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‘We Need to Start Selling by Week’s End’

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Posted On: 03/04/2008

During the hot real estate market a few years ago, scads of homeowners rushed to sell so they could cash in on their skyrocketing equity. I often received calls from frantic agents needing immediate help. A common voicemail went something like this: “My client decided last night to sell and we have until Friday to get ready. Can you come tomorrow to rearrange what they have so we can be ready for an open house?” Since my specialty is staging homes using what the homeowner already owns, I am always up for the challenge.

This listing was in a very desirable neighborhood and had lots of charm. The Realtor knew it would sell fast, but she wanted to eek out the most profit possible for her client. She knew that staging would enhance the look of the home and increase the bottom line. I came on the scene as inspectors scurried about and found the homeowner and Realtor in a frazzled state.

Most of the house was ready to receive potential buyers, but the living room needed tweaking. I always start my staging consultation by explaining what my role is and what potential buyers are looking for. “I’m here to help you get a quick sale at the highest possible price. Most potential buyers want a spacious, uncluttered, light-filled, ready-to-move-into home that has scenes of comfort and beauty. We are going to set up your home to appeal to buyers.” With my resale mantra in mind, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.


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• This living room had some nice-looking pieces, but the arrangement looked awkward and crowded.

• The scale and placement of the artwork over the couch and the piano was slightly off.

• Clutter is a no-no when selling your home -- we needed to simplify.


• A general rule of thumb when arranging living room furniture is to place the longest piece along the longest wall. Before, the long couch was a tight fit against the short wall and created an awkward overlap in the corner. The original setup made a fairly large room look crowded. By simply flipping the piano and couch, the room became more balanced and spacious.

• After we moved the piano, we saw that the art and candle sconces were a better scale – and we didn’t have to reposition them. We found a longer piece of art to echo the shape of the couch.

• When selling your home, it is best to box up family photos, small-scale accessories, religious or political items, weapons (gun and knife displays) and dead animals (i.e. skins and heads), or anything you are afraid might be stolen. Things such as magazines, TV remotes, tissue boxes, and tired-looking pillows or throws, and dead-looking plants should be stored away, too. Staging your home is about making it look inviting and appealing; it’s not about setting it up to be comfortable for you and your family! With that in mind, we packed up all but a few accessories, leaving only those that reflected the overall style and feel of the room.

The house sold right away with multiple offers.

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Kit Davey, an interior designer based in Redwood City, Calif., helps clients redecorate their homes through the creative use of their existing furnishings. E-mail Kit your questions:

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