Prepping your home for Winter sale

It’s been a brutal winter so far in my part of the world. Snowbanks are growing higher by the day and it’s hard just to get in and out of the house, let alone starting to think about preparing for selling. But the truth is, now is an ideal time to get a jump start on the competition. While many sellers are waiting for the first well awaited days of spring to list their home, you could be well on your way to sold.


By using the winter as a time to improve your home’s interior appeal, it’s possible to command a higher price when serious buyers are out and about (and lets face it, you have to be serious about buying a home to slop around in this weather ) Put your snow days to good use and start the dreaded chore of de cluttering. I know, you’re cringing at the thought of mountains of books, movies, unworn clothing and the 27 travel mugs in the kitchen cupboards. We’ve all been there, (myself included having moved recently) You need a plan of action, someone to cheer you on when what you really want to do is to be curled up with the remote and Netflix. A staging consult can be a great motivator to get you started.


When I first visit for a home consult one of the things I always hear is “I know we have to de clutter” but many times sellers underestimate how much time this really takes. You can’t just sort through 10, 20 or in some cases 50 years or more of belongings in a couple of weeks. Not if you want to minimize stress and wine consumption ūüôā Plus you may be removing some things that could be used as props for staging the home, while other things you think can stay, will not help your sale.¬†Start by doing one closet, one drawer, put everything into a laundry basket and sort while watching t.v. if that helps get you get started. Starting is the hardest part so the sooner the better.


Winter is also an excellent time to get a hold of trades, to do any repairs or renovations that will maximize selling appeal. During a consult a stager can recommend where to spend $$$ for best bang for your buck and where to save, by not doing renovations that will not bring a solid ROI. I read a report today that indicated both male and female buyers rate master baths and walk in closets as top of their wish list when purchasing a home, so upgrades in these areas are sure to be a worthwhile investment. Come Springtime when all the other sellers are scrambling to find a painter, plumber etc. you are already ahead of the pack.


Selling a house requires you to make a potential buyer think that the home is already their own. Nothing gets in the way of this feeling more than another person’s¬†clutter. Often, the things that buyers interpret as clutter are a homeowner’s¬†prized heirlooms. Rather than purging your house of personal photos and accessories all at once, it can be less jarring to pack up your personal items slowly and move them into storage. These few weeks left of winter represent a perfect opportunity to start this process.

A little Prep

Wow buyers at the front door

Organize your entry way and tackle the clutter in your home’s drop spot



The first thing your prospective buyers see is your entry way, so it has to set the scene for the rest of the home. Your family is busy, but when selling a home you have to find storage solutions for the usual collection of seasonal outerwear, sports equipment, pet toys, shoes and boots and all the other clutter that seems to accumulate at the front door. A cluttered and unorganized front entrance suggests to buyers that the home lacks storage, not a great first impression. De clutter by packing and storing seasonal outerwear and footwear and keep items to a minimum to make closets appear as spacious as possible. Never leave shoes and boots at the front door when showing your home. On an agent showing there are going to be at least 2 to 3 pairs of shoes or boots that need space, no need for more clutter. A boot tray inside your closet, or a basket or bench with a lid  and keep your footwear out of sight.




I have been in many clients homes where there is not a designated coat closet, especially in older homes. Adding a bench, some hooks and storage baskets gets around the idea of “no closet”. Attractive lined baskets are an inexpensive way to store hats, gloves and scarves and you can colour code one for each member of the family or attach name tags to simplify storage. A small console or table will act as a focal point and a place to drop keys in an attractive bowl or plate so they are easily found. A mirror above the console is a good idea to bring in some extra light and a good place to check hair and make up on the way out. If your space is tight and you don‚Äôt have room for a table use a narrow wall mounted shelf and hang an attractive piece of artwork above.




