5 Home Staging Secrets from the Pros

Chicago-area pros share their home staging secrets for wowing potential home buyers. Suggestions include maximizing light, highlighting architectural features, minimizing visual distractions, and making selective low-cost updates.

If you are selling your home, these home staging secrets from Chicago-area pros could help you get top dollar.

1. Know Your Buyer

While you want to appeal to the broadest group of potential buyers, you also need to have a good idea who your most likely buyer is, and stage your home accordingly.

“If your home has four bedrooms, is located near an elementary school, and has a park down the street, chances are your buyers will be a young family. So make sure you stage at least one of the bedrooms as a young child’s room,” says Julea Joseph of Reinventing Space in Palos Park.

2. Light it up

If there’s one thing our pros seem to agree on, it’s that today’s buyers want a home that is light, bright, and airy.

“The first thing I do is open the curtains, raise the blinds, and turn on all the lights,” says Audrey Gourguechon of Staging North Shore in Northfield.

“We make sure every light bulb is working and that they are all the same color: ideally a warmer glow versus a cooler, bluer light,” says Shani Abrams of Shani and Jane re-Design in Skokie

“Mirrors are great for staging,” says Anne Fitzpatrick, a designer and stager based in Glencoe. “They read visually as another window, reflecting the light and making the space feel twice the size.”

3. Highlight Features and Avoid Distractions

“We remind our clients that people are buying the house, not the stuff in it. The problem with mementos, photographs, or collections is that they distract the buyer from seeing the architectural features of your house,” says Gourguechon. “We don’t want them wondering who lives there. We want them to imagine themselves living there.”

Remove wall-to-wall carpeting that’s covering hardwood floors. “Otherwise, you’re wasting one of your home’s key selling points. You’re leaving money on the table,” explains Joseph.

4. Maximize the Flow

Creating a smooth flow through the house is key to making people feel comfortable and not cramped. Flow is important for physical movement through the space as well as the way the eye takes in the room.

Continuity in flooring will open the space up and improve the flow, as will using the same wall colors.

Wallpaper is a big no-no. Not only is it unappealing to today’s buyers, it also chops up the space visually. Get rid of it and paint the walls the same neutral tones.

Too much furniture interrupts the flow in a room and blocks important features like the fireplace or the windows. Streamline your furniture and arrange the pieces to create inviting conversation areas.

5. Update Selectively

The last thing a home seller wants to do is spend a ton of money on a house they’re not going to be living in. But there are some updates that make a big impact without costing a lot.

A can of paint is the best investment you can make. Painting the walls a warm neutral will make everything seem fresher and more current.

“You can breathe new life into an old kitchen by painting oak cabinets a soft white,” says Gourguechon.

“Replacing old cabinet hardware in the kitchen and baths or changing out old light fixtures is a great way to make a home feel up to date,” says Joseph.

“New bedding is another inexpensive way to make a big impact. Buy a fresh new duvet and pillow shams that you can put on your bed for photos or showings,” says Abrams.

Try these home staging secrets when putting your house up for sale!

Image Source: StockSnap.io


Anne West is a Realtor on Chicago's North Shore. She represents home buyers and sellers in the lakefront communities of Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Evanston, Highland Park and Lake Forest.

West is a property marketing specialist, bringing 20+ years of consumer marketing experience to her real estate practice. She prides herself on getting her clients' homes sold quicker and for more money through her aggressive online marketing.

West has been awarded the Chicago Magazine Five Star Agent Award for exceptional service and overall client satisfaction for the past six consecutive years (2011-2016).

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