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Warm Up Your Home Staging

Home staging—the practice of arranging furnishings and decor in a house so buyers can envision living there—is becoming an ever-more important tool for home sellers. In fact, studies show that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more money than those that aren't staged. And yet: Home staging can be taken too far. Home sellers sometimes clear out every last family photo, pillow, and doo-dad until their house looks like a hotel for Scandinavian robots. How do you stage your home with warmth, so it looks as though humans live there? And by humans, we mean very tidy people with excellent taste but who still do stuff like eat and entertain? Here's how to strike that warm yet aspirational balance, so that buyers feel that your house is the perfect place for them.

You still need to declutter

Even if you think you’re a minimalist, the truth is, we all tend to collect a lot of stuff. And that stuff is going to distract people from seeing the best features of your home. So reduce, reduce, reduce. You will probably end up adding a few things back in, but it’s easier to see what to keep if you’re starting with a nearly empty slate, so to speak.

Furniture: Keep only the right stuff

How do you know how much of your furniture to keep? When Margulies works with estate sales, he keeps this principle in mind: “You’re trying to highlight the best attributes of the space.” So he’ll rearrange furniture (and remove some pieces) in order to make a room look and feel as spacious as possible. You want enough furniture to make the room comfortable, but not so much that people miss architectural details and the feel of the space itself.

If you are renting furniture to stage your home, don’t pick sets. The "matchy-matchy" look can create a sterile atmosphere.

Warm up your lighting

Directional lighting, such as spotlights or track lighting, can create shadowy corners. What you want instead are rooms that are evenly lit throughout. This is especially important in the front entryway and in kitchens.

You also want to make sure that the light casts a warm glow. So avoid those harsh, blueish LED light bulbs. Once you’ve got your primary lighting set, you can add in a subtle glow.

Don’t be afraid of color

All the walls should be white, right? Not necessarily. While you don’t want to hit prospective buyers with a kaleidoscope of different colors in every room, one accent wall of color in the right place can be effective.

Bring in the green

Another way to make a minimalist space feel warm and vibrant is to add plants. So grab an arrangement, or opt for easy-to-care-for houseplants in attractive pots.

Now add some personal details

Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t have to banish every last personal object from your home before you show it. Find the best ones, in the best frames (or have quality portraits reframed).

Yes, you can have a few throw pillows out. Just make sure they’re in good repair and in bright, harmonizing colors (this is another area that shouldn’t be matchy-matchy). And, if you have a dining area, set the table, and maybe add a candlestick, or fresh flowers.

Wall decoration

A fresh coat of paint throughout is almost always in order. But don’t leave those walls blank. Margulies adds well-framed art and photos to blank walls that need some visual interest. It may help to take everything down, select your most attractive pieces, and then hang those in areas you want to highlight.

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