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Home Staging Tips and Ideas – 4 Rules to Follow

Posted on July 29, 2018 by KylieMawdsley


4 Rules for Home Staging

Home staging is a great way to improve the selling potential of your home. If a healthy relationship is developed between you, your home and your realtor then you have a great chance of selling your home at the right time for the right price.

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Home staging in living room with balance, navy blue accents. Similar to Sherwin Williams Sandbar. Kylie M E-design

Here are the things that when used as a ‘package’ will improve the selling potential of your home

  • The price is appropriate based on a reputable realtor’s knowledge and recommendation – not yours
  • Marketing is sufficient
  • It is a healthy real estate market for your homes’ price range based on the economy/interest rates/etc…
  • The home is in tip-top selling condition

So obviously 2 of those things are the Realtor’s responsibilities, 1 of those is subject to mortgage rates/economy/season and 1 of those is all about YOU.

The Homeowner’s Responsibilities

Yes, YOU play one of the most important roles in the sale of your home and your responsibility is equally as important as the Realtor’s and there are some key rules/guidelines for you to follow to improve the selling potential of your home – it’s time to get your sweat on!

Home staging tips and ideas that are affordable by Kylie M Interiors

Now I like to think of myself as a designer who is well-grounded in reality (most of the time anyway…) and I know you only have so much time, energy and money to invest in your home. I also know that many of you have kids, pets and lifestyle requirements that make it more ‘challenging’ to present your home in tip-top shape, therefore, the suggestions I make are based on that knowledge, so humour me…(as I have young kids and pets too…and a hubby).

4 Key Rules for Homeowners

Home Staging Rule #1    Clean Clean Clean

I have been in many homes where the homeowner ‘feels’ that their home is clean. Your home cannot be clean based on your standards – unless you are remarkably anal. You can probably tell me that you are clean and I can probably tell you that you aren’t clean enough. Hey, I have kids too and I know how it can get. But the reality is if you get your home fantastically clean and then make a concentrated effort to maintain it, it will all be manageable.

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt in bathroom with white countertop, dark wood mirror. Kylie m INteriors Edesign, paint colour review. Client photo

Having kids/pets is not an excuse for having an unclean home when you are trying to sell. If you would like to stay in your house then fill yer boots!

Bathroom remodel. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, paint color consultant. Sherwin Williams Argos, Restoration Hardware vanity, cement patterned floor tile (6)

Aside from keeping a clutter-free and tidy space, here are the jobs that you should be doing every 2 -3 days (you want to sell your home, right?)

  • Vacuuming/sweeping/mopping
  • Sinks and faucets (kitchen and bathroom)
  • Countertops and table (including dining and coffee tables)

Benjamin Moore cool off-white American White in bedroom. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting, client photo

Now here are the things that you could/should hire a cleaner to do. If you maintain your home then this should only need to be done once  If your home is on the market for a longer period of time you may need to check/re-do every 2 months.  If you tend to be rough on your home, you need to check these things every 2 weeks.

  • Baseboards and trims – Especially the tops of baseboards in kitchens, entryways and bathrooms.  The crap that collects there is a major turnoff to a buyer with clean sensibilities.  Also wipe down your door trims from 4′ down; this is where they get the most wear and tear.  A basic cloth with soap and water should be enough to take off any built-up grime.
  • Light switch covers – An amazing amount of finger goo can build up on these just from day-to-day use.
  • Cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms – You may not notice all of the drips and gooey stuff that has dried on your cabinets, but potential buyers will! If you take a step back you may also notice a build-up of grease around the handles and stove area. Use a 1 to 4 vinegar to water mixture and a clean cloth. If that doesn’t cut through then use just vinegar on its own.  Be cautious when using actual ‘degreasers’ like TSP and Goo Gone as they can often remove the finish on the cabinets as well as the grease.
  • Walls in high-traffic areas – This is often the case in entryways/stairwells where hands and shoes scuff the area up to the 4′ mark. Do not use just a damp cloth to wipe your walls  – always use some kind of soap/cleaner or you will upset your paint finish.
  • Windows in main areas – It can be costly to have the interior and exterior of your windows cleaned. Just be sure that the ones in your 5 Key Rooms are clean inside and out – especially if you have a view!
  • Grout on the floor/in showers and caulking around the base of the toilet/tub/shower surround/sink – Start by using a basic bathroom cleaner and a toothbrush (not your spouses…) to scrub these areas. If the grout does not come clean, consider purchasing a more industrial cleaner like Zep Grout Cleaner from Home Depot. If your caulking is mouldy in the shower then a mixture of bleach and water should take care of it. If that doesn’t work then you need to remove it and re-do it.
  • Window sills – Mouldy window sills can be a red flag for potential buyers who may think the home has a moisture/air circulation issue and can also be a reminder that the windows are old and outdated. Here is an excellent ‘how-to’ for effectively cleaning the mould from your window sills.

