Staging Your Home in Three Hours

Posted by Dan Miller, REALTOR on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015 at 7:00am.

We recently wrote about 4 key steps you should take right now in order to prepare for a successful listing in the Spring. Step #1 is get your staging plan in order. A few of our own clients are taking this advice to heart and working proactively on their staging right now. I have no doubt each of these sellers will be rewarded for their efforts. They'll knock it out of the park when their homes hit the market in early 2016.

Home Stager Debbie Lea Madison WIHome Staging by Debbie Lea

Recently one of these sellers participated in a "group staging" session run by Debbie Lea from Showcase Home Stagers. The consultation was attended by Mr. Seller, Mrs. Seller, and myself. The four of us spent 3 hours together as we toured the home room-by-room. 

This was a collaborative and "hands on" session where we discussed Debbie's ideas and then worked together to implement them. We spent our time rearranging furniture, moving artwork, and tagging items for removal. I also took notes on my IPAD so the home owners would have a reference for carrying out the rest of their plan after our visit.

By the end of our 3 hour session many of the rooms were almost completely staged. The sellers also received some solid advice on painting and carpeting a few rooms. We covered a ton of ground in only 3 short hours. As my notes below show, we addressed over 130 recommendations during our visit!

View more home staging articles here.

Why we Recommend Home Stager Debbie Lea

Debbie Lea is an action-oriented and creative home stager. She values your input, as she works collaboratively with you to create an outstanding product. Her willingness to help is exceptional. She's quick to answer your questions that pop up both during and after your consultation. She's a tremendous professional to have on your side as you go through the process of preparing your home for sale. Most important, Debbie's work is truly remarkable. Her staging is one of the reasons our team is able to help you sell your home quickly and for a very high market price.

Over 130 Staging Recommendations

Below are my room-by-room notes from our 3 hour staging session with Debbie Lea.

Back Family Room 

  • Remove brass fireplace surround.
  • Open up fireplace - place 5 birch logs.
  • Replace cabinet hardware with dark oil-rubbed bronze.
  • Too much furniture in the family room.
  • Move the tan chair by the TV and turn around.
  • Remove the chair with ottoman.
  • Keep one chair by the TV but turn around.
  • Roll up the rug and remove for pictures.
  • Remove small circular side table from family room.
  • Turn nested table 90 degrees.
  • Place green plants on top of nesting table.
  • Remove candle from nesting table.
  • Wall art above where tan chair used to be - move this higher.
  • Place novel style books on top of corner side table.
  • Books - remove paperback books - no religious or  political titles - place some vertical and some horizontal - remove ceramic horse.
  • Place tri-folded throw on sofa.
  • Place wine and glasses on coffee table.
  • Place nice large book on top of coffee table.
  • Remove clock.
  • Remove family photos in hallway leading to kitchen.


  • Replace current table and chairs with a different one.
  • Remove oriental rug in dinette.
  • Replace current book stand in dinette with green tree in foyer.
  • Add centerpiece to kitchen table - add a metal bowl (add fake green Granny Smith apples from Walmart) (Target also has a nice bowl).
  • Kitchen counter ideas: cookbook (with a big picture photo) on a stand to the right of the stove facing in.
  • Brushed nickel or stainless salt and pepper shakers to the right of the stove.
  • Remove all items between sink and range.
  • Keep the mixer but move left over to the corner.
  • Keep the utensil holder but remove everything else that is in the same spot.
  • Put the coffee make and a couple of nice ceramic mugs on top of wine bar.
  • Remove speakers.
  • Put a dummy laptop on top of the built in desk - remove everything else - maybe add a couple of blank colorful cards to the cork board - maybe add a small sign "welcome" or "home" from hobby lobby. Put a different chair at the desk. 
  • Move two pictures from wine area to hallway. 
  • Remove bead board above kitchen cabinets. 
  • Remove on lays. 
  • Remove all items currently above the cabinets.
  • Keep center island completely clear.
  • Pantry - remove items from cork board - add recipes and shopping list.
  • No items on top of shelves.
  • Large items go on the bottom pantry shelves.
  • Keep some shelves completely open.
  • "Stack it like a store".
  • Remove door hook.

Dining room

  • Remove religious art.
  • Take at least one leaf out of table.
  • Move end chairs to side so there are 3 chairs on each side.
  • Use chunky style (pillar style) candle holders as a centerpiece.
  • Place tall greenery in corner.
  • Remove items from on top of built-in.
  • For cabinets, include only one item per shelf or 3 small items per shelf.
  • Add a nice big colorful centerpiece to the built in.
  • Address carpet stain.

