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Just an overcommitted girl trying to keep up with it all. Mom of three, co-owner of Lemonade PR, sports lover and F1 enthusiast always counting down to the Kentucky Derby. 

Life: Get Moving * Ten Tips for Staging Your Home

Jun 13, 2016

When it comes to making big life changes, we’re going big so far in 2016.

Last fall when we found out that baby #3 was on the way, we immediately knew we were going to have to move. We’d thought about it and even had our house on the market for a bit but we didn’t really HAVE to move especially when we couldn’t find something that we loved more than our current home at the time. But with another baby on the way, we knew that even though we loved our house – it was time for us to look for something with a little more room.

When we decided it was time to sell, it wasn’t quite the optimum time. Late October – with winter and the holidays coming on quick – isn’t really the best time to throw your house on the market. But we knew we had to move before I got too pregnant so it was no time like the present. Enter Josh and Mary Nancy, the Realtors® we worked with.

We knew we were going to need all the help we could get when it came to finding a house and even more so, when it came to selling ours. I pride myself on trying to keep my house pretty clean and put together but with two kids, all of that can change in about five minutes flat. There were also some things we knew we’d need to change before getting the house on the market. Working with a Realtor® allowed us to figure out what was important to buyers, what we needed to do right away and then as the process continued, what we needed to tweak.

Throughout the entire process, we all became great friends and having a Realtor® gave us an awesome sounding board to vent and ask questions – I think our group text had me awkwardly laughing out loud in public more than a few times. They also taught us some tips on what to focus on when staging your home. Since we’re right in the thick of prime buying/selling season, I’m excited that I get the chance to share what we learned in partnership with the National Association of REALTORS®.

10 Tips for Staging Your Home

Ten Tips for Staging Your Home

Before you list it…

1. Do a Walkthrough – The first thing we did was walk through our house. Using a Realtor® allowed us to get their thoughts on what needed to go, stay and/or be fixed. They helped us figure out what we should work on ASAP, what wasn’t that important to buyers and what we might need to do down the line.Extra Tip: Do this with a note pad and take notes specific to each room. This will help you remember specifically what the Realtor® says especially if you have to hire a contractor or other specialist (like an electrician or plumber) you need to hire.

2. Declutter – This one was tough for us especially with two small kids but when it came time to show the house, it was one we were glad we’d finished in advance. When I say declutter though, I don’t mean getting rid of every personal item in our rooms or every appliance on our counters. Instead, it was more of an organizational process. We finally got rid of toys our kids didn’t play with anymore, cleaned off shelves of stuff we didn’t need or want anymore and generally just downsized. This was especially helpful when we ended up moving.

That being said, we didn’t take down EVERY picture in the house. Instead we just pared things down. I think people like to know there is a real family living in the house they’re looking at, so while things were neat and tidy – they weren’t totally sterile. I also don’t think you need to remove every item off your countertops in your kitchen. If you need to make coffee every single morning, don’t stuff your coffee maker in a box or under the counter. You’ll just get angry and agitated about the process if you can’t get your morning cup of joe.

For us decluttering helped make the showing process much easier and it helped a ton when it came time to move. For showings, everything had a place so it was easy to clean up and when it came time to move, we didn’t have quite as much crap to get rid of.

3. Do a Deep Clean – Once you’ve decluttered, spend a day deep cleaning your house or hire a cleaning service to really get the place shined up. For this, I don’t mean just cleaning your bathrooms, vacuuming your rugs and moping the floors. I mean get down to the nitty gritty and get the place clean. Wipe down blinds, get the rugs or carpets professionally cleaned and make sure the baseboards aren’t dusty.When we looked at houses, I cared a lot more if it seemed clean than I did if they left out pictures of their families. A clean home is much more welcoming and let’s buyers focus on the space instead of the smell or spots on the carpet.

4. Up Your Curb Appeal – For less than $50 and a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot, you can add instant curb appeal in one afternoon. Adding a fresh bag of mulch to flower beds can instantly make the front of your home look more put together. If you’ve got a window box, grab a few potted flowers to add a little color.Have a porch, clean off any furniture and add a new potted plant or hang some flowers or ferns to make your entrance more inviting. Again, I’m not saying you should spend a lot of money but for less than a nice meal out, you can significantly improve your listings look.

5. Update Accessories – Another easy and relatively inexpensive way to make your house shine is adding some new home accessories to the mix. Stop into Target or HomeGoods and snag some new pillows, a colorful throw blanket or something to dress up your dining room table. A couple new pillows could make your otherwise drab couch look new again – plus you get to enjoy the new look as well.If your bathroom could use a little updating, you can always grab a new shower curtain and/or towels to elevate the look.

Again, it’s way easier to spend a $100 on some new accessories than it is to spend way more on a full update.Trust me: Our downstairs bathroom was pink. All pink everything. When we moved in we thought it would be the first thing we changed but everything worked and by adding really neutral gray and white accents, it totally grew on us. And hey, it’s a quirky little touch that makes your house a little different.


Once it’s on the market…

6. Scheduling is key – The Realtors® we worked with were awesome when it came to helping us schedule showings that allowed us the opportunity to “spruce” up the house before potential buyers came through the door.

They also worked with other agents to keep our showings scheduled tightly to allow us the least amount of time out of the house. With two kids and work schedules, being out of our house late into the evening is really tough. Having a Realtor® also allowed us to have advocates for our schedule who made sure we had as many back-to-back showings as possible so that we didn’t have to clean and re-clean time and time again.

