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Home Staging: The Brutal Reality

January 21, 2016

Master Bedroom      1_mls copy

It’s not all shiny floors and sparkly windows, this home-selling business. The pictures are pretty, but allow me to invite you into the dark reality underneath.

Our house is officially for sale and we are living in a strange, hotel-like museum. We’re allowed to sleep on the beds only if we make them every morning. Half the furniture has been removed, and I’m sharing a sock drawer with my 8 year old. Our few remaining personal effects are hidden behind closed doors, and every day when I leave for work I have to run around with a dust mop, the vacuum, and furniture polish to erase every shred of our existence.

Living Room      1_mls

The place looks pretty awesome, but getting to that point was a feat harder than surmounting Everest.

We have a lot of crap, apparently.

The ideally staged home allows the potential buyer to survey the space without any distractions from personal objects, dirt, clutter, or anything that would prevent them from imagining themselves in that space.

Mind you, I am no hoarder. I make regular trips to the Goodwill, I keep my closets fairly organized, and I sort the kids clothing every season and weed out what doesn’t fit. Despite that, when you are trying to achieve this urbane, sanitized, hotel-like feel, you realize what slobs you’ve become.

You begin to notice things like the cat hair stuck in the tracks of the closet doors, or the hand (and apparently face?) prints on your children’s mirrored closet doors. The fingerprints on the door frames. The spot on the kitchen floor where the dog banks his turns with nails into hardwood.

The hard, lumpy, grayish substance smeared on your child’s wall, eye level with the bed. Dear heaven, is that….?! Oh, please no.

Bedroom      4_mls

Dirty socks everywhere you turn. Under the bed, in the couch cusions, beneath every piece of furniture in every single room. Do they plan this? Do the children calculate new places to leave them behind, or is it rather the socks themselves that migrate secretly in the dead of night, from room to room, seeking new frontiers among dust bunnies and stray LEGOs?

The sun-faded rug. The dated light fixtures. The crooked lampshades.

The inch-thick layer of dust on top of the bookshelves that you are too short to see, and thus, assume does not exist. But oh, it does. Does it ever.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen. We think we’re stylin’, and then realize….

We’ve spent the last 10 days furiously preparing our home for sale. I cleaned said closet and window-tracks with q-tips and a tooth brush. I emptied the kids’ rooms of superfluous toys (and hid their LEGOs). Cut them off to one blankie apiece for the next month. I packed away books, and toys and clutter. I removed art from the walls, we repainted, we retouched, we carpeted and pruned and mowed and trimmed, and painted some more. We hired professional housekeepers to clean, top to bottom and east to west, and then I cleaned it again.

Bedroom      1_mls

And again.

And again.

And again.

(When I told me 12 year old that he had to keep his room like this for at least two weeks, the poor guy nearly cried. “Neat” is not one of his spiritual gifts.)

We planted trays and trays of annuals to add color to the barren winter landscape. (I lost count after 30.) I spent hours ruminating the right color pillows to make my tired family room furniture appear fresh and funky. I haunted clearance aisles for amazing deals.


(Side note: that wreath on the front door? Perfect, isn’t it? Yellow was exactly what I was looking for. Found it at Pier 1. Love their stuff.

It was $.98.

Yes, you read that right.

I’m still riding that retail high….)

I reorganized the kitchen cupboards and cleaned out the fridge. Those pretty towels in the bathrooms? My kids were ordered not to touch them under pain of having their toenails pulled out.

This is not bringing out the best in my personality. The kinder, gentler side of Mommy is being held-hostage by a Clorox-wielding crazy person who can spot dirt, dust and dog hair from 50 yards.

(“You did not just spill milk on that new carpet. YOU DID NOT!”)

I’ve had better moments.

Even more mundane but necessary when your home is about to be filled with strangers, I packed up all the prescription medication, and made sure the kids’ gaming devices and our laptops were safely hidden away.

Here’s where we ended up. You tell me….does it have that “nobody lives here, but you sure wish you did” feel?

I guess we’ll know in a week or so.

Family Room      1_mls

Entrance      1_mls

Dining Room      2_mls

Bathroom      1_mls

Kitchen      1_mls

Kitchen      6_mls

I’m working on a home staging checklist, with tips I’ve assembled just from scouring MLS listings online and from my own experience. Have a tip or trick to share? Please leave it in the comments!


The conversation continues!  See the boymom life in full Technicolor.  Join me over on Instagram.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    January 21, 2016 7:44 am

    Please share your list with me. This will be our life too in a few weeks 🙂

    • January 21, 2016 8:13 am

      It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it! I’ll publish my morning, daily checklist and what we did to get there!

  2. January 26, 2016 8:25 pm

    Your house is beautiful, Adelle! Have you found a buyer yet?

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