6 DIY Tips To Stage Your House on a Budget

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated April 21, 2022
A little girl looking out of the door in a modern, bright house
Photo: Cavan / Cavan / Getty Images

DIY home staging is a budget-friendly way to showcase your house without spending too much

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As a home seller, you have to meet your home buyers’ expectations. Impeccable home staging shows buyers the best features of the home in a way that shows them they could really live there. But, selling a house is expensive. How can you attract the best buyers on a budget?

You can bank on a couple of things: Buyers are looking for a well-kept home with plenty of natural light and usable space. Start early (home staging takes more time than you think) and make a plan centered around a clean, uncluttered home with awesome curb appeal.  

1. Depersonalize and Declutter Your Space

A modern scandinavian living and dining room with neutral colors
Photo: imaginima /E+ / Getty Images

No doubt about it; your elbow grease is what’s going to get your house staged on a budget. It’s tempting to hire an organizer, cleaning crew, and sign a contract for temporary storage, but these services eat away at your staging budget. 

Strategize the Purge

Do yourself a favor and strategize the purge. Sort through your items and make simple piles for donations and resale. Easy to use apps like Poshmark, Nextdoor, and Facebook Marketplace could pay for your staging expenses while you bank the rest. 

Here’s a bonus tip: Join an online Buy Nothing group in your area. Not only can you benefit from free stuff like cleaning supplies if you just ask, but you can also offload items you no longer love. Your neighbor may have been searching for just that very thing.

Pack Most of Your Photos

No, your house doesn’t have to look like no one lives there, but you should reduce the amount of personalization. For example, although you love the homage to each kid's grade school pic up the stairway, buyers want to envision their family’s memories on the wall. 

2. Clean From Top to Bottom

A young woman cleaning a room’s shelves
Photo: Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock

After clearing your home of personal items and clutter, it’s time to clean from top to bottom. Load up the true-crime podcast you’re dying to listen to or throw on some fun music and walk through the house, loading trash bags and boxes. 

Save some old linens like bath, kitchen, and beach towels to cut up and use for cleaning. If you're short on cleaning supplies, check out online recipes for cleaning solutions made with vinegar, baking soda, and water. These homemade cleaners can work well for next to nothing, and you probably already have them at home.

If you use a local moving company, they often restrict what kind of chemicals they’ll pack and move. Before buying new products, pull out all of the long-forgotten cleaning supplies and use them first.

3. Bring in the Light

A bright modern bedroom in an old country house
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

It’s hard to convince buyers your house is amazing if it’s dark inside. Bringing light into your space should be one of your top priorities. You can take advantage of inexpensive tips and tricks or hire a local electrician to upgrade the lighting in your home. 

Use the best light bulbs (LED, fluorescent, incandescent) in your light fixtures to maximize glow. These will vary room by room and from lighting fixture to lighting fixture, so do a bit of research. For example, for a calm vibe, bedrooms benefit from soft white, dimmable bulbs, and bathrooms need bright daylight bulbs for accurate mirror reflections. 

You can also strategically use floor lamps, table lamps, and overhead lighting to brighten the room. Pull lamps from less scrutinized areas like the bedrooms to repurpose in living rooms and dens. You can also replace heavy curtains with sheers from affordable stores, online marketplaces, or second-hand stores to let in more natural light without breaking the bank. 

4. Perfect the Room’s Layout

A modern, scandinavian style home office
Photo: imaginima / E+ / Getty Images

We’re all guilty of keeping too much stuff around, including furniture. Homebuyers look for a living space where they could see their own sofa, chair, ottomans, and coffee table. If your furniture placement overwhelms the area, it looks smaller to the buyer. 

Remember that there’s no need for multiple side tables, consoles, or surfaces that simply serve as a flat space for tchotchkes (most should be boxed up anyway). When rearranging furniture for staging, don’t push all of the furniture to the perimeter of the room. It leaves an awkward open space in the middle and throws off the foot traffic pattern. Ideally, you want to create multiple conversation spaces or zones. Choosing the best area rug is a helpful starting point to stage your furniture. The goal is to have a rug large enough that at least the two front feet (four is better) of the furniture sit on top of the rug. The rug defines the area’s function and anchors the room. 

5. Use Decorating Tricks

A pop, modern living room with vibrant colors
Photo: imaginima / E+ / Getty Images

If you want to save money during the staging process, work with what you have and use a few decorating tricks to liven up rooms. Start by raising your curtain rods. The height draws the eye higher and makes the room appear larger. 

You can also consider giving your fireplace a makeover with a coat of paint or updated mantel. It's a quick project for max appeal. Use inexpensive or recycled clear glass jars as accessories throughout the house. Use them to display toiletries, candles, or fill them with water for small flower bouquets. 

While you’re decluttering and packing, pull out some items that don’t make the rounds of everyday use. Silver platters, wedding china, and baskets all look amazing reimagined as staging decor.

6. Don’t Underestimate Curb Appeal

A closeup of a front porch with two rocking chairs
Photo: Daniela Dunkan/ Moment / Getty Images

Let’s be real. Your buyers are scrutinizing every photo online. And, if they’re local, they’re doing drive-bys. Don’t lose a potential sale because your front porch and yard need love. Staging your yard area brings excellent bang for your buck, and most of the improvements are free, thanks to your labor. 

A tidy, trim yard speaks volumes. Focus on the greenery that frames the house; you don’t want the first impression blocked by overgrown bushes. Adding potted flowers is never a bad idea during a home sale, and upgrading your address numbers and mailbox can help, too. 

Ask yourself: Could it use a fresh coat of paint? Choose the perfect paint color for your unique front door. An inexpensive color update looks brilliant in marketing photos.

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