While everyone knows that the square footage of a property is an important part of the home buying decision, very few sellers really take the visible square-footage of their home into consideration.

But what exactly is ‘visual square footage’ and why is it so important? In laymen terms, visual square footage is the perceived size of a home based on how large the space looks/feels when you walk in. For instance, I’ve seen many homes 1000 feet or less look and feel massive, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve seen homes I was expecting to be huge seem incredibly small by comparison!

The bottom line when selling your home is that the majority of potential buyers want space! Whether they are moving up or downsizing, most people aren’t looking for cramped quarters, regardless of the actual measurements of a home. They want to feel as if they have enough room to comfortably live in the space. This is where the idea behind creating ‘visual square footage’ comes in. That is to say, making a home look and feel open, spacious, and inviting, no matter the measurements.

This living room staged in one of my latest workshops conducted in Springfield, Illinois, is a great example of how visual square footage can effect the perception of a room. At first glance, this space felt much smaller than it really was due to having far too many furnishings and an unapproachable layout. By editing the furnishings and accessories, opening up the drapes to flood the room with natural light which also expanded the view, and rearranging the furniture to give it a more open layout, the visual square footage of this living area quite literally doubled in size!

While technically, the actual size of the room has not changed…the feeling of a larger and much more livable space has been created! We used the excess furnishings/accessories in other areas of the home that were lacking, which gave the home the added benefit of creating a sense of continuity between rooms, thus adding to the feeling of a larger house!

If creating visual square footage to a room is your goal, here are a few easy tips to help get you there!

1) Remove any area rugs over carpeting…area rugs over carpeting not only make a potential buyer wonder what you might be hiding, they also break up the layout of the room, thus making it feel much smaller.

2) Edit furnishings…by removing any unnecessary pieces while still showing buyers livable space, you are essentially creating the sense of a larger room!

3) Bring in as much light as possible…including natural light and lamps/overheads. Dark rooms tend to feel cave-like, thus making them feel much more cramped and a lot smaller.

4) Create a sense of continuity…which will make the room-to-room flow of the house much easier, thus making it feel more expansive. This can be easily achieved by breaking up matching furnishings and using them between rooms.

5) Minimize the paint scheme…and choose one main color that can easily flow between connecting spaces rather than painting every room a different color. This will further emphasize the continuity between rooms, thus making the entire home feel much larger.

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Why Staging Your Home for Market DOES Matter!

I just spoke with a homeowner yesterday who contacted me to schedule a consultation. Her home has been sitting on the market since January without even a nibble, and they have already dropped the price $30K. She said she didn’t call me in sooner because her husband told her, “Staging doesn’t matter.”


After a little research, her significant other had concluded that pricing, location, and features were all a potential buyer was really concerned about. And while I do agree that all of those definitely do play a factor, what about the first impression a house makes on that potential buyer? Or how the home feels? Is that first step in the front door inviting, or is it one big, ugly turn off? And when there is so much to look at in a home that has not been staged to sell, can that buyer even see the updates and positive features beyond that menagerie of chaos and clutter?

There is a realtor I have worked for the past decade. I get a lot of business from him and we get along famously. Unfortunately, in all this time, only once has he called me in to stage a listing for him prior to it going on the market. Otherwise, I am always what might otherwise be considered, a ‘last resort’…you know, the person he calls in to work a miracle just before he’s about to lose the listing. And do you want to know something? Every single listing I have ever staged for him has sold in 30-days or less. Many of them within days or weeks. But in his mind, “Staging doesn’t matter.” Unless, of course, he is about to lose the listing.

Go figure.

I am including photos of a recent home that was staged in one of my latest workshops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This place had wonderful features and was being shown as the homeowner lived in it, not staged to sell. My students did a fantastic job using what the homeowner’s already had on hand along with some amazing editing, re-arranging, and accessorizing skills.

If anyone out there can look at these Before and After photos and honestly tell me, “Staging doesn’t matter,” I’m gonna hang it all up tomorrow and take an early retirement in the Bahama’s! I’m definitely in the wrong business.


Click on photos to enlarge…

Photos are the Property of Home Staging Expert and Center Stage Home, Inc.
Photos may not be re-printed without permission.

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The Perfect Dining Table for Staging!

Looking for the perfect dining room table for staging? Ballard Designs “Terrific Table” might fit your needs! Easy to transport, sets up quickly, can be dressed up or down, and looks amazing! Likewise, their “Round Party Table” is both sturdy and folds down with little effort so you can slide it into the back of your trunk or SUV and drive it right on over to your next listing.

