Cindy Lin, Founder, Staged4more

Hi, Welcome to Our School of Home Staging!

After a successful, 12+ years run as a home staging company in San Francisco Bay Area, STAGED4MORE is now an online school that focuses on home staging education for home stagers, home sellers and real estate agents.

Please take some time and check out all the free resources and tips available on our blog & podcast, as well as our courses selections.

Home Staging Q & A

Home Staging Q & A

In this episode, I answer your questions about home staging! We also announced our Stage Your House Like A Pro self-study, video ecourse! In this episode, I answered questions about:

  • How much furniture is enough in the room?
  • Do I have to use a coffee table?
  • What are your thoughts on dressers for staging?
  • Do I need to set dining table for staging?
  • How to stage little kids’ room and with a lot of pink?
  • What to do with outdated paint finishes and furnishing?
  • What kind of fridge should I buy? Does brand matter?

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Hi guys! Welcome back to Season 2 of The Home Staging Show podcast! This podcast was formerly known as the 30-Day Home Staging Challenge podcast. I’m very excited to be back today. As you may have noticed, we also have a new cover artwork for the show. I want to say thanks to those of you who had sent in questions and feedback during the hiatus of the show. It was really great to hear from you! If you enjoyed the show, please leave a rating and review in iTunes, whether they are good or bad, so I can keep improving the show and bring you content that is relevant to you.

Today’s show is sponsored by EcoJoe, the eco-friendly St Joseph statue home selling kit. You can get your own in our shop on our website. You can also get open house checklists and access to our new ecourses on our website.

Before I get started today, I want to mention a major update here in the Staged4more land. We have finally launched a self-pace, home study, video course on home staging. It is called Stage Your House Like A Pro. I made this course because I see that a lot of homeowners and real estate agents want more information on home staging, but may be limited because there may not be home staging professionals in their geographic areas. I also recognize the fact that not everyone want to hire professional home stagers and may feel that they can do it themselves. The truth is that there are a lot of homes out there like that, even in San Francisco bay area where home staging is so popular and common. I have many friends who sold their houses without hiring a home stager, simply because all they needed was minor tweaks and a little bit of help. Or they simply have no budget for it. I also want to empower everyone to learn how to style their homes, whether it is for sale or for living. That’s a big part of the drive behind this podcast. I think the way we live our lives have very strong correlation to our environments, and it is important to learn how to create a great environment that we and our families will enjoy and can prosper and thrive in. That’s also the reason behind the course, because a lot of styling and design principles I cover in the course can be translated into decorating your new homes for living.

I also want to clear the air really quick. I had some home stagers contacting me expressing concerns. I personally feel that there are so much information out there on the internet, and there are some great advices out there and there are some not so great advices. Personally, I am very passionate about the subject of home staging. I mean, I have been a home stager for almost 10 years. I have seen it working over and over again. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be able to help my clients to get their homes show ready to sell. It is a gift and an act of service, even though I am compensated financially for it. I don’t see how this course is a replacement of a professional home stager. It is the next best thing. As a real estate professional, it is my job to help my clients create wealth. I feel very passionate about educating people about home staging, and it has become a lifelong goal for me. This is why I’ve decided to devote myself into the education component of things, doing a podcast, writing a blog and coming out with courses to do that. Overall, it helps our industry more when there are more open dialogues about home staging. There is no need to withhold information. There are enough work out there for everyone. Just look at other industries, there are plenty of work out tapes out there, and there are still plenty of gyms and personal trainers working. Same with interior designs. There are tons of information out there, and still plenty of work to go around. So more dialogue is actually better for the industry. I really want to encourage you to start blogging and having that conversation with people in your market.

With that said, let’s start today’s show. Today’s show is all about your questions!
Q: Angie: I would like to know how much furniture is enough in a room. I have been fretting about whether to leave dressers in the bedrooms. I talked to my realtor, and she said I could go either way with our master because it’s huge. I have decided (I think) to not have dressers in the kids’ rooms but to leave them in our room so it’s not so empty. I’d love to know your thoughts on this, plus things like whether we should use a coffee table in the living room; it would hold lifestyle props, but I think it will make my LR look too small.

A: I think your realtor has a great point. If your bedroom is huge and has a lot of room, then you should leave your dresser. But if your bedroom is on the smaller side, I wouldn’t leave the dresser in. The bigger pieces of furniture does eat up room visually, so while they are necessary in every day living, I actually recommend most of the time to remove dressers, buffets, hutches and entertainment center for selling. But keep in mind I work in most starter homes types of scenarios. If you do have a big room, and there are plenty of room for walking around these pieces, then leave them in.

