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Merchandise your home during open house

Dear Gail: My Realtor has scheduled an open house, and we would like to make a great impression. What are some things we should do? Any quick decorating tips would be appreciated. — Cecile

Dear Cecile: An open house is an opportunity to reach the greatest number of prospective buyers in one day, so it’s great that you know making a good impression is important. You need to look at your home through buyers’ eyes.

The saying is true that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. This will probably not be the only time people will be looking, so these suggestions would be beneficial to do while it’s on the market.

First, eliminate distractions and personal items. Allow your buyer to focus on the home. It’s important to remove anything that may leave a negative impression.

You want them to envision themselves in the home, which is difficult to do when your pictures, trophies and items with your name on it are displayed. Remove any sensitive items that may offend another person as well as personal items from bedrooms and bathrooms to increase the comfort of the buyers entering the rooms.

After your personal items have been tucked away, head to the kitchen. The counters need to be clean and clear of any clutter. Remove small appliances, drain boards, soap bottles, etc.

Although it’s nice if you can keep the counters as clear as possible while your home is on the market, I know that it’s inconvenient. But just think how larger and cleaner it will look. Everyone wants to walk into a clean kitchen with plenty of counter space.

During the removal process, think of what you see in a model home. Look around your house, and if you have something out that you normally don’t see, put it away for the day.

Stand at your front door and shine up the door hardware, lighting and door. Add potted plants to welcome them in. Replace an old welcome mat, especially if the one you have down has your name on it. You don’t want it saying, “Welcome to The Smiths.” You want them to see themselves in the house.

Pay extra close attention to your entry. When you walk through the front door, what do you see first? Place your best and most impressive accessory items there. If you can see straight into your backyard, the windows need to sparkle. If you have a patio table, set a colorful plant on it. Arrange your furniture in groupings so you’re showcasing the multiple areas they can sit and relax.

In your master bath, add fresh flowers. In all the baths, replace your everyday towels with fresh ones and add color to your counters. A simple way is using a tray with candles and a potted plant.

Make sure to pick up your bathmats as the room will appear larger and cleaner. All toilet lids should be down and never have a toilet brush or plunger out. Seeing a plunger will give the impression that you have plumbing problems.

Set your dining room table and make it sparkle. In the kitchen, bring out your largest vase and fill it with lemons and limes or red and green apples, then add sunflowers. They don’t have to be real, you can pick-up very realistic ones. This is a unique way to bring in the sense of taste in your kitchen as well as color.

The family room is a place you want them to sit and linger. We spend most of our time there, so set the room to be comfortable. Put away those remotes and put a board game on the coffee table. Place a throw and an open book on an ottoman. Bring in some colorful pillows to refresh the look.

Some other general things you can do to set the stage is to play soft, easy-listening music. This helps set people at ease, so they feel they can talk without being heard.

Watch putting out any scented candles. People can be very sensitive to smells, and you don’t want them rushing through the house. I’ll never forget when my parents were looking for a home and one that we went into the lady was pulling taffy. Believe me, it wasn’t pleasant.

The work you put into it will make it worthwhile. Once you’re done, ask yourself an important question: “Would you buy this home?” Remember, you’re merchandising it to sell; it’s not about your personal style.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or, mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is www.GMJinteriors.com.

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