The Third Rule of Home Staging: Add a Splash Of Color

When it comes to staging a home for sale, the classic advice to keep color schemes neutral is still spot-on. White or pale hues make a space feel simple, serene and more expansive. These unobtrusive colors act as a blank canvas; they allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.

But many homeowners who already have colorful walls or furniture may wonder if it’s possible to keep some color in their staged home. The answer is absolutely yes. You can maintain – or even add – just a pop of color to create the right amount of personality and style in your staging. In fact, a splash of color can make a space feel designed, perhaps allowing it to linger in the memories of prospective buyers. As a bonus, color can also brighten your listing photos. Remember, you’ll want to add the color only after you’ve done the first two steps of home staging, paring down and freshening up. Here’s a game plan for strategically adding color to each staged room of your home.

Brighten the Living Room

Throw pillows are easily found and often cost-efficient. On a sofa, they’re a terrific way to add a burst of color. Select throw pillows that complement the sofa and room. You might go for a bright contrast, like royal blue against white, or bright yellow on a beige sofa. It’s all right to choose patterned, floral, solid or metallic versions. The key is to look for a color or combination of colors that will add visual interest without taking over the room.

Leroy Street

Color-coordinating your display shelves is another smart and budget-friendly way to infuse your living room with a little color. When editing your bookcase or shelves, try keeping books of the same color or combinations of colors together. You might be surprised how a simple stack of brightly colored red or blue books can transform a shelf or an accent table.

Living room

If the thought of parting with that pair of brightly colored armchairs gives you trouble, rest assured that you might not have to let them go. Once you’ve given the room a neutral and soothing palette overall, try reinstating that colorful furniture piece or accessory. Perhaps balance it out with a paler counterpart, as with a light-colored throw on a chair, or white books on a colorful table.


The rule of thumb is that if it’s a visual distraction, you should remove it. But if your punchy piece complements the space and adds just the right amount of personality, it can stay. A buyer might remember the cool house with the interesting blue velvet ottoman, especially among a sea of all-white homes with nothing memorable about them.

Historic cottage renovation kitchen

Bring a Splash of Color to Your Kitchen

Look to surfaces such as a countertop, an open shelf or a stovetop as opportunities to add a pop of color here and there in the kitchen. You don’t want to introduce clutter, but you could replace necessary items — teakettle, dish towel, cookie jar — that are neutral with colorful equivalents that tastefully brighten the space.

Linden Ave. kitchen no. 2

A terrific option for adding color to a kitchen is to highlight colorful seating options. Bright bar stools or dining chairs can really make a kitchen come to life.

Another great idea for adding temporary color that many stagers use for both photos and open houses is a simple bowl of fruit on the counter. Try using a single color, such as all green or all red apples. For a warm personal touch at your open house, you might leave a note offering the fruit to your visitors.

Domicile id

A Bedroom That Oozes Calm

A well-staged bedroom should feel like a relaxing hotel room, with nothing too personal showing. Pale or white bedding and minimal accessories will contribute nicely to a soothing scheme.

Adhering to a hotel-like feel for your bedroom, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t add a color or two. Your bed wall is the perfect place to feature a different hue. Stick to peaceful or classic colors that will work nicely with your neutral bedding. White or ivory bedding looks sophisticated against a navy wall. Similarly, a soothing aqua or pale blue painted wall would freshen up a drab or dark space, making it more inviting and relaxing. Add a mirror to your painted bed wall to help create an elegant and calming retreat.

Family Loft

As with the living room, you can also opt for colored throw pillows or one colorful piece of accent furniture to add subtle drama to the bedroom. As long as it doesn’t detract from enhancing the room’s size and relaxing nature, a little color can brighten a bedroom nicely.

Bathrooms Are for Color

Fresh and clean is how you want your bathroom to read to any prospective buyer. Crisp white towels and a sparkling shower or tub do wonders to brighten an outdated or worn bathroom. Surprisingly, so does a little color on the walls.

So if your bathroom still feels a bit drab after cleaning and updating the space with new hardware and a fresh glaze on the tub, try painting one or more walls in a classic or fresh color. This can add a bit more style to the room, with the added perk of helping to conceal aging walls and distract the eye from other outdated features.

