Moving and Packing Tips

Home Staging Tips and Tricks to Help You Sell Your Home Faster

Even if you’re not an avid fan of ‘House Doctor’, broadcast on Channel 5, you probably know that home staging can make or break a real estate sale deal. And more often than not, you need to grab the potential buyers’ attention before you even meet them with gorgeous listing photos of a well-styled home. A home that they fall in love with. A home that they can envisage living in.

In other words, property presentation is crucial if you want to sell fast and get a good price.

So, with the kind help of Elaine Penhaul, the founder of Lemon and Lime Interiors and a sought-after home staging consultant and published author in the UK, we are about to share with you a plethora of proven and tested home staging tips. Hopefully, they’ll help you achieve your house selling goals.

In this article, we will:

  • Cover an array of property presentation tips that work;
  • Share some key takeaways from Elaine’s best-selling book ”Sell High, Sell Fast: How to sell your home for the best possible price, in the quickest possible time”;
  • Look into the notion of home staging vs. property renovating;
  • Give you an insight into some of the most common mistakes people make when preparing their house for sale.

According to Elaine, planning ahead is what can make all the difference when it comes to impressing your prospective buyers into believing that they have just found their dream home.

“The first two weeks of launching your property on the market are key. If you haven’t got it right, consider it that you’ve lost your chances!” says Elaine.

What is home staging after all?

Home staging is in effect presenting your home in the most favourable way so that it attracts the greatest number of right property hunters quickly and convinces them to pay the highest possible asking price.

And here, we should take on board Elaine Penhaul’s solid advice to take your target market into consideration. Who is your potential buyer? A young family with children? An accomplished professional, engaged solely in their career development? Understanding the needs of your prospective buyers will ultimately affect the home styling and selling process, that’s for sure.

“I always start with finding out what the property owner’s goals are and of course, their budget, in order to sell faster. I quickly assess the situation via a video call or an on-site visit, so we can set out an action plan and get the most out of preparing the property for sale within the seller’s budget.”, Elaine elaborates in her own words.

Does the place simply require a good decluttering, putting excess stuff into storage and a deep clean? Will the home staging process involve some repairs and light decoration work, as well as renting the right furniture pieces? Or is the property in grave need of renovation so that it sells at all?

Home staging vs. renovating to sell faster

Often, property sellers wonder about how far they should go when making their home saleable and appealing to buyers. For instance, Elaine Penhaul recounts her success story of increasing the value of a property by 200k after a major renovation has taken place. But of course, there’s never a guarantee that if you invest big in completely refurbishing your home, you’ll sell faster and at a high profit. Or you will do the opposite – lose money in the process.

Well, balance is key and this is where home staging comes important. As it does professional cleaning help and assistance with small repair work. Resorting to expert property styling help, as a minor investment, can ensure that your home is presented in the most marketable and competitive fashion. After all, staged homes sell 3 times faster than those that haven’t undergone a quick makeover.

How to present your house for sale

Let’s look into some general tips on how to stage and present your property to sell faster, instead of ending up being overlooked in the first crucial two weeks. Tell a story that the buyer wants to hear through your well-styled home!

Declutter & clean, clean, clean

Removing clutter out of sight and parting with unnecessary items for good is your first step in staging your home for sale. Also, invest in a professional deep cleaning service to eliminate every sign of grime and daily use from around the entire house. And when it comes to selling a newly built property, Elaine thoughtfully points out that not spending the time and money on a good after builders cleaning can be a real dealbreaker.

Depersonalise your property

All those cute pics of your kids, photos of your late grandma, fridge magnets “memorabilia” and “divisive”, religious artefacts from your last trip to India have to go. Full stop. Put yourself into your buyers’ shoes! And don’t steal away their mental picture of displaying images of their own personal life in your home.

Embrace timelessness

Going for a neutral colour scheme where needed can do wonders, trust us! So, get rid of any no-longer-fashionable, bright-coloured items, be it the glaring red footstool you love or the Pokemon wall stickers from your kids’ room. A splash of “inoffensive” paint here and there won’t break the bank, either.

Small fixes are important

Make sure to repair that cracked floor tile or loose skirting board. Also, tired-looking area rugs won’t do you any favours and replacing them is not that expensive. Check every little detail around your house! That broken blind in the living room will look horrendous on a photo that may be included accidentally in your property listing.

