Six Simple Staging Rules for Furniture


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This blog is focused on staging a home for sale, but I have found that many clients like the way their rooms look after staging. Many have said that they will continue to live that way in their new home. So if you are reading this to arrange furniture in your home, but are not interested in selling, rule number one is “function over form.” You must first think of how you need to use the space and only secondarily of how the make the space attractive. You can always make a room attractive, but it must also function for you. However, if you are planning to sell your home, you might need to relax the “function over form” rule a bit. You do need to live in your home, but staging will sell your home faster and a little inconvenience will help that happen. So here are six simple staging rules for furniture.

Rule One: The way we live in a home is not the way we sell a home, and most of us have too much furniture.

Accept that fact and open yourself to change. You may have lots of company and have extra seating in the living room. You may be the one to do holiday dinners, so you have expanded your dining room table, have extra chairs and more than one breakfront filled with china. Crowded rooms make any space seem smaller. Remove all extra furniture. That rule applies not only to large pieces of furniture, but also to small piece. I often find rooms cluttered with small things, tiny tables, little glass fronted pieces with knickknacks, etc. Take them out. The de-cluttering rule of home staging applies just as strongly to these small pieces as it does to the “stuff” we have on table tops. Think of it as a way to begin your packing. If you got an offer on your home today, you would need start wrapping and moving furniture. So do it now and bring that moving day closer to reality.

Rule Two: Re-purpose that extra furniture if you have rooms in your home without appropriate furniture.

I recently staged a lovely home with a large sofa and love seat in the living room. The family had a small family room area that was empty. I moved the love seat to the family room. I then moved a wing chair from a child’s bedroom to the living room in place of the love seat. With that simple change, I made both the living room and bedroom appear less crowded, and now I had a piece of furniture in the family room around which I could create a cozy space. If you have too much furniture and can’t repurpose, decide on storage. Local storage units are fairly inexpensive. You can also store things neatly in a garage. Buyers do understand boxes and furniture in a garage when people are planning to move.

Rule Three: Decide on the single purpose for the room.

Has your living room somehow been overtaken with children’s toys? Are you using one wall of your dining room for a home office? The vast majority of buyers have trouble envisioning a room other than as it is presented. Rooms with more than one function can be confusing. Decide on the function of the room and remove everything that does not support that function. Perhaps an attractive chest in the living room can hide toys during showings. Maybe you can find a corner in a basement to use as a temporary office space. Remember, your main goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible and for the most money. Staging will help do that for you.

Rule Four: The purpose of each room should determine the furniture.

If you do lots of entertaining, you may swapped the furniture in your dining room and living room because the living room is larger. If you spend more time in the living room than family room, you may have swapped that furniture. You might be surprised to see how often I see formal furniture in the family room and toys, large TV’s and comfy furniture in a living room. Buyers get confused when these kinds of changes have taken place and about ninety percent have real difficulty imagining the rooms changed back to their original function. Before buyers visit your home, you need to change the rooms back to their original intent.

Rule Five: Decide on the focal point of the room and highlight it.

Do you have beautiful windows or a lovely fireplace? Do you have sliding doors overlooking beautiful landscaping. Furniture should be arranged to highlight the best feature of the room. I have found that it is often not possible to arrange furniture around a fireplace, as builders don’t seem to consider that when placing the fireplace. But the area above and around the fireplace can be made very attractive. Mirrors or art pieces placed on the mantle are a good start. (Designers no longer hang those objects on the wall above the fireplace.) If you have attractive windows and/or a great view, make sure that the windows are not covered in heavy draperies. Let the natural light come into the room. Do you have beautiful floors that are covered in old carpeting. Have it pulled up and the floors shined. Buyers love wood floors.

Rule Six: Use neutral colors and accent with richer tones.

Once you have your furniture in place, adding neutral colors allow buyers to better imagine themselves and their furnishing in a room. I like the warm neutrals, but have lately switched to a combination of greys and beige neutrals. If you look at decorating magazines or have been to open houses at newly constructed homes, you know how popular the cooler colors are, but I think combining that with the warmth of beiges and soft whites makes spaces more appealing. You obviously are not going to buy new furniture to stage a home, but paint is about the least expensive way to change a room. Bring the neutral colors onto the walls and accent with throw pillows, throws, plain neutral runners for a dining room table, etc. Remember, you are not decorating, you are staging. Put aside your personal preferences and create an environment that allows buyers to picture your home as their own.

I hope this was helpful. Please call or email me with a question at any time. Maybe you’ll ask me something I’ve never thought about and we can figure it out together!

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