We’ve all heard the rumors: living rooms are falling out of favor. Many homeowners’ contemporary lifestyles simply favor kitchens and family rooms.
Knowing this, you may be surprised to hear that the National Association of Realtors reports that the living room is still the most important room of the house when it comes to www. That’s right: if you’re staging your house for a sale, it’s a mistake to skip the staging in this formal but not-forgotten room. Let’s look at why the living room matters so much — and how to maximize its potential in your staging efforts.
Why Is it Important to Stage the Living Room?
First of all, staging, in general, is a no-brainer. Recently, the National Association of Realtors reported that 77% of buyers’ agents say home staging helps buyers envision their future home. Let’s get specific: why can’t you skip staging the living room?
- Accessible. In many home’s floor plans, the living room is fairly close by the entrance to the house. And in almost all cases, the living room has first-floor accessibility. This means that it can be a valuable asset for setting first impressions for your potential buyer.
- Expansive. Depending on the home, the living room is often one of the larger rooms. Buyers latch onto this expansive feel and see all the possibilities the room can hold. They could see this space as a playroom for their kids or a home yoga studio for themselves.
- Nostalgic. No matter the trends, living rooms trigger feelings of nostalgia in many of us. The couches, the cozy feeling, the fireplace (in some cases). All of these can come together to make us feel at home in a space.
- Inviting. During the actual viewing, it’s so important to give your potential buyers a space to convene and discuss. The living room often features plenty of seating room to accommodate your buyers.
The Best Living Room Staging Tips
Okay, so we’ve talked about why the living room is pivotal when it comes to your staging efforts. But what can we do to make sure it feels accessible, expansive, inviting, and triggers pleasant feelings for our potential buyers?
1. Focus on Lighting
To make your living room as inviting as possible, you’re going to want to focus on bringing in the light. Dark living rooms seem cramped, unwelcoming, and dull. Making use of windows to their fullest extent can really open up your space — so stay away from heavy drapes, and focus on sheer or natural-looking window treatments.
Consider bringing in outside light sources like carefully chosen standing lamps in strategic areas. If your living room is small and doesn’t have great natural lighting, think about staging purchasing a large mirror to open up the space. Remember that if you’re bringing in outside lighting sources like lamps, it’s key not to clutter the space.
2. Clean & De-Clutter
Clean. It’s undeniable: to make a good first impression, you need to deep clean all your rooms. No potential buyer likes the look of a film of dust on the mantle or a wine-red stain on a rug. To make this as effective as possible, get a second pair of eyes to check out your space. You’d be surprised how easy it is to miss small details when you’ve spent a lot of time in a space.
De-Clutter. To give your living room a more spacious and open feel, it’s important to eliminate any unnecessary furniture. Do you have an overabundance of side tables? A stack of magazines in the corner? A small army of dust-gathering knick-knacks on a shelf? Overcrowding a room makes it feel messy, small, and uninviting.
A small caveat to this: going too minimalist with your home decor can make a room seem empty or bare. Don’t strip so much from the room that it feels empty and loses that comfortable feeling. Remember, you want to trigger that warm-and-cozy feeling in your buyers, and nobody feels warm-and-cozy about completely blank walls.
3. Neutrals are Your Friend
You will definitely want to have a fresh coat of paint on your walls to make the living room seem clean and recently-refreshed, so carefully consider your color choices when you repaint. Generally, dark colors or very bright colors can make rooms seem smaller. Though a pop of color is a great idea for emphasis, you will generally want to focus on neutral, light shades. This has the dual effect of making the room seem larger and allowing the potential buyer’s imagination to project onto the neutral color scheme.
And this neutral theory goes beyond just color. One of the main points of home staging — aside from showing off a clean and well-tended home — is to allow buyers to engage with the space on a personal level. If your living room has too much “personality” to start with, with showy colors and family photos on the walls, it’s going to feel like someone else’s home. By removing all of those personal touches, and leaving a (tastefully decorated) blank canvas, you allow your buyers to engage with the house on a more personal level.
4. Play to Your Strengths
When a buyer walks into a living room, their eyes are going to travel around and take in everything all at once. From the positioning and size of the windows to the layout of the room to the height of the ceilings, you’re giving them a lot to subconsciously absorb. That’s why it’s a great idea to include a focal point when staging your room.
To nail down your focal point, take inventory of the natural features of your home. Do you have big, beautiful bay windows? Then curate decor for an enticing window seat. Is there a beautiful fireplace in the room? Frame that central feature with the rest of your furniture, and make sure it takes center stage. If your living room doesn’t have any enticing natural features, consider a beautiful piece of artwork that gives the otherwise-neutral room some panache.
5. Small Touches Make a Big Impact
While you’re playing to your living room’s larger-than-life features, don’t forget the impact of small touches:
- Green plants can lighten and brighten up any room, and give it a natural, lived-in look without contributing to clutter.
- Make sure that the seating for your guests is comfortable and easy to navigate. In general, consider quality over quantity when it comes to furnishings.
- Consider the scents in the living room. While you don’t want to overwhelm anyone with strong odors, an essential oil diffuser with a citrus smell can elevate the room as a whole.
- Think about the impact of your decor. Do your throw pillows coordinate? Remove any items that don’t feel cohesive. Is the room washed out from an overabundance of grays and whites? Add in some strategically-placed colors.
Help your Buyers Envision Their Future
At the end of the day, buyers want to purchase a property where they can envision themselves and their families for years to come. Play to that desire by making your living room a comforting, welcoming, but neutral space that’s inviting — but gives them space to project their personal vision.