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Staging Your Home for Sale: Getting Started

Jenna InouyeMay 30, 2024
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Maybe you’re the type of person who always keeps their home immaculate. But you could also be the type of person who hastily hides things in cupboards when expecting guests — or who believes that a home should look “lived in.”

Most people get a little nervous when they’re expecting guests. But this dial gets turned all the way up when you’re selling a home. Now, your guests will scrutinize every aspect of your home, from dog bowls to Grandma’s fine china.  

Home staging is the art of preparing a property for sale in a way that appeals to the widest range of potential buyers. It involves strategically arranging furniture, decor, and other elements to highlight the home’s best features and create an inviting atmosphere. 

To provide you with the best information about home staging, we conducted our own research in addition to talking to Nancy Reynolds of Rainmaker Real Estate. Nancy Reynolds is a lifelong resident of Silicon Valley who loves finding diamonds in the rough — and especially enjoys helping people interested in fixer-upper projects find their perfect property.

First and foremost, Reynolds suggests: “A home should always be staged to the fullest extent possible. If a home is vacant, every room and community space should be staged to give buyers an experience that makes them want to live in this home.”

But why bother? The many benefits of home staging

According to NAR, nearly 60% of real estate professionals believe home staging affects most buyers. At a minimum, it certainly doesn’t hurt. But as a home buyer, you probably saw quite a few empty properties. Why should you really bother with staging your home?

Faster sales

Not all sales are made equal. If you’re ready to sell your home, you probably don’t want to keep paying that mortgage. Staged homes often sell faster because they present better in photos and showings, catching buyers' interest quickly. Staging helps potential buyers visualize themselves living in the home, creating an emotional connection that can lead to quicker offers.

Of course, the single best-determining factor of how quickly you sell your home is probably your agent. An agent will help you determine how to price your home, stage it, and list it. Redy provides an easy path toward finding the right real estate agent for you — by letting you compare multiple real estate agents in terms of commissions, services, and expertise. 

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Higher sales prices

A well-staged home can create the impression of greater value, leading to higher offers. You can turn a so-so kitchen into a luxury kitchen by suggesting, for instance, the right appliances in the right places. Architectural Digest suggests that staged homes can sell for, on average, $40,000 more.

Competitive edge 

Staging sets your property apart from other listings, making it more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing the price. People don’t just remember how a property looked; they remember how the property felt.

Make them look where you want them to

Staging lets you draw attention to the home’s best features, such as a spacious kitchen, beautiful views, or a cozy fireplace. It can also help minimize the appearance of less desirable aspects by creating a balanced and appealing overall look.

Broad appeal

Staging typically involves using neutral colors and decor that can appeal to a wide range of tastes, making it easier for buyers to see the home’s potential. Further, removing personal items helps buyers focus on the property itself rather than the current occupants, making it easier for them to envision themselves in the space. Still, keep in mind that there are trends that have become outdated in home staging — and many of them were initially designed for broad appeal. A real estate agent can help you stay on top of current trends and avoid the old ones.

Practical tips for staging your home

Staging your home effectively doesn't necessarily require a large budget. With some strategic planning and a few key techniques, you can create a welcoming and attractive space that appeals to potential buyers. 

Declutter and depersonalize

It’s time to make your home a little more accessible to others. Take down family photos, personal collections, and any items that reflect your personal taste. Keep countertops, tables, and other surfaces clear of clutter to create a sense of space and order. Buyers often look inside closets and storage spaces, so ensure these areas are tidy and well-organized.

Clean thoroughly

Ensure your home is spotless, including less obvious areas like baseboards, windows, and light fixtures. Address any sources of unpleasant odors and consider using light, neutral scents to freshen the air. This is one area in which you might as well call a professional. According to HomeGuide, it rarely costs more than a few hundred dollars to get your property sparkling clean.

Enhance your curb appeal

Keep the grass trimmed, bushes pruned, and flower beds weeded. Consider placing a new welcome mat, adding potted plants, or repainting the front door to make a positive first impression.

Create inviting spaces

Reynolds notes, “Vacant rooms actually appear smaller and confuse buyers as to how to utilize the space best.”

Arrange furniture to create a comfortable and functional flow, making rooms feel spacious and easy to navigate. The type of furniture you select controls how open the room will feel.  “Consider floating furniture when you can, instead of pushing furniture up against a wall,” suggests Reynolds. “Have sofas and tables that have legs to get as much off the floor as possible.”

Use neutral colors for walls and decor to appeal to a broader range of buyers, adding pops of color with accessories like pillows or artwork. Use furniture and decor to draw attention to the home’s best features, such as a fireplace, large windows, or built-in shelving.

Light it up

“Light makes the most difference,” says Reynolds. “We are selling space, and light creates more space. So wall colors, lighting (natural or electric), color schemes, and furniture placement — all can help add more light.”

Open curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. Ensure each room is well-lit with a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting. Good Housekeeping recommends installing dimmers so you can adjust your lighting depending on the time of day.

Create outdoor living spaces

Not a lot of square footage indoors? Not a problem. Set up outdoor furniture to showcase patios, decks, or balconies as additional living areas. Maintain the garden and lawn to create an inviting outdoor environment.

