The 24 Most Brilliant Living Room Staging Tips of All Time

published Oct 16, 2019
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The living room is where a lot of life’s best moments happen—parties, Netflix binges and quality family time, just to name a few. Creating a living room worthy of these special moments doesn’t happen by accident. A thoughtful layout and deliberate design choices can take your living room from ho-hum to an Instagram-worthy space.

Professional home stagers know a thing or two about the best strategies to make your living room the coziest—and most stylish—room in your home. Over the years, we’ve talked to tons of home stagers to get their top tips for staging a dazzling living room. Here, 24 of the best living room staging strategies that we’ve ever featured on Apartment Therapy. Give some of these easy, practical and inexpensive tricks a try, and you’ll have a living room people will be clamoring for (even if you have no intentions of putting it on the market anytime soon):

  1. Clean up your coffee table. The coffee table is the centerpiece of a lot of living rooms, so make sure yours is not cluttered.
  2. While you’re at it, add a tray to keep remotes and other small items organized. 
  3. Let there be light. Use a combination of natural light, lamps, and dimmers to set the mood and make your living room a cozy place where people will want to sit down and stay awhile.
  4. Move some things around. Create a well-configured layout by making sure there’s room to walk. A good guideline is at least 18 inches between furniture pieces for small spaces, and double that for more spacious rooms.
  5. Use furniture that fits. Overstuffing the living room with too much or too-big furniture will only make it seem smaller.
  6. Utilize mirrors. Speaking of size: Strategically-placed mirrors can make a living room seem larger and brighter.
  7. Add house plants. Plants add a cheerful touch, really put the “live” in the living room, create depth, and can even make a room look larger.
  8. Don’t forget a rug. Staging is all about making a room feel rich and cozy without adding distractions. A rug adds warmth and texture to a living room and is a must-have.
  9. Create length. Placing curtains high on the walls, just under the ceiling line, can make a room appear taller.
  10. Pick white curtains. While you’re at it, swap your heavy blackout shades for soft white, sheer curtains. They’ll allow light to shine through them.
  11. Highlight the room’s assets. Instead of thinking of your living room as a blank box to decorate, look to the reasons why you decided to make it your home in the first place. Have a great view? Create guiding lines to draw the eye towards the window.
  12. Keep it neutral. Inserting too much personality in your living room’s design may make it difficult for buyers to imagine themselves living there. Instead of personal elements, like family photos, strike up visual interest with varied textures and pops of color.
  13. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Staging should highlight your home’s space, and there’s nothing that makes a home look cramped like clutter. Remove anything in your living room that doesn’t serve a purpose.
  14. Coordinate—don’t match. Think staged spaces look a little uncanny? The culprit is usually matching furniture—which can cause anything that’s not within the set to stick out. Instead, focus on pieces that complement each other via texture, color, or general style.
  15. Lighten up. Light and airy apartments tend to feel more spacious, so stick to light and neutral colors to reflect light. Stay away from dark wall colors and furniture, as they can detract from a space’s natural brightness.
  16. Invest in your “life layer.” While your furniture and other big pieces should be neutral, accents like throws and pillows should be used to add some color and life to the room. These are the pieces that take your living room from sterile to downright aspirational.
  17. Dust overhead. Out of sight, out of mind—meaning that your light fixtures and fan probably haven’t gotten some love for awhile. Take a few minutes to dust (and remove any bugs).
  18. Make sure your lightbulbs are uniform. Make sure all your lighting has the same wattage and are of the same type (e.g. LED, incandescent, CFLs.) You’ll be surprised the effect even lighting can have on your space.
  19. Straighten up your storage. Over-maximizing your storage spaces can actually make your space feel smaller. Pare down your living room’s closets, cabinets, and bookshelves and use this as an opportunity to donate any unused items.
  20. Open a window. Smell can affect how a room is perceived, so make sure there are no off-putting odors (and yes, strongly-scented candles count). Air out the room for an hour or longer for an olfactory refresh.
  21. Display like items. I know we said “no clutter,” but this is an addendum: Odds and ends have a space in your home if you use them as decor. Arrange a few of your favorite tchotchkes on a mantle or pop them under a glass cloche on a side table.
  22. Follow the rule of threes. Whether it’s the coffee table, a shelf or an accent table, group items atop them in groups of threes.
  23. Don’t push all your furniture against the wall. While you may think this strategy makes the room look bigger, it can actually make everything look way out of proportion.
  24. Create vignettes. Use your furniture not only to highlight the space itself, but also to feature ideas of how to use said space. If you like to entertain, highlight your seating, bar cart, or game table. If you like reading, show how that corner close to the window is conducive to a cozy afternoon with a best-seller.

Finish your living room? Give your bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen a professional zhuzh.

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