Home Staging: Pro Tips for Appealing to the Senses

By Nicholas Brown

Staging a home for sale is all about inspiring your buyer, and their senses are the avenue by which you connect with them. French novelist Honoré de Balzac once wrote “love is the poetry of the senses,” and specifically touching on each sense when staging a home creates atmosphere that inspires just that kind of poetic love. No matter the size or style of the home, there are a whole range of small things you can do to make it more appealing to aspiring homeowners (and help you lock in a sale!) Here's how to get started:

Sight is the sense most agents associate with staging. The placement of furniture, decor, plants and everything else is truly central to staging. What can get overlooked in the great production of staging is the most fundamental element to catching someone’s eye – light. Especially for homes whose layout prevents a lot of natural light from getting in, you will want to ensure that you have bright and vibrant light throughout the home you aim to sell. Dark homes can not only feel dreary, but they can also make it more difficult to show off some of the qualities that will help you sell the home from the flooring to any moulding touches and more. Light is also very important for getting good quality photographs, which in the era of online advertising is key to putting your best foot forward to sell homes. There’s a major difference in perception between houses with dark, grainy photographs and ones that look professionally shot when interpreting them in the digital space.

Smell is among the strongest and most personally connective senses we possess as humans. We associate different aromas with experience and memory to a degree where certain smells can make us comfortable and nostalgic or quite the opposite. People are consciously aware of smells that they like and dislike, and some argue that using fragrances or food smells to change buyer perspective is a big no-no. However, if you are choose natural, neutral aromas like lavender, sage, pine or other light woody fragrances, you can create a space that feels like home. Be aware of using fragrances that may cause people who are sensitive to aromas to be uncomfortable, and be smart about using things like incense and spray aerosols that can trigger asthma or allergies.

Taste is important because, frankly, everyone loves snacks. This is a simple fact of life. Food makes people feel more comfortable and welcome in a home, and can add a feeling of sophistication to your showing. While you can’t guarantee everyone will be interested in your hors d'oeuvres, a lot of people will appreciate some fresh fruit, mild cheeses, or even a glass or two of wine as they settle into what may be their new home. Avoid anything that is overly fragrant, like strong cheeses and cooked meats, but don’t be afraid to let the personality of the home inform the snack choice you make. For homes that are more down home and country cottage influenced, regional favorites can’t be beat, whereas if you’re catering to a higher society crowd your snacks should follow suit.

Hearing. Much like smell, music is deeply evocative for memory and affects the mood and comfort level of the listener. Playing music through a home you aim to sell does wonders for filling in the space, making it more comfortable for everyone walking through and giving a sense of personality to your staging. I would recommend something instrumental, preferably classical or piano to enhance without distracting from the surroundings. If you want to get more technical, music that is primarily structured around major chord progressions will energize listeners, whereas minor chords sound darker and can create a sense of melancholy (for an example, look what happens when you shift REM from minor to major. How happy it feels!). It’s also important to ensure your music isn’t too loud, as it can take away from your staging and make it more difficult for your buyers to converse about the home with one another and with you.

Touch. Chances are prospective buyers aren’t going to go around touching the walls and tiles to gauge their tactile appeal, but there is a strong likelihood they will have a seat at some point along the way (or be drawn towards touching a sofa, linens or the curtains). Touch is one of our key exploratory senses, used to judge a wide range of things from the temperature of an item to its softness or quality. Staging a home with comfortable, quality goods is one part of staging with touch. Another key element of touch: temperature. A home that is too hot or too cold will make buyers uncomfortable and distract them from the features you’re looking to showcase. An updated thermostat is not only a great selling point for the home, but helps you accurately and consistently set the temp for showings.

Nicholas Brown is a Los Angeles based writer and frequent contributor for JustRentToOwn.com. You can follow his Twitter at @justrenttoown  or check in at his blog.

This post was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends for you and your clients.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

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