Staging do’s and don'ts

What’s the biggest mistake Reynolds frequently sees when staging? “The number one biggest mistake is not showing buyers where the TV and sofa will go.  Many homes were built before this era of gigantic TV screens and sectional sofas, so you have to be very strategic with the staging.”

You’ve probably lived in your home for a while. But there are certain questions a person might have when looking at your home that wouldn’t even occur to you. Here are some key do's and don'ts to keep in mind:

Staging do's

  • Highlight focal points: Draw attention to unique features such as fireplaces, large windows, or architectural details. Ask your real estate agent regarding what you should focus on — and what you should ignore. 

  • Use mirrors strategically: Place mirrors to enhance natural light and create the illusion of more space in smaller rooms. But be careful. Over-using mirrors can make a property feel dated, as they are more common in older homes.

  • Create a cohesive color scheme: Stick to a neutral and cohesive color palette to create a harmonious and appealing look throughout the home. Your real estate agent can tell you more about the color palettes that work today.

  • Incorporate fresh elements: Use fresh flowers, plants, or a fruit bowl to add life and color to the space. There are also ways to use plastic flowers, plants, and fruits that still look authentic.

  • Update light fixtures: Modern, updated light fixtures can make a significant difference in the overall look and feel of a room. They’re also very easy to install compared to other repair and update options.

  • Pay attention to flooring: Ensure carpets are clean and in good condition; consider refinishing hardwood floors if necessary. You probably don’t study your floor frequently, but others will.

Staging don'ts

  • Don’t go too crazy: Avoid filling rooms with too much furniture, which can make spaces feel cramped and smaller than they are. Remove any excess furniture that doesn’t serve an immediate purpose.

  • Don’t ignore minor repairs: Address any minor repairs, such as leaky faucets or chipped paint, as they can detract from the overall appeal. Take things step by step and room by room to avoid overwhelming yourself.

  • Avoid bold colors: Steer clear of bold and bright colors that may not appeal to a wide range of buyers; stick to neutrals. There can be some exceptions: a single bold accent wall can help pull together the decor.

  • Don’t leave out personal items: Keep personal items like family photos, toiletries, and children's toys out of sight to maintain a neutral environment.

  • Don’t overlook the outdoors: Remember to stage outdoor areas as well, including patios, balconies, and gardens.

  • Don’t neglect the windows: Ensure windows are clean and that window treatments are in good condition, as they can greatly impact natural light and views.

Potential Challenges of Home Staging

While home staging can be highly beneficial, it has challenges. Here are some common obstacles homeowners may encounter when staging their property:

Cost of staging

Hiring a professional stager or purchasing new furniture and decor can be expensive. Homeowners need to consider these costs and budget accordingly. Still, according to The Zebra, the average cost of staging is only around $400. That could be a sizable ROI if it increases the desirability of your home.

Time and effort

Properly staging a home can take considerable time and effort, from decluttering and deep cleaning to rearranging furniture and adding decor. Keeping a staged home in perfect condition for showings can be challenging, especially for those still living in the home. Homeowners need to be diligent about maintaining cleanliness and order.

Emotional attachment

Removing personal items and making the home look more neutral can be emotionally difficult for some homeowners. Letting go of personal touches can feel like detaching from cherished memories. Homeowners might need to be open to changes suggested by stagers, which can sometimes involve altering their personal style or making significant adjustments to their living space.


It can be hard to stage a property when you’re living in it! Reynolds suggests getting a storage space or a pod — “pack up everything you don't absolutely need, and let a stager design with a combination of their furniture and yours.” According to Reynolds, this will attract more attention and detach you (the seller) from the home, allowing them to envision it as their own. 

Arranging for the rental and delivery of furniture and decor can be logistically complex. Coordinating these details requires careful planning and execution. Hiring a professional home stager can help. 

Market conditions

Despite best efforts, the staging might not align perfectly with the preferences of all potential buyers. Market trends and buyer tastes can vary, making it difficult to predict what will appeal most. In a fast-moving market, the time to stage a home might delay listing, potentially missing out on peak buying periods. Conversely, in a slower market, the benefits of staging might not be as immediately evident.


Through home staging, says Reynolds, “You can create an aesthetic that will create more space, distract from any negative design aspects, and, ultimately, get buyers excited to show off and buy the home.” Home staging lets you show the potential of what your home can be — and, critically, sell that potential.

But while staging a home for sale is a powerful strategy, it also involves a lot of moving parts. Your real estate agent can help you find a reliable home stager — or may even be a home stager themselves.

It’s time to take a look at Redy. By creating a listing for your property, you can connect with agents who are ready and excited to sell your home. They’ll give you expert advice about your local market, and you may even be able to get a cash reward for signing up with one of them. Use that reward to pay for home staging, home cleaning, or just to treat yourself.

Whether you choose to hire a professional stager or take on the task yourself, the first step is to get an agent. Create a property listing on Redy today

Jenna Inouye is a professional freelance writer specializing in the areas of real estate, technology, and finance. Her professional experience extends to her work in property management, accounting, and brick-and-mortar retail, as well as a substantial background in journalism and thought leadership for businesses and high-net-worth individuals.

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