I own several of these in different sizes, and with the many options they offer in table covers, they really can be worked into any design. These tables make ideal staging props and are a great solution for the homeowner who needs to change their formal dining room back into a formal dining room, those who just never invested in a table at all, or that vacant listing you are staging on a budget.

Any way you slice it, these reasonably priced tables are a great investment and one of my favorite finds!

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The ‘Partially Staged’ Vacant Home

Glass Pedestal Dining ONE

*Home Staged by Lori Matzke. Photo Property of Lori Matzke and Center Stage Home.

When I started in the Home Staging Business, the most frustrating aspect for me was that for every three inquiries I would get, two of them were for vacant listings. At the time, I did not offer furniture rental since I had absolutely no furniture to rent! It was an expensive undertaking for me with little to no profit, as renting furnishings ate up most of the budget for my clients.

That’s when I came up with my ‘Partially Staged’ Vacant Home Services. I realized quite early on that a home did not need to be shown fully-furnished to make a positive impact. The key is to add enough main pieces to give potential buyers a form of reference to show how their furnishings might fit, along with thoughtfully placed accessories to warm up the rooms and keep the buyer’s eye moving through the space.

For sellers on a tight budget, I recommend putting your money into the actual space. Fresh paint, updated lighting and hardware, new flooring, etc. are vital in preparing your home to sell. In other words…you can’t hide a run-down home behind a rented sofa. If it’s going to be either one or the other and you can’t do both, you definitely want to spend the money on making the house as presentable as possible before even considering adding furnishings to show. But if you’re simply budget conscious and the house is in great condition, the ‘Partially Staged’ vacant home is definitely a great, low cost alternative and offers a lot of bang for your buck!

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The Fantasy World vs. The Real World of Home Staging…

Sometimes, I feel like I must be living in a ‘parallel’ Home Staging universe.

There is the fantasy universe, the one that gets all the publicity, where a good looking host will appear on t.v. or in an on-line video instructing homeowners exactly how to spend their entire life savings so they can sell their house.

And then there is the reality universe, the one that I live in because I actually have made a career out of staging homes and I know I have to come up with creative, low-to-no-budget solutions, or I’ll never work again.

Just a few days ago, someone sent me a link to a video depicting one of those ‘fantasy universe’ stagings. In it, the stager was showing how to make a living room more inviting by getting rid of the bulky sectional, placing it in rented storage, then leasing a brand new sofa, coffee table, and two side chairs in its place.

After the furnishings had been exchanged, the homeowners walked back in looking completely astonished while agreeing that the room had been amazingly and miraculously transformed.

Well, duh the room had been transformed! The space had been completely re-furnished! That isn’t staging…that’s shopping. And in my opinion, any dummy with a budget and access to new furniture can do it.

Herein lies the problem.

Homeowners aren’t dummies, they aren’t going to do it, and most realtors know that. Sadly, this type of publicity is one very good reason home staging is still shunned by so many sellers and agents, alike.

In the ‘reality universe,’ realtors are usually more than just a little reluctant to push their clients into spending that kind of money, and most homeowners typically either don’t have or aren’t willing to spend it, anyway.

It would have been much more impressive and created more positive publicity for the industry if the stager had worked with the homeowner’s furniture. think of the money a good Home Staging Expert could have saved that homeowner, offering them a truly well-staged home and not just a bill for furniture rental.

Instead, sellers and agents are now convinced that staging will cost them BIG MONEY to pay for storage, furniture rental, plus the stager’s fee. Sadder yet, that video already has over 20,000 hits.

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Getting Ready to Sell in the Spring? Buy Home-Improvement Materials NOW!

If you’re planning to sell in the spring, or anytime in the upcoming year for that matter, now might be the best time to take advantage. Winter months are notoriously slow for builders and contractors. Not only will you find great deals on product as suppliers try to stay in the black, but the labor is often a little cheaper…and certainly more likely to get you scheduled in more quickly…than any other time of the year.

The best buys for January are paint and flooring, but you could just as easily find deals on lighting, cabinetry, and countertops. With so many houses currently o the market, and so many more waiting in the wings, buyers can be a lot more choosy. As a result, they are looking for upgrades and homes they can live in without further investment. So to improve your chances of gaining positive feedback from the start, make sure your house can meet and even beat their expectations to garner an offer.

Shop around to see what’s out there, but don’t dawdle. The time to buy is NOW, before the big spring rush!


Excelsior BEFORE



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