12 Actionable Home Staging Tips (to Sell Your House Fast)

Updated January 17, 2023 07:38 AM

Getting ready to sell your home or market a listing? While the process can be overwhelming and uncertain, there are a number of ways that you can help any home attract more buyers and sell for the highest value.

Home staging is a hot button topic in real estate and home sales, but it's also generally misunderstood by homeowners and real estate agents. Start by reading our guide to home staging, and then read this detailed list of the most important, most impactful, and least-known home staging tips for sellers and agents.

Here are the 12 actionable home staging tips we'll cover:

For real estate agents, make sure you also check out our free marketing resources:

12 Best Home Staging Tips for Sellers

Most people generally understand home staging (after all, who HASN'T seen Joanna Gaines adjusting indoor plants on HGTV?), but they don't know how to apply it to their own home. By reading this guide and the other resources on our website, you'll develop a clearer understanding of WHY home staging is worth it and HOW you can make it happen in clear, simple ways.

There are a few home staging tips and general concepts that are repeated over and over, but let's focus on actionable steps you can customize to any home or property.

To start, try to detach your emotions from the property. If you are the owner of the home, this can be extremely difficult! However, the more objectively you can view your whole house through the eyes of buyers, the more effective your staging efforts will be.

Now, read through this list of home staging tips and consider how each of them could be done in your home to increase its appeal on the real estate market.

1. Upgrade Your Curb Appeal

We know--this is the home staging tip heard around the world. This is almost always one of the first things you hear or read about improving the appeal of your home--but there are good reasons for it!

The "curb appeal" of a home is its first impression. It sets the tone for the home, so it's difficult for buyers to fall in love with a beautiful home--even if it fits all their needs--if their first view of the home looks messy or dated. In fact, a study in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics showed that homes with high curb appeal sell for an average of 7% more.

Curb appeal example, with front door and landscaping

The good news about curb appeal is that it doesn't require large projects or renovations. Although it's easy to spend large sums of money on outdoor improvements, improving your home's curb appeal can also be as simple as pulling some weeds and adding some potted plants. For more tips, read our collection of the best outdoor staging ideas.

2. Identify Your Home's Strengths and Weaknesses

By reading this guide, you'll have some great strategies for staging a house--but there are also a lot of good reasons why professional home stagers earn thousands of dollars per property.

Home staging professionals have a very specific understanding of the local real estate market, local buyers, and how to arrange spaces for sales. The best home staging strategies are highly customized for every home. If you aren't knowledgeable about home design, real estate, or what buyers want in a house, start by consulting a local real estate agent.

Even if you're not an expert, you can still make improvements that seem small, but make a big difference in the way your home appeals to buyers.

Don't simply repeat what you've seen work for other people or on TV. Instead, take an objective evaluation of your home. Consider its strengths, weaknesses, and what type of buyers may be interested in the home. If you have a real estate agent or are an agent, doing a CMA report can help you understand more clearly how your home stacks up to others in the area.

For example, staging an apartment should be done with a considerably different strategy than staging a luxury mansion or even a single-family home on a few acres of land.

You may find that, like a large percentage of people across the US, local buyers want a home office. This gives you a perfect opportunity to stage a home office or simply move furniture to show how a bedroom or living room could be a multi-purpose space.

multipurpose home office space

On the other hand, staging a luxury property would generally mean highlighting the home's existing features instead of creating multi-purpose spaces. Even showing a few basic updates with luxury virtual staging can transform an older luxury home into a more modern and attractive dream for buyers.

virtually staged luxury living room, room feel spacious

Whether you're selling a luxury property or a small condo, virtual staging is a powerful and more efficient method of staging a home. Instead of physically removing and replacing furniture in a home for sale (which takes weeks of planning and thousands of dollars), high-quality virtual staging software can add furniture to a space, remove furniture, and even show what a space would look like with a few changes.

Virtually staged photos are highly realistic, and virtual staging statistics have proven that they help sell homes up to 88% faster AND 20% more. Learn more about virtual staging with Stuccco.

