Staging a condo is arguably more complicated than preparing a single-family home for sale. With limited square footage, there are fewer opportunities to let the potential buyer’s imagination run wild with visions of a home office or tranquil yoga studio.
“Worse than the small sizes are awkward spaces — sometimes there’s a post in the middle of the unit or the shape is odd, which makes it hard to position the furniture properly,” says Red Barrinuevo, President and Principal Home Stager of Redesign4more, a home staging company that services the GTA and beyond. “At the end of the day, we can still make it work, but for someone who doesn’t have the experience, it can be a big challenge.” Here he shares 10 need-to-know tips on staging a condo to sell.
1. Remove the clutter
“Excess furniture can really make a condo appear smaller than it is. If it’s cluttered, a buyer will look at the space and think, ‘Oh, my couch won’t fit,’ but if you set it up with the right layout and the right furniture, that makes a big difference,” says Barrinuevo. Once the clutter has been cleared, Barrinuevo evaluates the larger pieces, such as desks or accent chairs. “I look at the size of the furniture compared to the size of the room. If it’s too big or too small, I will remove it and get something that’s more appropriate.”
2. Rethink your layout
“Another thing to consider is the layout and how you want to showcase it,” says Barrinuevo. “Is it better to use a sectional, or is it better to use a sofa and chairs? After everything is set up, you still need space to move around.” Above all else, the layout needs to function and flow. Put yourself in the prospective buyer’s shoes and take a stroll around the condo. Ensure that you can comfortably travel between furniture pieces — you shouldn’t have to squeeze past the couch!
3. Identify a focal point
“The layout will also depend on the focal point,” notes Barrinuevo. “Figure out what the best feature of your condo is and go from there.” If you’ve got a gorgeous fireplace or a sweeping view of the city, play it up. For a fireplace, Barrinuevo recommends arranging the furniture in a U-shape. To optimize city or water views, you’ll want to prevent any pieces from blocking sight lines. “Think about how a potential buyer would use the space. At the end of the day, you’re selling a lifestyle.”
4. Stick to a single paint color
“If the clients are open to repainting the unit, we always recommend going with color, whether it’s greige, bluish-grey or light grey,” says Barrinuevo. Too many paint colors can easily overwhelm a small space, so it’s best to stick to just one. “White looks like a hospital, it can work in some spaces, but it’s better to go with something a bit warmer.”
5. Define zones
“You can create zones with furniture placement,” says Barrinuevo. “For example, backing out a sofa can separate the living area from the dining area. You could also use an area rug or light fixtures.” To put a literal spotlight on a coveted feature, such as a dining area, Barrinuevo suggests hanging a pendant light above it. “Even if it’s a small space, it will still look special.”
6. Create the illusion of more space
“This can be achieved easily by decluttering,” says Barrinuevo. “Once you remove the unnecessary pieces, it makes such a dramatic difference.” Beyond books, papers, dog toys and wayward cleaning supplies, Barrinuevo suggests taking a look at your plants, “especially if they’re overgrown and not really looked after.” If your monstrous monstera is blocking a window, seek out a new spot for it (at least for the time being). “It will immediately brighten up your space and make it look bigger,” says Barrinuevo.
7. Let light in
“If the client has drapes, but they look very heavy or they’re not the right fabric, we’ll replace them with white sheers to let more light in,” explains Barrinuevo. Many condo dwellers use panel shades to add much-needed privacy, but Barrinuevo recommends removing them and hanging sheers on either side of the window instead. “This frames the window and makes it look wider, too.”
8. Spruce up your balcony
“Again, be sure to declutter and remove all unnecessary items. Sometimes condo owners treat their balcony like a storage unit,” notes Barrinuevo. Outdoor space is highly sought-after, especially amongst the urban crowd, so you’ll want it to look appealing — not like the concrete slab it really is. “If it’s a large patio or balcony, I always recommend setting up a dining space and a seating area. It acts as an extension of the indoor living space.”
9. Choose inoffensive artwork
“Try to avoid art that is very personal,” says Barrinuevo. “We often use abstract or contemporary pieces because they’re more neutral and better for showcasing the property.” Working with an all-white backdrop? Consider adding in some decorative touches. “The more color you bring in through the artwork and accessories, the more interesting the listing photos are going to be,” insists Barrinuevo. Home sellers should also pay attention to the size of the artwork and the placement. “Oftentimes people will hang their art too high or choose a piece that’s far too big.”
10. Know your audience
“You have to think about the target buyers,” urges Barrinuevo. “Are you catering to a younger crowd? Downsizing couples? Families with kids?” Without an audience in mind, the condo will be harder to market and sell. “Your real estate agent should be able to help you identify target buyers and comparables, and the stager will know how to style the condo based on those factors.” The condo’s location and listing price should also be taken into consideration, notes Barrinuevo. “Your realtor and stager are a team, together they’ll have a better grasp on how to package the property.”