Interview with Tori Toth: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick Sell

I am so excited to share an interview today that I got to do with Tori Toth, a New York City based home staging expert!  I have always found the process of selling and buying a home fascinating.

When looking online you can usually tell which homes have been staged for sale and which haven’t.  My first experience with a stager occurred 3+ years ago when we sold our condo.

My realtor felt so strongly that a stager was integral to the process of selling a home that she personally paid for a stager to come to everyone of her client’s homes before they put their home on the market.

I learned a lot from my stager about how to market my home to potential buyers and I’m excited to share Tori’s words of wisdom on the topic!


 Tori Toth How to stage a home for sell

Tori Toth is a home staging expert, author of Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell, Founder of The Stage 2 Sell Strategy, and Owner of Stylish Stagers, Inc. a NYC based home staging company.


So let’s begin the Q&A!


Provident Home Design:

1.  Of all the home improvement projects one can do (and there are a lot), when it comes time to sell which improvements make a house sell faster?   



I always find that home improvement projects that make the house sell fastest is when you paint, update the flooring, and replace light fixtures.

Paint can instantly update a tired old space and make it look, feel, and smell like new again – especially if the walls were covered in wallpaper.

The same goes for flooring, wood flooring that’s scratched can be refinished with a top coat for an instant shine and if you have outdated, stained carpet it’s best to get rid of it and replace with a more affordable material. For details on those check out this video:

Light fixtures are an easy way to tell if the home has been maintained throughout the years and can show the home’s actual age. So, if you have older fixtures, spend some money on replacing them.


Provident Home Design: 

1b. Which DIY projects increase the home’s value the most?



If you have some money to spend, I’d say make sure to update the kitchen, then the bath, and then curb appeal. The kitchen, as we know, is the heart of the home and it should feel light, bright and spacious with updated appliances and countertops. Most bathrooms get used and abused. They should look white glove clean, so replace old tile, vanities and tubs. Curb appeal and adding landscaping can give you a 215% return on your investment according to Homegains 2012 Top 1- DIY Home Improvements for Sellers. This is an important area because it’s the first thing buyers will see and sets the tone of what to expect inside.


Provident Home Design:

 2.   What are the best paint colors for selling a home?  Do you have any go-to-favorites?    



It’s important to stick to neutral tones on your walls, unless you know your particular buyer will like a splash of color. You find this out by researching your neighborhood and putting together a buyer profile. Neutral tones are not just the “blah” real estate beige — here are some of my go-to colors:

Halo, it’s from Benjamin Moore’s off white collection and it’s not only sophisticated but has endless possibilities when it comes to playing up other colors. This color is so versatile…

 Best paint colors to sell a house


Benjamin Moore Silver Fox – it’s not really silver, but actually looks more like a gray-beige which is a good color combination to use in a room that you want to feel warm and cozy. When you put this color on your walls it’s almost as if you’re wrapping a blanket around you, so get comfy.

best paint colors to sell a house


The next color is a blue gray and its called Eternity from Benjamin Moore. I absolutely love this color and I’ve recommended it at least a dozen times to use in bathrooms, bedrooms, and even family rooms. It’s in my bedroom now and it’s a great color because it changes depending on the light being reflected. It’s a great color for southern facing rooms.

best paint colors to sell a house



Provident Home Design: 

2b.  I’ve always wondered, if you have a kid’s room painted in blue or pink or purple is that a turn off to potential buyers?



Kids’ rooms are usually secondary rooms to be staged and don’t affect the sale as much so you can have colorful kids’ rooms — unless the color is making the space look smaller than it actually is. At the end of the day we want to showcase maximum square footage. If you have a darker color on the wall, make sure the furniture and accessories in the room are light and bright.


Provident Home Design:

3.   In your book you touch on the emotional side of buying and selling a home.  What are some of the simplest ways to elicit a positive emotional response from potential buyers?



If you’ve researched your potential buyer, you’ll have a better idea of what they like, collect, and spend time doing. Once you know this you can use that to display moments in time that the buyer can emotionally connect to. So maybe it’s showcasing a place to entertain a sports fanatic in the basement or where you can spend time reading to a child.


Buyers like to envision themselves in the space and are really looking for how they’ll utilize it, so try to physically display these moments. Overall consider the buyer. Would the buyer want to step over your mess on the floor to see the bathroom? Or see your dirty dishes? Be considerate of their time and have clean, organized spaces that they can actually consider living in and that will instantly put them in a better mood as they tour your home.


