The fireplace is a key focal point in any room in any home. It is a significant real estate asset that should be showcased when selling a property. This article describes in detail the steps involved in fireplace staging and the reasons why each step improves the appearance and value of the fireplace.
Why Staging a Fireplace Works
No matter the season, it’s time to highlight your home’s fireplace as a must-have feature for potential buyers. According to a joint research conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Center for Real Estate Research, fireplaces can contribute up to 12% to the overall value of a home.
Twelve per cent is a huge factor in a home’s value so it stands to reason that you should spend time on this asset to make sure that it presents itself in the best possible condition.
People value fireplaces for more than just the heat they can produce. They are also places where family memories are made, where quiet times are spent reading mystery novels and helping school children learn their lessons. It is these warm thoughts that also make a fireplace so valuable to so many and a must-have for some buyers.
If you are diy home staging your own property, then you should spend some time working on and around your fireplace. Home staging isn’t complete without addressing this important asset.
How can you turn this popular house feature into a hot selling factor for your property?
Step 1: Cleaning
A clean fireplace looks more attractive, is safer and shows the home has been well-cared for. The condition of the fireplace will be very apparent once the area has been decluttered and the spotlight is on the fireplace and mantel area.
If not done correctly, cleaning your fireplace can be a dirty chore. The ashes left in your fireplace are usually very tiny, and they can easily become airborne, posing a health risk within your home. To avoid fighting with the thick black build-up within your fireplace, spreading ash throughout your living room and spreading dust and soot throughout your home, proper care is essential.
There’s also the risk of bird nesting in your chimney flue if you don’t have a top-sealing chimney damper installed. This can lead to the entry of a variety of harmful parasites and germs into your home.
Cleaning your wood-burning fireplace once a week is recommended when it is in frequent usage. Cleaning should be done on a monthly or bimonthly basis for infrequent users. Cleaning is required for gas-burning fireplaces on a yearly basis. If your fireplace doesn’t get much use, it still should be cleaned when your home is listed for sale.
Cleaning a Wood-Burning Fireplace
- Cover any nearby furniture and carpet with trash bags or old sheets to protect the surrounding area. To dispose of the ash, soot, and debris, have a trashcan lined with two bags nearby.
- Before cleaning the flue, look for bird nests and any damage or trash that has to be addressed.
- Remove the andirons and grate from the fireplace and place them outside. To remove any buildup or stuck-on carbon deposits, spray them down with an all-purpose cleaner with a medium-bristle brush. Thoroughly rinse with water.
- Remove any debris from the firebox. This is the location where the fire actually occurs. Remove ashes and any residual wood using a fireplace shovel and dump in the garbage pail. Sweep the inside of the chimney and firebox with a small brush or fireplace brush. Remove the loose dust and ash with a broom or vacuum.
- Get rid of the creosote. Creosote deposits form as a result of the burning of wood in your fireplace. Spray the chimney liberally with a good cleaner as high as you can safely reach to prevent odorous creosote build-up. To help the cleaner stay on the surface longer, use foaming cleansers. Don’t worry if some of the Cleanser runs down onto the block below; this will aid you in the next stage.
- Clean out the fireplace. Cleanser should be sprayed on the interior walls of your firebox, and soot should be removed with a stiff bristles brush. Thoroughly rinse with water.
- Clean the screens and doors around the fireplace. Cleanser can be sprayed on fireplace screens and doors. Scrub any visible buildup on the screen using a medium bristles brush. Rinse and air dry or use a paper towel to dry.
- Using paper towels or rags, absorb any excess soot, cleaner, or water. Replace andirons and grate if necessary.
Cleaning Gas Fireplaces
- Turn the valve off as directed. Make certain the gas is turned off.
- Debris should be removed. Clean the fireplace area using a vacuum or a sweeping motion to remove any dirt, dust, or glass chips.
- Clean the logs with a damp cloth. Spray an all-purpose cleaner on a paper towel and wipe down the surface of your synthetic logs for a gentle cleaning.
- Clean the screens and doors of the fireplace. Cleanser can be sprayed on fireplace screens and doors. Scrub any visible buildup on the screen with a damp medium bristles brush. As needed, repeat the operation on the firebox’s walls and base. Rinse and air dry or use a paper towel to dry.
- Replace the logs if you have removed them.
