When potential buyers visit your home, they need to be able to imagine themselves living there. Giving every room a clear purpose is necessary for this to happen.

But many of us are guilty of having a “guest bedroom” or “home office” that really just serves as storage space. And unfortunately, junk rooms don’t captivate buyers.

So, before you begin the staging process — actually, even before you start cleaning — set aside some time to transform any rooms in your home that lack a clear purpose.

Here is how to do just that.

Don’t Leave Rooms Empty

Step No. 1 is to clear stuff out of these rooms and move it into actual storage spaces — but not to clear out the whole room. Suellen Lassetter, owner of StageRight Home Staging & Redesign, tells LA Daily News that vacant houses take twice as long to sell because empty rooms don’t give a buyer’s imagination anything to work with.

“Many people think that an empty room lets potential buyers see what the room could look like, but empty rooms actually make the space look smaller,” she tells reporter Suzanne Sproul.

Instead, bring in furniture (if you don’t have any in the room already) and other little details so that the room tells a visual story.

Starr Osbourne, owner of Tailored Transitions in Pennsylvania, has an excellent and thorough book on home staging in which she recommends “creating vignettes that charm your buyers.”

“Think about your prospective buyers and their generation,” she writes. “Create spaces that help these buyers dream about their life in your home. Whether you furnish a sun-filled baby’s room, adorn the captain of industry’s leather reading chair with the Financial Times, or stage a sparsely furnished, high-tech home office, you’re creating snapshots that take your buyers somewhere appealing in the past, present or future.”

Think Creatively

There are plenty of ways to tell these stories without going to much trouble at all. As Leah Hennen writes at HGTV, you can turn a stairwell nook into a reading spot with just an armchair, a small table and a lamp.

Hennen has another clever option for basements: “Drape fabric on the walls of your basement, lay inexpensive rubber padding or a carpet remnant on the floor and toss in a few cushy pillows. Voila — a new meditation room or yoga studio.”

Tackle 3 of the Trickiest Places in Your Home

living room - give each room at purpose

If you are going to hire a professional home stager, then consult with him or her about the best way to create a functional vignette in the rooms you’re going to stage.

If you are taking the DIY approach, here are a few tips that will make your home staging efforts a little easier.

Turn a Spare Room Into a Home Office

“Showing home buyers that your house has room for an office, even if it’s a shared space in your kitchen or living room, will add value to your home in their eyes,” says the team at StagingMyOwnHome.com.

So, don’t be shy about pulling the twin bed out of your guest room and replacing it with a desk and chair. Then, to give it a real home office feel, the Staging My Own Home team has a few clever tricks:

  • Opt for neutral colors, and let in as much natural light as possible. This will create a calm, productive atmosphere where most people will have no trouble imagining getting work done.
  • Add a lamp to task-light the workspace.
  • Any good chair will do, but get creative with the desk. They even suggest getting an old farm table and painting it white.

Tap Into Your Buyer’s Imagination With a Tidy Garage

A garage is such a practical place, but don’t let that stop you from helping prospective buyers dream. As Rikke at Scandinavian Home Staging says, move out as much of your stuff from here as possible.

“If you choose to use the garage as temporary storage, make sure it is boxed nicely in one side or a corner of the garage, so it still leaves space for that imagination of his dream Jet-Ski,” she says.

Create Pleasing and Useful Outdoor Spaces

If you have a deck, a patio or even just a nice backyard, you can score big points with buyers by getting them to imagine themselves entertaining guests, sitting around a fire pit or lounging with a glass of wine.

“Exterior areas can also be staged to give the buyer a sense of their purpose and function,” the team at Local Agent Finder says. “Large terraces could be set up with outdoor dining equipment, to show that the terrace serves an additional function to a basic outdoor seating area. It could also be a bustling centre of family entertainment.”

Images by: ©rudyumans/123RF Stock Photo, Erika Wittlieb