Home Staging – Why Less is The New More
PHOTO: The foyer after large decorative pieces were removed from the second floor landing.
People often ask me why less is more when it comes to home staging. When I enter an occupied home to help prepare the property for sale, I first go through the process of “un-decorating” the home with the homeowner. This process includes taking down personal mementos, such as collections from various trips, family photos, certificates and degrees and often times other types of artwork and décor.
As we live in a home for many years, possessions, artwork, décor and lets be honest - all kinds of crap - begin to accumulate. This creates visual clutter. The purpose of of “un-decorating” is to remove the majority of it, keeping the décor to a minimum. While we become used to our surroundings the longer we live in a space, it is completely normal that we lose the ability to see our own living space through a potential buyers perspective. This is why it can be so helpful to bring in a fresh set of eyes to take a look at your home, such as a professional home stager. It is important to remember that leaving some open space and eliminating visual clutter allows the home owner to envision their own lifestyle in your home.
Another way to think of this is that staging your home for sale is very different than how you would design or decorate your home. Home design is very personal, you are designing to your own unique taste, interest, colors and patterns. The more “you” your living space is, the better, because you will feel more comfortable there. In sharp contrast, home staging is general, the goal is to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
I never want home owners to be offended by suggestions, since it isn’t a matter of taste. You may have an incredible sense of style, and yet your particular style still is not the way you would want to stage a home.
I like to refer back to these three general rules of thumb;
Less is more
Nothing is better than something
It’s not staged until it doesn’t feel like your home
1. LESS IS MORE
For example, I had a lovely client recently. She had done lots of traveling for work in the far east. At the time she decorated her home, she was really interested in Asian themed décor. All of her décor and furnishings were beautiful, high quality and very expensive. I told her, “We are at a 10 with the Asian theme right now. We need to tone it down a notch. Let’s bring it down to a 3 or a 4.” And that’s what we did. We swapped out her oriental lamps, removed some artwork and replaced and oriental ceiling fan with a chandelier in the master bedroom.
This client resisted my suggestion in the beginning. However, as soon as she made the suggested changes, the house sold! There is a logic and reasoning behind my home staging approach, although it can be difficult to see your own home through this lens.
BEFORE - Swapped out bedding, removed window treatments.
AFTER - New neutralized bedding, minimized Asian theme.
(NOTE - THIS WAS A MID-STEP. WE ENDED UP RE-PAINTING THIS ROOM A NEUTRAL GREY, AND REPLACING THE ORIENTAL CEILING FAN WITH A CHANDELIER. THE WALL SCONCES WERE REPLACED WITH DIFFERENT FIXTURES AS WELL.)
2. NOTHING IS BETTER THAN SOMETHING
I recently staged a beautiful home with a two-story foyer. On the first floor was a big antique secretary. On the second floor was a large piece of artwork displayed on an easel and gigantic dried flower arrangement on display in front of the window. I recommend to take a moment, step back and think, “does this really need to be here?” If the answer is no, 9.9 times out of 10, you can remove it. It won’t be missed.
In this case, removing the secretary, artwork and floral was exactly what we did. The homeowner found an antique collector from New York who was thrilled to pay top dollar for their antique secretary. She took the artwork and floral arrangement to a local consignment store. The result was dramatic.
Removing the artwork and flowers from the second story window allowed an abundance of light to filter through the foyer, creating more light and brightness throughout the whole house. Removing the large antique secretary opened up sight lines from the front door to the gorgeous newly renovated kitchen, which made the entire foyer and entryway appear grande.
BEFORE - Removed antique secretary, swapped mirror to dining room.
AFTER - Foyer is layout feels more open and spacious without antique secretary.
BEFORE - Dark, heavy and outdated decor on the second floor is adding visual clutter and partially blocking the natural light.
AFTER - Foyer is light, bright and airy. Natural light coming in brightens the entire house.
3. IT'S NOT STAGED UNTIL IT DOESN'T FEEL LIKE 'YOUR' HOME
One of the strange compliments I have learned to love during the process of an occupied home staging project is the point in time when the homeowner looks around and says, “This doesn’t feel like our home anymore!” BINGO! That’s why you hired me, folks. The fact is, it shouldn’t feel like your home when you are done with preparing your house for market. When I hear this comment, I take it as an affirmation of a job successfully completed! On of the added benefits of this process is that it helps to prepare you, both mentally and emotionally to move on to your next home. The process of depersonalizing your living space helps with the transition, and it can be an empowering feeling.
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