Our Home Staging Expert Shares her Secrets

We hope you are enjoying our new look monthly newsletters; March is our Home Staging month.  We grabbed a moment with our featured expert Sharon Johnston to see if she would share some of her home staging secrets.

As you know it is home staging month at Ellis and Co Golders Green.  As our home staging expert can you tell us what is meant by the term ‘Home Staging?

Home Staging is styling and presenting a property to stand out from the crowd.  You want to highlight its strengths and detracting from any weaknesses.  The aim is to broaden appeal and sell quickly for the best price.

How important do you think it is for vendors to stage their home for a sale?

Very! A buyer will first look on the internet at property sites and will make a snap decision to view based on the images they see. The photographs can only look good if the property looks its best.  Buyers will also see many different properties; yours needs to be the one that stands out for the right reasons.  There should always be a wow factor people will remember.

Is it OK to have colour in your home, or is it better to have a blank canvas?

All neutral will be bland, so colour is good, but should be brought in through furnishings and accessories, thus leaving a blank canvas that buyers can use for their own look.  If a featureless house, colour can be introduced on a feature wall or a large colourful canvas can be used.


A main element to home staging is de-cluttering, what would you advise if you didn’t have time to do it yourself?

Bring in a professional.  As little as four hours working with a professional will achieve great results.  They will be focused and impartial, making difficult decisions much easier to make.  They also take items away.  Follow the mantra of The Spacemakers which is based on the 4 Cs.  Cherish, Charity, Cash or Chuck.  Everything will fall into one of these categories.  Your home can look twice as light and spacious with clever de cluttering and no one needs to take their clutter with them!

People always say it’s Kitchens and Bathrooms that sell houses, so what are your top 3 tips in staging your bathroom?

1. Fresh white towels that are exclusively used for viewings only are essential.  Or if an all white bathroom that hasn’t got much of a wow factor, use coloured towels in aqua or coffee to add some colour.  Only white loo rolls are permissible!

2.  Only have a few aspirational premium branded toiletries on show ie Chanel 5 perfume, The White Company liquid soap.

3.  Remove all other items from bathroom – no potties, bath toys, old soap tablets and ensue loo seat is always down (for viewings and photos)

Our signature touch is to place a white orchid in the bathroom for a boutique hotel feel.


What finishing touches would you add to a kitchen for viewings?

  • If kettle and toaster looking a bit tired, invest in new matching chrome items.
  • Wherever possible, ensure there is an area for eating, even if it’s a pull down table with a couple of stools.
  • Dress the eating area with nice coloured trendy mugs and a cafietiere and a basket of croissants
  • Vase of fresh flowers – if kitchen a little bland, brighten it up with red gebera
  • Add some fresh colourful tea towels as an accent colour to main kitchen colour ways
  • Store old and dated cookery books and introduce some current cookbooks to appeal to a wider audience.

 If your property is empty, how would you make it attractive to buyers?

We would recommend buying in some key furniture and soft furnishings, as many people cannot visualise the room’s purpose.  This is of equal importance for the marketing of the property in the brochure and on web sites that the rooms look fantastic.  We often ‘dress’ empty properties and this can be done on a relatively small budget.  The items can then be sold on to the buyer or on Ebay.  Key rooms to dress include the living room/dining area and the master bedroom.  If bedrooms are a small double, it is essential to show it can take a double bed (but be canny and choose the smallest double bed you can buy) and dress the bed with fresh bedding and add cushions and throws to tone or contrast with bedding.  Place a mirror or picture over the fireplace. If a living room/dining room/kitchen area is in an open plan format, use furniture and rugs to demarcate the different zones.

What would be your top 3 ‘Don’ts’ with regard to home staging?

  • Don’t use a strong colour that only a few people will like, for example acid yellow or fluorescent orange
  • Don’t have a wide array of personal photographs throughout the home
  • Smell!  Bad smells will put off homebuyers so it’s imperative the smell doesn’t put people off.  We all get used to the smell of our home and no longer smell it.  Pets, stale tobacco and highly spiced cooking are all key offenders.  Don’t be tempted to mask it with strong smelling home fragrance as some fragrances are too over powering.  Authentic nice smells are always preferable to highly perfumed artificial fragrances, so it’s true baking jam tarts or some spiced buns really does give a homely welcome.

Jam Tarts

Is it expensive to stage your home?

No it shouldn’t be.   At Dressed to Sell we suggest investing 1% of the asking price to achieve the best results.  A good home stager will work with the items you have already and look at what you may have in storage already. And another way of not spending unnecessarily is that if the existing sofa is about to be replaced, we might recommend buying a new one now instead of waiting until after the move.

What would be your key message for our home staging month?

Your property is probably the most expensive item you own.  Make sure it is presented looking its best for viewings and marketing so you can sell for the best price possible in the quickest time.  For those that are short on time, I would recommend you use an expert and invest in ensuring you have a successful sale.

Thank you so much to Sharon for sharing some of her Home Staging Secrets. 

About Sharon

Sharon Johnston started her career as a stylist on glossy magazine, Tatler and later ran a public relations business specialising in luxury goods and home interest brands.  For more than a decade she has been helping people make the best of their homes. Whether it’s home staging a property to sell, de cluttering, restoring order and making the best of the space available with storage solutions and practical advice, or unpacking and organising after a move.


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