10 Home Staging Tips Celebrated Interior Designers Swear By

published Feb 9, 2019
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Design enthusiasts in Palm Beach County, Florida, let out a collective hurrah last year when the venerable Kips Bay Designer Show House in New York debuted a sister event in Palm Beach. The show house has now returned for a second year, gracing a 10,000-square-foot waterfront property in West Palm Beach (it’s open now through February 20!)

Twenty-two design firms from throughout the country transformed the space in just under four months. When I visited, the rooms were so eye-catching and welcoming that I felt like moving in right away.

Their trick (other than the great design)? Impeccable staging—the real estate industry’s special sauce to highlighting a space’s best features and creating an environment that makes potential buyers want to live there.

Since all the rooms in the Kips Bay Designer Show House Palm Beach were so particularly alluring, I reached out to the designers to get their expert insights on staging a home with panache. Though the home is high-end, their tips were surprisingly versatile and can be used on any budget. Whether you’re selling your home in a couple of months—or just want to create an Instagram-worthy home to show off to your friends—these tips can help get your place picture perfect:

Master Bathroom

Designed by: Krista Watterworth Alterman, Krista + Home

“Out of all the rooms in a home, bathrooms must have items necessary for everyday living,” Krista Watterworth Alterman says. That means staging in a bathroom should be functional as well as fashionable. Here are her three best tips for getting that point across:

Don’t stash the towels

“Keep some towels folded nicely on display and ready for a quick use when needed,” she says. She often uses the lower shelves of bathroom vanities to store extra towels as well.

Add some plants

“Greens bring life, color, and a sense of place to the space,” she says. Real greens are ideal, but high-quality preserved or faux florals also work well–especially for those who don’t have a green thumb.

Dress up your toiletries

Keep countertops looking neat and tidy by organizing items like cotton balls and Q-tips in stylish apothecary jars.

Plus, attractive soap pumps are a must in her book. “Keep a funnel in the bathroom cabinet for easy refills,” she says.

Master Closet

Designed by: Watterworth Alterman

A well-staged master closet should reflect its functionality while remaining realistic, Watterworth Alterman says.

Use your clothing as decor

“We placed clean, pressed clothing inside and kept a few of the doors open,” Watterworth Alterman says. “You definitely want everything in the closet to be organized, as people may open the cabinets.”

She notes that, if your closet is overflowing with clothing, you may want to put some in storage until the house sells.

Accessorize open shelving with clothing items like hats, scarves, bags, and shoes. “Place these items on a shelf carefully and stage them as little works of art,” she says. Then, add a few items that are fun and unexpected, like a coffee table book about fashion or a pretty candle, she recommends.

Let the space look a little lived in

“People should be able to picture themselves living there, so you don’t want it to look too perfect,” Watterworth Alterman says. Place a pair of shoes or a purse on the floor to make the space more welcoming.

Family Room

Light and airy is generally more welcoming to potential buyers than cozy and condensed—so Phoenix and his team looked for ways to give the entire room a lift.

Brighten up dark spots

The family room of the show house initially had dark ceiling beams and a dark wallpaper on the ceiling, so Phoenix refinished the beams and painted the ceiling to brighten up the space and give the entire room a lift. Take a look at your space and determine whether such treatments could help open up the space.

Add length

Another strategy Phoenix used to make the room look taller was placing curtains high on the walls, just under the ceiling line and over the tall, arched French doors. Window treatments can make a major impact on the seeming proportions of any space.

Related: 7 Things Real Estate Agents Wish You Knew

Stairway and Corridors

You may not think much of the spaces between your rooms—but they’re great white space to add personality to keep potential buyers interested. Here are Ceglia’s tips to utilizing these overlooked spaces:

Create a simple—yet bold—backdrop

Whether it’s leather-wrapped walls; a crisp coat of white paint; or a textural wallcovering, like the green-lacquered Madagascar cloth on the walls of the show house bar area, a foundation like this sets the tone for the space. “It’s our ‘little black dress,'” he explains. “Anything that’s added to it–no matter how simple or exuberant–pops against the tailored background and creates a strong sense of drama, even if it’s a casual space.”

Think livability

Next, make sure everything is staged in a way that’s comfortable and gracious to make potential buyers feel welcome. “Nobody needs a room full of furniture that’s uncomfortable or–even worse–that guests are afraid to sit on or use,” he says. Make sure chairs have nearby tables for placing drinks and that seating is arranged for conversation and not just for looks.

Don’t forget the details

“From the coffee table books, the items on the drinks tray to the note pads and perfect pens near the phone, it all adds to the feeling of home,” Ceglia says. These personal touches help visitors enjoy the home more and envision themselves living there.

Selling your home soon? Use this staging secret weapon to help it sell.