Kitchen Staging Ideas

kitchen staging ideas

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We have all heard that kitchens and baths are what sell a house. So, when getting ready to put your home on the market, staging the kitchen is a must. You want to present your kitchen in the best possible light to potential buyers, and these kitchen staging ideas will help you to achieve that.

Staging the kitchen of any home is one of the best ways to improve the perception of the property. It can be the difference between a quick sale, or having your home remain unsold for many months.

Since kitchens are one of the most important rooms in the home, it pays to spend a bit of time (and perhaps money) having your kitchen staged. Buyers can quickly be turned off by a cluttered or messy kitchen, and sometimes spending just a few hours preparing this room for sale can make all the difference.

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But how exactly do you stage a kitchen? We’ve pulled together some great kitchen staging ideas so you don’t have to panic…

staging a kitchen bench
Home Staging Institute student Roxana created this funky display when staging a kitchen.

Five Steps to Staging a Kitchen

1. Clean

As with staging a laundry, start by deep cleaning your kitchen. Or better yet, hire a professional to deep clean for you.

  • Remove all the items from your counters, cabinets, and drawers and wipe every surface.
  • Clean your fridge inside and out, and take it apart to really get to the hidden debris and gunk.
  • And don’t forget to clean the oven. A steamer and razor blade are your best bet to get the baked-on grease off.
  • Pull appliances away from the wall and clean behind them.
  • Shine up the fronts of those cabinets with some cabinet cleaner or wood oil.
  • Scrub the grease off of the backsplash and use a toothbrush to get the grout clean.
  • The vent hood and filters need to be degreased; a heavy-duty degreaser will make this much easier.
  • Shine all that stainless steel to show off those appliances. Olive oil and a microfiber rag are great at getting stainless to look its best.
  • Old, dirty shelf liners should be cleaned (a magic eraser works great) or replaced with new ones.
  • Light switches need to be scrubbed. Be sure to scrub the switch with a toothbrush.
  • Clean the windows so that as much natural light as possible can shine into the kitchen.
  • Detail the kitchen floors. Any grout should be cleaned as well.

2. Declutter

Stop! Before you start putting everything back on the counters and in the cabinets, it’s time to declutter. You need to go beyond just trashing the extra lids into your plastic storage containers. Instead of picking what to get rid of, carefully choose what to put back.

  • Drawers and cabinets should have plenty of empty space left over.
  • Pack away all those plastic cups you’ve collected from restaurants, grandma’s fine china, and your salt and pepper shaker collection.
  • The crockpot, air fryer, and pressure cooker can go to storage as well, they just clutter the countertops and make it look like your kitchen doesn’t have enough workspace.
  • Keep only the prettiest of the necessary items such as plates, cups, and silverware

3. Organize

As your return your carefully chosen items to the drawers, cabinets, and pantry, organize them. When potential buyers open any cabinet (and they will), they should see either organized basics or extra space.

  • Clear plastic or glass containers are great for storing pantry staples like flour, rice, or pasta.
  • Canned goods and snack items should be in coordinating baskets or containers.
  • Even the fridge should have similar items stored together, utilizing clear plastic containers to keep it organized.
  • Utensils and silverware need to be in organizers inside drawers.

4. Update and refresh

A few small cosmetic changes can make a huge difference in updating the look of your kitchen and will go a long way with potential buyers.

  • Touch up paint, or repaint the kitchen walls.
  • Install new cabinet hardware
  • Paint outdated cabinets using a one-step paint designed for cabinets. Or restain them over the existing stain using a gel stain. If you just need to touch up the stain, use a product like Victorian House Finish Rejuvenator.
  • You can install simple, battery-powered puck lights for easy DIY under cabinet lighting.
  • Put in a new kitchen faucet if yours is dated or worn.
  • Update your backsplash tile. Look into peel and stick faux tile backsplash products for an easy DIY, inexpensive way to install a trendy new design.
  • Replace old light fixtures. Remove old incandescent light bulbs and put in new daylight LED bulbs.
  • If your kitchen still has laminate countertops, consider replacing them with granite or quartz. Carrera-style quartz is very popular right now.

5. Decorate

More is not better when staging a kitchen, simple and uncluttered is best. Just a few simple accessories will show off your space and draw attention to the best features of your kitchen.