Wyndmoor Residence bathroom

Look to classic colors like navy or charcoal gray to pop against your fluffy white towels or help make white tiles look brighter. Alternatively, a refreshing color such as pale aqua can evoke the palette of clean water, resulting in a soothing feeling.

Colors you might steer clear of for a painted bathroom wall are nonsoothing brights such as orange or emerald green. While these primary colors can make a fun statement, they don’t evoke a serene or clean feeling for the purposes of a bathroom.

Dress Up Your Exterior

Last but not least, it’s time to address accenting the exterior of your home with a burst of color. Painting your front door and shutters in a color that coordinates with the rest of your house will add curb appeal.

Minikahda Vista Cape Cod

Bright and classic colors such as red, green and blue are great options, especially to coordinate with planters and brightly colored flowers.

Home Staging Hingham, Scituate, South Shore, MA

As an added element, look to the season to dictate your choice of flower and splashes of color. Red tulips are fantastic in the springtime, while orange and yellow give a sunny glow to a home in the fall.



Don’t Be a Staging Stooge


Products sell faster and for more money when they are properly showcased, or as those of us in the real estate business like to call it, “staged.”

Auto dealers wax and polish a car and detail the interior before parking it on the lot. Department stores meticulously dress their manikins to flaunt the latest fashions. Yet, when some Realtors and homeowners put a $100K+ home up for sale, they completely overlook the staging process, cheating themselves out of potentially thousands of dollars.

As a Realtor, you can’t force your way into your client’s house and start rearranging the furniture and decluttering the kitchen. You have to sell them on the value of staging and then teach them the techniques and tips they need to do it right.

First, convince your clients of the need to stage their home. A brief visit to any of the top staging company websites can provide you with the facts and figures you need. In about ten minutes of searching the Web for “staging a home,” I learned that a professionally staged home sells in half the time for seven to ten percent more than a comparable unstaged home.

Given those numbers, a home that would normally take two months to sell at a price of $500,000 would sell in a month for $535,000 to $550,000 with professional staging! With the housing bubble quickly deflating and competition to sell homes heating up, those numbers are enough to drag even the most unenthusiastic homeowners out of their recliners to start cleaning house.

Once you have a motivated homeowner on your team, the next step is to educate that homeowner on how to properly stage the property. Hiring a professional stager is one option, but most homeowners are quite capable of staging their own homes for a fraction of the cost. Staging is not about spending a lot of money. It’s about clearing the clutter and creatively rearranging the stage. Here’s a guide to help homeowners cover the basics:

Landscaping: Mow and edge the lawn, pull weeds, fix any cracks in the pavement, and sweep up after yourself. Lay fresh mulch and plant fresh flowers (if in season).

Entryways: Sweep the porch and stairs, lay down an attractive new doormat, fix the screens, wash the windows, polish the doorknobs, and clear the clutter out of the entryways. Make sure the doors open and close with ease.

Interior: Scrub and shine the house throughout. Hide family photos, religious icons, or political paraphernalia. Prospective buyers need to envision themselves living in the house, and this stuff clutters their minds.

Kitchen: Clean and polish everything and clear off the counters, especially knife racks, dish drainers, towels, and soap. Clear out and clean the inside of the refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher; people do look inside.

Living room or den: Clear the clutter and dust everything. Rearrange the furniture and place excess items in storage. If your furniture is an eye sore, you may want to rent something that’s more attractive and tasteful and that makes the room look larger.

Bathrooms: Empty the trash, scrub down the tub or shower (especially any mildewy areas), keep the toilet seat down and covered, and get those toothbrushes off the vanity.

Bedrooms: The master bedroom should have a good-sized bed and a small dresser. The other bedrooms should follow suit or be empty.

Just before showing: Do a final walkthrough to tidy up the place, turn on all the lights, and open the windows to let the fresh air in. Most stagers recommend against using heavy air fresheners, scented candles, and potpourri. Instead, set out a bouquet of fresh cut flowers to bring the outside in.

The best way to get a first-hand look at a properly staged home is to visit a builder’s model home. You will quickly notice that the model is impeccably clean, sparsely furnished (though not completely empty), and tastefully decorated. That’s your goal. With a modest investment of time and effort and very little money, you significantly boost your chances of selling the house fast and for top dollar. Don’t be a staging stooge.

Written by Ralph Roberts