Room-By-Room Home Staging Guide
The only guide you need!
Keep reading to discover…
- How to make your home sell faster
- Detailed advice for every room in the house
- Where to go for design inspiration and extra help
- And a lot more…
Table of Contents
The 7 tips below show you how create (what our US cousins like to call) ‘kerb appeal’.
We simply call it ‘a good first impression’.
Tip #1 – Make sure your front door looks it’s best!
A front door should be an impressive and strong object.
It should also be in mint condition, after all, buyers will come nose to nose with it.
Jobs to consider if needed:
- Repaint in a conservative colour (black, blue, white, red or green).
- Polish all knobs and knockers or replace if dated.
- Make sure your doorbell works and doesn’t look like it could give an electric shock.
Tip #2 – Freshen-up the exterior!
If the exterior of your property is looking a little tired, these4 simple jobs will improve your chances of a quick property sale:
- Sand back and make good any peeled paintwork around window & door-frames.
- Wash down windows to remove pollution grim.
- Repaint the exterior (especially if it’s white).
- Replace any broken roof tiles.
- Scrub away any build-up of moss around drains (a sure sign to surveyors that there is a drainage problem to tell the buyer’s mortgage lender about).
Finally, make sure you can clearly see your house number from the street.
Tip #3 – Tidy-up your garden
Basic maintenance is all that’s needed so consider:
- Mowing the lawn
- Clipping back and neatening any hedges
- Keeping the flowerbeds, driveways and paths weed free
- Removing any plants that have died
- Keeping your front garden clear of any dead leaves
Tip #4 – Clear outdoor clutter
If you have a driveway, the only thing on show should be a clean car.
Anything else will just detract from the good impression your creating.
Remove from sight:
- Children’s toys and bikes
- Dustbins and other rubbish
- Hose, tools, lawnmower etc.
- Any projects you may be working on
Tip #5 – Keep boundaries well maintained
- Check and make sure that any fences, gates, railings or outside walls are in good repair.
- They may seem like minor points but it will definitely be worth your while repainting, re-staining or replacing anything that looks a bit beaten-up.
Tip #6 – Know which way your garden faces
- Because they get the most sun, a south or southwest facing garden is a selling point.
- When buyers ask, make sure you can tell them which way yours faces.
Tip #7 – Know that usable outdoor space adds value!
Whether it’s a roof terrace, patio or full-blown garden, make the most of whatever you’ve got.
Creating a simple seating area is usually all it takes to show the potential for entertaining or relaxing outdoors.
- Buying table and chairs from the garden centre to demonstrate “alfresco” dinning potential
- Leave out sun lounges if you’re selling in the summer
- Install bamboo screens, trellising or planting if the space lacks privacy from neighbours
- Using pot plants, window boxes and hanging baskets to make bare outdoor spaces more colourful and interesting
- Using gravel or small stones to make easy to maintain, good-looking ground cover.
Lots of buyers ‘drive-by’ property to check it’s worth their while booking a proper viewing appointment.
Don’t give them the chance to form the wrong 1st impression or worse (just drive away) – keep the outside neat and tidy.
A well-presented hallway sets the tone of a house.
It’s where buyers form their first and last impression of the inside of your property.
The 4 tips below will turn your entrance hall into a welcoming, well ordered space.
Tip #1 – Clear the clutter
- Hallways can easily become filled with coats, shoes, umbrellas, bikes, post and any number of other objects.
- Find a place for all these things and keep them neatly out of sight. It makes your hall more welcoming.
- If your hallway is narrow, remove any furniture (e.g. side table or coat stand) to further increase the feeling of space.
- You should be able to move through a hallway easily.
- If you have to sidestep any objects, remove them for the period of your sale.
Tip #2 – Lighten up
Often without a window to let in natural light, the hall can be one of the darkest places in a house.
Make the hall lighter and brighter by:
- Repainting the walls a neutral colour and the ceiling in white
- Changing light bulbs to halogens
- Adding new ceiling or wall lights
- Hanging a large mirror next to the door (or at the end of the hall) to reflect light
- Leaving doors to other parts of the house open to borrow light
Tip #3 – Flooring
If your flooring is truly worn-out and beyond salvation, replace it!
Running the same flooring from the hall through to adjoining rooms ties a house together.
It also makes your house feel more spacious.
