It’s that time of year again… the change of season from summer to fall when the real estate market seems to erupt with activity!

The fall market is always busy and if you’re planning on listing your home, there are several things you can do in addition to getting it cleaned and professionally staged that will make it show its best. An open house is an opportunity to entice buyers to choose your property over the competition. You want them to have an emotional response to what they see and smell in your home so that when the long day of showings is over, they only have yours on their mind. Keep reading for some simple ways to make your home stand out from the crowd.

1. Grab them at the door

Open House Staging Matters

First impressions are always important and nowhere more so than at your open house. If your home is a condo there is only so much you can do, but make sure your door is clean and in working order- squeaky doors aren’t sexy. Walk your floor and see if there are any other doors that are more memorable than yours (beautiful wreath, wider trim) and make adjustments accordingly.
Your home should have people smiling before they get out of the car. An appropriately placed fall planter isn’t a big investment but says you care about your home. Here are some design tips for your front entrance:

  • Spruce up your seating area, add a welcome mat, lantern, or wreath.
  • Consider painting the door so that your home stands out from the rest.
  • Add a rug. No matter where you live it’s always nice to step into a home and onto a rug.
  • Consult your stager.

Your entrance should welcome people, and strangers often need welcoming to feel at home. Assess your front hall and consider ways to make strangers feel at ease.

2. Let there be light

5 Signs You Need Staging

  • Check every bulb in the house and make sure they’re all working. The general rule of thumb is to use bright white but this may not look best throughout your home.
  • Try a warm yellow and bright white in your entrance, see what looks best and change the rest to match. Warmer tones on the wall may look better with yellow light and the opposite is true.
  • Bedrooms should have lamps next to the beds and living and family rooms should have a combination of task and ambient lighting. Ambient (general) lighting should light the entire space with task lighting used to highlight features. Lamps should serve a purpose, so make sure they highlight an inviting place to read, flawless paint job, or piece of art.
  • In fixtures where the bulbs are exposed make sure you have the proper bulb on display- I’m talking to you bathroom vanity fixture with basic incandescent bulbs on display!

3. Good enough to eat

Staging for Open Houses

While you needn’t serve any food at your open house, your home should smell good enough to eat. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to take freshly baked cookies out of the oven before every showing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tempt prospective buyers with their noses. Vanilla or food scented plug-ins in the kitchen, musky scents in the bedroom, and floral scents in large living spaces are best. Just as bad smells can be off-putting, strong smells, even when they’re pleasant, can be too much. Purchase some Glad Air Wicks and set them to low; they’ll last for weeks and won’t be overpowering!

4. Want for nothing

Open House Staging

Ever been to an open house and felt like you were at an abandoned property? Not exactly inviting, is it? Just because you may not be living there doesn’t mean your home should feel that way.

  • Make sure your bathroom has toilet paper and hand towels and put out the nice soap- who doesn’t love Aesop? It smells like luxury and so should your home.
  • If switches or doors are tricky, make a sign to take away the guessing.
  • Seeing homes can make you thirsty so put some bottled water in the fridge and ask guests to help themselves.
  • If you’re proud of your fridge, what better way to show it off? Make a label with your address and stick it on if you’re really keen to make an impression.

These ‘guests’ might help you make your next move. Treat them well, and think of their needs.

5. No wasted space

Open Houses UPstaging

If you want people to remember your home make sure they think the space is well used. Seeing wasted space will make people wonder if there’s something wrong with the layout and leave people guessing how they would use it themselves. You want to make every space count and the purpose of every space clear. That means every room has a specific function with no dead areas.

  • Nooks can be transformed into the perfect office or reading corner.
  • Corners of condos walled in glass can become the perfect place to show off plants.
  • Dens can become a cozy library or home office.

If you use a space in an interesting way, highlight it! We’re all told to tuck away our personal belongings before selling but they’re often the things that prospective buyers relate to. Celebrate your art and keep the easel stand out, or at least let your stager know you’ve got one. Your music room may not need to be packed away so long as it’s displayed as the music room of buyers’ dreams. Spaces come to life when people see themselves in them. Tell a story with every inch of space.

Your open house is the first date your future buyer and your home will go on. Help them seal the deal by ensuring it’s a memorable one!


Kiel has been a member of the BREL team for three years and a designer for UPstaging since its founding in 2019. As a McMaster alumnus in Communication and Design at George Brown, he soon made his life-long dream of spending other people’s money…err.. we mean decorating… into reality with the BREL team! When he’s not staging homes, he can be found searching the Junction for vintage furniture and unique accessories


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