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How to stage a house

Give your home a quick staging makeover before it's time to sell.

Lady folding a blanket.

When potential buyers walk into a well-decorated, decluttered home, 77 percent of real estate agents say it makes it easier for potential buyers to visualize it as a future home, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But a successful staging doesn't necessarily require the pros. These home staging ideas can be done on your own, on a budget.

Start at the curb

First impressions are key when enticing buyers. Focus on the front of the home and use some staging tricks to impress buyers before they walk through the door. Clean the gutters and power wash the siding, add bright flowers in planters, clean windows and give the front door a fresh coat of paint. If you have a porch with seating, be sure to clean the furniture.

Give rooms a refresh

The living room is considered the most important room to stage. No new furniture? No problem. Consider fresh, bright throw pillows and blankets, and remove any clutter on tables in favor of a few artfully arranged books. A vase of fresh flowers is always a home staging win, too. In every room, remove a piece of furniture, if you can, to help make the rooms appear larger to buyers.

Tip: When staging, use blankets or vases to strategically cover worn-out spots or hide marks on couches and tables.

Get buyers to think about entertaining

Is your dining room or basement the catchall for clutter, toys or unused items? Refashion it and get buyers to think about how to use the space to entertain. Move furniture several inches away from walls to help create the illusion of a larger space and place area rugs and seating to create conversation nooks.

Make it less personal

Buyers need to imagine themselves in your home, but to do that, they need to imagine you not living there. Stash away personal photos and kids' artwork and sort through unneeded books for reduced clutter on shelves.

Put some elbow grease into the kitchen

While leaving out your stand mixer or coffee maker is acceptable, bulkier appliances that can add clutter to a counter should be put away. Clean out hidden areas — the inside of drawers, cabinets and the refrigerator — with an eye toward decluttering, cleaning and organizing. One of the easiest, budget-friendly facelifts for your kitchen? New cabinet knobs.

Tip: Some staging professionals leave snacks or bottled water in the kitchen for potential buyers passing through.

Get artful and reflective

Use oversize canvases or prints to create new focal points and make a small space feel larger. Full-length curtains can add height to distract from low ceilings or obscure a poor view, while oversized mirrors create the appearance of a larger room.

Cozy up the bedrooms

A bouquet of flowers near the vanity? A breakfast tray on a carefully made bed in the master suite? These types of details can spark a buyer's imagination. Another professional staging secret: Keep the doors of a closet open while reducing the number of things on display inside.

Good smells and good tunes

Whether it's a floral candle, citrusy room spray or the waft of chocolate chip cookies in the oven, buyers are subconsciously tempted by smell and music. Mimic a luxury hotel by scenting the home's common spaces, including the living areas, kitchen and bathrooms, and playing soothing music in the background.


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