Getting Your Home Show Ready Before You List

How to stage your home - our top 5 recommendations to help your home sell well

Whether you’re going to be living in your home while you sell it, also known as owner-occupied, or you’re looking to get top dollar when you sell, there are many different reasons that people look to stage their home when they sell. Staging your home could help you get the best offers possible for a couple different reasons. 

People like being able to envision themselves in your house to make sure that this is the right home for them, but only about 10% of home buyers are able to visualize the full potential of a house that is vacant. When you combine this with the fact that the average home buyer forms a “yes-no” opinion of a house within 15 seconds of walking in, this really means you need to make a great first impression. 

I’m going to cover a bunch of different ways to get your home show-ready, or stage your home without a professional staging company, but here’s a quick peek at the top 5. Keep reading for more! 

  1. Deep Clean and Remove All Clutter
  2. Make Your Home Look As Open and Big As Possible
  3. Depersonalize Your Decor
  4. Modernize Fixtures and Features
  5. Repair As Much As Possible

The goal with our top 5 tips is not to break the bank, and hopefully, all of these items can be achieved with relatively little cost to you. By completing these 5 items your home will be well on its way to getting you a quick and easy sale.  


Fun Fact: These tips and our bonus items are great to implement when you have an overnight house guest or dinner parties.


Let's Break These Down Further

First step to getting your home show ready is a deep clean and declutter.

1. Deep Clean and Remove All Clutter
One of the most important things when getting your house ready is a deep clean of the inside and outside. You can do this yourself or hire a company to do it for you. Now when I say deep clean, I really mean get in there! Clear out your gutters, power wash your windows, dust every nook and cranny, scrub your baseboards, power clean your appliances and make that toilet so clean you could eat off of it. Your house should be sparkling by the time you’re done with it. 

Now that your house is squeaky clean, it’s time to declutter. The easiest way to begin doing this is by packing up and storing all non-essential items. Not only are you kickstarting your move, but you’ll be another step closer to show ready. When you declutter your home, don’t just focus on the obvious areas, the tops of tables, counters, dressers, etc., but make sure you also organize your closets, pantry, cabinets and drawers. Buyers are trying to see if they can live in your home, and they will open everything in an effort to see if there’s enough room for all of their stuff. 

Closets, pantries, laundry and mud rooms can be tricky and easily overlooked. And if you’re anything like me, they’re your go-to place when it comes to storing and hiding miscellaneous items. I recommend using stacked decorative boxes, bins or baskets to help organize the chaos if you’re unable to do without certain items while your home is listed. 

You want your home to look open and big to get the best feedback from showing your home.

2. Make Your Home Look As Open and Big As Possible
Removing the clutter in your home should have already helped with this a little, but there are a couple other things you can do to make your house appear bigger and more open than it may be. One of the easiest things to do is to make sure that you have as much light (natural and artificial) as possible when showing your home. This means turn on all your lights and open all those window covers. Let that light in!  

Also, be aware of your furniture, layout and purpose of each of your rooms. Do you have furniture that is dividing a room or blocking a window? Consider moving it while your house is listed. By removing extra furniture and leaving space between the walls and your couches, tables, etc. you’ll give the illusion of a larger space. In addition, remove any furniture that doesn’t fit the purpose of each room, not only will this create more space and open up each room, it will allow buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Bedrooms are for relaxing, and people don’t want to see a home office in the master bedroom.

When showing your home you want to make sure that you depersonalize your decor.

3. Depersonalize Your Decor
The goal here is to make your house as neutral and inviting as possible. Overly personalized decor can be distracting to buyers. This doesn’t mean that all of your family photos need to come down off the walls, and in fact, showing some can show buyers what a great family home you have, but it does mean anything overly political or religious or extremely unique to taste should be put away. Any decor used to stage the house should be kept to a minimum and should be neutral in color and nature. 

For the pet owners out there, you should try and hide any signs of your pets. Now I know this can be hard, especially if you’re still living in the house, and while you may have buyers who have their own pets or love animals, this does not mean they want to contimplate where a mysterious stain on the carpet or the scratches on the bottom of a door came from. Buyers may notice signs of wear and tear or odors more than they would if they were unaware of a household pet. 

There are some easy ways to modernize your home  by updating your fixtures and features.

4. Modernize Fixtures and Features
If you feel your home may look outdated try and modernize any fixtures and features you can. Keep in mind, that every pre-owned home on the market will ultimately be compared to a new build, equipped with all of the fixings of a modern and brand-new home. 

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to update your home is with a coat of neutral colored paint. New paint will quickly make your home look newer and is a way to create a neutral canvas for the next home-owners. You can also change outdated door knobs, cabinet handles or drawer pulls with sleek stainless steel or chrome versions, or give your cabinets a facelift by refinishing and staining the fronts.

It's important to make any necessary repairs to your home in order to get it show ready. Some easy fixes and repairs and easily increase the value of your home.

5. Repair As Much As Possible
Don’t let buyers have an excuse to not love your home. Fix anything that needs fixing! If there’s a drawer that always gets stuck, a door that speaks or a leaky faucet that drips, get it taken care of. Bigger repairs should not be overlooked either. If it’s been on your to do list and you think that a buyer will be happy to take care of the issue for you, you’re wrong. Buyers prefer movein ready homes, so if you leave big ticket items as is, you can expect the offers you receive to be lower than list price. 


Phew… that was a lot to get through! But I’m not done yet! Keep reading for some bonus ideas when it comes to staging your home. 

Bonus Round

  • Bring nature indoors. Whether live or artificial, including flowers and plants in your decor will create a homey feel while remaining neutral. 
  • Spruce up your front door. Seasonal wreaths or colorful flowers potted by the front door can add color and curb appeal to your home. 
  • Highlight your space. Vary how you hang your pictures or wall decor by adjusting the height, grouping or pattern to show off the space. Keep in mind, most things should be hung at eye level (about 5 to 5.5 feet from the floor). 
  • Show the purpose. Make awkward spaces or empty rooms work for you and create and then show their purpose. Empty bedrooms or lofts become craft rooms or yoga studios and small alcoves or nooks become small work spaces or coffee bars. 
  • Smell neutral. We get used to the way our home smells, but buyers will notice everything. Don’t over do it with perfumed potpourri or scented candles, but a little Fabreeze or some neutral scented plug-ins won’t hurt.