3. Keep the Home's Design Cohesive

Along with evaluating your home objectively and strategically, it's wise to choose one style to stage your home in every room. In reality, most homebuyers won't have any idea what the design style is, and may not even consciously notice the cohesive design. What they will notice is a home that "flows" and feels ready for them to move in immediately.

Keep in mind that home staging is not the same as interior design. If there's only one home staging tip or concept you remember, it should be this one!

Interior design or decorating is focused on making a space look beautiful and reflect someone's personal style. Home staging, on the other hand, is most frequently used in real estate because it's a specific strategy that helps sell homes for more money.

Staging a home means making it appeal to buyers.

Although it should look beautiful, it's also a highly strategic method of knowing the psychology of home buyers and being able to define a layout and most effectively set up any space.

Example of staged home office for real estate

Whether you already know personal design style, it may be helpful to learn about the different styles and see examples in our full guide to interior design styles.

Making a Staged Home Feel Cohesive: Opt for Neutral over Bold

As you learn more about the differences between decorating your home and staging a home, you'll start noticing the differences between staged real estate listings and professionally designed spaces. While every good quality home staging service will establish a design style for the home, the end results will look different.

Scandinavian room design

Bold Scandinavian living room by Design-Milk

In general, staged homes rely on neutral colors with just a few accents or pops of color to add interest. Neutrals tend to have more of a mass appeal, which is important when you're working to attract higher numbers of buyers and offers.

Bold features can sometimes work in a staged home, but in some cases, even a single bold feature can turn off potential buyers. If you're staging your own items, opt for neutral colors, shades, and finishes over bright, unique, or personalized items.

In fact, adding simple repetitive items (like throw pillows in the example below) adds a sense of harmony to the space. Keeping the same tones from room to room pulls the home together, joins spaces, and creates a positive feeling–buyers will feel good in the home, even if they don't understand why.

scandinavian home staging living room

Virtually staged Scandinavian living area in

4. Less is More (Declutter & Depersonalize)

The worst way to list your home on the market is with pictures of a cluttered home. We've all seen the horrifying pictures of Zillow listings that look like they were taken without so much as a vacuum.

Decluttering is potentially the easiest and most impactful way to improve the appeal of your house. Sometimes simply removing extra items or unnecessary furniture can completely change the look and feel of your home.

Make sure to remove:

  • Personal items (family photos, kid's drawings, signs with a name)
  • Clutter off of surfaces (magnets on refrigerator, papers off of desks and counters)
  • Unnecessary furniture (kid's high chairs, walkers, extra side tables, even sofas)
  • Decor that doesn't fit the design style (keep the home cohesive)

Even though less is more, it's not always ideal to have an empty space. In fact, selling a vacant home comes with its own unique challenges.

Instead, add some accessories that contribute to the feeling of the space. This should be simple, like adding throw pillows, throw blankets, or matching table lamps. Trios of decorative items are often the most visually appealing.

Greenery is an accessory that fits in almost every room. Faux greenery is the simplest and most affordable, but when possible, use real plants for added appeal.

Bonus tip: Decluttering Storage

Storage is an extremely important element in any home, so be aware that potential buyers who come to showings and open houses will be opening cabinets and looking on shelves. For that reason, it's important to highlight storage in your home and make it appear as spacious as possible.

You can do that by decluttering and sorting out items in drawers, cabinets, closets, and shelves. Pack any and every unnecessary item away, from extra clothes and towels to spare pencils. Keep just one season of clothes in your home to maintain organization and cohesiveness. If prospective buyers open a cabinet to find it stuffed full of items, they immediately have the impression that there isn't enough storage in the home.

In addition, adding storage can sometimes have a negative effect on a home's appeal.

For example, the homeowners in the photo below added a storage rack around their toilet. Although it may have served a functional purpose, it doesn't add anything aesthetically pleasing to the space.

Therefore, it actually makes buyers feel that the added storage was necessary because they home doesn't have enough on its own.

