Furniture to use in Staging for a sale

hayden2March 20, 2013

We'll be retiring in 2 years, and will be moving to a state where we don't get buried by snow and hurricanes.

Our home was built in 1970, and we've lived here about 30 years. When we first moved in, we didn't think of the home as "old", but clearly now we realize it is - a characteristic the poor house shares with its current owners.

As we begin our preparations to move, I need to clean, declutter, and as we get closer to retirement date, stage. I need to be mindful that the house should be staged for a younger family.

What furniture styles and types are so out of style right now that we should remove them from our house to avoid the "grandma" vibe?

As I look through decorating pictures, the first thing I notice is that I don't see people using large breakfronts - the tall, glass-doored china cabinets. Is that correct? What about large bookcases? In other words, what's in and what's out for furniture these days?

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How people stage and live are two different things. Staging is about setting the fictional set for how people wish they lived. Clean and uncluttered are the two biggest elements to consider. Style of the furniture is subordinate to those two primary considerations. If you remove about 60% of the furniture that you're living with now, you'd probably hit the mark. For the rest, items with a smaller scale help to create the feeling of spaciousness.

At any rate, you shouldn't be shopping now for resale. Downsize and declutter first. Anything that you really want to keep needs to go in storage. Bear in mind that any new potential home will probably be smaller and have much different light than your current home, so much of what you have won't work in the new home anyway. Therefore, the items you decide to take with you will most likely be minimal.

For now, focus on doing any deferred maintainence like replacing the 12 year old water heater, and fixing the window with the broken seal. Then, a couple of months before putting the home on the market, you should paint fresh neutral colors, put in an inexpensive neutral carpet, and find some garage sale finds or rental return sales for any pieces that you might need after the decluttering happens.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:06AM
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live_wire, thanks for your post.

The 12-year old water heater decided to commit suicide at 2 a.m. last month, so that's taken care of ..... :)

I should clarify that I'm not talking about buying new items - I'm talking about what we already have that we keep in the house or throw, vs what we have that we should move out in advance.

Our town has a bulk trash day, which means that between now and 2015, we have only 3 days when we can get rid of major items without incurring disposal charges.

I'm not sure the breakfront is worth paying movers to move it. So the question is, do I keep it because it looks okay for staging; or do I get rid of the top and just keep the bottom as a sideboard.

that lead me to wonder if there are other types of furniture that just look so outdated, it lends the house a musty vibe.

I totally understand that I need to clean out a lot of stuff that I've accumulated over the years. That won't be a problem - I just want some insights about which pieces I may love, but which are now considered on a par with the huge wooden TV I plan to get rid of that sits on those spindly little legs.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:27AM
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If you want to see what the latest trends are to looking up to date, you might want to visit There you can search for different styles and rooms, including exteriors etc. It might give you an idea of what would work with what you have.

I would really concentrate like live_wire suggested on doing any defered maintenance so that everything is looking well taken care of and make sure the house is very clean. This should be from inside to out. For example Maybe take out that overgrown bush that is too big for where it was planted and plant something else that will look a bit more mature when you actually put the house for sale. Fix that rotting trim piece, or that sagging gutter, the chipped paint, the slightly torn wall paper, the squeaky floor, the old stain on the ceiling, the rust stain in the toilet, etc. and then focus on keeping it up.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:15AM
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All good points - I went around the house and realized that many of our wooden floors squeak. Ah, the things you never notice when you live in a house.

Thank goodness we don't have a lot of deferred maintenance. I'm pretty stringent about the ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure when it comes to a house.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:06PM
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Check out the West Elm and Pottery Barn websites for pictures of popular furntiture and accessory styles.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:13PM
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Staging is a illusion that buyers can live a certain way. Kitchen counters without any appliances, cabinets not overflowing with dishes and mismatched cups etc. Closets with empty shelves and clothes hanging on matched hangers and about 1/3 of what usually is In a closet and nothing on closest floors.
If you decide to keep your bookcases for your next home, take about 2/3's of the books out and have empty spaces. Breakfront the same. I've put on craigs list things I don't want for free and gone in a hour. Things like exercise bike or artificial Xmas tree, snapped up for free.
Instead if 6 chairs at a dining room table, use 4, or even 2.
With a two year plan, I'd start with the rooms you don't use on daily basis guest rooms for example and stage them first.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:53PM
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I'd not worry about specific furniture pieces unless they were covered in vinyl/plastic or with large floral patterns.

Moreso, make sure your draperies (and other things/items that will stay with the house) are not outdated.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:26PM
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I think you could free cycle a lot of stuff without any problem. People are really into painting outdated stuff these days--the break front would be an example. Might be something to consider if you don't want to get rid of it but are tired of it or want to use what you have to update. We did that with a nineties broyhill wood dresser and it looks GREAT! Look into Annie Sloan chalk paint if you are interested. If not, somebody else probably will be and will be happy to take it off your hands. Or there is always the charity pickup option. Just a few ideas to offload some of your still serviceable but no longer wanted big stuff.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Easiest way for us to advise you is to post some photos of your current condition. Then we can (gently) point out what might detract from a youthful-feeling home.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:44PM
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OK, looking at Pottery Barn stuff and Houzz is a great idea.

In fact, all the suggestions have been extremely helpful. Thank you all so much. I'll post pictures at the appropriate time.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 9:40PM
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We got advice from a stager and it seemed to work, as we sold the house very quickly (12 days) in the depth of the market.

-- remove everything personal-photos, diplomas, whatever-- you want the buyer to envision their family, which may be very different from yours, in the space
-- Pottery Barn is apparently the go-to source for colors and house fashion in the buying cohort. Doesn't matter if it's ugly, just go for it
-- no one wants to fix anything, no matter how trivial, so either make sure everything in the house works or get rid of it (ie torn screen door--better to take it off than leave it there needing fixed)
-- fresh paint (in Pottery Barn colors) works wonders. It also forces you to clean everywhere-- move every piece of furniture. The house can not be too clean.
-- refinish the floors if they are bad. Doesn't need to be a good job, it just needs to look like it doesn't need work (no one wants to fix (or paint, or refinish) anything!
-- move about 2/3 of your furniture out to a remote location. empty the garage and empty the basement completely
-- empty 80% of the stuff out of your cabinets and closets and put it in storage. Yes people will look inside all of them. You want to make them look big and uncrowded.
-- we replaced brass cabinet knobs with brushed nickel and brass light fixtures with brushed nickel or oiled bronze. The cheap nasty ones from the Borg will do just fine. Brass is out, out, out.
-- plant some pansies and mulch everything in the yard. Get rid of brush piles, rotten fences, old playground equipment, anything that looks like it might involve work to deal with.
-- depending on your price level, replace the kitchen appliances with stainless. Again, they can be cheap and nasty as long as they look new and shiny.
-- put new big fluffy white towels in the bathroom and new fluffy rugs on the floor. Store them between showings so that they always look new. Make the bathroom look as spa-like as possible.
-- turn on every light every time you show the house

Did I mention that no one wants to fix anything?

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 2:30PM
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