What works: The room has good proportions, neutral walls and shiny hardwood floors.

What doesn't: A tablecloth and a rug were covering up some of the space's positive aspects.

Analysis: "I don't think sellers realize how distracting those little things can be for a potential buyer," said Lori Matzke of Centerstagehome.com. "You need to think like a buyer -- what's going to actually sell the house? The area rug or those hardwood floors?"


1. A tablecloth that drew too much attention to the table and a dried tabletop arrangement that blocked views into the attached hallway were boxed up and stored.

2. Heavy drapes (not shown) were removed to let more natural light into the room.

3. The area rug was removed to show off the hardwood floors. Staging tip: Although the wood floors had faded around the rug, Matzke was able to soften the contrast by mopping the floor with 2 gallons of lukewarm water and 1 cup of white vinegar, then letting it breathe for a few days.

4. To make the room feel larger, two leaves in the table were removed and two chairs were moved out.

5. Moving the buffet to the far wall makes the space feel balanced and more proportional.

6. The picture above the buffet was moved down several inches to make the ceilings feel higher.

7. A large plant was cleaned and moved to a corner near the windows to add color and to give the room a vertical element.