instead of focusing on the ones that are there.

REMEMBER WHAT THEY’RE BUYING: Remember, they’re buying your home, not your stuff. When they arrive or view it online, it’s just another house. Your goal is to create the setting that causes them to walk through and believe that this could be ‘their home‘.