Home Staging - Roll Up Your Sleeves; it’s Time to Sell!

Please welcome guest contributor to, Rachel Vanderveen, a Calgary real estate blogger and home stager who is writing an eight-part series of home staging advice for our blog. This is part three in that series. Rachel’s previous home staging posts can be found here.

So now we’ve cleaned our home, and met and hired a Saskatoon real estate agent who is committed to helping us achieve a top-dollar sale. Our agent is sending a stager, but we want to get the most out of our stager’s time by having our home in the best shape we can before (s)he arrives.

So the next thing to attack is de-cluttering. What is clutter? My handy-dandy little Encarta dictionary defines it as a “messy collection of objects.” Well, this week, I’m going to redefine that word for you. Well maybe not redefine, but definitely sharpen the meaning for the purposes of our discussion.

Clutter, for our purposes, shall be defined as anything that you do not absolutely need to use in the next three months. If you think about it, that is a lot of stuff! For example, depending on the time of year, that could mean 3 seasons of your clothes, and your children’s clothes. That being said, why don’t we dive straight into your closets? Closet space is a biggie when it comes to selling real estate. Women Shoppers are always looking for more closet space, and when those Saskatoon real estate buyers come traipsing through your humble abode, they want to see lots of it. How can we make our closets look two-thirds bigger than they are? That’s easy! Remove two-thirds of the stuff! Box it, pack it up, and move it out. Let’s face it; you’re going to have to do it anyways, right? I mean, you areplanning on moving house, right? So why not do it now rather than later.

So, Rachel, what am I supposed to do with all of my family’s seasonal clothes? Well, I personally am a big fan of those giant Rubbermaid bins from Walmart, but you don’t have to be so fancy. You can get old boxes from your local grocer. Once you’ve got them all packed up, well, you’ve got to get rid of them! Before I tell you where to put them, I’m going to tell you where not to put them. Do not stack them up in your basement and do notstack them in your garage! I know you’re not going to make me tell you not to stack them anywhere else in the house, that should be a given. Yes, that’s right, your boxes are going to have to go somewhere off site. Now, as I see it, that leaves you with two options:

1) You can find a loving friend or family member who has a basement or garage in home that is not going to be listed anytime soon, and stack them in there.

2) You can enlist the help of a storage unit.

But Rachel, I can’t do either of those things. Okay, fine. If you really can’t do either of those things, the n as a last option you can store the boxes in either the basement or the garage, but if you do so, try to stack them up as high (and as safe) as you can. The reason for this is that we want to be able to see floor space in those areas. Basements---especially unfinished basements---have their value caught up mostly in the amount of visible space. The bigger you can make it look, the more perceived value it has. The best way to make something look bigger is to remove as many unnecessary contents as possible. The garage is another place where space is a big issue. If it’s a double, it needs to look like a comfortable  double; if it’s a single, it needs to look like there is room to spare. So if you muststore your extras in the basement or the garage, try to build shelving and get it up off the floor.

Now let’s move back to closets. Once everything is removed that won’t be used for the next three months, the biggest thing I want you to focus on is floor space. If you do nothing else in your closets and pantries, just make sure that the floor space is totally clear. Having the floor clear, again, makes the space appear larger.

After everything is removed from your storage areas, you have to organize it in an appealing way. After years of staging homes for sale, I have found the easiest way to describe the type of organizing you need to do is to say to the homeowner: “It should look like someone with OCD lives here. Think Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy.” So what does that look like? Well, I’d love to see everything arranged from largest to smallest, with the English label facing out…and…if you have time, colour-block it all. I know it sounds nuts, but let me tell you why it’s so important to make it all look like this. When you’re showing your home to potential buyers who have been looking all of the Saskatoon real estate listingsin your area, your home will be the stand out. They see the almost obsessive cleanliness and associate a value to that. They will assume that you are the type of person who set a monthly clock to check your furnace and clean your ducts. They’ll know that if the roof leaked, you were up there in hours to have it looked at and instantly repaired. And they’ll be certain that a person as obsessively clean and organized as yourself, would never stand for mold growth anywhere. Feeling confident that the home you choose has been kept up to high standards has a value that is almost incalculable.

I often say to my staging clients, that when you think of the work you’ll have to do on your home to get it ready for the Saskatoon real estate market, imagine writing yourself a paycheck for about $200/hour. I have found that is roughly how much staging can increase your price, give or take. I can attest to the fact that staging your own home can seem like a  daunting task, but when you picture the income that  you can earn from putting in the time to make it sparkle, it’s a lot more appealing! So roll up your sleeves!

Until Next Time…


Rachel Vanderveen is a Calgary Real Estate agent specializing in Calgary condos, South Calgary Real Estate, home staging and Calgary Real Estate Investment.  But more importantly she is a mother to four adorable children, a lover of Auburn Bay Real Estate, and an avid writer of Calgary Real Estate Blogs. For more information on Calgary Home Buyers, or searching The Calgary MLS, visit her website here.  

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