Long-Term Staging of Your Home

Toronto Real Estate News
Home Staging by Jessica Merz
Home Staging by Jessica Merz

Home staging is about illusions . You want to make your home look bigger, brighter, cleaner, cozier, and more loveable. There is more to staging than painting, doing minor repairs, and cleaning. It’s about creating a specific mood that will move potential buyers — it’s all about dressing your house for sale.

Staging is very individual. It depends on how old and worn your house is, how much time you have before the sale day, and last but not least it depends on your budget. It might seem ineffective to invest in a house you want to sell. Your small investment can significantly increase the value of your home though.

How much time do you have before your home appears on the market? It’s never too early to start with home repairs. Make a plan and do one thing at a time . It will save you money and your nerves.

Two Years Prior to Sale

If you want to put your house on the market in roughly two years, it’s time to critically look at your house and garden and take notes of everything that needs repairing . Stop ignoring that broken fence, leaking gutter, or neglected garden. You want your house to be seen as a perfect place to live. Remember that the cover sells a book. Let the outside of your house be appealing and say, “Come in, you’ll love it here.”

Look at your house from the street and imagine what a viewer feels and why. Start with the front of your house and check for any leakage, damaged corners, and missing roof tiles. Is the path leading to your house in good condition or should it be repaired? Take a note of it. The front garden is the first thing a potential buyer will see and you should make it look unforgettable. You don’t need to hire a professional gardener. A well kept and trimmed lawn will do the job just fine. You need to check for any lawn imperfections, old flowers, or broken flowerpots. Again, buyers always look around as they slowly walk towards your house and they will notice every imperfection. How do you feel about the front door? Is it presentable and in good condition? Great! If not, put it on your list.

Now that you’ve closely examined the front of your house, let’s move to the back. What do you see? Clutter, broken toys, and a shed that’s only left standing by divine intervention. This won’t make a good impression and you’d better get rid of it. Throw away everything you haven’t used in last six months and everything that you’re not planning to take with you to your new house. Check your fence, roof, windows, back stairs, and cellar, and if there’s anything that needs to be repaired, fixed, or replaced, put it on the list.

After you’ve done the tour, have a look at what you wrote down.

The roof looks old and some tiles are missing

A damaged roof is a common problem with many old houses. We fear to have our roofs replaced and think it might be costly. The truth is, buyers shy away from buying a home if the roof needs to be replaced. So bite the bullet and do it. Later you can proudly say that the house has a new roof, professionally installed, and that it will last a lifetime. The price of your home will naturally increase by more than the cost of the new roof!

Cracked Sidewalks and Driveways

Sidewalks need some minor repairing every seven to ten years. It’s very easy and you can do it yourself. Just patch the cement cracks and resurface asphalt driveways if they’re not in good condition.

Driveway by Mike Pedroncelli
Driveway by Mike Pedroncelli

Neglected Garden

Spring is the perfect time to renew your garden. Before you put your gloves on, spend some time planning. If you don’t like gardening, a lawn would be the best option. It’s easy and quick, and it looks good. Later, you can add pots with flowers to impress buyers, but in this phase of home staging, they are not necessary unless you want them and have time to take care of them. Don’t forget to throw away all the clutter you’ve been gathering in the backyard for years.

Shabby windows, mailboxes, doors, door knobs, fences

There is a trick that works all the time. If you want to improve the condition of your door, windows, and the like, paint them. Scrape the old paint away and give it a new, shiny exterior. It’s a wallet-friendly solution that takes very little time, but the results are always amazing!

Don’t forget to check the door knobs and handles; those are the little details that make a change.

At the end of the year, the outside of your house should be in good condition. You’ve done the major repairs and your home now have a presentable outside.

One Year Prior to Sale

This is the last year in your house and soon there will be real estate agents and buyers walking around your home. To understand how they feel, take a tour yourself and take a piece of paper and a pen with you. You want to look closely on the floors, walls, doors, kitchen cabinets, and ceilings. Believe me, people always look up to see if there is a leak or any cracks.

After you’ve examined the interior, look at each of the rooms specifically. Ask yourself: “Do I really need another stock room, laundry room, or pantry?” Make your home cooler by having a yoga studio or a sewing room. Homes with personality sell better. The more stock rooms you have, the more clutter you keep, and this is something you should avoid. The same rule applies here: if you haven’t touched something in the past six months, bin it! No one likes overcrowded spaces; they will suffocate you eventually. On the other hand, a home with a lot of free space will feel energetic, full of positive vibes, and this is what we aim for.


Painting a room a fresh, neutral colour helps tone down any dated finishes. Neutral colours fon’t necessarily mean off-white or beige. These days, the definition of “neutral” extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens and purples.

To make a room appear bigger, paint it the same colour as the adjacent room. This works best with smaller kitchens and dining rooms. Give them a seamless look and you will feel that the space has doubled in size.

Prospective homebuyers doesn’t feel very positive about wallpapers. It reflects your choice and not theirs. You can buy inexpensive steam wallpaper remover and easily take it down. Paint the walls a neutral colour and you will surely please your visitors.

Painting by Jon Ross
Painting by Jon Ross

Wood Panelling

You might be a fan of wood panelling, but not everybody is. Nowadays, the trends in interior design move toward simple and elegant appeal rather than rustic country finishes. If you don’t want to or cannot remove the wood panelling, paint it a neutral colour.


