When you’re getting ready to sell a house, there’s a lot you can do to help make sure you get the best offer possible. And unless someone in your household could have their own home decorating TV show, that includes home staging.
Home staging is an art designed to show off your home in its best light. By using your own furniture in a new way, swapping outdated pieces for show-ready ones, decluttering, or sprucing up your home’s outdoor space, home staging helps buyers focus on your home’s features rather than its flaws.
Now, home staging comes in two varieties: do it yourself or hire a pro. But how do you know which option is right for you? To determine your best move as a home seller, check out our breakdown of easy home staging tips, the cost of home staging and its benefits.
10 House Staging Tips Anyone Can Do
1. Say Goodbye to Clutter and Hello to Storage
One of the simplest things you can do to stage your home is to show off its space, not your stuff. Start by making room in your closets so that they are at least one-third empty. Store out-of-season clothes elsewhere or ask a friend to hold on to unused items temporarily. If decluttering is too much to handle yourself, don’t sweat it. Companies like Clutter.com or Makespace.com can pick up and store things for you—plus, it’s cheaper than you’d expect.
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It’s also easy to assume buyers would never look in spots we’ve tried to forget about—like that junk drawer full of rubber bands and soy sauce packets. But when you’re staging your home, be prepared for buyers to look behind closed drawers and doors. Nothing is off limits. It may be your home, but they’re wondering if it can become their own.
2. Spring Into Cleaning
Think spring-cleaning on steroids. From the baseboards, ceiling light fixtures, kitchen appliances, windows, to every nook and cranny you can think of, everything should be spotless. It may seem like a minor house staging tip, but don’t underestimate the power of the first impression your home will leave on a buyer. If the place feels dirty, a buyer’s not going to forget it.
Don’t have time to put that much elbow grease into your cleaning? A professional can get the job done for approximately $100–400.1
3. Do a Sniff Test
To keep your home smelling fresh and clean, pass on cooking seafood or your favorite garlic bread while your home is on the market. Instead, light candles with buyer-friendly scents like citrus or vanilla. If your carpets smell funky, steam clean to get rid of stains and odors. And if it’s beyond repair? Do a little calculation to see if replacing it with new plush carpet or a hardwood would benefit your budget in the long run.
If you have pets, you may be accustomed to your fur-baby’s scent, but one whiff of Snowball and that winning first impression could disappear. It might be a good idea for pets to stay with a friend while your home is on the market. Regardless, make sure to remove the telltale signs of pets before a home showing. Put up food bowls, transfer the litter box to the garage, tuck away stinky toys—those kinds of things.
4. Let the Light In
Most buyers want to see that a home has plenty of natural light. Remove heavy draperies and open up the blinds. Hide an unattractive view with sheer window coverings that still allow in light.
Replace any outdated light fixtures, upping the wattage in each lightbulb to its maximum safe capacity. Aim for about 100 watts every 50 square feet. Need some extra light? Add lamps in any dark areas. Quickly update outdated lamps with clean white drum shades.
5. Win With Neutral Walls
Getting rid of bright-colored walls is another simple home staging tip that helps ensure your home appeals to the widest audience possible. Stick with sophisticated neutrals for the most widely used paint colors. Just a few coats of paint can transform a dated space, giving it a more modern feel. Try popular shades like an oatmeal-colored living room or a soft-grey hallway.
6. Embrace the Awkward
Have a space you’ve never known how to use? Home staging can be an opportunity to show potential buyers it’s actually functional by finding a fun way to show it off. Turn a short wall into a chalkboard family message center, transform an alcove into a charming workspace, or display a hanging planter to bring life and texture to a bare nook.
You’ll also want to make sure not to block traffic flow. Keep natural walkways clear and arrange furniture in conversation areas that frame outside views—rather than obstruct them. You want your space to feel easy to live in.
7. Depersonalize Your Bedrooms
Bedrooms are often the most personalized rooms in the home. And why shouldn’t they be? They are your rooms, after all! But when your goal as a home seller is to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible, remember: It isn’t personal, it’s business. And that means it’s time to depersonalize.
