Staging Tips for Selling (or Just Simplifying) Your Home – On a Budget

Staging Tips for Selling (or Just Simplifying) Your Home - On a Budget

**Note from Anna: I think you’re really going to love this guest post by my super-talented friend, Shayla Pauley! Shayla’s tips are helpful if you want to know how to stage your home yourself or if you just want to simplify your home for a less cluttered life!

If you need or want any staging help in the Cleveland, Ohio area, be sure to reach out to her at:

We were on a tight budget when we listed our home for sale. However, we knew staging would play an important part in selling our home at our desired price-point. Being resourceful and using our talents we realized there were so many little changes we could make to create a better feel and attract more buyers without overspending.

We also knew statistically that staging a home helps it sell for more money and faster than non-staged homes. Our awesome real-estate agent, Ashley Newell, of Royal Arch Homes who is a real estate agent in Boulder and Denver, Colorado, confirmed that! (She also just so happens to be Anna’s sister-in-law, too! Pretty cool!)

Since I’ve always loved interior design and had done some staging in the past professionally and also for friends, I decided to stage our house myself! We were on a tight budget and sold our house for more than the asking price so Anna and I wanted to pass on these tips to you so you can make top dollar on your home too!

The process of staging is very fulfilling to me! So, getting to stage our home myself checked off the box from our realtor, Ashley, to stage our home for the best outcome, and it’s also opened up a great second career for me!

In staging my home and others, I found some things that work well and make a big impact. I’ll share those tips with you so that if you find yourself needing to stage your home or just want to update and renew your space you can apply these tips right away.

Here are the top 10 things that I did in staging my own home that made the biggest difference.


Less stuff in your home will make it appear bigger. You may feel it looks empty but to a prospective buyer it will feel open and airy. Take out as much as possible, and then remove even more. Do it a few times. It’s amazing how much you can eliminate each time. Place it in a pod or storage unit. You could also just get rid of it and save your money from storing/and or moving it. That can be hard for people and for me personally the moving and selling was stressful enough so I just stored it and dealt with it when I was better equipped to deal with it all mentally. Like I said, you may feel like your house feels a bit empty or bare for your liking but remember you want it to feel open and airy which gives the appearance that it’s larger. Too much stuff in a room makes the room shrink visually.


Take all personal items out (pictures of family, sports team items, framed degrees or awards, etc). Hang a few neutral pieces of art in the empty spaces. Check Pinterest, furniture store idea rooms or magazines like Architectural Digest if you need ideas.


Buy a nice, textured throw blanket to drape over your couch, or on the foot of your bed so it looks pretty. It will make the rooms look cozy and inviting.


Pay attention to curb appeal. Clean up your yard. Get a new front door mat. Clean your front porch including your door. First impressions matter! Consider purchasing new address numbers that pop. Also if you live inside a condo or building you can add a plant outside your door to set it apart from the other units. A nice tasteful wreath that’s seasonally appropriate with simple greenery from your local nursery can make a dated front door look more upscale.


Rearrange your furniture to create more conversational seating. For example; don’t face all the chairs and couches just pointing directly at the TV. Arrange them to face one another instead. Again check social media and magazines for ideas. Clean dirty furniture and remove really large or bulky pieces if possible.


Think “Light and Bright”. Even if you LOVE bold jewel tones, not everyone does and it can be distracting and even off-putting to prospective buyers. While it might not be your style, paint dark walls a light neutral shade. Open up all your drapes and turn on your lights. The lighter and brighter a house is, the larger the rooms will appear. (Are you noticing a theme here?:))


Play up your homes best features. Because we have pets, we made the decision to have our home’s wood floors sanded and polished. That made a huge difference and really got prospective buyers attention! If something like that isn’t in the budget then a really good cleaning and polish can make the floors look new.


Make sure all the windows are sparkling clean, inside and out. You can buy a special glass cleaner that attaches to your water hose to spray any high windows you can’t reach for the outside of the windows. This is a great trick if hiring professional window cleaner is cost-prohibitive. The special glass cleaner dries streak-free and lets a lot of light shine through.


Take all appliances off your kitchen counters. For the Open House if you won’t be there for the weekend consider even removing your coffee pot. Not everyone drinks coffee and even if they did they may find a different spot more functional, so they don’t need to see how you placed yours.


Decorate with a few tidy and tasteful plants and fresh flowers and if possible air out your house prior to each showing. Open a window (even during winter) for just a little while to clear the space of any stuffy smells.


As I mentioned before, when we decided to list our home our budget for staging and repairs was very, very tight. However, since we knew we were in a competitive Sellers market and we needed to get top dollar for our home, we decided to do a small remodel to our guest bathroom which was on the 1st floor.

