The Ultimate Design Guide to Staging Your Home

Published by Clive Braude on 3rd Aug 2016

If you’re thinking about selling your home or seasonal getaway, you may sell it faster or even start a bidding-war - if it’s staged well.

Home staging is a crafty way to emphasize your home’s unique and desirable features. It’s all about projecting the best, most aesthetically pleasing first impression possible, both from the street, and when your prospective buyer steps inside.

The real estate market across Canada is hot right now, so many new buying options are popping up every day – it’s important that your space is a cut above the rest if you’re going to walk away from your home feeling like you’ve reached your selling goals.

The real estate industry says that home-staging can add anywhere from 6-15% to the asking price of your home because it brings people closer to their ideal vision of what the house could look like; think of it as a wise investment, and a cosmetic makeover for your home. It allows people to envision moving in - and while it is optional, it really shouldn’t be.

A 2011 study conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp discovered that homes that were well staged usually sold for about6% above the asking price, and spent less time on the market (two months less), when compared to homes on the market that were not staged. The study also found that it helps to stage right at the beginning - in fact – homes staged prior to listing sold 79% faster than homes staged after being listed.

Your potential buyers don’t want to come into a house and see all of the work and changes they’ll need to undertake – they want to see and envision themselves with an improved lifestyle – so for every problem they see, they’ll most likely deduct from their offering price.

Further, the National Association of Realtors said in 2015 that, “over 95% of ‘Buyer’s Agents’ say that home staging has at least some effect on the buyers view of the home.” Their study goes on to mention that “almost a third (28%) of buyers are more willing to overlook property faults when the home is staged.”

Convinced yet?

So how do you do it? Here is an in-depth list of advanced home staging techniques compiled from the best resources available for a comprehensive look at the do’s and don’ts of home staging:


Clean the House Inside & Out, From Top to Bottom

Every surface should sparkle. From the floors, to the windows, countertops, walls, and everywhere in between. No one wants to see splatters of sauce on the stovetop, or crumbs on the kitchen floor, or smudged windows. Don’t neglect the tile grout in the kitchen and bathroom – don’t skimp out! The goal here is to make everything look new.


If you’re at all serious about staging, trust us and get rid of more than you think you need to remove. Purging nearly everything is acceptable. Rid your space of just about everything and start fresh. You may even have to rent some offsite storage, but it’ll be worth it in the end. You’re trying to improve sight lines, views, and increase the illusion of additional square footage, making your home look larger and well organized.

Balance Between Spotless / Livable 

There is something to be said about  finding that happy medium of Spotless and Livable. Once you’ve purged all of your precious possessions, it’s time to bring a select few back. Think about a vase of fresh cut flowers, a basket of fresh produce on the kitchen island. It’s got to stay clean, but the key here is to make leave hints that your home isn’t just a showpiece – people are going to live in it, after all.

Refinish Floors 

This may mean a miniscule good scrubbing, or even a scuff sand and a fresh coat of stain, or it may mean replacing floorboards and refinishing a whole floor of your home. Go for hardwood floors if you can afford it, they increase the value and elegance of your home. In the bathroom, go for stone or ceramic tile – a more inexpensive option is high quality vinyl tile. If that’s not an option, strategically place area rugs over particularly problem areas of your flooring – and be sure to steam clean those masking rugs while you’re at it.

Rearrange Furniture 

Using aspects of Feng Shui to emphasize parts of your home or property can prove themselves very useful to a staging effort. The goal is to clear visible pathways, draw attention to symmetry and clean cut lines, and to help improve outward views. Keep in mind the scale of your home as well. You may have a massive couch that you adore, but it could make your living room appear small – replace it with something that fits the space. This works for outside, as well. Do without the massive porch swing or Muskoka chairs if your porch or deck is on the tiny-side. Replace with a tasteful bench, or a dainty bistro set of chairs.

Create Gender Neutral Master Bedroom

The luxury hotel vibe is what works here. Use crisp white linens, multiple pillows and a throw at the end of the bed. Add a fresh coat of neutral tone paint to accentuate the freshness of whites, creams and beige’s. Use the rooms natural light to your advantage as well – open those (clean) windows and experiment with some light airy curtains. Assuming your prospective buyers are a couple, the master bedroom must appeal to both of them; in this regard it’s important to fulfill a gender neutral space that can be tweaked by the new owners. Show them the ready-made canvas, and allow them to add their own flair to it when the time comes.

Let People Imagine Themselves In Your Home

It’s nothing personal, but take down any and all family photos of you and your family and replace them with tasteful artworks, or designs. It will help people imagine themselves in the space, instead of you and your family.

Overhaul Your Closet

Closets are major selling points of the master bedroom experience. Decluttering and organizing these critical spaces are well worth your staging efforts because prospective buyers will be searching for spacious closets in your home, and plenty of them. Take this opportunity to pull everything out of your closet and begin organizing in terms of seasonality, colour, etc. Now dust, vacuum, scrub, even paint – and install a light fixture to illuminate the space if possible. An important tip, you can order and install the best closet organization system available, and you should have something to organize your clothes – but having matching hangars is an absolute must. Take advantage of the vertical stage in your closet. Maximize the available space by installing a rod as close to the ceiling as possible. And never, ever, leave anything on the floor of your closet.

Clean Up Toys

This is part and parcel with the depersonalize methodology; the key is to remove any precursor of the home’s current activities. If you’re a family a four, selling your toy-ridden living room to a young career-focused couple will be difficult.

Give Every Room a Purpose

HGTV’s Scott McGillivray says stagers should tackle each individual room giving it its own purpose. Eliminate “dead zones,” and stage that old spare room that houses your laundry and old drum kit into an office space, or a study. Don’t make prospective buyers imagine what a room could equate to. Show them the possibilities.

