Selling a home can sometimes seem daunting, but one of the finest tools in a home seller’s toolbelt is excellent staging. Sometimes, the right staging can be the difference between a house selling or staying on the market. I’ve outlined a few key components to help you stage your living room.
Home staging is the design process of styling a room for show during the selling process. Staging is the art of making a space universally appealing so that any potential homebuyer can step into the room and imagine their own lives taking place in it. Typically, home staging is done best by professional interior designers with years of experience, but DIY home staging is popular for home sellers on a strict budget.
Both interior and exterior spaces can be staged to amp up the aesthetic appearance of a home by incorporating key areas to accentuate its desirability. In a saturated market, a successful home staging can make your house stand out from the crowd.
The longer homes sit on the market, the more their price drops. According to the National Association of Realtors, a staged home spends 70% less time on the market, which means it’s likely selling for a higher price than a similar home that wasn’t staged. The NAR reported that 31% of buyer’s agents saw an increase of 1% to 5% on the offer price for a staged home. That type of financial return drastically highlights the benefits of staging a home. But why stage your living room?
In a house, not all rooms are created equally. The importance of a room varies by degree of use and functionality. Living rooms are one of the three most important spaces in a house, followed closely by the kitchen and master bedroom. These three areas represent spaces in which the majority of time is spent in the house.
The living room is the heart of the home. Often, it is the first impression a home makes on a potential buyer. It is where you entertain guests and spend time together, making friends and memories.
“Being this is often the first interior impression of the home, you want a buyer to fall in love the second they walk in. Scale appropriate furnishings that have mass appeal in style are key. Anything that may come across as dated (think worn/overly traditional furniture) may distract from an otherwise great space to today’s buyer.” - David Cieslak, Signature Staging
Sometimes, staging a room requires all current furniture and personal items to be removed in order to start with a clean slate. In other spaces, small adjustments may be all that’s needed. Working with an accredited staging professional will help make the most of your space, whether that’s gutting it to start from scratch or making small adjustments like refreshing the paint color. With their help, you don’t have to do it alone.
Additionally, hiring a professional allows the room to be viewed objectively. While you might have incredible taste, your personal design preferences may not appeal to the masses. Often, our homes become so sacred to us that each knickknack and piece of furniture becomes seemingly necessary to the space. These items might deter viewers who have trouble envisioning the room with their belongings instead. On the opposite end of the spectrum, empty homes may seem overwhelming to buyers. The empty floors and bare walls may appear lifeless and difficult to imagine moving into. Finding a balance between too busy and too barren is especially important in a living room, where the space should feel fresh and inviting. That’s where a professional can help.
Home staging professionals have carefully honed their eye for design so that the space speaks to any and all potential buyers. Their styles are typically neutral and moderate, neither under- nor overwhelming. Their expertise can help a house look like someone’s new home.
Staging a home takes both time and money, so make sure that you understand your budget before you get started. A budget can determine whether or not you work with a professional home stager as well as how many rooms you decide to stage.
“Hiring a professional will allow you to showcase your home in it’s best light quickly, and efficiently. A professional will come in with the buyer in mind. They will also consider who the target buyer is and should stage accordingly. While the listing may be beautifully decorated, a professional has the space in mind and can help determine what the best plan of action is for the biggest return.” - David Cieslak, Signature Staging
Optimal staging requires a fresh canvas. If you’ve been preparing to sell your home, you’ve likely already spent time tidying. Homes can sometimes get bogged down over the years with extra belongings. Decluttering removes the excess and makes it much easier to truly see a space. Personal possessions can sometimes stand in the way of the home’s architectural beauty.
If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, there are a multitude of resources available. The KonMari method is particularly effective for tidying individual rooms and can help you establish the belongings that actively improve your lifestyle versus items that have simply become clutter. Creator Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing discusses ways to organize clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental keepsakes. Keep what sparks joy in you and say goodbye to the items that don’t. Your home—and potential homebuyers—will thank you.
If you’ve been putting off menial maintenance tasks, now is the time to do them. Potential homebuyers will examine every nook and cranny of the home, so you’ll want to make sure your home is up to par. Spackle any stray holes in the wall, repair leaky faucets, and seal the windows and doors.
You’ll also want to give the house a good, deep clean. Dust the shelves, deep clean the carpet, and wipe down the windows. A well-cleaned and maintained home creates ease for potential homebuyers, assuring them subconsciously that the house is beloved and cared for. Additionally, finishing these tasks before any professional home stagers come into the picture will make staging simpler.
If you’re interested in staging your living room on your own, here are a few ideas to make the most of your space.
Natural light is an irreplaceable resource. When showing your home, be sure to draw the curtains to emphasize the light in your living room. Cleaning both the inside and outside of your windows will allow more light into the space, and the right window treatments can make windows look larger and more appealing.
Mirrors have a knack for making spaces look larger, so you can use them to your advantage in your living room. Add a mirror above the fireplace or sofa to add both height and balance to an area. Consider adding a mirror across from a window to reflect the natural light and emphasize the airiness and brightness of a space.
Plants instantly transform an area by adding a sense of vitality to the space. Using plants in your design can make a room feel more calm and peaceful, which is attractive to potential homebuyers. Hearty plants like succulents and cacti are great options for beginners since they are low maintenance yet still add that refreshing touch of green. If you aren’t ready to test your green thumb, consider adding a vase of fresh flowers to the coffee table before showings for a simple but effective pop of color.
A fresh coat of paint can transform a living room. Ivory and cream are popular paint choices for houses on the market due to their neutrality and ability to make a space appear larger. Following a 60-30-10 rule for color can help a space feel cohesive—60% of the room is decorated in a neutral tone that appears on the walls, 30% in a complementary secondary color, and 10% in an accent color that creates inviting contrast.
“Painting your home for the market is one of the quickest and easiest ways to instantly update a listing. A neutral palette with on-trend colors will present not only a fresh feeling to the home, but also one a buyer can move into and slowly make their own. A listing with too many specific colors may not only present a large project to a buyer, but also a big up front expense.” - David Cieslak, Signature Staging
No matter what material the floors in your living room are, making them look their best will immediately improve the look of the room. If your living area has hardwood floors, polishing them can breathe new life into the room. Start with a microfiber duster, then use a hardwood polisher to add back brilliance. Tiles should be vacuumed and mopped, and carpeting should be deep cleaned to remove any pesky stains or dirt build up.
Built-in shelving is perfect for homebuyers seeking plenty of storage space. Unfortunately, built-in shelving walks a fine line between looking chic and looking cluttered, so you’ll want to keep yours in mint condition. Less is more when it comes to built-ins, allowing negative space to draw the eye. Just make sure the shelves are clean and tidy.
Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s good to have a team of experts on your side. If you’d like to learn more about luxury Chicago real estate or Chicago luxury homes for sale, contact MB Luxury Group today for more information.