Deal Breakers: Savvy Seller Staging Tips


I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time now and its not as if I didn’t have a grasp of the subject.  I mean let’s face it I deal with this in the field daily, but sometimes it just takes a moment to spark the emotion, which for me is key when I’m trying to write…

The other day during a Buyer Consultation meeting; SPARK! My Buyer (quite frankly, I might add ) laid out her major “deal breakers” in the house hunting process and immediately I felt compelled to get this post done!!


Spring will arrive very soon and

It’s time to get your house ready for the market!


The Scene:

Your phone lights up with your agent’s name… Someone is coming to show the house in 30 minutes??!!! Does that spark even a tinge of panic? It doesn’t have to if you have a plan and get organized ahead of time. Staging your home for the market and decorating to live are two very different things.  The objective when putting a home on the market is to capture a buyer’s emotions and evoke feelings of what a great lifestyle they will have if they buy this home!

Over the years I’ve been trained in staging homes for listing purposes. Recently, however, I found myself and a partner in crime, Anne, tackling the largest staging job ever. This monster staging dilemma made me feel like a toddler dipping my toes in the vast ocean of interior design and staging.  It is a gorgeous Gatsby like 10,000 square foot house in need of cosmetic updates but the Seller would be selling it “as is”.

The massive project would require extra help and guidance, so we called our friend Kate Fosco of Energy Design in Atlanta.  She taught us “Less is More”

and more…

and more…

Anne and I quickly volunteered our teens and spouses who were thrilled to join in the fun of boxing up trinkets, moving silk plants, taking down outdated draperies and thank goodness for the homeowner’s groundskeeper who moved furniture into the storage room in the basement (along with some other grueling tasks) There were so many silk plants we could open a silk plant store!!  Who knows?  When you start de-cluttering, you may discover the urge to open your own consignment store!

If you are afraid you can’t do it or you don’t know where to begin, just remember that phrase, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.” So here we go.

Basically, it’s all about the senses: Eyes, Ears, Nose etc…

Don’t worry, you’ll be an expert like us in no time!

What do you see?

Clear the Clutter & Re-Arrange

Unfortunately, if there are too many personal objects surrounding them, potential buyers won’t easily see the spaces and various possible uses of those spaces because they will be distracted by thoughts of your lifestyle (which may or may not be all that impressive). Let’s assume it’s not and that they have no imagination whatsoever.  Paint them a picture!  Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and walk through your door.

What is greeting your guest as they enter each room?

  • Foyer

Make the path easy to walk through and free of trip hazards. Tattered floor mat?  Shoes everywhere? A silk plant from the 80’s? NO!!!!

  • Closets

Sometimes it’s necessary to pack away a few things.  Store them in your basement neatly or at a local nearby storage facility.  Let’s face it…If they look in the closet hoping to see a wonderful space for keeping their life hassle free and in perfect order, it’s not pleasant when Mr. Potato Head attacks them the minute they take a peek. Deliver a load to your favorite charity or arrange for a pick up.

  • Living Room

If you have wall to wall art, take down some to ensure buyers aren’t focusing on your art rather than the spaces.



  • Kitchen

Fresh Flowers, a bowl of lemons, hide the nasty sponge, make sure your sink is clean, wipe down the counters and of course put away your vitamins and pills. If one lonely bar stool sits at the breakfast bar, consider investing in 2 or 3 stools so the buyer can see there is room for plenty of people when it’s time for morning coffee or pop tarts. If any cabinets have glass, pack away plastic cups and only display a small number of matching glasses or plates.



  • Baths

White Towels rolled up next to the tub or hanging nicely on the towel rack…Simple simple simple!  If you have some pretty soap from your last hotel stay, place one on top of the rolled hand towel next to the sink. Viola


  • Bedrooms

White or Neutral bedding-To neutralize busy patterns of fabric or wallpaper, place solid light colored pillows on beds and sofas. Fold down bedding to expose crisp white sheets. No need to buy a whole new Bedding Set unless your comforter is a crazy print that’s distracting.



  • Shelves & Home Accessories

When it comes to bookcases, remove covers and stack similar color bound books with a small accessory as a topper.  For instance place a paperweight, or small trinket. Only the lower shelves (2-3 shelves up leaving the top shelves empty to make the eyes look up and aware of the wonderful potential). If you own a collection of same themed vases than you may place them about.

  • Outdoor Spaces

Remove excessive furniture around the patio or pool deck.  If the pool needs to be the main focal point, the key is to show people how relaxing this oasis will be.  Replace that old warped ceiling fan that’s dangling by electric wire with a new fan.  Well worth the money!!! Remove Pool Cover, pressure wash pool deck, limit accessories to a few basic pillows.

Before: Broken Fan



  • Lighting

Do I really have to tell you to change the dead light bulbs?  YES! Believe it or not…I can’t tell you how many homes have burned out bulbs everywhere and poor lighting. Additionally, open the blinds, curtains, shutters and let natural light flood in. If the windows are hindered by nasty old valences, you may want to consider removing them completely.  Below is an example of “Less is more” when deciding what to put away or store. It makes the room look larger when there is less clutter (and silk plants!!)

  • Nursery

A lot of things come with your little package and it’s not easy keeping things perfect when selling a house, but try to have a few containers to display things like the homeowner in the pictures below.  Sooooooo cute!

What do you smell?

In addition to making things pleasing to the eye, take a wiff…Your tween’s smelly softball uniform?  The dirty diaper pail?  A trashcan full of last nights shrimp shells?  The cat box?  Just Stop…If there is any hint of a bad odor-take out the trash, invest in some plug ins and light a candle!

Here’s a fun tip if you have a hand held vacuum: Put a handful of those laundry scent booster beads in the vacuum bag.  Whenever you turn it on to suck up crumbs and dog hair it will release wonderful aromas. 

What do you hear?

Music is a huge factor in making us feel good.  Think of it like creating a movie moment. Have light music playing throughout the house like jazz or classical.  Not too loud, but if your closest neighbor happens to be the freeway, turn it up LOUDER.

How do you feel?

Nobody wants to be shivering or sweating while they search for their dream home. They won’t even discover its their dream home if they rush by all the fine features!  I know you want that utility bill to stay low, but seriously…Do I really need to explain further?


You do want to move right?  Here’s a thought: As soon as you let go of the current space you live in and get excited about your new adventure, the house will let go of you. Profound, huh? The MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember when you are asking yourself if an item should stay or be packed away is keep it simple.  Less is More

Now you won’t have to stress or scramble when your agent says, “Lights! Camera! Action!”  You can gracefully sweep through the house, do a basic roundup of junk, turn on the lights and exit the back door….

For more information on homes in and around Atlanta, give us a call!

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Shauna Davis Properties

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