Change Artwork & Wall Hangings

That poster in the basement of your favourite NHL team is nice and all, but it will need to come down while your staging your home. Instead of highly personalized pieces of wall art and portraiture of friends and family,  replace with art deco pieces, maps, pieces of sculptural design – anything that’s neutral, polished, interesting and high-brow. Choose your art to fit a particular place that looks proportional to the room; for example, if you’re hanging a piece over a fireplace, choose a piece that’s as big as the fireplace opening for continuity. Use colour to create a cohesive look – choosing a piece of art to use as a focal point only works if the room or floor of the house follows a similar colour scheme. Lastly, don’t overdo it. Negative space gives the eye a place to rest, an important aspect of home buying. Your buyer will appreciate being able to relax their gaze rather than being bombarded with large powerful pieces in every room.

Make Every Space Functional

Every home has awkward, cramped spaces that make decorating and staging difficult. Maybe it’s the space under the stairs, or a tiny bedroom nook, or a miniature entranceway. Fairly common in older or historic homes, they can be changed into an upscale feature of a hallway or room if you stage them correctly. Aim to make a clever storage solution out of odd spaces, or even an impromptu private desk or shelving unit for a compact mobile sound system. Adding a high cushion to a staircase nook instantly transforms a formerly unusable space into a cozy reading nook.


The key to boosting your curb appeal is much the same as the interior revamp of your home; lure in your prospective buyer. Declutter, refresh, and create the aesthetic of a specific lifestyle that you’re preferred buyer will identify with, and will find irresistible.

Power Washing

Polish up and blast those grimy patio stones, concrete walkways and stone garden paths. Don’t forget to power wash the deck as well for a lively, vibrant look. You can use a power washer to blast vinyl and aluminum siding as well to give your home a clean look, removing mildew, stains, bird droppings, rather than spending your home painting your entire house to cover up the same imperfections. You name it, a good power wash probably can fix it.

Update House Numbers

Update your address numbers by purchasing big, bold numbers to pop from the street. It will exemplify a postmodern look, and accentuate an implied pride in living at the address.


Buy and replant blooming and budding flowers and shrubbery, even an herb or two for added curb appeal. Having a prim and proper garden will give the illusion of a meticulously manicured property, and will ensure the buyer that the home is loved and cared for. Add a new layer of mulch, and remove any dead or dying foliage. Trim and maintain bushes, shrubs and walkway lining bushes for a neatly pruned look. Be sure to pull all weeds.

Mow the Lawn! 

Think golf course. This is one staging practice that routinely gets forgotten or overlooked as being a routine exercise, rather than a beneficial selling point. Cut your lawn parallel to walkways in a way that accentuates the size of the property. Use the implied lines of the freshly cut grass to lead people toward the house, rather than mowing perpendicular to the pathway. If you’ve got a showing booked in a few days, re-cut the grass again, or weed-eat around decorative stones, gardens and walkways to keep this easily attainable clean look.

Wash Windows 

This tip benefits several staging tips meant for the interior of the home as well. A spotless living room window will allow more natural light in to the space, and create a flawless view. It will help accentuate your polished or refinished floors, artwork and paint as well. Further, having clean windows eliminates smudges and built up grime and pollen.

Let There Be Light!

Allow for good illumination of your yard, both front and back to add light and an inviting, warm feeling to your home by using low voltage lights to highlight branches of specimen trees, your front door, or that beautiful porch swing you’ve worked hard to upgrade.

Repaint or Stain Porches/Decks

Remember: you’re building a vision for people when they come to view your home. If your front porch or back deck are tired and dull, get that power washer back out and repaint or stain your deck for an added boost of colour and freshness. The job will only take you a few hours, and is relatively inexpensive. If you don’t have a backyard entertaining space, create one – it will make your backyard oasis that much more appealing to prospective buyers; it’s one less thing they’ll have to think about doing themselves if they purchase your home. Stain in a clear coat, or a semi-transparent stain – Style at Home says the return on investment for staining your deck can be about 100-200%

Porch Furniture

If you’ve got wood furniture, repeat step 7 and power wash and stain your existing furniture to match or compliment your deck of porch environment. Ensure that your pieces look like they fit the space naturally. If your existing stuff isn’t salvageable, visit your local hardware or outdoors store to stock up on fresh new chairs and a table or two. Embrace a look that lends itself to entertaining, accompany your new porch or deck furniture by making sure the BBQ is clean and sparkling.

Create a Lifestyle

Creating a lifestyle for your buyer is what’s going to enable them to see themselves in the house. We don’t necessarily mean a specific lifestyle, like that of an action-sports athlete (unless you’re selling near a ski hill or a lake resort) – we mean a lifestyle of relaxation, tranquility, family-centricity or retirement. Sell to the points of universal personality that showcase quality of life, and ample free time. Cater to peoples hobbies and values when staging your outdoor property.

Think Seasonally

If it’s wintertime and you’re in a location that gets ample snow, make sure that all walkways, driveways and porches are cleared off and manicured with salt or sand. Realtor Magazine suggests that colours of accentuating features should change according to the season. Landscaper Michael Glassman says utilizing a complimentary colour palette that contrasts shrubbery and flowers can go a long way to stimulate the curb appeal of your home. Roses and a contrasting purple salvia, for example.

Home staging is quickly becoming an essential aspect of the real estate experience. If you’re selling your home, you’re putting your best foot forward for not only a quick sale, but an increased closing price, as well.

Home staging takes time and effort, but the benefits of the process far outweigh the inconvenience of living in a showpiece for a couple of months. Your selling experience will be streamlined and easier, and chances are - you’ll have more in your pocket as proof of its effectiveness.

Happy staging!