Home Decorating and Staging
Insider Secrets to a Beautiful Home

Sorting and Packing To Find Treasures...That are Perfect for Staging

Before you start sorting and packing and pitching and storing, take a moment to focus on the big picture. Your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible at top market price.

Imagine You’re Going on a Trip

You’ll be staying in a beautiful home for a short period of time. Since this is not your home, you will only have the clothes you need for that particular season.

Everything in this home is beautifully decorated and easy to take care of. There are no extra chairs, or piles of papers. The bathroom contains only the shampoo and toiletries you use on a regular basis.

You have just enough dishes, glasses and silverware for you, your family and guests, and they match. Everything is functional and beautifully arranged. Any one would love to stay there.

Where is this wonderful place? Right here, it’s the home you’re getting ready to sell!

Before You Can Do any Staging

You have to get rid of everything you don’t absolutely need.

Sort, pack, store, sell and give away or toss. This step requires a critical eye and a ruthless resolve. Some people are keepers and some are tossers and I’m amazed at how frequently they end up married to each other.

This can be one of the most stressful phases of the process as you find yourself surrounded by all the things you’ve been shoving into closets and cupboards for years.

It helps to have a plan before you get started.

Sort into Four Categories:

  1. Items that you might be able to use for decorator purposes. These will go into a "holding" area in your home.
  2. Things you need right now to continue functioning in your home.
  3. Things you want to keep, but can do without for the time that your home is on the market. These will go into storage either in your home (if you have the space) or off-site.
  4. Things you don’t want any longer. Charities are happy to take useful items or maybe they've served their purpose and can finally be thrown out. Always remember...in real estate, space = money.

Stagers Use "Tricks" for Pulling a Home Together

  • Color
  • Spacing
  • Flow
  • The right accessories in just the right amounts

“Wow” is what you want to hear when the buyer walks in your home. The items that create that impression are the artwork, accessories and the final touches that make a home so special.

What's Hiding in Your House?

Mirror Before (found in a corner of the basement)

Mirror After

Set Aside a Holding Area for Staging Props

A spare bedroom is good. If no such space is available, dedicate a central area of the house (possibly the dining room).

Group similar items together so you can find them easily.

Sort everything by size and color.

The following make great staging props:

  • Artwork of all kinds, particularly large pieces and pieces that work in pairs (similar items, similar sizes and frames) or very small pieces that will fit on a bookshelf
  • Lamps including floor lamps and table lamps (particularly in pairs or lamps of similar style, color and size) and small “accent lamps”
  • Area rugs, size 5’ x 8’ or larger
  • Live or artificial plants in good condition including “trees,” floor plants, small containers of greenery, loose ivy, ferns
  • Silk flowers in good condition
  • Decorator pillows that are clean and in current colors
  • Decorative throws (small blankets particularly with fringe) also in current colors
  • Placemats and cloth napkins
  • Colorful dishes and platters
  • Matching glasswear including wine glasses, martini glasses, etc. (2-4 of each depending on the size of your home)
  • Hardcover books and cookbooks
  • Plate or book stands (small easels that can hold a platter or a cookbook in the open position)
  • Vases, jugs, particularly anything that’s colorful or beautiful, not necessarily valuable (it’s best to pack valuable items away for safe keeping)
  • Artificial fruit and vegetables
  • Vinegar bottles filled with colorful items such as peppers, garlic, etc.
  • Wire baskets and large decorative bowls
  • Decorative trays
  • Decorative balls
  • Decorative clocks
  • Interesting desk accessories
  • Wall mirrors
  • Matching towels and hand towels in good condition
  • Sculptures, large and small, particularly items that have a whimsical quality (flying pig, African animals, etc.)
  • Iron wall sconces
  • Empty wine bottles that can be corked for display in a vignette or wine rack. (See tips for finding the best location when decorating with a wine rack )
  • Chunky candle holders and candles (white or off-white)
  • Glass display jars with lids
  • Pretty and well-made baskets

Once you’ve completed this stage, you will still have a mess in your home. But, you should have sorted, sold, given away, pitched, packed and stored everything you're not using at the moment. And you should have a well-defined holding area where you can "shop" for decorator items.

Next Step: When you're done sorting and packing, it's time to talk about color and how it can transform your house like magic!

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Alex Hinst is the author of Home Decorating and Staging and owner of Alex Hinst Designs, located in Denver's Historic Highlands.

Alex Hinst Designs has hundreds of success stories in both private and investor home renovations and is dedicated to helping you create your perfect home.