The first thing most Denver homebuyers will see when they walk into a house is the living room. In some cases, they may have to walk through a small entryway first, but the living room is the first real room they’ll see, which means it plays an integral part in making the first impression. You will want to make sure that the living room isn’t empty when you show it. An open space won’t make much of an impression. If your living room is currently vacant, consider staging it by renting furniture and decor.
Of course, how you stage the living room is arguably just as important as staging it in the first place. Furniture and decor must work together to create a cohesive interior design while showcasing the living room space’s function and potential. To achieve this, it helps to follow the living room staging practices most commonly used by professional stagers.
Why Is Living Room Staging Crucial To Selling A House?
While it’s true that the living room is essential in creating a positive first impression (and a positive overall impression), there are several other reasons why living room staging is necessary. Before we dive into a few living room staging tips, we’ll help you get a clear idea of why it’s worth your time, effort, and money to stage your living room properly. The following are the significant reasons why living room staging should be a critical component of your home selling strategy:
Prevent Living Room From Appearing Too Small Or Too Big
The size of an empty room is tough to judge, even if you’re standing there in person. If the living room is already on the smaller side, it will look even tinier if it’s empty. A buyer may have trouble picturing whether their furniture will fit in the living room. On the other hand, a larger living room space may look too big without any furnishing. A buyer on a budget may take note of this — for many, there’s no need to spend more money on space they don’t need. If adequately staged, a living room will look neither big nor small — it should look like it’s just the right size, no matter what the buyer’s needs may be.
Showcase How To Best Use The Living Room Space
Staging isn’t just about filling in space. It’s also about highlighting the function of the room. Most homebuyers will identify the living room even without furniture since the living room space is generally the most oversized room in the house. However, you don’t want them second-guessing themselves either. Give them an idea of how they can furnish the space by staging the living room. Show them how a couch can be situated in the room and where the TV fits best.
Staging also allows you to showcase how unique features can be used. For instance, if the living room has a small nook, you could stage it as a home office. Living room staging shows buyers the potential that space has and how they can use it.
Allow Buyers To Imagine Themselves Being At Home
A key goal of staging a house is to create a welcoming and comfortable environment. You want potential buyers to feel at home, making it easier for them to imagine themselves living there. An empty house feels cold and uninviting, making it much more difficult for buyers to feel like they could live there. The more comfortable they feel when they walk into your living room, the more they can imagine it as their living room.
1. Declutter The Living Room
If you’re not working with an empty living room space, then the first order of business is to remove any existing clutter. Clutter, such as piles of magazines spread across the coffee table or a random assortment of mail and receipts covering the shelves, will make the living room look messy. Not only will your living room feel dirty and chaotic, but a significant amount of clutter can also make the space feel smaller than it is. A visitor will be left with the impression that the current homeowner does not take good care of their home. Consider doing these specific things when decluttering the living room:
Remove Personal/Religious/Political Decor Items
To you, your family photographs and religious statues are decorations that make your living room feel more inviting. To others, this may not be the case. Religious and political decor can be off-putting to those who don’t share the same beliefs or views. Personal pictures may not be offensive, but it will have a similar effect in that they will feel uncomfortable in your living room — it will feel like they are intruding in a stranger’s home. So take down any personal, political, or religious decor.
Don’t Try To Hide Your Clutter
Don’t be lazy about removing clutter. You might be tempted to clean off all your living room surfaces by shoving your assortment of clutter into nearby drawers or closets. However, buyers are going to explore every nook and cranny of your home. These nooks and crannies include any storage space in the living room. If there’s a closet in your living room, they’ll look in it. If you have cabinets or drawers, they may take a peek. It’s not that buyers are intrusive; it’s that they’re genuinely curious about what storage options are available. If they discover a mess, it will leave a poor impression.
Remove Signs Of Pets And Children
If you have children or pets, then you’re no stranger to clutter. It would help if you made sure that there are no pet toys or kids’ toys cluttering up your living room, whether they’re on the floor or not. Pick them up and put them all away.
2. Make Repairs Where Needed
Any issues that your living room has should be addressed. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve staged a living room with furniture and decorations; if there are problems that require repair, buyers will notice them. Worse than that, any issues that they spot will be at the top of their mind. Even a minor issue can derail your staging efforts. A buyer who sees a minor issue will wonder what other problems the house has. Some of the tasks you may need to perform to address common issues found in the living room include:
Patch Up Walls
Fixing giant holes in your walls should be a no-brainer, but you should also patch up any smaller flaws — even tiny holes left in the drywall as a result of pictures or shelves that used to be there. Walls tend to experience a lot of wear and tear over the years, so be sure to address any issues they have.
Repair Non-functioning Outlets
Go through the house and plug your phone into each outlet to see whether it works or not. If it doesn’t, you need to have the outlet inspected and repaired by an electrician. Assume that every interested buyer will do their due diligence and will check the function of every outlet.
Replace Light Bulbs
A dead or dying light bulb might not seem like a big deal since the buyer can always replace the bulbs themselves at a low cost should they buy the house. However, if you’re showing the house and one of your bulbs doesn’t work, the buyer won’t know whether it’s because the bulb needs to be changed or because there’s a problem with the electrical wiring.
