Home Staging Tips

Home Staging Tip #1: Remove Photos
Depersonalize Your Home by Removing Family Photos

Here is a collection of three frames with inexpensive scrapbook paper inside to replace family photos


Remove personal photos, artifacts, and displays. This really makes a huge difference and a lot of home sellers forget this fact or don’t think it makes a big difference. But removing all personal things really makes a big difference. Believe me!

I experienced this first hand when we were looking for a new home recently in Raleigh, NC. Most of the homes we looked at were “staged” and therefore personal photos were removed. We were able to walk into these homes and immediately start thinking about where our furniture could go. We could start envisioning the home as our own. The few homes that I walked into that had personal photos around, I found myself  stopping and thinking about the family that lived there. I wasn’t able to freely envision living in the home. I didn’t want to linger in homes with lots of family photos.

There really is an emotional disconnect that happens to potential buyers when sellers leave photos around or other personal mementos. The potential buyer has to work harder to imagine themself living in the home.  You don’t want the buyer to have “to work” to envision themself living in your home. You want it to be easy for them. Plus today, sellers are seeing the benefit of staging their homes and removing photos of themselves so you’re going to have some competition.

This is a postcard bought on a trip to San Francisco replacing a family photo- instant art work!

Sometimes, clients tell me that if they take down their photos then they won’t have any wall art. Well, I have a great decorating tip for you! Go to your local craft store, like Michaels or AC Moore and purchase sheets of pretty scrapbook paper that compliments the colors and tones in your home. Place the pretty scrapbook paper (or even nice graphic wrapping paper will do) inside the frames where you had family photos. Instant artwork!

Here we used cheap pink and purple wrapping paper to replace family baby photos in our little girl’s room.

Home Staging Tip #2: Lists

Here’s where my Type A organizationally focused friends will be in their zone! List making is essential to successfully staging your home. You are going to need some time for this. The list making step should happen in the beginning. 

Remember our goal is for you to put your best foot forward when staging your house and to get your house sold quickly and for a great price! 

You are going to get your most traffic and attention when you first put your house on the market so you want to have it staged beautifully with awesome pictures posted on the internet. Remember over 90% of today’s potential home buyers are searching online before checking out a new home in person.

What should we put on your lists? Start with categories for your “To Do” list:


-Does the exterior of your home need some work?
-How does your yard look? Do you need to clean up the yard? Trim hedges? Do you need fresh mulch? Do you need to clean up fallen branches? Do you need to weed?
-Do you need to put away kids’ outside toys/bicycles?
-Do you need fresh pillows for an outside seating area? Do you need a fresh umbrella for an outside table? You want potential buyers “to see” how they can best use your backyard- don’t make them use their imagination, SHOW THEM!
-Flowers make a huge impact on curb appeal.
-Do you need a clean, new door mat?


-Remember Staging Secret #1: Remove all family photos
-Remember Staging Secret #3: Remove at least 1/2 of the furniture, things, etc. in each room (LESS is more!)

-Clean, clean, clean: Nothing turns off a potential buyer more than dirt/dust/grime.
-Clean out every room/every nook and cranny: Buyers DO look in closets, laundry room (notice I even staged our laundry room in the pictures below), and every corner of your house.
-What needs to be fixed? Painted? (you don’t want buyers to make a list of what they need to fix if they buy your house)
-Be purposeful in highlighting the strengths of each room and downplaying the weaknesses

You can see from these lists that successful staging takes a good amount of time. This isn’t something you can do well in a weekend. When we were staging our Annandale, Virginia home we started making our staging “to do” lists a good six months before putting our house on the market. But our hard work paid off.

We only had our house on the market for 6 days and got 4 offers in those 6 days!!!! You can do this too! You can.

Our Staged Home:
(note: you will see some family photos in these photos which were all out by the time our house was on the market)

We even staged our laundry room:

This is your goal: to get a lot of interest in your home and get many great offers in a short amount of time. You can do this by successfully staing your home!

:) Megan

Home Staging Tip #3: Remove Stuff


It happens to all of us over time when we live in the same house for many years…..stuff starts to collect and pile up. Not only that but we add things to rooms, new pillows, artwork, knick knacks, and we don’t always take things out of a room. So our rooms get fuller and fuller with things we love. Of course, we love this! We love living with things that make us happy. This isn’t good news when trying to sell a home. Potential buyers do NOT have the love that we have for our things- they just see packed, full rooms and that makes it harder to them to envision our rooms as their rooms with their things.

This is a very important tip for home staging: REMOVE AT LEAST HALF OF WHAT IS IN EVERY ROOM (this is usally a good rule of thumb).

I know first hand how especially challenging this can be when living in a small house. We didn’t have a place to put all of our stuff we wanted to hide. We didn’t want to spend the money to rent a storage unit to house all of our “extra stuff”. So we had to get creative and organize our attic. Thank goodness we have an attic (it’s has pull down stairs so potential buyers wouldn’t be likely to be venturing up there). I went through every room in our house over about a month  and  I took things out (furniture, toys, knick knacks, etc) which I CRAMMED into the attic. Then I walked through each of the rooms in our house and re-evaluated how each room looked through the eyes of a buyer. I wanted buyers to see the strengths of each room, I didn’t want them to see all of our stuff.  I took photos of the rooms and looked at them on my computer- sometimes looking at a picture helps you to really see what others would see (I found this very useful!).

Caution: This process of decluttering your stuff and removing at least half of what is in every room takes time. Don’t expect yourself to do this in a day, give yourself some time to get this done. This is where lists really helped me (hint: this will be my next tip!).

Good luck! Happy staging!!!!
Be well-
:) Megan

P.S. Potential buyers DO open up and look inside each and every closet so don’t think you can hide your things in there. You want your closets to be decluttered too. If closets are packed full, buyers think that there must not be enough space in the house and you don’t want them to think that, even if it’s true. Take clothes and items out of each closet to make it look larger.


Staging Success!!!!

Well, we did it! We sold our house (almost sold, settlement is this week, fingers and toes crossed, I am sure everything will be fine). The really cool part is that I staged our house and we had four offers in six days. That’s pretty darn good! I am going to be honest, the staging was a lot of work, but it was also fun and sooooo worth it!  It was very rewarding to see my hard work and efforts pay off….literally!

Why stage a house for selling? If you’ve put your house on the market before you KNOW how hard it is to live through the selling process. While selling, your house needs to be spotless clean all the time, at any given moment a potential buyer might stop by to see it. Due to the fact that we priced our house right (which brought in serious buyers) and that our house was staged beautifully we only had to live with our house on the market for a week. I am so grateful for that fact!

I believe that two things sell a house:
1. Priced right
2. Staging

Back to number 1: Priced right, first off a big thank you and shout out to our awesome real estate agent and best friend, Cristina Dougherty with Long and Foster in Fairfax, Va. Cristina looked at comparables around our neighborhood in Annandale, Va and suggested a fair and reasonable price. That brought in serious potential buyers.

On to my favorite number 2: Staging
Staging is so important to selling a house! It starts before the potential buyer even stepped into our home. It started with photos of our house, inside and out, on the internet. An overwhelming percentage of buyers search on the internet for their new home before getting in their cars to look at homes. If you have beautifully stagged photos of your home you are pulling in buyers to come to your home to see it in person. I know this first hand after we recently spent time in Raleigh, North Carolina searching for our next home.

I am going to share some of the secrets of staging in the next couple of weeks. If you are planning on putting your house on the market in the year or so, or if you have family or friends planning on selling, you will definitely want to use some of my staging secrets. Good luck to you!
Megan :)