10 Tips for Staging Your Home While Living There

10 Tips for Staging Your Home While Living There

As a professional organizer, I’m needed to stage homes during a sale, and often, while the family is still living there. If you're currently selling your home, you might find it daunting to stage your house for a sale and live there too. You are searching for a perfect new property, a great challenge in and of itself, and making your home appealing to buyers so it sells quickly at the top price. All the while, you have to keep your family’s life running smoothly.

Getting your home ready to sell takes some planning. First, your realtor will probably ask you to paint your home. Additionally, you need time to sort through your belongings and give away, throw away, or put away. According to the LA Times, the average household has 300,000 things. Compared to how much effort it takes to go through everything you own, repainting will be the easy part.

To get started, I suggest that you survey your rooms with a stranger’s eye, such as a professional organizer. If you find it challenging to simplify, imagining how a professional organizer with an objective viewpoint would look at things will make the job easier.

As you work your way through your home, you want to critically analyze your belongings to see what makes your home more attractive. Start at the entryway. The first impression often determines whether a buyer falls in love with your home or not. 

To help you get through the process, here are my 10 tips for staging your home for sale.

1. Remove extra furnishings. You want to rearrange furnishings so entryways and walkways are clear as buyers today are looking for a good flow between rooms. Store excess furniture temporarily so that your rooms are spacious and airy. The type of staging décor that sells homes is very different from the décor that people live in.

2. Look for low-hanging fruit. Toss obvious trash, like broken items, junk mail, excess paper, old catalogs, and newspapers. Clear out the electronics graveyard, everything from old computer towers to nonfunctioning remotes. Be sure to erase or destroy the hard drive so personal information is not compromised. This is a good time to also find places that recycle old electronics.

3. De-clutter closets and cabinets. Buyers look inside. Remove old clothes and household goods, unused small appliances, and chipped dishes. Worn linens and towels are welcome donations to animal shelters. Then, donate all usable but unnecessary items to save on moving costs.

4. Store out-of-season clothing. Doing so will make closets appear larger and more organized. Getting storage will afford you the time needed to downsize your possessions to comply with your new living-with-staging arrangements.

5. Pack personal items. Don’t distract buyers with pictures of your cute grandchildren or impressive alma mater. You want them to admire your home and imagine their family living there. A neutral background, tasteful artwork, elegant mirrors, and a few colorful accent pillows create an inviting look. 

6. Find storage for books, collections, memorabilia, and photos. Not only will this make the transition easier, it may save moving costs. These can be delivered to your new home once furnishings are in place, letting you unpack accessories at a leisurely pace.

7. Make sure plants are healthy and vibrant. Sickly plants tell buyers you don’t care for your home. Dried arrangements and silk flowers collect dust and look dated, so better to discard these. A better design choice for staging your home is to fill a vase full of fresh leaves or flowers for the open house.

8. Make modest repairs to fix glaring problems. It’s time to patch, paint, and clean until your home is spotless. Even a fixer upper can be scrubbed clean. Rugs and windows need to be spotless. Remember: No one wants to buy someone else’s dirt.

9. Now that the rooms are sparkling, refresh your home. New lampshades, shower curtains, linens, and towels can make a tired home look modern. Your house staging decorating model is hotel chic: simple yet stylish, using white towels and neutral fabrics. To add personality, organize bookshelves and add a few decorative objects. Corral magazines into a basket and use woven bins on closet shelves to tidy accessories.

Pay particular attention to the bathroom. Decant products and add a new bar of soap. Clear the medicine cabinet of old products and hide medications. People open closets and cabinets so make them appear neat. Store everyday grooming supplies in a basket in the linen closet for easy retrieval later on.

10. Finishing touches create a welcoming and buyer-friendly space. Make sure your apartment smells fresh, but do avoid using artificial candles or perfume. A pretty bowl of lemons or large glass vase of flowers is an inexpensive, fresh, and fragrant fix. Lastly, much as we love our pets, have them taken out of the home during open houses, and hide the evidence. Some people are allergic to pet dandruff, and may not be fond of your fur babies being underfoot.

With these 10 steps for staging a home for a sale, you are well on your way to finding a good buyer. To help with your storage needs, contact Box Butler and learn how valet storage can help you during this transition.

May 10, 2017 by Anna Lieber, Professional Organizer 

Organized Space Works

Division of Lieber Brewster Design Inc.


Anna Lieber is a Professional Organizer, Productivity Coach and Home Stager at Organized Space Works, a division of Lieber Brewster Design. She helps individuals and companies create systems and strategies to manage work, home, time, space and focus. Projects include move management, home staging, estate and storage clear outs, paper systems, business and residential organization.