house staging

Happy Thursday!  Something is in the air in North Carolina and people are looking to buy and sell houses.  I got an email from a friend this week asking for my best "tips" for staging houses and thought I would share them with you all today. 

Before we go any further, I have to tell you that when we bought our house, it was staged... horribly!  I'm talking a margarita set and "beach read" on the front porch, a tea-cup and saucer out on the kitchen counter, and other various silly things to make potential buyers imagine themselves in the home.  Luckily, these things weren't too distracting and we loved the house enough to make an offer that night.  But be warned, done wrong staging can be a bad thing. 

With that said, these tips are not the typical light a candle and take down your personal pictures tips.  Instead, my approach is to make the house look de-cluttered, organized, and really let the features of the house sell themselves.  These are my top "spots" in a house and a few tips to go with each:

1. Start with your closets:  I firmly believe closets and storage can sell a house.  I grew up in historic homes and KNOW that closets and storage are not always available in a house, so with that in mind, the idea here is to maximize the space you do have and make the closets appear larger.  To do this:
  • Make sure there is nothing on the floor of your closet.  This means shoes, bags, laundry, etc.  A clean floor will make it look like there is more space- I promise.
  • Take a few handfuls of your clothes out of your closet.  You can do this by taking out "seasonal clothes" or just taking a few handfuls.  The idea again is to make it look like you have more room than you need.  Don't make it look sparse, just don't let it be overstuffed.
  • In a linen closet, remove all extra towels, sheets, and other items.  Leave one spare set in the closet folded neatly.  
linen closet...gotta love those wire shelves!
2. De-clutter your shelves: I think this is most important if you have large, open shelves.  If you are dealing with visible shelves, remember that odd numbers offer groupings that are most pleasing to the eye.   And, while I said before that you don't need to take down your personal pictures, if you have ten pictures of your family and friends on a shelf, consider taking down most of them.  Leave a few favorites, but the idea here is to create space- again, you want it to look like you have shelving to spare.

maybe not the perfect vignette for actually living in a home...but just right for staging

3. Organize your kitchen: A kitchen is another area (aside from a closet) that can sell a home.  Make sure yours is in tip-top shape by de-cluttering your counter tops and cleaning out your pantry and cabinets to make it look like you have room to spare.  Here is my checklist:
  • Limit yourself to three appliances on your kitchen counters.  My counter has a coffee maker, my stand-mixer, and a toaster.  Otherwise, try to keep the counters clear... creating that space again,
  • Remove any "cute" but less than functional kitchen accessories from your cabinets and drawers.  I went through and put everything I didn't use on a regular basis into a box.  (Hello apple corer and halloween cookie cutters!)  That left me with my everyday china, a few serving pieces, cutting board, mixing bowls, measuring cups, and spatulas.  Really, most everything else I haven't even missed!
  • Make sure your cabinets appear organized when a buyer opens the doors.  My favorite trick is to try and "color code" a cabinet.  So, when organizing the cabinet that holds random coffee mugs (not the ones that go with our everyday china shown below) I pulled all of the mugs with blue in them and put them at the front.  While they aren't uniform, it makes the cabinets appear organized and put together.
These deep shelves don't need much help in making the cabinets look spacious...but I do think it's important to keep them organized so they don't look overwhelming!
4. Do a little "staging:" Don't worry about re-decorating or re-carpeting your floors, but do take a few minutes to make sure your house is clean and shining.  Since we all have to go on living in our homes while the house is on the market, here is a quick list of things that will perk your home up when you only have thirty minutes to clean and straighten before a showing:
  • Make the beds and fluff any couch pillows
  • Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters with a clorox wipe
  • Wipe down bathroom mirrors with windex and quickly wipe any spots from the bathroom hardware
  • Open the blinds on windows and let some natural light in
  • Turn on lamps wherever possible (much more flattering than harsh over head lights.)
  • Never underestimate fresh cut flowers on a table- they make just about anyone happier!
sunflowers from josh to brighten up the week...and brighten up our hallway for house showings!
Most of these tips are simply an investment of time, but in some cases it might be wise to invest a little money (ie: to repaint that neon yellow sunroom.)  Each situation is different and if you feel like you need additional help organizing or staging your home, feel free to send me an email!  I'd love to help! 



  1. I love the sunflowers! I still need you to organize my closets!!

    1. anytime...but you have to be willing to part with things :)

  2. I think staging tips are good for those of us with no intention to move.... they help us enjoy our houses more and declutter.... not saying that I am going to do them, but I am soooo happy when my cabinets look nice, closets decluttered, space to add things on shelves.... etc....

    1. agreed! One thing I like to do (and don't do a very good job of) is after I clean out/organize, I start a "one-in, one-out" system. So, if I buy a new shirt, I need to get rid of an older shirt. It doesn't always work, but I find that it makes me think harder about making purchases and keeps me from some of those impulse buys I regret later.

  3. I loved this! It inspired me to clean out/organize my pantry tonight. But now I have a question...I still have tons of boxes with things nicely wrapped inside of them in my pantry. Or there are empty boxes that I am keeping for my crystal, etc. for when we move. Do I get rid of all the boxes and just worry about packing up everything when we have actual moving plans? I feel like they look messy and are taking up room. Or do you think I will regret that? Love, Claire :)

    1. So glad! Regardless of your timeline, I think that the things wrapped nicely in your pantry should come out and be reviewed. Are they things you thought you would use but haven't? Things you wish you could use but don't have room for in your kitchen? If you haven't used them in the time you've been married, you likely won't so they may be better off headed for goodwill than taking up pantry/moving truck space. (I am assuming the things in boxes are things like kitchen tools...not treasured wedding china.) If they are things you want to keep but just don't have room to use in your kitchen now, I would take them out of the packing and don't worry about saving the boxes- you can get other boxes when you move. I WOULD keep a few boxes for things like crystal, fine china, silver...broken down and stored...waiting to move again. You can store the broken down boxes so many places- under a couch, in the attic, etc.

      My answer also depends on your moving timeline. If you think you will move in the next few months- I would keep it packaged and live with it- one more thing you don't have to do to move!

  4. Hi Annie! Just realized I never replied to you on the blog (just on email). Thank you so so much for your perfect advice. It makes a lot of sense. I did get rid of a lot of the boxes. It looks soo much cleaner now. I have so many things I think I will someday use, but maybe I won't. :) Thanks for taking the time to write such a long response. xx

  5. Hi Annie! Just realized I never replied to you on the blog (just on email). Thank you so so much for your perfect advice. It makes a lot of sense. I did get rid of a lot of the boxes. It looks soo much cleaner now. I have so many things I think I will someday use, but maybe I won't. :) Thanks for taking the time to write such a long response. xx