Tips for Living in a Staged Home
I'll oftentimes hear from homeowners “I just can't live in a staged home“! But let me reassure you that first of all, it's just temporary – the sooner we stage, the sooner the house will sell (you can download some statistics from the Real Estate Staging Association's 2011 Consumer's Guide HERE) and that the key is to simply contain & hide your personal items so you can easily access them…and so that your personal stuff is kept, well, personal. Here are some of the tips I share with all of my clients who are going to live in a staged home:
Did you ever live in a college dorm? If so, this may bring back good or bad memories, but nonetheless an effective practice while living in a staged home. You must keep your bathrooms tidy, and no sign of “day to day life” occurring in this model home. So give each member of the family a tote (you can get inexpensive, plastic shoeboxes at WalMart that are quite effective AND the kids can decorate with their names, stickers, etc.) and use it to store the items that normally live on the counter around the sink. Just put your creams, sprays, gels, toothpaste, razors, etc. in it and place the whole caddy under the bathroom sink or in the bathroom cabinet…anywhere behind a closed door when not in use. Pull it out, place it on your countertop, use your fancy creams & gels and then pop the whole caddy back behind the door and enjoy the tidy space you now live in. Many of my clients have taken this uncluttered living practice to their next home, even though it's not for sale!
Another tip for the bathroom is to take up the bath mats from the floor. These scattered mats can make the floor look like it needs work, even when it doesn't AND it breaks up the sight line, making the space seem smaller – and remember we're selling square footage! But don't worry, this stager won't let you slip & die when you get out of the shower! The trick is if you have a standard tub, to place the bath mat over the edge of the tub and hide it behind the closed shower curtain when not in use. And if you have a step in shower, then simply get a terry cloth bath mat (or even a bath towel) in basically the same color as your floor and roll it up at the base of the door when not in use. Either way, no slipping on a wet bathroom floor!
Something my mom always told me was “no dirty dishes OUT”. This meant dishwashing duty after dinner every night until thankfully, we got a dishwasher when I was in high school. Regardless, Mom was right that dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink wasn't a pleasant view – who really wants to see dried, crusty leftovers clinging to the dishes? YUCK. So rinse & put yours in the dishwasher, or do the dishes after every meal.
Keep your pantry & cabinets tidy too…because yes, buyers WILL open the doors to catch a peek of the space they may be buying! The kitchen cabinets should be roughly 2/3 full and that pantry should look like a grocery store display with all of the canned goods in one area, the dry goods in another, and so forth…with all of the labels facing forward.
Finally, keep in mind that the aromas from your cooking may not be appealing to all people, especially if they are a day or two lingering…. Plan to neutralize the scents immediately by opening doors & windows when possible. You can also leave out 2 – 3 bowls of white vinegar to absorb the scents & odors overnight. I also suggest leaving out a bowl of whole coffee beans all the time, they absorb scents AND produce a subtle but welcoming aroma in the kitchen.
Most bedroom clutter is found on or near the nightstands, in closets and with dirty clothes simply left about. A good solution for the nightstand dilemma is to get a decorative basket to consolidate the items and place in on the shelf of the stand, or place the items inside the drawers or doors, depending on what type of nightstand you have. You can also get one of those plastic shoeboxes I mentioned using in the bathroom as a caddy and do the same for your nightstand items by slipping it under the bed….
Closets should be approximately 2/3 full and have only 1/4 of the floor covered with any items. Rotate your out-of-season clothes out of the closet and start packing them up – you'll need to pack them eventually, why wait until you're rushed to pack up the rest of the house too?
And finally…put your dirty clothes in the hamper and make your bed EVERY DAY.
This is where life happens and while it can be challenging, it can also be the most rewarding room to live in staged. Start with what you have: children's toys & play items can go into an existing cabinet OR (even better) back into their bedrooms when not in use. Storage ottomans are great tools for easy containment for a quick showing. Keep your magazines and newspapers to only the most recent issue and stacked nicely with the remote control on the coffee table (or better yet, consolidate these into a decorative tray). After you & your family enjoy some time in front of the television, be sure to re-fluff the sofa, put the pillows where they belong decoratively, and pick up any items that don't belong out…all before you turn in for the evening because more than likely there won't be time in the morning before you rush out the door to work – and hopefully The Buyer will be looking at your house that day.