Now is not the time to break out the kitty comforter Grandma quilted for you back in grade school or to hang up your stuffed squirrel collection. Do your best to keep spaces as gender-neutral as possible so they’ll appeal to the widest audience. Lastly, consider removing any additional furniture other than a bed, nightstand or dresser to make the room look more spacious.
8. Freshen Up the Kitchen
Buyers want a kitchen that is bright, clean and fresh. The good news is, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on an expensive remodel to do that! A few small changes can make a big difference.
Are your kitchen cabinets a bit dated? If you have the time to put in the work, then update them with a few coats of paint or a darker stain. You may have to strip them beforehand, but it will likely be worth it afterwards. Another option to update cabinets is to buy new faces for doors and drawers. Pair that with new hardware—something like a brushed brass, polished chrome, oil-brushed bronze, copper or even a stately iron—and you’ll be amazed at the difference.
Next, tidy up. Don’t leave too many items on display beyond a clean toaster and cute coffee maker. Having a lot lying around could leave an impression that there’s not much space in your kitchen. Lastly, add some organic elements like fresh flowers or a wooden bowl with colorful fruit to bring some life to the space.
9. Create a Luxurious Bathroom
Think high-end hotels and spas. A few subtle tweaks can help buyers see your bathroom as a soothing space. Bring dingy tubs and tile back to life by grouting the tile and caulking the tub again. Finish up the makeover by washing or updating your bathmat and shower curtain for cheap.
Also, no one wants to see your toothbrushes and razors laying around! Keep all personal items and toiletries packed neatly under the sink, and stage the bathroom counter with fluffy white towels, decorative bars of soap and a calming scented candle.
10. Crush Curb Appeal
When it comes to staging a house, what’s on the outside matters just as much as what’s on the inside. Curb appeal is a real thing, and nothing will send buyers driving off faster than a front yard overrun with weeds or a porch that’s falling apart. Don’t let buyers pass you by before they even get through the door!
In addition to keeping the yard beautifully manicured, power wash your driveway and sidewalk. Show the exterior of your home a little love by giving it a good once-over. Sand and repaint any old or chipped areas. While you’re at it, give that dull front door a makeover with a fresh pop of color, lay out a new mat, and flank it with flowers that will weather the season well.
How Much Does Home Staging Cost?
By now, it should be pretty clear that the cost of home staging doesn’t have to break the bank! Some of the most important things you can do that we mentioned in our tips won’t cost you a cent. But if you’re not comfortable staging your home yourself, don’t have the time, or want to make sure to maximize your home’s appeal, bring in outside help.
An initial consultation with a home stager that includes a written plan of what needs to be rearranged and what furniture needs to be brought in should cost you around $150–600.2 Then, when it comes to the actual staging process, the average cost is around $75 per hour.3 Now, if you’ve already moved out and your home is vacant, monthly costs are around $2,000 to stage and furnish a 2,000 square-foot home. However, if you have good furniture and just need someone to help you rearrange and declutter, you’re typically looking at an $800 flat rate fee.4
What Are the Benefits of Staging a House?
So how do those numbers break down for you? On a $250,000 home, just a 2% increase means an extra $5,000 tacked on to the buyer’s offer. If you handled the staging yourself without any added expenses, that’s $5,000 in extra cash you get to put in the bank. If you paid $3,000 to have your home staged professionally over a three-month contract, that’s $2,000 more in your pocket. If your agent is paying for the staging, you can put the entire $5,000 toward your new home or stash it away in your emergency fund.
The Best Way to Maximize Your Home’s Value
While there’s no guarantee staging your home will bring a bigger offer, it should help you stand out among the competition by making your home look move-in ready, maximizing your space, and adding little touches that make a big difference. While these practical tips should help pave the way for a smooth home staging journey and show buyers a home they will soon want to call their own, it’s not the only way you can maximize your home’s value.
To make the most of your home sale, work with a seasoned real estate agent who has years of experience getting sellers the right price for their homes. Our recommended Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) close more home transactions than 90% of the agents in their market and are committed to serving you with excellence. Partner with an experienced real estate professional you can trust.