Are you selling a home or thinking about it in the near future? Preparing a home to sell is an important first step if you want to attract more potential buyers, sell your home faster, and potentially even sell for a higher price. That’s why I am sharing these 50 home staging tips that sellers can use on any budget.
I recommend starting with the areas people see first as they enter your home and walk through it. Do your best to see things from an outsider’s perspective. What would you want to see if you were viewing this home or others like it? Below are 50 staging tips to consider that you can do yourself, even if you are on a budget.
- This is the first impression to potential buyers. If you do nothing else, clean up and clear out. Declutter the outside the same as you would do on the inside. Clean the house with a pressure washer. Mow the lawn. Pull weeds and dead leaves off plants & flowers. Trim hedges. Toss old or unappealing furniture, empty flower pots, etc. Hide trashcans.
- Check out my blog post on 12 Ways to Add Curb Appeal On A Budget for more ideas on sprucing up the outside.
- Painting a living room in a neutral color helps tone down any dated finishes in the space. These days, the definition of neutral extends way beyond beige, from warm tans and honeys to soft blue-greens. As for bold wall colors, they have a way of reducing offers, so go with neutrals in large spaces. Or if you insist on keeping your favorite bold red, stick to one accent wall and paint the rest neutral.
- One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great lighting. Aim for a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don’t depend on just one or two fixtures per room, either. Make sure you have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall). Chic lamps provide both added lighting and appealing decor.
- Make your fireplace glow again. Scrub away any stains and replace the old screen. Updating an old fireplace screen is a cheap and easy fix. After removing the screen and wiping it down to get rid of the dust, mask off the windows so you won’t get paint on them. Then, using a can of heat-resistant spray paint, give the screen a facelift. For less than $5, you will have a fireplace screen that looks good as new.
- There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead, furnish your space by moving furniture away from walls. Position sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, but it will open up the room and make it seem larger. Whatever amount of furniture you have in your living room, remove a few pieces to make the room feel spacious.
- Another trick to make a room appear to be bigger than it is, is to paint it the same color as the adjacent room. If you have a small kitchen and dining room, a seamless look will make both rooms feel like one big space. Another design trick: If you want to create the illusion of more space, paint the walls the same color as your drapery. It will give you a seamless and sophisticated look.
- Help buyers imagine their life in your home. Set the scene by displaying a board game or tea service on the coffee table and arrange furniture in conversational groups.
- Buyers love built-in bookshelves. There’s a fine line between filling them with clutter and staging them to sell. The trick is to arrange neutral items in clusters. Make sure that no single accessory stands out too much. That way, you’ll show off your attractive built-ins, and not your personal belongings.
- Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit.
- Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware. Pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum.
- Freshen up and modernize cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware. Dated kitchen cabinets can be a big turnoff to potential buyers. Instead of paying big bucks to replace them, just stain them. First, apply the stain in even strokes, going with the grain of the wood. Add some stylish hardware, and your kitchen will have the up-to-date look that buyers love.
- Stainless-steel appliances are definitely in with buyers. Instead of buying a new dishwasher, here is a low-cost way to resurface an old one: First, remove the front panels, and clean them. Next, apply a stainless-steel stick-on covering, and cut it to size. For just $20 your dishwasher will go from outdated to ultra-modern.
- Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing? Studies show that new kitchen appliances bring high returns from sellers, so get rid of old appliances that make the rest of the kitchen look dated. Once you install the new equipment, it will scream “new kitchen,” and you will see that spending a little money will make you even more.
- Scrub dirt and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes. Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight.
- Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make it look bigger. Store items in decorative baskets and display a few clear jars of jam, pasta, or colorful jelly beans.
- The master bedroom is the most important bedroom to stage. Go gender neutral and ditch those floral pillows or sports posters. A master bedroom should appeal to both sexes. Paint the walls a neutral color and choose bedding that coordinates. Then accessorize with items that complement the overall color scheme.
- Pack up all but the clothes you’re wearing this season to make you closets look larger. Then swap out the motley crew of mismatched hangers in your closet for a set of wooden ones – or at least some that match – to create a classy, boutique look.
- Stage rooms with one purpose so buyers will know what it is. Potential buyers are confused by extra rooms that have a mishmash of uses. To avoid this problem, first clear away clutter and excess furniture. Paint the walls a neutral tone and then furnish the room with the type of furniture for which it was intended. Buyers usually want bedrooms to be bedrooms. However, if you don’t have a separate office space in your home, then using a bedroom as an office can be appealing to some buyers. Adding a desk and chair to stage one bedroom as a home office can show buyers where they can get down to business.
