Home Staging Tips

Staging a home means giving it the right “look” to help it sell. The main goals in staging are to:

  • Make a wonderful first impression
  • Show off the house’s features
  • Invite potential buyers to imagine themselves living there

Why Stage?

According to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes sell 79% faster and can get 3% to 5% higher offers.

As consumers, we shop with our eyes and emotions, and we judge a book by its cover when we consider buying something. As a home seller, the time and resources you put into staging will get you return on investment.

You can hire a professional to style a single room or a house. Working with your budget, stagers can use your furnishings or bring in props. Your realtor can recommend a pro in your area. Whether you hire a professional or DIY, always keep the house show-ready to accommodate buyers’ schedules and to have as many people as possible see it.

Top Tips

1. Focus on the area between buyers’ car doors and your front door, because the house makes its first impression outside. Easy ways to enhance “curb appeal” include:

  • Power-wash walls and the driveway
  • Mow the lawn
  • Add new flowers or green plants for color
  • Remove toys, bikes, gardening tools, fallen branches, etc.
  • Update the old doormat, mailbox, and house numbers
  • Decorate the front door with fresh paint or potted plants


2.  Before you stage the inside, de-clutter and clean. Everything. Very well. Remove clutter from floors, surfaces, and storage areas—no line-up of cereal boxes, scattered toys, piled magazines or laundry. Even family photos need to disappear when potential buyers are in the house.


3.  Then really clean: dust, mop, vacuum, scrub (including nooks, crannies, and inside appliances), and polish the whole house. Realtors report that buyers notice and favor clean homes.

4. Make sure buyers experience a pleasant atmosphere while they tour:

  • Remember climate control. Have the heat, AC, or windows do their job before buyers arrive.
  • Maximize the light. Trim bushes that block windows, remove window dressing except for basic shades or blinds, and replace bulbs, shades or entire fixtures to create warm, welcoming light.
  • Neutralize odors from cooking, pets, sports equipment, trash, etc. Ask your agent or an honest friend to sniff around. Air out and deodorize, then add gentle, not eye-watering aromas: vanilla candles, flowers, oil diffusers, or even lemons boiled on the stove, all work.

5.  The best overall look is neutral backgrounds with pops of color. Walls do not have to be cold or boring; there’s a spectrum of neutral paints available. Colorful accents to catch the eye include throw pillows, plants, cut flowers, glass jars of fruit, wall art, or a couple of gorgeous books. What you display should add to, not distract from, the room’s features.


6.  Use objects to create vignettes that show off the lifestyle of the house. An open book and cozy throw make a reading nook. A teapot and cups in the kitchen suggest relaxed chats. Furniture can emphasize a fireplace gathering spot or a beautiful view. Set a deck table for an outdoor meal. Selling a great life in a lovely house is the bottom line of staging!

Top Realtors are experts there to help you, whether it’s giving staging advice and feedback, or knowing the best local stagers. They are also experts in using great home staging to tell your house’s story, reveal all its appeal, and get it sold.

Lin Nulman is a writer for HomeLight, a San Francisco-based firm that matches buyers and sellers with real estate agents.