In an ideal world, everybody would have the help of a home stager to make their space really shine. However, hiring someone can get pretty expensive. The next best option? DIY. But that can be time-consuming, which is a problem when you’re already spending most of your free time dealing with the intricacies of real estate.
Let me let you in on a little secret: Professionals don’t like to waste their precious minutes, either. And because of that, they’ve developed some moves to maximize a space in only seconds flat. In service of your schedule, we’ve asked three expert home stagers to share these sneaky time-saving tips. Not only will their insights and techniques make potential buyers think you did, in fact, have a home stager set up your space, but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised at just how long it didn’t take you.
1. Provide a warm welcome
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so add a cute wreath, welcome mat, or potted plant to your front entrance, says Kari George, co-owner (with Katie Hilbert) of The Home Sanctuary, a home organizing, styling, and staging company in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Everyone loves good curb appeal, and adding these personal touches helps people envision themselves coming home after a long day at work.”
2. Move some things around
Take five minutes and move furniture to allow for an easy flow throughout the room, says Joni Rentz, president of FØRM, a New York City-based interior staging and design company.
“A room will feel larger if you can easily maneuver around it,” she says.
3. Pare things down
While you’re moving furniture, see if you can also move anything unnecessary to another room. Rentz says each room should only have a few well-chosen pieces furniture and accessories that accentuate the features of each room. Less is more.
“It will make it easier to take it all in if the eye knows where to go,” she explains.
After furniture, take another five minutes to scope out if there are any personal touches, like photographs or memorabilia, that can be removed as well. Having a clean slate makes it easier for potential buyers to picture themselves in the space, Rentz says.
4. Pay attention to your countertops
Kitchens are one of the spaces that can really make or break a sale, Hilbert says.
“Let the buyers see clean, open counters instead of every small appliance you own.”
Also be sure to remove magnets and papers from the refrigerator.
5. Let there be light
Have great natural light? Highlight it, says George. During the day, open all the blinds and curtains to let in natural light, which buyers love. By night, turn on all lamps and lights for a bright, cheerful look.
6. Tweak your window treatments
Don’t have great natural lighting? It might be your window treatments. Make rooms as bright as possible by removing heavy drapery and cornices, advises Rentz.
“Replace them with neutral-colored, lightweight linen or sheer curtains,” she says.
If you have a little more time (and haven’t already done so), be sure to hang your window treatments from the very top edge of the ceiling to add height to the room.
7. Tidy up your fixtures
Even if you’re relying on natural light, don’t neglect your overhead lamps. They might be surprisingly unsightly.
“Make sure all light fixtures and fans are dusted and free of any dead bugs, especially if you have any fluorescent lights,” George says. “These are little things that are often overlooked on a daily basis but can be a big turn-off to potential buyers.”
8. Don’t overlook lightbulbs
While you’re at it, take a minute to check all your lightbulbs to make sure a) they’re working, and b) of the same type and wattage. These two steps will ensure a space is in the best light, says Hilbert. Uneven lighting can make a small space look even smaller.
9. Set the mood
Another quick lighting move? Adding plug-in dimmers to fixtures, Rentz says. Staging is all about creating a mood, and controlling the brightness or softness in each room can greatly help that aim.
10. Add texture
When staging most rooms, think light, bright, and full of opportunity. A neutral palette often works better than a colorful, busy one. But colorless doesn’t have to mean boring. You can add visual interest to an otherwise bland-looking room in an instant by adding in different textures. In a living room with a wool sofa, add a fur throw or fuzzy pillow, says Rentz. In a bathroom, she recommends keeping the neat and clean look going by hanging fluffy white towels neatly on hooks, towel rods, or rolled up in a basket. In the bedroom, swap out patterned sheets and bed covers for simple white sheets and then diversify texture with neutral-colored blankets or an overstuffed duvet.
11. Add a mirror (or two)
Instantly make any room seem bigger and brighter by adding one large mirror or multiple mirrors to the walls, Rentz says.
12. Curate your plant family
We all love a good houseplant, but try to avoid that overgrown jungle look.
“Moderation is key,” Rentz says. “A few strategically placed, neat, and well-maintained plantings can add warmth and personality to a room.”
13. Straighten up your storage spaces
“Remember that buyers are very curious,” Hilbert says. “They will open all closets, cabinets, and drawers.”
Of course, you don’t have to stage the inside of your cabinets just as strongly as you do the outsides. You do want to show how spacious your storage spaces are, after all. But try not to make them look cramped. Hilbert recommends at least tidying and thinning them out.