Home Staging Tips: Should You Set the Table?

free dining-table-1348717_640

Home stagers, Realtors, and even home owners argue this point all the time. But when you’re staging your home for market, avoid setting the table and keep the focus on the space, not your stuff. That is, after all, the entire concept behind staging to sell. You aren’t selling your stuff, you’re selling the house! So why add to it with yet another distraction?

Potential buyers walk through a home in about 15-20 minutes on average, give or take. By setting the table, you are now taking away from their experience of the space by directing them to the tabletop instead of the beautiful outdoor view, shiny hardwood floors, gorgeous chandelier, etc.

While a smartly dressed table can be amazing to look at, remember what you’re selling…THE HOUSE! So dress your table for a celebration or holiday, not for a showing. Keep that colorful bouquet on the table to draw the buyer’s eye into the room, but don’t over-indulge to ensure potential buyers remember the space itself and not your grandma’s china!

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – Can you help us choose a backsplash?

subway tile kitchen

Greetings from Milwaukee!

My partner and I are flipping our first house but we don’t know what to choose for a backsplash in the kitchen. We want to go with tile and love the trendy multi-colored glass tiles so popular right now, but we are seeing them in every newly remodeled listing in our market. Not sure if we should follow the crowd or do something completely different. Is one backsplash more desirable than another? The cabinets have been painted off-white and we are adding stainless steel appliances and light gray granite countertops. The floors in the kitchen are wood.

Sam & Matt – Milwaukee Flippers

Dear Sam & Matt,

Congratulations on your first flip! That sounds like a lot of fun and I’m sure it’s already been a great learning experience for you both.

As far as the backsplash goes, I tend to see the multi-colored glass tiles everywhere too right now. (For the past couple of years actually.) And while I like them, I do think there is something to be said for standing out from the crowd. Because you want to appeal to the most buyers possible, I wouldn’t go too crazy. But based on the description of your kitchen without actually seeing it myself, I would consider something more classic that never goes out of style…so how about subway tiles? Sounds like they might be the perfect fit for your project! Subway tiles are not only economical but they also come in many different colors, though I am partial to glossy white myself. You might also consider adding a decorative bullnose trim to dress it up a bit if you prefer as there are many nice options to choose from. Personally, I think subway tiles have the most longevity and are more pleasing to most aesthetics, so will appeal to more buyers in the long run.

Hope this helps and wishing you much success on your first flip! I’m sure it will turn out absolutely smashing!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.

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curb appeal lighting free

It’s no secret that fall is just around the corner, and that means shorter days and longer hours spent in the dark. To ensure your house stands out at any hour, here are a few easy ways to light up your exterior and give your home a more inviting appeal.

1) Clean Up Existing Lighting – If your exterior lighting is already in place, make sure the glass is clean and the frame is polished! All that dust and dirt can really make the light seem much dimmer, so make sure everything is looking spiffy and your fixture will show off a stronger beam. So why not replace the bulbs while you’re at it?

2) Rejuvenate with Paint – It’s amazing what a coat of fresh paint can do, even for a lighting fixture! And with so many colors and finishes to choose from, you can easily turn something old into something new again. Try an oiled bronze finish or a textured paint, such as hammered gun metal. And if you have a lamp post too, you can refinish it to match!

3) Upgrade the Lamp Post – Create an entirely different look by replacing a lackluster standard lamp post for something much more grand! New England Arbors makes some great vinyl pillars that can be slipped right over an existing post or anchored on their own with a 4 X 4. An easy DIY project and a great way to class up your curb appeal! Available in several styles at Amazon, Target, Home Depot, and others. Shown below is the ‘Portsmouth’ model.

new england arbors portsmouth

4) Add Solar Lighting - Don't have a lamp post light? No problem! You can install this great find from Gama Sonic. It's a solar powered LED light that can be used as a post mount or wall mount and comes in three finishes. To add even more light and drama, check out Gama Sonic's solar flood lights. You could literally light up your entire yard with the money you'll save by not having to hire an electrician to install!

gama sonic baytown solar outdoor LED light

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7 Staging Props for $20.00 or (Way) Less

The devil is in the detail, or so they say. And when it comes to preparing your home for market, those details really can have a big impact! Here is a short list of just a few of my favorite Staging Props that are inexpensive and can truly help turn a listing from ho-hum into YUM!

1) NEW FRONT DOOR MAT – Nothing says ‘welcome’ like new front door mat! It can absolutely make your entryway feel finished and well cared for. My favorite (still, after all these years!) is Trampa from Ikea. For $9.99, you can’t find better than this. It’s long lasting, works indoors or out, and as a neutral, it goes with everything!


2) NEW LAMPSHADES – Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but freshening up the lampshades can make a dated lamp look brand new. And if you invest in something a little more opaque rather than dark and heavy, it can literally brighten up the room! Check out Target for some really affordable options. Shown below, Rectangle Linen lampshade from Target, $19.99.

target lampshade

3) THROW PILLOWS – If your sofa is looking tired, or your bedroom needs a boost, a few fun new throw pillows can really add just the right pop of color to brighten the space up. On the other hand, if you’ve got some very dated seating, throw pillows in a neutral color can help tone down loud upholstery and make it look far more current. I’ve found the best deals at Walmart and The Home Store. Checkout the Fretwork Pillow from Walmart for just $9.97.

Walmart Fretwork Pillow

4) RUST-OLEUM PAINT – Yep! That’s right! When it comes to staging to sell, paint is your friend, and Rust-Oleum comes in so many applications and colors, you could literally update any paintable surface in your house for a quick makeover, interior or exterior. From lighting, to mailboxes, to trim work and doors, to cabinets, to furniture, and so much more. I am a huge fan of Rust-Oleum products as they cover very well, are easy to apply, and seem to hold up.


