Besides reading my ebooks!
My suggestion is to peruse the pages of Traditional Home Magazine, where the tagline is "Classic Taste, Modern Life." Look for them on Pinterest.
Isn't that the same message you want your home to whisper in the ear of buyers?
Are you stuck on how to arrange furniture? Do you stare at your rooms and ponder what tweaks will make them more inviting, more comfortable, more coordinated, more fashionable, more luxurious? Do you wonder what's the best use of bookcases and shelving? Are you looking for an idea for a floral arrangement? Confused about color schemes? Flooring choices? Curtain styles?
I know what you are thinking. "My house doesn't resemble the homes in home decor magazines, not by a long shot." It doesn't matter. Even if your home is a modest cottage, or an ordinary 1980's ranch house, or an ultra modern condo, or a sparse country lodge, a mobile home, or an old-fashioned farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The home decor pictured in Traditional Home demonstrates basic principles of good design and interior decoration.
There are lessons to be learned here if you know what to look for.
The first lesson is to wear your staging spectacles. Ask yourself, "What in these photographs makes the rooms look bigger, fresher, friendlier?" Examples will be color schemes, tabletop and mantel accessories, window treatments, furniture choices, and furniture arrangements.
The second lesson is to think like a buyer. "What in this photo would be a deal breaker if I were ready to make an offer?" Some examples would be dark wall color, built-in fixtures with too much personality (like an orange Formica countertop, outdated appliances, wallpaper, or landscaping that is very high maintenance).
Traditional Home is just another "shelter" magazine (the best in my opinion). It's not a manual about home staging, but it can still get your eye accustomed to what really good design and decor look like.
Learn by Example and Copy The Best
Let's look at this one photo to see what we can glean from it.
It's from the October 2009 issue of Traditional Home, and it's the dining room in the home of my absolute favorite designer, Henry Brown.
Here are the elements that I think make this room so drop-dead gorgeous, and suitable for a staged home.
These are all elements easy to imitate.
- The colors are soothing. The color scheme is monochromatic, a selection of warm greys and whites.
- Nothing is tiny or distracting. All the accessories are fabulously over-sized.
- There are "signs of life" (plants). Henry Brown owns a home and garden store and greenhouse, so his plants are always real, but yours can be silks.
- A big mirror enlarges the space. There's only one table, one potted plant here. Even if you don't have and can't afford a huge mirror, small mirrors bounce light and confuse the eye about boundaries.
- Natural light fills the space. If sunlight doesn't flood your dining area, artificial lighting can make up for it.
Here are more ideas you can bootleg (a word I prefer over "hack").
- A set of four simple wooden chairs can be painted and upholstered to look comfy and glamorous.
- Candlesticks and other accessories don't have to match. Table doesn't have to match chairs.
- A room divider can let light enter the room, and be made from simple strips of lumber.
- Some items look pristine, and other items look weathered and aged. If everything you have is out-of-the-box new, add some props with patina. And if your rooms look too shabby, add items that show off their new-ness. It's a balance.
- Corbels, feet, and crown moulding added to cabinets can put a custom spin on builder grade cabinets.
- Dark wood floors and white kitchen cabinetry will never go out of style.
- Wicker chairs can be dressed up with small slipcovers to introduce some pattern into the space.
- A giant bowl of apples and a package of spaghetti make interesting and inexpensive kitchen staging props.
- A wooden top on a center island turns it into an eating area.
And while you're thinking of how to make yourself a better home stager, check out my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, and see what's in store for you for the price of one issue of Traditional Home.