Your home is an oasis, a place perfectly appointed to suit your personal tastes. Which is exactly as it should be—until it becomes time to list your home and move on to the next dream.

Buyers aren’t looking for a home that appears too lived-in. They’re looking for a space they can customize to their own styles and preferences, with enough of a starting point in place that they can envision their future life. Selling your home is about showing its potential without too much of anything distracting the eye—and the solution is staging. Before you show your home to prospective buyers, you have to take steps to depersonalize it, without draining it of all personality. It’s a balancing act; and if done properly, it can be the difference between closing a beneficial deal or having your home languish on the market unnecessarily.

There are many factors to think about when staging your home, from the curb appeal and landscaping outdoors, to the décor and maintenance inside. But there are a few key details that Elaine Eadon, Sales Associate with Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty, always keeps in mind when helping her clients debut their homes on the market. 

Consider Your Color Palette Carefully

Rumson, New Jersey | Bridget BrunoHeritage House Sotheby’s International Realty

Color is an important factor in any space, and it is critical in creating first impressions. This may not seem like novel advice, and yet Eadon is constantly surprised by how many clients think they can ignore color when staging their homes for sale. “People tend to forget or overlook painting, largely due to cost,” she says. But color can make or break the appeal of your home.

Like fashion trends, many hues lack universal or perennial appeal: homebuyers may associate certain colors with bygone eras. The wrong color can inadvertently imbue your room with too much character, or turn it into a relic from the past. “For example, if a room is painted red, it needs to be changed to a more up-to-date color,” says Eadon of today’s buyer preferences.

As a homeowner, you should feel free to be creative and subjective in decorating spaces that speak to you. But as a home seller, the focus shifts to what will be best for your buyer. Part of the staging process is choosing colors with wide appeal—preferably to something lighter, which can give your spaces a more expansive feel.

It's Not Just What Furniture You Have, but Where

Middletown, New Jersey | Robin HemphillHeritage House Sotheby’s International Realty

The furniture you display should be strategically selected to enhance the design of each space in your home. Do your walls and ceilings have architectural ornamentation? Consider pairing them with traditional, hand-carved pieces for an elegant yet homey aesthetic, or else stage your space with contemporary furnishings and edgy wall art to create a compelling contrast.

If you’re not sure where to start, seek the expert advice of a professional—especially if they have furniture to lend you. “I use a professional stager depending on the circumstance; that can make all the difference in a home where extra furniture is needed for a better presentation,” says Eadon. “Good stagers have an array of furniture options for sellers.”

If you’re working with the furniture you already have, then arrangement is key. “Sometimes moving a bed to another wall will open up a room and have it appear larger and more enticing,” notes Eadon. Conversely, in large rooms, group furnishings to create functional, conversational areas that still leave lots of space to move.

Enhance the Shine With the Right Lighting Fixtures

Little Silver, New Jersey | Elaine Eadon, Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty

When asked what other finishing touches homeowners overlook when staging, Eadon has two words: “Lighting fixtures.”

When staging, fill your home with light to boost appeal for buyers. Pay special attention to ambient light, which shines from overhead, and accent lights, which are individual fixtures that stand on surfaces or are mounted on walls. Make sure all bulbs and shades are clean, and bear in mind that whiter light appears more natural—and natural light is high on most buyers’ wish lists.

The primary purpose of your lighting should always be to make your home more photogenic. “Since 95% of buyers shop online for homes, the photography is just as important as the presentation,” advises Eadon.

Don't Overlook Your Digital Options

Fair Haven, New Jersey | Elaine Eadon, Heritage House Sotheby’s International Realty

Because of how many luxury buyers search for their dream homes online, you may be able to do a virtual staging of your home. In Eadon’s experience, it can add immense value when done well.

“This past year, I had a vacant home that I had been trying to sell unsuccessfully. After it had been on the market for a couple of months, Sotheby’s International Realty introduced virtual staging through Curate. The result was amazing. Within one week of not changing anything in the price, wording, or anything else, I received two offers on the property. It sold for full price shortly after.”

When putting your home on the market, it may be worth investigating your virtual options. “It’s awesome because the homeowner doesn’t have to add any expense in staging their home,” says Eadon. “Plus, it’s fun to see the before and after pictures.”

As you prepare for sale, take a second look at the interplay of color, light, and featured furniture pieces in your space—and for a finishing touch, create a virtual version of your home that buyers can browse from anywhere. “I think staging, whether it be virtual or not, makes a tremendous difference in buyers’ perception of the home,” says Eadon. “It gives them a vision of what’s possible, which they may not have been able to see before.”

Article originally appeared in the Extraordinary Living Blog,  Sotheby's International Realty