If there is one trait that well-staged homes share it's a comfortable, relaxed feeling. It's the look that makes people feel they've entered a space where they are welcome to stay and enjoy. Does your home have that vibe?

Any home -- no matter the age, style, or price tag -- can achieve this look. Here are the five  steps to create this enviable appearance.  

Set the stage 

Your first step is to arrange your existing furniture to look ever so comfy! 

The best way to do this is by using oversized pieces of upholstered seating. Consider moving some of your largest pieces of furniture into the rooms that are the most important, or the room that buyers first see when they enter the house. It may not be the way you live now, but it will go a long way to creating a relaxed first impression. 

Another trick that experienced stagers and decorators use is to create snug conversation areas that make people feel comfortable. Chairs and couches should be situated so people don't have to shout to converse. A common furniture arranging mistake is to leave all chairs in the living room facing the television. Instead, arrange seating opposite or diagonally, the way you would if you had girlfriends over for drinks!

Next, check the traffic paths that wind through your home. Make sure they are wide and obvious so people touring your home instinctively know where to walk next. I've written about how to do this in my eBook, How to Arrange Furniture -- A Guide to Arranging Furniture Using What You Have. It's full of other important tips to make your rooms look both larger and more comfortable. 

This furniture grouping makes it look like
conversation would be easy. Meredith Brie via BHG

Add your details  

The next step will be to remove whatever reveals too much of your private life. Because your home is familiar and personal to you, you're already comfy there. But to those people shopping for their next home, nothing is familiar. Put them at ease by removing distractions and surprises like your favorite knick-knacks. It's called decluttering, but it could be called de-personalizing. Decluttering makes it easy for buyers to visualize your rooms as their rooms.

While you are packing up belongings that you need to store, consider using a moving company until your actual moving day to store some of your belongings -- whatever doesn't contribute to great home staging. Most professional movers like to have a few months advance notice, so plan ahead if possible. 

Now you're ready to replace those personal items with decor items that have universal appeal. Everyone loves candles, so that's a sure bet. Another sure thing is books. They are perfect space fillers for shelves that you've emptied of things like family photos, souvenirs, and awards. Ceramics are another good choice, whether vases, planters, candle holders, bowls, or plates. 

This mantle arrangement looks interesting because 
it displays different textures. The stones, basket, 
candles, wood risers, grasses, and flowers all
contribute to the mix. Photo: In My Own Style

Choose the right colors and textures

Aim for calming colors like light neutrals and pastels. Soft colors promote relaxation, something essential for bedrooms. You can always accent your decor with bright colors in small doses to breathe some life into rooms. 

Pay attention to the textures of your decor props. For soothing textures, count on things like plush pillows, fuzzy throws, soft rugs, woven headboards, and lush foliage. Here's a great post from StoneGable blog about choosing and arranging throw pillows for your sofa.      

Keep the temperature comfy

A comfortable room temperature creates a sense of well-being. As soon as prospective buyers enter through your front door, they should feel that the house is neither too hot nor too cold. Even minor discomfort could raise a red flag about the efficiency of your HVAC.

If your heating and cooling system is inefficient, noisy, or creates any off-odors, it's probably time for a maintenance review by a local company. They will check your filters, fans, thermostat, ductwork, and heating and cooling units to make sure a home inspection doesn't stall a good purchase offer. Often a small fix makes a big difference.   

Creat ambiance with lights 

Harsh interior lighting is stressful. You want good overall, ambient light throughout your home, with puddles of light here and there. It will look cozier if you use warm-toned LED lights rather than cool ones. If you have fluorescent lights, you can replace them with a more flattering, energy-efficient fixture. 

Look for places in your rooms where you can add a floor lamp or even a small table lamp. You can also add a touch of delicate elegance or whimsy with string lights and other decorative lighting for both interior and exterior spaces. Inexpensive light fixtures and lamps are easy to find at second-hand stores. Habitat for Humanity's ReStores always have reliable lamps and lights.   

This bedroom has good natural lighting, but it gets spots   
of artificial lighting from a ceiling fixture, two bedside lamps,
and a floor lamp in the corner. Destination Lighting

All of these tricks will make your home look clean, serene, relaxing, and welcoming. And none of them take a major investment for the payoff they give. Try it and you'll see it's not difficult to make your house look more marketable both IRL and online.

Top Photo: Crystal Emotion