Good choices of flooring are:
- Natural hardwearing sea grass, coir or sisal
- Laminated wood flooring
Tip #4 – Finishing touches
- There is no need to go overboard decorating your hall but introducing flowers or a sturdy potted plant will give the space personality and colour.
- If your hall is long, 2 or 3 framed prints or arty photos hung at the same height along the wall will break up the space.
- Exposed radiators (unless they are cast-iron period features) tend to be eyesores. It’s worth fitting a decorative cover and turning the eyesore into a feature.
- If you do not already have one, a sturdy doormat just inside the front door is also essential. It welcomes buyers and saves you having to keep cleaning floors soiled by muddy shoes.
Don’t neglect your hall. It’s not the most important room in the house but done well, leaves a lasting impression.
If you can make the hall light, welcoming and clutter free, you’ll immediately give buyers a positive feeling.
It’s then up to the other rooms to build on this strong start.
This is the room we entertain, relax and show-off in. It’s a room that tells buyers about your lifestyle.
Insight: Many buyers automatically assume your standard of living will become their standard of living (if they buy your house).
A little effort to help buyers see that you live a comfortable life (better yet, have an impressive lifestyle) will ensure you achieve that quick sale at a premium price.
Tip #1 – Clear the clutter
To create a calm well-ordered room, start with a good clear out.
Pack away everything that is unessential to the function of a living room such as:
- Children’s toys
- Family photos
Tip #2 – Neutralise the walls
- Heavily patterned wallpaper and bold colours tend to make rooms feel smaller than they really are.
- Redecorate in a trusted neutral tone to immediately improve your properties saleability.
Tip #3 – Flooring
To get maximum buyer love, everything needs to be look and smell fresh.
If you smoke or own pets, your carpet will carry odours that buyers find off-putting.
To remedy this you can either:
- Shampoo the carpet yourself
- Call in professional cleaners
The living room carpet takes a real beating. If yours has worn patches, replace it.
Good choices of flooring are:
- Natural hardwearing sea grass, coir or sisal
- Laminated wood flooring
Pro tip: But before you spend money, lift your carpet and take a look.
You never know what lies beneath. You may get lucky and find decent floorboard.
If you do, don’t hesitate to sand, stain and put them on show.
Tip #4 – Furniture
The wrong furniture can devalue your property.
Your choice of furniture will influence buyers’ impressions of you and your property.
The right furniture tells buyers that your property is loved and therefore desirable!
Most living room furniture suffers from 1 of 3 problems:
- There’s too much of it
- It’s knackered and old
- It’s out of scale with the room (comfortable but out of scale)
Living room feels cramped?
Solution: Make it bigger by simply taking out some furniture.
All you need in average sized living rooms (120 – 160sqft) is:
- 2 x 2/3 person sofa
- 2 x side tables
- 1 x coffee table
Any more than this is just taking up valuable space so be ruthless and take out as much as possible.
Free standing shelves, large cabinets & extra chairs – They can all go!
Upholstered furniture seen better days?
Solution: There are 4 things you can try:
- Have it professionally steam cleaned
- Cover with a neutral coloured throw
- Make slipcovers (not easy unless you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine)
- Get rid of it and hire some new pieces
Furniture is out of scale?
Solution: Replace any “over-sized” pieces of furniture.
- Big furniture is comfortable but makes a room feel smaller than it should.
- Space is more important than comfort and hiring slimmer furniture while you sell is a good move if you’re short on space.
- If your furniture is outdated, hiring is also a cost-effective way to get a look that appeals to buyers.
Tip #5 – Curtains
Curtains can let down the presentation of a room in a couple of ways:
- Heavy, dark curtains dominate a room making it feel smaller and darker that it need to.
- Curtains that don’t compliment the colour scheme of a room ruin the feeling of harmony buyers are looking for.
To maximise the feeling of space, light & harmony, change heavy curtains for either:
- Modern slatted blinds
- Roman blinds
- Neutral coloured curtains made from a light material
Tip #6 – Create a focal point
Just don’t let it be your TV.
- Buyers prefer living rooms that aren’t dominated by the television set.
- If all your seating faces toward a TV, a simple change around will make a big improvement.
- Rearrange your sofas so they face each other (across a coffee table if you have one). This gives the impression that conversation is the main activity in your living room.
