HomeHome Updates: Tips & Ideashome staging ideasSTAGING OR SELLING YOUR HOME? THESE 5 ROOMS MATTER THE MOST


Posted on June 24, 2023 by KylieMawdsley


Pricing your home? Realtor’s job. Marketing your home? Realtor’s job. Preparing your home for selling? Your job.

In an ideal world, your home will be tickety-boo from top-to-bottom when it hits the market. Closets will be organized, corners cleaned, and garages purged of boxes and leftover furniture pieces.

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However, I like to think of myself as ‘well-rooted’ in the real world (well, most days anyway), and in reality, not many people have the time, energy, or budget to create a home that is 100% ready for the real estate market.

So, this being said, I’ve created a list of the 5 KEY ROOMS, that, come hell or high water, need to be in tip-top shape when it comes time to list your home.

Sherwin Williams Neutral Ground, best beige tan cream hybrid, sofa, home decor, area rug



Before we get into the details of HOW to prep your rooms, let’s have a quick chat about the rooms themselves. These KEY ROOMS are the ‘deal breakers’ – if one (or more) of these rooms are off, then potentially, so is the deal. 

Listed in order of importance (but this can change from home to home based on the layout).


The kitchen is the heart of the home, which means it’s absolutely VITAL that it’s in its best condition possible. When a buyer looks at an outdated kitchen, they’re adding up the cost in their head of how to update it – and they ALWAYS overestimate, which comes off YOUR asking price.

White oak flooring, Goodfellow engineered. Kitchen, Revere Pewter, Urbane Bronze painted cabinets. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

See the FULL REMODEL and colour list HERE

And regardless of whether your kitchen is outdated or brand new, it needs to be CLEAN and DECLUTTERED. Many buyers would rather buy a clean, and well-maintained older/outdated home, than a newer, dirty, poorly-maintained one. 

As for clutter, it doesn’t matter if YOU think your home looks boring or lacks personality without your personal stuff around – this isn’t about you; it’s about selling your home to the average buyer…

Buyers don’t want to see your stuff unless it’s purposeful and, ideally, pretty.

Off-white warm gray painted kitchen cabinets, Sherwin Williams Eider White with light gray quartz, stainless steel and subway tile

6 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Update Ideas


While most people spend their time in the kitchen, it’s still the living room that they look to when they ‘envision’ relaxing or entertaining their friends…

Dunn Edwards Foggy Day 25 lighter, Similar Drift of Mist, Sherwin William transitional living room, blue & orange accents, home decor, trendy style, open layout concept

Living room, vaulted ceiling, wood beams, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray paint color on walls, wood trim. Kylie m INteriors Edesign, sectional

Kylie M & V1 Real Estate Photography / Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray

BTW, just so you don’t think I’m talking out of my arse, I have a husband, two kids, and a dog (I had two at one point – dogs, that is, not husbands). I know how hard it can be to maintain a tidy home. These tips and ideas come from a place of experience, stress, and many home purchases and sales (along with my daily work).


While you can get away with spare bedrooms that aren’t stellar or perfectly staged (although I’d prefer you spent time on them), you CAN’T get away with a bad primary bedroom. 

Master Bedroom, white board and batten paint colour, vaulted ceiling, chandelier, wood barn door and white oak flooring. Stonington Gray. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color advice blog

Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray / Sherwin Williams High Reflective White

The key is to depersonalize the master bedroom so that ANYONE can picture themselves sleeping there quite comfortably (think ‘slightly homier hotel’). And while you can get away with personal photos and items in other parts of the home (to a very small degree), not in the primary bedroom.

Benjamin Moore Classic Gray best warm gray taupe paint colour, dark wood furniture, bedroom. KYlie M

Benjamin Moore Classic Gray


Just like the kitchen – cleanliness is King in the bathroom. It can be outdated and downright fugly, but it can’t…be…dirty.

