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Staging a House On A Budget: Tips from the Experts

Originally published by Redfin

A great low budget tip is to have matching lamps and side tables in the primary bedroom so it feels and looks expensive. Staging isn’t about pretty, it is about creating value in the buyer’s eye.

When it comes to selling your house, appearance is everything. Home staging is an art designed to show off your home in its best light, and because of that, it can make all the difference. But what do you do if you don’t have a large budget set aside for home staging?  

Don’t worry yet, we have good news! Fortunately, whether you’re renting out a condo in Portland, OR, or selling your home in Atlanta, GA, staging a house on a budget is a totally viable option. To help you get started, we asked expert Stagers from across the country to share some quick and easy ideas that will make your house look great (and more importantly won’t break the bank).

Showcase what made you fall in love with the house. If you’re ready to sell, ask yourself: what made you fall in love with your house? Most likely those things will be the ones that attract buyers. Make sure those areas are cleaned up, de-cluttered, and emphasized so they shine and wow buyers. – Style Fusion Home Staging

Remove excess furniture. While many people want to display the many possibilities for each room, it is critical to keep a clean and open layout. Removing any excess furniture reduces clutter and opens up the airflow. Too much furniture can shrink an area dramatically and hide the true space of the room. – The Staging Tree

Stage with items from the grocery store. When we’re staging homes, our final step is a trip to the grocery store. We generally stock up on 6-12 bottles of Pellegrino and attractive cans for the pantry area, a bowl of limes, and some margarita mix for a wicker cart. – Zesty Staging

Keep color and style consistent throughout the home. When color and style are a common thread throughout the home, buyers are more emotionally comfortable and connected. The use of no more than three main colors (use slipcovers on furniture if necessary, especially if they are well ‘loved’), and one style (be it transitional, modern, contemporary, western, traditional, etc.), will do the trick! – The Efficient H.O.U.S.E

Hang neutral subject artwork. A cost-effective way to hang neutral subject artwork is to buy inexpensive IKEA “Ribba” picture frames (24″ x 35″) and insert leftover wallpaper or fabric that you (or friends) may have on hand that coordinate with your home’s color scheme. For impact, hang two or three frames together approximately 5-6″ apart above a sofa or on a large wall. – Mackenzie Creative Home Staging

Switch out personal photos with scrapbook or wrapping paper. If you already have picture frames hung up, a great way to cover up personal or family photos is to use scrapbook paper or even neutral wrapping paper as inserts. Choose muted colors and patterns that coordinate with your space. Simply cut the paper to size and insert it into the frame, covering the current photo. – My Nest Is The Best 

Address visual clutter. The biggest reason people give for moving is a lack of space in their current home, so selectively prune anything that distracts buyers from seeing the great features of your home. Stacks, even if neat and straight, add weight and visual clutter to rooms. The Dezign Zoo motto is “when in doubt, take it out.” – Dezign Zoo

Paint the front door. A quick and inexpensive way to increase curb appeal is to give the front door a fresh coat of paint. Choose a bold, contrasting color that will stand out and immediately draw the buyers’ eyes to it when they pull up to the house. Black is always a winner, or you could choose a bright, trending color like turquoise, yellow, or orange. – Larimar Home Staging

Stage an extra bedroom as a home office. Since so many of us are now working completely from home or more remotely, this tip can go a long way in appealing to today’s buyers. With this, you want to make sure everything flows and is as open as possible to create a positive and uplifting working environment. For a budget-friendly office, sometimes simpler is better. There’s no need to go overboard with accessories and desk decor, clean and fresh is the way to go. – Universal Staging Company

Have matching lamps and side tables. A great low budget tip is to have matching lamps and side tables in the primary bedroom so it feels and looks expensive. Staging isn’t about pretty, it is about creating value in the buyer’s eye. – Ask for Staging

Declutter. Spend at least a few weekends to completely declutter closets (we want to see baseboards!), pantries, cabinets, and bookshelves. Take closets down by 50 percent, remove magnets from the fridge, etc. If you aren’t convinced if something is de-cluttered enough, take a photo and see if it still looks cluttered through a camera lens – Curly Willow Design Studio

Remove all small appliances, toys, magazines, and pet items. – Utah Elite Staging

Incorporate biophilic design. This design approach seeks to connect the outdoors with people indoors. Open all your window treatments, let in the sunshine and the view, and bring the relativity of nature in with a few, well placed live houseplants, or fake, silk trees to set the green tone. This enhances vitality and psychological wellbeing, as buyers judge homes with all of their senses. Just be sure to avoid heavily fragranced plants or flowers because some people are sensitive to strong scents. It pays to be green in staging, as gorgeous greenery will always be in fashion. – Domaine Luxe

Make the floors sparkle. Open up your space, let the light in and clean it up. It starts with your floors; if you have hardwood floors and want them to sparkle, mix up some of your household items, 1 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, distilled water, spray, and rub. – DDG DESIGN STUDIO

Buy cheap Goodwill books for shelves and coffee tables. Book selection is critical because when people see a book it tends to invoke thoughts and feelings. When staging a downtown condo, I want to see big coffee table books that are focused around modern art, the city where the condo is located, or an interesting modern photography book. Oftentimes I will see a cartoon or comic book as these are common coffee table books but it’s hard for the buyer to envision their new upscale living with a cartoon book. I also like bookshelves to contain thought-provoking books and avoid anything controversial. – Vize Virtual Staging

