Once you’ve decided to list your home it’s time to make sure buyers love it as much as you did. That said, leaving a home in an overly loved and lived-in condition could detract from its best features—rather than enhance them. Most importantly, buyers need a home to be as much as a “blank slate” as possible so they can imagine themselves living and loving the home in the future. They need to picture putting their own “stamp” on a home, as well as feeling assured that the property has been well maintained by its current owners.

Here are some ideas to help you stage your home to show:

De-clutter. Probably the No. 1 must-do in the staging process (and hardest to maintain, especially if you have kids) is clearing clutter from your home. Throw out stacks of magazines; stow small decorative items; put excess furniture in storage; remove out-of-season clothing from closets; and tidy up the garage. Even if you don’t mind living with “clutter,” too much stuff can be a huge distraction for browsing buyers.

Wash your windows. This quick fix can yield amazing results. Not only does it create a beautiful frame for your home, but it will also allow more light into the interior and highlight any views you want to emphasize. And don’t forget to clean those screens!

Deep clean. A well-cleaned house, rid of lingering smells in carpets and drapes, will make a strong first impression that the home has been well cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates; mop and wax floors; clean the stove and refrigerator; and polish doorknobs and address numbers. If this is overwhelming, hire a cleaning service.

Make minor repairs. Small problems, such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but these little issues could give picky buyers looking for a dream home the impression that the house hasn’t been maintained. Fix them if you want to sell your home faster.

Tidy your yard. Curb appeal is very important to potential buyers. A lawn can set the whole tone for a walk-through. Cut the grass, rake leaves, add some new mulch, trim hedges, edge walkways, patch the driveway and clean gutters. For an affordable accent piece, place a pot of flowers near the entryway.

Finishing touches. There are so many small touches that can add up to a home “looking the part” that its ready to sell:

  • Add a touch of color in the living room with a bright throw or accent pillows on the couch.
  • Place a flowering plant near a window and a centerpiece on a dining table.
  • Install higher-wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms, basements and closets.
  • Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.
  • Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light and show off views.
  • Accentuate a fireplace by adding fresh logs or a basket of flowers if it’s not in use.
  • Enhance bathrooms by removing old toiletries and adding fresh towels, guest soaps and a shower curtain.

As you “set the scene” in your staged home, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What do you want to see when you walk through a home you might consider purchasing?