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Tips for staging the busiest room in any home-seller’s house, the kitchen.

Photo by Mick Anders

What does your dream kitchen look like? Is it white with contemporary finishes or does it have a rustic vibe with pale gray-washed shiplap? Chances are good that your answer to that question is at least somewhat—if not very—different than your neighbor’s down the street. Variety is the spice of life, after all, so to each his or her own, right? Sure .… until you decide to sell your house.

“The kitchen will make or break the sale of a house,” says Tammy Wilkerson, owner and head designer of Designed to Sell, a Richmond-area home staging company she started in 2006. “Buying a house involves emotions, and nine times out of 10, that emotion takes shape in the kitchen. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and you don’t want potential buyers to stand in that space and feel unhappy.”

At any given time, Wilkerson and her company’s team of six staging pros are working to make as many as 50 homes on the market in Central Virginia more desirable to would-be buyers.

“More and more people are beginning to get that staging is important to selling a house,” she says. “In fact, a recent national survey showed that for every $100 spent on staging, home sellers get $400 return in the selling price.” 

One of the Richmond houses Wilkerson has staged is at 8902 Brieryle Road in the city’s stately West End neighborhood Mooreland Farms (pictured above). “Whenever possible we like to stage homes that we are bringing to the market,” says Realtor Sally Hawthorne of Joyner Fine Properties, who represents the seller. “It makes such a difference. Tammy’s staging was so fabulous that a couple walked in during the open house and decided to buy it.” 

So how do you create a kitchen that will make everyone happy? Remove the clutter and strive for a balance between contemporary and traditional, says Wilkerson. 

It shouldn’t be bare, but include small things that suggest functionality and warmth. “But nothing that’s too personal, masculine or feminine,” she adds. “You want people to visualize being there without using up too much space to create that look. It’s important that potential buyers feel every inch of the home’s square footage.” 


This article originally appeared in our June 2018 issue.

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