- Potential buyers love homes that have lots of storage space. Since they will open your closets, it’s a good idea to clear out unnecessary clutter and organize your shelves to show off how much storage you really have. Plus, it gives you a chance to start purging and packing early.
- Remove televisions or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize and create a serene setting. Put jewelry and other valuables in a safe spot.
- Style your dining room table. The dining room is often a blind spot in decorating the home. A large dining table can look bare and uninviting, so styling it with visitors in mind can increase the appeal.
- Let buyers entertain the idea of entertaining. Set out some chic place settings around the table or a few wine glasses and a decanter on the buffet.
- Strike a balance between overly formal and too casual with an attractive runner and a few, fun, decorative elements — think small floral vases or short candle holders.
- Don’t be afraid to use dark paint in a dining room (think accent wall) or powder room. A deep tone on the walls can make the space more intimate, dramatic and cozy.
- Remove clutter from the countertop, tub, and top of toilet. Pack up and hide all your personal products.
- Create a luxury spa look with a clean soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, decorative baskets, candles, plants, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat.
- Grimy bathroom walls are a major red flag to buyers. Scrub and sanitize the walls, floor, shower door — virtually every surface that comes in contact with steam. Spend extra time scrubbing that tile grout and re-caulk around the tub, if necessary.
- Here is an easy way to get rid of surface mold: Mix a spray bottle with one-part cold water and one-part bleach. Spray it on the wall and watch the mold disappear. Give it a fresh coat of paint and your grimy bathroom will go from red flag to red-hot.
- A dirty glass shower door can also really wash out your sale. Instead of replacing it, clean it with a mixture of one-part muriatic acid and about 10 parts cold water. Scrub with steel wool. After wiping it down, reinstall the door and you’ll have a shower that’ll help you clean up at the open house.
- Time for a new sink anyway? Pedestal sinks are a big hit with buyers. They show off square footage in small bathrooms beautifully.
Walls, Windows, and More
- Neutralize the walls. If any rooms are painted in dark colors, repaint white or beige. If you don’t want to, brighten it up with a decorative mirror.
- Fill nicks and holes in walls and touch up with paint.
- Paint over wood paneling with a neutral color. To really cover your tracks, use wood filler between panels and paint over the entire thing.
- Make sure every switch plate and outlet cover matches and looks brand new.
- Wash the windows, inside and out. Repair any holes or tears in screens.
- Replace those family portraits with interesting art placed strategically throughout the house. Avoid leaving dead space on walls.
Throughout the House
- Pack for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them in the garage or a rented storage unit.
- Don’t forget to include memorabilia in those decluttering bins. Family photos, diplomas, and the kids’ artwork can all go be packed away.
- Keep closets, basements, and attics as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space.
- Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap out any faulty or broken hardware.
- Do a deep clean. Hire a professional cleaning service if needed to clean your home from top to bottom, including carpets, before viewings.
For Pet Owners
- Scrub any pet stains on the carpets and rugs until totally gone or replace them, if necessary. Try cleaning formulas made especially for pet odors.
- Use air fresheners that eliminate odors, rather than simply mask them. There’s nothing worse than the smell of artificial pine mixed with dog. We all love our pets, but unpleasant pet odors can make a negative first impression. Be sure to get rid of old carpet that can trap offensive smells. Replace it with fresh new carpet in a neutral color. Plus, if you paint the walls to match, your living room will look bigger.
- Completely remove pet beds, blankets, toys, play structures, food bowls, and the like. Repair or remove any furniture that’s been scratched or gnawed on.
Day of Showing
- Add a seasonal touch. Make sure your garden is in beautiful shape in the summer and that any extra features you have, like a pool or a fire pit, are cleaned and ready to go. Take advantage of the cozy vibe of the season in autumn and winter, by building a fire in the fireplace and simmering hot apple cider on the stove.
- Leave a fresh bowl of fruit of vase of flowers on the kitchen counter.
- Tidy up the whole house. Pick up dirty laundry, toys, shoes and mail lying around the house. Vacuum or sweep the floors. Wipe down counter tops, faucets and handles in kitchens and bathrooms. Close closet doors and toilet lids. You get the picture.
- Let the sun shine in. Buyers love light and airy living rooms. Open up all window curtains, blinds, and shades to let natural light in. Cheat some sunshine with a light-colored paint and lots of artificial lighting. Turn on lights in each room. You can never have too many lamps.
- Spray a deodorizer or room freshener before leaving the house.
Talk with your agent about his/her specific suggestions for your home as there are lots of other tips and tricks that you can do to get your home ready to show and sell.