Top 10 Home Décor Secrets of a Professional Stager

Ever wanted your interior décor to look as fabulous and put-together as a show home? Here we reveal all the tricks of the trade

March 17, 2015

This living room is beautiful because it embraces both the blue of the walls and the dark wood flooring, using those colours as a kick-off point for carefully chosen art and accessories  — 
An inviting fireplace with statement piece of art that enhances the colour scheme above it is an ideal focal point for any living room  — 
In this dining room, secondary art and accessories ideally complement the colour scheme and each other - why not buy fresh plates and bowls to match your dining room art?  — 
Don't be afraid to use (sparingly) a super-bright pop of colour to give life to a neutral living room - notice here how the pillow echoes the vase colour perfectly  — 
If you are lucky enough to have a large balcony or roof terrace with a view, make the most of it with fabulous patio furniture that is low enough not to block the skyline  — 
This simple, neutral living room has cleverly used four tricks at once, with a statement piece of art creating a focal point, introducing a pop of colour and complementing the greenery on the shelves  — 

Did you know that adding greenery into a room or using art work as a focal point are some secrets professional home stagers use to help sellers get top dollar for their house? These are just two secrets from Patti Houston, founder of Fluff Design & Décor and Rent Fluff, a showroom filled with contemporary furniture, art and accessories for rent or for purchase.

Now you too can have a home that looks like it came off the pages of a magazine.

Houston, a professional home stager with more than a decade in the industry, has helped hundreds of homeowners and real estate agents reorganize and style homes to command a top price. "The goal is to make your home clean, organized, and welcoming so potential buyers can picture living there," says Houston.

Houston offers inspiration to take your home from drab to fab with 10 easy tips.

Top 10 Staging Secrets to Give Your Home the Wow Factor

1) Hang art no more than 60 inches from the floor:

One of the biggest mistakes Houston sees over and over again is art hung way too high.

“Always err on the side of too low or your art gets lost in its own space. The centre of the image should be at eye level,” she adds. “Art should take up a sizable part of a wall relative to the scale of the furniture.”

When you hang art pieces a bit lower than you’re used to, you are creating a central point. 

If your home’s like most people’s, the art is hung in a high line circling each room. That's another big mistake. Placing pictures, paintings and prints in such formulaic locations can make them invisible.

“Art displayed creatively makes it stand out more and shows off your space,” Houston says.

2) Use oversized art for impact:

Big art makes a statement. To have real impact or to provide character in a room, hang large-scale pieces of art work.

“A piece of art can bridge architecture and decor,” adds Houston. “If you are on a budget, there are great oversized prints that you can purchase.”

3) Make sure that secondary art supports the main piece:

“The secondary pieces really should support the main piece,” says Houston. “For instance, if you have a large abstract with a floral theme, then your secondary pieces should be abstract. However, don’t be matchy-matchy, but rather coordinate the colour or style of your art scheme.”

4) Use neutral-coloured furniture and add a pop of colour with accessories and pillows:

Oatmeal and grey are two neutrals that have stood the test of time.

“These two colours are classic neutrals and go with just about any décor,” says Houston, adding that the trick is to change pillows and accessories with the seasons.

When adding accessories, consider mixing edgy, avant garde or traditional metals – such as gold, brushed nickel and silver – into your décor to take a room from dull to fabulous.

“Done properly, it’s a really cool look,” she says. “In addition, be mindful to place accessories that have a relationship with each other… say, a trilogy of candles on a pretty tray or a stack of books on one section of your coffee table and flowers on the other.” 

5) Start with the art and choose accessories to support the art:

Look at your art, figure out the predominant colour and coordinate your accessories in a “whisper of the other colours.”

6) Every property has a “kick off” point such as floors, wall colour, etc. - stage to that:

If you have deep red mahogany floors, for example, don’t add clashing orange accessories.

“You have to make sure that everything you add into the space embraces the tone of the floor or the walls.”

In one recently staged home, the owners installed high-gloss candy apple cabinetry. For that kitchen, Houston toned down the accessories, opting for cream tones.

7) Don’t overdo accessorizing – know when to stop:

“Coco Chanel once said ‘accessorize your outfit and then take one piece off’,” says Houston, adding less is always more. “It’s very easy to go from beautifully accessorized to looking like a storage room.”

8) Address focal points:

A room’s focal point is what your eyes are naturally drawn to when you walk into the room. And everything around the focal point complements it.

Many rooms have built-in focal points: a large window with a view, for example, or a fireplace. If your room doesn't have a built-in focal point, create one. For example, a bookcase, large piece of furniture or a large mirror works well.

9) Don’t compete with a view:

If your home is fortunate enough to have spectactular city, water or mountains views, let those be the focal point and decorate to that view.

10) Use greenery in every room:

Big plants, whether succulents, ferns or rosemary topiaries, add to the look and energy of a room. “If you aren’t a green thumb, there are great quality fake trees that really change the energy of the room,” she adds.

“Fresh bouquets of flowers always add a nice touch to any room.”

If you follow these 10 tips, your home will a beautiful place to live in – and as a bonus, it’ll already be staged perfectly if you ever come to sell it.

Michelle Hopkins is a Vancouver-based freelance writer with extensive magazine, newspaper and online writing experience in home décor, new home developments, culinary adventures, wine, travel and more. Michelle writes for many notable publications including Real Estate Weekly and other Glacier Media Group publications, Western Living Magazine, Vancouver Magazine, Home Décor & Renovations, to name just a few. Michelle is passionate about anything to do with real estate.
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