Have you ever walked in a house that’s for sale and been wowed by the owner’s chic taste? That furniture! Those rugs! That lamp! Chances are good it’s a home that’s been successfully “staged.” Yep, there’s an entire business out there devoted to staging homes for sale: removing the homeowner’s items of questionable taste and replacing them with upgraded or neutral pieces that’ll let the house be the star.

Working with your realtor or hiring a stager can be a great move, especially since it’s hard to be objective about your taste and what other people might like. But if you have an eye for design and/or a super limited budget, you might want to give staging a try yourself.

As Part 2 of our “How to Sell Your Home” blog series, here are 6 easy tips for staging your home like a pro.

1. Focus on the main rooms

Buyers spend the most time in the main areas of the house  we’re talking living room, kitchen, dining room  so put the bulk of your efforts there and leave the bedrooms as is.

2. Remove personal items

When it comes to your family photo gallery, collection of thimbles, or any neon mancave signs, out they go. The look you’re going for is “elegant furniture store.” Think of the items those stores use to dress their “sets,” like vases, magazine trays, and a couple of lovely photo frames.

3. Set up vignettes

You want your buyer to picture themselves in the home, entertaining a group of friends in the dining room (set the table with your hostessy best!), enjoying coffee in the sunroom (put out a tray with a mug and a book of crossword puzzles), or whipping up wholesome meals in the kitchen (a bowl of fruit screams healthful!).

4. Refresh the bathroom

Bathrooms are tricky because they’re private rooms, so you want them to look as depersonalized as possible. That means stowing all your prescriptions, personal grooming items, and anything else that makes the buyer picture someone else getting ready.

Then the key word is clean: scrub that grout and shower so that there’s not even a hint of mildew or buildup. Adding new fixtures, a fresh shower curtain, and some plush towels (think department store display!) can spruce up the bathroom with minimal effort and investment. And for heaven’s sake, put the toilet lid down.

5. Edit the closets

Storage space is a huge selling point, so you want to give the illusion of having room to spare. Stuffed closets and overflowing cabinets say the opposite obviously. So if you’ve got some pack-rat tendencies, now’s the time to clean, purge, and pack (just think, one less chore on your moving checklist!) so that your house looks simple and clean when the buyers open every single drawer and closet (and trust us, they will!). A good rule of thumb is to have them be two-thirds to half full … plenty of space between the hangers in the closet and spare shelves in the cabinets. And while you’re at it, make sure you clean each drawer and rehang all your clothing  matching hangers are a nice touch!

6. Think light and bright

To make your home show its best, clean everything until it shines. Add a fresh coat of paint to any dingy areas, upgrade your light bulbs to a higher wattage, and then open up the curtains (to reveal freshly cleaned windows, of course) and let the sunshine in!

Missed Part 1? No problem. Find out which 6 things might be ruining your home’s resale value.

And don’t forget the number one thing to bring with you to your new house: a homeowners policy. Get a free quote today.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.