Written by: Christy Teachey

When listing a home for sale one of the last things most people want to do is spend money on the home they are selling.  However, that is in fact the BEST thing you could do in order to sell your home for top dollar.  The majority of people looking at purchasing a home today do not want a “fixer upper”.  In fact, most people are looking for move-in ready.  Therefore, in order for your home to sell quickly and for top listing price you must invest in the home.  So you may be asking yourself, how do I make my home a showstopper without spending a fortune?  Well, here are a few simple steps and before and after pics of how I re-designed this home for less than $500.

Lighten and Brighten










When walking into this home you are immediately greeted by the large open floor plan and staircase that opens up to the second story landing. So in order to show off actually how large the room is I opened up the floor plan even more by rearranging the living room furniture. There’s a common belief that rooms will feel larger and be easier to use if all the furniture is pushed against the walls, but that isn’t the case. Instead, furnish your space by floating furniture away from walls.

Reposition sofas and chairs into cozy conversational groups, and place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. Not only will this make the space more user-friendly, but it will open up the room and make it seem larger. In this room, I moved the couches so that it created a conversation area and also showed off the main selling features of the room, which are the fireplace and beautiful built-in bookcases. Once the furniture was moved I took out the oversized recliner, which made room for a round coffee table to bring the furniture arrangement together. In addition, the window coverings in the room are dark wooden blinds and the drapes were pulled closed. So I immediately pulled up the blinds to show off the lovely wrap around front porch and opened the drapes to allow more natural light into the room. I also added lights and mirrors to the bookshelves.

One of the things that make staged homes look so warm and welcoming is great lighting. As it turns out, many homes are improperly lighted. To remedy the problem, increase the wattage in your lamps and fixtures. Aim for a total of 100 watts for each 50 square feet. Don’t depend on just one or two fixtures per room either. Make sure you have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading) and accent (table and wall). The added lamps light in this space reflects into the mirrors to give even more brightness to the room. Mirrors are a very easy and an inexpensive way to add light into a space. I also removed the collection of small figurines and added larger items onto the bookshelves creating balance. Mixing the right accessories can make a room more inviting. When it comes to eye pleasing accessorizing, odd numbers are preferable, especially three. Rather than lining up a trio of accessories in a row, imagine a triangle and place one object at each point. Scale is important too, so in your group of three be sure to vary height and width, with the largest item at the back and the smallest in front. For maximum effect, group accessories by color, shape, texture or some other unifying element. Lastly, I used the homeowners existing rug, added a new table between the entryways to the kitchen and dining room with more lighting and accessories, brought in a chest from a bedroom and added flowers, then re-arranged the wall art to cozy up the space. Give yourself permission to move furniture, artwork and accessories among rooms on a whim. Just because you bought a specific piece for the living room doesn’t mean it won’t look great anchoring a sitting area in your bedroom and vice versus.


Create a Dining Space


A dining room can be a tricky space for home staging. Some dining rooms are small, have very little light or are part of a shared space along with a living room or kitchen.  When staging a dining room it needs to invite a buyer in and want to sit at the table.  A dining space should look comfortable and have good lighting.  If your dining room screams dark and gloomy, bring in the light!  If there is at least one wall of windows hang a mirror on the opposite wall to reflect natural light when staging the space and open up the window treatments.  In this room there was not enough wall space on the opposite wall to hang a mirror but I was able to add colorful artwork to an adjacent wall to create a focal point and lighten up the space. Placing a pair of tall, skinny lamps on a console table or sideboard with a mirror hung above will make your dining room glow and become inviting.

In addition, create a dining space. Buyers need to see a dining room, so create one!  A dining room is an easier room for buyers to envision laying out furnishings but you want to still capture their attention so add a table and chairs if you don’t have one in the space. The dining room in this home was very dark with dark wood furniture and closed window treatments. Without the table set it was like a huge dark space in the center of the room. So for an inexpensive change I set the table in a coordinating pattern of dishes and napkins to bring out the colors in the existing rug and added candles for ambiance.

As I mentioned, dining room staging can be tricky so set the table but avoid overstaging the space. It is not necessary to completely set the dining table with all your china, glasses, silverware, placemats and the like.  Again, you want to create a pleasing focal point in the dining room but setting the table as you would for a holiday dinner is too much!  Overstaging a room can possibly stir up negative thoughts and make buyers feel the home is too fancy to live in. Set the stage for buyers and make the dining room look like a space in which buyers can envision having their own family gatherings.

