Follow these eight professional tips to make your space more functional and enjoyable to live in — whether you’re selling it or staying put

home staging tips

Simply put, home staging is the act of preparing your house to sell. The goal of staging is to make your house appealing to as many buyers as possible so it sells quickly and at top dollar. Staging could be as simple as decluttering your fireplace mantle or as extreme as upgrading the single-sink to a double-sink vanity in your master bath.

But while staging may be a growing prerequisite for selling a house, staging design ideas can often be implemented while you’re living in your home. Whether you’re ready to sell, hosting a big bash, or simply want to maintain your home, these tips from staging pros will maximize your home’s value and make your space more functional and enjoyable to live in.

1. Clean and declutter — and then clean some more

According to Ellie Mayes, master accredited staging professional and owner of UpStaging Designs, the number one thing you can do to prepare a home for sale is to clean, including baseboards, ceiling fans, cobwebs, shower mold, windows, and blinds. “A deep cleaning will tell buyers that you’ve been keeping the house clean all the time — whether that is true or not,” she says.

Be sure to also remove any clutter. To help organize your home in a functional, beautiful way, Mayes recommends using decorative baskets, kitchen canisters, and dual function furniture (think an ottoman with hidden storage) to keep clutter at bay and add a touch of polish.

2. Light it up

Lighting is a top reason why professionally staged homes look so inviting. Mayes stresses the importance of lighting, saying, “Lighting is like jewelry for your home and can completely change its personality. Swap outdated, builder grade fixtures for something fresh and bright with daylight quality LED bulbs.”

To create that warm glow, aim for a total of 100 watts per 50 square feet and ensure you have three types of lighting for each room, ambient (general or overhead lighting), task (pendant or reading lamps), and accent (table lamps or wall sconces).

3. Refresh your paint palette

Updating paint colors to current trends is a great cost-effective update, shares Michele Nowak, professional home stager and owner of Moving by Design Home Staging. Just be sure the paint coordinates well with existing flooring, cabinetry, and tile. It’s worth it to consult a professional stager to select a shade with the best buyer appeal.

4. Curb appeal matters

Mayes shares a few easy DIY projects to boost your curb appeal, like power washing your home, pulling weeds, trimming shrubs, cutting back overgrown trees, planting grass, and adding mulch or pine straw and seasonal flowers. Whether you have a wrap-around porch or a stoop, make visitors feel welcome with a clean doormat and potted plants in bloom. Studies show flowers and plants can improve moods and lower anxiety — great for an open house.

5. Pare down your furniture

Getting rid of clutter is a given, but don’t overlook your furniture. Professional stagers get rid of up to half of a home’s furniture to make the house seem bigger and create an open feel.

This means taking a critical eye to your possessions and selling or donating selected pieces. If your new house isn’t ready to move into yet, you can opt to store your furniture in a storage unit while your house is on the market and then move it into your next place when ready.

6. Create a focal point in each room

If your living room has a fireplace, Nowak suggests making that the focal point and accessorizing with a large art piece hung over the mantle and larger-scale accessories on the mantle. If your bed is the focal point in a bedroom, she advises putting the bed on the wall opposite the entry door and adding nice bedding, accent pillows, and art on the wall overhead. Nowak suggests adding a beautiful centerpiece and a table runner to the dining room table and hanging a large piece of art on the longest wall for a beautiful finishing touch.

7. Do a scent check

“The best smell when trying to sell a home is no smell, so it is best to steer clear of air fresheners, scented candles, etc., if possible,” shares Nowak. If you have pets, it is especially important to have all carpets, floors, and upholstery professionally cleaned. If you absolutely need an air freshener to banish any lingering odors, choose something with a “clean” scent.

8. Spend strategically on finishing touches.

Things like new bedding, fluffy towels, and decorative accessories are cost-conscious upgrades. “Buyers are looking for a new lifestyle in the home they purchase — show them something clean, fresh, and move-in ready and they can imagine themselves building their new life in your home!” says Mayes.