Smells sell houses

Make sure to remove bad odours before your first viewing takes place, as a prospective buyer won’t be impressed with the smell of pet litter. Use the candidate homeowner’s senses to your advantage and ensure that your home smells fresh. You can go a step further and welcome them with the delicate aroma of fresh-ground coffee, baked cinnamon cookies or vanilla, instead of offending their nose with the smell of your last night’s curry feast.

Let go mentally of your home

It may sound like a surprise to you, but your potential buyer may be taken aback if they see how you’ve converted the guest room into a private gym. So, take actions and stage the rooms accordingly! As Elaine Penhaul reminds us:

“If someone is after a three-bedroom house, they would expect to see three nicely styled, comfortable bedrooms.”

Now, let’s get to the bottom of what house doctoring is all about and walk through each and every room of your property for sale.

How to stage your property room by room

How to dress your house for sale and prepare it to appeal to the right prospective buyers means that you have to give attention to each room. And most importantly, you need to make sure that your home exterior looks its best, too.

How to stage your house on the outside

Elaine is certain about one thing from her professional property presentation experience. The first impression counts.

“Think about the buyer’s journey. They’ll spot your listing and may well drive by your property to check it out before booking an actual viewing… And good Lord, the gate is hanging off its hinges.”

In other words, don’t skip on improving your property’s curb appeal!

  • Fix any outdoor repair issues – From repainting your front door to fixing your fence or sagging gutter, make sure nothing puts off your prospective buyer before they even meet the estate agent.
  • Spruce up your garden – It’s easy to neglect your green area when focusing on your home interior and getting your house prepared for sale. An overgrown garden will “scream” to a candidate buyer “oh, too much work”. The same goes for the garden lights you may have left forgotten, but replacing the blown out bulbs can significantly change the outdoor area.
  • Clean the driveway or patio Invest in jet washing your paved area as it will be worth every penny. And yes, moss and mildew on your patio don’t give it a rustic look.
  • Consider having a more enticing recreational outdoor space – If you’ve got the budget, create an attractive outside area, which can add value to your home. Hardscaping with gravel around feature plants or installing a quaint small decking in the backyard will hike up the selling price without the risk of eating too much into your profit if at all.

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How to style your entrance hallway

Again, property buyers will put on their pair of scrutinising glasses the minute they set foot in the hallway. And if they don’t like what they see, this may influence adversely the rest of the viewing process.

  • Refresh the walls – As hallways are relatively small, repainting yours won’t cost you that much. But it can make a huge difference on how keen a buyer feels to check out the other rooms.
  • Address anything that needs fixing – Blown light bulbs, broken light fixtures, a wobbly shoe rack and the like will just make anyone, who is hunting for a new home, question whether they should bother proceeding with the viewing.
  • Make the hallway welcoming and cosy – No, your kid’s broken roller skaters have no place in the entrance hall. Instead, replace the doormat or rug, add some artwork, or fit a nice mirror opposite the quirky wall sconce to reflect the light and make the place well lit and more spacious. A plant or two will also make the prospective buyer feel that they are entering a home rather than a showcase house.

How to properly stage your living room

The living room is where people relax and entertain themselves and their guests. And this is exactly what you need to show your buyer – a cosy, yet, spacious room, where they can feel comfortable and content.

  • Reconsider focal points – And this shouldn’t be the huge TV. Nor do you need to place large or tall awkward-looking vases around the place. “In home staging, focal points and features that may attract the buyer’s immediate attention are called vignettes.”, Elaine points out. You can create a cosy sitting area with fluffy cushions in the corner as a focal point, for instance, where one can relax with a glass of wine.
  • Show off the view out of the window – Do you have French doors with a view of your neat back garden? Make sure to showcase it through the sparkling clean glass! Also, letting natural light in the rooms makes them look bigger. So, washing the windows of your entire home is a must, instead of hiding smears and dust on the glass behind the curtains.
  • Curtains also play a role – While on the subject of curtains, do yours clash with the colour of the walls or are simply tattered and outdated? Replace them with trendy blinds to achieve that eye-pleasing look of the whole room.
  • Change furniture around – If your huge sofa makes the room smaller, put it into storage and get a nice compact settee to complement the coffee table. This is where professional home staging specialists can help out by renting to you the right pieces of furniture.
  • Final touches – Applying some finishing touches doesn’t always mean getting creative. Yes, you can add some decorative items, like a nice picture on the wall and some candles on the table. But it also means removing eyesores, such as tangled cables around your home cinema set or ripped and cheap-looking travel books or romantic novels you got from the nearest charity shop.

