As the property market recovers (and interest rates stay low), many sellers are seeing a more bullish market and imagining easier sales.
From a buyer’s perspective, however, this isn’t necessarily the case. As prices rise, more sellers come to market, so the choice grows and competition increases. Clever storage and savvy staging can give sellers the edge, and the quick sale they’re hoping for.
One of the strongest sales tactics borrows from the concept of retail merchandising. Shops display their wares in attractive settings, use subtle lighting to add sparkle and ambiance, and dress up displays with appropriate props (think artificial snow in wintry window dressings).
Translated into the home, merchandising is known as staging, and many of the same principles apply.
How to Approach Property Staging
In it’s simplest form, home staging relies on emphasising the function of a room or space within a room. In order to create the necessary emphasis, most of us need to do a little decluttering. In everyday family life, the lines between different functions become blurred. Kids do homework in living rooms, spare bedrooms become offices, and hobby activities are relegated to the kitchen. So effective staging often starts with addressing storage issues.
You won’t want to dispose of all your possessions just because they don’t have a permanent or dedicated area, but neither do you want to present a cramped or cluttered interior to buyers. Our lives are layered, and storage should be layered too. We have:
Decorative items permanently on show (no storage).
Often used items that have no decorative use (top layer storage).
Little or never used items that have sentimental or actual value (deep layer storage).
No Storage Items
These are the furnishings and decorations that emphasise the room’s function:
In kitchens – kettles, toasters, bread machines etc. are okay on work surfaces. Homework books, colouring pencils or piles of letters are not.
In living rooms: On side tables, lamps, plants and coasters are okay. Game controllers, magazines, TV remotes are not.
In bedrooms: dressing tables, bedside cabinets and wardrobes are okay. Desks, computers and sports equipment are not.
In bathrooms: luxury spa items are okay, half empty bottles of budget shampoo are not. New, fluffy towels are okay, old damp ones are not.
Top Layer Storage
Top layer storage provides places to hide those items you use often but which detract from the appearance and style of the room. Your top layer storage could include:
Storage Furniture: Side tables with drawers, lift-top coffee tables, antique chests, storage footrests, can all provide tidy hiding places for living room clutter like TV remotes and gaming controllers. Ottoman beds are great for kids games, sports or hobby stuff, or spare linen.
Open Shelving: Fashionable and convenient all over the house, floating shelves add a design statement and provide storage or display areas for books, ornaments, DVDs or works of art. They also maximise use of the vertical space in rooms, which is often overlooked.
Deep Layer Storage
Items that should go into deep storage are those things that either don’t fit a room’s function, such as oversized dining tables, little used appliances, and highly personal items such as family photos or trophies.
Options for deep storage include your own loft, family and friend’s homes, or self storage units. With self storage you have the advantage of security and easy access at any time, plus you can add or remove as many items as you like without straining relationships with friends. Storing in your own loft or with friends is obviously the cheapest option, but self storage offers flexible terms with no fixed contract and a huge variety of space sizes.
Organising your storage in layers like this helps you create an uncluttered, welcoming interior with just enough homely touches to make it inviting. Removing or hiding everything else also lets buyers imagine their own possessions and furnishings in place.
The Storage and Staging Advantage
Look at your house with an impersonal eye, as though you were a buyer. Aim for:
Clean and tidy
Plenty of storage
These are all phrases used by buyers to describe their ideal home, regardless of size.
By clearing the decks and taking advantage of all the storage options, sellers can create exactly the kind of interior space buyers are looking for. Staging puts the icing on the seller’s cake, and clever storage makes it possible when you need to turn an everyday house into a show home.
There’s a final advantage too. Having packed up and stored so much already, you’ll be ahead of the game when you start packing in earnest after a quick sale.
Drew writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. For more information on storage, see their website.