Fix Windows And Doors
Broken or visually damaged windows and doors will not reflect well on the overall condition of your home. If you couldn’t be bothered to repair your living room’s windows and doors, buyers will assume other problems with your house exist. Broken windows will also impact your curb appeal negatively.
3. Clean The Living Room
Once repairs are made, next do a thorough cleaning. While you can certainly do this on your own, we recommend hiring a professional cleaning service. Professional cleaners can scrub your living room from top to bottom to make sure it’s sparkling. A dirty living room will not impress your buyers. These are a few must-do tasks to ensure your living room is cleaned correctly:
Vacuum Carpets And Scrub Floors
Carpets and rugs have to be thoroughly vacuumed. You want them to look brand new. If there are stains on your carpet, then have them removed (you may need to steam clean carpets to remove any deeply embedded stains). If you have wooden floors, they need to be scrubbed down.
Dust Existing Furniture And Decor
Layers of dust will undoubtedly hurt the space’s visual appeal and may lower the air quality, resulting in a stale odor. If the living room is already furnished and decorated, everything should be dusted and polished to give that wood or leather a great shine and the vibrant scent to match.
Wash The Windows
Dirty windows are not hard to notice. Buyers will want to check out the view from your living room, which means they’ll see if the glass is clean or not. Windows can shine light into your beautiful home, and they can also cast doubt in the mind of a buyer.
4. Light Up The Living Room
Once properly cleaned, make sure your living room illuminates in a way that warms the buyer’s mind. Replacing dead or dying bulbs and repairing any faulty wiring can help; however, overhead lighting isn’t enough to properly light a room. Good lighting is essential to showcase your living space and the way it’s staged. Consider doing these easy fixes:
Bring In Natural Light
The best kind of light is natural light. The more natural light a room gets, the better. Natural light is scientifically proven to be good for a person’s physical and mental health. Because of this, you’ll want to show buyers just how much natural light your living room gets by opening up all the curtains or raising all the blinds. Let as much light come in through your windows as possible. We recommend adding a mirror or two on the wall opposite your windows to help reflect natural light throughout the space.
Improve Existing Lighting
Natural light may not be enough to highlight the staging efforts you’ve made. Many buyers may tour your house in the late afternoon or evening when there’s very little natural light available (if any). To compensate for this lack of natural light, add artificial light fixtures throughout the living space to complement the overhead lighting. Use table lamps and floor lamps to showcase various architectural living room details or staging efforts.
5. Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint To The Living Room Walls
If you had to do a lot of patchwork on your living room walls, then repainting them is necessary. However, even if your walls are in pristine shape, you may still want to consider a new coat of paint. Fresh paint can help make your living room look brand new and update the look of a living space that may have used outdated colors. For example, lime green might be your favorite color — but it may not sit well with most buyers. Choose a neutral color instead. Neutral colors make it easier to stage and be inoffensive to most buyers, no matter their tastes.
6. Add Furniture To A Vacant Living Room
While there’s a lot to do to get a living room in good enough shape to show, the most important aspect of staging a living room is, without a doubt, furnishing it. An empty living room won’t leave much of an impression on buyers, especially if it’s on the smaller side. If you have a smaller living room, furnishing it can be a great way to highlight how the size won’t detract from its intended function. Use these tips on how to add furniture when you begin staging your living room:
Focus On The Function Of The Space
You may be tempted to use beautiful furniture to create a stunning interior design; however, you don’t want your furniture to detract from the space it’s in. The whole idea behind staging is to give buyers an idea of how the area can be used. The number one priority of living room staging is to showcase the space’s function. For instance, show the buyer where a couch will fit best instead of showing the buyer how beautiful your sofa is.
Use Furniture That Fits The Space
Don’t try to fit large pieces of furniture into the living room; instead, use furniture sized appropriately. If you use a sofa that is too big, the buyer will be under the impression that the living room is too small to fit a sofa of any size.
Use Furniture That Compliments Each Other
Living room staging is not the time to show off an eclectic taste in style. Buyers will be distracted by your choice of furniture if none of it works together. Your furnishing should complement each other to create a cohesive interior design. Otherwise, everything will feel “off,” which will leave a poor impression on buyers.
Arrange Furniture Properly
Even if the furniture you’ve selected is perfect for creating a cohesive interior design showcasing the living room space, it still needs to be appropriately arranged. Poor furniture arrangement will make it difficult for buyers to see how the layout can be taken advantage of. Poor furniture arrangement can also leave a bad impression of the living room as a whole. With that in mind, the following are a few tips on how to arrange furniture properly for effective living room staging:
Float Furniture Away From Walls
People mistakenly think that pushing furniture against the walls will help provide more living room space to work with. However, that will only make the living room feel smaller than it is. Even in smaller living room spaces, leave some space between your furniture and the walls. Doing so provides some breathing room that can help make the area feel more significant than it is.