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Stage your kitchen to look immaculate and inviting

The trend of open-plan kitchens is becoming more popular in the UK, replacing the traditional kitchenette and dining room. Elaine Penhaul also confirms:

“People prefer the heart of their home open and spacious while converting the original reception room into a study or a place for their hobbies.”

But even if this is not the case with yours, we are not advising you to invest in anything huge like a kitchen extension or a major refurbishment. Just present your existing one in the best possible light.

  • Hygiene is vital – We’ve already stressed on the importance of cleaning your house. But we should emphasise again here that your kitchen and appliances need to be thoroughly sanitised before a viewing. There’s nothing more off-putting than a smelly fridge and dirty oven. So, if you’re not up for some elbow grease, hire a professional oven cleaner. The cost of oven cleaning is always worth it, as they often check the appliance is properly working and disassemble any removable parts to give your oven a much more thorough clean.
  • Store away small appliances – All property presentation experts recommend – hide away the toaster, kettle, microwave and the like. You’re not showing a rental to your prospective buyer. Let them picture their own stuff in their dream kitchen.
  • Cabinets and worktops are your “vignettes” in the kitchen – Sharing further Elaine’s home staging know-how: “You can change the look of your kitchen and achieve a dramatic effect by painting the cabinets and replacing the door handles.” Tired-looking worktops can also be replaced without making a huge hole in your budget.
  • Offer flexibility with your kitchen staging – If you’ve got the space in your standard-sized kitchen, you can create a charming breakfast area in the corner with a small table and a couple of chairs. People love to have a choice, regardless of having a well-designed dining room. And this will act as an additional attractive focal point.
  • Accessorise in a subtle way – Stay minimalist with your kitchen styling tricks. But it won’t hurt if you place a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop and a cacti plant on the window sill, with the curtains half-drawn and tied-up to reveal the view.

How to stage the bedrooms

The master bedroom is also an important house seller, especially if we are talking about a decent-sized family house. Picture this, people are not just buying a home. They are investing in improving their lifestyle. So, as soon as a prospective buyer enters a said bedroom, they will try to envisage themselves or their kids in there, waking up each morning and settling for the night.

  • Keep it minimal – Your main bedroom and guest room need only the essentials – a bed, bedside tables with lights and a dressing table, free of any clutter and personal belongings. Children’s rooms can be quite tricky to stage. So, follow the rule of styling yours to appeal to a large audience. This means – pleasant neutral colours and nothing overly “kiddy” on display, like numerous toys or colourful stickers on windows and walls. In other words, a potential buyer with a teenage boy will not fall in love with your two gorgeous little girls’ pink princess-like room.
  • Natural light is vital – Make sure that natural light is pouring in through the well-dressed windows. This applies especially if you’ve got a north-facing bedroom.
  • Dress the beds beautifully – The effort of styling the beds with quality bedding and feel-good pillows and cushions will definitely pay off. So, do your homework and don’t skip on such inviting details.
  • Play smart when presenting the storage units – Home staging gurus apparently swear by the 75% rule when it comes to storage. If a buyer sees that your wardrobes and cupboards are bursting with stuff, they will instantly feel that storage space is scarce. So, remove some of your clothing or linen if you have to so that units look neat and orderly on the inside.

Bathroom staging tips to sell your home faster

Bring the spa feeling into your bathroom without the need of spending tonnes of money. Again, when it comes to house doctoring this space, cleanliness is what will sell. Scrub away and ensure that all fixtures, fittings, tile and glass surfaces are free of limescale and rust.

Read also:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean Limescale from Window Glass?
  • Re-grout the tiles – Old, dull-looking or damaged grout can make a bathroom feel unwelcoming, even if it’s been thoroughly disinfected. “Re-grouting the tile surfaces will again have an immediate dramatic effect on the buyer’s perception of the place.”, Elaine Penhaul explains.
  • Repair leaks and replace the shower sealant – If you’re not the best of DIY-ers, call in a professional plumber to address small leaks and replace dodgy taps and ripped sealants.
  • Remove toiletries and style – Put personal items and toiletries away to give your bathroom a clean and minimalist look. However, you can dress the place to make it more inviting by bringing in the odd accessory. Place a potpourri bowl on a shelf and a couple of candles in the corner of the bathtub. A brand new fluffy towel of neutral colour can also add to the spa feel of the room.

