It's often the utility rooms, closets, storage buildings, and work areas of our homes that get no love.

They're the non-public rooms of the house that only family sees.

But if you're listing your home for sale-- and sooner or later, almost everyone will sell his residence -- it's not just immediate family who views these spaces.

It will be prospective buyers.

Why not make these necessary spaces attractive now, so they'll be safer, prettier, and more functional for you and yours to enjoy?

My garden shed was an example of one of those neglected storage buildings. It wasn't ugly, but it was crowded, disorganized, and dirty. It was no source of pride even before Hurricane Florence blew through our area a year and a half ago, but after the storm, it was a disaster. Floodwaters rose to three feet in the shed, where we had stashed potted plants, lawn furniture, and assorted outdoor equipment we didn't want to be blown away.

It took me a few weeks before I had the time and stomach to deal with the fetid, moldy remains of flooded bags of potting soil and organic fertilizers. Some things I was able to gradually dry out. But some things went to the curb where our still soggy furnishings waited for debris removal.

The steps I took to bring my shed back to a place I enjoyed using are the same steps anyone should take to stage a home.

Previously, the little outbuilding where I store garden supplies
looked like this. Since I see it from our dining room, from
the deck, and from my kitchen window, I wanted to
give it a little more character and color.   

Step one: Toss, then clean

Cleaning is always a good beginning when you stage a home. But even before a thorough cleaning, it makes sense to get rid of what shouldn't be there, whether you're staging a bedroom, closet, bath, backyard, front porch, or basement family room. There's no sense to cleaning what won't remain.

Cleaning gives you a new slate. Cleaning empowers you. Cleaning brings new possibilities to light.

It was mayhem inside the building after the storm.
So my first task was to take everything out of my little outbuilding.

Then I swept, hosed out, sprayed with bleach, and let it dry out for a full week of warm weather.

I knew I didn't want a gussied up she-shed. I wanted what my father called a "hut," -- a handy place to store all the supplies and equipment, big and small, a gardener needs that can't be left out in the elements.

While the building dried, I sorted through what was stored there.

Just as with a closet organization project, it helps to have everything out of the space and visible, in order to decide what needs to go back. I realized that some of the larger pieces of equipment should live in the garage, since they generally get used more by my Mr. Lucky. So, I relocated the power edger, leaf blower, and weed whacker to the garage. Amazingly, they all still functioned because we had secured them high up in the shed.

The back wall of the 8- by 8-foot building was dry and empty, but dirty.
I stood on a step ladder and hosed pine needles and branches
off the corrugated translucent plastic roof to let in more light.

Lesson: A blank slate makes home staging simpler. 

Step two: Refresh the base

I wanted fresh paint on all surfaces. Because of the way it was constructed, with so many exposed studs and framing, I decided to use a small roller and grid in a one-gallon can to paint the ceiling, walls, shelving, and even the floor. I used a flat, interior, latex, white paint. On the floor I used a latex porch and deck paint.

You can see what a difference a new coat of white paint made. Rolling it on was
easier than brushing, but I still had to do a little bit of cutting in with a brush. 

Lesson: Paint solves a multitude of problems.

Step three: Organize the essentials

Now came the task of placing the essentials in my hut, so that everything would be handy and the small space would not look crowded.

We've all heard the expression, "A messy desk is the sign of  genius." And research actually supports this fact. However, I'm still going to bat for team organized! Whether you are trying to sell your house, find what you need when you need it, or just clear your mind, an organized workspace is a plus all around.

I've blogged about how to easily create order from chaos with better organization and establishing systems to save yourself time and space. 

I clumped into groups all the items that needed to return to the shed -- hand tools, larger tools, bags of soil amendments and potting soils, labeling supplies, seed packets, string and ties, pots, and plant supports.
Before the hurricane, I took photos all around our property,
inside and out, so I could document damage for any
insurance claims. This was my messy work area. 

Lesson: Eyesores and excess junk need to disappear when you stage.    
The same area looked like this once I cleaned, painted,
and put supplies back where they should have been all along. 

Lesson: Buyers expect cleanliness and orderliness.

Before the storm the other side of the building didn't look
very pretty either. It was dirty and disorganized.

Lesson: Buyers will judge you by how you maintain your belongings.  

Now, this is what I see when I open the door to my shed.
I can locate things quickly, and it's easy to
keep the whole area clean.

Lesson: First impressions are important. 

All the long-handled tools went back up on the third
wall. There's no question where they belong, so replacing
each one is effortless.
Lesson: Make it easy to maintain orderliness. 

Step four: Decorate with flourishes

Adding the finishing touches resembles the last steps you'd take when you actually stage a home, except I was staging to please only myself. I wanted things colorful. I chose teal and blue as unifying colors in order to reduce eye clutter. I shopped my house for boxes, bins, and other containers in teal tones.

What doesn't fit your new color scheme when you stage can be updated. I used things like paint, tape, and fabric to recover surfaces. I covered the main work surface with a plasticized cotton drop cloth that could be removed and washed. And I used 
duct tape and some washi tape to dress up these spray bottles.
Lesson: A simple, cohesive color scheme is a home staging essential.  

Gloves always need a place where they can dry out but still be
accessible. I mounted a cheap towel rod under the counter and used
clips with hooks to store all my garden and work gloves. 

Lesson: A well-staged home is a logically organized home. 

I wanted colorful accents outside the shed.
I used this faux finished container, and a vintage tin bucket set in a recycled wire seat
to keep costs down and add personality.
Lessons: Bright color makes sense when decorating
outdoors, especially mixed with some distressed items.
To make the plain jane building more interesting, I mounted
a small wooden shelf, added a Foo Dog, and hung
a small watering can from underneath.
Lesson: Touches of whimsy are always welcome additions.

On the other side of the door I placed a wreath I made from
grapevines and artificial flowers. I know I will 
switch it up in autumn and spring with different DIY wreaths.  
Lesson: A home on the market should reflect the season.

Over the door I added a sign I stenciled on a
scrap piece of wood. It reminds me of my dad.
Lesson: Unique props can make a home on the market
memorable, as long as they are not too personal or controversial. 

The fence sections attached to the front corners helped
to ground the shed and make it look larger and more important.
The ceramic garden seat below the wreath added color.
Lesson: Buyers are impressed with size. Big looks like a bargain. 

Get help with home staging

For more tips about improving the value of your home, download my eBooks about home staging you can do yourself. No matter how long you plan to stay in your home, learning about what makes a property attractive to a wide variety of people is a smart move.