Stage Your Home To Sell

Selling Your New Jersey Home Soon? Here Are Some Unique Tips to Sell It For More

If you sell your home in Morris County, Bergen County, Hudson County, Essex County, Union County, Passaic County – or anywhere for that matter – preparing it to look its best takes some effort and usually some minor expenses that can give you a very good return on investment – in fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, often a 6-10% higher sales price.

Typical staging steps include thorough cleaning, moving furniture out and around between rooms or within rooms, decluttering throughout (which gives you a head start on packing up everything anyway to move!), painting walls or sometimes cabinetry to be more appealing to buyers, and making repairs and updates.

Here’s an article I was interviewed for by Redfin that lists some other, more unique ways to improve your home’s value to buyers:

How to Stage Your Home to Sell

June 2, 2020 by Lexi Klinkenberg

If you are thinking about listing your home for sale and moving to Dallas or Atlanta, now is the right time to start getting your home staged properly. Staging is much more than just cleaning and decluttering your space. It emphasizes the beauty of your home and shows it in the best light, giving potential buyers a great first impression of the space they could call their own. We had experts in the field share their tips with us on how to stage your home to sell.

Make sure your entryway stunning 

Make sure your entry is absolutely amazing! This sets the tone for the potential buyer throughout the rest of the tour. If they walk in to “blah” then they are already anticipating “blah” going forward, but if they are wowed the moment they walk in, then they are already set up to be excited to see what’s next. –Amy Lou Interiors

Make your home stand out from the competition 

In this era of online-everything, sellers need to be sure to make their home pop. Buyers now only venture out in person to their top 3 properties, so make your home stand out. Try rearranging furniture, buying a few new pillows, strategically placing pieces of art, and having some tasteful decor will do wonders for a space. Staging, followed by excellent professional pictures is the perfect way to take a house from Blah to Ooh La La. –Ilana Weismark, Ooh La La Home Staging

Staged spaces must accomplish the following: the function of each staged room is obvious, the staged rooms are editorial to make for eye-catching, and interesting photography and staging must be on-trend to get potential buyers excited to make an appointment to visit the property in person. Staging a property requires an experienced eye for design and function yet even the best staging can fall flat with poor photography! –Christine Masur, Nest Home Staging & Design

Swap out old light bulbs for new ones 

More than anything else, buyers are looking for space and light. I always recommend sellers swap out the light bulbs in their lamps, chandeliers, ceiling and wall lights.  Try to find the old school 100-watt incandescent bulbs.  Or if you have to use LED, then find the 100-watt equivalent and keep the kelvin at 2700 so the light feels more natural.  –Manhattan Staging 

Create a positive emotion for potential buyers 

The best home staging should make you rethink selling your home. That’s how you know potential buyers will be smitten as well; home buying is an emotional experience.’ Beyond the Box Interiors 

The goal is to create a positive emotion that allows others to feel connected to the space without feeling uncomfortable, cramped or jarring.  So the palette should be fairly neutral, with some personality in the accents and artwork.  The furniture and rugs should be neutral and the right scale to allow flow into and out of the room. Lastly, the paint colors, flooring, hardware, and fixtures can play a key role in presenting an updated look for your home to appeal to today’s’ buyer.  –Gail Dunnett, CEO, Studio D

Optimize your storage space 

Buyers want storage space. To make sure you are optimizing the space available in closets and mudrooms. A good rule of thumb is to remove 50 percent of the contents of a closet, if possible. Another tip that makes a closet appealing to potential buyers is to color code the clothes, shoes, and accessories that are remaining. This says to buyers this home is organized, there is plenty of storage space and the home has been well-maintained. –Jennifer Walker, Pearl Street Home Staging 

Deep clean and declutter 

Deep cleaning and decluttering to lighten up the appearance of your house is the most cost-effective way to have your house look better both online and in-person showings. Prep your house by using your own decorative accessories or purchasing a few new ones to create a few lifestyle moments that can capture the attention of potential buyers. Once they emotionally connect, the house is sold. – Claudia Jacobs, Claudia Jacobs Designs

