Accessorizing to help your home sell faster
ABOVE: Be sure to pick a rug that allows the main pieces of furniture to rest on it.BELOW: The goal is to have 50 percent of each bookshelf cleared. (photos by tim lee photography; staging by staged to move)
By Kara Woods
Globe Correspondent

In today’s market, many buyers preview homes online, so photos of your home need to capture their attention.

To create exceptional photos, each room needs to be staged for selling, and while accessorizing is the last phase of the design process, it is the most important component of your home’s staging plan. Think of accessories like jewelry: The right pieces have the power to finish a look and create that wow factor.

Here are my top tips for accessorizing:

1. Start with a color scheme

Use one color scheme throughout your home. This will ensure the flow from room to room is cohesive. For example, if your living room’s color scheme consists of grays and blues, run that theme throughout the house. Most buyers pace through a home in five to 10 minutes, so a cohesive color scheme will allow your home to flow without feeling redundant.

2. Choose the large-scale items first and work your way down to the smaller ones

Select the rugs, art, and pillows based on your color scheme. These three items must be coordinated in order to pull the room together.

■ Rugs: Be sure to pick a rug that allows the main pieces of furniture to rest on it. A rug that is too small will make the space look incomplete. If you can’t find the perfect size for your space, always choose the rug that is largest.

■ Art: Use one large piece instead of several smaller ones. The rule of thumb is the art should be two-thirds the size of the wall space. In general, hang art so it is centered at 5 feet 3 inches from the floor. If the art is centered above a console table, hang it about 6 inches above the furniture.

When selecting art, be sure to take into account the type of home you are marketing. When we staged a home in the mountains, for example, we chose a piece of art with a reflective lake to reinforce the stunning views.

■ Pillows: These should pick up the colors in the art, the rug, and the other accessories and pull the design together. When styling a couch, I recommend using five pillows. Place two on one side and three on the other. I like to have one solid on either side, with a texture or pattern on the others. Be creative.

3. Group the smaller accessories

Place accessories in groups of threes based on varying heights, shapes, and colors. As you select these finishing touches, take into account the patterns already in the room, especially the “busy’’ ones. You’ll want the room to feel neutral and uncluttered, so white, woods, creams, silvers, and grays are good items to lead with — meaning that two of the three items can be neutral. Then add a pop of color that works within your theme.

4. Clear the bookshelves

Many of the homes we stage are packed with books; however, when it comes time to sell, you’ll want to edit your shelving and remove the clutter. This is part of the staging process where we get the most resistance — clients don’t want to remove their books — but that’s not seeing the big (dollar) picture.

Clean, decluttered shelves allow the buyer to see the volume of shelving and appreciate the architectural details, instead of perusing your literary collection and losing focus.

First, remove the books you don’t use daily or plan to read in the near future, and then style the shelving to create a designer look:

■ The goal is to have 50 percent of each bookshelf cleared. Think of this as packing early.

■ Combine items with complementary colors.

■ Vary heights and combine similar items.

■ Remove family photos and trinkets.

Remember: Less is more. Initially, you may feel the shelves look sparse, but when you look at the photos, the shelving looks styled and spacious.

The key to accessorizing is to begin with the larger pieces and work your way down to the smaller items. Rugs, art, and pillows are your first grouping. Next, place the smaller accessories: vases, trays, candles, and so on. Vary the heights, and when in doubt, less is more when you are staging a home.

Keep in mind that you are trying to create a room that will photograph well, so neutral pieces with a pop of color work best.

Kara Woods, an award-winning home staging and design professional who specializes in the luxury market, teaches at the Academy of Home Staging and serves as Northeast regional vice president of the Real Estate Staging Association. Send comments and questions to