A lot of staging articles focus on how to reduce your stuff. But even if you’re selling an occupied home, it is possible to have the opposite problem: not enough stuff. Staging is about telling a story, which requires the right balance of furniture and household objects. There are several different situations in which you might find yourself without enough stuff for staging, for example:
You’ve already taken possession of a new home and moved some of your things
People previously living together have moved apart, and stuff has been divided
Certain key pieces were never a part of the home: for example, a guest bedroom has no bed
A furnished house is more saleable than an empty one
Homes that look occupied sell better than empty ones. One reason is that we tend to use relative measures to understand the spaces that we’re looking at: furniture helps show the size of the room, dishes help show the size of the cupboards.
Another reason is that an empty (or under-furnished) house tells a story that the owners are pressured to sell. This can lead savvy buyers to underbid and result in a lower price than if your home tells a different story.
So, to make your home look comfortably full you need enough stuff to live a life, with a little room left over.
How to identify the gaps
In our opinion, here are the absolute minimums for staging a house with “enough stuff”:
- A couch or seating arrangement for the main living area
- A dining room table and chairs, or (for condos and multi-use spaces) other appropriately clear everyday-eating area
- A bed and dresser for every bedroom
- Good lighting
- Area rugs for open concept living room groupings and large living rooms
- Window coverings
This minimum will not convince buyers that there are people living in an otherwise empty place, but they are enough to tell a story of how someone could live in the place. If your place is not empty, but you are lacking one or more of these key elements, you should consider getting them. If you aren’t sure whether your gaps are significant, a staging consultation can help.
What to do with a partially furnished house
How you approach the gaps in your stuff depends on how much is missing, and what your budget is. If there is a lot missing, you might benefit from a full service staging with rentals. On the other hand, a small gap might easily be filled by repurposing something you are using elsewhere, borrowing from a friend, or even buying something cheaply off kijiji or other second-hand seller. A staging consultation can help identify what is critical and what is nice-to-have, and help you figure out the best sources for filling the gaps based on budget, time, and local market expectations.