If the fireplace box is stained, you can paint the inside of the firebox with heat-resistant paint. We often paint the firebricks with black paint if we can clean the bricks sufficiently for the paint to adhere properly. Your local hardware store will be able to advise you as to how much paint and the type of paint that will work best for your firebox. Painting the firebox takes just minutes and makes the firebox look brand new.
When you are done cleaning, make sure the inside of the fireplace is staged for it’s purpose. There should be unburnt logs in a wood burning fireplace (birch logs work best because of the light colored bark). Gas logs are sufficient in a gas fireplace. If you don’t have a log holder and you want to avoid the black hole affect, add some large, chunky pillar candles in a group, 5 -7 work well, to give the impression of the warmth you are seeking.
Step 2: Lighting
Proper lighting draws attention to a feature you want buyers to look at. Fireplaces in living spaces are no exception.
If your fireplace surround has sconces, then your lighting task will be easier. As with all lighting, the fixtures should be clean and simple in design. Vintage homes are known to have ornate fixtures which are true to the period. Just make sure these are clean, polished and work perfectly.
If the room has overhead can lighting, then one of these can be retrofitted to spotlight the fireplace and its mantel so the light is directed exactly where you want people to look.
Similarly, existing track lighting can be modified to illuminate the fireplace and its surround.
If none of these options exist in your home, you still have a few ways to produce accent lighting for your fireplace and mantel. A floor fixture can be used to direct lighting to the fireplace. These fixtures sit on the ground and are quite unobtrusive if hidden behind a chair or chest.
Use a pair of small lamps on your mantel, one on each side. This balances the fireplace mantel and will provide illumination. This method works perfectly if there are available sockets on either side of the fireplace. Just make sure you do your best to disguise/hide the cords.
Step 3: Decorating
Now that the fireplace and surround have been decluttered and cleaned, it’s time to add character and charm with some fireplace ideas back into the space.
We think in terms of balance and color when decorating a fireplace mantel or fireplace surround.
In terms of design and color, you want your mantel décor to be harmonized with the rest of the space and create an overall sense of symmetry.
Add some color to the mantle and hearth – especially in neutral-colored living rooms, this is a terrific area to add color to bring attention to the room’s highlight. This can be done with artwork, flowers in a vase or pillows on the hearth. Color attracts potential buyers and encourages them to stay longer.
Choose artwork as a focal point that will appeal to a wide range of purchasers’ tastes. Simple neutrals, modern art and abstracts are our favorites. Detailed art becomes too thematic and distracting.
Don’t worry about nailing art to the wall, especially if it’s brick; leaning artwork against the wall and allowing it to rest on the mantel is totally acceptable.
Staging tips: If you find the perfect, colorful yet simple, piece of art for over your fireplace, take a color cue and design inspiration from it. Pull out the vivid tones from the art piece and accessorize your sofa or chairs with pillows or throws in the same colors. The room will feel pulled together with the repetition of similar colors – especially in rooms with neutral toned furnishings and upholstery. Interior designers will tell you it is much easier to find pillows that match artwork than artwork that will pull in the colors in your home décor.
Step 4: Adding Accessories
We prefer to keep the fireplace mantel décor to three pieces. Three candlesticks, three small green plants, two lamps and a pot of flowers. Over cluttering a mantel is counterproductive to what you are trying to accomplish. You want to show off the fact you have an attractive mantel and that these are the types of items it will hold. Nothing more.
We typically clear any screens, andirons and tools from the scene. If a room lacks life and looks sterile, we put a green leafy plant such as Boston fern on the hearth in front of the fireplace.
If you have chosen your artwork well, then a lot of accessories aren’t necessary. Remember, the art doesn’t have to be expensive. Just something abstract in a nice, clean-lined frame will do nicely. And remember, no family photos on the mantel or anywhere else.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
The final touch to any fireplace is building a fire in it. We usually never light a fire in a wood-burning fireplace for showings. There’s just too much risk of smoke and odors as well as the hazards it might pose to younger members of families looking at your home.
If the weather is particularly cold or snowy, we will occasionally light a gas fireplace if there is safety glass covering the firebox opening. Don’t forget to open the flue!
When photos are taken of a home we stage, we instruct the photographer to digitally add a roaring fire in the fireplace. Photoshopping a fire helps an online buyer visualize sitting in front of the fire and draws attention to this valuable feature of your home. When virtual staging a home, we always put a fire in the fireplace.
Staging a fireplace will improve its appeal and increase the likelihood of the property being sold quickly. It is an asset to important (and large) to ignore!