Part 5:
Furniture & Art …
Just Like Peas & Carrots

Home Staging

People don’t often think about furniture and art when they think of decluttering their home.  But as we talked about in the very beginning of our decluttering series, over the years we just acquire TOO MUCH.  Not only do we have too much furniture, but we hang on to it like it’s made of gold because we “think” we’ll use it in our next home.  So what really happens?  We move to our new home and realize that the old furniture still looks old in our new home.  We find that the wall art that we loved in our living room, is too small for the new space.  Sometimes our taste just changes.  All of these possibilities should be good enough reasons to edit these items from your home NOW.

While you are deciding what stays and what goes, you need to remember that when you are selling a home, you are selling SPACE and taking your own personal taste out of the equation.  Just because you have eight dining chairs doesn’t mean that they should all stay huddled around your table.  That gallery wall is beautiful, but is it full of personal photos or maybe souvenirs from your travels?  Are your walls and furniture fighting each other for attention?

Just like peas and carrots … that’s how your furniture and your wall art should go together.  Your furniture arrangements will dictate where wall art should be placed and your wall art will enhance your furniture arrangements.  One of the biggest differences between “living with” furniture and art and “staging” your furniture and art is basically that bigger is better and less is more.  So let’s take a look at bigger is better.

When we talk about bigger is better, we’re talking about how objects photograph.  Remember, most buyers start ONLINE to look at potential homes, so how your furnishings photograph is a huge consideration.  Yet, you don’t want to invest in something that you’ll don’t like or will never use again either.  Such a conundrum!

Wall art needs to be BIG.  Small, decorative art will look like postage stamps hanging on your walls in photos so start by taking down all of your small art and décor pieces.  This is also a good time to pack your personal photos.  The rule of thumb is that all personal photos should be removed.  The caveat to that would be photos that show a lifestyle.  Maybe you have some great photos of the kids building sand castles at the beach.  If it’s in a nice frame, this photo could easily sit in a bookcase or hang in a child’s room.  It’s the portrait-type photos that truly need to be packed.  You may wind up with bare walls.  That’s ok … most Home Stagers have art pieces that they will rent to you.  If you didn’t hire a Home Stager, you are on your own to find art to fill those blank spaces.  Here are some ideas:

♦  Canvas art.  Easy to hang and can be purchased relatively inexpensively.  Stick to abstracts that you like in the colors in your room, and botanicals or landscapes.  Although there are exceptions, a good rule of thumb is that artwork should not have “eyes”.  Nothing scarier than a wall that stares back at you.

♦  Large Mirrors.  Light will bounce off of mirrors and can make a room look brighter, but don’t get carried away.  We often see a large mirror on or above a mantle.  This can make a room look massive, but if all it does is reflect the ceiling fan, the purpose is defeated.  Only hang mirrors where they will reflect something beautiful.  Do you have a beautiful bay window that shows off your landscaping?  Look at the opposite wall and see if a mirror can be hung there.  You can also hang a mirror on the opposite wall of large artwork.  You’ll get “mirrored images” that will offer symmetry to the room.  Reminder:  Mirrors are heavy!  Make sure you have help to hang these properly.

♦  Metal Art.  There are some beautiful metal art pieces available.  Pick designs that speak to you, but look for abstracts that might provide repetition in the room.  If you have decorative throw pillows in a geometric print, consider a geometric design for your metal art.  Stick to higher end pieces made of iron or other heavy metal.  If your furniture sports metal accents, consider matching the metals for cohesive look.

♦  Your own personal art collection. Do you have beautiful artwork already?  Have you been thinking of buying art from a local artist?  As long as you keep in mind the type of artwork we’ve talked about, just moving your own art to better places once the furniture has been rearranged may be all that is needed.

But if you need to go buy artwork, think about what exactly you need.  Don’t just willy-nilly fill walls.  Steer clear of “themes” and “cutesy” decorative art.  Remember … furniture and art … just like peas and carrots.  Your art should complement your furniture and help create balance in the room.  Your Home Stager is an expert at choosing and hanging wall art.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

So … if bigger is better, then what in the world will “less is more” do for you?  First off, it will free up SPACE.  (Are you tired of hearing about space?  Good … I’m doing my job.)  Remember the eight dining chairs?  Unless you have a banquet hall in your home, six is enough.  Remove the table leaf if you’re using it and you may need to go down to four chairs.  Store the others, or, if you have two captain’s chairs (the dining room chairs with arms), consider using them for a sitting area on an upstairs landing or possibly in the master bedroom.  If there really isn’t a good place for them, then just put two or more of your regular dining room chairs into storage.  While we’re in the dining room, how many other pieces of furniture are in there?  If you have a hutch, a sideboard, a wheeled cart, and a plant stand, you might have too much furniture.  Only a VERY large room can support this much.  Remember … the room is going to be photographed and wall-to-wall furniture will NOT make the room look larger.

