Going Onstage

by : Adam Coyle

Once you've decided to sell your home, you're ready to stage it. But For better or worse, most of us are not the pushy stage mothers we need to be to make our houses really sell fast. The truth is, if you've lived in your home for a long time you probably have a great deal of love and memory attached to its quirks and loveable flaws, a tendency that can make the staging process a challenge. If you want to sell fast for a good price, you'll have to harden your heart, and get help!

Living the Dream

The ultimate goal of the staging process is to make it easy for prospective buyers to see that your home is their dream home. They must be able to imagine themselves living in your house. That their lives will fit inside its walls, that the backyard will accommodate their friends, that their style will shine in its embrace and over time their memories will become comfortably wedged between the floorboards and window sashes of its rooms.

Unless you can get to know every buyer beforehand and stage your house specifically for them, you're going to have to make room for a wide range of dreams. The best way to do this? Get rid of the clutter. Edit, pare down, simplify and let go.

Step One: Declutter

In every room, you want to make sure that the personality of its contents aren't overwhelming the personality of the space. Cheap knick knacks from auntie's vacation and sentimental macaroni art projects must exit here. Extra furniture and hand me downs? Goodbye. Clear off counters, empty and organize cupboards, spring clean like you've never done it before. Create space for dreams. Once you've gone through every room and removed every bit of excess you possibly can - you're ready for step two.

Step Two: Declutter Some More

Now that you've done as much as you can do on your own, it's time to enlist some help. Invite the most ruthlessly style conscious person you know to give you a hand with the second sweep. Alternatively, open the yellow pages and hire an interior designer or organizer for the day. Now it's time to do the deep declutter, rearrange furniture, make lists of repairs and renovations and begin to turn your home into the future buyer's dream come true.

Every room must have ample amounts of light and space. Let this be your first goal. If things are still a bit cramped, let your friend help you identify elements that can be moved or removed to create a more open and bright atmosphere in each room in the house. Move anything that blocks light away from the windows. If your drapes are dark or outdated, now is the time to take them down. Pull your furniture away from the walls in any rooms that are big enough for this. Let people see what you're selling! Figure out which rooms need painting to brighten them up. Create spaces that invite people to use and explore the rooms.

Step Three: Make it Nice

Though many people consider style to be the first element in staging a house, it should actually be the last. The painting and polishing are the finishing touches that only come after you have done a huge amount of behind the scenes work. Once you've done this properly, you'll probably find that the style of each room has revealed itself. You only have to amp it up a little.

Some tips for the final stretch: If you have any pieces of furniture that don't match with the rest of the decor in a room, these must be removed, revamped, or replaced. Identify and make as many small updates and repairs as you can: old knobs on cupboard doors can be replaced. Area rugs can be installed. Paint can be chosen and new curtains can be hung. Try to keep colors as neutral as possible. Arrange your furniture to show off the best of what you have. Highlight the function and beauty of each room with simple furniture arrangements that invite people to enjoy the space. Dining room tables and kitchen tables should always be ready for guests, never pushed against a wall. Your entranceway should be free of shoes and coats and other clutter allowing people to enter easily. Bathrooms that evoke a spa-like atmosphere are well received and bedrooms that appear restful are preferred.

Lighting should be plentiful and soft, giving your rooms a healthy glow and banishing dark corners. Don't forget to have fun!