Skip to Content

Beginner’s Guide to Home Staging

Beginner’s Guide to Home Staging

A few weeks ago, I got to stage my home for a very exciting opportunity. I was asked by a regional publication to be included in their spring edition’s home feature. I was giddy with excitement!

After the excitement settled, I realized I needed to bust my butt not only cleaning the house, but tying up some loose ends and staging my home …I wanted to display it in the best possible light. With my home staging mission fresh in my memory, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to share with you some home staging basics.

home staging tips


1. Clean and De-Clutter

This is probably the most obvious advice for your home-staging efforts, but it is the basis for a properly staged home. First, do a thorough deep clean of your home.Clean the carpets, scrub the baseboards, remove the cobwebs…you get the picture. Make sure your home is squeaky clean. Once you tackle the cleaning, you need to simplify and de-clutter.  Ridding your home of clutter allows your home to look larger and well-maintained. Do you have smaller pieces of furniture, toys or appliances that are causing your home to look chaotic? Take it to storage or get rid of it.

gray and turquoise bedroom

Before the photographer came to my home to take photos for the magazine, I removed some smaller appliances from my kitchen counter-tops (think toasters, blenders, coffee makers). And while I did leave my Keurig on display, I placed a pretty coffee mug in it. I also took some of my son’s toys out to the garage.  If you are placing your home on the market, I would take the de-cluttering a step further…clean and organize your closets. When we placed our new construction on the market, we even cleaned out our garage. We rented a storage unit to hold all of our excess items.



2. Neutralizing and De-Personalizing Your Decor

Because my style is inherently neutral, I did not have to do much in this area. However, I know many people that will need to invest some time, and even a little bit of money, into this. The best paint colors for home staging are taupes, beiges, whites and greys. The really hot trend in paint right now is “greige” , which is essentially a fusion of grey and beige. If you have wall paper, funky accent walls or bold color on the walls, it is a good idea to neutralize it with these suggested paint colors. It is not to say that your funky taste in paint is wrong, it is simply too taste-specific,  and in today’s market, you cannot afford to alienate the masses.

how to stage your home to sell

The same can go for accent furniture, throw pillows, rugs and drapes. According to research,  a neutral take on transitional and contemporary design is best for selling a home. Adding more current and contemporary accents to your home’s decor can also make your home appear to be more up-to-date and “in with current times”.  You may need to take a trip to your local Homegoods, to find some coordinating pillows and throw blankets. Think neutral walls, drapes and furnishing with pops of color achieved through throw pillows, rugs and fresh flowers.

3. Give Purpose to Each Room

Unfortunately, the majority of buyers are not very imaginative or creative. Therefore, the seller will need to provide a clear purpose to each room and space of the home. Have a room that is simply acting as storage? This is a staging no-no! Perhaps you could furnish it to appear as a home office or even a guest bedroom. Remove the clutter, and place a desk and chair in the room. Add a painting to the wall and an area rug and voila! You have given the room a clear intent.

makeup vanity

Another culprit I would be mindful of are children’s play areas. Do you have toys scattered throughout the home….in the living room, in the dining room? Before placing your home on the market, I would confine all toys to a designated area (a toy box in the child’s room or in a playroom).  To make this possible, you may have to place some of the items in storage….just remember it is only temporary.

4. If It’s Broken, Fix It!

Have a hole in the wall or a broken door? You need to make the necessary home improvement efforts before putting your home on the market. This even includes replacing non-functioning light bulbs!

The goal of home-staging is to highlight your home’s best features while also eliminating any potential objections the buyer may present. You want your home to appear as well cared for. Even more, you do not want to give the buyer any reason to give you a low offer or completely discount your listing.


5. Make Your Home Feel Like “Home” – The Finishing Touches

So this is the fun part, folks. We need to appeal to potential buyers’ emotions by providing an environment that feels welcoming…like “home”.  Once you have cleaned, de-cluttered, repaired and neutralized your home, you need to execute the finishing touches

Here are some of the easiest ways to make your home stand out from the rest.

designing vibes interior design


Fresh Flowers-

Not only do fresh flowers give a more, upscale air to your home….they can actually lift one’s mood. You definitely want your buyers to be in a good mood while walking through your home.  When our previous home was on the market (for only a whopping 3 days as we sold our home super fast) I made sure that I had a beautiful vase full of fresh flowers in the kitchen. When I staged my home for the magazine shoot, not only did I place fresh flowers in the kitchen, I put them on the dining room table and even in the master bedroom. You don’t have to spend a ton of money at your florist either…I got all of my flowers in the “$12 for 3 Bouquet” section of my local grocery store.


