From “For Sale” to “Sold!”: Tips for home staging

Published 1:43 pm Monday, October 3, 2016

Proper staging, so that all rooms have a purpose and logical flow, is helpful when readying a home for sale.

Proper staging, so that all rooms have a purpose and logical flow, is helpful when readying a home for sale.

WRITTEN BY Gillian Drummond

Photos by Grace Seidman Photography

Even though I have been a design professional for many years, I still find that I learn my best lessons by going through the same design dilemmas that my clients experience. I currently have my house on the market and am in the middle of planning all the work that must be done on my new home in a condominium.

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You will have noticed that I have used both the words “house” and “home” in the above statement. There is a definite psychological reason for this and it is the start of where you need to be in order to let go of your home and to sell it as a house and move on.

When I stage or style a house to put it on the market my first advice to the home owner is to fix anything that is broken, rotten or not in pristine condition. Touch up the wood work where it is chipped or dirty.  Take down any wallpaper or wallpaper borders, and paint rooms that really need it.

On a recent house that I helped the owners sell, I realized on my first visit that none of the downstairs rooms functioned in a way that made any sense in the overall plan. The family room was where the dining room should have been. To go to the dining room from the kitchen you had to go through the family room or the library and the foyer. The living room, which was seldom used, had the best view with doors leading out to a beautiful patio and the pool.

My solutions to these problems were to move the family room and make this room into the dining room. The old living room became the family room. The family room rug was cut to fit the room and the walls painted to give the room some warmth and character, then the furniture moved over. The old dining room became a more formal living room with the added advantage of being able to be used together with the family room for a larger group of people. Then we accessorized, added pillows to a window seat to make it look cozier, and re-hung all the pictures.

In my own house I went through the hard process of putting away all the precious things that make my house into my home. I cleaned out closets and gave things to charity.

At the realtor open house one of the realtors mentioned that there was nowhere for a breakfast table, so my living room was rearranged to incorporate one in front of my bay window with a gorgeous view. Now, my living room is not my living room the way I love it so my mind has turned towards planning my new home.

I visited an empty house with a realtor the other day and as soon as you walked through the door you could feel the dead energy in the house. This house needed to be refreshed with some paint and staged with some furniture. It needed to be felt loved and cared for as you walk through the door. Many owners or heirs who inherit a house don’t think it is worth putting the money into doing the necessary things. Then the house sits empty, buyers think there must be something wrong because it hasn’t sold and it starts looking and feeling uncared for. Money spent on making a house alive and livable will only make you more money in the sale. Many buyers have neither time nor vision to see the potential in a dead, messy or dirty house.

Small houses are very popular at the moment. These have to be carefully styled and staged if they are empty. Correctly furnished small rooms look much larger. A buyer walking into a small room that is empty and trying to envision their furniture in it are probably immediately going to think, “Oh my, my things won’t fit in here.” However, if beautifully staged, they will walk in and think what a lovely small cozy home this could be for me.

The next lesson I learned from my experience selling my house is the importance of proper marketing. Professional photography is a must. I work with Grace Seidman Photography. Together we create a wonderful presentation for the seller. All buyers now comb through the Internet, therefore your presentation is paramount.

The pictures should be on the listing starting with the front of the house, then through the front door, and then leading you through the house in an orderly fashion. This presentation is what lures them to see your house and then to go back to it after they have seen it to remind them of what they love.

We all want the highest price possible for our houses, this takes time and care and professionals to achieve. A really good, experienced and positive realtor, the advice of a good professional home stylist or stager, even if it just for a consultation and a professional photographer is the recipe for achieving a faster sale and a higher selling price.    

Drummond House design studio is located in downtown Tryon, N.C. You can see her website at and reach her at
or 828-859-9895.