When we styled our old house to sell, our goal was to create space – to enhance the already dominant feeling openness. Everyone loves a house that feels “open” because it manipulates them into thinking they’ll change as a person. Maybe in this house you’ll be clean, mature and organized, RIGHT? One of the main reasons that we had this built was to show off and house all my pretties so that they didn’t have to clutter the rest of the surfaces of the house.
Right before we put it up on the market it kinda looked like this (above). For the sake of the Curbed Video about ‘styling to sell’ we added lot more stuff to drive the styling tips home and give the viewer more of a before and after. I didn’t want it to look bad, obviously, just a little too much stuff.
Here’s how we did it (sorry – we didn’t take still photos of the process because we were scrambling to get it done so we stole frames from the video with the graphics).
1. Purge and edit. Don’t overcrowd shelves to show off decorating potential.
It’s hard to say how much you should have in your shelves, but I’d say if you typically have them 2/3rds full then go down to 1/3rd when you are staging to sell.
2. Clear Anything Too Personal: This is when family photos need to be pulled, because while you think that photos of your kids covered in spaghetti asleep in a high chair is adorable, maybe it’s not to everyone (impossible) . The goal is that the future buyers can easily imagine their lives there.
Now I personally think that if you have pretty frames and look like people that loved each other then a photo or two is a good thing – especially if you are marketing it to families. When we bought our new house I was excited to hear that the family before us had raised their kids for 12 years there. I would have bought the house regardless, but picturing a happy family is a good thing. However, the video was directed towards the less design oriented people so I think it’s probably safer to advise less family when staging. I kept 3-4 photos in the whole house.
3. Reduce the Color Palette:
When considering what to purge/edit this is the starting point. Calm the colors down and only use pieces in those colors. Sometimes the space can feel really cluttered just because you have too many color going on. Choose three to four neutral and accent colors that work well together, but look good with the rest of your house.
4. Books are Your Friend.
They add warmth and color without being too personal, plus some of them have words written in them for “reading” if you are into that. Oh to “read” a “story” would be just wonderful and remind me of college, right? Such good things to style with, these books. They add soul and a feeling of ‘realness’ without adding to the visual clutter. Since they are all roughly the same shape and size, they add personality and yet still look really organized. I know this is going to be unpopular with you literary folks, but if you are styling your house you are allowed to buy books as props from thrift stores.
5. Keep Art and Object Simple:
Sure you can have a few pieces with quirk, but pull anything that might turn off future buyers. We got rid of hand sculptures, the cat collage and oil paintings of strangers as that can be creepy to some (fear-ful) people.
For the video I had to really reduce the amount of tips to make it short – but there are a few more that I’d love to highlight.
– The winning combination to every shelf is to have something rectangular (stack of books or leaning art) + objects (vases and sculpture).
– Pepper those around evenly having books horizontal and vertical and making sure that you are varying that pattern around (i.e. not putting a stack of books on top of a shelf with a similar stack of books). Make sure that the colors are evenly distributed as well.
– Nix almost all small scale tchokes. You don’t need HUGE pieces but most small pieces just look like junk to other people and start to make it feel cluttered.
Of course the ‘before’ looks pretty good and in a way I prefer it, but for the sale of the house I really think that having this staged look was the right thing to do – especially in context of the whole house.
As you get more and more pulled back you really see how important it is to feel so open and more minimal.
Man, thank god I LOVE our new house so much because these pics are making me miss that house/life so much.
Check out the video to see this shelving in action, and let us know if you have any questions below.
***Be sure to follow us on Insta-story today and the next few days to watch us shop 17 miles of flea market at Round Top, Texas and see what we come home too.
*After Photography by Tessa Neustadt