How Much Does It Cost to Stage Your Home?

If you’ve ever felt an enticing pull from a glamorous store window or from photographs online, you know more than ever how good design can impact your spending. Home stagers operate using this very concept.

But with a wide range of costs and benefits, it can be difficult to figure out if home staging is right for you. So, let’s break down the costs of home staging, how it works, and give you some tips on how to make the most of your money.

What Is Home Staging?

There are many different views of what home staging is – some may view stagers as laissez-faire workers who merely light a candle or plop down a vase of flowers before calling it a day, while others associate home staging with intensive, top-to-bottom home renovations.

In reality, both scenarios can be true – the quality and intensity of a home staging varies depending on the stager and of course, your home.

Generally speaking, however, home staging is a marketing strategy that combines interior design and psychology to generate more money for you, the home seller.

There’s even a growing industry for home staging awards which acknowledge the best in the redesign business – think of it as the Golden Globes for modeled homes.

So, how did home staging rise to the forefront of the real estate world? Well, because it works.

But don’t just take it from me.

The Benefits of Home Staging

Just like everything else, home staging has its fair share of skeptics – after all, can some new chairs or a fresh coat of paint really make that much of a difference? The short answer: yes.

Unstaged homes may appeal to contractors looking to buy fixer-uppers for their own profit, whereas staged homes make it easier for first-time home buyers to really visualize living their lives in your home.

But what do the numbers say?

According to a 2019 report from the National Association of REALTORS®, “Eighty-three percent of buyer’s agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize a property as their future home.”

Additionally, the NAR also found that on average, for every $100 spent by the seller, the potential for return could be as high as $400.

With the opportunity to reap these rewards in mind, let’s make sure your home staging tactics are on the right track.

The Dos and Don’ts of Home Staging

Do: Remove Personal Belongings

In a Q-and-A with the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Andrea Angott – who has a Ph.D. in psychology and has been studying the behaviors behind home staging’s success – discusses the most important steps to take when staging.

She found that one of the most important things to do when staging your home is remove all personal effects from your bathroom. This includes toothbrushes, razors, soaps and beauty products.

In the Q-and-A, Angott theorizes that this is of great importance due to the fact that “… people don’t want to feel that the house they’re buying is lived-in … they don’t want to imagine that other people are inhabiting the place they want to buy.”

This reasoning is also why stagers will tell you to depersonalize your home and make it as “neutral” as possible – this means no family photographs, collectibles or antique-esque furniture.

Don’t: Remodel

This tip might sound misleading – after all, isn’t home staging a form of remodeling? But what we mean is this: don’t go wild with new renovations.

Home staging should fix purely cosmetic blemishes because chances of receiving a full return on your remodel are low. Additionally, no matter how “to die for” you might find your new remodel, you could be cutting out a whole market of potential buyers who don’t share your same tastes.

Typically, it’s safer, and less stressful, to simply stick with easy fixes.

Do: Understand Your Target Market

When it comes to real estate you want to make selling your home as seamless as possible, which means understanding your target market.

Is your neighborhood fit for families? Is your home a great space for new couples? If you can figure out what pool of potential buyers would be most likely to purchase your home, you can then stage with their tastes in mind.

Don’t: Sell An Empty Home

A general rule of thumb in real estate is to try and avoid selling an empty house – something which is reserved for a “last resort” situation. This is because unstaged houses generally spend more time on the market and wind up selling for less.

With vacant homes, buyers typically have a harder time visualizing their lifestyle and though it may seem counterintuitive, empty rooms actually seem smaller than furnished ones. It will also be easier for buyers to fixate on minor flaws, seeing as they’ll be a main focal point in your empty room.

To combat this, you can still fix up your home in small ways – skip ahead to the section on “soft staging” for more ideas, or consider sprucing up your landscaping for increased curb appeal.

Whatever efforts you choose to make, they’ll be well worth it in the end.

So, How Much Does Home Staging Cost?

If you’ve been looking for a black-and-white answer about how much hiring a home stager will cost, chances are you haven’t found one. That’s because staging costs vary greatly depending on your home and your situation.

But if you’re looking for an estimate, feel free to try out Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide or simply keep reading to learn more.

Vacant Vs. Owner-Occupied Homes

To properly discuss the potential cost of a home staging, we must first talk about the seller’s living situation: are they occupying the home for sale or living elsewhere?

