Dressed to Sell — To Decorate or Not?

Tips for Decorating While Selling Your Home

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Selling your home during the holidays? Get our tips for decorating while selling.

When selling a home, top priority is appealing to the buyer. This is why professional home stagers recommend that homeowners remove furniture and décor that is too personal or taste-specific in order to maximize the appeal of the home.

When homeowners are selling during the holiday season, we typically recommend keeping decorations to a minimum and eliminating as many religious items as possible.


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Except this is not a typical year. Many of us may be foregoing dinners, trips, and time with family due to COVID, so those holiday decorations may help us feel some sense of normalcy and celebration. 

So this year, I say to heck with it. Decorate to your heart’s content. Bring on the tinsel or your menorah collection. However, I do recommend following these guidelines: 

Decorate after photos are taken.  This is the most important tip. You’ll be doing yourself a great favor if you wait to set up your holiday décor until after photos have been taken. Holiday decorations in your listing photos will quickly date your home after the holidays. The way your home presents online is critical in getting qualified buyers to view your home in person. 

Clear the clutter.  If your living room is already piled high with tchotchkes, your reindeer figurine collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding. I typically recommend sellers remove one-third to half of the items in a room to make it feel as spacious as possible. Before you commence decorating, thin out overstuffed bookshelves and countertops and remove furniture that overwhelms the space. 

Don’t block or cover up important selling features.  If the stunning view is one of your main selling features, blocking it with a tree or snowflake decals is not going to help sell your home. Or if you have a beautiful custom mantel, consider taking down the personalized stockings and decorate with an elegant olive-leaf garland for showings. 

Keep walkways clear.  A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story family room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, opt for a skinny tree this year. I recommend always having at least 36″ of walkway space to allow buyers to move comfortably through a room, so keep decorations clear of these areas.

Complement your palette.  Before you start untangling your lights, make sure your holiday décor compliments your current palette. If your living room is painted a soothing gray-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white and silver décor. If you’ve got an earthy, natural color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens, and gold. A palette that creates harmony helps welcome buyers and can subconsciously affect how they feel when touring your home.


Christine S. Cowles is owner of Styled & Staged Santa Barbara, offering home staging and interior styling services. She is a certified Staging Design Professional™, member of Santa Barbara Association of Realtors and Real Estate Staging Association, and a proud WEV graduate. She can be reached at info@styledandstagedsb.com.

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