Staging your home can cost major bucks.

Or not.

One way to stretch the home staging budget is to accessorize on the cheap. Without it looking cheap.

Here are some suggestions for where to go when you want props that cost almost nothing.

Salvage Your Junk

Everyone has stuff just a little too good to get rid of. Maybe nostalgia gets in the way, it was a gift, or you overpaid and can't bear to discard it.

Things like a clunker bike, an orphan boot, and clothing that's seen better days can be put to use while you are staging your home.

The tray pictured here was made from such castoffs. An unused cookie sheet, a shirt that somehow got too small for Mr. Lucky, and some white glue, are all it took to make a stylish tray that could add a touch of color to any room where the colors are going to be repeated elsewhere in the room.

Here's the thing about re-purposing cheap objects when you are staging: They can't look inexpensive. That's important. Frugal-looking accessories will cheapen your home. And the whole point of home staging is to add perceived value to your home.

Two tricks

There are a couple of ways to make sure that frugal props don't look tacky. One is to keep them to a minimum. You can't stage a whole room with rejects and junk.

But you can start with rejects and junk, and turn them into beauties.

Make your crafting stylish.

Make it neat.

Practice, and have a finished product in mind.

To avoid the look that you've decorated with crafts made in summer camp by eight-year-olds, surround your re-purposed props with more finished objects and accessories with pedigree. If your salvaged objet d'art has some class, feel free to combine it with more casual or quirky materials.  Like rubber ducks.

What looks like a sterling silver compote in this bathroom setup is really two thrifted silverplate items glued together. The top piece is from an old juicer and has a hole in the bottom for attaching to an electric mixer.

The bottom piece is a trophy cup I inverted. Alone, they aren't much. But, together, they make a nest for bath toys. That's what staging with junk is all about.

Why not make a garden planter, or even an indoor vase, of shoes or boots that you would otherwise toss? Give it a drainage hole in the bottom of the plants are real.

I've planted and arranged flowers in old workboots, cowboy boots, snow galoshes, fishing boots, and children's wellies. This is not the look to go for if your house tends to be traditional, but suitable if you are selling a cottage, ranch, or rural home. Of course, you'll use moderation, one pair of boots or shoes at the most. 

Old toys can be an excellent source of items to re-purpose as staging props. I'm thinking of a display of old-fashioned alphabet blocks, a classic teddy bear in a child's room, or a metal wagon used as a planter in the garden.

Pages from illustrated children's books are ideal for framed artwork, even in a sophisticated loft, where they can contribute to the eclecticism.

Trick #2

Another way to keep thrifty props from looking sad is to stay on trend and stay with the seasons.

Avoid colors like hunter green and burgundy popular in the 80s.

Change your accessories when the seasons change if they are obviously seasonal.

On impulse, I grabbed a derelict Christmas decoration, and then spray-painted it yellow. With a fresh bow, it took on a new life as a springtime outdoor wreath, one that greets home buyers and gives them the message that this house is loved by its attentive owners.

Get out of doors

Shop Mother Nature for free decor.

There are rocks, branches, fresh greenery, shells, bird nests, pinecones, moss, and other goodies, depending on where you live.

Granted, it's tough if you live in a big city, but, hey, big city people can get more things curbside, so let's not have any jealousies.

One of the thriftiest ways to bring a dose of the outdoors inside is with tree branches. Paint them or leave them natural, and set them in a generously sized vase or tub.

Hunt for whatever nature has designed, and you can't go wrong. I have a thing for rocks, and I've been known to bring them home from my travels. If there are rocks where you live, make them part of your decorating. I think these smooth river rocks add a handsome touch to a tabletop vignette. 

Except for the hot glue and the spray paints, this wreath is made from what was brought home from the woods and beach. I cut the bottoms off pine cones with wire snips to make the flowers.

I encourage you to try your hand at embellishing a vine wreath with found objects. The out of doors is the ultimate free warehouse of arts and craft supplies.

Check your recycle bin 

Look again at what you are throwing away, and use your imagination. Enlist items like tin cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard to become part of your home staging.  

A gift-wrapped box is a perfect staging prop. Who doesn't have a positive reaction to a present? The empty box is free. I used a wallpaper sample to wrap this box and tied it with leftover Christmas ribbon.

Did you know that the wallpaper sample books at paint stores have to be recycled at some point? Ask nicely and you're likely to score your choice of these fat and handy packs of paper.

I use wallpaper samples to cover lampshades, boxes, trays, tin cans, jars, vases, and mats for framing.

Sometimes a can is just a can. They can be so darn decorative, why not put them to work as containers for whatever you want to display to capture the imagination of a buyer?

I made this paper mache bowl made from tissue paper. After painting it, I decorated it with a marking pen. If you make your bowl pretty enough, it can remain empty, but I added something most of us have on hand.

Sure, they've just funky, tissue paper flowers, but they are sitting in a crystal decanter. Some staging props are one step away from the wastebasket, but pairing them with items of provenance makes them legitimate.

There's no shortage of DIY projects that improve the look, the feel, and the value of your home, in my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. Download now and let the fun begin!