8 Ways to Stage Your Home Without Hiring a Pro

So, you're selling your home but don't have the budget to hire a professional stager. Who does? After all, supplying and artfully arranging those vintage books, ficus trees, and nesting tables takes time and money. In fact, according to a 2016 article by Realtor.com, professionally staging a 2,000-square-foot home can cost around $2,000 a month.

But never fear: By employing a few basic tips and tricks, your humble abode can still look like a million bucks. Here are eight ways to stage your home without hiring a pro. (See also: 8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home)

1. Edit and organize

Not only can you improve your life with a deep declutter, it's an essential first step in staging a home properly. Toss out the junk, donate unused items, and consider packing for your move early and storing boxes off-site or in the garage. Once that's done, tame the wild spaces in your home. Organize messy closets and neatly arrange the pantry, basement, and other catchall areas.

2. Clean

Staging is an art, so start with a clean palette. Mop the floors, wash the windows, scrub the toilets, and dust anything that's standing still. In the minds of most buyers, a clean home is a well cared-for home.

3. Pack up the personality

As a stager, your goal is simple: Help potential buyers feel as if your home was made for them. Since you want to appeal to the widest audience possible, it's time to put away the personal photos and bubble-wrap that troll doll collection you've been curating since 1982. Sure, these things may mean the world to you, but they only limit the vision of would-be buyers.

4. Paint

Painting is one of simplest and most cost-effective ways to freshen up the look of a home. Stick with neutral wall colors. Shades of cream and white, soft greens, and subtle blues can add glow to a room without overpowering it. Though flat paint is ideal for nearly every area in your home, choose an easy-clean semi-gloss for kitchens, baths, and mudrooms.

5. Slow your roll

Selling a house is stressful. Besides packing and looking for a new place, you have to constantly bend your schedule around multiple showings and make sure your home always looks pristine. Don't add to the pressure by starting major projects.

Forget retiling the bathroom floor, expanding the deck, or transforming the attic into a guest suite. Keep things simple, small, and entirely manageable. The goal is to accentuate the positive, not launch a full remodel. (See also: 15 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $50 or Less)

6. Add detail

Once your house is decluttered, cleaned, and painted, it's time to take things to the next level. Spruce up the décor with plush accent pillows, new bathroom linens, tailored bed skirts, and neutral window treatments. If you're buying new, choose simple forms and solid colors that complement what you already own. Top things off by adding a few lush houseplants (skip the fresh flowers; some buyers may be allergic).

7. Expel bad smells

A well-staged home looks good and smells good (or at least doesn't smell bad). Remove pet and cooking odors with a deep clean that focuses on carpets and upholstered furniture. Air things out the old-fashioned way: Throw open the windows and turn on a few fans. Run a dehumidifier regularly to battle musty odors in bathrooms and basements. And remember, it's better to neutralize odors than cover them up with loads of scented candles and plug-in air fresheners. Strong artificial scents can turn off buyers.

8. Take it outside

Yes, curb appeal is a thing. Take your staging skills outside and spend an afternoon caulking windows, touching up paint, replacing broken light fixtures, and power-washing the deck. And green thumb or not, try a few inexpensive ways to make your yard look awesome.

Successful staging is all about refinement — elevating a home's best features and appealing to the tastes of the general public. Though it doesn't take a professional to accomplish either of those tasks, it does require a professional-level commitment and a willingness to take your personality out of the equation. For your trouble, you just might land a top-dollar offer and get the chance to put your own stamp on a brand new place. (See also: 6 Cheap Ways to Stage Your Home in a Buyer's Market)

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