Tips for Staging the Kitchen

In many ways, home staging is a subjective art. Ask most people which is the most important room in the house, though, and they will likely answer “the kitchen.” This is why many stagers spend the most time and effort staging the kitchen.

Kitchens also tend to cost the most to remodel. It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to spend $50,000 to $150,000 to revamp the kitchen. Owners pour gobs of dough into remodeling the kitchen, making that space a gourmet showcase for the culinary arts.

However, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to spruce it up, unless it needs to be painted. You can stage that space and make it a desirable kitchen by using simple, proven staging techniques. Here are some examples of how a professional home stager might tackle a kitchen staging.

Getting the Kitchen Ready for Sale Before Staging

First and foremost, clean the kitchen so it sparkles. Scrub the baseboards and vacuum the corners. Polish chrome fixtures, dust ceiling fans, and replace burned-out light bulbs.

Check the bulbs on light switches you hardly use. You might never use the lights above the stove, but a potential buyer might, so you want them to work during a tour.

Wipe down all the cabinets, inside and out. Polish the hardware — if it’s worn or dated, consider replacing knobs and handles.

If you typically cook meals that leave a lingering odor (such as bacon or fried foods), consider dining out or bringing home take-out while your home is on the market. You don’t know what a buyer’s tastes are, and if they smell something displeasing during a tour, it could leave a lingering impact on their overall impression of the home.

Organize items around the kitchen. Alphabetize your spices. Turn all coffee cup handles facing the same direction. Buyers will notice and think you are meticulous about the rest of the home, too. Buyers will also open dishwashers, so don’t ever leave dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher.

Consider replacing extremely dirty drip pans under the burners on the stove. Pull off the stove knobs and polish them. If you can’t clean an old stove, it might be worth it to spring for a new stove altogether.

Once you’re done cleaning, remove all cleaning products and sponges from the sink counter. Clear as much as you can from the counters, shelves, and refrigerator — including any magnets, photos, or notes (framed pictures hanging on the wall are fine). Leave nothing on the counters but a cookbook, some fruit, or decorative items. Yes, that means you should remove the coffeemaker. Put it under the sink.

Before Staging an Older Kitchen

Older kitchens sometimes come with quirks that throw off buyers expecting a newer kitchen. For example, they might be missing now-common appliances such as a refrigerator, or they may be too small to stage with furniture.

If you keep your refrigerator in another room, try to find a way to move it into the kitchen. If the refrigerator is missing, buyers might have a hard time visualizing the essential “triangle” of the fridge, stove, and sink.

Also, consider how hanging light fixtures in front of a window or built-in shelving might not reflect style trends of the day.

After Staging the Kitchen

After doing the bulk of the staging, a few final touches can seal the deal.

For example, by bringing in a small table and two chairs, the dining area will spring to life. Suddenly, the use of this space is evident. Placing a rug under the table defines the area and makes it appear separate, yet still part of the rest of the kitchen.

Putting books and ceramic figurines in the bookcase showcases its purpose, yet none of those items crowd the shelving.

Arranging plants on the counter, table, and behind the chair brings warmth to the area. Hanging artwork on the wall gives it a homey feeling. A stager often uses subdued earth-tone colors to complement, say, the granite counters and travertine tile, making the updates pop.

Kitchen Staging Tips to Remember

Every home presents its own unique challenges, but some staging tips can help overcome those quirks. If you have a small kitchen, smaller tables make eat-in kitchen spaces appear larger. If the dining area is spacious, on the other hand, set the table for an intimate breakfast for two.

Knickknacks are most pleasing when arranged in odd groupings such as three, five, or seven. Use color sparingly in a dramatic kitchen, and complement existing color schemes. Instead of using color to liven up the space, bring in plants and avoid blocking windows to let light in. Creative placement of rugs and artwork adds depth and dimension. Use a stand to hold an open cookbook of colorful photographs. Consider placing large bowls of polished fruit on the counter, next to gourmet olive oil or a full bottle of red wine.

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