The 11 Accessories That Make a Place Feel Like Home, According to Real Estate Agents

published Jan 7, 2022
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When you’re listing your home for sale, you face an array of mixed messages. “Take out all indications that the space is lived in! You want the buyer to see themselves in it,” people say. “Make it feel homey and cozy! You want the buyer to settle right in,” you hear. 

Where does that leave you?

Most real estate agents will tell you the bare minimum of staged furniture isn’t enough. Instead, take out the excess and the personal effects, but bring in a few well-chosen accessories to create a welcoming vignette that gets a buyer’s imagination running. Think of it as a real-life inspiration session — you’re showing them ideas on how this specific space could feel like home and, more specifically, their home.

So, if you’re ready to unleash your home to Zillow, here are 11 real estate agent-approved accessories to add first.

1. Art Outside the (Big) Box

Those big-box aisles are tempting, but put down that colorful cow print. Instead, do as Amy Owens, Realtor with Keller Williams in Montclair and Glen Ridge, New Jersey, does and turn to secondhand sources. “We love utilizing artwork, especially graphics, portraits and abstracts that we find at vintage markets and antique stores.”

2. “Real” Rugs in the Bathroom

Bath mats are functional, but when it comes to adding relaxed character, nothing does the job better than a soft rug underfoot. Beatrice de Jong, broker and consumer trends expert at Opendoor, says, “Rugs in the bathroom, rather than bath mats, give bathrooms a comfortable yet elevated look.”

3. Good Lighting

Light bulbs can totally transform the look and feel of a space. With a simple and quick change, you can take a room from cold to cozy. “We tend to use warm lighting in our staged listings through accessory lighting, like lamps and sconces, or by simply changing the bulbs to a warm lightbulb in chandeliers and ceiling light fixtures,” Owens says. “LED and bright warehouse lighting makes the space feel cold and unfriendly.”

Credit: Carina Romano

4. Something Green

As almost everyone learned during the pandemic, a live plant is a surefire way to make a place feel like home. “Snake, pothos, and air plants are all ideal for beginners to start with — and they make a space that much more inviting for guests and potential buyers alike,” de Jong says.

5. Inviting Place Settings

Try making your place look as if it could welcome a few of your closest friends at any moment. Jenny Usaj, employing broker and co-owner of Usaj Realty, says, “One of my favorite ways to make a home feel warm is by thoughtfully curating a dining area with place settings to evoke and inspire hosting family and friends.” 

But you don’t need to pull out all the linens, silver, and serving pieces. Cliff Weeks, a Realtor in Gainesville, Virgina, adds, “If there is a kitchen table available, adding some placemats, dishes, and napkins are nice to have. Utensils or glasses tend to be a bit much and end up getting lost.”

6. Soft, Natural Textiles

People want to look at a room and imagine themselves relaxing in it. How do you create that kind of space? “Soft blankets and throw pillows instantly warm up a room,” Usaj says.

Owens continues, “Pillows and throw blankets consisting of multiple patterns and textures is a must-have for us. Layering these accessories brings a sense of warmth and coziness to a home.”

7. Old-Fashioned Climate Control

It should go without saying that heat in the winter and AC in the summer are musts. But go a step further by adding a bit of nostalgic climate control. What does that mean? “Whether it’s a scorcher summer day or a wintry blizzard, a cozy fireplace or a refreshing ceiling fan can put buyers at ease,” Usaj says.

8. A Chef’s Touch

A minimalist kitchen can feel sterile rather than inviting, but just a few items can inspire visions of gourmet meals and at-home date nights. Weeks explains, “A cookbook, bottles of wine, or some small bowls or containers full of ingredients make it feel lived in.”

9. Scents That Evoke Memories

“Scent is the strongest trigger of memory, so including a universal scent, such as sandalwood, is a great way to make a space feel warm and inviting,” de Jong says. “Some of the newer candle brands — think Otherland or Boy Smells — are worth the spend.” 

Usaj adds, “I like to add a seasonal scent in the home from a reed diffuser for a safe option to make the home smell beautiful.”

10. Drapery That Invites Light In

Blackout curtains are great for a long night’s sleep, but in the same way that they don’t welcome in the sun, they don’t welcome in buyers. Instead, opt for drapery that feels light and bright. Usaj explains, “Updating your curtains or window coverings to offer more natural light is worth your time, since it will open up the home.”

11. A Touch of Seasonality

“Festive wreaths, welcome mats, simple string lights and a cold-weather plant like holly, all make a great first impression at the holidays,” says Usaj. Similarly, an intentionally placed pumpkin or a pot of spring flowers can make people feel excited about the changing seasons — and excited about making your house a home.