Common home staging mistakes to avoid

Home staging is in a way marketing your house to the right property buyers. It requires a visionary approach and more often than not, professional assistance. So, let’s have a look at some of the pitfalls to avoid when trying to style your home.

Overspending on your property presentation

Stripping the whole kitchen or building a conservatory will not necessarily prove to be a smart move when trying to sell your home at a profit, or at least not at a loss. So, consider carefully how to work your budget. Fix only what’s broken! As Elaine reminds us, address the little stuff and invest in small repairs and light decoration work. After all, if the home staging process ends up revolving around decluttering, cleaning and adding some finishing touches, then be so! This will still help you prepare your home for sale and attract the right buyers if done professionally and with attention to detail.

Getting too personal with your home styling

Forget about your personal taste in furniture, colour schemes and decor. And stage your home with your prospective target buyers in mind! In other words, staging your house to sell is not the same as designing it to live. So, you better entrust the job to a professional property presentation expert, who knows how to convert rooms back to their original purpose and replace temporarily awkward-looking furnishings, but most importantly, who understands the selling power of focal points and “vignettes”.

Going overly minimalist

When we think decluttering, this doesn’t mean turning your home into a cold, empty-looking, anonymous place, free of any character and appeal. Using a colour palette that falls flat, due to the lack of any contrasting features, will make the house look somewhat unmemorable among numerous others that your buyer has viewed or intends to check out. In addition, don’t ignore the home-staging, furniture-spacing rule of thumb. Key pieces, especially in living and reception rooms, are best placed at a distance of about 4 ft, to avoid ending up with either a cluttered or overly bare feel of the room.

Not planning your home representation properly

From listing with the wrong people to rushing with the process of taking photos of your home, this will result in gravely missed opportunities to showcase your house with the maximum prospects of selling fast, according to Elaine.

“By not paying a good percentage to your estate agent, you risk getting poor service and uninvested advice.”

So, don’t rely on your agent to take hurried photos of your place with their smartphone, as Mrs Penhaul strongly recommends. Instead, get a seasoned property photographer, who knows what they’re doing.

Elaine sums it all up:

“The property market seems to be no longer seasonal. Time-wise, you’ve got two weeks to impress. If a property hunter spots a 3-months old listing, alarm bells will ring that there’s something wrong, so they move to newer listings.”

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Why home staging is important to sell fast and how it can affect the selling price

More and more people in the UK understand the important role of home staging, in order to sell their house swiftly and for a good price. And although property value is often location-sensitive, there’s always a scope for parting with your house at a profit if you don’t rush the preliminary planning process. It’s also best to resort to expert property presentation advice and professional home improvement help.

As mentioned earlier, house doctoring and styling are designed to sell dreams and an enhanced standard of living, rather than to solely aid you in transferring the property ownership fast. Remember that prospective buyers subconsciously “place” themselves in the property during the viewing and begin to visualise images of how they already live in your home.

“Still, sometimes, property presentation is not about selling faster or adding value to your home.”, Elaine’s experience tells us. ”But it’s about getting the sale at all!”

So, consider her wise words and invest in all the right help you can get before putting your house on the market!


  • Successful home staging is a question of presenting your property with your target market in mind.
  • Good planning, balance and professional expertise are key if you hope for a fast and profitable deal.
  • Decluttering, deep cleaning and doing small repairs are all part and parcel of home staging. These jobs need to be done well before you get to the fun house-dressing stage.
  • Skipping on improving your property’s kerb appeal and garden area can be a dealbreaker, well before you even get to meet your prospective buyer.
  • In relation to the above, property hunters browse listings for weeks before they book a viewing. So, don’t miss your chances to impress them in the first vital two weeks with pictures, taken by a professional property photographer.

Oh, you’ve read our post till the end! Did you find it helpful? Have you ever tried to home stage your property to sell it faster? Let us know how you did or share some tips in the comments below!

Image Source: Shutterstock / sirtravelalot

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