- If there isn’t enough space for the “face to face” arrangement, an “L-shape” is also good.
- Your TV can then go discreetly into a corner.
Now turn your attention to giving the room a focal point that will help your sale.
As you enter your living room (thinking about it, this goes for every room in your house) ask yourself:
- What’s the first thing you notice?
- What are your eyes drawn to?
- What’s the “main attraction” of the room?
These are the focal points!
They need to be attractive to make a “positive impact” on buyers.
Anything catching your eye that’s not attractive – REMOVE IT!
Positive focal points can be architectural such as:
- Open fireplaces in period properties
- A view onto gardens
Just let these things speak for themselves. Don’t close the curtains on a great view. Don’t clutter-up the mantelpiece over a handsome fireplace.
If there isn’t anything architecturally special going on in your room, it’s what you add to the room that’s important.
The following make excellent focal points for a living room:
- A smart piece of furniture
- Fresh flowers in an elegant vase
- An engaging piece of artwork
- A well-placed mirror
- A stylish arrangement of interesting objects
Tip #7 – Add some finishing touches
If you’ve followed the advice so far, you should now have a room that’s:
- Neutral in colour
All that’s left now is to add some accessories to give the room a little personality.
- A mirror over the mantle (candles or a vase filled with fresh flowers are also good).
- Replace outdated lampshades with lighter, more contemporary ones.
Then add accent colour to the room with:
- A rug
- Prints or art work (hung sparingly)
Finally add some mood lighting. If you only have a pendant light in your living room consider:
- Wall-mounted or freestanding up lighters to balance the light from the ceiling.
- Table lamps for a softer mood.
- Spots to highlight and accent objects or artwork.
- Creating a reading corner by placing directional task lighting next to a chair.
With lifestyle rooms you’re trying to show buyers something aspirational.
You’re setting a stage for them to project their own image of a “better life” onto.
If buyers think you live a good life in your house, they’ll think a good life awaits them there too!
This room is often neglected when it comes to presentation but absolutely worth some attention if you’re serious about your sale.
Tip #1 – Define the space
- Where you eat or ‘dine’ (depending on how posh your are) needs to be obvious to buyers.
- If you have a separate dining area, make sure it’s 100% dinning room – not 75% dining room, 15% home office (for example).
- If you don’t have a separate dinning room or a kitchen large enough to eat in, you have a problem.
- The best way round this is to create a dinning area in your living room – A table and two chairs (four is better) is all that’s needed.
- The saleability of your property may depend on it.
Tip #2 – Set the stage
Your goal here is to make the room look like it’s used regularly.
Do this by laying the tale as if you were going to host a dinner party.
If you feel this is going over the top, just dress the table with a tablecloth and a suitable focal point (as described below).
Tip #3 – Accessorise
Think about adding:
- A beautiful bowl of fruit, flowers or candles as a focal point in the centre of the table
- Slipcovers in a neutral shade over tired chairs
- Good table linen
- Interesting artwork that compliments the colour scheme
- A display of your best crockery and glassware in cabinets or on a sideboard
Tip #4 – Lighting
Directional lighting over the table is best. If buyers view your house when it’s dark outside, create more mood with soft lighting and/or candles.
Other things to consider are:
- Installing dimmer switches
- A decorative pendant light or chandelier directly over the table
- Lit candles in substantial candlesticks placed on the table or sideboard
Like the living room, your dining room is a ‘lifestyle’ room.
As such your goal here is to show buyer’s something aspirational.
Bedrooms need to feel comfortable, calm and spacious.
Good storage is essential and the bed must be the centre of attention.
Tip #1 – Get the basics right
As with the living and dinning rooms:
- Clear the clutter (including any TV’s, computers or clothes that are not hung in wardrobes).
- Neutralise the walls (or choose a very subtle shade – “Soft Montelimar” or “Celtic Forest 4” from Dulux always work well).
- Take a good look at the floor.
Tip #2 – You don’t need much furniture
All you need in a bedroom is:
- A bed
- A bedside table (one either side if it’s a double)
- A wardrobe
That’s it! Anything else is just taking up space.
Tip #3 – Prove it’s a double
- Double bedrooms are worth more money than singles.
- It sounds obvious but if the room’s large enough (bigger than 2.7 x 2.7m), make sure you have a double bed in it – leave buyers in no-doubt!
