6 Home Staging Rules

6 Home Staging Rules

Home staging is a little different than normal decorating, and with prime home selling season coming up, I wanted to share a few staging tips I’ve picked up from staging for my Realtor mother. Typically when you decorate your own home, you keep your own taste in mind, and might make more bold choices because they appeal to you. When it comes time to sell however, the name of the game is “neutral”. If you want to sell your house more quickly and for more money, keep reading!

Rule #1: Declutter, declutter, declutter! 


While you may love looking at family photos on your fridge, or have a proud collection of ceramic figurines, it’s important that prospective buyers can envision themselves in your home. It’s much easier to imagine their own things in your home if they have a blank canvas instead of a Monet. Limit the amount of items you have out on your kitchen and bathroom counters, make sure the outside of your fridge is completely clear of clutter, tidy up your office space so that loose papers are out of sight, and box up closet overflow (people WILL look in your closets). The goal is to showcase the space, not the stuff.

clean closet

Rule #2: Depersonalize

This rule goes along with the first one a little bit (because what’s more personal than clutter?) but this gets a bit more specific. When a space has a really bold color, tons of sports memorabilia, lots of religion specific decor, or an obvious ‘theme’, you run the risk of turning off potential buyers. Someone may prefer gray to tan, but it’s probably not going to set off their “eww I hate this color” alarm like a bright red. Likewise, you don’t want someone with a rival sports team to refuse to buy your house on principle.

Bright Pink room

You might love your bold choice, but it’s all about making the potential buyer feel at home. You want to make sure that your decor choices will appeal to the vast majority of people. Even children’s rooms should be turned down with a neutral paint color and a good decluttering. Remember too that this doesn’t mean that your home isn’t well designed or attractive. Think of staging your home to sell like dressing for a job interview. You probably dress more cleanly and conservatively than you would while going out on the town. Here’s a nice neutral kids room that could easily be used as an office or guest room once the furniture is gone:

neutral kids room

Rule #3: Update

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars updating your home to sell. If you have it in the budget, great. You’ll most likely earn it back if you make smart choices. But a well-spent $500 or less can work wonders. Repaint the rooms that need it, paint that old honey oak a nice bright white, switch out almond outlets with white, replace or spray paint brass fixtures, door knobs, and hardware. Oil rubbed bronze spray paint gives a really convincing finish, while silver spray paint looks nice, but is less convincing. Up to you!

The picture below is a great example of what an impact painted cabinets make, but it also happens to be an ad for a DIY product that lets you transform your laminate countertops for about $80. They aren’t paying me to advertise for them or anything, I just saw the ad on Pinterest and I plan on trying it out in my first house until I can afford the quartz of my dreams. Look how much lighter and brighter this kitchen looks now! They also updated the appliances, faucet, flooring, and lighting, but even if it were just the cabinets and countertops the difference would be huge.

kitchen update

You also want to keep in mind which upgrades are most common in your neighborhood. Some areas you might need solid stone countertops and wood floors to sell, other areas you could be fine with faux-granite and laminate flooring. It all depends on what your competition is doing and what your neighborhood price range is at.

Rule #4: CLEAN!

You might think cleaning is the same as decluttering, but you’d be dead wrong. Decluttering is what you do when the place is a mess and you have company coming in 10 minutes. When I say cleaning, I mean deep, deep, spring cleaning. It makes such a difference to the feel of a home when every surface is free of dust and grime. Get your carpets cleaned and get all those weird stains out, dust the top of your cabinets that never get reached, wipe down your blinds, scrub the tub, clean the hair and toothpaste residue out of the bathroom drawers, I mean really get in there. Luckily, once it’s done, it’s not too hard to maintain, but it’s so important to give your whole house a good once over before putting it on the market.


Rule #5: Enlarge

There are a few design tricks to make any space feel a little bigger. Painting a room a light neutral color usually makes the walls recede away from your eyes, adding a large mirror increases the appearance of natural light, and hanging curtains from the ceiling instead of right above the window makes your windows look huge. Also, if there’s space, install your curtain rod so that the curtains rest just to the sides of the window when pulled back (this makes the window look bigger AND lets more light in). Here’s a diagram that I’m sure most of you have seen floating around Pinterest, because it really illustrates what a difference this one change makes:


Same size window, dramatic difference! If your curtain panels aren’t long enough, you can always buy a yard of complimentary fabric and use iron on hem tape to give them some extra length at the bottom. Don’t forget to patch your old holes if you’re rehanging them at a different height!

Here’s a great light gray by Benjamin Moore that makes even this narrow hallway look open and inviting:

light paint color

Note the difference that the natural light streaming in from the bedrooms makes too. The walls are Moonshine and the board and batten is painted Decorator’s White, both by Benjamin Moore.

Rule #6: Curb Appeal

Don’t forget the outside of your house too! It’s the first impression that a buyer has of your home, both while searching through listings online and when they pull up to the curb. Trim overgrown bushes, power-wash a dirty sidewalk, repaint a tired front door, plant a few colorful flowers, and put down a fresh new welcome mat. If your front light, doorbell, street number, or mailbox are old and outdated, you might think about replacing or spray painting those as well. It’s cheaper than you think!

welcoming entry

Just think, while the Realtor is getting the lockbox open and the door unlocked, those prospective buyers are standing on your front porch inspecting every detail! If a home looks well taken care of on the outside, chances are the inside is well-maintained as well. The opposite is also true!

I hope this helps you readers who are planning on listing your house soon, and remember that most of these tips aren’t a bad idea for non-listed homes as well! Who doesn’t enjoy a light, bright, clean home? 😉

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to re-pin for later!


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