Some Thoughts on Home Staging- When You Have Small Children
We’re working hard to keep the home in excellent condition for showing.
I wanted to expand a bit on the topic of home staging when you have small children. It can be difficult to maintain a clean home while living in it with kids. I affectionately call my kiddos my “two man demolition team”. They have a knack for destroying an entire room in less than 2 minutes.
It is possible to live in your home and enjoy it while keeping it ready to show. You have to be strategic with packing away unused items and creatively storing the items that you use regularly.
1. Pack up the clutter. It goes without saying that you do not want to be The House Taken Over by Children. I remember being young, in love, and touring homes and seeing these places that looked like the adults didn’t have a square inch of space left to themselves. Toys had exploded into every single room, walls and cabinets were dinged and chipped, the tub was full of floaty toys and dirty potties were on the floor. Oh my. I knew that hubs and I would eventually have kids…but I didn’t want to live like that. Stuffed animals have been bagged and put away. I bought inexpensive fabric drawers from Target and put them on book shelves to organize and contain small items out of sight. I invested in nice quality wicker baskets to show case some toys–after all, we DO live here. I wanted to create the impression that this home is happy and functional…not crawling with kid stuff and low on storage space.
2. Pack up the clutter. This includes grown up space. I have a box of toiletries that have been removed from counter top areas and stowed away. No one needs to know what brand of toothpaste we use or if my skin is oily or dry. I keep towels clean and folded, counter tops clean and make up free. I removed most of our family photos and make the beds and hang up clothes and deal with laundry every single day. The kitchen counters are clean and clutter free.
3. Focus on the details. People want to know that they can be happy and comfortable in your home. I leave “white space” in every cabinet and on most shelves….leaving the impression that there is room to grow. I highlight organic and healthy foods in the pantry by turning them face out. I leave some nice shopping bags/boxes in the closet. It might sound silly–but it is the same concepts that appeal to you when you are shopping. I am creating the image that “this home has it’s s@#$ together.”
4. Clean everything. I hated looking into closets/drawers/shelves and seeing chaos when I was shopping for a home. I want to believe that a home has a place for all of my crap…and how can I do that if it doesn’t have a home for your stuff? I deliberately weeded through kitchen utensils not in use, extra barware, extra clothing, extra….anything…and purged what could not be neatly contained within the confines of the space. Happy bonus? I love the way our home looks and I don’t miss the items that were not being used.
5. Clean EVERYTHING. I washed the insides of cabinets, washed the outsides of cabinets, cleaned the oven, pantry, bathroom floors…you name it. I wanted to let them know that we love this house and that it is move in ready. Great tip for removing food labels that have affixed themselves to your pantry shelves–wet the area with a soapy sponge and scrape with a rubber scraper. I used goo gone to remove the kid’s stickers from our entertainment set…just a tip if you have a two man demolition crew like us…and I cleaned every closet in the house. I did not want them to open one door and have clutter explode.
6. Handle the smells. When you have your house on the market–this is not the time to cook fish, or let a diaper linger. Yes, I have a small kid who still wears diapers. Potty training is pretty much on hold because I cannot have an accident on the carpet ruin the chances of a good showing. I also got rid of the diaper genie and immediately remove any offensive smelling items…immediately. As for the kitchen, I try to cook items that are not strong smelling and air out the house or use the vent during cooking in the evenings. I own scented candles–but this should just enhance your home’s appeal rather than becoming a crutch to mask offensive smells.
7. Let the light in: Open every shutter and blind to let as much natural light in as possible. If you have accent lighting, turn it on before you leave the house. One of the things that attracted us to our home was the abundance of natural light. During the day, we don’t even need to turn on a light switch if it’s a sunny day.
8. Secret weapons: Pledge cleans just about everything. I use it before showings to clean granite, leather, stainless steel, wood….seriously. One bottle, one roll of paper towels…endless uses. It also smells nice. Secret weapon #2–buy a fancy linen spray at a store like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. It smells heavenly and a little bit in a room goes a long way. I spray towels, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals. Try to choose a smell that is universally appealing like vanilla, cinnamon, lavender, or citrus. Also, we have been keeping bags of cleaning wipes under our bathroom counters. If we have a showing, we can grab them and wipe everything down quickly.