4 Steps to Staging for an Open House

Give your home the "wow" factor it needs to impress potential buyers.

Step 3: Hone in on the Details

Now that you've tackled the big projects, the hardest and most expensive part is out of the way. The next step to getting your home open-house ready is to "dress it up," and luckily, you can often do this by repurposing what you already own and adding small details. Working room by room is a good strategy on this step -- it's less overwhelming, and you'll feel more and more accomplished after each room you finish. Use these tips to fine-tune each room in your home:

Front Yard and Entryway
Even though it's not actually a room, don't overlook these areas. Sprucing up your yard and your home's entrance is essential because it's the first thing buyers see, so you need to impress them off the bat.

  • Keep your lawn mowed and well-maintained. Consider hiring someone to take care of this for you while you're dealing with the other details of selling.
  • Plant some bright, colorful flowers.
  • Replace a grungy, old welcome mat with a clean, new one.
  • Give the front door a fresh coat of paint.
  • Replace old, faded house numbers with new ones.
  • Clean out your gutters and pressure wash your home's siding. If your home's exterior isn't well-maintained, buyers will think you've slacked off throughout the rest of the house as well.

Living Room

The living room (or the first room buyers see when they enter your home) is another one that needs to have the "wow" factor. Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to living rooms. "Most people have more than enough things, so it's really about editing what you have and moving things around," Chan says.

  • Remove large furniture, like huge sectional sofas.
  • Arrange furniture to create a focal point, perhaps around a fireplace or a large window.
  • Don't push your furniture all the way against the walls.
  • If your sofa or chairs are not in great shape, disguise them with slipcovers or luxurious throws -- a much cheaper option than buying brand new furniture.

Kitchen

"Kitchens and the bathrooms never look good naked; they always look better dressed up," Chan says. Once your kitchen is spotlessly clean, give it some style.

  • Remove magnets and photos off the refrigerator.
  • Clear off your countertops, except for the essentials. "If you use your coffee machine every day, it's OK to have it out on the counter, but you don't want your countertops to be a display of every small appliance you own," Chan says.
  • Add stylish accessories, tying them together with a theme, Chan suggests. For instance, you could go with a pasta theme and decorate the space with an Italian cookbook, decorative bottles of oil and glass jars filled with colorful pasta.
  • Use greenery to fill in empty corners and add color.

Bedroom

A good rule of thumb when staging your bedrooms is to emulate a hotel room -- emphasize luxury and comfort.

  • Turn your master bedroom into a proper master bedroom: no extra beds for the kids, no workspaces, no everyday, nice-to-have things that don't really belong in a bedroom.
  • Cover your everyday bedding with luxurious bedding or a nice throw. You don't have to spend a lot of money here -- discount stores have plenty of inexpensive options that look high-end.
  • If your mattresses are sitting on the floor, buy or rent bed frames to lift them up.

Bathroom

Like the kitchen, your bathrooms will show a whole lot better with a little bit of style.

  • Put away your everyday towels and replace them with new towels. Also add a new shower curtain and fresh, fancy soap.
  • Hide toothbrushes and other toiletries in baskets or other storage containers. This keeps them easily accessible, but lets you stow them away quickly before an open house.
  • Dress up the space with some candles or a silk flower arrangement.

Backyard

For many people, the backyard serves as a dumping ground. Clean this space up and make it a place where buyers can see themselves spending time.

  • Add furniture -- a bistro table and two chairs for a smaller area or a dining set for large yards.
  • Stage it as a place for entertaining. Set out a tray with a pitcher of lemonade, or put out some coffee and bagels for a breakfast scene.
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