So, you’ve just bought a new investment property and you’re looking to get it rented. Or, you’ve decided it’s time to unload one of your investment properties and you want to get it sold. Either way, you need to have the place looking stellar so you can get it rented or sold without too much time where it’s sitting around empty, costing you money.
Where do you begin? It’s sometimes hard to know exactly where to start with all the advice out there! While there is no such thing as absolutely perfect for all tastes, there are some tried and true methods that will work for you most of the time.
In this article, we’re going to give you the big picture and then break it down with specifics that can be applied room by room.
This word should always be your guide in staging a home. Despite all the techniques we are going to talk about, or that you hear about on HGTV, always ask yourself if you are keeping it simple. Ideally, most of the furnishings in the home should be neutral. There is always room for a little accent, but what you’re hoping to do is give anyone looking at the space just enough to inspire their imagination, without going so far that they make a judgment based on the decor. You don’t want to get caught on either extreme. Too much colour and personality and they judge the place on your style. Not enough in the way of furnishings and they don’t get that spark of inspiration.
Let there be light
If a room has good natural light, make sure the curtains are open. If there are dark nooks, makes sure the lamps are on when visitors are there. Light is one of the best staging tools there is, and where there is little or no natural light on hand, you need to make sure to direct some there.
Relax, feel at home
As much as you can work wonders with light and furniture, the temperature can be just as important. If no one is living in the home it can be tempting to save a little money by keeping the furnace low in the Winter, or not running the AC in the summer. However, the savings are of little use if you can’t get the place sold or rented in a timely fashion. You want to make sure that your property is an oasis. If it’s hot outside, a nice cool home will be just the place you want to stay, and if it’s cold or damp outside a warm, dry, place has really great stopping power.
Signs of life
You’ve no doubt had someone tell you to simply leave the place empty so that your personal effects don’t get in the way of someone’s imagination. Don’t believe it. As mentioned before, too much of your personal taste can be overwhelming but, an empty house actually makes the place look smaller and seem less appealing. When there is a proportional amount of furnishing to fit the room, people viewing it get a sense of how much can comfortably go in the space. In addition, make sure to add a few personal effects to give the home the feeling that life happens there. For example, if you have a coat hooks in the mudroom have at least one coat hanging on it and maybe a pair or two of shoes on the floor underneath. The trick is to stage it so it doesn’t quite feel staged but doesn’t quite have the clutter of real life.
Each room should have an obvious sense of why it exists and use your knowledge of the local market to help you decide what’s what. If the property is in a middle-income area with lots of young families, doing up one of the extra bedrooms as a gender neutral kids room would be perfect. If you’re renting a condo in an area popular with professionals a second bedroom may work better setup as a home office space. Sometimes the trickiest spaces can be the little-unspecified nooks that many homes come with. Decide if that nook can comfortably fit an armchair & lamp and you have a reading corner. Or does it work as a display space for an interesting piece of art? Whatever you do don’t leave these nooks empty, because all people will imagine is wasted space.
Find your flow
When you walk into the property you should be able to easily move from space to space feeling totally uninhibited. You should not have to walk around bits of furniture to get from one room to the next. Avoid getting oversized furnishing, a few smaller pieces will really make the rooms look bigger. And of course, part of the flow is making sure as you walk through and that the important features come to life. Paint an accent wall with a splash of colour, consider a few strategically placed candles to draw attention to a fireplace, or use a small number of books placed vertically with a few horizontal to draw attention to a built-in bookcase.
Whatever you do, don’t forget the outdoor space. If it’s a house, you want the gardens looking their best and be sure all debris is cleaned up from the yard. It’s also a great idea to have a barbeque and at least a few pieces of patio furniture in the backyard. If it’s a condo with a balcony, remember the flow. It should be easy to walk around on the balcony. Make sure any storage items are removed. You want to treat the outdoor space like another room, because if they imagine it as an enjoyable spot for them to spend time, it makes your property all the more appealing and much likelier to be snapped up quickly.
The Room by room
Get yourself a glass bowl for the counter, preferably with a pedestal, and fill it with fresh oranges or apples. If you make sure to keep them fresh, it adds a brilliant burst of colour. Consider getting one or two really nice cookbooks to neatly place near the stove. Also, a small appliance, such as a nice looking little toaster on the counter can add a touch of utility to the space. Above all, though, remember, you don’t want it to look cluttered. If any of these suggestions feel like too much for the space, forget about them.
Set the table. It should look like a dinner party could break out at any moment. Plates, napkins, glasses. Spur their imagination. Most of these items can be picked up at Canadian Tire pretty inexpensively. Remember they don’t need to ever be used, just help get your place rented or sold. Believe me, it will be worth the small price.
A comfortable looking neutral coloured couch with splashes of colour thrown in by way of throw pillows. These can easily, and inexpensively, be swapped to match the season. Instead of a large art piece, consider a mirror with a heavy wood frame over the couch. It will look elegant and give the room a greater feeling of size. Also, consider mounting a flatscreen tv on the wall. Again it will make the room feel larger, and give it a very contemporary look. Another great technique, to add to the feeling of space, is to hang the curtains 6 to 8 inches higher than the tops of the window.
The Master Bedroom
It has to have a bed. It seems like a considerable expense, but it’s absolutely necessary. A really great trick, if you don’t have a bed for the room, is to purchase two air mattresses. Stack them, one on top of the other, and make the bed with pillows and comforter. So long as you makes sure it stays inflated, no one will know the difference. The next piece is a simple bedside table and lamp. Remember, just enough that they can imagine themselves tucking in there for a good nights sleep. If you feel the bed is getting too big or the table too cluttered, pull back.
The other rooms are for family
As mentioned before, consider doing a spare room as gender neutral child’s room. You can pick up a crib relatively inexpensive at a second-hand store. It doesn’t have to meet modern safety standards because no child needs ever sleep in it. This technique is particularly effective with young couples thinking about starting a family. If they imagine bringing their child home to your property, it will be hard to get that image out of their head.
If there are additional rooms, consider doing one as a home office or a simple guest room. Remember, small furnishing. Tasteful, neutral, comfortable.
The popularity of HGTV has a lot to do with homeowners having a lack of imagination about what to do with their space. If your home is staged to get their imagination fired up, you will create an idea in their mind that they will struggle to forget. And you very likely, you will find yourself having rented, or sold, that property in record time!