Ah, the beauty of spring, my favourite time. I’m looking out from my office into a lovely backyard with trees and blossoms galore, appreciating what I see, especially as it will only be for a couple of more months. There’s a darling little apple tree that my husband planted, but sadly, we’ll never get to eat its fruit.

With dramatic, unexpected life changes, I will be moving on soon and am looking for a new home. But taking precedence is the selling of the house, and I’ve been working on cleaning, clearing, and home staging to present the house well for open houses, and buyers with lots of money! But ultimately, I want to be proud of what’s being presented, regardless of how much money it could bring in.

I like to think I’ve watched enough HGTV over the years to have a bit of a clue on what to do, and was happy to hear that at the recent local realtors’ walk through, more than one asked if the house had been professionally staged. Why, thank you! Even if, Heaven forbid, this lovely house is torn down to build a concrete monstrosity, it should still look good for its last walk down the runway.

Having moved a lot over the last decade, more than people should, quite frankly, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with what needs to be done. At our last modest home we spent about $3000 on all sorts of things like art, carpets, throws, cushions, towels, fresh shower curtains and a sparkling rod to replace the ugly plastic one, building up the patio, etc. We even put up shutters for the windows on the outside to give the front of the house a bit more curb appeal and try to make the wimpy windows look bigger, like they deserved the centre stage they had.

Many windows were replaced in that home too, outside of that budget, but I do believe if they hadn’t been, we’d have sold for less. So about $10,000 on windows, and $3000 on dressing up the house probably helped bring in at least $20,000 more than we would have gotten otherwise, if not more.

Leaving behind things like the nice, new shower curtain, curtains for the windows, and the shutters of course, we were able to take many of the physical staging items with us, and all the pieces of art came in handy in our much larger home and will now help present this home to buyers.

So this time around, I’ve had a solid home base to start with for this current staging process and didn’t need to spend too much to do another dress up, spending about $800, mostly at HomeSense/Winners but I also shopped at a local, smaller store to spread the love. Before the final dress up though, I needed to get some core basics taken care of, without my own built in handyman this time. I’ve had a fair bit of help from a couple of guys on all sorts of areas of the house including painting some of the inside and outside, finishing up a partially done window, plumbing, gardening, power washing the driveway, etc. Even the dirty patio furniture got a good spray down. Bye, bye, algae. The guys’ work added up to about $2500 (including meals for hungry men!) so my full total with the decoration expenses is similar to our previous home’s dress up costs.

Of course cleaning and clearing clutter are part of this process and it can feel like you are truly packing up your whole home, for the sake of staging, when you’ve actually barely gotten started. After clearing many areas and surfaces, I ended up with about a dozen boxes of things to keep (I guess I like knick knacks?!), but thankfully have a large garage to store them in. If you don’t have a space, you can always rent a storage locker, a moveable POD, or borrow a basement closet or two. I also cleared out a lot with a couple charity shop runs, two dump runs, a garage sale, and an awesome pick up by Habitat for Humanity as we had lots of supplies and tools for helping their wonderful cause. So the garage is looking rather empty and hopefully enticing. Vroom, vroom.

Unfortunately, I was a bit too keen to give away all our lawn equipment and have ended up unable to mow my own lawn, but thankfully, kind and helpful neighbours surround me, and the five hundred dandelions (seriously) that I’ve picked, and those I will continue to pick, are manageable by hand.

Now that the basic dirtiness is all cleaned up, the lawn is mowed, the dandelion wine is brewing, and faulty light bulbs have been replaced, let’s take a look at beautifying the surfaces of our home and a few things I’ve done, and you could do, to try to stop traffic at your next open house or private viewing.