Too Much

In the living room, you probably have a couch or loveseat or both, some chairs, a pouf or two, a coffee table, two end tables, some lamps, maybe a sofa table, an ottoman … did I miss anything?  You know what I’m about to say … TOO MUCH FURNITURE!  And I can already hear your response … “hey, I’ve got to live here!”.  Yes, you do, but selling a home is NOT about convenience.  If we do this right, you will only have to be inconvenienced for a few short months.

Create a conversation area pointing toward your focal point and remove the rest.  A conversation area is roughly 10 feet square.  Some homes can barely support that size and some homes have enough square footage to have multiple conversation areas.  Make sure there is a table surface within arm’s reach from each seat.  On average, this will result in a sofa or loveseat (rarely both), two chairs (often only one), a coffee table, and end tables.  If you have the space, pull all the furniture off of the walls so that there is room to walk around your conversation area.  Keep removing furniture until you can imagine pushing a shopping cart around the room and not hit anything.  If you must push furniture against the wall, make sure that there is at least 36” of walking path into the conversation area.  If you have more than average space, you may be able to keep a nice console table on a wall or behind the sofa, but keep your shopping cart spacing in mind.

While we’re removing furniture, let’s talk about dated furniture.  You may be selling a home that is only 10 years old.  That’s pretty new in the real estate world.  But your furniture is the same furniture that you’ve acquired over 30 years.  Dated furniture will make the space look dated.  I’m not advocating getting rid of your old furniture if you love it.  I’m merely suggesting that it might be best stored, particularly anything of heirloom quality.  Vintage furniture is often “taste specific” and may be better off stored as well.  Ask your Home Stager about renting furniture if necessary.

Rugs.  We haven’t talked about rugs, but they also fall into our “bigger is better” theme.  Large area rugs only, please.  At a minimum, the front feet of every piece of furniture of your conversation area should be on the rug.  Unless you need to define the space, remove rugs from underneath dining room tables.  Remember:  you’re selling space and removing the rug tends to give cleaner visual appeal.  Small entryway rugs should be removed, but if warranted, a long runner or large area rug could be added.  Kitchen rugs should also be removed and heaven forbid that you have any bathroom rugs (you know … those little contour rugs around the toilet).  If you need any of these for feet wiping, just remember to roll them up and store them before showings and particularly before photos are taken.  Speaking of photographing rugs … that expensive Persian that you love?  Depending on the colors, these often do not photograph well and can make a room look incredibly “busy”.  This may be another piece that is better placed into storage.

The hardest rooms to remove furniture from are the bedrooms.  If at all possible, especially after purging and packing half your wardrobe, remove any pieces that you can live without.  Particularly in the master bedroom, buyers are looking for spaciousness and a retreat to unwind in.  Unless the room is huge, a chest AND a dresser will immediately give the illusion that there is insufficient closet space.  Photographs will look like there is only a small path around the bed.  Not exactly the spacious feeling we’re going for.

And lastly, the kitchen.  If you only have a small table and chairs or banquette, you don’t need to remove anything.  If you have a table and chairs, 4 bar stools, a side table, and a rolling cart, you need to rethink this room.  Keep barstools to one per 18” of counter space … one per 24” is even better.  Can you live without either the side table or the rolling cart?  It will be better if you can.  As mentioned over and over again, selling a home isn’t about convenience.  You may need to simply “make do” to reap the rewards of staging your home and selling it quickly.

By now, you should be well on your way to getting your home ready to stage and on the market.  I hope you’ve learned a few tricks and with a little determination and perseverance, you can declutter your home for selling.  No matter how you choose to edit your belongings or how you decide where to store things, always remember … Don’t Even Consider Letting Unnecessary Trappings & Tchotchkes Escape Review!

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