Staging the “Make or Break It” Areas, Part 1: The Kitchen

There are certain rooms in a home that rank most important to buyers and will often “make or break” their interest in placing an offer. These rooms include the kitchen, living area, and master bedroom. That means they should be three rooms you really focus on staging for sale and make as attractive as possible. This doesn’t always have to mean spending a lot of money on renovations; sometimes, you just need to do a little redesign.

Let’s start things off with a room that is always at the top of a buyer’s list: the kitchen. Most kitchens won’t need a complete overhaul to get it sold. (Talk to your real estate agent about this to better assess how much work you may want to put into an outdated kitchen before putting it on the market.) With a little bit of staging and redesign, you can turn a drab kitchen into one ready to be sold. I’ve included a before & after of a kitchen I recently staged to illustate all the tips. So here we go, 10 kitchen staging tips:

1) Never over-accessorize a kitchen. Keep kitchens very basic. Always clear everything off the counters except a couple of items, like a bowl of fruit or a cookbook on a stand. Even if your kitchen is small or does not have a lot of counterspace, clearing off the counters will give the illusion of more space.

2) If you have glass-front cabinets, only have minimal items displaying. It’s best to place any mismatched items such as mugs in a cabinet with a solid door. Space out glasses and sparse pieces like a decorate bowl. You can also leave a few cabinets empty to give the illusion that there is more storage space. Full cabinets make it seem like there is not enough storage in your kitchen no matter how much storage you may actually have.

3) Removable islands can be a great feature – if they fit correctly! These island additions (sometimes made specifically for this purpose, or an alternative option like a dining room table) can make an L-shaped kitchen look better by offering more counterspace, but choose wisely! As you can see in the photos, the homeowner had an big, clunky table in the middle of the kitchen that dwarfed the space and made it look cluttered. We replaced it with a sleeker table that served the purpose of an island without crowding the space.

4) Remove all magnets, notes and photos from the refridgerator. This is another matter of decluttering and opening up as much visual space as possible.

5) Don’t leave dishes on the counters OR in the dishwasher. Dishes – clean or dirty – on the counter will make the kitchen look it’s cluttered and lacking sufficient counterspace. You also don’t want to leave them in the dishwasher because believe it or not, buyers always open the dishwasher and peak inside for some reason.

6) Wipe down and organize the interior of your cabinets. Buyers will open cabinets and look inside to see how clean they are and how much space there is. If it isn’t neatly organized, buyers could easily get under the impression that there’s less space inside than there actually is.

7) Clean out and organize your pantry. Get rid of any expired food and organize it so that colors and shapes are arranged well. Buyers will also be judging the size of the pantry, so clearing out as much of the clutter and organizing it in a way that is pleasing to the eye will definitely make a difference.

8) Clean the entire kitchen! Wipe down the counters, cabinets, fridge, sink and surrounding areas, the microwave, oven, cooktop, and the floor. (Make sure you do the inside and out of some these things because buyers WILL look inside.) Your whole house should always be clean while it’s on the market to be ready for showings, but the kitchen particularly needs to be spotless because this is where buyers will be imagining preparing food. You don’t want them to be turned off by dust and grime.

9) Polish the hardware (including the faucet). If it’s really worn out or outdated, consider replacing it.

10) Grind a lemon, lime or orange in your garbage disposal. The citrus scent will get rid of any odors stuck in your garbage disposal and put a nice, pleasing scent in the air.

Stay tuned for staging tips for the living room and master bedroom! For a comprehensive guide to staging your whole house, check out my book Stageology: How to Stage to Sell which is available through all major booksellers nationwide.

Warm regards,

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