Staging a Living Room

staging a living room
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Staging a living room is often one of the larger tasks of staging any property. Between bookshelves, lounge suites, TV cabinets, coffee tables, and other furniture – there is a lot to move and place!

Many people spend most of their time in the living room when they’re home. The living room is a coveted space where everyone can come together, relax, entertain, and unwind.

It is of the utmost importance to make this space look comfortable and impressive when potential buyers are touring your home.

Although the task can be intimidating, preparing your living room for the market doesn’t take too much work.

Staging a living room essentially boils down to finding the right balance of scale, color, and décor.

When it’s time to get your house ready to sell, follow the tips below to stage a living room like a pro.

Step 1: Complete Repairs and Fix Cosmetic Issues

Before you get into the rest of the staging process, you must find and fix any minor repairs or cosmetic issues that need to be taken care of.

Suppose there are mechanical issues or more significant structural issues that need to be dealt with.

In that case, you need to decide whether to fix them before listing the house or if you’d rather negotiate during the inspection period.

The following cosmetic issues should always be taken care of as you prepare for staging your living room:

  • Polish the floors
  • Patch up the walls
  • Replace lightbulbs
  • Inspect and clean the fireplace

Step 2: Deep Clean Before Listing

It’s essential to deep clean every room in your house before listing it, and when staging a living room this is no exception.

A well-maintained home will understandably impact buyers more than a neglected, cluttered one.

To be sure you’ve cleaned well enough, don’t forget the following areas:

1. Light Fixtures

Light fixtures collect a lot of nasty stuff that goes unnoticed, especially if you’re not really looking for it.

Use a long broom or handheld vacuum to ensure the fixtures in your living room are clear of dust, debris, and insects.

2. Baseboards and Molding

Make sure you dust off the baseboards and moldings. If they’re chipped or scratched, you may want to repaint them.

3. Carpets

Wall-to-wall carpets should be steam cleaned to eliminate stains and odors. This is crucial if you have pets or kids at home.

4. Windows

Dirty windows are unsightly and limit natural light from entering the room.

When you clean windows, make sure they’re not in direct sunlight.

The best way to clean them without leaving streaks behind is with a water-vinegar mix and a squeegee.

5. Furniture

Freshen up any furniture pieces for staging by steam cleaning or using a fabric refresher.

Make sure all furniture, rugs, and curtains are clean and odor-free.

Step 3: Design and Declutter

Since living rooms often serve multiple purposes, they can be magnets for clutter.

It’s important to clear out personal items to make it easier for potential buyers to picture themselves and their belongings.

When you’re staging a living room, you should store away collectibles, objects of personal value, and oversized or unnecessary pieces of furniture that can make the room appear smaller.

If you don’t have another location to store extra items, consider getting a portable storage unit or renting a local storage space.

Step 4: Add a (Neutral) Coat of Paint

Painting is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to really transform the look of your living room for staging.

Choose a neutral palette with peach, tan, or pink undertones. Buy some neutral slipcovers if you don’t have any neutral furniture to match.

Colorful carpets that can’t be removed can be offset with a neutral-colored area rug.

Before You Paint…

  • Get a sample first so you can see how it looks in different parts of the room at different times of day
  • Invest in high-quality rollers, brushes, and other materials
  • Don’t skimp on the prep work – sanding, priming, and taping are essential for a high-quality finish
  • Splurge on quality paint in a flat finish
  • Keep consistent undertones that match the rest of the home  

Step 5: Stage the Furniture

The purpose of staging your home is to sell not just a house but a lifestyle.

When staging a living room, choose furniture that fits the space and arrange it to set a scene: a couple hosting a formal gathering, or a family gathering around the television, for example.

If you have big, bulky furniture that doesn’t properly scale the room, store it away and rent some pieces that will open the space and make it feel warm and cozy.

The living room should also have a clear focal point, and the furniture should be arranged around it. Choose something like a fireplace, a large window with a beautiful view, or an entertainment center.

If the living room is very large, create a few different areas for gathering, each with its own smaller focal points. In either case, consider the traffic flow through the room and keep it clear.

A few additional tips for staging furniture in the living room include:

  • Floating the furniture away from walls to create an illusion of more space
  • Adding a small desk or table to an empty wall or creating a nook near a window to give purpose to awkward spaces
  • Hanging a mirror adjacent to a window to brighten the room with more natural light and make the space appear more open

Step 6: Add Décor

Once you’ve made your repairs, decluttered, given the room a fresh coat of paint, and staged the perfect furniture, the final step in staging your living room is adding décor.

When choosing décor for this purpose, it’s crucial to remember that less is more, and items should remain neutral.

If you don’t have many items of your own to use, head to a thrift store, discount home décor shop, or big box store to grab some new ones. The small investment will be well worth it.

Follow the checklist below to make sure you’ve covered your décor basics:

  • Stage the coffee table
  • Stage the mantle and fireplace
  • Install new hardware on built-ins
  • Consider adding an area rug
  • Add a pop of color with accent throws
  • Modernize light fixtures
  • Emphasize architectural details
  • Use high-hanging mirrors or artwork to draw the eyes upward and highlight rustic beams
  • Open the drapes and blinds to show off large windows
  • Bookend the fireplace with large pieces of pottery or floor plants
  • Stage surrounding built-in shelves with books.

Décor accents are meant to serve a few purposes.

They can be used to add pops of color to a neutral color palette, make the space feel more inviting, and help potential buyers feel more at ease.

As you’re thinking over the items on the list above, consider the additional staging tips below.

Tip #1: Follow the 60-30-10 Color Rule

The 60-30-10 color rule is wise to follow when staging a living room.

This rule states that the dominant neutral color should cover 60 percent of the room, including the wall color and area rug.

The secondary neutral color should cover 30 percent of the room and include furniture.

Accents like vases, frames, throw pillows, and blankets can be bright or bold colors and cover 10 percent of the room. Consider a few touches of coral, Kelly green, or navy blue atop a primarily neutral palette.

Tip #2: Add Some Greenery

Plants add life and energy to a living room.

While there are plenty of natural plants that don’t require much maintenance, you can also use high-quality faux plants like a fiddle-leaf fig tree in a basket.

Cut flowers in a vase or potted succulents for a coffee table are also nice options to consider.

Tip #3: Use the Rule of Three for Vignettes

A vignette is a group of objects that set an eye-catching tone in a room, and groups of three have proven to be the most pleasing to the eye.

Some examples include a tray of unlit candles in a vase surrounded by pinecones, a side table containing fresh flowers in a short vase arranged next to a table lamp with a stone or crystal, or a small potted plant grouped with a table clock and a stack of two books on a desk.

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