Provident Home Design:

 4.   We all have our personal styles when decorating our home but are there certain styles of decorating that sell better?



The design style of your home depends on the architectural style of the space, what you already have in the home, and what your buyer would like. It’s usually a combination of styles because you need to stay true to the home’s architectural style, but not all colonial homes need to be traditional. I would say the overall design style that sells better is transitional because it mixes the traditional with modern/contemporary style.


Provident Home Design: 

 5.   You’ve mentioned curb appeal, how important is curb appeal?  Do you have any tips for increasing curb appeal?



 First impressions can make or break a sale, and curb appeal is the first impression being made with the buyer so it is extremely important.


Curb Appeal

  • Stay on top of your front landscaping, mow the lawn and trim bushes.
  • Power wash the home and sidewalks.
  • Add a welcome mat and potted plants around doorway.
  • Paint your door to update the look of your home, update the hardware.
  • Place a wreath or arrangement on your door.
  • Remove all toys, figurines from the front yard.
  • Clean all your windows.
  • Update lighting and house numbers. Make sure they match.
  • Repair the roof, gutters and update exterior paint if peeling.   


Provident Home Design:

6.  When you go to sell a home do things behind closed doors (like closets and cabinets) need to be staged?



One of the first things buyers look for in a home is space, especially more storage space. It’s ideal to go through all your closets, kitchen cabinets or any cabinets that are provided in built-ins. Buyers are nosey and they want to know what they’re buying so focus on organizing and packing up items you won’t need while on the market.


 Provident Home Design:

6b.  What would you like people to know about the importance of staging a home?



Today’s home buyers are looking for move-in ready homes and that’s what home staging does. It gets the home prepared for sale and the next homeowners. Home staging will help you stand out amongst your competition if you live in a competitive market. It also makes the home easier to market because it will provide amazing photos to show online, which is where most buyers go to search for their next home. Home staging can also get you more offers and can increase the price of the home or, at the very least, justify the price the home seller is looking for.


A big thanks to, Tori, for letting me interview her!  If you have interest on the topic of home staging and/or how to sell a house quickly then you will definitely enjoy her book!  You can check it out HERE (affiliate link used for your convenience)!

How to sell a house fast



If you know anyone getting ready to sell their home feel free to share this post with them!

The stager I used suggested having fresh yellow flowers in the home or on the porch because psychologically the color yellow indicates value or that you are getting a good deal.  Our condo only had 5 showings before it sold, so who knows?

Til next time!


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Top Paint Colors to Sell a Home

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I Love Hearing from You!

  1. after all that updating and expenditure, I wouldnt bother to move out! i can’t see spending thousands of dollars on upgrades that i wont be there to enjoy, just to have the new owner rip it all out and do their own upgrades to their own taste. Clean, neat, smelling like chocolate chip cookies, minimal , non personal decor items. I’ll go that far. but not spend the money im saving for a new house on upgrading the one im trying to get out of. i cant figure how that doesnt end up biting me in the butt.

    • A large percent of homebuyers have no imagination, have very busy lives, and have little confidence in pricing, hiring contractors and remodeling in general…this includes seemingly easy things. Interest rates are so low and down payments high, so most buyers want to be done spending when they close and just finance everything for 30 years. If you do not meet the move-in ready, no immediate expenses criteria of these buyers, they will keep looking unless you are significantly lower priced than competition.

  2. I’m get that you should put a lot of things in storage when selling your house, but as far as staging – exactly how do homeowner’s who have kids and pets stage a home to look magazine cover perfect while still living day to day in the home? We’ve painted, we’ve replaced all carpet with laminate flooring but not being able to live day to day in our home while trying to sell it is extremely difficult

    • I won’t lie, Renee, it’s a big pain! I had 3 small kids when we sold our condo a few years back. We put the kids bigger toys in storage and then stored the smaller ones in decorative baskets. We would live day to day as normal for the most part but when there would be showing I’d load a bunch of stuff up in the back of the van or put stuff in our 1 car garage so that it would look more pleasing when they came. Each day I had a showing I was a stress ball trying to keep the place clean and get it showing ready–it’s a very good thing for my sanity that we only had 5 showings before we sold!!:-) Just do your best and let the rest go!