  • Linen closet tidying, fold towels and sheets nicely and set up in colour themes, take out stained, raggedy towels
  • Clear shelves, tables, sink areas, surfaces of clutter
  • Entry way table cleaned and cleared with e.g. one striking piece like a vase so pretty it doesn’t even need flowers
  • Excess things like shoes and jackets cleared away, use baskets to hide hats and gloves, etc.
  • Make room in all your closets, e.g. bedroom and entry way to show them as being spacious, with some empty hangers
  • Place lush throws on sofas, chairs, beds that match the rooms colour scheme or provide good contrast
  • Get a fitted sofa cover if your sofa needs a makeover or has stains, i.e. if it needs help beyond what just a throw can do
  • Place fresh carpets and rugs, modest sized ones, e.g. at entry way or office to brighten up, and get a fresh front door mat
  • Attractive cushions for sofas, beds, chairs, window benches, even dining table seats, propped up tidily
  • For cushion colours look to the art on the walls for inspiration of what pops out
  • You can order, or even design your own cushion covers as I’ve done, through sites like redbubble.com/people/rachelalbang/portfolio. They aren’t super cheap but the pieces are original and I get to take them with me!
  • I’ve also gotten great deals on pretty cushion covers from the dollar store
  • For colours of curtains, look towards more neutral that would blend with many different tastes. E.g. I replaced my pretty (more girly), homemade, red curtains with grey ones and a throw for the sofa to match, but kept pops of colours with cushion covers
  • If you have some favourite curtains, take them down and replace them, otherwise the buyer may want them
  • Fresh towels in washrooms, matching the floor rugs or bath mats, either washed or new also if needed
  • Fresh soaps in the washrooms, even kept in their pretty package
  • Tidy inside drawers and cupboards, check out stylish drawer organizers
  • Clean mirrors, empty garbages
  • Take out a dirty inner shower curtain and either replace or just leave without, with a stylish outer curtain taking centre stage
  • If curtain rod is rough looking, replace with new one or paint
  • I even replaced the ordinary toilet paper with extra luxurious, thick toilet paper!
  • I found a lovely, silver, stylish toilet scrubber that I’m not embarrassed to show
  • Fresh kitchen hand towels and dish towels with a colour scheme that works with e.g. decorative pieces on the counters like the cookie jar or cute recipe box
  • Hang art on empty wall spaces in your kitchen
  • Tidy and clear out some of your kitchen pantry area or cupboard to show how much space they’ll have for all their baking ingredients!
  • You can get stylish mats for the floor at the sink area to help counteract a less than striking floor
  • Set the dining table with nice place mats, pretty plates, colourful napkins, glasses, and a centrepiece
  • Clear knick knacks, remotes, TV units, surfaces, office, shelves, desk, bulletin boards
  • I have a basket with my basic files and essentials that goes in and out of the house with me during showings, along with my kitty. Come on, basket!
  • For hanging calendars, aim for neutral subjects as the themes and not too much scribble on them
  • A bench I had inside is now in front of the house with its colourful cushions
  • I replaced the front door mat with a fresh, welcoming one that says “Home Sweet Home”
  • Hanging baskets, fresh pots of flowers, and flowers planted directly in yards help draw eyes to your home with their pops of colour
  • Plant colourful flowers not just in obvious places at the front of the house but in other areas where buyers may peer out of windows
  • Before packing up all your vases, make sure to keep two or three for around the house
  • I’ve been able to use lovely (and free!) pink roses from outside to dress up our dining table and kitchen island
  • Hide your pet’s accoutrements
  • Tidy the garage, hang pieces like brooms and shovels out of the way
  • Most of the stuffed teddies can be packed away except for a modest cuteness effect where applicable
  • Move things out of the way that may block buyers as they walk around, like stand up lamps and electrical wires
  • I bought pretty baskets for the laundry area and tins for underneath the sink for cleaning supplies and recycling
  • Art pieces can be found for reasonable prices e.g. at IKEA or Moe’s or HomeSense
  • Take down family photos – yes, my wedding photos are packed away with memories of a happy day

Whew! I think that’s everything, at least that I, a non professional home stager can think of. If you have less to work with e.g. $500, you can still get plenty of nice throws and pillows and a couple of small carpets. If you have only $200, you can still get throws and pillow covers to freshen up the living room and bedroom. If you don’t have much money to spare at all, the key things are cleaning up (the dishes, mirrors, floors, tub, toilet, sinks), clearing the clutter and having the house be tidy, including the outside, and it doesn’t hurt if you are Feng Shui savvy (which I’m not!). Many realtors will give you a check list of things to go through and it can’t hurt to ask their opinion, before a showing, of what still needs to be done or hidden or painted, etc.

But, in our case, I am confident that paying a few thousand will help bring in more than we would get if I hadn’t finished fixing and staging the house. Fingers crossed, as in this seller’s market, when I soon shift to being a buyer, I need all the help, and money, I can get. Wish me luck and good luck to you if you are selling too.

Oh, a private viewing? Absolutely, come on in!

Home Sweet Home!

Home Sweet Home!

From Dining Area Facing Living Area

From Dining Area Facing Living Area




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