Bathroom listing photo with poor lighting and poor storage space

In reality, this photo shows a relatively large bathroom cabinet with storage space that most buyers would be happy to see. By removing the unnecessary storage item, it actually makes the bathroom feel more spacious and welcoming. Plus, using simple, white linens and towels make the bathroom feel like a spa–clean, open, and fresh.
Virtually staged bathroom example

5. Adjust the Room's Layout

In many cases, the furniture layout that works best for your family is not actually the best layout for listing photos or for buyers. Look in each room of your home and consider the possibility of rearranging pieces for a more professional look.

For example, it's extremely common for homeowners to push their beds or sofas up against a wall, like this photo. However, it can also make a room feel unbalanced.

By virtually staging this bed in the middle of the room, adding a rug, side tables, and greenery, the room feels more finished, welcoming, and could suit almost any type of buyers' needs.

Bedroom before home staging for potential buyer
Bedroom before home staging for potential buyer

RELATED: Don't miss these other guides to beautifully designing every bedroom in your home:

6. Make Your Home Feel Fresh

Homebuyers don't want to feel like they're buying someone else's old home--even though that's exactly what's happening in almost every case. The more fresh and new you can make your home feel, the more exciting and appealing it will be to buyers.

Making your home feel fresh can include:

  • Placing fluffy new towels in the bathroom
  • Adding clean, bright white blankets or throw blankets
  • Cleaning dirt and stains off of all surfaces (including your countertops, baseboards, cabinets, walls, and carpets)
  • De-odorizing all spaces

These changes will make a difference in the listing photos, but they'll be even more impactful during in-person showings or open houses. For these events, make sure you take some extra steps to appeal to all five of the buyer's senses. Start by reading our guide to preparing for an open house.

staging home for the five senses

7. Make Small Repairs

Home staging can sometimes include renovations, but in most cases, it simply refers to small home improvements. All properties take wear and tear over time, whether they are well taken care of or not. By making small repairs and upgrades, you'll add that fresh feeling to your home and prevent prospective buyers from being distracted or discouraged by small imperfections.

Some of the most commonly needed improvements include:

  • Cleaning, touching up, or repainting baseboards
  • Upgrading door knobs
  • Touching up paint
  • Fixing leaky faucets
  • Upgrading or repairing light fixtures
  • Cleaning your gutters
  • Cleaning up weeds
  • Cleaning grout
  • Repairing sticky doors or windows
  • Cleaning out pet areas
  • Upgrading light switches
  • Repairing blinds or window coverings
  • Patching holes in the wall

8. Prioritize Rooms with the Highest ROI Potential

In real estate, not all rooms are valued equally. In general, having a beautifully designed and updated bedroom will not impact the sale price of your home as much as a new kitchen, bathroom, or outdoor living area. This is partially because of the added cost and inconvenience of updating kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor spaces, but also because of the amount of time spent in these areas.

Therefore, make a list of all the potential improvements or upgrades you'd like to make in your home, then rank them by priority. If you have limited time or money, opt for improvements in one of the areas with the highest potential for ROI (return on investment).

Home staged kitchen example

9. Add or Accentuate Lighting

Even though many homeowners prefer to block out light in some areas of their own homes, natural lighting is an undeniably desirable feature in any home. For that reason, it's helpful to evaluate the lighting in your home before listing it for sale.

For areas that already receive plenty of natural light, make sure you highlight this by opening all curtains and blinds for your real estate photos, showings, and open houses. While your home is on the market, you should also consider swapping out dark curtains for sheer, light colored ones to make the overall space feel bright.

For areas that don't have much natural lighting, consider upgrading a light fixture or adding lamps. It may not be necessary for every room, but don't skip this step! Spending a little extra time making your home feel bright and fresh will make a massive impact on buyers.

Dark living room before professional home stager

This home had plenty of windows and natural light, but the furniture and decor made the space feel small. Instead of adding more lighting or window treatments, this space was brightened by better furniture. Placing white chairs by the window along with a white rug instantly changes the way the entire room feels.

