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We’ve all heard of summer cleaning, that annual rite of passage when it’s time to purge!  If only all home sellers followed the “one in –one out” rule, perhaps not as many properties would linger on the market, awaiting that perfect buyer with enough vision to see a properties true potential through all the clutter.  Enter reality!  Today’s buyers not only have bargaining power, but their choice of properties, which makes them a savvy if not quite picky bunch.  Home sellers must have the same savvy if they wish to sell their properties for top dollar in the shortest amount of time.  Home staging is the key to this success.  As a professional ASID Interior Designer and Certified Staging Professional (CSP), my company has helped dozens of home sellers secure top dollar.  The beauty of home staging is that it does not have to cost a lot of money to achieve a jaw dropping transformation.  I believe the first step is to have a professional home stager, broker or friend, walk through the property objectively, pointing out potential negatives that could sink a sale.  Inevitably an offense, most home sellers are guilty of is living with too much clutter.

When it comes to quick, easy and affordable home staging tips, clearing out the clutter is at the very top of my “to do” list.  Remember, when a home seller puts their property on the market it is no longer their home, but a product on the market for sale, similar to an item on a grocery store shelf and in order for that property to attract the most number of buyers possible it must be portrayed in the best light.  Properties that are worn, tired and worst of all cluttered simply do not show well.  Most potential buyers are not looking for worry and work, they are looking for properties that are “move in” ready and properties that aren’t, those so called “handy man specials” will be forced to have price tags that reflect their shortcomings.

Home Staging 101

The first step in executing a home staging is to have the homeowner pack away any and all non essentials.  I always tell home sellers to keep in mind that they are moving anyway, so why not pack items away a little earlier in order to help sell their property.  In addition to clearing away the clutter, I often select a soothing taupe paint color to repaint the entire residence.  Broken or dirty receptacle covers and light switches are also replaced which is always an easy and affordable design trick.  Lastly, I typically request that some furniture be removed entirely from the property.  If a client is on a budget, we use pieces that they already own as opposed to bringing in rentals.

Cathy Hobbs’ Design Recipe:


  • Clear out all clutter
  • Maximize space
  • Re-paint
  • Replace light switches and receptacle covers
  • Put furniture into storage if necessary
  • Rent furniture or accessories to complete the look

I recommend that a property is staged before ever being brought to market.  We have all heard the expression, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”, and that is definitely true when it comes to real estate.  Keep in mind, most potential buyers sum up their opinion about a property in the first three minutes, so that first impression is not only important it is critical.  I have seen some brokers try to sell a property without staging and then beg potential buyers to come back for a second viewing after a property is staged.  Often that potential buyer is so turned off by their first impression, “there won’t be a second date” as they say.  Whether you are a home seller or a broker the key to staging success is to have the property staged prior to presenting it to the general public.

As a professional interior designer and home stager with nearly 10 years of experience, I have helped to sell more than $50 million dollars in real estate.  My process works by charging a flat fee for the staging day which includes one to two stagers as well as movers from my company’s private warehouse.  Additionally because of my extensive design background and credentials as an ASID, NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer my approach is very designed based and not only involves traditional staging but styling and merchandising techniques as well.  My staged spaces are not only livable but inviting which is the key when it comes to appealing to potential buyers.

A Girl’s Bedroom Cluttered, Hardly Ready For Showing

The same bedroom STAGED by NYC Home Stager Cathy Hobbs of Design Recipes and Ready To Sell! (www.cathyhobbs.com)

A messy bedroom cluttered and a turn off to potential buyers!

The same room STAGED by NYC Home Stager Cathy Hobbs of Design Recipes and ready for sale! (www.cathyhobbs.com)