If space allows a bench or chair is a good idea for buyers to sit while removing or putting on shoes. If you have a rug at the front door that is starting to show its age replace it with a bound sisal or something in a neutral palette that will appeal to most buyers. If muddy boots and pets are an issue, keep your new rug for pictures and showings so it always looks fresh for buyers or use an indoor, outdoor rug. These are available in so many great colours and patterns now and a great solution for heavy traffic areas.



Create a stunning entryway for a memorable first impression!

What Homebuyers Don’t Want

6 Things that turn Homebuyers off


Dated Décor

If the last time you updated was in¬†1985, you¬†need to remedy that, stat! That dusty rose and forest green floral border is a red flag to a buyer. They are thinking, if you neglected to ditch the d√©cor what else has not been¬†maintained in the home. Same goes for shag carpets, swag lighting,¬†shabby worktops and avocado appliances. These things will scream at a buyer in online images and you won’t even get them in the door, except for the ones looking for a rock bottom deal. Yes, you may like it or not want to invest the time and¬†effort to change things¬†but you have to put a buyer’s wants¬†before yours when marketing a house. If not, be prepared for a no sale or lowball offers, it’s that simple



Colour is a very personal choice. Colour, well being and emotions are very are closely linked. It not only affects how a room looks but how it feels. Colours can also play eye deceiving tricks, making a large room seem smaller and cozier and a small room more¬†spacious. You can also use colour to draw attention to good features in a home¬†and disguise¬†less attractive ones.¬†When a home stager makes a recommendation to change a colour in a¬†room there is always a reason why. If the response is “But I love my¬†bright pink kitchen” (not with oak cabinets, sorry)/ “Navy blue, tiny¬†sitting room”¬†(dark, dingy rooms with no direct light turn buyers off) / “Canary yellow living room” (lets try a calmer colour, buyers are stressed enough as it is)¬†¬†Remember, once on the market it’s not your home any more and some colours just photograph better than others. That internet thing again!



Lighting, like colour creates mood and atmosphere. Sunlight instantly raises our spirits and makes us feel good. When buyers have to strain to see features in a room or the exact colour of the walls, they are not happy campers. One little dangling 40 watt bulb in a room, however well presented, is just sad. Time to pump up the volume with¬†the highest wattage light bulbs a fixture can take, well placed¬†table lamps and light fixtures¬†that¬†appeal to young buyers. You don’t have to spend big dollars these days to switch out dated fixtures. Ditch the shiny brass and go for simple, stylish designs. Less is more, even a simple drum shade is better than a fixture that would have looked at home in¬†“Southfork” (the old series, not that new one, they could never replicate those shoulder pads and big hair)¬†RIP Larry Hagman.



Oh clutter, where do I begin!!! Ok here’s the deal. You are selling square footage to a buyer. You are not selling, 20 years worth of National Geographics, a doll/ Star Wars/ cat figurine collection /every pair of shoes you ever bought since 1972. Need I go on? Pack it up, sell it, put it in storage or send it to your Mother in Law’s house. Clutter will eat up your equity. When buyers see clutter they are thinking¬†“This home doesn’t have enough storage”, This Home isn’t well maintained” , “This home doesn’t¬†meet my need’s”¬†and online¬†images of a cluttered home are the worst. It makes it hard to focus on the features of the home when all you can see¬†is other peoples “stuff” Yes, it’s a pain to get rid of but you have to pack anyway so get a head start. If you need a plan of action that’s what stagers are for. A 2hr consult will be money well spent if you need a nudge in the right direction.



I¬†can usually¬†instantly smell if a house has mould, smokers, are into cooking or if pets live¬†there. Scent is one of the biggest turn offs for a buyer. Like clutter it’s something that you get used to¬†everyday and becomes a non issue but to a buyer it can make or break a sale.¬†The sense of smell is controlled by a primitive part of the brain, which is closely connected to the area that also controls mood and emotion. Some smells linger longer than others,¬†on heavy drapes, furniture and rugs. A deep cleaning by experts is often the only way to remedy this and fresh paint works wonders in a room that has been¬†smoked in or for cooking odours. Don’t go too heavy on the¬†Glade plugins¬†¬†either, it just looks like you are trying to cover something up.¬†A small pot of water boiled¬†with¬†citrus peels added will help get rid of cooking smells.