Both situations present different costs but usually owner-occupied homes give a stager more to work with. In owner-occupied homes, the stager will be able to utilize the furniture and decor the seller already has for the final staged designs. A vacant home, however, calls for a stager to rent or buy new pieces to furnish your home.

This doesn’t guarantee, however, that having furniture on hand will save you tons of money. Yes, vacant homes require rented or purchased pieces, but owner-occupied staging still calls for the cost of labor, and depending on how many items you have, you may also be looking at storage costs down the road.

This is why it’s also important to know what kind of home you have before staging.

Assess Your House

Let’s say you have a multilevel home – obviously your stager will need to make trips up and down stairs to properly stage the key rooms in your home. If their redesign calls for bulky furniture, they may even have to hire movers to get things where they need to be.

A ranch-style home won’t have the same costs in labor as a home with three stories, which is why finding an exact price for staging online can be so difficult.

So, it’s up to you, the seller, to weigh the costs your unique home may have and figure out what staging options are right for you.

How Can I Save Money on Home Staging?

No matter your home style, chances are you want to save money. And believe it or not, there are many ways to make your dollar work harder when it comes to home staging.

Make the Most of Consultations

Although home staging consultations generally still cost you money, the per-hour rate of a consultation will be significantly less than a general labor fee per hour. So, take advantage of this time to be as productive as possible.

Typically, consultations last just 2 hours during which time home stagers will assess your furniture and decor to decide what pieces can be used or what should be stored. By setting aside decorative pieces and furniture ahead of time, you can save your stager the labor and time of sifting through your home for those eye-catching pieces.

Stage Key Areas

Obviously staging fewer rooms will save you money, but be sure to spruce up the most important areas of your home. This includes the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom and living area.

You should also keep the entryway where potential buyers will first enter as nice as possible – you want them to have a positive first impression of your home.

Closing Costs

This tip really depends on your home stager and your individual situation, but it can’t hurt to ask your stager if you can pay them using money from the sale.

Including staging in your closing costs can save you money in the moment, but if you’ll need the money from your sale to go elsewhere, this may not be for you.

It’s all about assessing what works best for you.

Soft Staging

Finally, there’s the tactic of soft staging.

Soft staging is decorating and accessorizing your home to add small touches without fully furnishing the space. This can range from fruit bowls to artwork to area rugs.

Soft staging is generally discouraged by real estate professionals and stagers alike since the more effort you put into staging, the more return on the investment you’ll get. However, it is a cost-effective solution for sellers looking for a frugal fix and is always better than selling a vacant home.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you want your home on the market for as short a period as possible – to save money from the monthly upkeep and to ease the stress of selling.

Staging your home, regardless of whether you pull out all the stops or use the soft staging technique, can decrease your time on the market and put more money in your pocket.

If you want to take a more hands-on approach to home staging, check out our article on affordable DIY Home Staging Projects.


How To Lighten And Brighten Your Home

Maintaining a light and bright home is one of the keys to attracting potential buyers. After all, nobody wants to live in a dark, dreary environment. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can lighten and brighten your home to create that fresh, clean and modern look that’ll get your house off the market in no time. Below are some great tips to help you out.

Master Your Natural Light

Home buyers are all about natural light these days. By filling your home with natural sunlight rather than artificial light from fixtures, you can get potential buyers in a great mood while also saving on energy costs. Here are some ways you can intensify the natural light sources in your home.

Cut Back Overgrown Landscaping

Trees, shrubs or ivy that are located in front of any of your windows can block natural light from entering your home. If this is an issue for you, break out the hedge clippers and trim the overgrown landscaping to allow more light in.

Remove Heavy Window Treatments

While heavy window treatments are used as decor in many homes, they don’t help lighten the space.

“Remove heavy draperies. They can be replaced with roll-up shades that can still provide shade and privacy but won’t be in the way when you really want to let the light in,” says Amber Carfield, Lead Designer at Kitchens by Good Guys.

Keep Your Windows Clean

Windows can develop a buildup of pollen, dirt and other grime that will give the appearance of an unkempt home while also blocking out natural light. Keep your windows sparkling clean so they can help sell your home.

Utilize Mirrors To Reflect Light

When it comes to adding natural light in your home, mirrors are your best friends.

“An easy way to brighten dark rooms is to place mirrors on walls that can help to bounce the light around. Choose mirrored accessories, such as a side table or dresser, to amplify the light,” suggests Rhianna Miller, designer with RubberMulch.

Add A Skylight

“Skylights let in 50% more light than windows and can be super helpful in rooms without access to an outside wall,” explains Angie Lane, Owner and Architect at A. Lane Architecture.

