An Agent’s Guide to Staging Each Room for an Open House 
Amber McCulloch
January 10, 2023 — Read in 5.8 mins · 1158 words

Open houses are still one of the best ways for real estate agents to attract potential buyers and to generate client leads. But remember — the way the home looks and feels during the open house may impact the way visitors and leads feel about you too! Put your (and the property’s) best foot forward by ensuring that each room is staged to show off its best features. 

It goes without saying that decluttering and deep cleaning is the first recommendation that you should make to your clients when preparing for an open house. Go a step further during your consultation and have sellers imagine that they are walking into the home for the first time. 

What would they notice? What doors or cabinets would they open when wandering the home? These are the things they should remove and the spaces they should make sure are clean and organized. In addition, help them understand that de-personalizing the space by removing personal photos, wall decals, and personal artwork will help visitors imagine themselves in the space instead of focusing on the lives and taste of the owners! 

If it makes sense for the client and the budget, consider hiring a professional stager. This is especially important for new construction and vacant properties. 

But if professional staging is not an option, don’t worry! There are still a number of small fixes and extra touches that you can recommend to get the home ready for an open house. 

Here are some tips and recommendations that you can pass on to your clients to stage each room and present it in the best light to potential buyers.

Front Porch 

This is the sight that first greets visitors when they arrive for the open house. You want it to feel safe and welcoming.

  • The front porch should appear clean and in good repair.
  • Advise sellers to remove mismatched furniture or weathered décor and dispose of any mildewed or aged cushions before the open house. Outdoor furniture should be clean and in good condition.
  • Ensure that the porch light works and that the light covering is free from cobwebs and dead insects.
  • Encourage the seller to add a wreath, rug, and potted plants to make the front porch feel fresh and inviting. 

Entryway

The main entryway will set the whole tone for the walkthrough of the property. It should feel spacious and open.

  • Advise your client to remove any unnecessary objects and furniture from around the front door.
  • Add a nice, non-slip rug and set up a shoe removal/bootie/sanitation station if needed.
  • If possible, make the entryway feel like its own space, with a small entry table, mirror, and a selection of objets d’art.

Living Room

The key to staging the living room for an open house is to maximize the space and create a natural flow. 

  • Prior to the open house, meet with your client and discuss options for arranging or swapping out the furniture so that the room doesn’t feel overcrowded.
  • Sofas should be appropriately sized for the space, clean, freshly vacuumed, and completely free of pet hair.
  • Pull in cozy elements that the owner already has, like a soft blanket or colorful throw pillows.
  • Remove family photos and replace out of place artwork with something that compliments the space and doesn’t pull focus.
  • Make sure the windows are clean and the curtains or blinds are open to allow natural light to flow into the space.
  • For most living rooms, the television is the primary focal point, so make sure that it’s positioned in a natural spot and can be seen from the room’s seating area.

Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms to get right when staging an open house. It’s important for it to feel functional, clean, and spacious.

  • Strongly encourage your client to deep clean the kitchen, including all appliances and the inside of cabinets and drawers.
  • Remove and store most (if not all) of the small kitchen appliances, leaving the countertops clear.
  • Add a bowl of fresh fruit, a decorative dish towel, or some potted herbs to add some life to the room.
  • If there is seating at the counter, make sure the chairs are appropriately sized and neatly arranged. Remove some if it feels too crowded.
  • Have them clean out and organize the pantry and cupboards so they look neat and aren’t overflowing.
  • Remind sellers to clean off the top and sides of the fridge and not to use it for storage during the time their home will be on the market. Remove magnets, pictures, and papers as well. 

Dining Room

The dining room has a simple story to tell, so let it shine. The décor should help people envision the meals they will share with their families in this room.

  • Encourage the seller to set the table with a simple runner and centerpiece, or perhaps some placemats and matching dishes. 
  • Remove sideboards or cabinets that crowd the table and throw off the balance of the room.
  • If possible, ensure that the table is centered under the lighting fixture (and make sure all the bulbs are working!).
  • Arrange the chairs neatly around the table.

Bedrooms 

Bedrooms should give off a peaceful and inviting atmosphere. 

  • Recommend that old, worn comforters be replaced with nice, neutral bedding.
  • Add some stylish and colorful pillows to play up the cozy vibe.
  • If possible, switch out an oversized bed with one that fits more comfortably in the room. Blow-up mattresses with linens can work in a pinch!
  • Ensure that closet doors open easily and that clothes and shoes are neatly organized. Avoid the appearance of not having enough storage space.
  • Remove any personal items and store toys out of the way.  

Bathrooms

The key to staging bathrooms is to make them feel clean, functional, and luxurious (if possible!).

  • Make sure counters are clear of any personal items and that all surfaces in the bathroom appear sparkling clean.
  • Adding a few decorative, spa-like elements, such as a small plant, soaps, or candles will help create a calm and inviting atmosphere.
  • Advise clients to remove used towels and replace them with fresh, plain towels (avoid beach towels or those printed with cartoon characters, etc.).
  • Remove clothing from the backs of doors and hooks. 
  • Make sure the mirror is clean and free from smudges and spots. If the mirror is not in good condition, recommend that the owner replaces it prior to the open house.
  • Raise the curtains or blinds to let in the natural light. 
  • Check to see that the toilet seat is down, and the cover is closed. 

These are just a few tips and discussion points to cover when prepping clients for an open house. Good luck!

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