Home Staging: Charm Buyers into Buying Your Old House

by Kasia McDaniel

Old houses have all sorts of stories to tell. Some have charming woodwork details, while others have decorative windows or wraparound porches. But what if your “old home” is on the real estate market and doesn’t have these charming items to entice buyers? You have to consider making some changes to your home because it is in competition with new construction builds that buyers seem to drool over.

Landscape

Most new builds tend to be built on old farmland that doesn’t have much for landscaping. I have nothing against new homes, but they don’t offer the well-established trees and landscaping that you can find around an older home. Make sure your landscaping is in tiptop shape and consider lifting the tree canopy a bit if it is blocking the view of the home. Old magnolia trees entice kids to climb, so use that curb appeal to your advantage.

Interior colors

Most older homes tend to have the same pale yellow wall colors. The only colors that work well with yellow are red, green and blue. If you update the wall color to a more neutral color like beige or gray, you can work with all sorts of colors with furnishings and artwork. You never know what color furniture the new owners will have, so help them envision the space with a neutral background. As soon as buyers start thinking they have a project on their hands to repaint the house, their offer will be less than what you expect.

If you have wood paneling in your home, consider painting it versus replacing it with drywall. A coat of creamy beige like Kilim Beige by Sherwin Williams will instantly brighten up the room and cost significantly less than installing drywall, mudding it and painting it.

One older home I recently staged had a yellow kitchen. They painted their brown cabinets in white and were about to change their yellow Corian countertops to black tile. I highly advised against changing the countertops for two reasons:

1. Any kind of tile on the countertops would automatically be removed as soon as the check clears to buy the house and therefore the owners spent money on something that buyers would not want anyway.

2. Yellow and white is a great color combination in the kitchen. The owners had the option of providing a “countertop allowance” for the buyers if needed, but the yellow countertops were still in good shape – that is, one could live with them.

By the way, this same home with the yellow and white kitchen had two offers eight hours after it had been staged!

Unique rooms or spaces

Wood beams can be charming if done correctly. A nice one-story home had a large living room with raised ceilings and wood beams. The sellers played up the charm of the wood beams by painting them brown and leaving the ceiling a crisp white color. This showed off the wood beams nicely, which is not something you will see in a newly built home.

Another character piece to show off in your older home is a window nook or an office/playroom in a nontraditional spot.  If you have a window seat, add some colorful pillows and a cozy blanket to create a nice reading spot. In another home I staged, there was a cool little staircase that led up above the kitchen to a loft area. It would have been a great place for the kids to hang out and play while the parents chatted in the living room below.

Embrace the character your older home provides and use it to help sway buyers. Not everyone wants the “cookie cutter” look, but you may need to make a few changes to your landscape, interior colors and unique rooms to show off your home and entice its next owner.

Kasia McDaniel, a Home Stager and Certified Interior Decorator at Blue Diamond Staging can be reached at 910-745-0608 or by visiting www.bluediamondstaging.com