The bathroom was completely dated and we determined that doing the remodel was pretty much a necessity to be able to price our house at what we wanted. We kept it very simple and did all of the work ourselves. It meant living with a torn up room much longer than if had we hired someone, but it saved us a ton of money.

For our remodel, my husband found subway tile on Craigslist for a fraction of what it would’ve cost from a traditional retailer. Turns out, we actually ended up with so much left over tile that we were able to resell it and it almost paid for itself! Being creative with gathering your materials can make a big difference in the price of your project.

It was a simple, cosmetic remodel with (thankfully!) no electrical or detailed plumbing needed. There are two ways to look at redoing things on your own. Time and money. We had to push back the listing of our house a bit to finish the project, but we saved thousands doing the work ourselves and we know we made more on the sale of the house having the remodel of that bathroom complete. Every situation is different so look at the bigger picture and see what’s going to work best for your own life needs.


We also made an accent wall by exposing some brick in our dining room using Anna’s husband, Aaron’s How to Expose a Brick Wall tutorial! This was not an easy project and we had to hire someone to finish the trim but we knew that it would make such a big impact that it was worth it to us in the long run.

Before starting any project, ask yourselves if it will be worth it not only financially, but emotionally, physically and time-wise to do the projects.

If you’re handy enough to tackle some minor home improvement projects on your own, just be sure to consult with your agent first to see which projects are going to give you a good return on your investment. Don’t waste time or money if it’s not necessary. I would say kitchens and bathrooms are the more important areas, if they are dated. Kitchens don’t have to be a major overhaul. Painting the cabinets can be a huge transformation.


As far the home we were selling, I spent $200 on some new decor pieces from Homegoods that I only used for the open house and photos so that it looked like a home in a magazine. You don’t want anything looking crumpled or used, especially for the photos. The items I purchased were new throws, some decorative succulents and a few aesthetically interesting but simple decorations.

New throw pillows for your couch can do wonders for sprucing up your old furniture and it’s an inexpensive way to update an older couch. Also just spot cleaning and vacuuming your furniture will give it new life. I scrubbed our sectional to make it look like new! Yes, I know the furniture isn’t selling the house or even going to stay in the house but you want everything in the home as clean as possible for a good impression. If you have pets make sure to spray the furniture and drapes with a deodorizer and let it air out completely before showings. Pet smells and overwhelming fragrances can both be off putting to prospective buyers.

Don’t let beat up, damaged or stained furniture take attention away from your house. I have small children and our dining table has seen many crafts projects so I couldn’t leave it bare. I set my table as though I was having a dinner party. I purchased some inexpensive, pretty chargers and a luxurious looking tablecloth.

Shayla’s Pro Staging Tip: Keep the pieces you select white. You’ll be able to reuse them, they’ll look fresh, and they’ll go with anything.

Wanna hear some insider info? I know of some stylists in New York City that actually keep the tags on items (hidden of course) for photoshoots and then return the items after the photographs are taken. I did NOT do that myself. I loved the items I bought and kept them for my new home. I’ll leave that decision up to you and your own personal choice, but it’s not unheard of among some pretty big stylists, to return unused items after photos are taken.

Shayla’s Pro Staging Tip: Simple touches and tweaks can make big impacts.



When we listed our house we made sure to leave for the weekend during our open house. We cleaned it from top to bottom and then got out of town. It gave us an adventure and it took our minds off of stressing about how the open house was going.

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a hotel consider camping or staying with a friend if possible. We received offers during the first open house and sold our house the first weekend (thankfully! because open houses and showings can be hard on a family!) Of course, not every market is as strong but hopefully staging your home will increase your chances at a fast and great offer!

Before you leave, just remember to create a warm, inviting, clean environment that people will remember and somewhere they will want to return to. After all, you are wanting them to move in!


I completely understand that staging your home on your own may not be for you. Staging can be tricky for a few reasons:

  1. You have to be willing to look at your house through someone else’s eyes. (That cherished wedding gift you got from your aunt might not give a new buyer the best first impression and that might be a hard pill to swallow!)
  2. You may not feel like you have an eye for design.

If you’re willing to really dig deep and make some tough decisions about what you can live without for a brief period of time, using my tips you will be able to stage your house yourself. This will be helpful if you aren’t able to pay a professional to do it for you. Keep in mind that if you like more “stuff” around you will need to step way out of your comfort zone.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process!

We’d love to hear what tips YOU have for staging your home/simplifying your home. Tell us in the comments!

P.S. If you need help staging your home in the Cleveland area, I’d love to be of service! I can be reached at:

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