Unusable spaces

Any time you put a home on the market without defining what each room is used for you are leaving money on the table. If a¬†bedroom, sitting room or dining room is used as a catchall for clutter, the ironing, unused toys¬†or the dust collecting treadmill you have wasted a¬†golden opportunity. Never use an unused room to stack boxes in. Not only does it look bad, it doesn’t give a buyer a clear idea what the heck they could use that room for. (Ever looked at a listing online¬†and wondered what that room with all the boxes was for?)¬†So many possibilities. Office, craft room, play room, nursery, extra bedroom. You have to market to your¬†target buyers. A young family might need a playroom or nursery. Stage to sell, borrow items if need be, ask your stager if they rent inventory or search online or at¬†yard sales. An older couple may wish for a small sitting room where they can relax when not entertaining or a craft room. If you are not sure where to start this is where a stager can answer all your questions and give suggestions to¬†make sure you are marketing your property for maximum impact.




How to :Style a bookcase

A bookcase is usually one of the largest pieces of furniture in your home and often one of the most personal. You can tell alot about a person by the books they own,the momentos they keep and which items they treasure most.

When selling a home this is usually a spot that needs alot of editing.Too many items can distract from beautiful woodwork and workmanship, or in some cases a nearby fireplace. You want buyers to focus on the features of a home versus contents!

When staging a bookcase I like to clear the decks and start with a clean slate. Now is a perfect time to go through all your books and decide¬† ¬†1.Would I read it again. ¬†2.Is a 15 year old, dog eared paperback really worth having in my collection.¬†¬† 3.Is the information in the book¬†outdated.¬† 4.Could the book be of more use to someone else e.g. ¬†A club or group,seniors home, woman’s shelter.

Keeping only the items you truly treasure and mean something to you makes a collection¬†and not just a pile of “stuff”

Your collections could tell a story. An event,special vacation,a fun weekend in the city. By displaying & grouping of  items that relate to an event it also tells your guests a little about you and can be a great ice breaker to start a conversation. Just switch out some items when selling to depersonalize slightly. The picture on the left tells the story of a fabulous weekend of shopping,art galleries and a dress up date. Tickets to a show would be a fun addition too .More books can be added to either side,with bookends (A Statue of Liberty set would be the perfect touch)


How you style your bookcase depends on the season and location too.The bookcase on the left I styled for a photoshoot for Wicker Emporium,Halifax. Summer is the season and evident in the colours,items and style of the bookcase.A definite “cottage” theme. Where would you rather kick back for some quiet¬†time.The messy office in the first picture or the tranquil spot¬†with the relaxing feel? Don’t feel you have to have all your wordly goods on display at one time.Rotate collections seasonally or change it up when you have a new memory to add. This also keeps your decor fresh and current.Having the same items on your bookshelf for 5,10,15 years or longer is automatically going to date your space in the eyes of a homebuyer.



Too many items in a workspace is distracting. Editing is even more important in the place you need concentration.In the office pictured left items are kept to a minimum. Books are facing with pages front to give a uniform look,only showing one colour,the book pages.A great trick if your books are looking worse for wear or you have too many colours clashing on the shelves. The decorative bookends echo the curve of the desk. (Wicker Emporium)


Children’s bookcases need to be funtional. When staging I advise homeowners to only keep the minimum of books and toys in¬†child’s room. This cuts down on clean up time at the end of the day and when preparing for showings.Display favourite books and rotate with¬†some different ones every so often to¬†keep the selection fresh,for parents and little ones!¬†Showing maximum sq footage in children’s rooms is especially important as space is usually limited.