Another thing to consider when staging a dining room is to update your lighting fixtures. If your light fixtures are outdated and worn, purchase inexpensive new ones to instantly update your room. Gold or brass fixtures are OUT!  Go for brushed silver or bronze rod iron. You can also look for inexpensive fixtures online such as an oversized lampshade. This creates a simple and more modern update. Remove outdated wallpaper and repaint personal paint choices. Avoid a dark accent wall and repaint with a lighter and more neutral option.

Lastly, when staging a home it is important to show off the spaciousness of a room.  If a dining table seats 8 or more take a leaf or two out of the table and show 6 seats at the table.  Place the other 2 chairs on each side of a large window or one on each side of a buffet or china cabinet.  Buyers need to be able to move around the room and not feel blocked into a space. In this dining room the homeowner had extra chairs and furniture in the space they were not using. So I removed the furniture and opened up the floor space. I also removed the kid’s artwork and created more function to the china cabinet by adding some of the homeowner’s pottery collection and cookbooks. Now the room looks inviting and one that you want to sit down and enjoy a meal!


Gather together

A major kitchen overhaul can cost a huge amount of money — money you probably will not fully recoup when you sell. Instead of going for a full-on remodel, consider what small changes you can make to update your kitchen. Paint rather than replace cabinets, swap out hardware and roll out a rug. If the appliances are extremely out-of-date and you decide to replace them, don’t feel pressured to go super high end. A clean, fresh, bright kitchen that makes the most of the space will attract buyers and does not need to cost an arm and a leg.

Stage your kitchen with purpose. A successfully staged kitchen looks, feels and smells clean and fresh. So make sure everything has been cleaned inside and out. The kitchen needs to be updated so that there are no glaringly bad or out-of-date features or appliances. Many times you can freshen up the space by painting existing cabinets and not buying new ones. Or changing out the light fixtures with brighter more functional ones. Since the kitchen is also where most people find themselves gathering most you want to make it inviting and welcoming. So, make it a place that is all about cooking and functional, but also a space that invites you to stand around and enjoy a conversation.

The kitchen area of this home opens up to the dining room and also the main entryway of the home. Making the room very open and yet the floor space a little choppy. So in order to bring the space together and not draw attention to the various entrances I added a large area rug that I found in another room of the house. Cookbooks are accessories that make a kitchen look appealing and useful also. But do edit your cookbook collection — keep just one shelf’s worth and make sure each book is in good shape. If you don’t have a shelf, a small stack of cookbooks on the counter will work or open one up as I did to one of your favorite recipes.   It is like a little piece of artwork on the counter.

Also, bring in fresh fruit and flowers. By adding a fruit bowl, freshly cut flowers, branches or potted herbs it helps to bring life and cheer to your kitchen.  Also, add fresh colorful tea towels. Brand-new tea towels should be a must on any kitchen staging shopping list. They are a great, cost-effective way to add a splash of color and pattern, especially to white kitchens that can come across as bland. Keep in mind that a staged kitchen is not a practical kitchen. Staging your home is the first step in letting go and getting your home ready to sell… which is not always easy.



If you are preparing your home to put it on the market, it’s time to make the shift from thinking about it as your home to seeing it as a property that is about to be sold. Staging, when done well, can help make your home more appealing to buyers and help it sell more quickly, and maybe even for a bit more. Isn’t it better to make the best possible impression from the beginning, and not have to live through endless open houses before making a sale? Keep this in mind as you prep.

After staging this home to sell it sold within a few short weeks near listing price. The homeowners were very pleased that they not only made all of their home staging investment back at closing but they now have beautiful home accessories and some new furniture to bring with them to there new home. If you are not sure what changes to make before listing your home discuss various options with your Realtor. Most times they will work with you and help in acquiring a professional home stager. A professional stager can help you make simple affordable changes to get your home sold.


Christy Teachey is a professional home stager that I have worked with numerous times, and her eye for detail is incredible! Christy’s tips are amazing, and I’m thrilled she has taken the time to share another post with us! Her before photos were taken on her iPhone, and after photos are Rachel Carter Images.

See her last post 5 Tips for Home Staging by Christy Teachey, which has had hundreds of page views since originally published April 19, 2017.