      • If you are planning to sell to a family, I see no reason why a beautifully staged playroom or play area won’t work. I am an organization nut, so I went to town on my kids’ playroom, put sticker photos of what belongs in which bin and hung the mountains of dress up clothes on a pretty rack. Now, people can come in and think “Wow! There is tons of room for toys in this house AND they will stay organized!”

        …thankfully, no one seese threaten to lock the playroom door when the kids don’t pick up, though. 🙂

  3. I am not selling but would like a stager to help me decorate. I live in Lakewood, NJ and it is difficult to find a decorator that will include things I already have.

  4. We are selling and just put in off white cabinets and granite (Madison spring) counter tops and need a color for the wall, floor, and back splash. It looks gray but not. It has dark wine color in it. Any help you can give.

    • Hi Jean! Personally I would go with the Benjamin Moore Halo but I would get a sample first and paint it on a piece of poster board and hold it up in different spots around the kitchen since the lighting of a room can really affect how the color looks looks in the room. You can go to Home Depot or lowes or shrewin Williams to get Benjamin Moore paint colors!:-)

  5. Hi Tamara. I’m moving to a rental and the landlord will allow me to paint. Which of these colors would be beneficial in a medium size room with black furniture.

    Thank you.

  6. Hi Tamara! Love this article….great ideas which I’ve used before. I’m painting our home, but not going with gray. I’m planning to use Accessible Beige from Sherwin Williams. I know you mentioned being can be blah, but I wondered what your thoughts were on this color? Is it a mistake?

    • Hi Barb, thanks for your question! I don’t think painting your home Accessible Beige will hurt your homes value. It is still a neutral. That being said beige is the less preferred neutral right now. Grays and off whites with more of a creamy or even yellow undertone are more popular right now (but that can change). I just painted over my 2 story foyer which use to be SW Kilim Beige. I didn’t like Kilim beige because it had strong orange undertones to me. From what I’ve read it sounds like Accessible Beige isn’t too orangey. I don’t think it would be a mistake as long as you love the color!:-)

    • Hi Caroline! Generally colors with yellow undertones will be best in northern-facing rooms. I have Valspar Del Coronado Tequila in my north facing bedroom and really like it. Another warm off-white to consider is Benjamin Moore Simply White…I just shared some great info about it in my most recent post, If you are looking for more color in your room I would stick to the mid range warm colors Like yellow, orange, rust, or warm greens like lime. My preference is the warm off-whites and then I bring color in through my decor. I hope this helps!!

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  8. No, despite every recent decorating blog trying to shove it at us, grey, grey, and more grey is not the color that would inspire me to buy a house.

    • No worries, m none, not everyone is attracted to gray tones. Tori recommended 3 paint colors and only 1 of them was grey. You definitely don’t have to paint your house grey to sell it. Personally I love off-white colors with warm undertones.:-)

    • Nope, powdery light blue does not sound right at all! It should be more like a light gray, greige, or taupe. I wonder if you could try taking it back? Let me know what happens!

  9. Help…my front door opens into the foyer, living room, stairs and hall – all in one view. We use the living room as our office because the kitchen, dining and family room are on the back of the house.
    I want to paint the living room a different color than all of the hall areas…. the living room and front door/foyer are on the same wall.
    We are going to sell in two years and I want to start updating now.
    Thanks Suzanne

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    • Hi Theresa! My go to color for trim is Behr Ultra Pure White. It is a bright white that looks good with any color and will make any home look more updated, clean, and fresh. Hope this helps!!

  11. Wanting to update my colors, but all my trim is Navajo beige by Sherrie Williams. What newer colors do you think would go with this, or not!?

  12. I know this an older post, but just had to comment after finding it on pinterest. My daughter had a townhouse in downtown Indy that she paid 183k for. We replaced all light fixtures, removed carpet in bedrooms and put down hardwood to match first floor hardwood, took up berber carpet from both staircases and pulled up plywood stairs and replaced with new treads and risers. Two and a half years later, we moved her and her fiance to new home, and staged townhouse. I’m a retired interior designer now flipping properties. The townhouse went on the market, and sold 5 hours later, before the first openhouse! The new owners wanted the offer accepted before the openhouse. She sold the townhouse for 300k with five other townhouses in her complex on the market and listed below hers. For a 20k investment, which included new HVAC, and new water heater, she walked away from the closing with a 115k check! Just goes to show that staging, and smart improvements will get you a return on your investment.

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