Soar To New Heights – Staging Cottages

Specializing Your Home Staging Services – Staging Cottages

“Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with the beauty of sunset, with the quiet of nature, with a warm and cozy cottage.” – Thomas Kinkade

There is something special about ‘cottage country’. Every summer, families load suitcases and anticipation into the car, and head towards cottages situated on picturesque beaches, surrounded by rocky coasts and forests of pine trees. The sunsets, the sound of seagulls, and the smell of sunblock seep into every tiny pore, ensuring the memories of summer live on, well past the season’s demise. Who wouldn’t want to spend hours listening to the soft lapping of a placid lake? Or enjoy the delectable delights of a fish caught off the dock? Cottage country offers an escape; it offers city-dwellers a different way of life.

Your expertise as a USC™Certified UltimateStager™ is not limited to the city and its suburbs. Just like the hungry seagull, cottage country offers an opportunity for you to branch out and spread your Stager wings. The clientele is the same, the search is different; families looking for a fun and relaxing summer retreat, professionals seeking a weekend getaway, and retirees pursuing a quieter way of life. And, just like the homes you stage in the city, “every lake, lot, shoreline and cottage are different and unique”. Staging cottages requires everything in your Home Stager “toolbelt”: knowledge, expertise, and creativity.

Why do people long for the cottage life?

Part of being an exceptional USC™ Home Stager is understanding the psychology of buyers; in this situation it is learning the many reasons why potential buyers begin a search for a cottage. “Ninety-five percent of cottage purchasers buy on emotion or love at first sight”.  Understanding the emotions that you as a Home Stager are trying to invoke, is the key to your success. What are the buyers longing for? Just like staging within the city, staging cottages is all about selling a lifestyle. Learning the demographics of each area, lake, and town will help you to understand the specific activities and lifestyle each is known for.

Reasons why people long for the cottage life:

  • For many city dwellers, “space is the new luxury”.

    • These potential buyers are interested in purchasing a cottage with land, far away from neighbours.

    • These individuals may also be interested in a cottage nestled among the pines, situated on a quiet river or tiny lake.

    • Appeal to their desire for seclusion and solitude.

  • Some buyers want to bring the outdoors in.

    • They want nature-inspired artwork and accessories.

    • These purchasers do not want the cottage to feel like a city home.

  • For some purchasers, the cottage life is all about the experiences, activities, and local amenities.

    • In some cases, the purchase is just as much about the wineries and craft breweries, as it is the cottage itself.

    • This individual is seeking fun and excitement; space for entertaining, water sports, and boating are all important.

  • For families with small children, a sandy beach and a shallow walk into the lake may be priorities.

    • Space for board games, “bunkies”(additional beds in an outdoor building), multiple bedrooms, low-maintenance lots, and room-to-grow will appeal to these purchasers.

  • Professionals may long for a second home.

    • Many people can work from home and crave a cottage with fresh air and ‘city-type’ amenities, including high-speed internet and granite countertops.

    • Staging for this buyer will be more of a “home-away-from-home” feel.

  • Some purchasers are seeking a retreat; somewhere to relax, de-stress, and recharge.

    • Your job as a Home Stager is to set the home up so that they can envision themselves leaving the stress of the city behind.

    • A cozy reading nook complete with a stack of books and Muskoka chairs waiting on the dock, will both set the mood.

    • Create a spa in the bathroom and set the table for a romantic dinner for two.

  • Just like in the city, some potential purchasers are high-end buyers looking for a luxurious retreat.

    • These cottages require heated docks, boat slips, media rooms with the latest technology, guest houses, wine cellars, and kitchens with state-of-the-art appliances.

  • For some buyers, the focus is to be on the water. Again, knowing what they crave is key.

    • A small lake means quiet activities and fewer motorized boats.

    • A medium-sized lake means fishing and kayaking.

    • A large lake means motorized boats, water skiing, and jet skis.

    • A sandy shore means quiet afternoons building sandcastles and napping under an umbrella.

    • A deep lake means lounging dockside and diving off into its enticing depths.

Adjust your home staging toolbelt to life in cottage country; understand the emotions behind the purchaser’s longings; arm yourself with knowledge about the specific areas, lakes, and towns; and use this information to make the most of your expertise.

What are the different types of cottages?

Just like in the city, the type of cottage will determine how you stage it. Styles of cottages may include:

  • A rustic cabin in the woods.

    • Bring nature in, using woven baskets, faux animal hide, and artwork including natural scenes and landscapes.

    • Incorporate a colour palette using white, brown, yellow, blue, or green.

    • “Kitschy” accessories might work well in this type of cottage, depending on the demographic.

  • An old farmhouse.

    • Utilize a soft colour palette and vintage accents.

    • Display fresh flowers in ceramic vases and accessorize with natural rugs and cozy throws.

  • A simple, A-frame cottage with a dock, canoes, and Bunkies.

    • Create a welcome family retreat with tables set up for a rainy afternoon of board games.

    • Set a harvest table for dinner and accessorize with handmade pottery.

    • Stage the dock with Muskoka chairs in various colours, as well as an overturned canoe complete with paddles. “Buyers want to envision their family enjoying all the features that the cottage has to offer”.

    • An extra shed can be staged as a “Bunkie”: displaying cozy beds in an outside building “allows buyers to envision the space as extra square footage, rather than as just another storage area”.

  • A renovated, home-away-from-home with wraparound cedar decks.
    • Emphasize the open space with a colour palette of white, cream, gray and muted brown.

    • Accessorize with oversized artwork, large coloured glass décor, and soft throws.

    • Stage the deck with cozy seating and plenty of accent pillows.

  • A luxurious, modern, glass, marble, and steel masterpiece complete with floating dock and boathouse.

    • Staging this style of cottage will be similar to staging high-end homes in the city.

    • Appeal to a luxurious lifestyle with every amenity.

Are there special considerations when staging cottages?

As a USC™ UltimateStager™, it is important to consider the specific challenges of staging cottages. These can include:

  • The expense and availability of rental furniture.

    • Although companies in the city will deliver rental furniture to cottage country, it will cost significantly more. For instance, Lux Furniture Rentals in the Toronto area will deliver to cottage country with a minimum order of $3000.00, and a charge of $349.00 each way. This compares to delivery within the city, which requires no minimum order and costs between $95.00-$149.00 each way.

    • Opting for local furniture rental companies may be a good solution with less cost and appropriate inventory. Rental City in Huntsville, Ontario for example, offers a small selection of furniture and accessories for the local market.

  • The very nature of cottage country itself.

    • Wildlife: remove rodent traps and clean up any evidence left behind.

    • Well water: remove water dispensers from the kitchen, as it may give the impression that the cottage has bad drinking water.

    • Island life: is the cottage on an island? If so, this will impact the accessibility of the cottage, as well as the amount and type of inventory you can add to it.

  • Ongoing education.

    • Whenever possible, attend Cottage and Lifestyle Shows such as the bi-annual Cottage Life Show at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

    • This type of show offers a great opportunity to view the latest trends in furniture, décor, and lifestyle, and perhaps add to your inventory.


Staging cottages requires knowledge of the area, the type of cottage, the demographic of potential purchasers, and the latest trends. This knowledge, combined with your expertise and your creativity, can lead to happy cottager-owners. “Staging works.Selling at the top price in the least amount of time possible equals less stress”, whether you are in the city or in cottage country.

Staging cottages can help you soar to new heights as you spread your Home Stager wings.

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