How to Live in a Staged Home

You’ve staged your home to appeal to buyers. The house has been decluttered, de-personalized, and deep cleaned.

Now, what do you do to keep it that way if you still need to live there?

Keeping your home in show-ready condition can be done by establishing some daily habits. Here are tips for living in a staged home.

Entryway

  • Take off your shoes in the entryway to avoid tracking in dirt, water and debris.

  • Avoid entryway closet clutter by keeping items in flat, unobtrusive storage totes. An attractive entryway storage bench is another option, provided it doesn’t crowd the entry space.

Front Room/Living Room/Family Room

  • Vacuum each day. It will prevent you having to do it last-minute for a showing.

  • Rather than tossing mail onto the coffee table, sort it right away and immediately dispose of any unneeded items.

  • Backpacks, school items and toys should be stored rather than left on the floor or table. Storage ottomans, baskets and cabinets provide a surprising amount of storage while enhancing the look of the room.

  • Keep remotes, chargers and other daily items tucked away in drawers rather than leaving them out. They’ll be easier to find, too!

  • If snacks and meals in the living room were the norm, get into the habit of eating in the kitchen or at the dining table. It might even be a way to re-discover the family dinner!

Kitchen

  • Any cookware and kitchen appliances you can do without should be packed and stored away, and not in the cabinets. Kitchen cabinet space is a major consideration for many buyers, so you don’t want yours cluttered and crammed with gadgets.

  • Keep countertops clean and clear. It’s fine to have one or two (clean, attractive) appliances out, provided there is plenty of space.

  • Have one set of eating utensils (plate, bowl, cup, flatware) for each family member, and pack the rest away. Hand-wash, dry and put away utensils and cookware after each use. You can also use recyclable paper plates and cups to limit dishwashing, though this is an added expense.

  • Be vigilant about food freshness. Spoiled food in the refrigerator can lead to unexpected and hard-to-remove odors.

  • Keep the pantry organized. If you have more canned and boxed goods than you can use in the near future, they can be donated or stored.

  • Be aware of what you’re cooking! If you use aromatic spices, cook with garlic, or use a deep fryer, the scent of your meal may linger in the air. Ventilate while cooking and clean up immediately. You can also use natural methods of odor elimination, like leaving out a bowl of white vinegar or baking soda overnight, or boiling citrus peels on the stove.

Bathrooms

  • Don’t leave personal care products in the tub, shower or out on the sink. Instead, give each family member a bathroom tote to hold their daily necessities. Travel size items and containers can come in handy here.

  • Each family member should also have his or her own set of towels (kids may enjoy getting to pick their own color). Don’t use the towels displayed in the bathroom.

  • Used towels and clothing should be placed in laundry room hampers if possible, rather than bathroom hampers. (Hampers will limit the amount of bathroom floor space.) Launder frequently to avoid odors from damp towels.

  • Keep all medications out of unlocked medicine cabinets and stored safely away out of sight.

  • Keep cleaning wipes under the sink for quick and easy clean-up after each use.  

  • Daily shower sprays can help keep the shower clean and fresh after an initial scrubbing.

  • Use automatic toilet bowl cleaners to help keep toilets fresh without last-minute scrubbing.

  • Be aware of strong odors from cleaning products. In a small space like a bathroom, it doesn’t take much to become overwhelming. Your prospective buyer won’t be able to appreciate the sparkling tile if his or her eyes are smarting from bleach fumes. Ventilate thoroughly, and opt for milder scented and natural solutions. Don’t use harsher cleaners than you need to.

  • This goes for room sprays and diffusers, too. A light, fresh scent is good, but avoid heavy scents. Some people have unpleasant reactions, such as headaches or nausea, to strong scents.

Bedrooms

  • You want your bedroom closets to look spacious, so remove and store any out-of-season or less frequently worn clothing. It’s also a great reminder to donate clothing you no longer use. Store anything you can in hidden storage, like dresser drawers.

  • Use underbed storage bins to keep everyday necessities on hand but out of view.

  • Keep dresser and nightstand tops clear.

  • Make beds each morning, so you don’t have to do it last-minute if a showing is scheduled.

What about pets?

Fido or Fluffy may be your best friend, but most pets aren’t very staged-home-friendly. From “aromatic” cat boxes and small animal bedding to pet hair on the furniture, pets make it more difficult to keep your home ready to show. Not to worry, though—there are solutions.

See if a friend or relative would be willing to host your pet. Frequent visits will make the separation easier for all involved. While disruptive for your pet, it may be less stressful than having strange visitors in their “territory” during the showing process.

If this isn’t an option, you can temporarily limit your pet to certain rooms, preferably ones without carpeting or upholstered furniture. This will make it much easier to contain pet hair and other messes for faster, easier cleanup. Be extra-vigilant about changing out cat litter and small animal bedding and removing it quickly from the home before odors can develop.

How to keep entertained?

During the staging process, many of your family’s books, games, toys and movies will have been packed away. Though this is less of a consideration in the age of digital streaming and ebooks, this may still leave you at a loss for things to do. Kids may have to be more careful playing in the clean house.

Think of this time as an opportunity for new adventures. Get out and explore! Spend time at the library or park. Take a walk or bike ride. Visit a museum. Find out about community activities. Try out a new coffee shop. You’ll likely find plenty of things to do that are free or inexpensive.

Living in a staged home isn’t always easy, but it can be done. With some changes to your daily habits, you can keep your home ready to show...and ready for the right buyer to walk in the door!

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