Style the front hallway. The front hallway is the first impression for your home when buyers walk in. Get it right. Add a mirror for a great reflection of light and to make the foyer seem larger, add fresh flowers like roses or lilies. First impressions count. – Margery Wedderburn Interiors

Freshen up a room with a new coat of paint. If you don’t need a lot of paint and are maybe just doing an accent wall, many local stores like Home Depot have discounted paint cans from incorrect orders – whether it was the wrong finish, incorrect tint, or something else. These ready to use paint cans can be heavily discounted – even as little as $5 per gallon. – Roomhance

Use fluffy white towels. I always recommend new fluffy white towels in master bathrooms. White denotes cleanliness, and fluffy towels add a fresh spa-like feeling to the bathroom. Towels are inexpensive and can be purchased at any large retailer, plus the seller can use them again in their brand new home. – Lenko Design

Take great listing photos. 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online. To make sure your photos look great, take a picture of your exterior and every room – this is what potential buyers will see. Add and edit your belongings until the photos look worthy of a compelling listing photo. – House Candy Home Staging

Buy new, neutral throw pillows for the sofa and large accent chairs. Most of us have dark furniture because it hides more everyday use, but it also photographs poorly and can make a room look small and dingy. By adding new fluffy throw pillows to your furniture, it will update the room and brighten up the space. – The Staging Team

Depersonalize your home. Depersonalizing and decluttering makes a world of difference when selling a home that you’re living in. Keep the staging neutral and bright to help the home appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. – Witty Rentals

Creating a soothing sanctuary. The master bedroom is where we spend 1/3 of our lives, so why not make sure it looks soothing, clean, and stylish. Add solid white bedding (avoiding busy patterns) and layered pillows while removing excess furniture and clutter. A well-staged master bedroom helps showcase an inviting and calming feel for prospective buyers, making someone feel like they can move right in. – Step By Stage Interiors

Float furniture away from the walls. The way you choose to arrange your furniture can dramatically change how big or open a room feels. Sellers shouldn’t be scared to float sofas and armchairs away from the wall, as long as they are placed parallel to one of the walls in the space. This is especially effective with open floor plans, where the placement of a large sofa between two spaces can help define the separate living spaces. – Jodi Maturo Design

Make easy changes in the bathroom. Remove all floor rugs in the bathroom as it makes the floors look bigger. Add a small succulent or white orchid next to the sink. Your go-to towels are white, fluffy, and crisp — new hand towels will give a spa-like ambiance. – Maple&Moss

Arrange table lamps and floor lamps in a triangular configuration. Doing so spreads light evenly throughout the room. If you can’t add a third light consider hanging a clean-lined mirror on the wall to bounce additional light and open up the room. – Synergy Staging

Update your cabinet hardware. If you don’t have the time or resources to update your kitchen by replacing or painting cabinets, consider switching out your hardware instead. Updating your cabinet hardware to something more modern does wonders for your kitchen while keeping your project extremely budget-friendly. I recommend using a matte black pull and purchasing from Amazon to keep the cost well under $100.00. – Homeslice Studios

Create a kitchen that feels spacious and functional. Whether you’ve got a massive kitchen with a large island or a smaller galley-style space, all homebuyers will be looking for a kitchen that feels spacious and functional. Keep countertops cleared off so they seem more expansive. I like to keep my staging items to a minimum: a large bowl of fruit, maybe a tall, simple display of flowers or branches if there’s an island. If there are open shelves or glass-fronted cabinets, keep your color scheme neutral and monochrome. It will make the space feel clean and cohesive. – A Simpler Design, Dallas based stylist and furniture painter

Add flowers. A simple (and cheap) bouquet from a grocery store or some stems from the backyard is all that’s needed to add brightness to any home. The key is to choose the tallest stems that can be found and pair it with a large, clear vase for that look of sophistication while adding that perfect homey touch. – MM Decor

Try alstroemeria flowers, they look fresh and can last two weeks. They also look great for MLS photos and showings. – Preston Interiors

Only stage the key rooms. The key to saving money with staging is to only stage the key rooms. If it’s an occupied home try to use as much of what you already have, then throw in what’s needed to complete the job. – Lancaster Home Staging And Design

Let the light in. Good lighting is so important in making a home look and feel great to buyers. Take down any unnecessary window treatments to allow as much natural light into the home as possible and introduce some artificial lighting into each room with additional floor and table lamps. Light helps a space feel much larger and more open. – DL Custom Designs

Visit second-hand stores to find unique and low-cost pieces. These budget-friendly stores can help homeowners design inviting spaces for both their property listing photos and open houses. The trick is to be creative and think outside their personal decor preferences when shopping. – In Good Design

Focus on color. Color is essential when it comes to staging your home. We advise sticking with warm, neutral colors for painting. Lighter shades are not only more attractive to the eyes, but it helps buyers to visualize their own household items in the house. - Stone House Stage + Design

Incorporate fresh greenery. Fresh cut greenery can go a long way to enhance the decor of a staged home.  If you live in a tropical area, Palm leaves placed in a clear glass vase look amazing on a coffee table. Other greenery that can be used is Eucalyptus, Fern, or Fiddle Leaf Fig stems. – Di Leo Design & Staging

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