How to Stage on a Budget

You can imitate the look of this high end bath by Sarah Richardson. Go for white cabinets, big mirror, bright lights, soft colors. 
White trim, polished doorknob, a colorful door, and uncluttered steps give this home an inviting look. Photo: yokelengho.spaces.
White cabinets make any kitchen feel fresh, and painting then is an economical DIY project  Photo: Pacific Sun Construction

You say you want to stage your home? But you need to keep expenses down? Welcome to the club!

Prioritizing and creativity are your friends.

Kitchens and baths are your priorities. These rooms are important to buyers and so that's where your attention should go first. Elbow grease is free. Bathroom fixtures should sparkle. Kitchen appliances should gleam. Bleach is cheap and gets rid of mildew. WD-40 is cheap and makes things shine. Fine grade steel wool is cheap and removes lime buildup. Lemon oil is cheap and makes wood cabinets come to life.

Think bright and white to convince buyers rooms are big and clean.  Make sure your light fixtures in all rooms sport the maximum wattage allowable.  Mirrors bounce light around and open up walls, so find a place for a mirror in your kitchen.  If you need to paint cabinets or vanities, roll up your sleeves, and save some money. Paint's inexpensive, so a fresh coat of a pale color on kitchen and bath walls is a great investment. Does the flooring look tired?  Peel and stick vinyl tiles are a great budget DIY fix.

Your second priority will be how your home looks from the street and in that all-important exterior photo that goes on your MLS or FSBO listing. Pretend you are anal-retentive if you are not, and get rid of everything distracting or messy outside your home, especially the entranceway. If you can't pressure wash, at least take a hose to dirt and a broom to cobwebs.

Back inside, evaluate your rooms. Are there too many small objects that make rooms look cluttered?  Is there so much furniture that rooms look small? Do some rooms need some fragrance help? Do the drapes block natural light? Have you decorated with dark colors that now need to be painted or slipcovered over?
You can learn to be creative by imitating the looks you see in upscale hotels and model homes, and by picking the brains of creative friends.  Try looking at your rooms as a buyer would.  Buyers want space and buyers like newness, so work to create those illusions.  Rethink the purpose of each room, and make the room's best use obvious to a buyer.      

Choose the largest and most attractive pieces of furniture you have for staging, and store the rest. Shop your own home by moving furniture from room to room until you've achieved a happy mix. Don't be afraid to paint outdated things, including bookcases, chairs, end tables and even lamps and picture frames. White painted furniture looks clean. Black painted furniture looks sophisticated.

When you prioritize, clean, and use your imagination, you can stage on a shoestring. I hope these budget-friendly tips help you stage your home for sale like an expert. I give more budget-busting tactics in my book, DIY Home Staging Tips.

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