Bathroom vanity Sherwin Williams High Reflective White, marble look white countertop, home decor, mirrors and hardware. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, Jenna Christian home

It’s best if ALL bathrooms are in tip-top shape, but at the very least, the primary and main bathrooms that guests use should be as good as possible.


Your entryway should provide clues to the buyers regarding what they can expect in the rest of the home regarding cleanliness and style. If your entryway is outdated and dirty, the buyer will expect that in the rest of the home – whether this is the case or not.  

The entryway is the first room potential buyers see when they enter your home and the last one they see when they leave.

Kylie M INteriors Edesign, home decor in entryway



While home staging can be overwhelming, focusing on your home’s most important rooms first can make the process more manageable and even therapeutic! And if not, there’s always wine and a Ryan Reynold’s movie marathon, which are also therapeutic…

Two storey foyer or entryway, Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray, beige tan carpet on stairs, dark wood floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, consultant

Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray


While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, remember, you don’t have to do EVERY room (although that would be fab). Focus on the 5 KEY ROOMS, starting with the most important ones in your particular layout.

Bedroom, walls painted warm gray like Benjamin Moore Classic Gray. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour expert. Home staging ideas (2)

Kylie M E-Design & Tim Hanson Productions

When it comes to decluttering, remember, it isn’t personal.

If you want personal, don’t move, and enjoy the home you have (wink wink).

Seriously though, the goal is to DEPERSONALIZE your home enough that someone else could picture themselves living there, and that’s hard to do with Aunty Sally’s and Uncle Herb’s portraits staring at you from the fireplace mantel.

Sherwin Williams Egret White, transitional style living room, warm off white greige taupe warm gray paint colour. Kylie M Interiors Edesign

Sherwin Williams Egret White

Decluttering your home is about showcasing the features and finishes that actually COME WITH the home when it’s sold.

This can include…

  • solid surfaces like wood floors and quartz countertops
  • the shape and flow of a room, which is best showcased via the right furniture layout
  • a gorgeous fireplace
  • details such as decorative moldings, hardware, or specialty finishes
  • a gorgeous view!

When it comes to preparing your home for sale, less is often more. Let’s look at some common surfaces and what they should hold…


The fireplace is often the focal point in the living or family room. Thoughtful, well-coordinated pieces are fine if they suit the style of the home and don’t distract from the fireplace. If they don’t work, it’s better to leave an EMPTY mantel, than a poorly decorated one. 

If your fireplace has good bones but could use a little update, check out these 5 Fireplace Update Ideas.

Brown stone fireplace with Benjamin Moore greige taupe paint colour on walls, oak floor. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, client photo

I would replace the personal photo with something generic, like a landscape.

Red, pink, orange brick fireplace, wood mantel, greige taupe warm gray walls, Sherwin Williams Egret White, home decor. Sofa. Kylie M Online paint color consulting expert

Sherwin Williams Egret White


Table lamps are mandatory in a well-dressed living room, as long as they’re updated with a clean light shade. As for bedrooms, matching table lamps should be on either side of the bed. While one or two curated items can live on these surfaces, side tables should be free of ANY excess clutter, including personal items and remote controls.

The ‘less is more’ guideline also applies to longer pieces like dressers and coffee tables – nothing personal, only pretty.

If you were selling this home, you’d tuck the book of personal photos away (shown on the bottom shelf).


There’s rarely a reason for anything to be on a window sill in any room. Does this mean you might need to move your plant collection? Yup. Plants block what can be seen outside the window (which can be handy when you don’t like what you’re looking at). Also, plants and other items make a room look cluttered and smaller, blocking the quality of light coming into the room. 

Benjamin MOore White Dove in coastal, beach, lake style home with white oak floor and quartz countertop. Dining room. Kylie M Interiors online paint color expert.


Anything unnecessary should not be on the floor (i.e., fans, space heaters, recyclables, misc. unnecessary furniture pieces, boxes, etc…). This also includes extra pieces of furniture that you might use for function but that impede pathways or a room’s natural flow. 

