Taking Center Stage

“So, what did you learn in school today?” When my children were young, the typical response to that question was “nothing”. Now that I am back in school-for the third, and hopefully last time-everything I am learning is essential. Staging and Re-Design, my current class, is so helpful when learning how to make a home saleable in today’s volatile real estate market. The take-away from this class? Take away!! Remove the junk, reduce the clutter, neutralize the colors. Obviously, since you are selling your home, you don’t want to spend a lot of money to update it, but with a few simple tips, your home can look like a show house at any price point. You want prospective buyers to walk in and imagine their families and their belongings in your space. Remember that buyers come from anywhere and everywhere, so you want your rooms to be appealing to all. In poring over the MLS listings, we came across many rooms that were in dire need of some serious cleaning and editing. It simply amazes me that sellers can’t grasp why they need to clean off their kitchen counters, or de-officize their bedroom! However, what amazes me even more is the horrible photography on so many real estate websites! I mean, seriously? Would you even venture over to look at this scary place!!?! Is there not a mandatory photshop class for real estate brokers?!? If not, maybe that’s a niche market someone needs to explore.

When coach and I bought our house back in the 80’s, prices were at the 50K mark and rising, and interest rates were at 17%! At the mercy of our local realtors, we had no information regarding the houses we were being shown other than the asking price and the taxes. Nowadays, thanks to the likes of Realtor.com, Redfin and Trulia, there is a wealth of information regarding the properties you are looking to buy. Helpful, yes, but oftentimes the accompanying photographs are so dismal it could easily turn a buyer away before they even arrive on your doorstep! Digital cameras, folks! Iphones are great, but not for the purpose of creating a stunning portfolio! So here are a couple of spaces with some staging suggestions that will have potential buyers saying “ooohh!” instead of “eeek!!”

The Red Tablecloth Room. Do I need to even say it? Take it down. Too much furniture in a small space. Remove one of the matching pieces. Paint out the trim white. Not sure what that string of things is hanging from the ceiling, get rid of it.

Too small of a space with too much stuff. Paint out all that old knotty pine paneling to match the wall color. Neutralize that dark beam and trim by painting it white. Remove all the little pictures and knick knacks on the shelf and replace with one large mirror and a couple of candles. Old TV’s date a room, especially on an old little stand. Remove and if you need to have a TV for viewing, get a small 19″ that you can mount on the wall.

Way too much going on in this kitchen. Obviously very nice tile-work, not going to change that. The overall effect makes me nervous- too many patterns, too much color (and you know I am all about color!). Remove the valance over the sink and replace with a light bamboo roller shade. Why do you have a stove top covered with pans?!? Makes the prospective buyer think that there is not enough storage. Clean off the countertops. Put it all away!! Clean out those glass front cabinets and replace with simple white or cream dishware. Remove the ceiling fan and that little sconce over the sink if possible, with something more contemporary.

I mean seriously, what realtor walks into this space and at the very least doesn’t remove the dog crate!?! And then to post a crooked photo on the website? There is so much crap in this room, it’s silly to even post it. And believe me, this pic was one of the better ones. To me this screams, I’ll take your listing, but I don’t care if it sells or not.

The rock room! I have no idea if those are all real stones or not, but when you are trying to sell this home, a buyer is going to walk in there and think one of two things: wow, “that’s awesome”! or “no way I am tackling that project- how do I get rid of all that stone!?!” At the very least, take away the bold graphic rug and show off the hardwood floors. Maybe soften the look of the stone by painting the walls a pale gray. Neutralize that wooden door with a coat of matching paint.

This bedroom needs a stripping from ceiling to floor. That fan looks like it could cut someone’s head off if they sat up too quickly. Lose the striped wallpaper, open up the windows and take down those swags! Lose the gold rug, re-dress the bed in plain white “hotel” style sheets and comforter.

Too much of everything: paneling, furniture, lace. Take down the curtains, remove the tattered blue velvet sofa and the plaid one as well, paint the paneling a neutral color. Knotty pine was out in the 70’s!!! This room needs a focal point.

So there you have it. Just a few of the hundreds of horrible real estate pics I looked at. If you have a room you want to re-stage or re-design, for selling or just for living, send pic to countrydesignhome@gmail.com and I will try to help! In the meantime, step in to one of your rooms and look at it with fresh eyes, and see it as a potential buyer might. You will be amazed what you find! Happy Staging! Susan

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