4 Things to Take Down from Your Walls Before an Open House

What you put up on your walls says a lot about you as a person—everything from your favorite colors to your political beliefs to your overall personal sense of style. But this is exactly the opposite of what you want your walls to reflect when you’re trying to sell your home. Although you shouldn’t entirely strip your home of any personality, it’s a good idea to check yourself when it comes to the artwork and photographs on your walls before buyers start to come in and peruse. 

Unsure of what artwork to take down for a showing? Here’s what professional home stagers have to say about what belongs on your wall—and more importantly, what doesn’t. 

Before even getting to the type of artwork or photographs you have hung on the walls, you should first pay attention to what they’re even hanging in, especially if you’re having a massive display of artwork like a gallery wall, says Adrienne Barron, the principal designer for Alexis B. Holt Design Group, an online staging company based in the Chicago area.

“If you’re going to use a gallery wall, the frames [should] be basic silver or gold. I don’t recommend any extreme designed frames,” she says. “I personally like to use a mix of no frames and framed art for gallery walls.”

Basic colors and styles are your best bet—so avoid anything too quirky or colorful that may turn off a potential buyer. 

Buying and selling a home is inherently one of the most personal and emotional transactions you’ll ever make in your life—but ironically, if you’re selling a home, you want to eliminate nearly every trace of your personal self from the building, especially personal photographs. 

“The first thing any home stager will tell you to do is remove personal pictures before you go on the market. Yes, it makes your home cleaner, sharper, less cluttered, and it also does two other important things for you. It allows the buyer to see themselves there, even if they don’t look like you. It also doesn’t distract them from what they came to see—the house!” says Darla DeMorrow, a home stager and professional organizer in Philadelphia. 

Because buyers are looking for reasons to buy or not buy a home, they get caught up in the personal connections they have to a seller (Do they have kids the same age? Were they both in the military?), and end up focusing on those instead of the features of the home, says DeMorrow. 

Once all of your personal photographs are down, this is an opportunity to start with a blank slate and really examine where you want to put your existing artwork and possibly buy new to avoid any large blank spaces. 

Artwork near the window (or another major design feature)

It’s not always a matter of what artwork you put up, it’s where you choose to display it. Hanging photographs or artwork near natural features of the home, like windows or arches, can take away a buyer’s attention from where it needs to be. 

“When we hang art for staging, we are either trying to draw the eye to a feature of the home, draw the eye away from something that isn’t ideal, or keep the buyer moving to the next area,” says DeMorrow. “For instance, if the room features a large window with a beautiful view, we aren’t going to hang art to compete with that. Let the home sell itself. But if we are trying to direct a buyer to head a particular way down a hallway, we might hang a mirror or artwork on one side or the other to naturally draw them in, creating a flow, almost like a trail of breadcrumbs.”

Artwork that’s too personal or political 

To many, artwork is by its very nature political, and many of us choose to plaster our walls with artwork with overtly political messaging or art that has religious significance. But when you’re trying to sell, it’s best to pack this away—not for fear of offending someone, but just so they can envision themselves in your space with all of their differing thoughts and opinions. 

“Stay away from all political statements (posters, etc.), edgy (nudity), or scary stuff (vampires, spiderwebs, [or] skulls),” says Lucas Schelkens, a home stager, designer, and realtor in Palm Springs, California. 

So, even though your gallery wall of goth animal skulls speaks to your inner Wednesday Addams, it’s best to keep it packed away while potential buyers walk through your halls.

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