Don’t forget about curb appeal 

Spruce up curb appeal when selling your home by adding dark brown or black mulch and shrubs around foundations and lamp posts. Replace broken or rusty mailboxes and house numbers so that they match with the house or trim color. Keep garbage cans, hoses, tools, and other lawn paraphernalia out of sight, and seal coat the driveway if it has cracks or looks weathered. –Amy Bly, Great Impressions Home Staging 

Make small repairs 

Take care of any small repairs namely those that you can do yourself. Fix leaking faucets, replace caulking, freshen up and repair tile grout, repair the walls, fix cracked or broken windows and damaged window screens, and replace burned-out lightbulbs. –Premiere Home Staging + Design 

Remove rugs 

Remove rugs from any room except your living room or family room, especially any smaller throw type of rugs. Although your home may not be as cozy looking, the buyers are buying the floors and they want to see them. Additionally, being able to see more of the floor makes a room look larger in the online photos. –Maggie Setler, Pittsburgh Staged Homes 

Rearrange furniture to balance the room 

Remove or rearrange furniture so that the room feels balanced and potential buyers can move freely from space to space. Furniture and décor should be the same style (traditional, transitional, modern, etc.) and the same color scheme so the spaces are cohesive which naturally gives a feeling of peace and calm. –Leslie Causey, LC Home Staging & Redesign

Have a friend critique your home before listing it 

Have someone who doesn’t live in your house, a real estate agent, stager or even a neighbor whose home just sold, look at your house with “buyer’s eyes”. What do they see that you are missing? Then really, really listen. These people aren’t critiquing your personal style. They’re showing you how to get your house sold. –Cheri Drake, Owner, Sisters Staging

Always have staging props ready to use 

Keep staging props like plush white bath towels, light-colored throw pillows, and white faux orchids in laundry baskets.  Before showings place the props around your home.  Refill the laundry baskets with used towels, dirty clothes, or extra items that you don’t want lying around for buyers to see and take them with you in your car when you leave. –Alicia Herring, Stage My Listings

Work with a professional staging company 

Avoid choosing a staging company based only on price-quality staging pays for itself in better pictures, and then a faster sale and most often, higher price. When choosing a company, look through previous work and read testimonials or get recommendations from your agent. A good staging company will provide a clean and consistent look throughout, that highlights all the best features, and helps prospective buyers envisage themselves in the space. –Distinctive Homestaging

When looking to stage your home to sell follow these 3 tips: spruce up the front entrance as curb appeal is the first impression, put a mirror on the wall inside the front door so people can visualize themselves living there, and have something “quirky” inside such as an animal print or a rustic antique kitchen tool so people will remember the property better. –Gina Newell, Premiere Stagers & Realty
Originally Published on Redfin

This all will make a considerable difference in how appealing your home looks to buyers – and that’s how you sell quickly and get the highest offers! If you have any doubts about being truly objective about how your home looks to buyers and knowing what improvements pay off the best for your neighborhood — hiring a stager will typically get you a much faster sale and a higher sales price. It’s time and money well spent!

Increase Your Home’s Value with Easy Updates and Changes

I tell every staging client that “light and bright sells homes.” Think about what you would be more drawn to — a dark, cave-like room or one with lots of natural light and views? That’s how buyers feel too!
A few years ago when I was home shopping in Morris County, I toured a home for sale where NO lights or lamps were on, all the drapes were closed, and I had to actually ask the homeowner to turn on the lights so I could see where I was going in each room! The dining room was painted dark red and the living room brown – painting these would have been easy fixes to greatly increase the desirability and value of the home to buyers. Roughly 90% of people cannot visualize homes looking different from what they see!

