​French designer Andree Putman said, “for a house to be successful, the objects in it must communicate with one another, respond and balance one another.” Sounds simple, right? But for a real estate agent trying to stage a seller's home for many potential buyers, trying to achieve that balance can be maddening. You have to work with what you have and make it as appealing as possible. But there are a few tricks to the house staging trade that can make the process a little easier.

 

De-clutter

The more belongings a homeowner owner has, the less likely buyers will feel like they belong. There's just too much stuff taking up too much space. Living rooms, family rooms and dens should highlight how much space the home offers, and disorganized books, magazines, knickknacks, even having too many shelves, can detract from that precious space. If it's not essential, throw it out. Storage is also an important factor in de-cluttering a home. No one ever has enough storage space, it seems, so naturally it is something that every buyer is looking for. Show that there is plenty of storage space in the home. Make sure to empty the closets halfway and meticulously organize what is left. The closets will appear utilitarian but with ample room for buyers to imagine storing their own stuff in it.

De-personalize

Buyers sometimes have a difficult time envisioning their lives taking shape in an empty home with no personality, but a furnished home with too much personality is so much worse. The more personal touches in a home, the less inviting it may seem to interested parties. They just can't see their own style taking shape in that home because someone else's style is in the way. The home seller will need to put away all personal items, like photographs, memorabilia keepsakes, collectibles, and awards before the home is shown. Buyers want to picture their own memories filling up the walls, which they cannot do while staring at someone else's family portrait.

Re-paint

Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. In rooms where you want to create flow, choose neutral colors like gray or beige. These light, non-jarring shades allow you to change accessories and styles easily, allowing more flexibility and versatility. If there are two small rooms adjacent to each other, paint both of them the same shade to make them seem larger. A rule of thumb to go by when selecting a paint finish is to go with a flat finish for relaxation and resting rooms, and a satin finish for more active rooms.

Rearrange the furniture

Particularly important in areas like the living room, furniture should be grouped to create intimacy and balance. Every item of furniture does not need to face the TV. Create a space that encourages conversation among the inhabitants. Arrange the pieces in either an H-shape, with two chairs facing a sofa with a coffee table in between or a U-shape with the sofa between two chairs in front of a coffee table. Also, avoid pushing the furniture back against the walls. Though conceptually it would offer more space, in reality, it pinpoints the edges of the room and makes it feel smaller.

Re-think lighting

Mirrors can be fabulous tools for design and for adding depth and light to any room, but you'll want to carefully consider where you hang them. Do not hang them directly across from a window - in this position, the mirror can bounce the entering sunlight right back out the window. Instead, place them on walls perpendicular to the corresponding windows. And, do not leave the widows bare. Window dressings add color and life to a room and should be both elegant and functional. If a room receives ample sunlight, select panels and drapes in lighter colors that won't visibly fade. The most recommended lightweight fabrics for panels and drapes are linen, silk blends, and cotton because these materials hang so well. Instead of hanging them the standard three inches above the window, go five to seven inches up. The ceiling will appear higher.

Even Andree Putman would have to agree that home staging is a very particular kind of design. It takes an eye for detail, an intuition for what others want, and a lot of practice and patience, but with a few helpful tips, you might just achieve that elusive balance.