How To: Stage a House, Even if You're Not Moving

Gordon came through our wee mid-centuryish house like a stocking-footed tornado. Two days later, the floors are bare, the furniture shifted and the piano's sold on Craig’s List. Yet it feels 200-square feet bigger. Learn how to visually resize, post-jump.

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Imagine some rugs, a piano and small fainting couch.... with a lot less room.

We’d already repainted, repaired and de-cluttered. Twice. While we got a nice pat on the back, the work wasn't over:


  • Remove everything from the floors of closets, and floors in general.

  • Lift the rugs.

  • Clear the front of the refrigerator, any bulletin boards and tuck food out of sight. Mercilessly clear counters.

  • Like people, spaces don’t multi-task well. Our pantry/sports equipment/pet supplies/blanket storage room felt overwhelming. Bring in the bins!

  • Empty the bookshelves but for one centered object per. Our compromise: clearing the top two.

  • Move or remove furniture to clear paths, even if the obstacle is mostly felt or imagined (see: old, beat-down piano).

  • Hang all artwork at eye level and on the same plane to lift ceilings.

  • Minimize or better yet, eliminate any open storage.

  • Keep a covered box to clear clutter fast before a showing (or house guest).

  • Eliminate air fresheners, candles or even the baking cookies trick, as masking smells are suspicious—or turn-offs.

  • Hotel-evoking, untouched white towels in every bathroom.

  • If you can get rid of it, do.

  • Put out fresh flowers.

And for sellers only —or those with judgmental or rather untrustworthy friends:


  • Nothing religious

  • Nothing erotic

  • No hard liquor

  • Hide any valuables and small, stick-in-your pocket things for safety and visual clarity.


Hardcore? A little. But the space, while a bit echoey here and there, does feel bigger, calmer, brighter and lighter. Space is maximized and the house feels party-ready as well as sales-ready.

What are your pseudo-staging tips?

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Those towels, that picture, gone.