Staging Your Home to Sell or Stay in 2023

By Jennifer Vokolek
April 4, 2023

Focus on what it is that you want and set a realistic goal,” martial artist and actor Chuck Norris once said. “Set goals you feel you can accomplish. Every time you accomplish a goal; you develop the strength and wisdom to accomplish the next one.”

One goal that can be accomplished and lead to a big transformation is Spring Staging. Like spring cleaning, it refreshes your space and prepares your home for a “for sale” sign. Unlike spring cleaning, it has little to do with dusting and window-cleaning.

I’m most often invited into homes to help prepare for listing. This is more than reviewing market conditions, sellers’ plans, or comparable homes. We go space-by-space — from front garden to rear patio — talking about presentation. Preparing to move can be daunting; I get it! But decluttering and staging is a helpful mental step that can also be the platform for other personal changes.

Regardless of whether the objective is a whole house transformation, writing out attainable goals can assure success.

  • Drive-up appeal is a real thing, and nothing satisfies like being the talk of the town! If you tend to forget the front plants, don’t install seasonal color. However, do trim bushes, add fresh mulch, and secure yard trim. Popping a cheery wreath on the door will also put a smile on your face.
  • The entry should feel bright, invitational, and welcoming. Leave lights on, especially accent table lights! Also, perception is reality. A dim entry says the house is dark. Ensure all your bulbs are working and the same hue. Different tints and shadows make the space feel disjointed. Remember, you’re starting small so you’re best able to tackle your next project.
  • Paring down gallery walls of photos may seem specific to selling, but it lends itself to reduced clutter. I don’t recommend replacing photos with art. Clean walls, especially in the halls, leads to fewer distractions. Fill holes and do corrective painting. If selling, I suggest doing this prior to going on the market. It saves time later.
  • Here’s a rule of thumb to helps maintain some creature comforts when staging: Three items per surface. If the mantel has a family picture, a candle, a clock, a topiary, and a stack of old books, that’s two too many. Downsizing allows the feature to be seen. I don’t even care which three you choose to keep! This principle complements organization expert Marie Kondos’s advice on keeping what brings you joy, allowing you to identify what you truly love, want, or need.
  • The three-item rule does not apply to the kitchen. Keep what gets daily use. This is literal! If you treat yourself to Starbucks one day a week, the coffee maker goes. The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s the top priority. The cleaner and more functional the space, the more easily enjoyed and admired.
  • Interestingly, 99% of people position furniture where they saw it placed before. Moving pieces can make an old space new and improve flow or add interest. Consider: Do longer pieces jut out, minimizing walkways? Would an angled bed make the bedroom more memorable? Rearranging is an opportunity to explore both your artsy and practical sides.


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A house is made of walls and beams, a home is built with love and dreams.” How you design and stage your home will encourage every guest or buyer to wish it was theirs.

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