Cleanliness Killers

#1 – Pet Odour. Whether it’s a litter box or a rug that has been urinated on (by a pet…) buyers will be sensitive to smells that don’t exist in their own home. You may have adjusted to the smells in your home, so just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean that they can’t. Go on the assumption that your cat litter smells as does your rug and take the appropriate steps to ensure that they don’t. This may involve new cat litter that has odour control, cleaning the litter daily and having your carpets cleaned by a professional cleaner who is trained to deal with pet odour (don’t try to save money by doing it yourself – it’s never the same – buck-up buttercup.)

stairway with wood and metal railing, beige carpet, Sherwin Williams Creamy, golden doodle and rescue dog

#2 – Smoke. There are very few things that put a potential buyer off more than the smell of smoke. I have been in homes where the homeowner doesn’t smoke in the house – yet it still smells like smoke?  This is because they often smoke outside the home; often in the garage or out on the back deck. The smell of smoke infiltrates the house and usually effects an area of approx 200 sq ft surrounding the area where they enter/exit when they smoke.

I appreciate you may like to smoke, however, you have to realize that it may affect the sale of your home – whether you can smell it or not.

Read more: The 8 Best Paint Colours for Home Staging

Home Staging Rule #2    Declutter Your 5 Key Rooms

Read more:  Home Staging Tips – 5 Key Rooms

You may think that potential buyers will ‘look past’ all of your belongings to see the bones of the home, but many will not be able to. If buyers are distracted by the amount of furnishings/accessories in a home, they will be unlikely to notice the features that actually ‘come with’ the home. 

Kitchen painted Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray with white quartz countertops and driftwood marble tile backsplash. Kylie M Interiors Decorating and E-Design Vancouver Island

Yes, it will feel different, it won’t feel like your space anymore, it will feel impersonal and it may be slightly less visually interesting to you – but these are all good things. You want to sell your home, right?  Your space needs to be the best reflection of ‘itself’ rather than the best reflection of ‘you‘.

White kitchen cabinets with white bevelled subway tile backsplash, navy blue le creuset accents. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting and blogger

Here are some ideas to help you do this…

Define the Focal Point

Every room should have a focal point and you need to ensure that the layout of your furniture complements it.  In your living room it’s a fireplace/view, in a bedroom it’s the headboard wall and in the dining room, it’s the center of the table. If you have too much furniture in a room then viewers will not be able to see beyond it. Likewise, if you have too many accessories or too much artwork cluttering your focal point – the point will be lost.

Living room with dark wood beams, trim and tv stand, stone fireplace, brown leather furniture and greige taupe

Point to Ponder: If you find yourself saying “But I like…but I need…”then you know you need to step away and view the home how a buyer would see it – if you are intent on having it a certain way then you may have to be content with living there a whole lot longer than you anticipated.