Scent- Scent can be a major emotional trigger. One surefire way to make buyers love your home is having it smell like freshly baked cookies as soon as they enter the door. Before each showing, I made sure to burn a Yankee candle in the kitchen. My favorite scents are Sugar Cookie, Birthday Cake  and Vanilla Cupcake. I would advise sellers to avoid any heavily fragranced candles like florals or colgone-type scents.

Just keep in mind, that a candle will not mask pre-existing odors. When my home was on the market, I was very mindful of what I cooked in the kitchen….I refrained from steaming brussel sprouts or broccoli and stayed entirely away from fish. Before each showing, I made sure the trash was out of the house.


And for you pet owners… need to the get the litter box out of the house. When we placed our home on the market, we had family keep our cats. We kept our dogs either outside or in the garage in their crates. If your pets ever soiled the carpet, you need to have your carpet professionally cleaned. The stench of pet urine is one sure way to turn a buyer off.

Welcome Your Buyers- You want your home to “welcome” and envelope potential buyers. While scent is one way to do so, cozy throw blankets (placed strategically on the couch ) make your home feel inviting.

living room 3Another nice touch, is displaying  baked goods in the kitchen or putting some fresh fruit in a pretty bowl…just be sure it doesn’t look cluttered. I displayed some muffins on this cake stand in my kitchen.


As I said,  however, you need to be careful not to contribute to clutter or chaos when trying to establish the finishing touches…there is a fine line between classy and junky.This is escpecially where a home-staging expert can be of great help.


Lighting is often overlooked by realtors and home owners alike,  but is a  very crucial aspect in the presentation of your home. Nobody wants to live in a dark and somber home. Before exiting your home for a showing, go through your house and make sure all of the blinds and drapes are open so that optimal lighting fills your home. In darker rooms, you may need to turn on overhead lights or lamps. I once had a night showing, and made sure every light in the home was on…I even was sure to use my dimmers to emit the most flattering, welcoming light possible. Let me just say…. I absolutely love dimmers! Never overlook the power of ambiance!

grey transitional living room

 Background Music-

One last touch is appealing to the sense of sound. We have wireless speakers through out our home. Before each walk thru of our previous home, I put on some light jazz music at a relatively low volume. Just like scent, music done correctly can make potential buyers more receptive to buying your home. Just be discerning with your choice of music…nothing offensive or intrusive.

So,  now you probably see that home-staging is no joke. If you truly want to present your home to sell for optimal price, and in fast time, you have to commit a lot of time and effort. While I am not claiming it to be easy, I am saying that it will be worth it. As was the case for me, when I sold my home within only 3 days of listing it (above listing price), which you can read about here in a separate blog post titled How I Sold My Home in Three Days Above List Price.

If you feel a little overwhelmed or unsure, I would consider investing in a home staging service. After all, your home is your biggest financial asset and you should treat it as such.

Now get out there and design some good vibes! Please don’t forget to share the love and “Pin”…..

how to stage a home

most popular blog posts
my most popular diy tutorials



My journey in interior design and home improvement began with transforming my first fixer-upper home, all while managing a budget and raising two young boys. My work, a reflection of my passion for creating beautiful, uplifting spaces, has been recognized by top publications like Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, HGTV, and more. I invite you to explore my site and witness the transformation of my home and the vibes we've designed.Read more...

Edna Villasana

Friday 16th of December 2016

Do you have a twitter or social medias to follow?

Designing Vibes

Saturday 17th of December 2016

Yes, Edna. I am on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!


Monday 31st of October 2016

This is fantastic!! Thank you. I will use this as a constant resource :)

Designing Vibes

Monday 31st of October 2016

Glad you found it helpful, Acacia. Thanks for stopping by!


Friday 14th of October 2016

I love the neutral paint colors you have in your pictures! Can you recommend some for painting a home about to be put on the market? Thank you!

Designing Vibes

Saturday 15th of October 2016

Hi Wendy! Revere Pewter, and Balboa Mist are both great "greiges". My home is in Sherwin Williams "Passive". It is a nice, light grey but is cooler than the other two colors mentioned. Of course, you should always test the paint before committing to it. Hope this helps!

Anne Champ

Tuesday 4th of October 2016

All really great tips for those looking to sell their home. I love the neutral color idea and the biggest one for my clients is to get rid of the clutter. I recommend getting rid of at least half your stuff. Clutter creates chaos in our minds which is not how you want buyers to feel about your home. Thanks for the great tips!

Designing Vibes

Wednesday 5th of October 2016

So glad you stopped by, Anne!

Joie Gahum

Monday 30th of May 2016

Home staging can be overwhelming and stressful at times, but you made it sound and look easy with this post. You really have great tips on how to make each activity light and simple to do even for DIY beginners. Here is another blog post I would like to share for DIY lovers and home makers out there.