Here are just 6 of the many easy and inexpensive ways I recommend that will raise the value of your home and make it look much better in photos:

• Choose neutral and trendy paint colors that fit your home’s finishes
• Lighten the window treatments (or even remove if privacy isn’t an issue)
• Use slip covers to cover up patterned, dark, out-dated sofas and chairs
* Update light fixtures — get rid of faux Tiffany pendants, Hollywood globes above bathroom vanities, and dining room “Colonial style” lights!
• Buy trendy new bedding and shower curtains
• Add mirrors and/or metallic accessories in strategic locations

Buyers prefer updated homes that follow design trends! I know what purchases to make and advise what works best with each home’s finishes. If the budget allows and the homeowner desires, I am also happy to suggest how to update the fixed items (cabinets, flooring, appliances, etc.) as well to get even better offers! A $250 consultation (agents ask about preferred rates) covers this and many other topics (de-cluttering, styling with furniture arrangements, how best to display art, accessorizing, choosing paint colors where needed, inexpensive updates with hardware or tile — even painting tile — creating better curb appeal, etc. ) and is a small investment that always features a great return on your biggest asset when it’s time to sell.

Effective Home Staging Showcases Design Trends

Are you thinking of staging your New Jersey home for sale so you get a higher price and sell it quickly? You will get more money if you take time to eliminate out-dated decor and spruce up your home to give it a more modern look. You can inexpensively slipcover outdated sofas and chair upholstery (check out, replace dated or worn rugs, bedding, and pillows, and remove themed decor (e.g. beach, western, Native American, tropical) . Most buyers will not be impressed by country, traditional, shabby chic, or low-end college-style furniture. To elevate your home’s appeal and create a higher-end look, go with modern or transitional furniture and decor. If you’re not sure what’s in style, google sites like Elle decor,, or the blog on Trendy and appropriate furniture and decor may cost you a bit more upfront but WILL help drive more interest in your property and likely get you a higher price. Following home design trends when listing your New Jersey — or any home — is crucial. It’s almost always best to use modern style (except perhaps in certain 55+ communities) and popular colors — such as gray (still a great neutral), moss green, navy or teal, yellow, white — in furniture, rugs, and accessories. Stay away from more out-of-the-box colors like pink, purple, pale blue and anything very bright (except possibly in accent pillows and decor — this is another way a home stager can help you figure out what works best for your particular home, neighborhood, and price point). A more dramatic finished look is always worth a slightly higher investment for a more effective staging that maximizes any home’s value!

7 Advantages of Working with A Designer

1) You’ll get a one-of-a-kind, special look that will maximize your enjoyment of your home.  Designers have access to lots of products and fabrics that are not available to the general public. We notice the details in how to balance colors, architecture, and scale to fit each space. I’ll help you narrow down your style and color preferences, fill you in on new products, current trends and furniture options, while helping you keep within your budget wherever possible.

living room design

2) A designer will help you save time and money by making sure your furniture, rugs, accessories, and window treatments work together and fit your space. One of the most important services I offer is on-line floor plans clients can also edit if they wish. Hiring a designer can help you avoid costly mistakes and help you make design decisions that will increase the value of your home.
3) Designers work to achieve cohesiveness and functionality in your final design — whether your needs include attractive storage or display options, child-friendly or pet-friendly furniture, extra space for entertaining or accommodating overnight guests, a designer will help you figure out your priorities and how to accommodate them to fit your budget.4) A designer will present several (or more) options for each piece of furniture, rugs, window treatments, and accessories, so you control the final decisions and aesthetic — but still make sure everything works well together.
5) Are you interested in a mix of styles, or do you and your partner other family members have very different design ideas? A designer can be a neutral 3rd-party guide to help navigate varying tastes and create acceptable compromises.
6) I can save you time and legwork! It’s not easy to find the time (and patience) to wade through many online shopping sites or stores. I’ll handle and coordinate that process for you and get you samples of fabrics or wood finishes, etc. where possible. I’ll also present design “boards” (typically on-line) for your feedback and approval. You can even choose to shop with me, if you prefer.
7) Designer discounts: I’m sometimes able to pass on designer discounts to my clients as an additional advantage of working with me. 10 – 20% discounts may be available at higher-end to-the-trade stores.

