Northwest Renovation Magazine

A Home Improvement Magazine

Staging is the process of preparing any home for sale, regardless of price or location. A staged home can be vacant or inhabited, newly remodeled or in need of cosmetic repair. Like raising the curtain on opening night, a staged home creates a feeling of anticipation, and helps potential buyers envision themselves living in that space.

It also ensures the seller gets top price for her home, says On Stage owner Todd McAllister. “Staging a home is really popular in Seattle and the Bay Area. Now the market is growing like crazy here.”

All the art, furnishings, plants, rugs, and even the fake cake to the right are a few of the props that Todd has available to stage a home.

A design consultant by trade, McAllister stumbled into home staging by accident. Now it’s the mainstay of his business. In his first year, he staged about 70 homes and manages 15 to 17 projects at any given time.

Staging can be as simple as removing family photos from the wall, taking knick-knacks off the coffee table, and rearranging furniture. “The idea is to sell the house, its square footage, not the contents,” McAllister says. “You want to give the buyer a visual idea of where their furniture can go.”

This is important, he adds, “Because most people are not good at visualizing themselves” in someone else’s space, and end up having “an emotional reaction to what the house looks like now, not what it can look like in the future. Staging strikes the balance between what it is and what it can be.”

Although staging is not expensive — McAllister charges between $700 and $1,500 to stage a vacant house and an hourly rate for inhabited homes — convincing the client that it is money well spent can be a challenge.

Priscilla Ann Holst, an associate broker with Windermere, recommends home staging to her clients. “A staged home is very seductive to the buyer. The right colors, the right furniture, can make a house sell” sometimes $20,000 to $30,000 over the asking price, especially in high-demand neighborhoods.

A vacant house does not show well, Holst cautions, because it has no warmth or texture. She recently contracted McAllister to stage a high-end, completely renovated Victorian home in Southeast Portland. The result was tasteful, yet sparse. It was a setting that demonstrated how modern living can cohabitate with period design.

Although not a handyman by trade, McAllister will tackle almost any task. “A lot of it is getting people through the front door. I’ve cut grass, edged lawns, trimmed bushes. I do whatever it takes to make a house beautiful.”

The ultimate goal, of course, “is to make the house go away. That’s what the seller is trying to do.”

For more information, contact Todd McAllister, interior design consultant, at 503-708-1611.

Do-It-Yourself: Stage Your Home for Sale

First impressions begin outside the home. Here are some tips for drawing a potential buyer inside.

Think curb appeal. Prune trees and bushes back, especially if they block windows. Weed and mulch flower beds. Keep lawn freshly cut and fertilized.

Check the perimeter. Move all garbage cans, discarded wood scraps, car parts, toys into the garage or a shed. If it’s winter, small barbecue grills, bags of charcoal, and extra lawn chairs should be stored. Freshen paint on doors and window trims, check and repair areas with dry rot.

Look up. Check the roof for excessive moss, replace lost shingles. Clean gutters.

Cast a fresh eye. Once inside, create the feeling that anyone can live in your home. Ask yourself, how would a buyer view your home? Ask a friend or selling agent for a critical assessment, and then follow their advice.

Remove clutter. This means take family photos off the wall, remove knick-knacks and collectibles off the shelves, afghans and decorative doilies from furniture. Dust, patch, and paint newly exposed surfaces as necessary.

Make a clean sweep. Deep clean rugs, draperies and furniture, especially if you have pets. If your dog sheds or your cat uses the sofa as a scratching post, consider renting new furniture. For the kitchen and bath, display new towels, and don’t forget to clean sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and shower stalls. Change the shower curtain, too. Nobody likes the smell of mildew.

Freshen up. Before you show your house, bake cookies, brew a pot of coffee, light vanilla-scented candles, or plug in air fresheners. For the holidays, simmer a batch of apple cider on the stove and set out small paper cups to sample.

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