How To Stage Your Home Like A Pro

Molly GraceDecember 05, 2019

First impressions matter, and the first impression potential buyers get when they are touring your home is vital to getting them interested enough to make an offer.

From landscaping upgrades that add curb appeal to decluttering your rooms for a more spacious feel, there are many things a seller can do to make their home more attractive to buyers.

In the world of real estate, this process is known as staging. Staging involves arranging and styling a home to play up its strong points and make it look as attractive as possible. Good staging not only gets buyers excited about a space, it also helps them envision themselves living in it.

Home Staging Cost – Is It Expensive?

Though successful staging can be done by the homeowner (often with the help of their real estate agent), many sellers opt to enlist a professional home stager to help them make their space shine.

Sellers who are selling a vacant home would likely benefit the most from a professional home stager. If you’ve already moved out of your home, you may have a harder time getting buyers interested, since it’s more difficult for them to picture themselves in a space with no furnishings. However, staging a vacant home will usually cost more than staging an occupied one, since furniture will need to be rented to fill out the space.

The cost to hire a professional stager will vary depending on your needs, the size of your house and how many rooms you want staged. If the house is fully furnished and you only want a professional consultation where the stager gives you feedback on some things you can do yourself, you’ll likely only spend a few hundred dollars. If you want the stager to do the rearranging and styling for you, you could spend up to $1,000. Full staging with rental furniture for a vacant home can cost $2,000 or more per month.

Though it might seem costly, spending some money to stage your home can provide a worthy return on investment, especially if you’d like to save yourself the time and effort of having to do it yourself and want the assurance that you’re getting a professional look.

On the other hand, if you have a good eye for home design and don’t mind taking the time to do it yourself, there are plenty of things you can do to make your home look professionally staged without having to break the bank.

Home Staging Tips

Want to DIY your home staging? Here are some of our staging tips for how to stage your home like a pro.

Declutter Your Space

The first step to a successful home staging (after, of course, you’ve done a deep cleaning of your whole house and fixed any signs of wear and tear) is to declutter your entire living space.

Decluttering a home you’re trying to sell is a bit different from decluttering to make your space look neater and more organized for your own personal enjoyment. While you might not label your favorite personal trinkets or knickknacks as “clutter,” it’s important to make the space look neutral, so buyers can picture their own knickknacks littering the mantel.

Keep the items that sit out on countertops or coffee tables to a minimum. Tuck all your toiletries into a cabinet when you’re doing a showing. And even if they’re going to be the next Picasso, take all the kiddie artwork down from the front of the fridge.

Additionally, think about whether removing any bigger pieces from your rooms, such as a couch or desk, could open the space up and make it look less cramped.

This is also a great time to go through all your belongings and start tossing or donating things that you don’t plan on taking with you when you move.

Prioritize Staging In Specific Areas

While it’s important that your entire home look presentable, there are certain areas that can really make or break a buyer’s experience touring your home.

Living Room

The living room isn’t just the place where homeowners spend a good chunk of their time, it’s also often a visitor’s first impression of a home. A living room tells us a lot about the people who inhabit it, so you can be confident that your buyers will be looking for a well-kept and beautifully decorated living room.

Now is not the time to let your personality shine through. Aim for a simple and neutral look, removing any flashy or bold artwork or decor pieces that only appeal to very specific tastes. You don’t want a completely gray, boring look, so touches of color and brightness are OK, but use your best judgement and defer to your agent if you’re having trouble distinguishing between what’s fun and what’s funky.

You should also think about what purpose the space conveys and decide if rearranging the room a bit would help make it more welcoming and cohesive. For example, pull your furniture away from the wall and center it around a focal point – like a fireplace or beautiful coffee table – to create a cozy space within the room. Lay down an area rug to pull everything together and make the room feel softer.

Ensure that your living room has plenty of light, utilizing lamps, overhead lighting and natural light when possible. If you have big windows, emphasize them rather than hide them behind curtains.


Large closets can be an important selling point for buyers, yet so many sellers neglect to prepare this part of their home for showings.

While closets tend to be fairly personal, and it’s natural to not want anyone rifling around in yours, you want to at least be able to convey its size. This can be achieved by tidying up and removing what you can – that means finding a new spot for all the storage bins and out-of-season clothes, at least temporarily.

Make sure all your clothes are neatly folded or hung. You might also consider purchasing some nice-looking hangers so all of yours match. Get some racks or bins to keep bags and shoes off the floor. In all your closets, sorting items by color is a nice touch.


One of the most important things you’ll do when staging your bathroom to sell is to clean it until it’s sparkling and make sure it smells freshly clean. Tackle any lingering odors – especially mildew smells – and then bring in a gentle scent like fresh flowers, potpourri or a candle to finish it off.

If you don’t have them already, you’ll want to get some nice-looking storage bins for the cabinets or closet where you can keep your everyday toiletries during showings. Trust us – buyers don’t want to see your half empty bottle of shampoo perched on the edge of the tub.

