Model homes make us dream about living there, but living in your own home while it is being staged is tougher than it looks. The key is to easily contain and hide your personal items – not just to showcase your home better, but also to keep your personal life, well… personal! Below are a few tips for homeowners who are living in their staged home while it is on the market.
In the kitchen, keep the countertops and sink clean. It is fine to have 1-2 appliances that remain on the countertop, assuming there is ample space and they are in good condition. Try to get in the habit of keeping dirty dishes out of the sink by either washing the dishes or placing them in the dishwasher immediately after use. Ideally, the counter dish drain should be hidden from view, but as long as it is neat and not bulging with dishes, it can remain on the counter during showings. Keep that pantry clean and neat as well. And, yes, expect that buyers will open doors to kitchen pantries, so prepare accordingly.
On the kitchen floor, reduce the number of scatter rugs to ONE in front of the sink, preferably in a solid color, and toss all of the others. Too many rugs in all types of patterns can make the floor look like it needs work, even when it doesn’t!
One more thing about kitchens – cooking! If you tend to cook with lots of spices, fry often or prepare foods with heavy scents, have a plan to neutralize the scents immediately afterwards. There are easy ways to do this like boiling a few sliced lemons on the stove or leaving out cups of white vinegar to absorb the scents and odors overnight. It is important that your home smells fresh for prospective buyers and not like last night’s meal.
Remember living in college dorms and sharing bathrooms, which meant having to tote bathroom items to use in the dorm bathroom? Yep, it’s time for the bathroom tote to make its return to keep the bathrooms neat. Give each family member a tote to store their toothbrush, toothpaste, wash cloth/hand towel and all creams, gels, sprays and makeup that normally lives on the counter around the sink, tub and/or shower. Use the tote to store items under the bathroom sink, in closed door bathroom cabinet or linen closet, thereby keeping the bathroom countertops free from personal items. Start using the totes daily – it will save you lots of time and worry.
Most of the clutter in the bedroom is found near nightstands and closets. To help remedy the clutter, hide items in a closed cabinet or nightstand. Or, purchase a basket with a lid that will slide easily under the bed. Place all of your bedroom clutter in the basket – tissues, reading glasses, pens, journals, gels, creams, etc. You can leave 1-2 books on the nightstand with your lamp and alarm clock but anything personal should be hidden from view. It also goes without saying that you should make your bed EVERY DAY once you rise to keep your bedroom looking its best.
Closed storage can be your best friend in keeping your family room neat. Keep children’s toys and play items in a cabinet, basket or storage ottoman, for easy containment during a quick showing. Reduce the stack of magazines on the coffee table to 1 -2 latest issues, along with your remote. Routinely sort the mail as it comes in. Mail that needs a response is immediately stored in a drawer or basket; junk mail is immediately tossed. It will help you keep your family room, kitchen or office area neater and keep wandering eyes from your personal items, too. If you are still receiving the daily newspaper, don’t keep yesterday’s issue on the coffee table, move it to recycling area in your home on a daily basis.
As you will quickly learn, living in a staged home is not easy, but it is manageable. The key is to change you and your family’s behavior daily, rather than trying to “clean” when you get the call that a showing is happening in 15 minutes. It will make those showings feel less intrusive and the perfect buyer will walk right in and fall in love with your well-kept home!
Roslyn Ashford, MBA, is a former corporate recruiter turned home stager, and native Washingtonian (as in DC). She hosts a bi-weekly tweet chat for home stagers and loves to stage small and vacant homes. Learn more about her growing company here or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the daily hilarity!
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