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6 Tricks Home Stagers Use to Make Your Kids’ Rooms Look Way Cleaner

published Jan 14, 2021
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So your child’s room is a bit of a disaster zone. Hey, no judgement here. Messiness is a part of life, but unfortunately, it’s not part of the process for successfully selling a home. That’s where home stagers come in—they unleash a few simple tricks to make a house seem appealing to buyers of all kinds. 

Luckily for families, stagers have some quick and affordable ways to incorporate great-looking storage and design principles that’ll transform even the most chaotic kids’ rooms.

Here, staging experts share their best tips for making children’s rooms look fantastic — whether selling is imminent or not.

First, realize that kids’ rooms can make or break a sale.

Yes, a fabulous kitchen will put your property at the top of buyers’ lists, but don’t overlook children’s bedrooms, says Atlanta-based certified professional organizer Naeemah Ford Goldson, owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing.

“Showcasing a child’s room to a buyer is important, because you want them to envision themselves in that space,” Goldson says. “If they have children or plan to someday, they’ll want to make sure they have enough space for them. Having the space organized means they don’t have to wonder where they’ll store their kids’ toys, clothes, and books. There’s a calming quality when walking into a space that is beautifully organized and staged.”

Make the closet work hard.

The number one culprit in children’s rooms? Mountains of toys and stuffed animals, says Carol Smith, president of Creative Home Stagers in Charlotte, N.C.

“Keep a few of your child’s favorites in baskets in their closet,” Smith says. Then pack the rest out of sight.

“Explain to your child that the toys are taking a vacation or moving early into the new house,” she says. “Or, have your child select a few toys to donate to children who are less fortunate.” 

Store large toys like kitchens, doll houses, tents and Lego creations at the top of a closet so visiting children don’t break them, she adds.

“Many times, a child’s room is just lacking a home for items, so the most important thing to do is make sure each item has a place to live,” explains Goldson, who wrote Tidy Tessa, a children’s book that teaches kids to organize their rooms.

“Closets sell homes, and if you can afford to get a custom closet for your kids’ space, it will definitely give you a slight edge over any housing comps without custom closets,” she says. “I also love to use vertical wall space by installing a shelving unit, floating shelves or a freestanding bookcase.”

Rearrange the furniture.

If your child’s room is laid out wrong, buyers might think it’s too small, so strategic furniture placement is key to open up the space, says Lisa Shipley, owner of Imagine Home Staging and Design in Beaverton, Ore.

“I make sure all walkways are clear for closets, and many times I’ll move out unnecessary furnishings to make a room look larger,” says Shipley. 

“Most buyers are mainly concerned with room size and closets, so if there isn’t one, I look for ways to suggest storage to the potential buyer—like a dresser from another room or a well-placed cabinet.” 

Don’t buy into organizing systems right away!

Resist the temptation to drop a pile of cash on organizing systems that won’t work for your space. Instead, make sure you purge items before purchasing anything, says Goldson. 

“Once you’ve decided which items will be stored and where, this might mean investing in a new closet or storage system, or new containers,” she explains:

“Maybe they need drawers, long and short hanging space, hooks for backpacks, belts, and hats, and storage for shoes. Always measure the width, height and depth of your shelves and drawers before purchasing new storage items. Clear containers are great because kids can see what’s inside.”

Smith recommends purchasing storage systems that can be used for years to come.

“Cost-effective baskets can grow as the child grows: When they’re small, they’re used for toys, and later it’ll be used for extra blankets or basketballs,” she says.

Try to remove posters from teens’ rooms.

“I think teens are the most challenging to stage around, because they often have pretty eclectic taste and their rooms can be a varying degree of rock star memorabilia to sports team decor,” Smith says. “We have to have tough conversations with parents, asking them to remove items so the room will appeal to any age group.”

Shipley adds that if your teen’s room is piled with dirty laundry and wall-to-wall posters, that will turn off buyers. 

“Take down posters and artwork, but keep some school items to connect buyers to the local school,” she says. “Their beds should be made every day, and I suggest buying new bedding in a neutral color.” 

Smith recommends investing in double-duty items: Use colorful storage cubes as ottomans at the foot of a bed, and two small chests with drawers instead of side tables.

“Group colors together, such as red books on one shelf and blue on another, so the look will be uniform and less cluttered, so buyers stay focused on purchasing your home,” adds Shipley. 

Make visiting kiddos feel at home.

Since many buyers bring their kids to open houses, proper staging should make them love it, too, notes Shipley.

“Parents are concerned with enough space and function, but it’s important that kids can imagine themselves living there,” she explains. 

“It’s great when a room is well-decorated and organized, because kids sometimes have a difficult time leaving their old home and trying to envision being comfortable and happy in a new home,” she says. “Emotionally connecting a child to a new space may help influence the parents’ decision on whether they purchase a home or not.”