What does Preparing your Home for the Market Place Look Like?

(By Mary Scalli, Karen Budde & Shannon Pinkerton of Simple Elegance Professional Home Staging & Interior Design)


Gary Keller says, “Price gets you interest. Staging gets you offers.”  So often sellers focus more on the listing price and trying to get the house on the market quickly, that they overlook the importance of how the house looks.  As Accredited Professional Stagers(ASP®), we partner with Realtors to help their sellers get top dollar in the quickest amount of time on the market by providing the “window dressing” that helps to draw in a broad range of buyers who are comparing 100’s of homes on the market. 

The psychology behind Staging is to make it possible for buyers to envision themselves living there and to see past the current homeowners.  When a buyer enters a house, they will make important judgements about the house within 9-11 seconds!  The goal of Home Staging is to keep the buyer moving through the house and engaging emotionally with the property, which has been prepared in a way that eliminates as many objections as possible.  A Staged home stands out from the competition because it has been intentionally set to draw a buyer in for a showing and to keep them in the house for as long as possible. 

As a Seller prepares their house for the market, we strongly recommend these 7 Steps:

  1. De-Personalize

Our motto in Home Staging is that “LESS IS MORE”…..This means removing anything that a buyer can identify you or your family members including:

    1. Diplomas
    2. Family Names
    3. Family Pictures
    4. Yard Signs/Front door mats
    5. Any Religious Items
    6. Any Guns, Ammunition and Knives
    7. Any Collegiate Affiliations
    8. Medicine
    9. Valuables



  1. De-Clutter – Remember:  Clutter Eats Equity!  

    1. In the kitchen:   Pack up any items that you are not regularly using.  Don’t be afraid to leave counter tops empty.  Let the kitchen speak for itself and allow buyers to focus on the things that they are buying which includes the appliances, counter tops and cabinetry.  Add pops of greenery and add 1-2 “lifestyle vignettes” to highlight the best features of the kitchen and give buyers the ability to envision themselves cooking a meal for their family and friends.  

    1. In the pantry:  Have fun making it look like a grocery store.  Organize like items together and turn cans and bottles with the labels facing out.  Be sure to keep the floor clear so the space looks bigger.


    1. In the closets:  reduce items by approximately 30%.  Moving provides a great opportunity to unload items that you are not using.  A good rule of thumb is that if you have not used or worn things in the last year, you should consider donating or selling them.   Organize everything by like items and face them all in the same direction.  For example:  sleeveless, short sleeve, long sleeve, shorts, skirts, pants, dresses, et  and arrange them by light to dark colors.   If your budget allows, remove un-matched hangers, and invest matching white plastic hangers.  Remove dry cleaning bags and again, keep the floor as clear as possible.  A good tip is to pack up seasonal clothes and pack them in suitcases and place them in the attic or storage.

    1. In the bathrooms:  all surfaces should be SPARKLING!  Clean bathrooms are very important.  You want them to feel as un-lived in as possible.  Display some pretty perfume bottles and a floral arrangement at the vanity and add white fluffy towels to the towel racks.  Add pops of greenery to make the bathroom feel fresh.  Remove all floor mats and any personal bathing items.  A good tip is to put all of your shower and/or bath items in a tub or shopping bag and plan to hide it in a closet or drawer.  When it is time to bathe, grab your items and then hide them again after.  Be sure to hide all trash cans, toilet seat covers, “squatty potties”, plungers and toilet bowl cleaners for the professional photos and for Showings.

    1. Bedrooms:  Make sure all beds are made neatly and all rooms are neat, organized and that they smell clean.  Remove big, bulky furniture to allow as much space as possibl  Be sure to allow as much natural light into the rooms as possibl  Lift the blinds up and remove heavy and/or dark window coverings. 


    1. Collections:  Can really distract buyers from focusing on the house that they are potentially buying, and instead cause them to stop at the collections and start making unnecessary assumptions about the sellers.  We want to keep them engaged on the house and not on yourself!  This is very important.  Remember, once your house is on the market, many people, including children will be moving through your house.  You don’t want anybody touching or breaking your collections – so it is best to pack them up for the new house!


  1. Pack it Up! –

Remember….LESS IS MORE!  You are going to be moving.  So why not start packing as soon as possible?  It may feel like you are “camping” for a while, but if you follow these steps and the house is priced appropriately, you shouldn’t have to live this way for too long.  You will sell the house and move on to your new home!  Have fun re-purposing a room if your space allows.  Take your crowded sewing/crafting room and turn it into an inviting Zen space. 



