How to Stage a House~Pt. 1


About a month ago, a good friend, (author) Dani Pettrey, called my husband* to rehab her mom’s house as it was going on the market. My husband has been working with a group of investors for a couple of years and has learned a few tricks to making the bones of a house look sellable. If you are on a budget for staging and aren’t able to put in a new kitchen and all new bathrooms, there are four things that are very important to creating a good canvas for staging a house.

*Patch and smooth out holes in the walls and pick a clean, warm, neutral color with which to paint the walls.

*Make sure all the floors in the house are in good shape.

*Lighting, lighting, lighting…don’t underestimate its importance.

*Make sure everything is clean.


The first thing my husband does, is takes out any nails or screws in the walls and fills and patches any holes with spackle. Once the patch job is sanded and smooth, he (primes if needed) and paints the walls. Devon landed on a paint color that he uses for almost every remodel, it’s a Behr product (found at Home Depot) called Raffia Cream. I’ve seen it in many different houses and it always looks clean, warm and inviting. He steers away from anything too yellow or too beige.  It really should be something in between. When choosing a color, think more in the terms of creme. If it leans too close to yellow, it can be garish, if too close to beige it can get muddy. You want the color to be warm and inviting. He uses Raffia Cream throughout the whole house. This creates a continuity in the house that creates a visual flow.


In Dani’s mom’s house, the floors in the main living area, were in poor shape. The most cost effective way to fix those, was to lay down a new laminate, pergo style floor. Laminate has come a long way since it first hit the market. It holds up for a long time, is easy to repair and replace boards and can create a feel of hardwood floors throughout the house. Devon laid this flooring in the living room and eat in kitchen area, creating unity in the first floor area that kept the eye moving throughout the house.

He first tried to clean the existing carpet, but it was just too old to make a difference. So, he installed new neutral colored, carpet in all the bedrooms, stairways and basement.

In the bathroom, he used a peel and stick, vinyl tile, which, when I saw it, couldn’t believe how nice it looked! It’s also thick and has the slightest pearlescent sheen. It made the bathroom look expensive without breaking the bank.


I personally think this is the one area most homeowners don’t think about when staging their homes. I once knew an interior designer (whose work Chris Ann and I both adored) who had a lighting artist on her payroll. I met him once and listened as he explained the importance of up lighting, down lighting, soft glows, light bulb strength, dimmers, etc… It opened up my eyes to the importance that lighting has on setting a mood in a home. Devon is a firm believer now too! When he does a full house gut job, he will install can lights on dimmer switches in areas you wouldn’t think of. But, because this home didn’t require taking out ceilings, he replaced fixtures that needed updating. In the bathroom (I’m sorry I don’t have a before picture) there was a strip light above the mirror with about 7 light bulbs across the plate. I’m sure you’ve seen them in other homes. He replaced it with this:

I hit a thrift store and scored this lamp for $8 for the side of the bed.

Then I had Dani order a package of four lamps (click HERE for example) to use throughout the house. These kits come in “put them together yourself” fashion, but are an affordable way to add different levels of light to the home.

Then she bought 2 uplights that we used behind a sofa and behind a chair in the master bedroom.

In each room, we varied the height and placement of the lighting.


Before any staging happened, Devon recommended that Dani have a cleaning crew come through and clean the whole house. Some important areas to consider, make sure all the windows are sparkling. Shine all the chrome fixtures (Windex works well!) including faucets and even door knobs.

Now the canvas was ready for the fun decorating and staging to begin.

*Devon’s company is Ripristino Remodeling located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Do you have any other tricks that have worked for you when preparing a house to put on the market?


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