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Staging your home to sell

Posted in Borrowing Money on May 26, 2020

Many, many years ago, when you went to sell your home, the thought process was to get as much stuff out of the house as possible. Realtors wanted it to look roomy with basic white or eggshell walls and free of pictures, especially family memories. The idea was to have a big, blank canvass so potential buyers could use and stretch their imaginations to see it as a place for them.

Fast forward to several years ago and no longer does a prospective homeowner have to imagine what the house might look like. Much like a model home in a new neighborhood, condo or apartment complex, home staging became a selling tool and it’s grown to be a selling trend in the real estate business. 

And why not? It makes sense. You want your home to look its very best. The buyers may see several homes in one day, so you want your home to look inviting. And by the time they’re done viewing multiple homes, you want yours to be the one that stands out among them all.

You could hire a professional home stager, but before you do there are a few things you can do yourself.

You want to set the mood and the tone and you're going for a lived in but organized look. Homes are viewed with at least four of the five senses - sight, feel, smell, and sound, so take some time to truly assess your home and think about it’s uniqueness and what you want to highlight. 

If you’re selling your home and decide to do a little staging, here are a few things you can do to make your home memorable to prospective buyers. Start with an assessment.


Look around your home and take note of what you see. Does it look cramped and cluttered? Is it light and airy? Perhaps there’s some reorganizing to do. 


Smell is a tricky one, since it’s likely you’re used to the smells in your own home. After you’ve been out of the house for the day, make a conscious effort to note how your home smells when you first walk in the door. Do you have pets? And if so, can you tell when you walk in the door? It might be a good time to invest in an air freshener. 


How does it feel when you enter your house? It most likely feels comfortable to you, but try to view it from a buyer’s perspective. Is it dark and damp? Or comfortable?


And how does it sound when it’s quiet? Are you near a major highway and hear road noise? Or near a ball field, park, or school?

Once you’ve made an assessment, you can start staging.

Clean, Clean, Clean

Clean everything. You want everything in the kitchen and bath to sparkle and shine. Clean all rooms and dust. Don’t forget to clean out closets, as prospective buyers will also be looking inside those to get an idea for the amount of storage in the house.

Get rid of clutter

Take out all the clutter including stacks of paper and mail, too many knick knacks, too much furniture, etc.

Heating and cooling

Before a showing, be sure to set your HVAC at a comfortable level - not too hot, and not too cold.


If your house really shines in the sunlight, be sure to open the window treatments to let the natural light in. If it’s generally darker inside your home, make sure to leave lamps and lights on, so when the prospective buyers first come in, it’s well lit.


If you have a way to play some music very soft and low, it can be a nice touch. People may be trying to have a conversation and they don’t want to yell over loud music. It’s background music. And you’ll want to keep it easy listening - think grocery store music. 

Set the dining room table

You don’t have to use the fine china and silver, but set your table as if you’re getting ready to have a dinner party. Be sure to use a nice centerpiece for a focal point. It adds a bit of elegance to the room and prospective buyers can see their family and friends gathered around the table for a nice meal.

Bake some cookies 

Nothing smells better than home baked cookies. If possible bake a batch just before the showing so the smell will linger when they arrive. And if you feel inclined, you can set them out on a decorative plate on the counter or stovetop as a snack for the buyers. By the way, you don’t have to go to a lot of trouble. The cut and bake kind or even the frozen variety bake up a nice cookie smell. 

Kitchen counters

You don’t want them to be cluttered, but you can stage some beautiful fruits and vegetables arranged on the counter as if you’re going to prepare them later. 

Family room

You can use plenty of pillows and blankets to make for a comfy cozy environment. Maybe set up a board game as if you’re in the middle of a family game night. Or perhaps a couple of nice coffee table books and candles will do the trick. Is your sofa comfortable but a bit old and worn? Try sprucing it up with a new cover, which is much less expensive than buying a new sofa and gives the room a new and updated look. 


Be sure to make the beds. In the kid’s rooms, put a few of their toys in a cute display and the rest out of sight. In the master, set a stack of books or magazines, all neatly placed on the nightstand with a pair of glasses on top or a tray with a cup and saucer and flower for breakfast in bed theme. 


Keep bathrooms clean and smelling fresh. Use some eucalyptus in the shower for a fresh spa smell and display some nice soaps or lotions neatly on the counter. Keep used toothbrushes and other personal items out of sight, if possible.

And don’t forget the outside of the house

If your home is For Sale, you’ll want to keep the yard cut and flowers and/or plants watered. Curb appeal matters. 

Don’t neglect the front door. You want it to be clean and welcoming. Sweep regularly to keep debris away. And maybe some nice potted plants or flower pots flanking the door to greet visitors.

If you have patio furniture, be sure to clean that as well. Setting a tray with a festive pitcher and some outdoor glasses on an outside table near the seating area shows that it’s a great place for entertaining.

These are just some basic home staging ideas to get you started. You can take home staging to any level you feel comfortable with. 

For more ideas, peruse the pages of your favorite home and garden magazines, check out and Pinterest and notice the details in the photos. Then replicate those ideas in areas of your home you want to highlight. 

What other home staging ideas do you have? Leave your ideas in the comment section of this blog post.


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