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7 Low-Cost, High-Impact Tips for Staging a Dining Room

The staging process shines the spotlight on your home's positive features and helps buyers imagine themselves living there. Plus, staged homes sell faster and for a higher price than non-staged homes. Here are seven ideas to make your dining room look its best.

The staging process shines the spotlight on your home's positive features and helps buyers imagine themselves living there. Plus, staged homes sell faster and for a higher price than non-staged homes. Here are seven ideas to make your dining room look its best.

“All the world's a stage.” Thus spoke William Shakespeare...Rather than continue in the vein of a high schooler writing a report at midnight the night before it's due, let's touch on home staging, and why it matters.

So what is staging, anyway? Consider, if you will, marketing. Say you're looking for a shirt, and stop by two clothing stores in the same neighborhood. The first is dimly lit, the clothing poorly folded and piled together, and the sizes completely out of order. The second is bright and airy, with neat, orderly stacks of color-coordinated shirts. Which store gives you a better experience, and is more likely to get your money?

Think of your home in the same way. Your house is a product, and it's competing with other houses throughout your town. What impression does a cramped, cluttered room provide? Or, for that matter, a cold, vacant one? Staging accentuates your home's positive attributes, better establishes its size and flow, and allows the potential buyer to visualize what it would be like to live there.

Your home's presentation will affect the final sale price and how long it sits on the market. According to a 2019 National Association of Realtors report, a quarter of buyer's agents surveyed indicated that offers on a staged home were 1-5% higher than homes that weren't staged.

The dining room is one of the more commonly staged areas, but presenting it shouldn't destroy your budget. Whether it has a 30-foot long table and looks like it belongs in an English country house, or it's been turned into another ‘stuff' room while you eat in the living room in front of the TV, these suggestions will help everyone get their house sale ready.

Cut the Clutter

Stacks of expired coupons and old receipts that you swore six months ago to organize, unfinished craft projects, and an object in the corner that may or may not be a chair covered in sweatshirts; these are all common fixtures in dining rooms.

The longer you live in a place, the easier it is to lose sight of the messes that gradually pile up. But buyers will notice it immediately. Take time to clear out papers and personal items, including photos. Enlist a friend to help catch things you may miss. The goal is to allow a home buyer to imagine living there, not remind them that someone already does.

Give it the White Glove Treatment

Quickly running a dust rag over the table won't do. This is the time to clean like the judgiest, most gossipy neighbor is coming over for dinner. It may seem intimidating, and if it's in your budget to hire a cleaning service, go for it. Otherwise, readily available household products like vinegar and baking soda, along with some old fashioned elbow grease, will get things looking sparkling.

Dust the table, from the top to the legs, along with every rung on the chairs, and clean or replace upholstered chairs as necessary. Clean all the walls, starting by dusting from the top down, and finish by scrubbing bottom to top with a clean mop head and a bucket of warm, sudsy water.

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is great for stubborn scuff marks, but rubbing a clean tennis ball over the dirty spots will do in a pinch. Baseboards are an absolute filth magnet, but once they're clean, a quick wipe with a dryer sheet will repel dust and dirt.

A Touch of Gray

If the walls are too dirty or too outdated (hello, early 90s stenciling), a fresh coat of paintis just the thing to freshen them up. Don't channel your inner Jackson Pollock, though. Neutral colors — beiges, whites, and grays — are your friend. Because of its more intimate setting, the dining room can get away with darker shades, with lighter colored baseboards providing a clean contrast.

But Also a Splash of Color

Provide a contrast to the neutral walls with pops of brighter colors elsewhere in the room. Greens and yellows, for example, contrast but still flow with grays. This can easily be accomplished with some strategically-placed plants, which give the room a natural, inviting look. Let a vase of fresh flowers serve as a table centerpiece, or place potted plants or even sprigs of greenery from your own backyard around the room.

Come Into the (Modern) Light

If you're still lighting your room with a tarnished brass chandelier, or those art deco throwback wall sconces from the 80s, please, please update them. The fixtures' style should reflect the style of the entire house, not just your current dining room set. Look for something that fits within a broad range of decor styles and will appeal to a large number of buyers.

Also, don't lose function to fashion. When dealing with hanging light fixtures, make sure they actually fit within the space, hanging at least 30 inches above the dining room table.

Through the Looking Glass

Parlor trick, scientific fact, or both? By reflecting the room's image back upon itself, a mirror makes the room appear bigger. Bright, airy spaces project an attractive energy that's lacking in dark, cramped spaces. Place a mirror directly across from dining room windows or hanging fixtures to reflect natural and artificial light.

A Place at the Table

Finally, this is a dining room, so pretend that people have actually eaten there. As the main focal point of the room, it's easy for the table to overwhelm everything else. Rather than a full tablecloth, use a runner. Put out no more than six place settings, removing extra chairs from the table to open up the room.

And don't set out your grandmother's entire china set and good silver from the old country — it looks stuffy. Instead, save that elegance for the centerpiece. A few nice place settings with cloth napkins and dishes that match the room's style is all you need.

The amount of work you put into your dining room — and everything else — depends on local market trends and what buyers are looking for. An experienced real estate agent can guide you on which improvements will help your home sell faster and for a higher price. Get in touch with Clever today for a no-obligation consultation with top real estate agents in your area.

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Jamie Ayers

Jamie is the Director of Content at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents and helps you save thousands on commission. In the past, Jamie has managed columns for clients in a variety of leading business publications, including Forbes, Inc., CEO World, Entrepreneur, and more. At Clever, Jamie's primary goal is to provide home sellers, buyers, and investors with the information they need to successfully navigate the ins and outs of the real estate industry.

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