master bedroom

Why Virtual Staging Doesn’t Work as Well as “IRL” Staging

I’m seeing more agents here in northern New Jersey using virtual staging to try to draw in buyers because it’s so much cheaper than “real” staging — typically only a couple of hundred dollars, vs. staging with actual furniture and decor, which starts at about $2500 or more for a 2 month installation for 3 rooms. However, buyers are usually very disappointed when they walk into an empty (and worse out-dated) house that they’ve seen virtually staged on-line, only to see that it looks cold, boring, and even confusing (especially open plan homes) without actual furniture in place. If virtual staging draws buyers in to look at homes because they look so much better and more inviting, the benefit is pretty much lost when they arrive to actually tour the home. I’ve also seen some really poor “furniture choices” and incomplete looks with virtual staging — out-dated dining room and kitchen tables, a couple of chairs only placed into a huge living room, a sofa or 2 with no coffee or end tables, no lamps, no art or poorly placed art, no decor items, etc.  That kind of virtual staging isn’t serving any purpose, and does nothing to increase the appeal of the home.

So even though virtual staging on the surface can save a couple of thousand dollars, the end result will never be as effective as “in real life” staging, where buyers get to ooh and aah over the lifestyle they can experience in person. They can sit on the sofas, beds, and at the dining room table to see how much room there is with furniture in place — something buyers usually under-estimate. They can experience the “dream” lifestyle staging creates for them that makes any house more memorable and desirable than the competition.  In 9+ years of staging in New Jersey, I’ve found buyer reaction to a staged home is always much more positive than to an un-staged home — and staged homes typically sell within a few days to a few weeks, depending on such factors as the time of year, location, and price. ANY house can benefit from staging to get a higher sales price as well.

Real Estate Agents Find Value in Paying For Staging Consultations


This gallery contains 8 photos.

More agents are offering to pay for staging consultations to their listing clients as a value-added service that results in better photos and faster home sales. The popularity of home staging continues to rise and is becoming more standard, especially because younger buyers expect homes to look move-in ready. Continue reading

Flipping My First Investment House: The Adventure Begins


old kitchen in flip house

After too many years of watching the various “Flip or Flop” HGTV shows, I’ve finally taken the plunge  – with a group of other investors –and am flipping my own investment house — it’s exciting and scary at the same time! The property is a 1300 sq. ft. 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath cape cod in Dumont, NJ. Demo started yesterday, and work should be going on for probably close to 3 months (thanks, holidays!)  Here are photos of the kitchen and baths as they were yesterday, before demo.

I will update the (slow) progress in this blog, and detail where items are purchased and their cost. Fingers crossed this flip works out, but I know it will be an educational experience at the very least!

One of the bathrooms that is being ripped out and redone.

One of the many pink bathrooms of the 50s and 60s — soon to be updated.

Fall Decorating Trends for 2017

pumpkin planters using soil and succulents — you can use plants like mums as well of course

dramatic fall planters

metallic fall decor

Some beautiful and easy decorating ideas to do this fall that celebrate the traditions of harvesting pumpkins, gourds, and flowers in novel, but still classy, looks. Let’s spread joy and beauty where we can find it! Follow-up post to come shortly featuring fall interiors.

classic front entry for Fall, courtesy of Craftberry Bush,

Cheap Stagings Don’t Help Sell Homes!