  1. Spruce it Up!
    1. We don’t want to present our buyers with a “to do” list.  Are there any repairs or renovations that you have been putting off?  Take care of them now to reduce as many objections from buyers as possible.  Most buyers today are looking for houses that are as move-in ready as possible. 
    2. How does your interior paint look?  We cannot stress enough the importance of paint.  A fresh coat of paint helps a house feel and smell new.  Choose neutral paint colors that will appeal to a broad range of people.  Be sure to keep paint colors to 1-2 paint colors maximum throughout the house.  You do not want to overwhelm buyers with a riot of colors.  Our favorite colors for walls and trim that help to sell houses fast are:  Sherwin Williams:  Accessible Beige, Agreeable Gray, Snowbound, Panda White and Aesthetic White.  Be sure that you choose a color that compliments your trim. 

Bring a more dated house to life by painting the staircase bannister and treads with Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black….or update a fireplace with a fresh coat of white paint.


    1. How old are your carpets?  A good rule of thumb is that If they are over 10 years, they should be replaced.  Buyers LOVE new carpet.  It looks and smells great and brings a house to life.  If you choose not to replace, be sure to have all carpets professionally cleaned and any stains or odors treated specially.


    1. Curb Appeal is VERY important.  Pulling up to the house will be the very first impression that buyers see.  How does the exterior of your house look?  Be sure to include power washing and window cleaning as absolute to-do musts.  We suggest doing this as close to your scheduled professional pictures as possible so that your listing will SPARKLE online.  Touch up the front door and re-paint or stain if necessary.  Bring your exterior light fixtures to life by painting them black or silver. 


    1. What does your yard look like?  Pull weeds, mow the lawn and fertilize if necessary.  We strongly suggest laying fresh mulch in the flower beds and be sure to cut back any foliage that is encroaching on the buyer’s approach to the hous  (Add the new mulch as close to the scheduled professional pictures so that it looks as fresh as possible)


    1. Do you have curtains and/or drapes?  Remove them.  No matter how much you may have spent on them, you want buyers to be able to see the natural light and views of the outside wherever possible.  Window treatments are personal decorating choices and represent the seller, not the buyer.  It is very important to remember that once your house goes on the market it is no longer about you…..it is now all about the buyer

  1. Deep Clean  – The house needs to be “Q-tip” clean!  This means cleaning all your baseboards, air vents, fans, cabinets, sinks and toilets. 


  1. Stage your house - If you plan on living in your house while it is on the market, find an accredited Professional Home Staging Company to schedule a consultation.  Using these preparation steps, a Professional Stager will meet you and walk through the entire house to give you direction, tips, and useful strategies to help you get ready for the professional pictures and showings.  Most often, the 1-hr consultation will be all that a homeowner needs to get Market Ready, however, some houses need a little extra help in communicating the warmth and lifestyle of the house….in these cases, we are happy to provide suggestions and a quote for additional items to be brought into the house to bring the extra pop needed to grab and keep the buyers’ attention.


This is the laundry room for a family with 7 children.  We created a system for them that allowed them to live in the house comfortably without scaring buyers away with all of their stuff!  Staging worked!  This house sold after only 1 showing!


If you are planning on moving out of your house while it is on the market, consider having a Professional Home Staging Company design an inviting atmosphere with their furniture, art, and accessories to show the house in a model home setting BEFORE you go on the market.  It is important to understand that a vacant house offers no real excitement or emotional connection for buyers, and usually what pops out the most are the flaws of the house, because there is nothing else there to focus on. 


Studies have shown that 95% of buyers cannot envision how a house will look without staging, because most people have a difficult time envisioning where their furniture and accessories should go.  Staging offers vision to home buyers so that they can instantly connect with the house and envision themselves living there.  Most Professional Home Stagers can provide Stages of all levels and can offer you options that will fit best for your budget and time frame.  Remember….it is always wise to invest in Staging before going on the market.  Put your best foot forward at the very start to stand out amongst the competition. 


This house sat on the market vacant for 6 months.  After Staging with Simple Elegance, this house received multiple offers in just 4 days!

The investment in Staging is ALWAYS less than a price reduction.  At Simple Elegance, 95% of our Professionally Staged Houses sell within 11 – 21 days on the market and for up to 17% more than a non-staged house.  If you are looking to sell your house in the Greater Houston Area, please call Simple Elegance to schedule a Staging consultation or complimentary vacant preview at 877-458-8724 and visit our gallery of work at www.simpleeleganctx.com.