Hardwood floors are what buyers want and having your carpeting removed and floors refinished would definitely pay off. If you don’t wish to make a big investment, reveal the flooring in one or two rooms. Have the other rooms re-carpeted in a neutral colour, one that would match the walls. The room will immediately lighten up and will seem bigger and brighter.


Kitchen renovations return nearly 100 per cent of costs. According to Remodelling Magazine, high-end kitchens don’t return as much as mid-range or minor kitchen remodels. Simply said, you don’t need to replace the kitchen cabinets; just polish the front doors, give them a new layer of paint, and change the knobs. Your kitchen will then look more expensive than it actually is.

Two Months Prior to Sale

You’re entering the last phase of your home staging. All the hard work has been done, and you just need to add final touches to your home. For many, this is the most exciting part. Imagine that your house is an expensive hotel. What would you like to see there? How would you like to feel? You can check hotel pictures for tips or just go with your gut feeling. The choice is yours.

Goodbye, clutter

It doesn’t matter how beautiful the floor and walls are. No one will be able to see them if you don’t tidy up. You will be moving soon and we all know you won’t take everything with you. Throw away everything you don’t want to take with you to your new place. Memories are precious but holding on to an old and worn-out jacket is silly. You should detach yourself from things you don’t need and let go. Besides, you want to present your house as an airy and fresh place, and clutter just doesn’t belong there.

Clutter by Lian Chang
Clutter by Lian Chang

Furniture rearrangement

There is a common belief that a room would appear larger if you pushed everything against the walls. This is a myth — it doesn’t work that way. Reposition sofas and chairs into cozy groups and make sure they won’t block the natural traffic flow in the room. Don’t be afraid to get rid of some pieces of old furniture. Professional stagers often whisk away as much as half the owner’s furnishings.

Just because you bought an armchair for a living room, doesn’t mean it should always stay there. Move your existing furniture and give it new meaning. A little-used dining table can be placed in front of a pretty window and with the right accessories can become a beautiful writing desk or library table.

One Week Prior to Sale

Everything is fixed, replaced, and tidied up and your home just needs finishing touches. Look around one last time and check if everything is as it should be. The home where you’ve spent the past years will no longer be yours, so it’s appropriate to remove your family photos and pictures, drawings your kids made when they were younger, and anything personal you see. As buyers enter your home, they should imagine their family living there, having photos of their kids above the fireplace and bringing their own culture and decorating preferences.


Fresh flowers make a wonderful statement. Put them in the living room, on the small table in the hall, or in corridors. They can transform the place and give it a whole new look. Look for an appropriate plant to place in your bathroom. The bathroom is the only place in the house where we have a time for ourselves, so make it a pleasant experience.

Flowers by Loozrboy
Flowers by Loozrboy

Flowers on the windows and by the entrance can do an amazing job. Remember my mentioning that it’s the cover that sells a book? Beautiful and well kept flowers are a sign of a lovely household, and who wouldn’t want to enter such a warmly decorated home?

You don’t need to mention that you’re too busy for gardening and that your plants are only one week old. Let home buyers create their own story.


During our second period of home staging, we made sure everything was in neutral colours. Now you should pick one colour that will add more life to a room. Brown, green, or pink are often suggested as the best options. Cushion covers and throws in similar shades will lighten up every room. Place a book with a similarly coloured cover on a coffee table. Don’t forget the fresh flowers. You will create an impression of a cozy, comfortable, and luxurious place where everyone wants to stay.

The bedroom is the second most important place in the house. You spend a third of your life sleeping, and the room where you rest is a crucial factor in deciding on a new home. Change your bed linen and bed cover so that they match, and put a throw over your bed to add a splash of colour. A matching book on a bedside table and slippers neatly placed to the side would create a lovely atmosphere. Dim a light before guests enter so that the room appears inviting and cozy.

The bathroom is our home spa. It must be warm and inviting. Choose towels that match tiles and tie them together with a ribbon of a complementary color. Place candles next to the bathtub and hide all shower gels and shampoos. Don’t forget the flowers you bought.


Give your home an inviting character by scenting it with candles or diffusers. You aim to please every sense of a buyer, and scent is something we usually don’t notice but that leaves an impression on our subconscious. Place the candles or diffusers around the house to spread the scent throughout.

Candles by Dinner Series
Candles by Dinner Series


After we please homebuyers’ eyes with harmonic colours, immaculately painted walls, and refurbished floors, their touch by placing cushions and throws on the sofa, and their smell by scenting our home, we aim to get them in the right mood through a good choice of a background music. Opt for some classics. Bach would do. Put the volume low so that the music is barely noticeable. Think about it as a soundtrack. Our feelings associate with music so choose something that would fit the house and make it whole.

Home selling is a play. We’re not selling walls and windows but a home. We’re selling a story and a promise of a beautiful life inside the house. Make the buyers fall in love with your home — make them imagine how it would feel when they move in. They’re looking for their dream house, and you can give it to them using our tips and tricks. Good luck!

2 thoughts on “Long-Term Staging of Your Home

October 11, 2012 at 1:03 am
Christina Aivalis says:

These are very useful tips for home decoration. This will make our home more attractive.

October 28, 2012 at 8:23 am
Anne Bourne says:

Jamie – Very good article for the seller that has the foresight to be thinking a couple of years ahead of their planned selling date. During the preparation process, it can be challenging for sellers to determine which home improvements provide the best return. We wrote a blog post on this topic recently.

All the best.

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