Living Room

  • Remove piano.
  • Hang picture above behind love seat.
  • Place nesting table and standing lamp where piano is currently is.

Lower Level Man Cave

  • Keep mostly as is.
  • Add a couple of throws to sofa.
  • Place a couple of DVDs on ottoman.
  • Add bowl of popcorn to tray on ottoman.
  • Remove "faith" picture from cabinets.
  • Hide wires.
  • Remove family photographs.
  • Remove chair across from bar.
  • Add martini glasses and shaker to bar.
  • Add a low-lying platter (with nuts and crackers).
  • Remove everything else.
  • Replace picture in the bar with a flat screen.
  • "Taller to smaller" glass arrangement in bar.

Mechanical area 

  • Tidy up a little.
  • Put as many items as possible up on the shelves.
  • Place 3 white towels (stacked) on folding table.

Lower Level Bathroom

  • Keep soap dispenser.
  • Remove TP.
  • Add tri-folded towel
  • Remove personal items.

Lower Level Office 

  • Make this an exercise room only.
  • Keep treadmill.
  • Add yoga mat and balls.
  • Add glass doors.
  • Add hardware to closet doors.

Main Level Bathroom

  • Remove wallpaper.
  • Paint walls - make two shades darker than the paint in the hallway.
  • Add brushed nickel soap dispenser.
  • Add brushed nickel framed mirror - 30 bucks at Kirkland’s.
  • Remove wreath - replace with cut down towel bar that is currently behind the door - hang two or three small towels from the towel bar above the toilet.


  • Remove wallpaper and add fresh paint (make sure there is contrast between walls and trim).
  • Remove bench.
  • Call Martin Glass and replace window.
  • Add bowl to armoire.
  • Remove window treatment.
  • Keep the rug.
  • Remove hanging vases.

Master Bedroom

  • Put the head of the bed on the opposite wall.
  • Place a framed mirror in its place.
  • Picture above the head of bed.
  • Stripe comforter along the end of the bed.
  • Go for the "turndown service" look.
  • Add a colorful decorator pillow for a little splash.
  • Remove window treatments.
  • For the bed use tope and cream linens/pillows.
  • Add two small side lamps for the bed.
  • Move the dresser next to windows.
  • Add a little greenery or candles to night stands.
  • Remove TV.
  • Move armoire where the bed is now.
  • Replace fan with flush mount light fixture.
  • Replace carpet?

Master closet

  • Change out light fixture.
  • Move as may items as possible off the floor.
  • Remove all personal items.
  • Keep top shelves empty.
  • Add baskets or canvas totes from Target.
  • Remove items from hooks.
  • Use all white plastic hangers.

Master Bathroom

  • Place white silk orchid and brushed nickel soap dispenser on vanity.
  • Use cream color towels - tri-folded.
  • Remove rug.
  • Keep current frame and replace picture with scrapbook paper botanical theme.

Northeast Bedroom

  • Turn bed 90 degrees and place along adjacent wall.
  • Place horizontal art above bed.
  • Bring bench in with throw pillows.
  • Get rid of wooden night stand.
  • Keep green night stand.
  • 5 white empty coat hangers per closet.
  • Paint red walls neutral.
  • Replace or paint closet doors.

Southeast Bedroom

  • Stage this room as an office.
  • Remove various boxes and totes and pictures.
  • Move items from office in basement to here.
  • Add lamp.
  • Change out hardware on closet doors.

Hallway Linen Closet

  • Thin out.
  • Place rolled towels on shelves.

Second Floor Bathroom

  • Use brushed nickel soap dispensers.
  • Replace towel rings with brushed nickel.
  • Place tri-folded white towels throughout.
  • Remove picture.
  • Remove rugs - replace with plush white spa rugs.
  • In the center place 3 clear containers with silver lids - go far spa effect.

Northwest Bedroom

  • Make this the child's bedroom.
  • Use twin bed.
  • Repair/replace door.

Second Floor Hallway

  • Add some artwork/color to the walls in upstairs hallway.
  • Replace fluorescent bulbs with soft white.

Front door

  • Repaint (keep the same colors).
  • Get a new outdoor "welcome" mat.
  • Remove welcome sign outside door.
This article is published courtesy of:
Dan Miller, REALTOR
Mad City Dream Homes & RE/MAX Preferred
1619 Monroe Street #1, Madison, WI, 53711

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