Staging a house is a near must when you’re trying to land a buyer with a dream offer. You want to throw a terrific open house—the kind where every attendee is entranced, the hors d’oeuvres are delicious, and nothing remotely goes wrong.Staging a house on a budgetBut if the cost of staging a house has you nervous, here’s the good news: You don’t have to hire a pro home stager and rent all new furniture to get the look buyers love. We asked agents and home staging experts for their secret staging hacks. Here are nine little moves that have a great impact for minimal effort or money.
1. Strip the windows“Light and bright is what sells,” says Randy Wine, a real estate agent in Rutherford, NJ. So pack away your curtains. “They might be beautiful, but they’ll darken and date the room. You can leave the sheers, but take down the drapes.”Related Articles6 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Home Look ExpensiveBehind the Scenes: Stage Your Home Like a Hollywood StarThe Ultimate Open House Prep Checklist: Kitchen Edition
Pull the blinds all the way up. “If blinds are left in the down but open position, that can reduce light by 50% over the course of the day,” says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency in Portland, OR. And make sure your windows are sparkling clean; they let in more light and just look nicer, too.
2. White-out the bathroomJust as hotels use white items to reinforce the idea that they’re clean, white in the bathroom makes things look fresh and new.“Even if you can’t replace cabinets or countertops, at least purchase fresh white towels,” says Sheila Schostok of Your Home Matters Staging & Redesign in Lake County, IL. And add a white shower curtain, white soap dish, and new white bathmat (though, if your bathroom floor is a selling point, skip the bathmat).
3. Update kitchen fixturesYou don’t need to replace the countertops or even paint to give your kitchen an update. The solution is simpler and cheaper.“Replacing an old light fixture with a nice modern one from Home Depotcan do a lot to improve the look of your kitchen,” says Wine.If your drawer pulls and cabinet knobs look dated, swap them out for the style and finish that’s most sought-after in your area, whether that’s brushed nickel or polished brass—ask your broker what’s hot.
4. Flip every switchLighting up the house by turning on every lamp and overhead light will make prospective buyers confident that you have nothing to hide. Remember, you’re not trying to create “atmosphere” like you would at a dinner party—you’re showcasing a product for sale. Place floor lamps in dark corners. “An inexpensive, high-intensity floor lamp directed at the ceiling can do a lot to make a room look bigger and brighter,” says Wine.
5. Replace wall art with mirrorsWhether your walls feature fine art or family photos, swap those personal pieces out for a large mirror on one or two key walls. Since people’s taste in art varies a lot, you should hide prominent paintings or art photographs when staging a house unless you are confident they have broad appeal.“Mirrors have the advantage of maximizing light to make rooms look bigger and brighter,” says Wine. If you have a nice backyard, try placing a mirror on the wall across from the window that looks out on the yard, so the greenery will be reflected and visible from multiple angles in the room.
6. Roll up rugsHardwood floors are a major selling point for most buyers, and a rugthat’s even slightly stained or tattered is a turn-off. So don’t hide wood floors, unless they’re a mess or your rugs are classic and pristine. Always remove area rugs from your kitchen, because the room will feel cleaner and more spacious without them.
7. Swap out lampshadesTo make a room look more light, clean, and modern, replace any old lampshades for new white drum shades, which are cheap and readily available at Ikea and Target.
8. Set the tableElaborate table settings can have an overly staged look, but if your dining room table has seen better days or the room could use some livening up, set the table with simple modern place settings from CB2 or Bed Bath & Beyond. Go for modern white plates, sleek stainless-steel cutlery, and stemless wine glasses atop neutral-hued place mats or a tablecloth. If the room could use a touch of color, add vibrant napkins.
9. Add a metallic accentMaking a room look more luxurious and contemporary is a big part of staging a house, and it as easy as adding a metallic accessory or two—like a silver leather throw pillow, a bronze side table or garden stool, or a copper tray.“Metallics add visual appeal, but they’re less controversial than color,” says Wine. “They’re like glamorous neutrals.”