Do It Yourself Home Staging

This is a good example of what a homeowner can do by themselves to get their property ready for market. There are really only three things that will help a property sell. Location, Condition and Price. The only thing you can do anything about are condition and price. So make sure you do your best with condition, before considering a price change.


This 3 bedroom townhome in Brookwood Place in Bothell was already on the market with these before photos when Jeremy Keener and I arrived with nothing but a camera. We did not bring anything with us for staging this townhome to recreate the “stage” except what the owner already had in the townhome. Everything that was in the room is still in the room, just arranged a little differently.


As you can see, this is the same room. The main change is to show the townhome’s best selling feature. By opening the blinds so that the photo in the mls shows the green out the window, a prospective buyer can readily see this prime feature. The “copy” did say it “backs to greenbelt”, but a picture speaks a thousand words. So we opened the blinds and let the greenbelt show.


Transforming the dining room was easy. Mostly we just moved the sofa, which you will see in the living room photos, so it wasn’t blocking the entrance to the dining area. The tall piece in the corner was moved up behind the folded out futon in the bedroom photo above. The owner had already placed the tablecloth, table runner and pictures.


We ditched the folding chairs into a closet. The room is big and bright without the chairs, so we left it that way. We reversed the sofa and loveseat, but I couldn’t get the sofa corner to fit totally out of the dining room entryway, so we simply took the blanket throw from the back of the sofa and draped it to help camoflouge the dark sofa corner intruding on the dining entry space.


The living room was just too crowded with stuff. We pulled the big 3 foot ottoman out of the room and put it in the 3rd bedroom, which is on the main level and used as an office. We put the blue doggie bed in there also. We reversed the couch and loveseat to make more room walking into the dining area.


We moved the coffee table into the center space between the couch and loveseat. We found the mantle items in other places, the center “picture” being a placemat. The throw pillows on the sofa ended up upstairs on the beds. We opened the blinds a tad to bring the green of the outdoors, inside. Other rooms were arranged as well, and it took less time to transform the townhome than it did to write this post.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

28 thoughts on “Do It Yourself Home Staging

  1. Great job and idea. I always thought a lot could be done with hiring professional stagers unless the home is vacant.

    Thanks for the opportunity to see another one of your hats!


  2. I know I’m probably in the minority when it comes to buyers, but whenever I see a house that has been “staged” in this way I’m always wondering in the back of my mind what the seller is trying to hide. It’s like the magician’s slight of hand – my attention is purposely being drawn away from something to distract me from it.

    For example, if the sellers are messy and haven’t maintained their home properly, I’d rather know that than have someone come and and “stage” the home to trick me into thinking they really have. it makes me think of the old “lipstick on a pig” cliche.

    I understand that some homes may be kept properly but require some “fung shui” to make them appear to be larger or to show the “possibilities” but again, I just can’t help but wonder what the seller is trying to hide.

  3. Peter,

    On the one hand, I didn’t hide anything by shoving some furniture around for a couple of hours. But I do get your point. I did want to totally get rid of all dog related items, and tell the owner to house the dog elsewhere until the property was sold. So yes, there are times when we are “hiding” the fact that pets lived in the house or condo. In this case I didn’t. But clearly you are correct that most times we do.

  4. Hi Peter,

    Sometimes buyers can’t see the forest because of the trees. It can be hard to look at a home because the way the current owner (or tenent) lives with all their “stuff” keeps getting in the way of seeing how the home could work for them.

    Most people could benefit from having another person (who has an eye for design) look at how their “stuff” is positioned in rooms to make them more livable for them too. It’s not just a “trick” to sell a home, but a way to make a house feel more like a home for anyone.

    I have re-positioned lots of sofas (etc) for friends because it can be hard to “see” what could work best. I enjoy doing it for friends in their homes and do it for my clients as well. Last week I helped some clients with their master bathroom…and it finally looks great!

    Most people (me too) are messy! It’s hard to always keep everything clean and picked up all the time, even when you are trying to sell your home.

  5. If the problem is simply not seeing the “forest for the trees” then why stage a vacant home?

    Personally I love seeing vacant homes, nothing hidden, nothing there that you aren’t going to get with your purchase – just the house. Yet for some reason an actual “vacant” vacant home is almost unheard of these days.

    So tell me again about not being able to see the forest because of the trees.

  6. Hi faster,

    Size… and potential. For the same reason many people can’t “see” a house because of a homeowners stuff (and a different, maybe nonexistance sense of style) interfering from the buyer seeing a house’s potential, many people can’t see how furniture fits into a room. Also, many people don’t care for the empty look or feeling of a vacant house, and having furniture and accessories “warms” up a room.

    Thanks for getting the expression “forest for the trees” right, I just could not remember it properly!

  7. I bought my condo after seeing it virtually empty. Rather liked it that way: I knew where the hardwood floor was scratched and I knew it needed baseboards, etc.

    What I can believe, looking at those photos, Ardell, is how people can own a home without pictures or artwork on the walls. I mean, come on. That’s a lovely fireplace and NOTHING on the mantel? You shouldn’t need to put a placemat up there!

  8. Rich,

    I was surprised too. Not one picture on the walls anywhere. I found one that I put up in a bedroom. I generally have a stash of artwork and advised the agent, whose listing it is, to head over to Fred Meyers and get a supply that he can use from house to house.

    I agree with your perspective as a buyer. Still, when you go to sell, best to take the focus off of small imperfections. Generally speaking you will get a better price by doing so. And as a seller, vs. a buyer, that is the objective.

  9. I’m doing another one tomorrow. I’m trying to do a weekly field trip with one of my agents to help them get their listings sold. Another way to deal with these trying times.

  10. Pingback: Three Steps to Staging a Listed Property | Rain City Guide | A Seattle Real Estate Blog...

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