Home Staging Helps Sell a House in Washington D.C.

Jason Hargraves
Written by Jason Hargraves
Updated June 15, 2021
Staged dining room in D.C.
This dining room has been staged using soft colors and a contemporary table. (Photo courtesy of Staged Interior)

Staging your home to sell is essential in the current Washington, D.C., housing market.

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You only have one chance at a first impression. When it comes to selling your Washington, D.C.-area home, real estate agents say that impression could be worth thousands.

“How you live in a house is not the best way to market it,” says Traci Oliver, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Fairfax, Virginia.

So how do you make the most of your home while it's for sale and command top dollar from home buyers? Talk to your local real estate agent about professional home staging in D.C.

“D.C. is a unique market,” says home stager Trish Kim, of Staged Interior in Centreville, Virginia. ”There’s a lot going on right now and there’s a lot of competition. Your home needs to stand out.”

The three things Kim recommends her home staging clients do is de-clutter, repaint and redo.

“It’s really, really rare that I go to a house that doesn’t need a lot of attention,” Kim says.

D.C. home staging reflects shifting styles

If you're trying to sell your home, focus attention on what local home buyers today want to see. Kim says the home style in the D.C. housing market has shifted away from the more traditional furnishings that worked well in the past.

“The contemporary looks are catching on more,” says Kim, who’s been staging homes in the Washington area for nine years.

That means a lot more grays, softer blue color palettes and light or white kitchen cabinets. Buyers seek a more casual look. “We really aren’t doing that much of the colonial look,” she says. “Casual, pared-down is definitely in.”

Kim works with condos and single-family homes, from the city to suburbs. She tries to stay true to the outside of the home when choosing the best interior style.

“This area has many styles of homes, so it keeps things interesting,” she says.

D.C.'s historical homes in Georgetown or Old Town Alexandria, for instance, might be staged with a few antiques that would look odd in one of D.C.'s new Logan Circle or U Street condo.

“We have a wide range of styles we work with, from the higher-end to the edgy,” Kim says of her home staging projects.

The cost to stage your house

So, where does that matching sofa, end table and contemporary dining table originate? In Kim’s case, she has her own warehouse from which to make selections.

The first step in staging a home is the consultation with a professional home stager. An initial consultation with a home staging company runs between $350 and $500. 

Just the initial home stager's report will point home sellers in the right direction. Staged Interior's will tell you what to do and what you can expect from them. From there, it’s up to the homeowner.

All real estate price points benefit

What may surprise many local home sellers is the importance of home staging for almost every type of Washington-area home. “It really is something that needs to be done across all price points,” Oliver says.

But like Kim, Oliver adds, it's smart to keep things simple and stay with what’s currently popular. “You can over-stage to the point of being distracting,” she says.

Think neutral and simple.

“You want buyers to focus on your crown molding, not an ugly couch or giant TV,” she says.

House staging is especially important for first-time home buyers in D.C., because sometimes they can’t see past simple flaws in homes for sale. More experienced home buyers tend to have a better understanding of a home’s potential.

Be sure to highlight the positive and detract from the negative. One basic home staging tip is to use smaller furniture for a tight space to create the feel of a larger room.

To do that, stage the room with a love seat instead of a full-length couch. Again, think about that first impression.

“It’s an emotional decision, buyers feel the house,” Oliver says. “It’s all about the senses.”

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on August 13, 2014.

Do you live in the D.C. area? What other tips can you offer when it comes to selling a house? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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