So you’ve put your home on the market… Congratulations! But don’t pop the champagne just yet. If you really want to attract the best buyers and fetch top dollar, then you need to put time into prepping things. There is an art to staging a house, and while it can seem a little intimidating at first, a few minor touch-ups go a long way in the eyes of potential buyers. You want them to walk in and say, “I can see myself living here.”
So what does staging involve exactly? This is when you map out your home’s strengths and weaknesses, making sure to amplify the good parts and downplaying the rest. You don’t have to renovate, either. Interior designer Mikel Welch of Mikel Welch Designs (you may also know him as the on-air design expert for the Steve Harvey Show) shared a few simple low-cost tips for making a home attractive to buyers—and get the price you want.
First impressions count when prepping your home to sell, so if you want to create a home that buyers will love, Mikel has one overriding piece of advice: Neutralize. “Although brightly colored rooms went great with your home décor, it may not fit well with the new home buyer’s design choices,” he said. “Increase the buying potential of the space by painting the walls, trim, and doors with neutral colors. This makes the space feel clean and new.”
To add extra curb appeal, Welch suggests washing away oil stains in the driveway, repainting the front door, and adding a flower garden or shrubbery to the yard. “This makes the home buyer feel welcomed as soon as they arrive,” he said.
When most people think of staging, they immediately think of the cost involved. But Mikel has good news for those sellers on a tight budget. “Accessories can make a world of difference in a home and can completely liven up the atmosphere,” he said. “Visit your local thrift store to find low-cost accessories to help spruce up the space. There’s also no need to buy new furniture. If your current furniture looks old and dated, consider covering them with slipcovers to make them look brand new.”
But the most transformative way to upgrade a space is with a fresh coat of paint, preferably in a neutral color. Welch suggests heading to your local hardware store and picking up a can that includes both paint and primer in one. “You can buy a can for a couple of bucks; that’s a great deal,” he said.
The entryway is crucial as it’s the first thing buyers will see. Welch says adding greenery is a great way to make yours more inviting and memorable. “A potted plant or vase of flowers helps the space to feel light and fresh,” he said. “Make it appear larger by hanging a mirror, and group an odd number of accessories on an entryway table for an unforgettable entrance.”
If you want to encourage conversation and an inviting atmosphere, Welch says, furniture groupings are key. Then add textured throw pillows to bring small accents of color to a dull living space. “Consider grounding the main seating area with an area rug too,” he said. “This is a great way to create visual stability and is an additional way to add color and texture to the space.”
If you need to modernize an unattractive bathroom, Welch says to consider updating the light fixtures. “Something as simple as adding a light fixture with a metal finish and a cool light can help make the bathroom appear stylish and modern,” he said.
A master bedroom should appeal to any sex, so Welch suggests an earthy color palette and a cool mix of varying textures. “Pair a textured throw blanket with velvety soft pillows or window treatments to give the bedroom a polished look,” he said.
Welch says there two things you definitely want to ditch when staging your home: family photos and any type of clutter. “Buyers don’t want to see how you live; they want to see how they can live in the space,” he said. “By de-personalizing and de-cluttering the home, you open it up to the buyer to imagine how they would live there, and, in turn, sell your home.”
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so of course it’s a major selling point for any buyer. If yours needs a lot of work, but you don’t want to spend a fortune renovating, Welch says you don’t need to completely gut it. “Painting the cabinets in a light gray adds color to the space but is a great neutral color to pair well with any existing appliances,” he said. “Change out the hardware, as well, to remove any dated materials and make it look as if the kitchen cabinets were newly installed.”
If you don’t want to replace your floors with natural wood or expensive tile, Welch says to consider laminate. “It comes in many great colors and textures that mimic natural wood or your favorite tile but with the durability of plastic for a fraction of the cost.”
If you’re really serious about selling, then update your white goods with the stainless steel variety. And yes, before you ask, Welch assures us these are still popular in the kitchen. Also, you should probably ditch the overhead microwave for a drawer version instead. “We’re seeing this type of microwave, which is installed directly under the countertop, more and more often,” he said.
Windows are an obvious sign of age. They can make a home appear tired even when it’s not. Installing new treatments is a low-cost way to update them. “A simple, updated metal rod with decorative finials on the end is a great starting point,” he said. “Hang curtains with metal rings to give it the magazine-ready look we all know and love.”
While we all love a trend or two, stick to the classics when staging your home so it has a broader appeal. “Floor-to-ceiling mirrored walls and wood paneling were big home trends that are now long gone,” said Welch. “Put a spin on these dated design trends by framing mirrors and using them as accessories. Replace wood paneling with picture-framed walls or wainscoting for a fresh appeal fitting for today’s design trends.”
It sounds like an obvious tip, but Welch urges homeowners to clean the whole home from top to bottom before showing people through. That means scrubbing the kitchen appliances (inside and out), walls, doors, floors, and even stair railings to make the space clean and feel new again. “Always repair any holes with wall putty and a sander to keep the home from looking worn and tattered,” he adds. “Implementing these easy steps is sure to attract more buyers and put more offers on the table in no time.”