Home staging is the practice of de-cluttering and decorating a home for sale to improve its perceived value for potential buyers. Staging is its own sub-industry where real estate meets interior decoration. If you’re selling or considering selling your property, home staging is a smart way to not only get your home off the market faster, but also sold for a higher price.

Professional home stagers and dedicated firms likely exist in your area, so do some research. But it’s also possible to do the job it yourself, especially if you have some faith in your aesthetic eye and/or want to save money. Either way, self-storage is crucial to the process. The number one rule of home staging is to ensure the staged home is de-cluttered and organized. This means your nutcracker collection and any extraneous furniture have got to go. You can still live in your home during staging, but empty it out as much as possible. Meanwhile, keep your things safe in a storage unit.

Home staging is all about making your home look neutral and spacious to potential buyers, encouraging them to imagine how their own furniture and family photos would look in each room. Keep personal artifacts out of view and minimize the amount of “stuff” around the house in general. Make sure everything is clean and fresh— get rid of grime and mold in the bathroom and kitchen, use scent plug-ins around the house, etc.

Depending on your budget, replace things like outdated wallpaper, fixtures, appliances and linens. A new coat of neutral-colored paint will freshen each room, as will airy curtains that let in as much natural light as possible during open house. Make sure the purpose of each room is clear. For example, turn that spare room you’ve been using for storage into a neat home office. If the layout of your living room and dining area is open and undefined, use furniture to strategically section off each space for its own use— position the couch so its back is to the dining area.

Remember that exterior curb appeal is just as important as the interior, and could make-or-break buyers’ first impression of your home. Replace or re-finish your porch and backyard deck, and ensure all landscaping is tidy.

Potential buyers want a home with plenty of storage space, and they’ll be sure to open your closets. So a strategy of stuffing everything you want to hide from other rooms into the closets isn’t going to fly. That’s where self-storage comes in to make your home staging efforts really pay off. If you don’t immediately need an item for day-to-day life, store it during this transitional time. Plus, living in a minimalist, de-cluttered environment might just inspire you to keep things that way in your new home.

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