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Here are five, must-do hacks for staging a house on a budget, if you’re getting ready to sell. Keep reading for my top five tips and don’t miss these other posts I’ve written on buying and selling homes. For a more thorough list, check out my post on 30+ Budget Tips to Stage a Home for Sale. I’ve got a few new tricks for you today, but there’s great content in past posts, too.
First, You Must Clean Everything – Even the Dog.
Cleaning your home is essential. If you tackle the work yourself, it’s also one of the cheapest staging tricks possible! And none of these other tips will matter if your home is dirty.
I thought about skipping this obvious first rule of home selling, but it really can’t be understated. What if this is your first stop after Googling “staging a house on a budget” and you thought a good floor sweep would do the trick? Sorry, friend. The #1 piece of selling advice any Realtor will give you (including me) is to clean everything until it is absolutely spotless.
You might be amazed how dust, dirt, and grime can collect in the nooks and crannies of your home. The grit also traps odors you no longer notice. Thoroughly cleaning your entire home will help it shine, eliminate smells, and invite home buyers to stay awhile. Bonus: it helps when your house doesn’t make buyers sneeze!
You should also clean any pet beds, rugs, or critter homes, and even hose down your dog. Pet odors might not be evident to you, but any visitor to your home will notice them.
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Follow the 2/3 Rule
I just made this rule up, but I swear, it’s a good one.
I’m sure you’ve heard the common advice to declutter. Well, I’ll be specific here. Aim for 2/3 of any room to be open space. The more open space a room has, the larger it will appear.
You can judge that 2/3 ballpark number by walking around the room. Have you filled 1/3 of the floor space with furniture? If so, you’re done. I’m not counting rugs (they act as a nice anchor for your furniture). If you have a cluttered living room, start putting items in storage.
For bedrooms, I might round up to 1/2 of the space, but truly, you only need a bed and nightstands when you sell. These bedrooms in the same home, below, were staged by a pro. The designer layered the bedding and added a fun rug in each room, which creates visual interest. Otherwise, these spaces are fairly simple.
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The goal here is for buyers to walk into your home and feel like it’s open, airy, and inviting. It’s better to have too little than too much on display.
You can also suggest an alternative idea of how the space might be used. Here’s a simple office set up in a bedroom. Desk, chair, lamp, and art. Done! Isn’t this cute?
Buy a New Doormat
Nothing says “welcome home” quite like a doormat.
One of the tricks I learned in real estate school is to keep a few new doormats in the trunk of my car. I’m kidding. However, you’ll notice that professionally-staged houses always display a fresh mat. Find a cute greeting if that’s your thing, or just stick with a neutral “Home Sweet Home” message.
Buying a new doormat is about as cheap as it gets for a quick and easy home staging update. Here are just a few fresh designs from Amazon, and there are a million more, as you can imagine.
Target always has stylish, affordable doormats and you can’t beat the price. Here’s a selection of simple styles and most are $13!
Add Plants. A Must!
While it’s crucial to declutter your home, you should add at least one plant to every room in your house. Real or faux, plants are the secret to staging a house on a budget, because they add dimension, freshness, and bring the outdoors into your home.
My favorite place to find affordable faux plants is IKEA, followed by Target. IKEA sells both affordable planters and plants, so you can create the look you want. Here are some affordable little faux plants from Target. I’ve seen some of these in person and they are pretty good.
Styling tip: odd number groupings look best. Style 1 or 3 items together in a little cluster on a console, countertop, nightstand, or coffee table. Notice this grouping below includes different heights to add visual interest.
I’ve also found fairly affordable live plants at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Steer clear of the spendy greenery like fig and rubber trees, if you’re sticking to a staging budget. Years ago, I found a $17 palm at Home Depot when I staged our first house in Denver, and it’s still going strong.
Here’s an example. $20 for a 3 ft. snake plant at my local Home Depot (vs. $50 for the fiddle leaf figs)!
Succulents are easy to keep alive and air plants are the easiest of them all.
Or, you can always cut a few branches from the yard and pop them in a vase, like the centerpiece below.
Here’s a great example of how plants can freshen a room when you’re staging on a budget. My friend staged her former rental property by adding as much greenery as she could, even to rooms that weren’t staged with furniture. Notice how the plants alone help these spaces feel more appealing and fresh.
Use a Signature Accent Color
Who doesn’t love a pop of color?
When you’re staging a house on a budget, give it a boost with a little color. Neutrals are crowd-pleasers, for sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. Add an accent color to brighten the vibe, but keep it simple by sticking to just one hue. This also helps your decor feel cohesive throughout your home. Have fun with it!
Here are a few examples from homes I’ve toured. In Denver, yellow and turquoise are popular staging colors. Look at current listings in your area to see how homes are staged for local buyers.
Yellow is a perennial staging favorite and it brings in a sunny, spring vibe.
If you love yellow, a gold hand towel, throw, or pillow are easy, budget-friendly staging additions.
Another go-to is aqua or turquoise. Home Goods, Target, etc. always have affordable blankets and accent pillows in this ever-popular color family.
This homeowner already features a pop of color in the kitchen decor. Even if aqua isn’t your favorite accent color, isn’t this kitchen nicely done?
Add your own splash of aqua/teal/turquoise with a few decorative items. Just for example:
Don’t choose red for your accent color. Unless your house is uber-modern, red makes more transitional and traditional decor feel a little dated. If that’s your signature color, I’m sorry.
Just save it for your next home and blast that red in your new space!
Outside decor is one exception here. Red can look bright and fun outside, especially if you have a red door, like the doorframe you can spot below.
Create an Inviting Outdoor Space
Surprise! A sixth trick for staging, because I just can’t stop at five. Were you keeping track?
Creating an outdoor oasis will bump your home up on a buyer’s list, because it feels like such a bonus. Extend the possible “living space” by showcasing your cozy deck and fire pit, or set up colorful deck chairs on a patio. Help buyers envision themselves relaxing, enjoying the breeze, and sipping a beverage. It’s all in the details when you’re staging a house on a budget.
Wouldn’t you like to spend a spring evening on a porch like this?
Our Denver house had a covered patio off the back, which I spruced up in 2020. It’s fairly basic but the globe string lights boosted the atmosphere in this space. Granted, most buyers won’t tour a home a night, but string lights can still hint at a cozy outdoor oasis.
I bought these lights and they’ve lasted through bad weather. The box also comes with a few replacement bulbs, which is very handy. Mine cost about $50 for a 50-ft strand, and I bought them after reading great reviews. Here’s an even cheaper option for globe string lights from Amazon.
Which Trick Will You Try?
There you go! 5 cheap updates to make when you’re staging a house on a budget. I hope something spoke to you today. Which trick will you try to boost your home’s appeal? Let me know!
If you’re ready to dive even deeper into staging your home, this article from House Beautiful has pro tips to update your decor.