Designers share their top secrets for staging your existing home so that it shows well — and sells.

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Q: Best advice for home staging in order to more quickly sell?

A: If you’re planning on building a new home, you may be facing a fairly significant event before you can make that move: selling your existing home. Obviously, pricing your home properly is important to selling it in a timely manner. But making your home attractive to potential buyers also depends on how it looks when they come to see it.

Here are 10 tips we’ve collected from award-winning area designers on how to stage your existing home so that it shows well — and sells.

Clear away clutter. This may be the single most important thing you do to prepare your home. A cluttered home looks smaller than it actually is. Stuffing your closets and drawers, however, isn’t the right approach. Serious buyers will open all the doors and drawers. If those spaces are packed, it can give the impression that there’s not enough space. One solution is to ask a friend or relative to temporarily store some things for you. Or you might rent a storage unit to really clear your space until your home sells.

Keep surfaces clean. We all know that life goes on even when your house is being shown, but during this period, you’ll want to be extra vigilant when it comes to cleanliness. Have disposable dusting and cleaning wipes available for quick wipe-downs on furniture and kitchen and bath surfaces. Keep windows with major views clean as well. Views can help sell your home.

Fix what’s broken or damaged. If you have a hole in the wall (you know, that doorknob that dents the wall coming in from the garage because the stopper broke?), fix it. It’s an easy fix that makes a big impact. But don’t waste your time (or money) remodeling the bathroom. Chances are a buyer will have different taste and see your new finishes as something they would want to change after moving in.

Take a sniff test. This may seem awkward but we do get used to smells that surround us. Have a trusted friend help you with this. You may want to hold off on cooking corned beef and cabbage before a showing and do some deep cleaning — or you may even have to replace some flooring if you have a pet that has forgotten its manners.

Cover unattractive views. You’ll want to allow as much natural light in as possible, but if you have a view of a neighbor’s messy yard, you may want to install top down/bottom up blinds so that the view isn’t advertised.

Group your furniture. You may want to pull furniture away from walls to give a room a larger appearance. Or you may want to store an item or two to enhance the feeling of space in your home. You can also group pieces together to create a cozier gathering place.

Give purpose to empty corners and spaces. You might want to situate a comfy chair and side table in a corner to create a quiet reading area. Suggest additional functionality for rooms (such as a work space at one end of a large family room). Turn a spare bedroom into a craft, exercise, or playroom.

Pay attention to lighting. Make sure your rooms are well lit. Replace burned out bulbs or add brighter lights. Add lamps in corners and work spaces and turn on all the lights for a showing. A bright home suggests warmth and is more welcoming.

Create a warm, personal look. After you’ve decluttered, add a few tasteful and colorful items back in to add personal style and warmth. While you don’t want clutter, you also don’t want the place to look sterile. Place some folded towels and candles in the bathroom. Put a simple floral arrangement on the dining table. Add a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. Keep things simple and clean. If you’re going to err — go for less rather than more. Let the house be the star — not the decorations.

Freshen up the landscape. The time of year will dictate how much you can do with the yard, but keep the lawn neat. Trim the hedges, rake out beds, and (weather permitting) plant a few flowers to add color. Even if your yard isn’t blooming at its peak, having a neat landscape enhances the feel of your home.

None of these items is difficult or expensive to do. It does require a little bit of planning and work, but small steps like this can make the difference between someone really liking your home (and perhaps buying it) and not giving it another thought.

Brooks Powell is the general manager of  Powell Homes and Renovations and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column. If you have a home  improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.