- Ideally you should position the bed so you can get in from both sides.
- This arrangement makes a room feel larger and more balanced and is far better than having the bed wedged in a corner, up against two walls.
Tip #4 – Good storage is vital
- Built-in cupboards are best but a freestanding wardrobe is also good.
- Buyers always like to have a “nose around” inside cupboards so make it neat and tidy in there.
- If you’re trying to sell a property quickly, aim to keep you’re your cupboards less than 75% full.
- A little bit of breathing space will increase the feeling that yours is a well order (and in-turn, desirable) home.
- It’s not great when buyers see cupboards full to bursting. They immediately assume that if there’s not enough storage space for you, there won’t be enough for them.
- Following the 75% rule makes sure this won’t happen.
Tip #5 – Accessorise to add the final touch
Here are a few ideas to inexpensively give your bedrooms the edge:
- Place matching lamps on bedside tables.
- Install a simple headboard to give the bed more presence.
- Buy a bedspread to cover the base of the bed.
- Fresh flowers in a vase next to the bed or on top of a chest of draws add colour.
- Buy crisp white bed linen.
- Turn the bed into more of a focal point by dressing it with sumptuous scatter cushions and a colour coordinated throw.
- Replace heavily patterned curtains with blinds in a neutral colour. Light fabric curtains that are colour coordinated to the bed also work well.
Tip #6 – Children’s rooms
Kid’s rooms will never be immaculate – buyers don’t expect them to be.
However, there are a few things that will help them present better:
- Tidy away the clutter, toys, games and books into matching storage boxes. Ikea have some attractive ones so there’s no problem leaving them on-show.
- Try to cut back on posters. 2 or 3 in simple frames are fine.
- Try to neutralise bedspreads and any overtly ‘kiddyish’ decoration as much as possible.
Above all else make sure all the bedrooms are functioning as bedrooms.
If you can provide adequate storage and keep the space clutter-free, you’ll impress buyers no end.
Finally, always remember to have the beds made whenever you’re showing your house.
Giving a tired kitchen a facelift always pays-off.
However, spending £1000’s to fit something brand new should only be considered if the room is in a complete state of disrepair.
As long as buyers can move in and use the kitchen from day one a cosmetic touch-up is all that’s necessary.
The following 9 kitchen presentation tips you will help you get maximum bang for your buck.
Tip #1 – Hygiene is king
Buyers are more sensitive than mother in-laws when it comes to cleanliness.
Nothing kills a sale quicker than dirt and grease in the kitchen.
Deep cleaning a kitchen is a chore but because it works, it’s worth the effort.
To get a ‘for sale’ standard of cleanliness, it’s recommended you:
- Wipe down all work tops
- Clean the sink & taps
- Empty your bin
- Wash the floor
- Wipe down all cupboard doors
- Refresh grimy tile grouting (B&Q have grouting pens)
Because buyers are an inquisitive bunch I’d also urge you to:
- Clean the inside of your fridge
- The inside of all cupboards
- The inside of your cooker
Tip #2 – De-clutter
Concentrate on the counter tops because buyers like to see lots of clear workspace.
Put away all:
- Cookbooks etc.
Next, turn your attention to the fridge and the cupboards…
Throw away as much as possible and keep what’s left neat and ordered.
Ever seen the film Sleeping with the Enemy?
Try and recreate the cupboard scene…
Tip #3 – Floors
Because inexpensive facelifts transform tired or dated kitchens this is a good place to spend a little money.
- Grim covered carpets
- Cracked tiles
- Grungy and worn floor coverings
None of these things help you to sell.
Kitchen floors should be hardwearing and easy to clean.
Good choices are:
- Ceramic tile
- Natural stone
- Wood laminate (by far the cheapest & easiest option @ about £9-10/sqm)
Tip #4 – Walls
- As with the rest of the house, a light neutral paint job is the safest and most effective option.
- However, totally neutral kitchens can sometimes look a little too bland.
- Introducing two or three rows of quality tiles above your counter tops can double as a splash back and be an effective way to add colour.
- If you already have wall tiles and they need replacing, don’t hesitate just because it looks like a tricky job – 9/10 times new tiles are easy to apply straight over the old ones.