  • Bring in something alive such as an indoor plant, some fresh herbs on the windowsill, or a bowl of fresh fruit on the island.
  • Keep appliances on the countertops to a minimum and use ones that add character or ambience to the space. A coffee maker and a classic KitchenAid mixer are both good choices. Make sure they are spotlessly clean!
  • Create a small vignette or two with items like a cookbook on a stand, a couple of decorative oil bottles on a tray, or a couple of matching coffee cups by the coffee maker.
  • Set the breakfast nook table or bar with colorful placemats, and simple place settings to give a sense of family life.
Home Staging Institute student Caroline used a nice basket to hold a select few cookbooks for her kitchen staging assignment.

6. Address problem areas

The average person cannot visualize a space, or how it can be changed. That’s what staging is for! It shows people how a space can best be used, or how problem areas can be fixed. It helps others see the house at its highest potential.

  • A missing pantry can be replaced with a free-standing cabinet or bookshelf.
  • If you don’t have an island, a rolling island can be brought in if there is space.
  • Use rugs to visually define areas in an open-concept space.
  • Use gauzy window treatments to hide an unsightly view while still letting in natural light.

Although you might be missing your toaster, and coffee cup collection while your house is on the market, with proper staging it won’t take long until that house is sold, and you are moving into your new home.

Kitchen Staging Ideas

A few specific questions keep coming up with our students – specifically around what should they put on the kitchen counters, and how to arrange them. Here are a few kitchen staging ideas that address these two specific topics in a little more detail.

What to Put on Kitchen Counters

One decision you’ll have to make is what to put on the kitchen counters (we’ll look at how to arrange appliances on the kitchen counter next).

The easiest way to approach deciding what to put on the kitchen counter is to start by removing everything.

Then, depending on the size of the kitchen you are staging, add 2 to 5 little areas of interest.

Kitchen staging work by Home Staging Institute student Sarah Kute.

These “little areas of interest” can be any number of things:

  • A cookbook on a stand, open to your favorite recipe
  • A bowl of vibrant fruit, such as lemons or apples, brings a pop of color
  • A simple wine bottle holder, which could be accessorized with two wine glasses and possibly some grapes/crackers
  • A clean wooden chopping board leaning against the wall
  • A clean coffee machine, with two nice coffee mugs
Home Staging Institute student Roxana used a chopping board and cookbooks when staging this kitchen bench.

The key to many of these kitchen staging ideas is that you need to choose your accessories, cutlery, and appliances carefully. You don’t want to go using just any old mug in your “coffee” station. There is a lot of difference between a mug with a funny saying on it, and a mug that is appropriate for use in a staged kitchen.

How to arrange appliances on the kitchen counter

When staging a kitchen, the basic rule of thumb is that nearly every appliance is put away in a cabinet.

However, microwaves are allowed on the bench if there is no specific place for them built into the cabinetry

The overarching rule when deciding how to arrange appliances on the kitchen counter is that if the appliance is perfectly clean and noteworthy, then it can stay on the counter.

  • You don’t want a basic, boring toaster on the kitchen counter, but one with a bit of funk can stay.
  • If your microwave cost $50 from a clearance store and is off-white, it needs to go. But if it is a little bit stylish, it can stay.
  • Nearly all coffee machines are allowed to stay on the kitchen counter, as we’ve found 95% of the time they are well designed, and everyone likes to imagine waking up to a fresh homemade coffee.
  • Slow cookers need to be put away – they are nearly always bulky and not worth looking at.
  • A stylish jug can stay, but only if it is actually stylish. Plane-jane boring jugs need to be put away.

Spread out the appliances throughout the kitchen. There is rarely any reason to have two appliances such as a jug and a toaster right next to each other. Yes, it’s convenient when making breakfast, but for a staged house or a kitchen photo shoot it’s a bit too much going on in one area.

We’ve got a dedicated guide on staging a kitchen countertop, so if you’d like more on this topic, check that out next!

staging a kitchen
Home Staging Institute student Barbara staged this kitchen bench with some fresh baking and old chopping boards.

Staging a kitchen for a photoshoot

When staging a kitchen for a photo shoot, many of the kitchen staging ideas shared above still apply. Start by removing everything from the counters, and anything hanging from rails or stuck to the front of the fridge.

A kitchen staged for a photo shoot might not be the ideal kitchen for day-to-day use, but that’s not the point, you just want good photos.

So although you may like your children’s art stuck onto the front of your fridge, get rid of it for the photos.

The same goes for other items like tea towels hanging from the front of an oven. It’s convenient to have them easily accessible when using the kitchen, but the kitchen will probably look better without it for the photo shoot (unless, of course, it is a perfectly clean tea towel that matches the vibe of the kitchen.

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