Realtors share their top staging tips: How to create style

Today we’re getting to the big Ta-Da! It’s time to start turning up the style in your newly ready-to-be-staged home.

Start by making sure every room is used with a clear purpose and one that makes sense for the space. Return spaces to their original purpose when possible. If you’ve been using a spare bedroom for storage, clear it out and put it to better use as an office or guest room. An open landing could be an artist’s nook or reading room. Borrow furniture from other rooms in the house or from friends, or rent a piece if you need to fill out the space well. Buyers want to see that every bit of the house is usable space, so make sure that rooms are used well and that it all makes sense together. Take advantage of niches, alcoves, window seats, by creating vignettes. Pay special attention to awkward spaces by making them functional. Try adding display shelving, hooks or cabinets to provide utility.

Next, try rearranging your furniture. The goal is to emphasize natural focal points in the room. Most people will push everything up against the walls, and that doesn’t always make the best use of the flow or give the best presentation. Create symmetrical arrangements in the living room, by using seating pairs to create conversation groups. Think about moving lamps and accessories to different rooms or purposes to freshen up the look. Many of us have more than we need, so take out a few items, rearrange what’s left and see what you think. By paring down what you have, rooms will look more spacious.

Now go room by room, and think about the ideal setting for the space. In the master, create a relaxing retreat. Use neutral colors and soft or muted patterns. Keep it tidy, tailored and comfortable. Crisp linens, a neatly folded blanket draped on the arm of a wingback chair, and freshly laundered curtains make a room pleasant and inviting.

In the bathrooms, make sure that counters are cleared, and bars of soap, if present, are new. Towels should be clean and neatly folded. Bottles and personal hygiene items should be stowed away out of sight. Toilet lids should be closed. If you use potpourri, make sure it’s not overpowering. People will suspect you’re trying to mask something if the smell is too strong.

In the living room and dining room, try to use symmetrical, coordinating lamps. If you’re using slip covers, choose light colors. Add bright colors with coordinated pillows and accessories. Avoid over-sized centerpieces, as they can be overly formal and staid. Opt for groupings of candles, art glass, or pieces of driftwood instead.

In the kitchen, make sure counters are cleared. Put away small appliances and clear magnets from the refrigerator. Hang fresh new towels, polish every surface and make sure cupboards are emptied of all but the bare necessities. Fresh drawer and shelf paper will brighten things up, as will a neatly arranged, sparsely filled pantry. Have a decorative bowl of fresh fruit or flowers sitting out.

If you’re really stuck for ideas, tour a few model homes or design centers. That’s the kind of staging professional designers are doing and what your competition will be. Remember, you’re not just competing with other homes on the market. You’re also competing with buyer’s expectations based on what they’ve seen on TV, in catalogs and online. Stage to satisfy a contemporary taste.