4 Easy Steps & Ideas: How to Decorate Your Fireplace Mantel


Soap and one or two decorative accessories are fine, but everything else should be put in a basket and tucked under the sink. If you don’t have space under your sink, declutter your undercabinet. Take the time to throw out anything unnecessary (like the past date sunscreen and old empty tampon boxes), and make room for that basket.

While this next bathroom might not have the latest features, the beautiful gray-green vanity complements the original travertine tile and makes the space look fresh and clean for a new buyer…

Benjamin Moore Kitty Gray painted oak wood vanity in bathroom, terra cotta tile, orange peach floor Moderate White paint color walls. Kylie M Interiors

3 Ideas: Add Style To a Small Bathroom

When you have a showing, throw all of your ‘daily use’ items in the basket and throw them under the sink. When you don’t have showings, all of your stuff can happily live on the countertop.


Kitchens are often the function junction in a busy household and it can be hard to stay on top of them (same with entryways). However, the SOONER you sell your home, the SOONER you can stop agonizing over a messy kitchen and just live your life.

Here’s a list of things I suggest my clients leave out (at the very MOST). But even then, if you can put it away…do it.

  • blender (as long as it’s not a nasty ole thing, and ideally, it WOULD be put away)
  • toaster (not toaster oven, they’re too big and fugly)
  • a decorative container holding a few large utensils
  • fruit bowl
  • coffee maker
  • teapot
  • microwave
  • paper towel holder
  • decorative plant or something that’s purposefully added

South-west facing kitchen, Sherwin Williams Pure White cabinets, light red oak floor and Sherwin Williams Austere gray walls, green island. South west .. CLIENT PHOTO Kylie M Interiors Edesign

6 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Update Ideas

Oh, by the way, bananas are the worst staging items. They only look good for a day or two and a half-brown banana doesn’t add a decorative touch to any space (perhaps a ’60s color palette). Stick to apples, oranges, limes, and lemons.

5 Ideas to Update Your 1990s Home



You don’t always need to spend 1-3% of your listing price (which is a popular belief) to get your home in showing condition. However, I do believe that if you spend ‘smart money,’ you’ll reap the benefits. So don’t be cheap – buck up for these small expenditures and sell your house!

As you’ll see in this next photo, a home doesn’t need to be ‘trendy based on today’s standards’ to look great for resale…

Wood kitchen island cabinets, orange stain, wood floor,granite countertops, stainless steel, pendants, Benjamin Moore Texas Leather greige brown gray blend green

Sure, some people will look at the above kitchen and see it as outdated as the countertops aren’t white quartz countertops and the cabinets aren’t white – you can’t make everyone happy. However, the BONES of this kitchen are solid, clean, well-maintained, and include thoughtful, smaller updates such as hardware and light fixtures that suit the style of the space.

6 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Update Ideas


Change outdated fixtures in your 5 KEY ROOMS and give buyers the impression that your home has been maintained structurally AND esthetically.

Here is a list of lights that are considered ‘outdated’…

  • booby lights (yes, you know what they look like)
  • semi-flush fixtures from the 70s and 80s
  • lightbars with bulbs showing (bathroom, definitely 70s and 80s)
  • brass or gold finishes (there’s a big difference style-wise between the gold that’s trendy today and the ‘old gold’)
  • any fixture with tinted amber glass fixtures
  • ceiling fans with brass, ’80s wicker, and/or exposed plain bulbs (yes, even some Edison bulb fixtures can make a home look dated to the 2010s)

Living room, staircase, white spindles. Sherwin High Reflective White, Stonington Gray paint color on walls, Gray sectional. Kylie M Interiors diy online paint color consultant

Budget-Friendly Lighting Update Ideas (Graphic Content)


If your cabinet and door hardware are currently outdated, the BEST MONEY YOU CAN SPEND is on new hardware – and it’s not that expensive (relative to many other updates). In fact, I’ve written a GREAT blog post on 6 Budget-Friendly Home Update Ideas and you’ll find some great tips and inspiration in there. 

