The Secret Weapon One Home Stager Says You Need to Put Up Before an Open House

published Nov 11, 2020
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Credit: Minette Hand

When it comes to getting your home ready for an open house, it’s hugely helpful to employ a professional stager. But when hiring one isn’t feasible, home stagers’ wisdom still comes in handy. 

Such specialists are generous enough to share their expertise, like Kier McElroy with the Amy Owens Team in Upper Montclair, N.J. Despite the endless resources available to him as a stager, there’s one ace up his sleeve that he always uses to make a major impact in any home—and one you can use in your space with minimal cost or effort. It’s all about fooling the eye (and sometimes the mind) through optics.

Although they may seem like a minor accessory, mirrors can make all the difference in staging a space and making a sale, McElroy says. He prefers using ones with simple frames that are medium to large in size, sometimes placed on the floor, but normally hung on the wall.

“With mirrors, unlike artwork, you don’t have to worry about the content within the frame matching the environment, period, or style of the house,” he says. “Mirrors replicate what’s already there.”

They’re perfect for brightening dimly lit hallways and dark corners since they reflect light, whether artificial or natural, he says. This way, they have the same effect during daytime and evening showings. 

“Mirrors can act as an additional window of sorts, either within a room or when placed at the end of a hallway. Because mirrors are reflective, they give the appearance of adding movement to the space and open things up.”

Also, since a mirror provides a focal point in a room, or “a destination to walk towards with focus,” McElroy says, it can keep prospective buyers from eyeing things you might not want them to linger over, like cracked moldings, scuffs on the wall, or scratched floors.

His favorite technique is hanging a series of three smaller mirrors (each the same size and shape and preferably the same simple color) vertically in a row. This display creates an elongated line of light that, in turn, makes the ceiling seem higher and the room feel bigger overall.

“Making spaces within a home appear larger with strategic placing of mirrors is part of my positive psychology toolkit for influencing affirmative reactions to the house from potential buyers,” he says.

Part of that psychology involves potential buyers seeing themselves in the mirror—and thus the home. For example, to help someone envision themselves living in a space, McElroy will often place a mirror on a wall facing the front door or at least near it.

“The prospective buyer, immediately upon entering, sees themselves in the mirror’s reflection, as though they are already part of the house. So each potential buyer feels that the house they are entering is already part of their life.”