In regards to coffee table, yes, I’d recommend to have one. If you feel that your existing coffee table is too big, use something smaller. You can substitute coffee table with trucks, ottomans, or 2 smaller side tables putting together side by side. But having something that resemble the purpose of coffee table will be great to help to ground the space.

Q: Sharon: Would like to hear your take on dressers as well, we seem to be moving away from this except in large master bedrooms

A: So yes, like my answers for Angie, I normally don’t use dressers in the bedrooms. I would use console table instead. They are the similar rectangle shape, they are much less heavy visually and they can still suggest the shape and potential use for the room.

Q: Sharon: Staging dining areas. To set the table or not? We don’t but I’ve seen many who do

A: I personally feel less is more. I prefer to have one centerpiece like a bowl of fruit, a floral arrangement, than setting entire table. Because I am not in the business of selling furniture and stuff. The more focus should be placed on the space. However, I’ve heard from stagers in some markets, their target audience prefer them to set dining tables. So it is largely dependent upon your market. You can usually tell by open houses in the neighborhood and the lifestyle in your target market.

Q: Sue: How to stage little kids rooms with lots of stuff and lots of pink

A: This is a great question. I would recommend to shy away from the pink if you can. The reason is that in staging, you should stay fairly gender neutral. Pink, while a great color, also doesn’t read as well on the photos than colors like blue and green. Generally for kids’ room, we would stage it with a child’s bed, add a play set, a carpet to warm the space up and decorate the walls with kid-friendly artwork. I’ve seen a lot of homeowners have decals put on their walls for their children, which is fine, as long as they accentuate the space, not distracting. If you ever watch Modern Family, in Lily’s room, Cameron had murals painted with Mitchell’s and Cameron’s faces on them, that’s too much. The point is that you want to create a lifestyle that the buyers want to buy into. Usually if you are staging a room as a child’s room, you probably have multiple bedrooms in the house. Then I may do an older child’s room that can read as either a teenager or a guest could live here. In staging, I generally recommend to stay away from specific ideas, and go toward more generalization since you do want to appeal to a great range of buyers.

Q: Phyllis: Here is a question I would love for you to answer on an upcoming episode (thanks for asking!): How to work around dated fixtures and furnishings when you are on a limited staging budget!  Such as, in my case, things like:
1.) dated, but otherwise good condition honey-spice maple kitchen cabinets that we don’t have the money or energy to paint

2.) A small, tailored sage- green sectional couch that we don’t want to pay to replace unless absolutely necessary (we have a VERY awkward layout in our family room and a very tiny (89″ x 89″) sectional is the only thing that makes sense in there! This small of a sectional is not only very hard to find, but sectionals are expensive! )

3.) Dated tile in the bathroom (in my case 4″ x 4″ standard bone colored tile on the walls and garden tub surround!)

5.) Dated color scheme throughout the main living areas (My husband has been unemployed and near retirement age, so, due to lack of extra money, our home is still stuck in the “gold/green/rusty-red” era! The living spaces of our home are all painted in Behr “stable hay”, a soft golden yellow. It would be a big job to repaint everything(Can we just do touch-up painting, or repainting a room or two, or should we repaint everything?)

6) A big, brick fireplace (the brick is actually a very pretty mix of terra-cotta shades–should we paint it though?) I think you probably get the picture!

Thanks for your help. I am looking forward to upcoming episodes.

Phyllis (AKA “Fun2Learn1)

A: This is a great question. So when it comes to dated fixture and furnishing, I would highly recommend to replace fixtures if you can and leave the furnishing alone, unless they are in really bad condition for staging. The reason behind that is the buyers are not going to buy your sofa, so as long as it’s presentable, clean and styled, you will be fine. But fixture, that is something that comes with the house. Most fixtures are fairly inexpensive to replace, I’m talking about the basic light fixtures that you get at big box stores like Home Depot. These improvements will go a long way for ROI. So if you can find budget somewhere to do that, I’d recommend investing in changing out fixtures.

So going back to your kitchen cabinet. This is a big ticket item, and since it’s in great condition, you have no budget or energy to paint or change it, I would say deep clean the cabinet, make sure it looks presentable and update the hardware if they are outdated.

About the sectional, it sounds like you are living while you are selling, I’d leave it as is. Again, if it is in great conditions, I’d leave it alone. But just make sure your placement in the room makes sense and will bring out the focal point of the room. You can also freshen up the sofa by refluffing the pillow, add appropriate accent pillows, etc. to warm up the space.

With dated tiles in the bathrooms, this we run into a lot doing older homes in the bay area. And I’ve seen many dated beige and bone colored tiled kitchen countertops and bathrooms. As well as pepto bismal pink ones and super bright green ones. I’d say leave them alone. These are really big ticket items to replace and if you are selling your home fairly soon, you won’t recoup the return on investment on this, not to mention it can also delay your marketing timeline. I’d recommend make sure that your grout is in good condition. Make sure you have a deep clean before you go on the market.