Living room after professional staging company Stuccco

10. Adjust Curtains

If you're like most homebuyers and owners, you may have never thought about the way curtains can impact the feel of an entire space. Many people choose curtains based on price, pattern, or color they love. However, the fabric, texture, weight, and placement of your curtains also make a surprisingly large difference in the entire room's design.

light curtains in a well staged home

For instance, sheer, light colored curtains help make a space feel more airy and can highlight natural light and fresh air. On the other hand, well-placed dark curtains can add drama to a room--but in other cases, they can make a room feel smaller and darker.

When evaluating your curtains, think about the lighting situation of the room and overall design style of your home. If you have bright or bold patterned curtains, but the rest of your home is super modern and black and white, you would be wise to consider replacing them or removing them completely for your home's sale.

If your curtains already fit the home well, you might be able to make a big impact by simply moving the curtain rod up by a few inches. Long curtains immediately make any space feel taller, spacious, and beautiful.

long curtains for home staging, helpful tips

Floor to ceiling curtains by KirtamDesigns

The same concepts apply to shower curtains. Most bathrooms with shower curtains are small, so the curtain actually takes up a large amount of space in the room. Be careful with especially bold or bright patterns or colors, and think about using just a simple white shower curtain. Plus, look for an extra tall shower curtain to add to the room's height.

Even though some curtains can be expensive, it's also a relatively affordable home improvement to help your home sell for more money. Alternatively, if you don't want to replace curtains before you move, you can change or add them within any virtual staging order.

11. Don't Forget About Your Backyard

The pandemic changed the way that Americans view their homes. Today's homebuyers prioritize things like a home office and an outdoor living space much more than they did just a few years ago. Even though "curb appeal" usually refers to the front view of your house, your backyard or exterior space should receive the same amount of attention and care before your listing goes live.

Studies from the National Association of Realtors show that 82% of buyers want a patio, with other large majorities seeking front and rear porches. If you have a patio or porch, take the time to clean up any weeds, mow the lawn, and add a few pieces of outdoor furniture.

patio before and after home staging, outdoor living area

If you don't already have built-in living spaces on your property, that's okay! You can still highlight the potential of your outdoor space by simply cleaning it up, adding some furniture, or getting a little creative.


Outdoor living area in grass

Creative outdoor staging idea for homes with no patio or porch via Pinterest

12. Simplify the Process with Virtual Staging

As we discussed, there are a lot of reasons why professional home stagers charge (and deserve) thousands of dollars for properties. Staging a home requires specialized expertise and incredible planning skills. However, there are many small but powerful changes you can make to massively improve the appeal of your home.

There are so many small but powerful changes you can make to massively improve the appeal of your home--and just by reading this guide, you'll be ahead of so many other home owners who don't know how to best attract buyers.

However, there are still many good reasons why professional in-person home stagers charge (and deserve) thousands of dollars for each property they stage. The home staging process requires highly specialized expertise and it is incredibly labor-intensive when physical furniture and decor is being moved around.

But since the vast majority of home sellers across the US don't have the budget for traditional home staging, virtual staging was created to help houses sell more successfully in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

Virtual staging is the process of digitally adding or removing furniture from a room in order to highlight the home's best features and attract high-paying buyers. With Stuccco, you get to access some of the most advanced virtual staging software in the industry and have your home staged by a professional home stager and interior designer. In fact, Stuccco is the only virtual staging company that exclusively provides this level of expertise and is one of the most affordable options.

Bedroom by professional stager, home staging example
Bedroom by professional stager, home staging example

Related post: Learn about virtual and home staging costs in our guide: Virtual Staging Costs: Understanding Price & ROI

With Stuccco virtual staging, you can have your home completely staged within 24 hours.

Your virtually staged listing photos can (and should) be used to market your listing, and can even be used in the physical property to help buyers see and feel the space's full potential.

virtual staging in real estate marketing

Learn more about how to use virtual staging to sell houses

By using virtual staging instead of in-person (or "traditional" staging), you can simplify the process, save time, money, and energy, and still get the maximum value for your home.

For more details about how virtual staging and traditional staging compare, read our full breakdown of virtual staging vs. traditional staging.

