When we look at a new house or apartment, most of us decide almost instantly if we like it or not. This gut decision is taken in a few seconds.

From our ancient ages, our survival instinct has wired us to make quick decisions about things at first sight. In the case of an apartment, with the first impression we’re either sold, or not sold. And though sometimes that gut decision is not the best for us, it takes a lot of logical thinking analysis to make us change our mind to that first gut reaction. Some even refuse to reconsider.

Usually, the “staging” of the property is a huge component of this gut decision. Some interior designers make it their profession to stage homes to sell: They know staging makes it or breaks it. So, needless to say we need to make sure that we have the right staging when we want to put our place in the market.

But are there other implications of having a pleasing apartment to the eye than just its perceived value? If staging –a clever technique that combines decorating with marketing– creates a pleasing experience for home buyers, why not create a daily pleasing environment incorporating the principles of staging in your home even before thinking about selling it?

 

Here are some of the main secrets of good staging, that can help us create living spaces that nourish our body and mind in our everyday life and at the same time be so irresistible to other people that they can be sold at any time.

1 .-Rethink your layout over and over again

Any room can be changed and get a fresh look just by rearranging the furniture. Try different options, even the ones that seem silly. I am sure you will be surprised by the result.

Look at each room of your place carefully: What is the best feature of it? Is it the fireplace? The view from the windows or some artwork?  Whatever memory you want to create should be your focus point and the layout should define a pathway toward it.

 2 .-Aim for signs and items of well being

Well-being seeking will continue to be a growing trend for the next years, so think of wellness focused interior design:

Bring nature to your home: Natural light, plants, good air quality, natural textures and materials and nature views will always provide a positive impact.

Prioritize comfort: friendly pieces of furniture and light fixtures are key when it comes to wellness focused interior design.

3 .-Live with less: Clutter free spaces and the right amount of storage.

We all know that a messy environment does not help when visitors come home, let alone when we need to sell our place. We get the whole family organized so that home looks decent and attractive. But have you ever wondered how that messiness can impact our wellness? I can’t emphasize enough the impact of a cluttered room on our mood, our relationships and even on our sleep. The mess plays with our mind without us even realizing it.

Our eyes are impacted by little things. A mountain of shoes at the entrance, a countertop that is transformed into a display area, wardrobes exploding with clothes that we don’t remember we have anymore. All those should go.

Incorporate the strategy “if I did not use it last year I should consider to Sell, Donate or Dispose”, and make it a routine every now and then. And make sure that everything has a reason for being in your home. More about this in an article by Katy Carrapa.

4 .-When choosing your color palette: Pause and think

If staging is a big component of the “like it or not” decision, the colors are the biggest factor in the staging. Actually, it should not be a surprise that color can have a strong impact on the mood of a room and how it makes us feel. You can read more about this in my article on color.

The thing is color is difficult to discuss as it is largely a matter of personal taste, influenced by our culture, background, environment and personality. So, the secret for a last long and more widely appealing design are the neutral colors. Theoretically those are the colors that do not reflect any emotions, (although I believe that the natural colors such as brown, grey and white do bring a sense of comfort, warmth and security) and can be thought as a white canvas waiting to be painted.

In fact, many colorists in interior design recommend that neutral colors should be the base of any palette. You can’t go wrong with main pieces in neutral colors.

5 .-Throughout the place, use similar colors for a sense of ease

There is nothing more soothing that a sense of calm in a place and the biggest trick to achieve that in your home is to use monochromatic tones or similar shades of color throughout the different rooms.

To keep it interesting, use different textures and materials, and be bold with accent pieces and accessories that can be easily changed or removed.

6 .-Walk the talk. Your apartment should describe itself.

When people who want to buy a property describe what they are looking for, the most heard description is “light, bright and airy”. Chances are that you’ve already said this yourself at some point. So, all I can suggest is “walk the talk”: make sure your home can be described with those 3 words. Let’s unpack them.

The “light” feeling can be achieved with a minimalist philosophy: it does not matter what is your favorite style, make sure you don’t overdo and think twice before adding any piece of furniture or décor arrangement.

Regarding the “bright and airy”, make sure to let in as much natural light as possible and don’t block window views.  Think about light shades and even no shades when that is possible while prioritize low pieces of furniture. Mirrors can also be a good way to reflect light. Use them strategically.

7 .-Think like a stylist

No home is dressed without accent pieces. Bare walls, tabletops and bookshelves pass an image of an overlooked place with little care. This image could not only impact sales but our everyday mood and energy. Our home needs attention just as our body and souls. But accent pieces mean giving emphasis to something, not everything. Make choices.

Dressing your walls:
Creating a wall gallery is one of the simplest ways to bring personality to any wall. The good thing about a gallery, instead of one or 2 “important” pieces of art, is that the collective pieces do not carry so much attention weight individually.  The key to a good gallery wall is not to take it too seriously. In fact, it should be a little eclectic, a little messy, and a little awesome. Remember to have the main pieces at an eye level height and place frames 4 inches apart and have fun hanging different pieces in your wall.

Bookshelves:
The trick is to forget the traditional lining up of books in a single neat row. A mix of vertical and horizontal arrangement in each shelf, always using some free space and décor pieces alternately brings movement and air to the bookshelf, making it much more interesting and nice to look at.

Coffee tables:
There are two infallible ways to stage a coffee table: throw a vintage blanket over the top and a big tray with small décor pieces on top. The more asymmetrical the better. You can never go wrong with coffee table books if you choose them as interesting pieces of conversation and not just scenery.

Accent tables:
Use the three-item rule on your accent tables: table lamp, ceramic ball and a small plant is a classic arrangement.

Countertops:
Do you need all the gadgets you have on your countertop? The more minimalistic is the look, the better for your eyes.  A wood bowl together with wool chop board and wicker basket in my opinion is the perfect trio to have on your countertop. That’s it.

 

If you ever watched the romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love and saw Ryan Gosling’s irresistible character performing a style makeover to Steve Carrell’s fallen out character that wanted to become more attractive, you will know what I mean when I ask if your home is ready for dating.

Staging, besides being a selling technique, can and should be a great way to make your place feel more attractive to YOU and your family. Luckily, most of these home staging tips are not expensive or hard to implement. I hope you found them useful.

Happy staging. Let me know how it goes!

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