Kitchen island painted benjamin moore cloud white, before and after some time. View to open dining room. Kylie M INteriors E-design and online paint color expert

Take each room back to the basics

Each rooms’ basics can vary depending on the size, but here are some general guidelines to follow…(not including some basic accessorizing and artwork)

  • Livingroom: Couch, loveseat, 1-2 accent chairs, 2-3 side tables, coffee table, entertainment unit (only when necessary) and the odd shelving unit/decorative piece depending on the size of the room
  • Dining room: Table with 4-8 chairs (remember it’s better to show your room at it’s highest capacity than it’s lowest if space comfortably allows), buffet and hutch AND THAT’S IT!!!
  • Bedrooms: Bed/headboard, 2 side tables, low boy dresser, highboy dresser. If you have a large room you may also include a bench at the end of the bed and accent chair.  Anything else is more than is necessary.
  • Bathroom: Towels hanging, soap and 1-2 accessory pieces…and that’s it. Nobody wants to see your dressing gown, toothbrushes, hairbrushes or extra toilet paper rolls.


Home Staging Rule #3    Clarify Use

It needs to be obvious what each room is used for based on the original intentions of the home. Yes, this may upset your daily function but you want to sell your home right? Short-term discomfort for long-term gain – suck it up sweetcheeks!

Because the living room is one of the key rooms, it is vital that it is staged perfectly. In a small space, it is okay to have an ‘office zone’ in your living room – as long as it is subtle.

living room south facing, Navajo White Benjamn Moore greige furniture. Before Kylie M E-design

So, if your living room is currently your playroom, your dining room is your office or your spare room is a storage space then you need to do some major reorganizing. 

Dining rooms are often multi-use spaces. Like I mentioned in the ‘declutter’ category, it is essential to take this room back to the basics meaning it needs at bare minimum a table and chairs. Once again, you can certainly have an ‘office zone’ within your dining room – as long as it’s not the feature.

Benjamin Moore Silver Satin with green accents in a mid century modern dining room with furniture and decor. Kylie M INteriors E-design

Spare rooms. There are a few things to consider when staging spare rooms:

  • If you have 1 spare room – it needs to be staged properly as a bedroom/office
  • If you have 2 spare rooms – 1 of them has to be staged properly as a bedroom or office
  • If you have 3 or more spare rooms – at least 2 of them need to be staged properly.

Sometimes time/energy doesn’t allow you to clear every space in your home, but as long as the important ones are ready then you are good to go.

Home Staging Rule #4    DE-Personalize

There’s always a fine line when it comes to de-personalizing your space. Your home should not be a shrine to you and your family, nor should it be void of feeling and personality. Buyers need to feel like they can live in your space; rather than feeling like they are invading it.

Kylie M Interiors E design, online paint colour consulting. Sherwin Williams Pure White walls, trim and railings in south facing room with open staircase. Navy blue accents and home decor

While the gallery-style arrangement is beautiful, the photos are just too personal

  • Livingroom: No more than 3 family photos or 1 small display
  • Kitchen: No family photos
  • Dining room: No more than 1 family photo or 1 small display
  • Bedroom: No family photos
  • Kids rooms: No more than 2 photos or one photo display
  • Hallways: No more than 1 display/photo per hall/stairwell

De-personalizing also includes removing any items that are quite ‘specific’ to you and your family. This includes toothbrushes, non-decorative towels, bathrobes and slippers, monogrammed items and personal items such as medications.

When selling your home you are dealing with 100’s of thousands of dollars – don’t be afraid to invest a small amount in a Home Stager who can help you set your home up for success!  And most importantly, do your research, pick a good Realtor and listen to him (her).
Chat soon, 
 Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign


  1. I loved how well you explained all the points Kylie. I have been reading about home staging for a while now i gotta say this is so far the best most well explained post i have read.

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      Wow, well thank you very much! I have a home staging e-book and you know, I’m going to send you a copy to check out! I should be able to do that tomorrow, so watch for it in your inbox :).

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      Well thank you, I’m so glad! Do you know that I have a Home Staging e-book? It’s got some GREAT stuff in it too! Happy holidays 🙂

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