5) WICKER BASKETS & CONTAINERS – Baskets make awesome props when staging your home for market as they are neutral in design, and can keep clutter out of sight when you need to clean up quickly for showings. My favorite finds are from World Market and Pier 1 Imports, as shown below starting at $7.98.


6) FRESH FLOWERS – What could be more cheerful and inviting than a fresh market floral bouquet? Make flowers last longer by snipping off the stems at an angle before placing in vase, changing water daily, and refrigerating them overnight, just like they do at the market. Prices vary, but usually well under $20.00…or save even more and pick them from your own garden!

market bouquet

7) HARD FOILED CANDIES – I call hard foiled candies, ‘the edible prop’. It’s a small bowl full of temptation that can actually make potential buyers take a second look when placed strategically. I set them up in a nice, clear, open candy dish next to your listing information somewhere in the house where you’d like them to linger and take a longer, sweeping view! Who can resist the urge to reach in for a little something sweet as they’re mulling it over? Place the bowl in plain sight, somewhere you would like potential buyers to view a little longer…in a grand entryway, on the island in a beautiful kitchen, on the dining room table overlooking that gorgeous view. I personally use Werther’s Original Hard Candies…$6.99 or less per bag… and make sure to keep that bowl well-stocked!

werthers original

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“Ask the Home Staging Expert®” – How do we fix bare spots around our yard?


Dear Ms. Matzke,

We are planning to sell our house next spring and have already completed a number of interior updates. (It looks amazing!) But we’ve been in panic mode because the exterior curb appeal doesn’t reflect the interior appeal! We have a number of bare spots under our trees and several spots around the shady perimeters that look absolutely desolate. We’ve tried planting grass many times without success. We’ve even tried sod! It still looks awful. Any ideas on what we can do to fix this?

Great House, Horrible Yard in Indiana

Thank you for writing in!

That certainly is a dilemma, but you do have some nice options. There are actually several shade groundcovers available that might work for you. And if you plant them now, they should come up nicely by spring. Be careful though, as some of the groundcovers can be quite invasive.

I’ve personally had very good luck with Spotted Deadnettle. It seems to stay quite contained and is easy to control, low growing, and a lovely bonus is that it flowers and really brightens up a shaded area. Another good one to consider is Barrenroot. Barrenroot also flowers…in variegated reds or whites…and grows 12-18 inches tall, so if you’re looking for something a little more showy, this might do it for you.

You might also consider planting some nice shade hostas. You don’t have to plant them directly under the trees, but a few feet away as many of them do get quite large and will fill in the bare spots easily. They also have miniature hostas now and with so many varieties to choose from, I encourage you to check out your local gardening center to decide.

Last but certainly not least…you can always just cover the bare spots with mulch! A natural mulch not only covers up the bare spots, but can give your landscape a finished look. If you want to add some color, consider digging a few clay pots into the ground just to the rim and planting some lovely shade flowers, like Begonias or Impatiens. You can also invest in ‘no dig’ edging to help contain the mulch and make the process faster and easier to complete.

Hope these suggestions help and wishing you success on your home sale this spring!

If you have a question for “ASK THE HOME STAGING EXPERT®”, please contact lori@homestagingexpert.com.

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7 Things Home Owners Need to Know BEFORE Staging Their House to Sell


1) You only have one chance to make a positive first impression. And that cliché is true for a reason. Don’t take a ‘wait and see’ attitude when it comes to selling your home or you will surely be disappointed. Instead, be proactive and make sure everything is in tip-top shape and your house is staged-to-sell BEFORE it goes on the market.

2) Staging is not about hiding and/or masking flaws. It’s about playing up the positive features of your home and making them so desirable, the negatives no longer stand out! If you start the process with that in mind, the negatives will become far less noticeable and/or disappear altogether.

3) Potential buyers can’t see a buyer’s allowance. They can only see what’s there right now. So if you’re trying to convince yourself that a buyer would rather pick out their own new carpeting and can look past the dated shag your living room’s been sporting since 1973, think again! Most buyers these days prefer move-in ready and have a hard time seeing past what’s there right now.

4) Keeping up with the Jones’ isn’t a bad thing. When it comes to selling your house, making sure your home is competitive with comparable listings on the market in your neighborhood is a must if you want top dollar! In other words…don’t expect to list at the same price point as your neighbor down the street with a totally remodeled kitchen and bath if you haven’t even freshened up the paint in 20-plus years.

5) It’s not about how YOU use the space, but how potential buyers will be using it. For example, if you’ve been using your formal dining room as a home office, you need to transform it back into a formal dining room, because that’s what potential buyers will be expecting. Anything short of that will leave buyers feeling like you’ve run out of room and they won’t have any space to eat a sit down meal or entertain.

6) No one wants to buy a broken down house. Except for the bargain hunters, of course. But they’ll be looking for a basement bargain price to match. If you’ve been neglecting repairs, the time is now to fix everything in disrepair. Potential buyers typically want move-in ready, or a low-ball price if they’re willing to tackle it themselves.

7) Don’t take it personally. Not everyone is going to fall in love with your house, just like you likely didn’t fall in love with every single house you looked at before buying yours. But find out why they aren’t lovin’ it! Ask your Real Estate Agent to follow up with feedback after every showing. If you’re hearing the same issue over and over and over again and it’s something you can fix, then fix it!

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