Arrange Furniture Around a Focal Point
Creating a focal point helps anchor your living room. That way, it won’t feel like you just threw random furniture into the room without giving it much thought. A focal point can also help showcase a unique living room feature, such as a fireplace. By arranging your furniture around a focal point, you give buyers something that will immediately draw their eye. If you don’t have a natural focal point (such as a bay window or a fireplace), create one. For example, you can make the couch a focal point — or make the TV the focal point.
Stick With Neutral Colors
If you’ve painted your walls using neutral colors (as we recommend), then the primary color should be neutral. Use this color when selecting the furniture to stage your living room with. If most of your furniture doesn’t match color-wise, it will be an eyesore and detract from the living space itself.
7. Rearrange Or Remove Existing Furniture
Just because the living room is already furnished doesn’t mean that no staging is required. Maybe your living room has one too many pieces of furniture. The use of too much furniture can make the living room feel smaller than it is, leading buyers to believe that there’s not enough room to add the furniture that’s needed. In such a case, you may need to remove some of your furniture. Or maybe the existing furniture doesn’t take advantage of the living room’s unique layout, in which case rearranging the furniture is a good idea.
Make Sure There’s Walking Space
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to staging an already furnished room is to make sure there’s plenty of space to walk around. It should be easy for buyers to move through your living room without stubbing their toes on a sofa chair or a coffee table. If there’s not enough walking space, it means there’s either too much furniture or the furniture hasn’t been arranged efficiently.
8. Highlight Unique Living Room Features
The living room isn’t always just four bare walls. In some cases, the living room may have a unique feature, such as a bay window, a fireplace, or even built-in shelving. Your living room may have several such features, in which case they can’t all be focal points (you should only have one focal point). However, you should still highlight these features. For instance, if you have built-in shelving, add books and decorative items onto the shelves. Show buyers how they can be used as storage and lend a decorative element to the overall visual design.
9. Decorating The Living Room Space
Staging the living room isn’t limited to furnishing the space. You should decorate the living room as well — although you don’t want to go overboard. Too much decoration can overshadow the living space itself and can come dangerously close to feeling like clutter. Here are a few tips to consider when decorating the living room:
Use Decor To Add Contrast To Neutral Color Scheme
Although neutral colors are recommended because of how inoffensive they are, they can be a little bland if that’s all you use. Some of your decor options can add color to your living room, providing a much needed visual contrast. For example, hanging a framed photo of a colorful landscape on a light gray wall can help add a visual flourish.
Add Plants To Introduce Natural Element
Plants are a great way to decorate a living room. Consider adding a few potted plants on the floor as well as smaller plants to your shelves. A vase of flowers on the coffee table can be a nice touch as well (as long as it doesn’t make the surface feel too cluttered). Plants are an easy way to add color. They also add a sense of tranquility to the space and help clean your living room air to boot.
Use The Current Season To Influence Decor
Allowing the current season to influence your decor can make the living room feel much more inviting to potential buyers. For instance, if it’s winter and snowing outside, adding area rugs and throw blankets to your living room can help create a sense of warmth. If it’s summer, create a light and breezy feel (and put those blankets away). You could even decorate the fireplace mantle with seashells.
Make The Space Feel Lived In Without Making It Cluttered
You don’t want your living room to feel sterile like it’s “staged.” You want to create an atmosphere that’s inviting. It’s a fine line between creating a space that feels comfortable and lived in without feeling too personal or cluttered. For instance, having a small basket next to the coffee table that holds a few magazines gives a feeling that the living room is lived in, while still making it feel organized and clutter-free.
Add Soft Elements To Increase Comfort
Soft textures help add warmth to the living room and keep a neutral interior design from feeling too harsh. For example, add window treatments such as curtains to the living room windows, or add throw pillows to your furniture. If you have wooden floors, lay down an area carpet or two.
Don’t Forget To Decorate The Walls
Bare walls make the living room feel cold and unlived in. Add paintings, posters, photographs, or other wall decor items to your walls. Just do so in a strategic manner. You want your wall decor to work as a visual accent to the space; you don’t want them to dominate visually.
10. Use The 60-30-10 Rule
Trying to balance the use of color in your living room can be challenging, which is why you should implement the 60-30-10 rule. Interior designers commonly accept the rule as the most effective way to create a balanced, cohesive interior design. Essentially, the rule requires you to use your primary color in 60 percent of your living room, the secondary color in 30 percent, and then the accent color for the last 10 percent. Typically, large living room pieces, such as the couch, would use the primary color. Things like the drapes would use the secondary color. Finally, the accent color would be used on mostly decorative items, such as pillows.
11. Introduce Pleasant Scents
Finally, don’t forget about how the living room smells. First, remove all unpleasant odors by doing a thorough cleaning and opening all of your windows (to let stale air out) before any showing. Then, consider adding scents that can help make your living space more welcoming. Fresh flowers or a scented candle can bring in a pleasant aroma. Just don’t overdo it — you don’t want the scent to be overpowering to the point of distraction.
Selling A House In Denver? Use These Tips On How To Stage A Living Room
Your living room is one of the essential rooms in your house, so staging it should be a priority. Use these living room staging tips to create an inviting space that showcases its function and strengths to potential buyers.