Whether you hire a professional stager or prepare the home to look its absolute best yourself, the items below will need your attention. Professional stagers cannot estimate cost until they evaluate what may need done and what can remain. Every home and every client is different. They may simply do a consult for a minimal fee and help you choose the most profitable moves. They can also quote a price including some or all of your things as well as a complete stage. Also keep in mind that you can borrow or rent some furniture if needed.

Disassociate Yourself From The Home

The first step in preparing to market your home is to realize that your home needs to be one that potential buyers can start visualizing themselves living in. Today’s market is more competitive than it was years ago, and as such, you need to portray your home as more movein ready and more desirable than the one around the corner listed for the same price. Remember this is a product you are selling; yours needs to stand out as “THE one”.

Start Packing

Get the boxes out and remove all family photos, heirloom, and personal items.

Start packing for your upcoming move. Declutter all of the closets, including hall and linen closets, and especially your pantry. These areas should look like there’s adequate space and like you can see at a glance where things are. The kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets should look spacious and tidy as well. Buyers will open cabinets to see that there is sufficient room for their items. This is also a good time to pack up any valuables and remove them from the home. If it is summer, pack winter clothing, coats, and seasonal decor in the hall closet (and vice versa for winter with summer items). It will be helpful to rent a storage unit for a couple of months.

Neutral Color Palette is best

Keep it simple in order to appeal to more buyers. Painting is a cost-effective way to make all look new again. Paint with neutral tones like tans and beiges brings the best feedback from buyers. Remove any wallpaper, which is often too taste specific.

Flooring and Carpet

If the carpets and floors look worn, torn, stretched, scratched, or stained, you may need to replace or refinish them in order to attain top dollar for your home. In the best case, a professional cleaning may be all that is needed.

Sparkle and Shine the Kitchen

Kitchens are the heart of the home and often the deciding factor for a buyer.

Remove any appliances you do not use daily, put the can opener in a nearby cabinet, and make those counter tops shine. Keep cabinets fairly organized; dishes, glasses, etc. should be neatly arranged in cabinets and extra bowls, glasses, and such should be packed away. While your home is on the market, keep dishes clean and put away, and try to live more minimally. It can be very difficult to keep the kitchen sparkling clean constantly, but remember that it is usually only for a few weeks at most if your home is priced and marketed correctly.


Much like the kitchen, remove countertop items. Keep it to a minimum with a décor item or well-chosen hand towel. If you’re one who needs products out and available, fill a basket with what you need and store it under the counter after use in the morning so it’s out of sight during the showings. In tubs and showers, get rid of extra bottles and clutter; try to have no more than 2 bottles of products on shower shelf or tub edge.

Dining Room

Show it as inviting and spacious. Clean and dust thoroughly. While setting the table for formal dining is nice, it can show as too staged if it is smaller room. A simple elegant runner with centerpiece works to achieve the same results. Consult your Realtor or staging company for advice if needed.

Kid’s rooms

Remove and pack up excess toys. Keep toys in cabinets or baskets out of sight. Organize books, crayons and such as best as you can. I have found that by packing up half of the toys in the home, it is easier to keep clean, and kids do not miss the other toys. In fact, the packed-up toys are like new toys to them once you are in the new home.

Master Bedroom

A clean, fresh-smelling, tailored master is most appealing to all. Keep the bed freshly made with any blankets or throws neatly folded. Open the blinds and door to the master bath. Depending on how inviting the closet may be, open the closet too. Keep nightstands free of clutter and last night’s water bottle. A tastefully placed mirror or piece of art may be appropriate.

Other bedrooms are much the same: eliminate extra furniture and make them warm and inviting, like guest suites.

Odd Rooms

With your Realtor’s help, if a room does not have a specific purpose, you need to define it as something. It may be a room with a desk and filing cabinets, a play pen, a treadmill, and a spare bed. Once it is decided how best to show that room, remove any items that may confuse buyers as to the purpose of the room.

If you have space under stairs that just looks odd, it may be better to put a small desk, light and some books there to create a homework space or book nook. Odds are that if you haven’t found use for the area, potential buyers will think it odd too.

Beware of Pet Odors

Any odors like pet odors are often not realized by those that live there. Ask you friends and your Realtor if the home needs some freshening. Only use light fresh scents, like clean linen, cool breezes, a slight hint of lavender is ok. Refrain from getting any taste specific scents as everyone may not like pumpkin spice. If the carpets were recently cleaned this should not be a problem.

Keep the kitchen trash bag fresh and new. It may be best to remove the bag after dinner or breakfast so when buyers come in there is no lingering food odor in there.

Don’t Forget the Back Yard

Stage the porch, back yard, deck or patio as well. Clean up the yard and tend to the bushes and trees.

If you are good at remembering to water, plant a couple of places near deck or patio or display a couple of pots with fresh blooming seasonal flowers. Group together any furniture set in a warm, welcoming way, not cluttered. Remove any odd or spare chairs. It should look “on purpose” not thrown together. If you have a smaller area, a simple chair and side table ready for relaxing or reading will work. A bistro table and two chairs also showcases such a space well.

Curb Appeal

This is a big one! If your home lacks curb appeal your buyer may drive on by. This happens too often and if only they had come inside they would have loved the home. Buyers are busy and when viewing homes can get tired. Tired of hoping the next one is it and simply just tired of looking today. So if the front on the home isn’t better than the ones they’ve seen earlier today nothing is drawing them in to view yours.

  • Make sure the front door is freshly painted and clean of pollen, spider webs and dust. If a doorknocker, bell or knob is broken, fix or replace them. Place a new bright welcome mat at the door and be sure steps and porch are swept often.
  • Trim any bushes and plant some fresh seasonal flowers in beds or pots that you can see from the street. Have some fresh mulch spread in any landscape beds. Keep the lawn green, mow and edge weekly. If you can arrange your mow on Fridays, the fresh cut would look great for the weekend buyer traffic.
  • Clean and/or paint the numbers on your mailbox or house. Inspect siding to be sure it doesn’t need a power washing. Clean windows and gutters if it is obvious it needs to be done. This can look like neglect to a buyer.
  • Keep your thermostat at a comfortable setting, a little cooler in the summer and a little warmer in the winter keeps most people comfortable for viewing.
  • Rooms should all be well lit. Replace lights bulbs with a higher wattage and turn them on for showings and when you’re not at home. Open all the blinds; natural light is a desired feature.
  • Arrange for pets to be away for showings.
  • And while this is difficult, it is not forever. I’m not suggesting anything that I myself haven’t done before.
  • Most of all do not be offended by any of these suggestions or the suggestion of the professionals helping you to sell your home for the best possible price. None of this is meant to be a personal jab at your style. Your style is great and you can take it with you to your next home