Tip #5 – Cabinets
There are 3 main problem associated with kitchen cabinets:
- Doors made of dark wood can make the room feel small and oppressive. To fix this, re-paint the doors in a light neutral colour.
- Too many cabinets can make the room feels boxy and cramped. To fix this, take off one or two of the doors and convert the cupboard into open display shelves. This will give the room breathing space. The open cupboard can then become a display of kitchen accessories (such as a collection of posh Italian olive oil bottles).
- Cabinet doors that are outdated or damaged give off a poor impression. This is where the classic “Changing Rooms” trick works a treat. Why buy new cabinets when you can just buy new doors at £15 – £25 a pop? Together with new door handles (simple stainless steel always looks good) it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to modernise a dated kitchen.
Tip #6 – Worktops
If your worktops are:
…Definitely consider replacing them and remove any reason for buyers to find fault with your kitchen and frustrate your sale.
Laminate worktops are the cheapest option and in this day and age actually look rather good (about £50 for 4m from Ikea).
Tip #7 – Lighting
This is a worthwhile exercise because good lighting creates atmosphere and atmosphere sells.
Generally speaking, kitchens need two types of lighting:
- Directional halogen ceiling spotlights.
- Countertop lighting placed under the wall cabinets.
If the room is just lit by a single centrally hung bulb or the unflattering light of a fluorescent strip, spending £100 will have a big impact on how well your kitchen presents.
Again you can do worse than check out Ikea for cheap but effective lighting systems.
Tip #8 – Create a place to eat
Because modern living habits have changed over the years, today’s buyers are looking for “flexible space”.
‘What the Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen is that? You may well ask!
Well, in a kitchen that just means finding space for a table and a couple of chairs.
This shows that the room is more than just a space for food preparation.
It makes the space more valuable in the eyes of your buyers.
Tip #9 – Accessorise
By now your kitchen will be looking fresh, clean and nearly ready to sell.
You just need to give it that “show home” finish.
This doesn’t take much (in fact in a kitchen “less is more”), just a few artfully placed objects such as:
- Leafy green plants in a modern vase or pot.
- Designer kettle & toaster (buy them for your new house but put them on display now).
- A stylish bowl filled with fresh fruit.
- A display of designer Italian olive oil bottles.
- Contemporary glass pasta jars.
- A thick wooden chopping board complete with crusty loaf…
- Anything you can think of that looks “designery”
Remember that colour co-ordination is important so pick a colour and use that as your guide.
To get the maximum possible price (and a quick sale) you need to give buyers what they want.
It’s the most basic concept of economics – supply and demand.
Pro tip: Take a moment to think about who will be looking for a property like yours:
- Young professionals?
- The elderly?
What style will they be attracted to most:
- Modern / cool
- Classic / cosy
- Urban or country
Match the style you’re creating in your house to what your target buyers are looking for and you’ll be sure to sell quickly.
Just like kitchens, bathrooms are rooms that can make or break a sale.
In your bathroom, if the fundamentals are right (i.e. all your fittings are in good order), your goal should be to make the room fresh, clean and relaxing (dare we say, even luxurious).
Tip #1 – Get the fundamentals right
Because you’ll re-coup your costs and improve saleability (especially if you’re selling a flat) it’s worth replacing any bathroom suites that are either:
- In an outdated colour (e.g. the 70’s favourite -“Avocado”)
The simple white 3-piece suite is quick to install (2-3 days max) and cheap (£300-500).
If into the deal you can pick-up a power shower (to go over the bath) and a glass bath screen, you’ll have a bathroom that no buyer could take issue with.
Side note: There are lots of pre-war family properties in the UK that do not have a WC upstairs.
As you can imagine this is a nightmare situation for buyers with small children. And if families are your target market, it will cut your chances of selling for the maximum price possible.
If you can install a WC into your existing bathroom – great!
If not, consider consulting a Home Stager, builder or architect to help reorganise your bathroom facilities.
Tip #2 – Hygiene is king
Buyers need to be presented with a room that’s spotless.
That means you need to:
- Eliminate any traces of mould
- Remove lime scale from around taps & plug-holes
- Clean the shower curtain (better yet replace it or buy a glass shower screen)
- Give the bath and WC a good scrub
- Go over stained tile grout with a grouting pen
- Replace any sealant that’s peeled or become discoloured
- Give light fittings, mirrors & all surfaces a good once over
Buyers want to see a little vision of Champneys in your bathroom. Give it to them and you’ll be rewarded because most sellers simply don’t bother.