Lately, I see some stagers using low-quality furniture (sorry, Ikea) in their stagings of mid- to higher-priced homes, and the results are a poor impression on buyers. For example, using a tiny bistro table with 2 wire chairs does not add style or warmth appropriate for an eat-in kitchen, in my opinion. Instead, it tells buyers “this eating area is so small only 2 people have room to sit here.” NOT the impression that helps sell a home!
The same goes for futon-style furniture, master bedroom beds without headboards, sofas with skirted slipcovers, cheap-looking end tables, old-fashioned dining room tables, etc.
In staging as in most things in life, you get what you pay for, and if you aren’t at least making the furniture suit or go beyond what buyers expect for the price of the home, then staging will likely not help sell a home faster and for more money. You can use cheap furniture to show buyers where and how furniture will fit, but you are not creating the lifestyle vision that will make your house memorable and desirable so it stands out from the rest!
Ok, rant over 🙂

How to Choose Paint Colors that Work for YOUR Home

According to the Staging and Design Network, “Color is the core of every beautiful room. Yet, it is also the place where more than 60% of design and staging mistakes are made.” I’d bet that we’ve all walked into homes – or seen rooms on-line – where the colors just don’t work with the finishes in the rest of the room, such as the cabinets, countertops, or floors, or where the colors are too intense or too pale and washed out for the amount of light the room gets. Sometimes you can’t even figure out exactly what is wrong with the way the room feels, it just seems “off”, as in these cases:

Paint colors work best when they pick up another color already in the room -- or go with a neutral instead.

Lemon yellow walls are jarring with the white cabinets and brown countertops.

lime green walls don’t work with the yellow-orange of the cabinets

This red accent wall is just too abrupt of a change from the adjacent white wall and is disconcerting to the eye, even though the owners have tied in the red in the throw and a couple of pillows. Red drapes and red in the rug would tie it together much better.

Red accent wall doesn’t work

A search of, the popular design and decorating website, reveals there are about 326,000 conversations about picking the WRONG paint color! Paint company commercials often show this dilemma in a humorous way, with homeowners putting a dozen colors or many shades of a similar color on their wall, and puzzling for hours or even days over what looks best. But it’s not really funny for most homeowners when you spend hours of your valuable time looking through paint chips and painting sample colors on your walls, and then you’re still not sure what color works best with your home’s hard finishes or furniture and rugs and bedding. Interestingly, while there are thousands of paint colors and shades of colors, only about 100 of them are used 85% of the time, according to Benjamin Moore.

This is especially true if you are not familiar with the undertones that exist in almost all colors – including neutrals and whites, which can have yellow undertones (the creamy whites), or blue or gray undertones (the cool whites).

Some of the factors that need to be considered when choosing paint colors:
* shade
* saturation
* undertones
* lighting

* sheen of paint
* what works with the hard finishes in the rooms (cabinetry, flooring, countertops)
* what complements the soft finishes such as furniture, rugs, window treatments
* style and exterior of home

Spending $100 to $200 on a paint color consultation from a color/design expert (depending on size of your house and how many colors you need or want), is an inexpensive investment that can actually save you time and money in preventing color mistakes – even having to repaint entire rooms, which can run several hundred to $1,000 to correct just one mistake.

A designer with color training can eliminate all the “wrong” colors that won’t work with your space, finishes, furniture and lighting, and help you choose what colors look best. She or he is also up to date on styles and color trends, especially important if you plan to sell anytime in the next few years. What colors you are drawn to are important, but what’s more important is avoiding colors that don’t work with what else is in the room. A color consultant will also suggest color flow from one room to another, especially in open plan homes.

Here are some rooms that work better:

The gray walls pick up on gray in the countertops for a sophisticated and coordinated look. Notice the crown molding trim color is an atypical choice, but keeps the focus on the detailing of the upper cabinets below.

soft colors with muted undertones work well

lime green walls take center stage, but are grounded by pairing with beige, brown and white to keep the overall effect cohesive.

Tip: Remember to always put up a sample sheet or color on different walls in your room and look at it over 48 hours in different lighting throughout the day. Colors that look pale in a sunlit room will look a little darker and more saturated at night. Paint chips need to be looked at vertically as they will be in the home (or horizontally for floors or decks) Many homeowners forget that when they are looking at paint chips in stores, the lighting is typically fluorescent which has a blue cast. It’s best to look at any samples outdoors or – best of all – in your own home.