Staging is all about highlighting the best features of each room in your home. Oftentimes, you can do that by bringing in furniture and design elements that convey the perfect mood or story. But what happens when you don’t have any money to spend on staging? Perhaps you’re paying for two mortgages now and you can’t justify spending another red cent on upgrading a home you’re only trying to escape from.

If you see the value in staging, but can’t afford to spend a lot of money on it, you’ll love this post. Below, we’re sharing no cost ways to stage your home. Keep in mind that when you’re staging your home for free, it’s more about subtracting than adding. Let’s begin.

Deep Clean

It’s time to put on your white gloves and go around the home looking for dust like a pretentious butler from an 80’s tv sitcom. Deep cleaning is the absolute first thing you should do before showing your home to potential buyers.

Not sure which areas to focus on? Here are my favorite—often overlooked—areas to deep clean, along with a few cleaning hacks that will help you sell your home faster:

  • Concentrate on the tile grout on your floors, counters, and walls. Grime and gunk can turn once-white grout into an unsightly gray. Clorox toilet cleaner with bleach can restore the whiteness to your grout.
  • Do you have stubborn spots on your carpet? Get rid of them with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish soap. Here’s the “recipe”.
  • Speaking of Dawn dish soap, combine it with a bucket of water to clean your windows, streak-free. You’ll also want to take some vinegar and cotton tips to the window sills, as shown on this tutorial by Anna Moseley.

anna moseley

Image Courtesy of Anna Moseley

  • Create a pleasant “clean” smell in your home after you’ve deep cleaned it. Nothing beats the smell of orange and lemon peel potpourri, and you probably already have both rosemary and lemons on hand. Here’s a great, economical potpourri recipe.

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Clear Off Surfaces

Nothing makes a house seem more cramped and confined than clutter. You may not be aware of how cluttered your home looks to outsiders because your eyes have grown accustomed to the space. However, if there’s a gazillion contrasting design elements in your home that are all competing for attention, a potential buyer may feel claustrophobic.

This feeling will overwhelm the potential buyer, inciting panic and a need to get out of your home immediately.

Yeah, it’s that serious.

While you may think your collection of Star Wars memorabilia adds personality to your home, I can assure you that’s it’s not the type of personality that will actually sell it.

When it doubt, clear it out.

In fact, clear it out anyway. Here are my favorite clutter control tips:

  • De-cluttering includes vertical surfaces, too. That means your walls need to be free of clutter. The photo collage of your family tree? Not helpful in selling a home. Your family may be lovely, but they’re not going to sell your place. Neither will your mounted deer antlers or your kitchen wallpaper border.
  • But, don’t go completely bare on the walls. There’s still room for a little personality and a human touch that minimizes the starkness.
  • One common mistake a lot of people make is to set a full table, showcasing every piece of china they own. A fussy table setting can interrupt the eye from the real features that will sell your home– such as your bay windows or wainscoting.

Make the Space Look Bigger

One thing that every buyer looks for in a home is space. You can use the following staging tricks to create the illusion of space. Here are a few of my favorite ideas for making any space look bigger:

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  • Remove all of the rugs from kitchen, hallways, and bathrooms. Rugs can make the space look small because it breaks up a continuous surface. A busy pattern can also contribute to visual clutter.
  • Hang curtains higher and wider to frame the windows and lift the eye. This trick makes your room feel taller.
  • Strategically placed mirrors can do wonders for the home. Place a mirror across from a light source, especially if that source is a bright window. You can also use mirrors to balance out a space. For example, if you have an offset window, you can position a similarly sized and shaped mirror on the other side to create symmetry.
  • Don’t show the space until you’ve packed up at least the non-essential things, including off-season clothes, extra linens, and family keepsakes.

Organize the Chaos

There’s clutter and then there’s chaos. Clutter is visual noise, but it can appear organized and tidy. The main problem with clutter is that it crowds the space and makes it feel closed in, no matter how neatly arranged. Chaos, on the other hand, is just a bunch of stuff thrown together in a haphazard fashion, like a junk drawer or a storage closet.

In clutter causes buyers anxiety and trepidation, chaos can have them running for the hills. Chaos makes your home feel dirty, even when it’s not.

Here are some tips to minimize the chaos in your home:

  • Remove as much of your “stuff” from the home as possible. If you plan to stay in your home during the process of selling, limit your personal items to the bare necessities and store the rest at a storage facility (not in your garage, and I’ll explain why in a bit).
  • Do you have children who don’t want to part with their beloved stuffed animals and Lego pieces? Invest in toy bins for your kids’ rooms and use them to put away all toys nightly and especially before a showing.
  • Did a bomb just explode in your closet? Clothes, shoes, and random boxes on the floor obscure the size of your closets, making them look much smaller. Pack away what doesn’t need to stay, and then neatly arrange the rest, understanding that people will be looking in your closet (and judging you). But the real reason is that everyone wants more storage space, so you’ve got to show them what’s possible.
  • Chaos doesn’t just exist inside the home. Chaos can wreak havoc on the outside, too. Do you have a ton of toys, furniture, lawn and garden equipment, potted plants, or random trinkets outdoors that take up visual real estate? It’s time to pack them up and transfer them to your next home.
  • Your garage doesn’t escape examination. You can’t use your garage as a dumping ground for moving boxes and random odds and ends that you don’t want cluttering up the home. Why? Potential buyers are going to check out the garage, too! They’re nosy like that. And if they can’t see it because you’ve got boxes stacked from floor to ceiling, you’ve wasted a valuable selling point. Garages may not be the main deciding factor of whether or not someone buys your home, but it’s certainly a consideration.

Let the Light In

Light can sell homes, and the good news is: light is free (or really cheap). All you need to do is the following:

  • Open the blinds. Be sure that your blinds are dusted and deep cleaned, also.
  • If you have neutral or solid colored curtains tucked away in a closet somewhere (I’m willing to bet you do), choose those. In a staged home, curtains shouldn’t be too dark or pattern-heavy.
  • Use sheer curtains to increase light flow even if you’d like to maintain privacy.
  • Replace light bulbs. I know you have extra light bulbs hanging around your home that you just haven’t screwed in yet. Now’s the time. By the way, don’t go dim with your wattage. Use a 100 watt equivalent bulb to shine light even in the darkest areas of your home.

Rearrange Your Seating Areas

Here’s where you may find the most noticeable difference in your home. If you don’t have the budget to buy or rent new furniture, work with what you’ve got. Here are some ideas:

  • Is your furniture pushed against the wall? Move it into the center of a room, into an area that seems more natural and conversational. Where you place your couch can drastically alter the look, feel, and flow of your room.

fred gonsowski

Image Courtesy of Fred Gonsowski Garden Home

  • Get rid of pieces. While you may have a large family and need 12 chairs plus a bench in your dining room, keep your average buyer in mind. Can you tell the story of a spacious dining room with just a table and six chairs? Remember, you don’t have to throw away your furniture, unless it’s time. But, you should store extra pieces that don’t really look great in your room.
  • Borrow furniture from your friends and family to define sparse areas. Many times, family doesn’t mind—especially if you promise to give it back.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need to spend a lot of money in order to create a welcoming and homey atmosphere. Use the above tips to stage your home to sell in no time (with no money).

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