In addition, skylights can also save on heating costs on cold days and lighting costs during the day.

Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint

By using the right paint colors, you can easily make the rooms in your home appear lighter and brighter. Before choosing a wall color, determine what direction the room faces and how much natural light enters the room. Neutral and medium-tone colors work best for rooms that don’t receive an abundance of natural light.

“Paint color can make a big impact on light. However, you don’t have to paint the house white in order to make it feel brighter. Find colors that compliment your floors and furnishings. A warm, lighter grey or beige tone can really help promote a lighter space,” says Carfield.

Improve Indoor Lighting

Improving your indoor lighting can also give your home a light and bright feel. But where do you start? Here are some basic tips on how to enhance the lighting inside of your home.

Use LED Bulbs

“One of the quickest (and energy-efficient) ways to brighten your home is to make sure all of your bulbs are LED with a color temperature of 2700 to 3000k. This is the soft white range, but make sure to get a specific color temperature number,” explains Lane.

Add Table Lamps And Floor Lamps

Table lamps and floor lamps, which come in various sizes and styles, can do wonders for improving your indoor lighting.

“Adding table lamps and floor lamps will allow you to increase indoor lighting just where it’s needed while being versatile enough for seasonal reconfiguration,” says Wendy Gonzalez of Modern Ornament.

Lighten Dark Furniture

Dark furniture can really make the inside of your home darker than most home buyers would like it to be. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution.

“If you have dark furniture, lighten its appearance with soft, light throws and accent cushions. This will create a brighter space,” explains Ginny Underwood, Owner and Professional Organizer at Virginia’s Easy Living Solutions.

Closing Thoughts

Improving your home’s lighting is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to make rooms look larger and more attractive to potential buyers. Compared to the cost of a home addition that adds actual square footage to your home, lighting upgrades are a drop in the bucket. It makes sense to use them to your advantage.

By making use of natural light, applying a fresh coat of paint and improving your indoor lighting, you’ll impress buyers with a clean and spacious house they’ll be happy to call their own.


Home Staging Serenity: Using Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year

Color authority Pantone recently named Rose Quartz and Serenity their colors of the year for 2016. The pastel pairing was chosen to convey rosy warmth and tranquility and to represent a person’s quest for mindfulness and serenity.

While it sounds as if we’re on a majestic mission to become one with ourselves, this duo could cause havoc on your home’s design style when selling. I’m all for welcoming new trends, but during a crucial time like putting your home on the market, when does a trend offend?

When I first saw these picks, I immediately thought “baby nursery,” and while yes, you can certainly use these colors in a child’s room, based on their gender, why not use these pastels tastefully in a non-traditional way? Follow these simple tips in order to pull off this trend in your home when selling:

Pastel Season
Pastels tend to be more accepted during the spring and summer seasons, so if you plan on selling during those months then consider using a few key accessories like pillows or throws in your home to create a light and airy feel.

Color Limits
Speaking of a few key accessories don’t use this color in every room or on everything in your home. Pick and choose where you will display the colors of the year. Try using three to five accessories (lamp, pillow, vase, rug, artwork, accent chair) in Rose Quartz or Serenity in one room to create one cohesive look. These colors will stand out and direct the eye from one area of the room to the other.

Dominate Color
Choose one of the colors to be more dominant when using them together. By the way, no one says you have to use both of the colors together to get this trend right. You can choose one over the other and base that decision on your current décor.

Pairing the Duo
Light neutral colors will make the pair stand out. If you want to be daring, Rose Quartz and Serenity easily pair with other mid-tones including greens and purples, rich browns, and shades of yellow and pink. Try using the colors with gold, silver, even rose gold to shine and sparkle.

Color of the Year 2016 - Color Pairings and Pallettes
Image courtesy of

Rooms to Show Off
The best rooms to display these new colors in would be in the bedroom to create a relaxing retreat. Use these colors in a bathroom, especially Serenity, to enhance a peaceful, spa-like feel or try the duo in a family room to showcase a whimsical, playful space.

Tori Toth is the Amazon best-selling author of “Feel At Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell.” She is also the founder of The Stage 2 Sell Strategy, the world’s first online home staging video course for home sellers. In 2009, Toth opened her staging company, Stylish Stagers, Inc. in New York City. Her book, how-to videos, newsletters, products and appearances now inspire hundreds of thousands of home owners and real estate experts worldwide.


