How to stage your home so it ap­peals to po­ten­tial buyers

The Mercury News - - Home+garden - Marni Jame­son Con­tact Jame­son at www. marni­jame­

As DC reaches for the clean mono­grammed hand towel hang­ing next to his sink, I dive in for an in­ter­cep­tion. “Don’t use the towel that way!” I say. “You have to dry your hands on the back side.” I reach to the back half of the towel by the wall to demon­strate. “Or air dry.”

“It’s a stag­ing trick,” I add. “Oh, and please don’t use the bar soap.” I look down at the just-used brand-new bar of de­signer soap, now sit­ting soppy in the dish that a minute ago was free of soap residue and scum. “Use the liq­uid stuff un­der the sink, please.”

I re­clean the soap dish till it shines, replace the used hand soap with a new bar, and try not to sigh too au­di­bly.

DC looks at me as if he’s not sure I am the same woman he mar­ried. He’d never had to live with the live-in home-stager side of me. Un­til now.

The house list­ing was go­ing pub­lic the next day, and our first show­ing was al­ready sched­uled. I’d had the house power-washed out­side, car­pets cleaned, the big tree out front trimmed to let in more light, the front yard re­land­scaped, the car­riage lamps out­side re­painted, and the flow­er­pots in the court­yard pro­fes­sion­ally planted.

Next, I got — and please don’t tell any­body this as it would ruin my rep­u­ta­tion — a pod. I know! I am Miss Anti-Stor­age, but I can ex­plain! My rooms show bet­ter with less fur­ni­ture. Plus, I don’t know what I will want in the new place, so don’t want to get rid of ex­tra fur­nish­ings just yet. So, for just two months, un­til mov­ing day, I am stor­ing stuff in a pod.

Then I be­gan mov­ing through the house like Mr. Clean on roller blades and steroids, like he needs steroids.

I touch up scuffs, thin magazine piles, re­or­ga­nize clos­ets, wipe crumbs from draw­ers and elim­i­nate ev­i­dence that two dogs live here. Fi­nally, I add life­style touches. I set the din­ing room ta­ble as if for a fancy din­ner party. I put out board games in the bonus room, hang a lit­tle black dress on the back of the mas­ter bed­room door. Then, right be­fore the first show­ing, I light the prayer can­dle, a berg­amots­cented pil­lar.

When stag­ing fever hits, here’s how you, too, can take your home from lived in to show ready:

GIVE GREAT CURB >> A home’s first im­pres­sion is the most im­por­tant one. If buyers don’t like what they see when they view that first photo or drive up, you’ve lost them. Power clean, prune, spruce, re­plant, re­seed, edge and add bursts of color.

THIN IT OUT >> Look at each room, and ask what fur­ni­ture can go to make the room flow bet­ter, so buyers see the room not the fur­ni­ture. This may mean pulling out items you use — a dresser, a chair, a china cab­i­net — but that crowd a room. (Choose form over func­tion.) Open cup­boards and clos­ets, and pack or purge ev­ery­thing you don’t need right now.

COVER UP >> Sur­vey ev­ery sur­face with the eye of some­one see­ing it anew. Now get out the touch-up paint, stain mark­ers and white-out, and erase or color in dings, scuffs and scratches. DETAIL EV­ERY­THING >> Hang a clean robe on the back door of the bath­room, and tie the belt with a bow. Make sure tow­els are pris­tine, bath­rooms sparkle and fin­ger­prints have van­ished. GET UN­DER THE SUR­FACE >> Or­ga­nize cup­boards, clos­ets and draw­ers, be­cause buyers will open them. Leave a lot of empty space, so buyers can see that stor­age is am­ple.

RE­MOVE PET PARAPHERNALIA >> Re­minders of a pet’s pres­ence in the house can be a turn off. Apart from a dec­o­ra­tive dog bed, put away pet toys, crates and bowls. Van­quish smells and fur.

KEEP HOUSE >> Be­yond the ob­vi­ous deep clean and rou­tine house­keep­ing — mak­ing beds, do­ing dishes, vac­u­um­ing, wip­ing coun­ters — your goal is not to leave a foot­print. When you’re done with your bath towel, stick it in the dryer. Don’t hang it up wet. Keep in­door trash cans empty. Put laun­dry, mail and the soap you use out of sight. PROJECT A LIFE­STYLE >> When the house is in or­der, set the stage.

Af­ter the first buyers came through, DC and I asked our agent how they liked it. “They loved it,” she said. “The place was so clean, they had to ask, ‘Does any­body re­ally live here?’ ”


When stag­ing a home, re­mem­ber you aren’t just sell­ing a house, you are sell­ing a life­style. Cre­ate the vi­sion.

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