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Home Staging - Clearly defining rooms


This is actually an upstairs bedroom. Confused?

Selling a home is about selling square footage. Buyers and their REALTORS® are keenly aware of the price per square foot. It’s up to you to make sure that they see value everywhere they look.

When your house was first built, every room was designed with a specific purpose in mind, be it bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room or office. Has the true identity of any of your rooms changed? Is one of your bedrooms masquerading as a home office? Is your formal dining room your children’s playroom?

For every room that has an incorrectly defined space, it’s as if the builder made a design mistake in the eyes of the buyer. If a buyer doesn’t need a home office, but does need four bedrooms and you have what appears to be three bedrooms and a home office, buyers can easily forget or not realize that you really have a four bedroom house.

Frequently we try to create dual-purposes for rooms in our homes. You might have a “combination family room and home office” or “bedroom/study”. When it’s time to sell, pick one identity per space. Keep in mind that it may be okay to stage an extra bedroom as an office if that’s what your buyers are looking for. If not, you better plan on changing it back.

An undefined space is just as bad as a poorly defined one. If you leave a room empty and buyers don’t know what it’s supposed to be, they will forget that the room even existed (particularly if the room acts as a pass-through to another, more clearly defined room). To the buyers, it wasn’t a 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch with a dining room, living room and den – it was a 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch with a dining room and a living room. Den? What den? If that was your undefined room, it might as well have never been there.

Some rooms have open layouts and they are meant to have dual purposes. Many homes have open kitchens that look out on a great room. That great room may also double as living and dining spaces. Make sure you devote the right amount of space to each and give buyers some visual definition between the spaces. How? Try some of these suggestions:

  • Lighting – A room that doubles as living and dining should have a dining table and chairs to help define the space, but using an appropriate chandelier or other suitable light fixture will help anchor and define the space.
  • Furniture – Floating furniture in a room can help define the boundary between one space and another. Open bookshelves make great room dividers without sacrificing light and views. Art can also help define spaces.
  • Architectural Details – Chair rails, for example, are most often used in dining rooms, so putting in some architectural details can help define one area from another.

(Look at the pictures above. The original is on the left - a blank open space with furniture pushed up against the walls. It left the room feeling cold and unused. After floating the furniture, the windows become the focal point of the room and the space is warm, invitng and conversational.)

Buyers need help. They often lack vision. Most buyers have difficulty mentally placing their furniture in your house unless they have your furniture to use as a comparison. Whether your home is $50, $100, $150, etc. per square foot, make sure every one counts!

If you have a home staging question or would like to share a staging tip, please let me know. Send me a photo of your home staging dilemma and I’ll be happy to help!

Home staging tip: Floating furniture in a living room or family room will make the room seem larger than pushing it up against the walls. It allows buyers to see all the way around a room.

For more info: Try typing in “furniture layout” or “placing furniture” in a web search. Here’s a great piece of information from an interior design school.


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