7 Free (or Super Cheap) Ways to Stage Your Home

published Nov 24, 2018
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(Image credit: Julia Steele)

Your home is on the market, and you’re gunning to sell, but you still haven’t gotten any offers. Staging your home, or preparing it for resale, can make all the difference.

According to realtor.com, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged ones. But for the average person, dropping thousands of dollars (and there’s no doubt — it will cost you that much) to stage a home is a bit unrealistic. We checked in with some experts to see how sellers can take the reigns themselves and prep their property to entice sellers.

I’ve got a blank space, baby

It’s impossible to stage a home when it’s cluttered. Start off by doing a deep clean of your home, so you know what you have, and get rid of what you don’t want. “Start with a clean slate,” says Meridith Baer of Meridith Baer Home. “Toss or donate items that you are not absolutely in love with, or that you do not utilize frequently. Be extremely discerning, and evaluate whether or not you will miss these items in a month. If not, let them go!” Focus on making sure bathroom and kitchen countertops are clutter free, and hide bulky kitchen appliances away in cupboards.

End the filth fest

Have you ever browsed apartments on Craigslist, only to see a post with clothes strewn about and a wrinkled, unmade bed? Don’t be that person. Nobody wants to buy your dirty home, because that’s only more work for them. Bathrooms and kitchen surfaces should be free from dirt and grime. Wash the windows and vacuum the floors. Clean the tubs and toilets. And definitely don’t shove all the stuff you picked up off the floor into a closet; All prospective home buyers think about whether it has enough storage. “Cluttered closets say there isn’t enough closet space,” says Joan Rentz, Design Director at The Stylhaus.

It’s NOT a family affair

If you don’t care too much about your cousin’s 16-page family Christmas newsletter, then prospective buyers certainly won’t. Keep your personal items, like framed photographs, tucked away so the buyer can picture themselves living in the home. Don’t forget to clear off notes and photos you’ve left in spots like the refrigerator and computer desk. “Keep in mind, less is more,” says Rentz. “One simple calendar or one note tacked on the fridge is acceptable.”

Let there be light

Natural light is a key selling point for any home. Blinds should be kept up, and curtains tied back in order to make the space look bigger, and highlight the views of the outside. Of course, most of us don’t have a stunning view of a white, sandy beach. “In the event that the view outside your window is not ideal, consider hanging simple white, linen curtain panels that obstruct the view but also allow the natural light to come in,” says Baer. You can also hang the curtains near the ceiling to create the illusion of higher ceilings and bigger rooms.

Home Depot, here we come

While you certainly want the plumbing and electrical to be in tip-top shape when prospective buyers come in, keep in mind that one of the most impactful and cost-effective things to do to prepare your home for sale is to paint. “Many prospective buyers can be turned off by loud colors and have difficulty envisioning the space in a more neutral hue,” says Baer. “And a fresh coat of paint can also breathe life into an older, more dated home. Similarly, touching up nicked paint throughout your home can do wonders!” If buyers see lots of small things that need to be fixed, it may set off their inner alarms. “Many times those small things start to raise bigger questions,” says Rentz. “Why is there a water stain on that ceiling? Why is the plaster around the doorframe cracked and chipping? So fix all chips and cracks in walls and baseboards. Fix dripping faucets. Fix cracked window panes. Replace burnt out light bulbs.”

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Staged, not emptied

While clearing away the extra junk is vital, it doesn’t mean you need to haul away everything in a dump truck. “Furniture that is well-scaled helps potential buyers make sense of a tricky space, and can be highly beneficial, as long as buyers are able to move through the space freely without feeling obstructed,” says Baer, who suggests keeping the color palette neutral and incorporating a bit of greenery. A stripped bed doesn’t make most people want to curl up for a nap; instead, make them with crisp, white linens. Art that adds color and personality is also a plus (in moderation) as are a few well chosen magazines and books on the coffee table.

It’s all in the details

Prospective buyers are going to be scoping out and possibly using your bathroom, and they won’t want to fish around for a dirty, used bar of soap to wash their hands. “Make sure that your restrooms are stocked with a pretty bottle of hand soap and clean white hand towels,” says Baer. “Make sure your beds are made, and decorative pillows are fluffed. Also, make sure your windows and screens are clean, inside and out.” And don’t forget it’s not just what meets the eye that can hurt your chances of selling; it’s what meets the nose, too: “Make sure your home smells clean,” says Rentz. “Invest in a high end home spray or candle. You want to lightly scent a room not overwhelm it.” Also consider adding fresh flowers to each room. A vase of white tulips on a coffee table or Hydrangea in a bedroom can be the perfect touch.

Re-edited from a post originally published 11.19.2017 – LS