Here are some of the questions readers have asked me lately, along with my candid answers.

Q: Do you think the farmhouse style is a style worth imitating for staging?  -- Nicki S.

A: There's no denying that farmhouse style is popular today and will probably be around for a while. 

It's a relaxed, cozy, and nostalgic look. Modern farmhouse is not traditional country decor, which tends to be more cluttered. 

I would not make drastic changes like adding new flooring or shiplap walls to your home when you are ready to sell, just for the sake of looking more "farmhousey." 

But if you have a clean, neutral background, it would be easy to add some contemporary farmhouse accessories like galvanized or enameled tinware, and wooden bowls and cutting boards, plus some buffalo check fabrics. The right lighting fixtures will help cast that vintage spell, too.

 Q: My Realtor says I must disclose the age of my septic tank and show proof of regular maintenance. I would rather not even mention that we have septic because I think some people consider it a bother. Opinion? -- Frank P. 

A. I think you will be required to note whether your home has either a septic or a sewer connection. Requirements do vary from place to place, so your Realtor, if local, will have answers for you about disclosure. 

More than 21 million U.S. households use septic systems, rather than public sewers, so it's really not a rarity, especially in rural areas. Some of your prospective buyers might prefer a septic system because it saves the cost of sewer service.     

Q: We are staging our home to sell it. I have decluttered and cleaned, and put some belongings in storage. We're fine-tuning now and I want your ideas on whether I should change all the brass doorknobs and hinges on our doors to nickel or stationless or something else? They bother me. We have 19 doors. Is it worth it? -- Melissa G.

A: It depends on what is typical in your market -- at your price point and with your target demographic.

If the demand for houses is high, people may not care about a detail like doorknobs. Some people may not even notice. If your price is such that you'll attract people looking for a bargain, they won't mind replacing brass if it bothers them the way it does you. But if similar properties have made an effort to be more trendy, you could spring for new hardware.  

The important thing is that all your 
doors have matching hardware finishes
and that the metal be clean and in
good condition. Photo: The Hardware Hut

Q: I don't have a nice dining table to stage my dining room. A friend suggested I buy a good one at a local store and then return it to the store for a refund after we have photos taken for our listing. What do you think of this idea? -- Leia H.

A: Not much. You are asking for trouble. You'd be better off looking for something at ReStore or Salvation Army or an estate sale. Once your home sells, if you can't use the table, you could let it convey with the house, donate back, or sell it. 


Modern farmhouse decor is a combination of 
neutral backgrounds, industrial elements, and 
natural materials. You can easily add
wood accessories and props with weathered
textures. Photo: Ashley Varga Design. 

Q: We are trying to sell our house and the house next door to us is a problem. There are often as many as five vehicles parked there. One is a truck that never moves and there are four cars that come and go. I am sure it makes our otherwise nice neighborhood look bad and doesn't give a good impression to people who come to see our house. I don't know what we can do. Our broker suggests we talk to the people and explain we are trying to find a buyer, but I don't see how I could do this and I doubt it would make a difference. -- Janet C.

A: I agree with you. I cannot imagine a scenario where going to a neighbor and telling them that their lifestyle is hurting your chances of selling your home would produce good results. Even a neighbor you are friendly with would be offended! And a hostile neighbor could even take revenge. 

Your best bet is to defer to a higher authority. Check with your local ordinances to find out what your county or town or city stipulates regarding the number of vehicles allowable at one residence. If you have a homeowners association, they might have regulations about this. This tactic removes you from the equation. 

 Also, find out if the truck is currently registered with the DMV. If the tags are expired, it may be against local regulations to store it on the premises.      

Your only other recourse would be to try to schedule showings when there are the least number of cars there. I hope you have success. 

Sometimes enlarging a kitchen island is the
solution to making an older kitchen more in line
with today's lifestyle for families.Photo: McBride Remodeling

Q: We want to sell our home and move to a larger one. The house was built in 1980 and it doesn't have that open floor plan people seem to favor now. TV shows are all about making homes look that way.  I don't know if we should bother to open our kitchen to the dining room. We've had estimates for what it would cost to do that and are reluctant to spend the money. How important do you think this is? -- Sophia N.

A: I would not worry about it. Not every buyer is looking for that kind of openness. Some people don't like the idea of "eating in the kitchen," and want a sense of enclosure to their rooms. Eighty-five percent of America's homes were built before 1980. Just keep all your rooms clean, bright, and uncluttered. And make sure you don't have anything too terribly dated to the 80s, like busy wallpaper or old electronics. You can do it! 

If you have questions for me, you can email me using the envelope icon at the top of this page. Also, you can easily search the 400-plus posts I have written on this blog, using the categories listed above, or by typing in your topic when you click the search icon. Be sure to download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. I want you to make your home staging and home selling easy and profitable! 

Top Photo: Country Living Magazine; Bottom Photo: Ashley Knie