Staged homes sell faster and for more money. What home seller doesn't want that?

Now I will tell you what home sellers don't want!

They don't want to spend a ton of money on projects, upgrades, and decor that they would rather spend on their next house.

So, when you're staging and your budget is limited, consider these five simple ways to impress potential buyers.


If you look at photos of professionally staged unoccupied homes for sale, you'll usually see furnishings that look like they just left the factory. And that's fine, because buyers like the look of new. It feels clean and trendy.

What these rooms lack is a sense of warmth and reality. Few people live with brand new furniture, and bedding and lamps and vases and pillows and appliances and rugs.

That's where a few well-placed antiques can make a home look lived in but by people who have an enviable lifestyle. If you have inherited pieces that have any degree of pedigree, or look like they belong in another era, you can use them for staging. Just make sure they are in good shape (a little distressing is expected).

"A few well-placed" is the key phrase here. Mix antiques, or pieces that look like good antiques, with mostly furnishings that look new and stage-worthy. 

You can't stage your entire home with old castoffs from your parents. Be selective. Mix things up. Often an older piece needs a modern twist to bring it up to date and make it perfect for staging. It could be grandma's rocking chair with a new buffalo check fabric on its seat, or a relic Remington typewriter placed on a lucite table. 

Organized storage

Yes indeed, buyers on tour will open cabinets, vanities, closets, and drawers. They want to check roominess. They're looking for leaks and cracks and poor design.

Matching containers and a careful arrangement
go a long way to making even chaos and ordinary
household essentials look organized.  
The first step is, of course, getting rid of what you really don't need to store. Declutter, folks!

The second step is to store things in logical places. Keep off-season clothes and sports equipment out of sight. Keep grooming needs in vanities (or hidden for showings). Keep valuables out of sight. But keep attractive belongings in plain sight.

And the third step is to make stored items look like you really do have everything in your life together! Remember, buyers are buying your lifestyle.

Keep storage areas tidy, clean, and as pretty as you can. Cluster the little things to avoid the messy look of too much stuff.

When you stage, you needn't label your basket, tubs and boxes. It's only distracting to home buyers. You probably already know which basket holds the toilet paper and which one holds shampoos! 

Fresh paint on trim

The Internet is full of advice on painting walls. Painting trim, not so much. Yet a fresh coat of semigloss paint on painted woodwork like door frames, window trim and baseboards will really bring a room to life.

These are often the places that show the most signs of wear -- smudges, dints, and signs of abrasion. If you are neat and patient or else an experienced painter, you can do this work yourself. Painting trim is more time consuming than painting walls, so quotes from housepainters might sound high. Painting woodwork is the kind of DIY project you can tackle in small bites.

When painting trimwork, go with the same exact color, brand, and finish as what is existing. You may be able to get away with touch-up instead of a complete repaint.  

Large-scaled art

The mirror over this console table is low
enough that it ties in with the tabletop
arrangement. Photo: Whitney Campeau Interiors
Skimpy art on your walls downgrades the look you want -- the look of style and luxury.

Instead, decorate with oversized art on walls large enough to call for decor pieces. Use frames and matting that make the artwork look even more important.

Large art is your best friend when you have scant furnishings and need to fill spaces. Oversized wall hangings don't take up any floor space and they create the illusion of a  well-appointed room.

Make sure your art is hung low enough to visually connect with the rest of the furnishings. The visual center of the piece should be at the average eye level, about 60 to 65 inches above the floor. If a piece of art will be placed above seating like a sofa or above a console table in a foyer, it could be lower, so that it doesn't seem to float unrelated to the sofa or table.

Trust your eye, then make it a little lower.

If your art is a mirror, be certain it reflects something other than the ceiling or floor.

Matched sets

Budget staging often calls for purchases from garage sales and second-hand stores. But too much recycled stuff is going to look, a garage sale.

One way to avoid this mish-mash look is to decorate with some matched sets. Look for lamps, framed pictures, pillows, twin headboards, side chairs, and end tables.

Just the right amount of symmetry keeps this living room from looking too formal. 
The pillows and artwork are pairs, but other elements are singles. 
Photo: Robin Stubbert. Designer: Kelly Hopter Interiors

Bedrooms are a natural for staging with pairs of pillows and nightstands. If you have pairs of vases, occasional chairs, small tables, upholstered pieces, or other furnishings, and you have them in separate rooms, I suggest reuniting them for a more intentional look to your staging.

If you look at all the above photos, you'll notice that they all show pairs of furnishings, whether towels or baskets or lamps or pillows. Pairs work in your favor only if they literally match. Painting two lamps that are almost alike the same color doesn't have the same power that duplicates do.

Get the look, get the book 

You can gain more insights into what makes DIY home staging successful in my eBooks. Each one is chock full of advice and pro tips to make your home ready for market without driving yourself crazy. Click on that eBook link and you are just another click away from starting your smart staging today.

Top Photo: House & Home. Photographer: Alex Lukey. Designer: Sam Sacks.