Larger than Life:
Making Rooms Look Bigger with Clever Staging
Many buyers look for a new home because they need more space. Unfortunately, many homeowners maximize their living areas by cramming the rooms with as many things as they can hold. Whether a home is small or large, clever staging is essential for making rooms look spacious to potential homeowners. The following suggestions will help improve the marketing appearance of any real estate on the market.
Highlight ViewsA buyer’s initial impression of a property may be influenced by the first room they see. Make sure the buyer’s view is unimpeded and that they can see outdoor areas from inside the rooms. Remove any large pieces of furniture that may block sight lines. Open doors and windows, and turn on all the lights to brighten the interiors. Use mirrors and other shiny, reflective objects to multiply the light and highlight great views or features.
Reduce ClutterBuyers who enter a cluttered room may pay more attention to the contents of the space rather than the structure of the room. Their eyes are drawn to knick-knacks, family photos, odd collections and bizarrely colored pillows. Because these objects are typically small and packed together, the rooms can seem chaotic and claustrophobic.
First start with a blank slate by removing all accessories, technology, photos and paintings from the room. Then bring back a few carefully selected items, piece-by-piece. Choose pieces that don’t call attention to themselves and are ones most visitors find innocuous, such as vases, coffee table books or a landscape painting. Anticipate and be prepared to smooth over any conflict that might stem from the removal of family pictures. Emphasize to clients that as long as they think of the home as theirs, nobody will buy it because it belongs to someone else. Homeowners must consider the home a product that they want to sell as soon as possible and for maximum profit.
Neutralize the SpaceBlack walls, red furniture and disco balls may look fine on the pages of an avant-garde interiors magazine, but such striking decor will turn off many buyers. Repaint any oddly colored walls or trim in neutral whites, beiges or grays. Cover jade or plum wall-to-wall carpeting with large area rugs in less offensive tones. If a room looks too bland, add pops of color with pillows or other accessories.
Improve Traffic FlowLarge sofas, improperly placed furniture and gigantic sideboards that protrude doorways impede the flow of traffic in a room, making spaces seem even smaller. Don’t forget to start with a “blank space” by removing all the furniture from the room before bringing back a few small-scale pieces and arranging them so visitors can move easily from one room to the next.
Ask the client to store extra furniture at friends’ homes or put it in storage Less furniture makes a room look more spacious. If a client’s tastes run to antiques, consider renting more modern choices, at least for the open house, to ensure that the old sofas and tables don’t detract from the room’s size and appeal.
Emphasize Outstanding FeaturesMake room size less noticeable by emphasizing outstanding architectural features. Use floor-to-ceiling curtains to draw the eye to high ceilings. Remove all rugs and floor coverings to expose hardwood floors. Put candles or plants inside fireplaces, and use spotlights to highlight medallions, niches or built-ins. Emphasize moldings, chair rails and trim by painting them a darker or lighter color than the surrounding walls.
Most of these staging tricks cost little to no money but can add value to the listing and impress visitors at any open house. To get the client’s buy-in, explain the purpose of staging as a method of marketing the home, and consider the input of the homeowners when making these decisions.