Dawn Sullivan

Dawn Sullivan

ABR, MBA, RENE - Broker                   
815.761.6504      Contact Me
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Home Staging Checklist


Helping buyers fall in love with your property takes more than running the vacuum and fluffing the pillows: It's all about decluttering, repairing, updating, and depersonalizing.


  • When placing anything from accent pillows to table lamps, go for symmetry, which is pleasing to the eye.

  • Light it up with lamps. Chic lamps provide both added lighting and appealing decor.

  • Make that fireplace glow. Scrub away soot stains and replace the old screen.

  • If you're using staging furniture or buying slip covers, choose light colors for an airy,

    inviting feel.

  • Whatever amount of furniture you have in your living room, remove a few pieces to

    make the room feel spacious.

  • Use bright, coordinated accessories like accent pillows and throw blankets for a chic

    splash of color.

  • Help buyers imagine their life in your home. Set the scene by displaying a board game or

    tea service on the coffee table, and arrange furniture in conversational groups.

  • Let a slideshow of beautiful images play on your television like a screensaver.


  • Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit.

  • Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum.

  • Freshen up and modernize cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware.

  • Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing?

    Consider replacing with new models. The Real Estate Staging Association strongly

    recommends stainless steel.

  • Remove fridge magnets and give the door and handles a good cleaning.

  • Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes.

  • Clean cabinet interiors, especially under the sink.

  • Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make it look bigger. Store

    items in decorative baskets.

  • Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight.


  • Go gender neutral in the master bedroom. Ditch those dainty, floral pillow shams or NASCAR posters.

  • Pack up all but the clothes you're wearing this season to make you closets look larger.

  • Swap out the motley crew of mismatched hangers in your closet for a set of wooden ones

    to create a classy, boutique look.

  • Put jewelry and other valuables in a safe spot.

  • Consider giving extra bedrooms a new identity as a home office, sewing room, or another

    interesting function.

  • Remove televisions or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize and create a

    serene setting.


  • Let buyers entertain the idea of entertaining. Set out some chic place settings around the table, or a few wine glasses and a decanter on the buffet.

  • Strike a balance between overly formal and too casual with an attractive runner and a few fun, decorative elements [think small floral vases or short candle holders].


  • It's de-grime time: Scrub and sanitize the walls, floor, shower door and virtually every surface that comes in contact with steam.

  • Spend extra time scrubbing that tile grout and re-caulk around the tub if necessary.

  • If your bathroom tile is dated, try paint instead of replacing it. Start with a high-adhesion

    primer and either epoxy or latex paint. Re-glazing may also be an option.

  • Remove clutter from the countertop, tub, and top of toilet.

  • Pack up and hide all your personal products from medicine to razors.

  • Create a luxury spa look with a fancy soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, decorative

    baskets, candles, plants, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat.

  • Fix leaky or running toilets and replace toilet seats.

  • Remove hard water stains on faucets and shower heads. (try vinegar)

  • Take a daring sniff of the drains. Odorous? Clean them out, and deodorize with baking

    soda, boiling water, or vinegar.


  • Have a dark corner or hallway? Brighten it up with a decorative mirror.

  • Neutralize the walls. If any rooms are painted in dark colors, repaint white/beige/gray.

  • Paint adjacent rooms the same color to make the whole space feel larger.

  • Fill nicks and holes in walls, and touch up with paint.

  • Sorry, wood paneling. It's time. Paint over paneling with a neutral color. To really cover

    your tracks, use wood filler between panels and paint over the entire thing.

  • Make sure every switch plate and outlet cover matches and looks brand new.

  • Wash the windows, inside and out. Repair any holes or tears in screens.

  • Replace those family portraits with interesting art placed strategically throughout the

    house. Avoid leaving dead space on walls.


  • Declutter! Consider it pre-packing for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them (neatly!) in the garage/basement or rented storage unit.

  • Don't forget to include memorabilia in those decluttering bins. Family photos, diplomas, and the kids' artwork should all go.

  • Keep closets/basements/attics as empty as possible. (Maximize storage space).

  • Transform underused areas of the house ” the alcove under the stairs or the end of a hallway” into functional spots. Add a desk to create a mini office, or a chair and small bookshelf for a reading nook.

  • Swap dim lights for high-wattage bulbs.

  • Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap outany faulty ”or dingy” hardware.

  • Damaged or aging hardwood floors? Replace damaged boards with new wood, sanddown the entire floor, and re-stain.

  • Do a deep (deep, deep) clean. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom, including carpets, before it hits the market.


  • Scrub those pet stains on the carpets and rugs until totally gone or replace them if necessary. Try cleaning formulas made especially for pet odors.

  • Pet odors soak into your best friend's favorite things. Completely remove pet beds (or Fido's most-loved couch), blankets, toys, play structures, food bowls, and the like.

  • Use air fresheners that eliminate odors, rather than simply mask them. There's nothing worse than the smell of artificial pine with kitty litter undertones.

  • Repair or remove any furniture that's been scratched or gnawed on.

  • Clean all pet 'presents' from the yard.

  • Keep cat boxes immaculate and hidden away, or better yet, see how your feline-loving friends feel about a temporary houseguest and remove litter boxes altogether.

  • Remove any dog or cat doors. Pets? What pets?

  • When you leave the house for a showing, take all the furry (or feathery or scaly) residents along with you. Make a pet hair sweep the last thing you do before you leave the house.


  • Hang attractive house numbers that are legible from the road.

  • Brighten up your porch with fresh paint or stain.

  • Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, preferably red, black, blue, or wood stain, so

    long as it complements the trim and doesn't blend. (no unconventional colors like purple)

  • Buy a new doormat to welcome home buyers.

  • Power-wash the house exterior, walkway, steps, driveway, and porch.

  • Make sure the locks and doorbell function and front door doesn't squeak.

  • Make that mailbox look clean and welcoming, or get a new one.

  • Plant lots of colorful blooms in attractive pots and planter beds.

  • Trim back trees and shrubs from the approach to the front door.

  • Whip that yard into shape with fresh sod or new seed

  • Store yard equipment and children's toys out of sight.

  • Repair shaky banisters.

  • Get a hammock or raised fire pit to show off how fun your yard can be.

  • Dress up any imperfect planting area with mulch.

  • Make sure entryway lights function and are free of cobwebs and insects.

  • Hide trash cans, recycle bins, and garden hoses.

  • Stage your patio like a second living room with fashionable furniture, accent pillows, an

    outdoor rug, and other patio-friendly decor.


  • Add a seasonal touch. Simmer cinnamon sticks in the fall, set out fresh cut lilacs in the spring.

  • Tidy like you've never tidied before.

  • Avoid cooking any food for your own meals, but do bake some cookies or other baked goods to leave a welcoming aroma behind.

  • Leave. After all that staging work, you deserve a trip to the spa while potential home buyers are busy falling in love with your house.