A home’s staging can make or break a buyer’s first impression of the property. Even if the home was designed by a renowned architect, poor decor and clutter can detract from the property’s allure. Our guide to the top nine tips to staging a home will help you avoid some common faux-pas when it comes to displaying your property.

Stage From a Buyer’s Perspective 

A wise rule to follow when staging is to pretend you're a buyer. If you were touring your house as a stranger, what would draw you further into the home? What would be a turn-off? Aside from the usual advice of making sure the house is clean, Mercer Vine’s luxury real estate agents have compiled a list of the best staging tips to use when preparing your Los Angeles home for sale.

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1. Give Every Room a Purpose 

When staging your home, it is important to give every room a single purpose. Many houses have extra rooms that agents are not sure how to market. Avoid staging a house with a “multi-purpose” room. For example, advertising an extra bedroom as an “office-slash-gym” will actually make the home appear smaller than it is. Sellers might get the impression that the home is too small and that there is not enough space for basic activities. Instead, assign the room a function. Is it a family room? A media room? A guest bedroom? When staging, always make a decision as to what single function each room will serve.

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2. Depersonalize and Use Art 

A common mistake owners make when staging their homes is to leave personalized, family décor displayed. This can alienate buyers and make it difficult for them to imagine themselves in the space--especially when they’re staring at someone else’s Thanksgiving family portrait or soccer trophies. A better way to warm up a space is to use art. A rule-of-thumb when using art to stage is to use original pieces. However, framed reproduction posters of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” may cheapen the space and distract from its individuality. Instead, opt for pieces that are unique and one-of-a-kind.

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3. New Kitchen Appliances 

Nothing can date a kitchen faster than its appliances. Investing in new appliances is one of the easiest ways to breathe new life into a kitchen. Changing sink fixtures, purchasing a new refrigerator and stove are surefire ways to entice buyers. If stagers want to do a little more, adding an elegant espresso maker or high-end coffee maker will almost always add appeal. Top-of-the-line appliances can be a major selling-point when writing a listing and can instantly add to the allure of your home.

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4. Sunlight 

Natural sunlight increases the warmth and livability factor of any space. When staging, it’s important to let in natural light from windows in every room. Turning on all of the home’s lights, even if it’s daylight, will also help rooms appear brighter and more spacious. If a certain room doesn’t have many windows, stagers can simulate natural light by painting the room a lighter hue.  

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5. The Master Bedroom Should Be Gender Neutral 

The master bedroom is the most important room in a home. As such, stagers should look for ways to make the room desirable to any buyer, regardless of gender. If the walls of the master bedroom are a blue or pink hue, it is best to repaint the walls a neutral tone that will complement both genders. The rule also extends to décor. If the room features overly feminine or masculine decoration, investing in neutral vases, sculpture, or pictures can help all buyers envision themselves in the space.

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6. Create Flow

Bulky, square furniture can close in a space and make it seem cramped. To add flow to spaces, consider replacing square tables and furniture with circular pieces that do not hinder the flow of the space. Round, flowing furniture helps the eye move around the room, allowing the buyer to view the room as a wide, open space.` Strategically placed mirrors can also help to enlarge a room by creating the illusion of more space.

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7. Add Dining Ware 

Adding dining ware to a breakfast or dining room is another effective strategy for staging. If no one currently lives in the home, adding placemats with dishes, glasses, and utensils will help buyers envision entertaining in the space. If the home is currently lived in, setting out full place settings several times a week might be cumbersome. Instead, stagers should place a single centerpiece on the dining table such as a fresh flower arrangement or an interesting sculpture.

8. Fresh Flowers or Plants

Studies show that adding fresh flowers or plants to any space immediately improves people’s moods. Adding a fresh bouquet of flowers to any room can immediately warm up a space. Daisies can add a rustic charm, while roses add classic elegance. More unusual flowers like tiger lilies can add an air of exotic sophistication.

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9. Declutter Your Space

Decluttering a space can be an emotional ordeal. Removing clunky objects that are imbued with sentiment can be difficult for some owners during the staging process. However, decluttering is one of the most important steps for preparing a home. It can open up a room and improve its milieu. For example, avoid filling closets or bookshelves up to their full capacities. Closets should be presented as half-full and book shelves should have clusters of books with plenty of shelf exposed. Leaving space in closets and bookshelves will create the impression that the home has plenty of storage room.