Tips for Effectively Staging Your Home for Sale

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Written by Mandy Collier

In her book, “Staging to Sell: The Secret to Selling Homes in a Down Market,” author Barb Schwarz defines staging as preparing a property for sale. She says staging helps buyers envision themselves in the property, and that clutter, a lack of cleanliness and emptiness that imparts a cold feeling all turn buyers off. Well-staged homes sell 32 percent faster too, according to Amy Miller, author of “Home Staging to Sell Your Home Fast.” Plus, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency reports staged homes sell for 17 percent more than homes that aren’t staged. If you want to sell your home, prepare to de-clutter and clean, use the right colors, and arrange furniture for an attractive and welcoming atmosphere so that buyers can picture themselves living there.

De-clutter and Clean


Nothing turns buyers off faster than dirty, neglected property. De-cluttering and cleaning is the first step in home staging. It may be easier to work on one room at a time, simply removing everything from the room including floor lamps, window treatments, and pictures and wall hangings in preparation for cleaning.

Steps to de-clutter:

  • Remove excess furniture and accessories, keeping only the basics for each room.
  • Store, sell or donate anything that isn’t staying in the home.
  • Don’t be tempted to fill the garage because buyers will be looking in there, too.
  • Pay particular attention to the kitchen, bathroom, living room and closets.

Steps to clean and refresh:

  • Thoroughly clean the room from floor to ceiling, including windows, walls, light fixtures and baseboards, and repair any cracks, holes, pits or gouges.
  • Clean or replace carpets, and buff and wax wood floors.
  • Make sure there are fresh light bulbs in all lights and repair or replace any broken or outdated light fixtures.
  • Paint walls and ceilings with light, neutral colors.
  • Put up simple, attractive window treatments such as rolling shades and side drapes in light colors to allow as much natural light into the space as possible.


Use the Right Colors

right colors

Use light, neutral colors and textures to make the space look bigger and brighter. Avoid harsh or garish colors, even for accents. Creams, beiges and light browns lighten a space and do not detract from a decor. Keep the walls and ceilings light and go just a shade darker for window treatments and area or accent rugs. If your furniture is dark, consider reupholstering in lighter colors or selling existing furniture and buying updated pieces in a more neutral, lighter color palette.

Arrange Furniture


When the room is cleaned and refreshed, bring in basic furniture settings such as a couch, coffee table, and one or two floor lamps for a living room. Use contemporary or traditional style furniture with wood legs and frames, not metal or ultra-modern or eclectic styles.

An understated area rug and one or two conservative wall decorations are the only accessories necessary. Resist pushing furniture against the walls and instead arrange seating in inviting groups. Keep furniture away from windows.

Pay Attention to Light


Bring as much natural light into rooms as possible, and make sure all light fixtures are operational and have bright light bulbs in them. Rooms should have different types of lighting, including natural light from windows, overhead lighting and table lighting. Consider a large light fixture in the ceiling, floor and table lamps, and wall lights such as sconces or track lighting.


Miller recommends talking to real estate agents in your area to find out what home buyers like and what turns them off. Agents talk to buyers every day and have first-hand knowledge of what homes are selling.

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