Furniture Staging Questions

Whether a necessary move arrives suddenly or you’ve got months to prepare, it’s always a possibility that you’ll have to move on to your next location before your previous home sells. The same sort of scenario can occur when moving an elderly loved one to be closer to you or to an assisted living facility.

If your house hasn’t sold for what you’d hoped in its time on the market (with you still in it), it’s going to be even more difficult to sell when it’s empty (unless you’ve been showing your house with it full of clutter or packing boxes — bad ideas, both!)

Tasteful furniture makes a house feel like a ‘home,’ and it’s wise to show your house with it furnished. But if you’re moving, do you have enough to leave behind to stage your old house that’s still on the market? And how do you decide what comes with you now and what goes?

First of all, there’s no need repeating what’s already been said on this blog. To stage your house, begin with the deep clean process detailed in this Boston Real Estate Observer post from last January.

Now you’re ready to decide what furniture will come with you to your new home and what will stay behind while the old house sells.

  1. Decide Which Items You’re Getting Rid of Forever
  2. A move is an excellent opportunity to take inventory of your belongings and get rid of what you no longer love or need. Chances are, some of your furniture won’t ever be making the trip to your new house. If you have couches, chairs or beds that are beat up and well-worn, go ahead and get them out of the house. You can sell them in the classifieds or call your local thrift store to come pick them up (don’t forget that you get a tax write-off for your donation).

    Are there some items you don’t want anymore, but that are still in excellent condition? Mark these with a red (or any consistent color) in an inconspicuous but obvious place. If you’re not around when the moving company comes to retrieve the rest of your furniture after the house sells, they’ll know that the items with the red sticker can stay to be picked up by the thrift store.

  3. Figure Out What You Need
  4. There’s no point in buying a new bed when you get to your new home if you want to keep your old one after the house sells. Choose another color sticker and mark the items in your house that you’ll take with you on your initial move. This should be a basic list that gives you enough to comfortably get by until your first home sells and your furniture arrives. If you have a small house with only one bedroom, it may even be worth sleeping on an inflatable mattress for a month in order to keep your old house looking furnished.

  5. Choose Your Show Items
  6. Generally, you’ll want to leave your nicest furniture in the staged house. The perception by potential buyers that a person with good taste who cares about their home lived there previously can make a difference in a closed sale and its price, so consider the small sacrifice of temporarily leaving furniture behind as an investment.

    Although you don’t have to leave each room decorated to the brim, don’t leave any rooms empty. When staging, however, less is more. A few choice items of furniture show off a room’s potential uses, but too many can clutter the room and make it feel smaller. The trick is to find a balance between ‘look how nice this room can be’ and ‘look how spacious this room is.’

    Save your bulky furniture for the big rooms. A small bedroom should have a small bed — don’t fill it with a king and leave no floor space! Always leave clear paths for walking, and generally leave the middle of each room open to show off its size.

    During your showing process, you may even be able to sell some furniture that you didn’t plan to bring with you. Choose a third color sticker for any items that you’re willing to include in the sale price of the house. Maybe that old dresser will seal the deal!

Moving is inherently stressful, especially when you’re forced to leave furniture behind to stage your home. Those items serve a purpose, however, and will help you to get the maximum value out of your property. Even if you’re forced to move quickly, a few hours of planning what stays and what goes before the movers show up will ease the packing tension exponentially.

In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Waltham self storage center. Extra Space recently launched the Extra Space Storage Blog, for which Tim writes on a regular basis.