Entryway with Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray lightened, Revere Pewter painted doors, white trim, dark painting stair railing. White oak floors. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting


  • When doing bedroom and bathroom doors (and kitchen cabinets if the hinges are exposed), don’t forget to match the hinges to the new hardware!
  • If you’re transitioning between styles and don’t have the budget to replace ALL of your metal finishes, BLACK is the most unisex and flexible.



Whether it’s a closet door, cabinet handle, or broken blind, if it’s broken and a buyer will see it or touch it, you need to fix or replace it. If people see a few small things that are broken they can easily assume that if the little things are broken, then what about bigger things?

Benjamin Moore Natural Wicker in sunroom. Best cream paint color, off white chairs, yellow sofa.



I don’t mean sweep, vacuum, and wipe your countertops – these are things you should do every two to three days when selling your home…

I mean, you need to CLEAN, baby, CLEAN!

Back in the day, before I dove head first into Online Paint Color Consulting, I did a TON of home staging (it was totally my jam). It was amazing how many homes I went to where I said, ‘Okay, you’re going to need to do some serious cleaning,’ to which they said, ‘…but I just cleaned yesterday?‘.

Your version of ‘clean’ might not be clean enough for the average fussy buyer…clean more. 

For most of these things, you only need a clean cloth (with a nice nap to it to really pick up the dirt), soap, and water.


If you have tiles/grout, give them a good scrub with cleaner and a brush. If they don’t come clean, consider a commercial-grade cleanser like ZEP or reseal your grout with Grout Renew.


It’s time to wipe your trims and doors, concentrating on the areas from the floor up to about five feet, where most of the wear and tear happens. In an ideal world, you’ll get out your trim paint and give your moldings a fresh once-over (you’ll be SHOCKED at how much of a difference this makes) – but I might be pushing my luck with that.

Hallway, front door, entryway in Benjamin MOore Ballet White with White Dove trim, popular warm off white paint color with red stain oak wood floor


Walls can take a beating in a home where kids and dogs live. Concentrate on the wall space from the floor, up to about five feet. In bathrooms, wipe down ALL of the walls.


The older your windows are, the more likely it is that there’s mold in the corners. Get Q-tips, bleach, and a cloth, and wipe up any moldy areas. Moldy windows are a great visual reminder to buyers that your home needs new windows or has circulation/moisture issues. Regular soap and water works for run-of-the-mill stuff.


Your front door can get pretty grungy and isn’t always noticed in regular cleaning. Clean your door inside and out, including the transition and framework.

Entryway of foyer with light wood flooring, black front door, home decor and Sherwin Williams Repose Gray. Kylie M.

And don’t be afraid to slap a coat or two of paint on it. Painting the inside and outside of your front door is a GREAT way to leave a great impression on potential buyers.

Sherwin Williams White Duck in living room low vaulted ceiling with white painted tongue and groove, beams, black front door. Kylie M Edesign

The 9 Best Paint Colors for the OUTSIDE of Your Front Door

If you bust your lil butt and work your way through this list, don’t be afraid to apply these same principles to the other rooms in your home. The more you do, the better chance your home will have of selling for TOP DOLLAR! 


6 Budget-Friendly Home Update Ideas

Home Staging Tips & Ideas: 4 Rules to Follow

The 8 Best Benjamin Moore Paint Colours for Home Staging


Check out my E-design Packages, E-BOOKS & COURSES!

The best paint colors for your room. Benjamin and Sherwin. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Home Decorating and diy ideas blogger.market

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign



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  1. I love your site and have learned so much. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

    We recently bought a small house that we are working on to sell or possibly rent out. Do you have information on how to stage an empty house for selling? I used the search engine but nothing came up.

    Thank you!

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