Yours will be the property that attracts multiple offers, sells quickly and achieves a premium price.
Tip #3 – De-clutter
I don’t know about you but my bathroom is filled (especially around the bath) with all kinds of bottles, lotions and potions.
It doesn’t look pretty but my “better half” uses this stuff everyday.
When you sell, it’s a different story – it all has to be out of sight.
This is because we’re trying to create a stage set, one that says to buyers…
This is more that just a bathroom – this is a spiritual experience!
Ok, that’s a bit tongue in cheek but you get the idea. All of the day-to-day stuff must go.
Pack it into a plastic storage box and keep it in a bedroom cupboard if you have to. Do anything to keep all those half used shampoo bottles it out of sight!
The bathroom’s going to look pretty sparse but we’ll fix that with accessories later.
Tip #4 – The floor
- In the bathroom there’s just one rule to follow – NO CARPET PLEASE!
- Today’s buyers always turn their noses up at carpet in the bathroom (and WC) so take it up and throw it away.
- If you strike gold underneath and find floorboards, don’t hesitate to sand, seal and stain them (or paint with waterproof nautical grade paint).
- Otherwise, simply fitting a neutral coloured vinyl floor will inexpensively do the trick.
Tip #5 – Walls
- As always, a neutral paint job is best.
- White also works well as it heightens the feeling of freshness.
- If wall tiles are cracked or missing, don’t hesitate to replace them or tile straight over.
- Plain white tiles are the best option and tend to be cheaper than other sorts.
Tip #6 – Accessorise
All bathrooms need:
- A good-sized mirror
- Medicine cabinet
- Heated towel rail
Then give the room personality by adding:
- One or two green leafy plants
- A small display of scented candles
- A couple of pretty glass bottles of toilet water
- Luxury bar of soap in a soap dish
- New fluffy white towels (not to be used and only put out for viewings)
The point of all this is to convince buyers that your bathroom does not need to be totally refurbished.
Buyers will guess / overestimate the cost of refurbishment and knock that cost off their offer price.
That figure is always going to be more than what the tips you’ve just read will cost you to apply.
If buyers feel they can happily use the bathroom from the moment they move in, you’ll protect yourself against this.
Useful resources & further reading
If you need further guidance, the following will be helpful:
Interior Design Websites
Careful, extended periods of time on these websites can cause extreme house-envy!
You’ve been warned:
These are all solid:
- Collins Complete DIY Manual
- The Victorian House Manual (Hayes)
- Farrow & Ball How to Decorate
- Home Plumbing Manual (Hayes)
Home Staging Manuals
In terms of specific books on home staging, the best we’ve ever come across are both written (unfortunately) for the American market.
That said, the concepts they contain are just as effective over here:
- Barb Schwartz – Home Staging: The Winning Way to Sell Your House For More Money
- Kristie Barnett – Psychological Staging
Home Staging Consultants
Most of us cannot see the imperfections in our own home, and may not be sure which changes will meet market expectations.
To get the answers it’s possible to employ the services of a professional home staging expert who will give objective, and impartial advice on changes to add wow factor and improve buyer appeal.
It’s this wow factor, mainly created by low cost cosmetic changes, which gives property its best chance of enticing buyers and achieving the ceiling price.
Home staging is particularly effective when trying to sell an empty property.
Useful home staging links:
- Home Staging Association
- David Phillips property staging services
- The Final Touch
- Homify: Home Stager Profiles
Quality Boxes Used By the Removals Industry
Clearing & de-cluttering you house becomes so much easier when you have the right tools.
Trying to find sturdy cardboard boxes that stack & keep your valuable belonging safe is harder than you may first think.
www.helpineedboxes.co.uk is an award winning company started by Ex-Removals professionals – they just sell boxes.
- The ultimate home selling guide (step-by-step)
- Should you buy first or sell first?
- Should you sell or rent?
- When is the best time to sell?
- How long should it take to sell?
- How much should selling cost?
- How to prepare your house for sale
- Moving home with a mortgage
- How much is your house worth
- Conveyancing: All you need to know
- Estate agents: All you need to know
- Sell your house fast: All you need to know