Design of the Times – Quick and Dirty prep list for Home Staging Success

Calling all realtors and sellers! Who needs the quick and dirty prep list for home staging success?

Selling a home is a huge undertaking. With so much at stake, it’s important to do everything in your power to help seal the deal with a quick sale and the highest dollar value. Step one in this process is preparing your home to have it showcased beautifully.

When in doubt, ask the people who are boots on the ground. Realtors – they are marching from house to house with buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors, 96% of buyers’ agents agree that home staging influences how buyers view their homes. This is an important number when deciding if you will stage your home, or as a realtor, stage your listing. It is a commitment, but it will pay off. 

Preparing a lived-in domain is like staging a vacant home in all the ways that count. Maximizing space and showcasing key features are still the end goal. An empty home needs items added, and generally, an occupied home needs to be minimized to create focus on the home itself. Living in a home and staging to sell are very different. Short-term pain for long team gain is a great motto for this process. Put the hard work in now, and it will pay off. 

Realtors can only work with what they have. No matter how good they are, the product you hand over to them is the only product they can sell. Selling features or a great house layout that cannot be visualized by buyers doesn’t have that first day on the market excitement. Being able to physically showcase what your home has to offer is the way to approach this. In short – Pack up and clear out (somewhat) to make that house stand out!

Front Entrance

The main goal of staging the front entrance is to give potential buyers the best first impression. How do we do that? Make it as spacious as possible while always ensuring that it is visually pleasing. During real estate viewings there will be a realtor and at least one other person, usually more, walking into your home at the same time. Let’s make sure they have the most space available to get their boots off, get situated, and get their walk-through started off right.

  • Remove the door mat for photos, but leave it down for viewings for the safety and comfort of the buyers and their team
  • Remove all footwear in the porch for both photos and viewings
  • Empty any hooks. Hide away the keys and the dog leashes 
  • Front Hall Closet – Empty floor and top shelf if possible. Two decorative baskets on the top shelf with items inside them are great too. Emptying the floor and the top shelf is a general rule for all closet and pantry areas. It maximizes and showcases the space and leaves a great impression on buyers. It will be a great example of how they want their space to look

Living Room

The living room is another main area that we need to make sure space is maximized. It’s so important to make it easy for buyers to picture themselves as well as their furniture and belongings in this space, at first glance. The more open, bright, and spacious you can make it, the better!

Think ‘magazine photoshoot’! That’s the level of perfection we are going for. 

  • Make sure all the traffic ways are open and make sure the window and feature wall are cleared out. 
  • Try not to have the couch in front of the window
  • Set the room up so the ideal layout is easily spotted when buyers walk in 
  • Unplug and hide all cords. TV, TV equipment, lamps, etc.
  • Remove all personal photos – Again, we want to focus on the house, not who or what is in it
  • Remove any colourful decorative pillows and blankets from the furniture as it creates a focal point and buyers will notice that first instead of the room itself. We want them to glance over everything and notice the (beautifully decorated) room
  • Open curtains and blinds for photos and viewings – the more natural light, the better!
  • Have just the lamps centered on the end tables. If there is lots of space, you can add a plant or a couple of books on their side… or both! Two flat books with a small plant on top. 


We want to draw attention to the areas of your home that are at the top of buyers’ MUST-HAVE list. The best way to accentuate the greatness of your kitchen is to make it easy for buyers to see what they are getting. Kitchens plus ample space are a wonderful team for the real estate market. Countertop space is one item that many homeowners want more of. The more we can showcase the potential of each kitchen area, the more buyers will be able to picture themselves there, at first glance. Just as important, the more we can minimize items on the counter, the less ‘stuff’ there is for buyers to focus on and the more they will gravitate toward the kitchen itself. Countertops, available space, backsplash, cabinets, cabinet hardware, etc. 

  • Countertops – empty countertops to start. Depending on space, start adding a few staging pieces.  A coffee station, a nice knife set (if one is there), a couple of plants or a decorative bowl in the corner
  • Keep sink and dishwasher empty
  • Pro tip! If you have a nice mixer – set that up nicely against the wall and let all the baking vibes commence
  • If applicable, empty the top of cabinets as it creates a focal point and takes away from the cabinets themselves
  • Remove all cleaning products from the sink area
  • Empty the front, side, and top of the fridge. All magnets must go! 
  • Empty the window ledge and remove curtains or toppers from the small kitchen window. Let all that light in! 
  • Remove towels from oven and dishwasher handles
  • Remove the kitchen floor mat to create openness
  • Remove any pet food dishes 

Master Bedroom 

The master bedroom must be a quiet, spacious, eye-catching oasis. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it needs to be cozy yet empty. Buyers need to be able to picture their own furniture in the room while admiring your setup and the available space. Sound easy? It really is! Here are the steps:

  • Have just lamps on nightstands
  • Remove all hampers 
  • Remove any items (table, hamper, large vase, etc.) from corners of the room. Empty and open corners always open up the space
  • Remove that ottoman from the bottom of the bed. Generally, these look beautiful and warm, but our goal for the master is always to maximize available space and give the buyers ample room to walk around and picture their own furniture in there
  • Empty the top of the dressers. Keep the flowers on the tall dresser
  • WALK-IN CLOSET: Very important selling feature. The best thing you can do to showcase your master walk-in closet is to minimize the items in it to really amplify the available space as well as the layout. Since you’re moving out anyway, the easiest approach is to get a head start on the packing process. Remove and pack away any out-of-season clothes and items you won’t need over the next few months. As with any closet, empty the top shelf and floor!


The bathroom needs to be magazine worthy. Clean, minimal, and staged goes a long way! This list is the main bathroom staging tips. A clean and organized bathroom can hook a buyer just like a dirty and messy bathroom can turn them away completely.

  • Tuck away the garbage bin 
  • Remove bathmat for photos
  • Keep shower curtain open for photos and viewings
  • Remove all toiletries in the tub area
  • Remove all toiletries from the sink area. We are going for no real signs of use. No toothbrushes, used bars of soap, used towels, toiletries, etc. 
  • Open shower curtain for photos and viewings. This maximizes space and leaves no surprises for buyers 
  • Keep toilet seat cover down always

You Did it! Your home is market ready!

By fully committing to a detailed list like this, you are amplifying the benefits, space, and design of your home. More importantly than that, you have set up to sell a lifestyle. Buyers and their realtors booked a viewing at your house because there are things they like already. It may not even be your home itself. It may be the location and the yard space. Those things you can’t change, but you can certainly add to them! Help them fall in love with your home!  Put in all the hard work now. You have one shot to ‘wow’ buyers, so dig in, pack up, and get out of your comfort zone. Picture this as a house that needs to look perfect for everyone, not just for you anymore. We want to appeal to the masses and the best way to do that is minimal, spacious, and neutral. This hard work along with your top-notch, hard-working realtor who had perfectly priced your home, is a recipe for success! 

by Megan Callahan