Home Staging Essentials: Everything You Need to Know

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated November 8, 2021
Woman places vase with greenery on coffee table
fizkes - stock.adobe.com

Let your house shine in the spotlight and take center stage with home staging

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Imagine touring a house with bright yellow walls, family photos, and pets running around. If you’re looking to buy a new home, it would be difficult to imagine yourself living in a space that’s so obviously someone else’s. Enter home staging, a service that involves depersonalizing rooms to give them mass appeal. Read on to learn what this process involves and why so many real estate agents consider it a critical step in selling a home.

What Is Home Staging?

You may have heard about home staging among the many real estate terms people have thrown out there, but what is it exactly? With home staging, you give a home mass appeal to attract potential homebuyers. You remove anything that personalizes a space, including mementos (like family photos), pet supplies, bright colors, and furniture or accessories that are very specific in style. You also clean the space thoroughly, removing dirt and unpleasant smells. Once a home is staged, it can be photographed and shown to buyers’ agents and potential homeowners. 

Why Do It?

It’s a dog-eat-dog housing market out there, so make your home stand out from the pack. Staging might not be required to sell your home; however, it offers significant benefits and will probably give you a better return on your investment. Due to its effectiveness, 31% of sellers’ agents stage their homes before listing them for sale, says Brandi Snowden, Director of Member and Consumer Survey Research at the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Here’s a roundup of some home staging benefits.

Inspires Imagination

Staging helps potential homebuyers envision themselves in your space. According to the 2021 “Profile of Home Staging” report on a survey conducted by NAR, 82% of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize properties as future homes. 

Makes It Marketable

Staged homes are more photogenic than un-staged homes, says Kerrie Kelly, National Board Past-Chair, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Appealing pictures are critical since they motivate potential buyers to see and purchase properties.

Sells Faster

According to more than half of sellers ' agents, staging decreases the time homes spend on the market, says Snowden.

Increases Sales Price

Taking this step can increase the home selling price by up to 10%, according to the National Association of Realtors survey. 

Who Can Home Stage—and for How Much?

Perfectly staged contemporary living room
Leslie C Saber - stock.adobe.com

If you decide to take on the process, you can limit the effort to certain rooms. The most common spaces sellers stage include living rooms (90%), kitchens (80%), primary bedrooms (78%), and dining rooms (69%), according to NAR. 

You also have options when it comes to who is doing the staging.


If your realtor doesn’t offer to stage your home, you can always do it yourself to save money on paying a pro. 

When real estate agents personally stage homes, they spend around $300. So expect to pay around the same amount for cleaning and home repair supplies, plants, storage units and organizers, fresh flowers, new furniture, and accessories.


Your realtor might offer to handle the process for you—whether by staging your home on their own or paying for a professional service. According to the NAR survey, 26% of sellers’ agents personally offered to stage homes.

Virtual Staging Company

Your realtor might choose to virtually stage your home, meaning they’ll upload photos of your vacant home to a website specializing in photo editing for real estate listings. The site will virtually fill your empty rooms with furniture, drapery, and accessories.

Home Staging Company

Home stagers will bring in their furniture, art, and accessories to arrange them in your home. They can handle the entire staging process.

When agents used a professional home staging service, the median amount they spent on home staging was $1,500. If you hire a pro, expect to pay an upfront fee and a monthly fee, depending on how long the property stays on the market, says realtor and home stager Robbie Randolph. “Oftentimes, it also depends on the home’s square footage. A home stager can do the whole house or just a room.” 

Decorator/Interior Stylist

Interior designers can help you eliminate clutter and rearrange your existing furniture. However, they generally will not bring in new furniture. 

You can also pay a decorator or interior stylist for an initial consultation to declutter and help rearrange your furniture and accessories. Typically, the consult will cost $150 to $600, and the rearranging and decluttering is a flat rate of $800.

Can I Do It Myself?

By DIYing the staging, you can save money. This strategy also makes sense if you plan to keep living in your home while it’s on the market and you want to keep your furniture. If you’re going to stage your own home, take the following steps:

  • Replace outdated appliances with new models (preferably in stainless steel).

  • Replace outdated or highly personalized furniture with newer neutral items—or rent them if you can.

  • Repaint walls using neutral tones.

  • Declutter, including clearing kitchen counters. Consider paying to place items in storage.

  • Accessorize with new throw pillows and fresh flowers.

  • Clean thoroughly, including less obvious areas like under countertops, crown moldings, windows, fixtures, and tile grout. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service.

  • Remove all toys, pet items, personal mementos (like photos), and toiletries.

  • Make your home smell delicious by baking cookies or bread before showings.

  • Open drapes to let in natural light and windows to let fresh air in.

  • Pressure-wash the outside of your home plus walkways

  • Take care of the yard, including mowing the lawn, raking leaves, trimming hedges, removing pet droppings, and planting flowers.

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