House Staging on a Budget

In a difficult house market, it is vital to try to do things that make your house stand out in a crowd when you are trying to sell it. With many houses having competitive pricing, you’ll want your house to be memorable.  One way to do that is to stage your house to make it more inviting to prospective buyers.

Tips for How to House Stage on a Budget from The Happy Housewife

I will admit that I never thought much about staging a home for sale.  I had seen shows all about it, but since we weren’t selling our house, it just wasn’t anything I worried about.  However, when my Grandpa was unable to sell his very unique home after a year on the market, he switched realtors and the new one brought in a professional house stager to give us suggestions.  I was thrilled when many were small changes that made a big impact (and without breaking the bank).

The Goal

House staging, or setting up your home in a particular way for the sake of presentation, has a couple of goals in mind:

  • To more quickly sell your home
  • To help prospective buyers better envision what their lives might look like in your home
  • To keep the attention of a prospective buyer
  • To enhance the flow of your home
  • To highlight the positives in each room

General Guidelines

In every area of your home (inside and outside), there are some changes that easily help the appearance:

  • Remove clutter from surfaces, corners, wherever you tend to gather clutter — even if you think, “Oh, but I have my phone book and papers all neatly stacked in one spot on my kitchen counter,” find a drawer for it.
  • Make small repairs, especially those that are very visible
  • Clean your home in a way that you would normally clean it for special company.  If you are no longer living in the house, try to periodically clean again.
  • If a piece of furniture isn’t needed – remove it.  (For example, in my Grandparents’ dining room, they had a TV stand and television.  These were removed, and instantly gave the room better flow.)
  • Remove decorations that are very loud or that take away from the decor.
  • Remove any seasonal decorations that are currently out of season.
  • Remove decorations like doilies, lace runners, or other such items.
  • If you have moved out of your home, make sure you aren’t leaving pieces of furniture like china cabinets or entertainment centers with nothing on them.  Leave at least a few decorative items.

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife

The Kitchen

  • Clear as much off the counters as possible.  Then, add back in some colorful accents (but not too many), such as a cookbook on a stand, a bowl of fruit, a chopping board, or a colorful bowl.  This was, hands down, one of my favorite changes in my Grandparents’ house.  It was simply having a $6 book stand with a cookbook open to a yummy looking recipe and picture.  So simple!  (We also added in a cobalt blue bowl in another area.)
  • Clean all appliances.

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife

The Dining Room

  • If your dining room table has seen better days, consider using a crisp, simple table cloth.  If you have a lovely table, however, let it uncovered.  (In my Grandparents’ house, they always used a table cloth, but they have a gorgeous wooden table.  Removing the table cloth instantly gave the room a richer look and feel.)
  • Fresh flowers in a simple vase can greatly enhance the look of your dining room table.  (Because fresh flowers would be difficult at my Grandparents’ house, we went with very realistic artificial flowers that are in a clear vase with rocks at the bottom and “water.”)  Another option would be candles.

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife

Living Areas

  • Matching throw pillows were a suggestion that came up again and again from our professional stager.  She wanted a couple on each couch, as well as on the beds.  This gives the house a more homey feel.  We were able to buy inexpensive throw pillows at both Goodwill and Walmart.
  • Keep curtains or blinds open when showing the house.
  • During showings, turn on lamps, if you have them.

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife


  • Always, always, always make sure that beds are made before a showing.
  • A couple of decorative pillows on a neatly made bed can be a lovely addition.
  • Keep curtain or blinds open during showings, if possible.


  • Clear off counters.
  • Remove/hide trash can.
  • Always make sure the toilet seat and cover are both down.

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife

Focus on Most Unique Part of Your Home

Do you have something unique about your home?  If you do, this is an area to put special focus on.  Maybe you think you don’t have an area like that, but take some time to consider something that you might have that doesn’t show up in the majority of homes.  This could be as simple as a window seat or as elaborate as the two story sun room with fish pond that my Grandparents house has.  (For the record, in my own home, though I don’t think it’s an impressive area, our unique area would be our screened in back porch.)

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife

In my Grandparents’ house, we spent special time setting up areas that would help people to imagine spending relaxing time in this sun room.  That included setting up a sitting area with magazines and a coffee mug.  We also took a patio set out of that room and moved it outside.  We finally took down my Grandma’s Christmas tree and put it into storage, switching it out for a ficus tree that had been sitting elsewhere in the house.

House Staging on a Budget | The Happy Housewife

We were thrilled at the results of a weekend of work and less than $100 spent.  It also made the house perfectly ready for a session with a professional photographer that the realtor arranged for the listing pictures.

What suggestions do you have for easy house staging on a budget?

Angie, a contributing writer at The Happy Housewife, is a homeschooling mom to three children and writes about everything that happens in their lives between all the loads of laundry at Many Little Blessings.  She is also the founder of The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Mothers Online, Tiny Owl {Designs}, and Just a Tiny Owl {Etsy shop}.

About Angie Kauffman

Angie, a domestically-challenged artist and writer, is a homeschooling mom to three children. She writes about everything that happens in their lives between all the loads of laundry at Many Little Blessings. She is also the founder of The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Printables Online, and Catholic Mothers Online.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.


  1. I’m sure your staging will help the house sell. As will the professional photography for the listing. I’ve seen far too many horrible photos of house on listing services, and have always wondered why the sellers or Realtor never took the time to take better pictures. As they say “a picture is worth a million words”.
    I love the cookbook open on the stand, that ‘s a great touch!

    • We’re definitely hoping that the house will sell. It’s been on the market for over a year now, but the first realtor held only one open house in all that time and didn’t promote the house at all. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the house is that it is farther away from the major city that it is near. But, we’re hoping that someone will decide they want some small town living!

  2. Excellent and well written article. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I have shared it on my fan page:

  3. While I hope we won’t need these tips for a very, very long time, It is nice to think of ways to make your house look nice even for guests. “Staging” your home for a party can make your guests feel very comfortable and at ease.

    • That’s a great idea! Isn’t it funny that we worked on it so much and I didn’t even think about doing it at my own house. Well, except I had to buy a cookbook holder too. 😉 (It also works great for using my iPad in the kitchen for recipes.)

  4. As a former Realtor I told my clients all of this plus a few more.

    1. Clean everything off the fridge. It looks better.
    2. Bake something yummy….apple pie, chocolate chip cookies. Try to stay away from frying anything or baking fish.
    3. Remove personal pictures. Buyers want to picture themselves there.
    4. Take half of everything out of the closets. Let them look as large as possible.
    5. Nothing to do with staging but plese lock up all medicine. People were coming into homes under the pretense of buying & actually going through medicine cabinets.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Jessica says:

    a few nice new fluffy towels

  6. Somebody's Mimi says:

    Staging a home to sell? I think these are fabulous ideas to stage your home for living! Two lifetimes (or maybe it was 3) ago, I was a top RE agent in Houston and nobody had heard of “staging” a home, but I did give these tips to my clients and those that listened got their homes SOLD before the the clients that didn’t listen. Great tips for selling a home or having a comfortable, uncluttered home to live in. Well, done… and good luck!

  7. As a home builder and a Realtor, I have to say this is a great post. I wish all of my clients would follow this advice! We recently sold our home in 40 days at 98% of list price and I believe it was due to a lot of these suggestions. I included this post on my blog…

    And, I love Happy’s blog for a number of reasons. I read almost every post. 🙂

  8. These are great tips. I usually hear agents get all fussy about hiring someone who’s an “expert”, but you can often save time and money just learning basic stuff like this. Goes a long way.

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