5 Staging Tricks for a Quick Sale

LeComte Residence contemporary

This real estate slump is a real drag, especially if you're trying to sell your abode. So stage your pad to beat out the competition and draw in more prospective buyers. Most buyers have a hard time looking past pink walls and green shag carpet, so do the legwork for them and present their "new home" on a silver platter. If done smartly, the money spent staging will be repaid tenfold in the house sale -- and you keep all the hot accessories for yourself afterward (or unload them on Craigslist).

Here are some tips I used when staging my San Francisco condo. This unit sold within a month and a half for just below asking price. The exact same (unstaged) unit, located one floor down, never even got an offer. So there you have it.

1. Clear it all out. I mean it, girlfriend, move every single thing out of your place. That goes for your beloved troll doll collection, leopard skin rug and the couch that your mom claims you were born on. As sentimental as these things might seem to you, buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your space; seeing clothes in the closet, family photos and random tchotchkes prevents them from doing so. Then put back only necessary furniture, keeping in mind that you want the space to look BIG, CLEAN, SPACIOUS and UNCLUTTERED. This isn't supposed to be a functional room. Nope. As I did in this living area (pictured above), you can lose the TV, stereo, side tables and ottomans if it creates more room.

LeComte Residence contemporary

2. Freshen up the style. You may be a diehard Shabby Chic follower, but even Rachel Ashwell would agree that not everyone is. Aim for a style that most buyers would like, even if it's not your cup of tea. Furnishings that seem homey and comforting -- yet fresh and contemporary -- give an aura that your home is updated and well-cared-for. Neutrals work best; just add colorful touches here and there. For this office (above), I used a bright rug to punch in some color and pattern to an otherwise boxy white room. The clear console stands in for a desk. (If buyers saw my real desk stacked with papers and dirty coffee mugs, they'd run for the hills). Curtains hide the closet doors and soften the hard walls. Stick-on mirrors from IKEA reflect light and space.

LeComte Residence contemporary

3. Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest one of all? Your room, that's who. Use mirrors liberally to make your area look bigger, lighter, brighter, and encourage sunlight to bounce all over the walls. In this small dining area (above), the mirror even adds color by reflecting the painting that's hanging in the living area. How's that for working double duty?

LeComte Residence contemporary 4. Don't forget the details. Set the table. It's easy to do and makes a big impact. Buyers walk in and instantly feel welcome, as if they're coming over for dinner. Light clean and unscented candles, place plush towels and fancy soap in the bathrooms, a breakfast tray on the bed, and a pretty book on the coffee table. If all goes as planned, they'll want to stay over forever.

LeComte Residence contemporary 5. Play with texture. Wallpaper, pillows, rugs, blankets, baskets, and other tactile accessories can play up texture in a room. It's an easy way for anyone, even my colorblind husband, to add warmth to a blah room. Try grass cloth wallpaper on plain walls that need a little oomph, such as in this master bedroom (right), where buyers expect to see a little more luxury and style.

Photos: Contemporary Space Design by San Francisco photographer Eva

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