7. Drawers Over Closets – When people look at homes, they want to look in the closets but they’re not going to be opening up your drawers unless they’re extra nosy (and extra rude).

I can’t tell you how many houses we looked at where it was clear that the owners had thrown a bunch of random stuff in the closets before the showing. I knew people would want to see the size and spaciousness of our closets (okay, as spacious as the closets in a 1920’s house could be) so I made sure any last minute clutter went in our drawers.

Not going to lie, I’m still finding things in our kids drawers that got tucked away during showings but at least they weren’t on the floor of the closets.


8. Open up the Blinds – I forgot to do this on more than one occasion but it was especially important during the late fall/winter months since most buyers were looking in the late afternoon and evenings.

Our house had great light but we often kept the blinds shut to save on energy costs. I tried to make it a point to remember to open up the blinds and pull back the curtains before showings so buyers could see all the natural light. It also helped keep the place looking bright and welcoming even when the sun was setting earlier in the day.

Natural light is so important to a lot of buyers so showcasing it is key. This one little step could make a huge difference in how your home shows.

9. Stay on top of the Seasons – This was key for us because of the time of year since our house was on the market over the holidays. There’s no reason to avoid decorating for the holidays just because your house is on the market but you do need to make sure you take down the decorations promptly when it’s over.

You don’t want a buyer walking in to your house in June only to find Easter decorations still in sight.

10. Reevaluate as Needed – The best part of working with Realtors® was their ability to gage feedback. Feedback on your home is, by far, the most frustrating part of the selling experience. We struggled with feedback on things we couldn’t change – like buyers wishing our house was in another neighborhood (yeah sorry, it said St. Matthews on the listing) or being worried that it was too old (almost every house in our old neighborhood was built before 1950).

They helped us to weed through the stuff we had no control over and allowed us the opportunity to improve on areas we could. So we were able to shake off the criticism that the stairs were too steep (not much we could do there) but be proactive about repainting the back porch. They also helped us keep in mind that the perfect buyer was out there and not to get hung up on the little things.

We’re very happy to say the perfect buyers did come along and having a Realtor® really helped us navigate the selling process. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to our home – our first as a couple, as parents and then as a bigger family – but we know it’s in good hands.

My biggest tip throughout the entire process would be to try and avoid taking things personally – something I know from first hand experience that can be very hard to do. It’s super annoying when people say it will all work out but it’s true – it all does.

Case in point: The weekend we moved into our new house, our old house sold. A double blessing since we didn’t have to have everything out of our old house

when we moved, giving us more time to settle in but also eliminating the stress of having two houses, and mortgages, at the same time.

If you’re looking for a Realtor® of your own, find one at

Have any tips of your own? Share the love and post them in the comments!


Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by National Association of REALTORS®. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own.

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  1. Mary says:

    Very good points. I would add one big one, however. Paint the exterior of the house if the house color is blue, bright or any other “unorthodox” color different from the neighborhood. Nothing tells people more about the owners than a home painted a bright or garish color that is contrary to the rest of the neighborhood. Clean up the yard and paint the house.

    • Deborah says:

      What is wrong with a blue house? It’s not an “unorthodox” color and not the only blue house in the neighborhood.

  2. Justine says:

    Great post, thanks for all the tips! Our home is for sale and I agree that it is definitely hard to let go of the criticism of things you can’t change. After a few showings I got a lot better at not caring so much, though. Another tip for sellers with kids: have an empty laundry basket handy! We throw any last minute dirty clothes, toys, or clutter into it and take it with us when we leave the house. They never see it, so they never know!

    • Danielle says:

      Such a good tip about the laundry basket! I wish I’d thought of that and used it when we had our house up for sale.

  3. Emily says:

    Great ideas! Where did you get the bookshelf that’s in the picture with your son?? I LOVE it!!!

  4. Shannon says:

    Remember if your rooms are painted extremely bright colors that can turn some buyers off. Don’t hide problems with neighbors, gangs, school issues and let the buyer know about your concerns.

  5. Cassie says:

    We would play relaxing music and have it really low and we made cookies for the guests- helps the house smell good also. Both times we have sold our homes it only took a week to sale!

  6. Amy says:

    You should always look at your house as if you are going to sell it. Why wait to do curb appeal or other improvements to the house so someone else can enjoy them. Put the sweat equity in before you are even thinking of selling. This is one of your biggest assets but also your sanctuary.

    Another tip, is to keep a pot of water with cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg on the stove. When you are going to have a showing put in on to boil while you are straightening up. The house will smell like you baked something wonderful and you are not overpowering people with floral scents that they might not like.

  7. Konni says:

    Hi! We currently have two mortgages and paying for 75% of private college tuition. Needless to say we will really be glad when this is over! The previous house has only been on the market for 30 days, we wanted everything to be exceptional when we listed it.. It was totally repainted inside, new carpet, new master bath.. The whole home has been refurbished since we have lived there, down to the light fixtures and faucets. Hopefully it will sell soon, I have MS and my husband is the only one working.. say a prayer for us!

  8. I have been practicing Real Estate in Texas since 1998 and was in an affiliate industry staging since 1997, and I totally believe in it. For my clients who can’t afford it, I stage myself. I also like them to let me come in months in advance of getting their home on the market so I can help advise them in preparations. This often times saves them money and work. I currently practice in Central Texas in several niche areas- Historic Homes, Horse Properties, Green Built Homes and Universal Design/Aging In Place.

  9. Val says:

    Another good hiding place? Washer, dish washer OR dryer (clothes only in this one since there’s a clear window!). Trying to cover all bases, we also buried St. Joseph on the property–google that one to get exact details.

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