We Gave a Professional Home Stager $50 — Here’s What He Bought at Walmart

published Sep 13, 2023
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Making a home look real estate listing-ready is no simple task. From rearranging furniture to stripping back the personalization of a space (no, prospective buyers do not care to see your senior photo) stagers are the ones who transform a home into a canvas that’s fit for a new buyer or renter to take over and make their own. But often, these canvases need some additional flair peppered in. 

I asked Boston-based stylist and stager Sean William Donovan of Sean William Styling to head to Walmart’s website and tell me what he would drop $50 on to take a room from drab to stylish. Sure, he went $2.16 cents over his budget, but I won’t hold it against him. Take a look at what Donovan selected below.

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When it comes to looking for accessories that light up a home, candlesticks are classic. “Seeing as it is 'cuffing season' again, set the mood by lighting up a few taper candles in your new candlesticks,” Donovan says. “Iron candlesticks are classic and can be placed anywhere from your dining table and coffee table to your front entry console or even empty sitting in a bookcase.”

He notes that since unique taper candles are all the rage right now, thinking outside of the box can be to your benefit. “Anything will look good paired with the simple and utilitarian design of these candlesticks,” he adds.

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If you’re going for a high-end look for less, a stylish bowl can get you some bang for your buck. “This ceramic bowl has everything going for it. Not only does it have an interesting pattern and 'of the moment' color palettes (brown is so hot) but the great reviews tell you everything you need to know,” Donovan says.

He suggests making use of it anywhere from the front entry table as a catch-all for keys and other knick knacks to the kitchen counter to hold fruit or snacks. It could also easily function alongside a stack of books on your coffee table.

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“Speaking of setting the mood, if you are using overhead lights to illuminate your space, you are doing it wrong,” Donovan advises. “Opt for table lamps to do most of the heavy lifting, but switch things up by placing an uplight in the corners of the room to create the illusion of higher ceilings. You could also put it at the base of an architectural element or large houseplant to highlight it and create a sense of drama that is perfect for cozy nights in.”

A veteran of interior photo shoots, Donovan has a bonus pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled for a small PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) bulb that has a narrow beam spread. Those lights are more focused and maintain their strength from a distance. “That will really kick things up a notch,” he says, with the recommendation that you don’t go higher than a 2700K bulb.