Staging for Families: 6 Tips and Tricks

Selling your home while living in it can be so hard with kids — we get it. You’re managing jobs, family schedules, homework, animals, and it seems like everywhere the kids go they undo the picture-perfect room that WAS ready for the next listing appointment.

How do you pull off BOTH making life livable in your home while keeping it looking like the dream home for the next family coming to tour?

Here are some easy tips and tricks to shoot for that inspiring, magazine-perfect look when you’ll be shoving things in closets and bins ten minutes before a realtor shows up with home shoppers.


1. Decrease the Chaos, Always “Pre-pack and De-mark the territory”
It is important to remember that when you are selling a home, you are like a small business owner with just one product to sell, your home. If you went into a retail store to buy a T-shirt and the store owner had cluttered up the place with his personal trophies, leftover pizza boxes, and dirty laundry it would be very difficult to see the T-shirt you want to buy in a good light. Instead, you would simply be concentrating on all of the business owner’s things. If you don't find this unacceptable for a retail store owner to do, why would you think it would be ok for you to do this while selling your home? Seriously, de-mark your territory (most people call it depersonalizing) and pre-pack your clutter (most people call it decluttering) your home. Remove any distraction that will take a visitor away from imagining living in the home themselves.

2. Managing Kid Stuff
The last time I sold a home to a kid was… never. Kids don't buy houses, moms do. True enough, most homes are purchased by couples, but ultimately it will most likely be the adult female of the family who will make the decision on which home will be purchased. Have you ever hear a woman say these words? “I love it when my kids leave their toys strewn about our house. In fact, yesterday, I stepped on a Lego with bare feet, I was in downright ecstasy.” No? Yeah, neither have I. Pick up the toys before you show your home. A tidy family home with the kids’ toys organized or scarce will allow young couples to imagine family life without being reminded of the…. er, less than nostalgic facts of kid clutter.

3. Tackling Kids’ Rooms
Shared bedrooms are certainly not the worst thing in the world. We often stage rooms with two twin beds. Here is the secret, go down right cutsie and make the twin beds be exactly identical twins. Human beings love symmetry and making the beds look exactly alike will appeal to that love all thing symmetrical.

4. Organizing Your Closets, Garages and Basements last
When preparing a home for market we must sometimes make priorities. I have often seen homes with closets that are perfect and living rooms that are a total mess, I alway shake my head slowly and roll my eyes uncontrollably. Our priorities go like this.

  • First - Public rooms: get the living room, dining room and kitchen in great shape first they will make the first impression

  • Second - Master bedroom and bathroom: This is the room that the female of the house will be using so making sure she is taken care of is of utmost importance because as we know the adult female of the family will ultimately decide which house is purchased

  • Next - Other private spaces: Kids rooms, bathrooms, guest rooms, offices all follow suit

  • Last - Storage and utility areas: These hold the least amount weight and thus can be sacrificed to make other spaces look good

5. Quick Cleaning for Quick Escapes
Make things easy on yourself. Cramming in appointments and showings inside your already busy life is a lot. Set yourself up for success from the start of the staging process. Give each kid in the family a dish barrel (a large triple ply-box roughly 3’x2’x2’). Ask them to fill it with their favorite toys. Once they are done, “pre-pack” all of the rest of the toys. (We say pre-pack and not declutter as it has a more positive ring, you are going to end up packing all that stuff when you sell anyway, why not get started now? Your future self will thank you!) When it is time to play the filled dish barrels can be dumped out and the toys inside can be played with. When it is time for a showing the boxes can be filled with the toys and placed in the closet. This keeps the kids sane as they have something to play with and the parents sane in that there is a finite amount of cleaning to do before each showing.

6. Consider Storage Units
Ultimately if you have more things than storage space, you may want to consider renting storage, you may also want to consider a garage sale or donating items you have not touched in more than six months.