10 Best Home Staging Ideas & Pictures

Need some more inspiration to start staging your home? Scroll through a few examples of staged homes, and view even more in our virtual home staging library.

1. Cleaned and Modernized Primary Bedroom

Master bedroom before and after home staging
This master bedroom is spacious, with a beautiful view and large windows. However, the entire room had beige or dark wood tones, which didn't provide any visual interest and made the room feel darker than it was. By simplifying and upgrading the furniture, hanging light colored curtains, and adding a few dark pieces, the room feels brighter. The contrasting shades also make the room feel more inviting and interesting.


2. Bright and Beautiful Bathroom Updates

bathroom before and after virtual home staging
Like many interior bathrooms, this one had poor lighting. Without changing the actual light fixture, this space was transformed with just a fresh coat of paint on the walls and cabinets and updating the decor.


3. Staged Open-Concept Living and Dining Area

Open concept before and after virtual home staging
Open-concept living areas are highly desirable for buyers, but large, empty spaces can feel confusing. By virtually adding the right furniture in the kitchen and living room, buyers imagine themselves sitting on the couch watching TV or hosting friends on the kitchen island.

RELATED: Don't miss these other detailed guides to help you with living room design:


4. Staged Kid's Playroom

kid's playroom before and after virtual home staging
Most home stagers rarely recommend staging a playroom, but it works well when you want to attract a young family. By adding the right furniture and decor to this empty space, it feels like a space where kids can let their imaginations run wild.


5. Beautiful and Bright Dining Room

Dining area before and after virtual home staging
This dining area is a beautiful space with plenty of natural light coming through the window blinds. By simply adding the right dining room table, chairs, rug, and wall decor, it's easy for potential buyers to envision themselves hosting friends around this table.


6. Brightened Guest Bedroom

Guest bedroom before and after virtual home staging
Guest bedroom before and after virtual home staging
Even though this room has a large window, the colors and decor made the room feel dark and dated. By removing family portraits, replacing the mismatched furniture, and adding a fresh coat of paint, the space feels like it's 50 years newer. In return, the staged space would attract a very different type of buyer than the original room.

7. Decluttered Dining Room

Decluttered dining room before and after virtual home staging
Decluttered dining room before and after virtual home staging
Although this dining room is small, it's also a beautiful, bright, and functional space that should be highlighted. Its original photo included too much clutter, and adding large, full shelves actually brought attention to the lack of storage in the space. By removing most of the existing items and adding only a small number of pieces, it feels more spacious and ready for new owners.


8. Finished Basement to a Complete Living Area

Entertainment room before and after virtual home staging
In this house, the entertainment room was dedicated entirely to a single piece of furniture. Although entertainment rooms can be appealing, staging this space as a living area is a more effective way of attracting the maximum number of buyers.


9. Modernized Living Area

Living room before and after virtual home staging
This spacious living room would attract almost any buyer, but wasn't set up effectively. Small changes made a big difference here; like changing the position and color of the rug, removing unnecessary pieces of furniture, replacing the patterned, dated furniture with modern lines and neutral colors, adding greenery, and brightening the curtains. As a result, there's more natural light, more visible wood floors, and an even more infinity living space.


10. Twilight Photography

Home exterior before and after staging
This home already had great curb appeal, but the mid-day photo didn't display it fully. By staging the exterior of this home and adding a twilight background, buyers are more drawn to all the lights and the outdoor living space. Since exterior lighting is one of most buyers' top priorities, this small change may add significant value to the home.


The Verdict: Home Staging Tips

Home staging is an extremely important part of marketing a home for sale because it helps potential buyers see its full potential and envision themselves in it. Many typical homeowners and sellers don't know the range of different ways to successfully stage a house without shelling out thousands of dollars for traditional home staging.

The tips above can help you make changes to your home that automatically attract more buyers and increase your chances to get higher offers. By using these tips in combination with virtual staging, you can multiply the appeal of your home and your potential sale price overnight--in fact, placing a virtual staging order takes about five minutes, and your photos will be staged in 24 hours. Try virtual staging today!

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