With repainting, if you really don’t have the budget, touch up as much as you can. I once did a project where most of the interior walls were painted peach color, which is a color where people either really love it or really hate it. The homeowner had no budget to repaint. She also had a dining room that was blood red, which they repainted with primer paint, because the lack of budget. I have not seen your house personally, so I’d recommend assess this with your real estate agent. If you have zero budget, do as much as you can to touch up. The other thing with this particular projects, I downplayed the peach walls by my styling. I used a lot of black and white artwork to downplay the rooms and I used colors that would complement the space.

With your brick fireplace, I have not seen it personally but the sound of it, I think it’s something you can leave alone for the sale and just make sure you clean it. A lot of times I see traces of fireplace burning staining the fireplace.  Just make sure that you clean it before it goes on the market. A working fireplace is a great selling point.

Q: Phyllis:  I thought of another question/topic you might want to discuss on another episode: if you are replacing appliances before putting your home on the market, what kind and how much should you spend, etc. The reason I thought of this is that yesterday our 14- year old refrigerator died a sudden death!! I came home to melting ice all over the floor,  thawed and dripping frozen foods, and liquid popsicles! I had planned on eventually replacing the refrigerator anyway before we  put our home on the market since it was “bisque” colored and the other appliances were stainless, but I hadn’t even started to shop around, or even think much about it yet–until I was forced to do so late last night!!

While I was in the stores, I kept wondering if I should just buy the least expensive side-by-side model or a more expensive French door model. The French door models seem to be much more popular, judging by how many were on the showroom floors, and the salesmen seemed to agree that they were more popular these days, so I thought that perhaps it would help attract home buyers and justify the extra cost, but I wasn’t quite sure. Also, I wasn’t sure how “brand- aware” most home buyers really are: in other words, if I skimped and bought a lower end brand, such as  Frigidaire vs a better, mid-range or better brand, such as Samsung,(at least  Consumer Reports testing and customer reviews seem to rate it highly) would home buyers really even notice? Since we aren’t selling until the spring, I wanted to make sure I got one that didn’t seem to have too many potential repair issues,  was an ample size for a family, and one with a water and ice dispenser. I was thinking that, if I am going to spend the money, it should have enough space and the typically popular features that a potential homeowner would want so that they wouldn’t be thinking that they would have to replace it in the near future.  I think many of us would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Or do appliances really matter much at all, as long as they match in color, aren’t too old, and are in good working order?

In my case, since I needed a new refrigerator asap, I was limited to ones in stock and stores that could deliver the next day. I didn’t find any last night, but went out again today, armed with my Consumer Reports ratings, and, after a lot of mental “jumping back and forth” over the options (and angst over how expensive refrigerators are!), I  ended up purchasing a stainless steel, 28 cu. ft. Samsung French door refrigerator, with an in-door ice maker and water dispenser, on sale for what seemed like a good deal of $1700.  Somehow, though, even though I am sure I will enjoy the refrigerator for the time we are here, I am not sure if we will really “recoup” our money on this one! (Just fyi- our home is probably a mid-range home in size and price for our area in Maryland (a bit larger and more expensive than a typical “starter home” but definitely not as large and upgraded, or as new, as many of the homes in our area. I was thinking that maybe a little nicer  fridge might help give our home a few “perks” compared to some of those larger, newer homes?)

A: I’d say that if your other appliances are all stainless, buy something that’s stainless. You do want that to match if possible. As far as buying the cheaper model or the French model, that’s actually up to you. Since you are still living in the home while you are selling, it is probably nicer for living to have the more expensive version that you will enjoy using. In my experiences working with investors, they generally buy the cheapest model since they want to get the most profits out of the sale. But, you are living in your home, I personally think it is fine either way. I personally do not know if it makes a significant difference what brand of fridge you have when you are in mid price range. I think the allure of the brand comes in more significance when you have a high end home, I am talking about like those homes you see on Million Dollar Listings where they have all these cool and fancy toys and tech gadgets for the home. Then it is common for the potential buyers to expect something like a sub zero type of fridge or Viking range.

I hope today’s Q&A session has helped! Remember,  you can always submit your photos and questions in our private Facebook Group. Just search for The Home Staging Show and ask to join. I will approve you as soon as I can. Thank you guys for submitting your questions! If you have any comments or additional ideas for the questions asked on today’s show, please comment in the comment section of the show notes. If you enjoy today’s show, don’t forget to leave a rating or review on iTunes, Soundcloud or Stitcher. Thanks again for listening, and happy staging!

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