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The Incredible Power of Staging | Killer b. Designs



The Incredible Power of Staging

I have to admit, I had no idea or expectation of our home going under contract within the first day of listing. When we bought the place a year ago, it had been on the market for over 9 months, and under contract three times. We decided to list it on the first of September because we figured it would give us enough time to show the house, get feedback, improve things, and sell it within six months or so. Yeah, that didn’t happen! And while I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the inspection goes well and we breeze by our option period (it’s up on the 12th! Wish us luck!) I’m not exactly packing up yet.

One thing our realtor told us was that the photos really sold the house. As soon as it went up online, she started getting calls. And all of them said, “We love the pictures!” And while you guys gave me some awesome tips to improve on those, it looks like they were at least good enough for the meantime. Just for comparison’s sake, let’s look at the photos of the home when we looked at it, and compare with the current condition. I think you’ll notice that a few small changes made a very large impact!

One important note: I don’t want you to think I’m judging the previous owner’s style. I’m not. It’s totally great if this is how they set up the space to work best for them. However, I don’t think it showed off the house to its best advantages. Here’s a list of my cons from the previous condition of the house when we bought it, and some changes we made prior to our listing to help it show better.

Previous – 2011

Old Living Room

– Massive sofa blocking the walkway and open feel of the space
– Mismatched furniture crowding the room and blocking light

Current – 2012

Current Living Room


– Modestly large sectional freeing up the walkway
– limited amount of furniture making the room look more spacious
– large artwork to emphasize raised ceilings


Previous – 2011

Old living room setup. There's a huge window behind that tv unit

– Massive tv unit blocking a large window
– Busy brick fireplace distracting the eye and clashing with decor
– outdated fan

Current – 2012

– Painted fireplace to relax the eye and disguise the tv
– Removed furniture from window (I used to have a large piano there)
– updated fan
– latest edits: removed cow/chicken paintings and moved them to the dining room

Previous – 2011

– large hutch taking up space
– small table off-center below chandelier and blocking door access
– dark, overbearing window treatments

Current – 2012

– painted accent wall to add definition to the space
– properly scaled furniture to maximize the size
– centered table below chandelier
– removed window treatments
– latest edits: Removed photo gallery and replaced with cow/chicken paintings

Previous – 2011

– cluttered countertops
– Above cabinet decor (it’s pretty hit or miss, and the plants get dusty)
– angle of photo crops out an entire wall of cabinets
– lots of mismatched rugs
– exposed trash can

Current – 2012

– two photos of kitchen show the size from all angles.
– empty countertops add visual space
– barstools show extra seating
– however I should have removed the coffee maker, magnet, and paper towels above the refrigerator. Oops! Noted for the future

Previous – 2011

– The angle makes the room look small
– visible water heater makes the space look utilitarian (which it is, so it’s not a huge deal)
– kinda Plain Jane. But I would have loved for that set to have stayed with the house!

Current – 2012:

– LOTS of added storage! The hutch and appliance cart added a lot
– Color, though it could be bad. I feel my laundry room was very much to my unique taste, so this could have gone poorly
– Hanging curtain to hide water heater. I really should steam this : /

Previous – 2011

– dated wood tones
– that’s about it

Current – 2012

– Painted doors white and vanity gray
– Added mosaic border to mirror
– New brighter light fixture

Previous – 2011

– More window blocking. It’s hiding behind the large dresser and mirror
– Gym equipment. Enough said.
– Oversized furniture. You have no idea how large the room is when it’s this full.
– Random mirrors

Current – 2012

– Laid out furniture to maximize space
– Let that light in! We made sure the window wasn’t blocked.
– Scaled down the size of the furniture. This room is huge, and now it looks like it!

Previous – 2011

– AGAIN with blocking the windows! I totally don’t get that. I guess it saves on electricity. But it made the rooms feel dark and cluttered.
– Too. Much. Furniture. There’s stuff everywhere!
– Cheap suspension rod and curtain to block off bathroom. It just emphasized the problem.
– Dated window treatments.
– Dog stained carpet. It smelled pretty bad.

Current – 2012

–  Replaced carpet with nice laminate.
– Added a barn door for bathroom privacy
– Better furniture layout
– No blocked windows!
– Updated light fixture
– Minimal furniture to maximize space

Previous – 2011

– No real purpose to the back porch
– Tired and sad looking

Current – 2012

– moved grill from under the roof. Don’t want any smoke stains or singed siding!
– Removed rickety swing and built patio chairs, a side table and a cooler.  Promotes lounging and feeling like you can hang out here.
– Note: Our little plant area needs some work. If the contract falls apart we’ll mulch it and put flowers in the old cauldron.


Whew! That’s the grand tour. So what do you think? Do you agree with the changes? Here are a few tips I picked up when it comes to staging your home:

1) Clear off your counters. Be it kitchen, bar, or vanity top, keep it empty.

2) Smell good. I use one of those wax melters and put in a little vanilla extract. It smells like baking cookies, and is much more natural than chemical sprays so people think, “Ahhh, this house smells delicious!” rather than “Ick, smells like they just gassed the place.”

3) Let in the light. Open all your windows and turn down the a/c. Yeah, it’ll kill your electricity budget, but hopefully only for 30 minutes. Showings don’t last very long. Our house looks so big and bright with the windows open, especially without gigantic furniture blocking them!

4)  Clear the clutter. Whatever you don’t need for daily living, put in storage. Whether it’s your attic, your mom’s house, or a rental unit, move it out. We made a lot of trailer trips to my parents so we could clear out a lot of extras so the rooms look bigger. Leave enough to give the rooms purpose and style, but you don’t need a dozen end tables and magazine racks. We removed: my piano, our midcentury dresser, outdoor dining table, Farmhouse vanity, stuff for the new house, and downsized some side tables. Also box up small decor on shelves and bookcases. Clean lines, folks. Make your home look really spacious!

5) Clean every morning. Thank goodness we only had to clean that one day, because we’ve already regressed. I made sure there weren’t any dishes in the sink or trash in the can. All toys were stashed away (our trundle coffee table makes this so easy!) and valuables were hidden. We didn’t have time to mow the grass, but the yard should be as tidy as possible.

Please send your Happy Buyer thoughts my way so we can get through this option period and close on the sale!



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  1. Allie

    Love the before and after shots. Seriously, why would you put furniture directly in front of the windows like that? We’ll probably be selling in the next year or so, thanks for the tips!

  2. emily @ go haus go

    Love this! We’re in the process of selling my fiance’s house and most of the rooms are empty. I’m thinking I might have to stage… especially the empty dining room!

  3. Nellie @ Our Wired Lives

    Really love the before and after pictures. You really did a wonderful job opening up the space. Hopefully this means you got a good price for the home. Looks well deserved!

  4. Emily

    I love what you did with your laundry room. And I’m glad you didn’t paint all of the walls white. I hate looking at white walls. It’s really boring. I can understand blocking the windows. I have to deal with migraines all the time and really dark rooms help with the pain.

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      Glad to know there’s a fellow migraine gal around! I used to have them infrequently until I had my daughter, and now I get several each month. My neurologist said hormonal migraines after birth are really common. It sucks. I’m kind of hoping having another kid will whack out the hormones again so maybe they’ll go away! But that’s probably just wishful thinking :(

  5. geeziecreezie

    The difference between when you bought your house and now is amazing! I love seeing before and after photos.

    1. Thank you! I’m a before-and-after junkie too.

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