16 Ways to Stage Your Home for Fall

It’s hard to believe fall is already here. As the seasons change so does the real estate market and it’s important to embrace these changes throughout your home to capture every buyer opportunity before the winter slump. If you’re looking to sell your home before year’s end, follow these simple exterior and interior tips to stage your home for the fall season.


1. Pruning Back Landscaping
Take a look at the trees, shrubs and bushes around your home. Cut away anything dead or overgrown, especially around your windows. This will help safeguard your home from falling debris, as well as allow for maximum natural light to enter the home

2. Inspect Roof
The fall is essentially the last time of the year you’ll be able to make any repairs on your roof. Depending on where you live brutal weather can cause leaks, collapses and other damage, so do yourself a favor and schedule an inspection.

3. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
This time of year trees shed their leaves and can clog up your gutters. Precipitation during the fall and winter season can lead to hazardous situations, so you’ll want to make sure water has any easy way out away from your home.

4. Spruce Up Lawn
Those leaves can also make a mess on your lawn, so rake them frequently while on the market. Also, now is time to repair any brown spots in your lawn and fertilize. Winterize your sprinkler system now too, to save on electricity.

5. Winterize Patio/Deck and Pool
Most of us will have to say goodbye to those fun summer days in the pool. Now is the time to close up the pool and put away or cover up most lawn furniture. Despite colder days, you should still set a scene to entice buyers. Try using an outdoor fire pit, create a seating area where you can chat around the fire, roast marshmallows and sip hot cocoa. Use a string of white lights to highlight the area and don’t forget to add seasonal plants.

6. Add Seasonal Plants
Speaking of seasonal plants, change out your containers and pots around your home to show off hardier plants that will flourish this time of year. Try colorful mums, cabbages, goldenrods, burning bush or aster to show off a lively space.

7. Welcoming Front Porch
If needed, give your front door a makeover, add a new welcome mat, a few seasonal plants, and pumpkins. Hang a wreath on the door that embraces fall foliage so that it can be used throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. Try adding a seating area if you have space. Put out colorful fall-inspired pillows and a throw when showing.


8. Perfect Temperature
Check your heater, schedule your oil delivery and get prepared to transfer from the air conditioner to the furnace. When showing your home, you want to make sure it’s the perfect temperature – between 70 and 74 degrees – to reduce any buyer distractions.

9. Focus on Fireplace
During this time of year the fireplace will become the center of attention. Make sure to check the fireplace and chimney are working properly. Create a seating area around the fireplace bring in wood and set-up a fall scene on your mantel.

10. Window Treatment
Treat your windows to a good cleaning inside and out. Change out curtain panels for more luxurious fabrics, like velvet in darker or bolder colors. Make sure to keep your window treatments open during a showing to maximize the amount of natural light entering the home.

11. Lighten Up
With shorter days upon us you may need to add more lighting inside your home to highlight space during showings. Have at least three light sources in every room and turn on all the lights when showing your home. Try putting your lights on a timer and keep your front lights on to welcome buyers up to the house.

12. Add Warmer Tones
Beside using light to add warmth to a space, switch out your cooler tone colors, like blues and greens for orange, reds, burgundy, and yellows. Add these colors in your home with paint, curtains, artwork, rug, or other smaller accessories. Remember a little goes a long way with these colors.

13. Cozy Upholstery
Time to add the layers. Bring in textured upholstery in your furniture, window treatments, bedding, pillows, throws and your rugs by using soft plush materials, burlap, silk, fur, velvet and other heavier durable materials.

14. Autumn Scents
Intrigue the senses this fall by adding familiar fall scents, like vanilla, pumpkin spice, and apple cinnamon.

15. Changing of Décor
Time to remove the lighter colored accents, summer photos, boating, fiesta and beach house themes and replace those accessories with warmer colors. As mentioned above, pumpkins, owls or birds, leaves or other natural elements that reminds you of farms and harvesting time.

16. Holiday Décor
There are a few different holidays that happen in autumn, the most popular being Halloween and Thanksgiving. Regardless of what you’re celebrating don’t over decorate your home; it will distract buyers and clutter up your space deflecting from the positive features and square footage you’re trying to show off. Take a cue from nature and show off corn stalks, pumpkins and flowers, rather than ghosts, goblins and turkeys. If you decorate with nature in mind, you’re décor will last all season long.

For more home staging tips to get your home sold before year’s end, learn more about Tori Toth’s new online home staging video course called the Stage 2 Sell Strategy. This D-I-Y course allows you to stage your home for less money while receiving advice from experts along the way.