Then, stage your bathroom as if it were in a nice hotel, adding a touch of luxury or two. This can be done without spending an excessive amount of money. Break out your best hand towels and pick up some pretty wrapped bar soaps to display.


Garages are an important, but often overlooked, part of a home. While you don’t have to necessarily make any huge updates or put down luxury, high-end-mechanic-worthy flooring, you should tidy the space and think about refreshing the walls with a new coat of paint.

Make sure storage is neat and organized. A well-organized garage with plenty of space for tools, cars, outdoor toys and gadgets will help potential buyers see themselves filling up this space with their own things.

Create A Welcoming Atmosphere

It’s important to not just make your house look beautiful and tidy, but to also make your house feel like a home: a warm and inviting space that people actually inhabit rather than the setting of a home magazine photoshoot. The more you can do to make it so potential buyers are able to envision themselves living in the home, the easier it will be to find an interested party.

Turn The Radio On

Just as awkward silences can dampen the mood during get-togethers, the same can be said for house viewings, which are often formal and a bit stuffy. Make your guests more comfortable by playing some music on your radio or speaker whenever you open your door to potential buyers. Just make sure your music selection isn’t too loud or distracting.

Make It Comfortable

If you tend to be one of those people who prefers to throw on a sweater before reaching for the thermostat, don’t expect buyers to do the same. If it’s cold out, make sure the house is appropriately heated. If it’s hot, make sure it’s comfortably cool.

Let There Be Light

There’s no point in putting all this effort into showing a beautiful space if everyone is straining to see it. Do an assessment of all the lighting in your house and if you have any rooms that are a little too dark, introduce some light with lamps or by opening up blinds and curtains.

Step Up Your Decor Game

One of the biggest things professional stagers think about when staging a home is what decor they think should be incorporated into the space. This is something you should be thinking about as well when staging your home. By putting thought and effort into the smaller design elements of your home, you’ll be inspiring potential buyers to consider all that they could do with the space.

To decorate your home at the level of a professional stager, look to home improvement shows, blogs, YouTube channels and the like for inspiration on the latest home décor trends. You don’t even necessarily need to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff to decorate beautifully. See what you can do with the pieces you already own to make each room feel more in line with the latest styles and think about bringing in one or two new, affordable components that will help renew the look, such as a throw blanket or a beautiful rug.

Bring The Outdoors In

A cheerful bunch of flowers can brighten the mood in a big way, so consider staging your home with some fresh-cut bouquets in a few different rooms. If you’d rather not rack up bills at your local florist, opt for greenery sourced from your own backyard. Pine sprigs, branches of eucalyptus, rosemary leaves or ivy garland are just a handful of options that look beautiful while giving your home a natural, inviting look.

Add A Pop Of Color

While most of us know that there can be too much of a good thing, a pop of a bold color used as a focal point can give a room a put-together, stylized look that buyers will remember. Just make sure not to go overboard!

Accessorize Tastefully

Since you want to put an emphasis on a decluttered, tidy and neutral space, you should accessorize very carefully. While personal knickknacks are generally to be avoided, if you have something beautiful and kind of unique, you may choose to leave that out. Otherwise, stick to small and tasteful accents that give the home personality without being too overwhelming.

Take High-Quality Photos

Once you’ve made your home look as if it was staged by a professional, it’s time to photograph your home like a professional. You want to showcase all the care that has gone into making your home look beautiful and move-in ready, so be sure to take high-quality photos of each room. This means ample lighting, no blurriness and smart framing.

The Benefits Of Home Staging

While it can take some time to get your home looking its best and most presentable, all that effort is worth it.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 survey “Profile of Home Staging,” buyer’s and seller’s agents alike see plenty of benefits to making sure a home is staged beautifully before listing it.

Less Time On The Market

Staging your home can give you a competitive edge in a hot market. In the NAR survey, 28% of seller’s agents reported that there were slight decreases in the time a house spent on the market when it was staged.

When a house is staged, it’s not only attractive to look at, but it gives the impression that the home has been well cared-for. This is a big plus for buyers, who will jump at the chance to tour a house that is completely move-in ready and won’t need a ton of repairs.

More Interested Parties

Staging your home in a professional way will also attract a larger number of potential buyers, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get one or more offers on the house.

Larger Profit

Not only can staging your home beautifully assure potential buyers that the house is worth what you’re asking for it, but by attracting more interested parties, you could end up on the receiving end of a bidding war, which can translate to more profit for you.

According to the NAR survey, 22% of seller’s agents reported that, when staging a home, they saw an increase of 1-5% of the dollar value offered by buyers, and 17% said that they saw an increase between 6-10%.

Stage Your Home To Sell

When potential buyers are house hunting, they want to imagine the homes they’re viewing as their own. With these simple but impactful home staging tips and tricks, you’ll help people imagine living with their loved ones in a clean, spacious, organized setting – an ideal version of their future home sweet home.

Looking for more customized staging tips? An experienced real estate agent can give you pointers for your home that will appeal to buyers in your local market. If you’re considering working with a seller’s agent, reach out to us anytime at (855) 200-2085.

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    Molly Grace

    Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.