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Unsexy Preparation Is What Will Sell Your Home – Part 1

I recently had my ensuite washroom renovated. Each evening, after the contractor left, I would go in and take photos to document the process. The first couple of times, the changes were immediate and, dare I say it, exciting.

But on the third to fifth day, progress seemed to slow down, and there appeared to be hardly any progress.

When I talked to the contractor, I brought it up, and he told me those days that he was working on the stuff you don’t notice, like running new plumbing lines, electrical wiring, and moving heating vents.

The unsexy stuff, I told him.

Exactly, he said, but it is very important stuff to get done so the sexy stuff can get done properly.

This is exactly what happens when you prepare your house for the stagers to come in and do their stuff—the sexy results the buyers see and admire.

Preparing your home for staging involves a lot of work, and most of it isn’t sexy.

Once you decide to sell your home, it is a business transaction (as bad as that might sound), and you must understand that it is no longer your home. It must be positioned so that someone else can see themselves living there.

You see it all the time when visiting IKEA. They can make 30 square feet of living space seem like I could comfortably move my family of five into it.

It’s not tricking people into buying stuff they don’t need. It’s making people believe these things will make their lives better.

By staging your home, you’re allowing people to decide if buying it will improve their lives. Staging helps with that vision.

Here is the list I sent them to get ready for staging:

401 Remitrom Ave – Get Ready to List 

Your bedroom

  • Remove dresser closest to the door or place it in the closet – we may use it in the second bedroom.
  • Remove at least half the items in the closet.
  • Remove all artwork.
  • Replace the blackout curtains with basic white curtains. IKEA, Walmart, Amazon are great places to find inexpensive ones. Please measure them, but they look like 72-inch panels.

Second bedroom

  • Couch to living room – if the stager does not like it, it will likely be used in the Florida room.
  • Remove all wall art and shelves.
  • Replace window cover with an inexpensive curtain or sheer.
  • I envision this room as either a nursery or a child room with a single bed.


  • Replace shower curtain with an inexpensive white one. You can find one at Dollarama – IKEA, Walmart, Amazon too.
  • All toiletries including toilet paper hidden away – only soap dispenser on the counter.
  • Keep the art work above the toilet.

Upper hall

  • Remove wall frames, even from stairway.
  • Patch and paint as needed.
  • The mirror might be used by the stager somewhere.


  • Clear it out.

Living room

  • Pack all frames.
  • Remove any wall art.
  • Place the coat rack in the mudroom – we’ll see it the stager can use it.
  • Store your comfy coach, somewhere until your move.
  • Place chest under the window in the mudroom.
  • Be prepared that the stager may not want to use your side tables and coffee table.
  • Clear out the bookshelf – it may be used someplace else or removed depending on stager.

Dining room

  • Store extra chair that’s sitting against the wall.
  • Remove wall art.
  • Store all alcohol.
  • Be prepared to store all the smaller buffets – I think the stager will use the large antique buffet.


  • Clear everything off the counters. Store the items you will need in the cabinets.
  • Clear the shelf above the fridge.
  • Remove all fridge magnets.

Florida room

  • Except for the bookshelf, clear it out.
  • This may be made to look like a sitting or family room.


  • Keep it pretty 😊

Basement – clear as much as possible

  • Store the hanging racks against a wall out of the way if you need to use them.
  • Nothing hanging and remove all clothes hangers.
  • Declutter the storage shelves as much as possible – only the essentials.
  • Clear the storage room as much as possible – maybe place anything that is in a plastic container in the yard shed – maybe any black shelves should be moved into this room to make the main basement look bigger.


  • Store the exercise equipment.
  • Store anything else that isn’t home office use – that’s what we want this room to be.

Once my clients completed everything on my checklist, the stager came through. Most of what I had outlined in my checklist put them that much further ahead for the staging day.

I try to reduce their stress as much as possible, and by doing this work ahead of the stager’s outline, it is more piecework now than a frantic dash. I like to think of it as puttering.

The stager followed up the day after with her staging preparation checklist with several options. Here it is:

Front Porch: 

  • Leave “as is” looks great.

Living Room: 

  • Option 1:
    • Recommending to keep the sofa and instead remove the large wood Hutch located b/w the living and dining room.
  • Option 2:
    • Remove the Sofa and Keep the Hutch if it cannot be stored.
  • Remove the TV, coffee table, bench and area rug.
  • Remove the mirror located behind the door.
  • Remove the metal wall shelf/ledges behind the sofa.
  • Move the tall white cabinet to the basement.

Note: I really appreciate it when stagers allow for options or flexibility. It’s another stress reliever for my clients.

Dining Room: 

  • Move the Bar cart to where the large hutch was located.
  • Move the FP to the Sunroom.
  • Keep the table and chairs (6). If the Hutch can be removed and stored then it’s best to show the table with the extensions and 6 chairs. It looks very nice in
  • the photos and will offer more versatility for potential buyers.
  • Keep all of the plants and any décor items.


  • Clear the countertops and leave the coffee maker and utensils and container.


  • Add the FP to this room and place on same wall as tall grey cabinet.
  • Move the tall Grey cabinet to opposite wall.
  • Remove everything else in this room.


  • Set up the all the patio furniture for photography and showings.
  • Do you have decorative cushions for the patio sofa and love seat? We can bring if you don’t. (more stress reduction letting them know they can supply rather than have my clients go buy cushions)

Primary Bdrm: 

  • Move the bed in front of window as we discussed.
  • Recommending to remove the dresser.
  • Keeps everything else in this room. We will bring matching nights but will use your nights elsewhere in the house.
    • Note: Once the bed is rotated can you send photos of how the room looks. We want to see how much space is left on the right side of window.

Bdrm 2: 

  • Keep everything in this room. And we will set up as bedroom with double bed.

Basement/Utility Room:

  • Clear the top of the washer dryer.
  • Most of this space looks good.
  • Consider painting the steps but only if time permits.

Office/Bdrm Option 1: 

  • Consider making this a bdrm/office. Remove the white cabinet (can it fit in the closet or somewhere in the basement, you have lots of space?).
  • Move the desk over to the far right.
  • Move the tall white shelf from living room and place on floor beside the desk. We can then add a twin mattress and bedding.

Option 2: Leave as an Office only.


  • Touch up walls were needed from nail holes, as we discussed.
  • Replace burnt out light bulbs.

As it turned out, I was wrong about the couch and hutch. This is why I always prefer the stager. They see things differently and know what will look good and what won’t.

They are always looking through the lens of a designer and photographer. They know how it will be seen with online photos and with in-person impressions.

For instance, as I walked in the front door to the living room, my eye was drawn to the bookshelf and dining room light.

The stager saw the TV as a distraction and suggested they take it down. She plans to use the bookshelf as a bed in the basement office to show potential home buyers that it is also a bedroom option.

Stagers, man. They see things in another dimension…

As you can see, there is a lot of work involved. Having sold five personal homes, I’ve found that having an individual guide for each room makes the process much easier.

It will never be without stress, but it can be a much easier process with clear direction.

I’ve heard so many stories from clients who previously used another agent to sell how unorganized the process was and so many last-minute decisions that made it incredibly stressful.

Just imagine a jet pilot winging it every time before taking off for a flight.

Airlines have a checklist and process for every detail that pilots must go through every time.

I hate flying, but knowing there are processes in place takes my anxiety down to where I can now eat on a flight.

Stay tuned for part 2.


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