Have you cleaned and decluttered your kitchen, and are now left with a cold, soulless space crying out for personality? If so, I have two words for you: cutting boards!

Wood is always a sure way to warm up the chilly mood of any room. And one logical, natural, quick, and economical way to introduce wood elements to the kitchen is with the cutting board.

Whether hung on the wall, laid on a center island, clustered in a corner, propped against a backsplash, arranged on a bar cart, or centered on the kitchen counter itself, a cutting board or a group of boards is a no-brainer prop for a home stager to use.

Either new or old boards are fine to use for staging. Best sources for older cutting boards are second-hand stores, garage sales, flea markets, and antique stores. Or you could poke around your grandmother's house.

And if you are worried about using these older boards for cooking and the contamination they carry, don't. Studies show that wood cutting boards -- whether bamboo, maple or other hardwood -- actually self-seal and kill bacteria as long as the surface is wiped clean after use. A plastic cutting board, even when bleached, can still harbor bacteria.

When I talk about cutting boards, I am including thick butcher's chopping blocks, thin and long-handled pizza peels, and everything in between. They can be pieced together from cross-grain wood scraps or sliced from a single log of beautifully grained hardwood. Boards designed especially for serving cheeses are usually marble or granite. Bamboo is eco-friendly and handsome. For staging purposes, plastic, stoneware and glass boards usually don't have the appeal we're looking for.

Check out these photo examples and then consider ways you can add some cutting board charm to your staged kitchen.

Don't assume you need to have a heavy, precious 
vintage board to add style to your kitchen counter. 
This grouping of an assortment of ordinary boards 
gets some heft from a distressed dresser drawer. 
The plant adds some life and color 
to the vignette. Photo: GlamShell

Bigger boards don't need any further embellishments 
to make an impression. These boards have 
some history, which helps them give a little friendly 
personality to the room. Photo: SavvySouthernStyle

A couple of oversized cutting boards like these
 will inject some character into an empty space 
and introduce a natural element. Whether your 
boards are new or aged, some kind of detailing or 
distinctive wood grain will make the display 
more interesting. Photo: BelleMaison

A pizza peel and a thin cutting board, both with handles, 
add some height and textural contrast to a 
display of ceramics holding metal and wood 
cooking tools. Photo: Homedit

Even boards without a wooden pedigree can be 
pressed into service to help style a kitchen. 
This selection of white plastic boards and marble 
boards look clean and tidy combined with one 
wood board and nestled in an old box with 
other kitchen objects. Photo: RustyPelican

If you have some wall space to fill near or in 
a kitchen, a natural choice is something like 
this medley of boards artfully arranged 
above a small dresser, where a basket 
and lamp tie the color scheme together
 nicely. Photo: PineAndProspectHome

Get more ideas for staging your home for sale when you download my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar. Don't wait when you can start your staging today! 

Top Photo: LeoDesignsChicago