For Sellers October 21, 2014

Staging Your Kitchen for a Quick Sale

When I show a home, I always want the kitchen to be inviting. Here are some ways to create a show-friendly kitchen. What are the top five ways to lose a buyer with this one room?

Cluttered counters and walls

The more “stuff” on the counters, the less counter space your room will appear to have. The more bits and pieces plastered on the front of the fridge, the more disorganized and cluttered the whole room will seem to be. The more “decorative” items you have strewn on the walls, the less your potential buyer will be able to imagine their own things on the walls. The idea is to make the buyer imagine living here. The less of you they see, the more of them they can project.

Grimy floors/sink/cabinet tops/appliances

Ii a matter of moments, a floor can become gritty. Add to that a few water spots in the sink, a slight coffee stain from this morning’s essential cup of coffee and a few crumbs perching on top of the toaster… and what do you get? A kitchen that seems dirty and uninviting.

Be sure you take a look at your kitchen with fresh eyes. Stand at the door and pretend you have never seen it before. Imagine you are the grime police. Bring out the white glove. What do you see? Whatever it is, fix it. Now.

Be so bold as to scrub the sink and shine it. Pay special attention to behind the faucet and the rim around the sink. Maybe use an old toothbrush. Sweep, mop and steam clean the floor. Thoroughly clean all appliances, even in the nooks and crannies. Make it simply spotless.

Unsavory smells and odors

Avoid cooking strong smelling food when your house is on the market. Day-old fish, boiled cabbage, onions, etc., will turn off even the most interested buyer. Avoid “covering up smells with strong sprays, over-scented candles and products. Your favorite “gardenia” smell may send your potential buyer into sneezing fits and you’re not kidding anyone. They are going to wonder what you are covering up.

Instead, consider leaving out a single appliance – a bread machine with the timer set to be mid-way through the baking process when the house is to be shown. How many people do you know who don’t like the smell of fresh bread?

Disorganized or insufficient storage space

If your cabinets are brimming with “stuff” or goodness forbid, things tend to tumble out when you open them, you will need to remove all but the most essential items when the house is shown. Pack up all the extras in boxes and put them in storage. Eliminate your “junk drawer” and be sure that your plates, glasses, and bowls are close together and located near to where you will use them.

Organize your pantry area and be sure all food items are neatly stacked and appropriately organized and are not located in various cabinets throughout the kitchen. Consolidate them into one general area.

When you finish cleaning and packing away, make sure that what remains is neatly organized and that everything is located where you are most likely to use it. I guarantee people will look in your cabinets. They will try to determine from your use of the area if there is enough storage space. If you can’t live in the space, why would they believe that they can? If you can’t keep it organized, how will they?

Dark and/or claustrophobic décor

Dark colors in the kitchen make it less inviting. It makes it harder to cook when you have to strain to see what you are doing. Ample light is a must and natural light is best. If your kitchen doesn’t have quality lighting, you need to add it. Consider “natural light” light bulbs and additional light sources under upper cabinets and make the room brim with warm, bright light. If your lights flicker or are dull, replace them. In one kitchen I’ve seen, there was no window to the outside but the owner had added a mirror with “window panel” framing over the sink and a light above it to add light, reflect it and give the impression of a window. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a vast improvement over facing a solid wall while doing dishes.

Claustrophobic decorating would include oversized decorative items in a small kitchen, anything that requires you to dodge, move or step around to do simple tasks. Heavy, low-hanging items that “close in” the space in a kitchen are also ill advised. I recently saw a wrought –iron pan rack that was hung too low over an island in the center of the kitchen. It was covered in pans and it created a visual wall in the center of this modest-sized kitchen. The cook continually had to “bend down” to talk to people on the other side of the rack. This type of decorating was too “claustrophobic” for that space. Replacing the rack with higher-hung lighting would have eliminated the “squeeze” effect and would have lightened, brightened, and expanded the entire room.

What do most people want in a kitchen? They want enough counter space to work and a clean line of sight, so kill the doo-dads and tuck away the cabinet-top appliances. They seek cheerful, well-lit areas and a clean, clean kitchen.

People looking at today’s kitchen want to see a space that is inviting and easy-care. They want a kitchen that make them want to eat in, gives them a place to nest and adds comfort and relaxation to their lives.