Staging a house for sale

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Staging a house for sale is a huge trend in the real estate market right now. Why? Because staged homes generally sell faster than empty ones. When people walk through a successfully staged home, they get a sense of how they might live in the space and how they might inject their own personality into the rooms. For the stager, the trick is to make the home look welcoming and appealing and full of possibilities to the greatest number of people. But the home should not look too customized or have too much personality. That’s off-putting to a potential buyer. It’s all about creating a neutral but pleasant ambience.

Terrance Leaser, an interior designer with a great deal of showhouse experience working for clients who want high-end custom design schemes, likes the challenge of staging a house and he’s really good at it. He keeps a storage center full of furniture and accessories (most of which he buys at local consignment stores and estate sales and then cleverly repurposes) and just shops his warehouse when he takes on a job. Terrance works for realtors and is paid by the project by the realtor he contracts with. Staged furniture can remain in a house on the market for weeks or months. Terrance stages more than one house at a time.

“I generally use transitional furniture, which is a compromise between contemporary and traditional,” said the professional. “Most people are comfortable with the style and it’s what they have in their own places. But, if I were doing a high-end modern home, I would use modern furniture and a minimalist treatment to enhance the architecture.” The designer says he always includes two kinds of accessories in his staged house – ornately framed mirrors and art. “The art should not be too bold, but it can certainly be big,” he said. “In general, I use a few bigger accessories rather than a lot of little things. I never want a place to look cluttered. I also like to put a few books and current magazines in my staged homes because it gives the place a lived-in look.”

Terrance says he focuses his budget on the public rooms of the house and does not do bedrooms, baths or kitchens unless the realtor wants the whole house styled and has a big budget. “And I almost never do window treatments,” he said. “They are expensive and customized to a house. It’s better to leave the windows alone and make natural light a selling point.”

Here are some tips from Terrance Leaser if you want to have a go at staging your own home for resale. If you don’t have the talent for it or don’t want to invest the time, you can always tell your realtor that you want the home staged and the agent will collaborate with a design professional such as Terrance. He can style a home in a day and certainly speed the selling process.

Terrance’s Tips:

• Concentrate on the public part of the house – living room, family room. In the bath, stack some folded towels on the basin and put a white orchid or some other plant on the counter. In the kitchen, you might want to put some pretty canisters on the counter, a bowl of fruit or a plant, an open cookbook on the counter. Just a few things to suggest that the kitchen is a friendly and functional place to gather and to work.

• Framed mirrors and paintings on the wall for sure.

• Furniture should be comfortable looking in neutral colors. Not too many pieces. Avoid clutter and oversized pieces.

• Put books and magazine into your staged room.

• The rooms should be spotless with fresh paint on the walls.

• Invest in a lot of those room freshener cubes and tuck them behind plants or other accessories. When people walk into a staged home, it should smell fresh, clean and inviting.

• Don’t bother with window treatments. Emphasize natural light.

• If your lanai, patio or pool pavilion is a big selling feature, go ahead and style that outdoor living area. Sometimes, it’s the view and the outside entertainment areas that sell the property. Terrance Leaser, 941-228-8224.

Marsha Fottler regularly contributes to local, regional and national publications with articles on residential, commercial and restaurant design as well as food.