How to Stage Your Sonoma Home Like a Pro

Local staging experts share tips on how to stage your home to increase its selling price and the likelihood that it will sell quickly.

The Sonoma County housing market is booming right now. In the past three months, house prices have skyrocketed to record levels, according to The Press Democrat, as buyers make offers over the asking price and snap up homes “in lightning-quick fashion.”

Home owners looking to sell their house will have no problem fetching a good price on this hot sellers’ market. But there are a few tips and tricks still worth considering, such as staging your home, to make sure you get the best price possible.

Professionally staged homes — decorated in neutral colors, cleared of clutter and personal  elements, and enhanced with decorative details — tend to sell faster and for more money than homes that haven’t been spruced up before they hit the market.

Angela Lombardi Carvalho, owner of Wine Country Staging and Design in Santa Rosa, has been working in home design for more than 30 years and is an accredited staging professional. She usually starts the home staging process by decluttering rooms and removing furniture.

“Most people have too much furniture,” she says. “We have a hard time letting go of things, which doesn’t help with the overall feel of a room.”

Staging also involves “depersonalizing” the home: removing photos, kids’ artwork and other objects that add a personal touch. Carvalho also likes to pare down collections — rather than displaying 20 figurines in one spot, she’ll pick out just a few of them and place them on a shelf.

As she stages a home, Carvalho aims to enhance the best features while downplaying or reworking less attractive areas. For example, she’ll paint the front door in a pretty color and add a beautiful welcome mat and some nice flowers to create curb appeal and direct attention away from a ho-hum front yard. In an awkward nook inside the house, like under a stairway or low-vaulted ceiling, she might add an office, something many working-from-home buyers are looking for these days.

Of course everything should be clean — very clean, Carvalho says. Closets, for example, are important areas to address as buyers are always looking for spacious storage areas. Keeping your closets clean and free of excess clothes and clutter will make them look more spacious.

Neutral walls in different shades of white and beige are king in the home staging world. While accent walls or bold colors might be popular in design magazines or on your social media feed, they don’t appeal to a broad range of tastes when it comes to prospective home buyers. If you’re considering selling your home in the near future, you might take this into consideration when repainting a room.

Removing less attractive or worn pieces of furniture and replacing these with a few carefully selected pieces can also add more value to your home. Instead of buying new furniture, stager Leah Johnson of Good Haus in Sonoma recommends shopping Facebook marketplace, Craigslist and local thrift and vintage stores for gently used secondhand items.

“You will be helping the environment and it’s pretty thrilling when you find the right thing,” she says.

Johnson attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles and incorporates feng shui into her staging practices. She also likes to use paintings from local artists as unique accents in the homes she stages and find other ways to support the local economy by incorporating items made and sold in the surrounding area. Adding “living art” — vibrant green plants — is another way she enhances a space.

Click through the above gallery to see a few homes staged by Angela Lombardi Carvalho and Leah Johnson.