Realtor-Approved Tricks to Stage Your Home Even If You're Not Selling

A rectangular bedroom with a round mirror mounted on the wall

Lesley Semmelhack

When you hear the phrase “home staging," it's likely that one specific scenario springs to mind: making a home look appealing to potential buyers. But staging a home doesn’t have to be just about preparing a space for prospective owners. We spoke with two top real estate agents on what they’ve learned about staging a home and how we can all incorporate these tips into our daily lives.

It turns out that while neutral paint and decluttering your home are key in prepping a space, there is so much more to staging than you might realize.

  • 01 of 07

    Consider the Flow of Your Furniture

    A living area with primary sofas arranged perpendicular to the opening

    Lesley Semmelhack

    Lesley Semmelhack, a Brooklyn-based real estate agent with The Corcoran Group, told us that one of the first things she notices about a home is how it flows. “Furniture placement is very important, as it literally dictates how people move through a space.”

    A super clean house is key for staging, but even that can't save you from feeling visually cluttered. When designing a room, consider how your furniture placement dictates exactly how you move through your home. “Placing a sofa perpendicular to the doorway to an adjoining room can visually lead people ahead,” explained Lesley. “While positioning it parallel to the opening can create the sense of a barrier.”

  • 02 of 07

    Decorate for the Season

    Flowers on the sink in a neutral-colored bathroom

    Lesley Semmelhack

    Lesley also advises her clients to consider the season. While it's common practice to remove personal belongings for staging, you can still keep your personality. When staging a home, I always like to include some seasonally appropriate details—something as simple as fruit or flowers on a countertop can set the tone. For example, apples for fall, quince for winter, or tulips for spring.” 

    These details have the added benefit of giving prospective buyers the chance to “[look] forward to the experiences they will have.” But even if you're not selling, this is a great way to enhance a space while allowing room for small changes and updates all year long. “Rich, cozy color palettes with lighter accents are ideal for the cooler months, but I move toward lighter colors across the board in spring,” said Lesley.

  • 03 of 07

    Stick to One Type of Wood

    Living and dining areas with a single floor type throughout

    Lesley Semmelhack

    If you’ve taken on the easy staging fixes and something still feels weird, Lesley has another insider tip. “Mixing wood tones can be a challenge to pull off successfully, and an overabundance of mix-matched wood is something I have to fix frequently.”

    Luckily, it’s a common problem with a fairly easy solution. “Many homes, especially historic ones, have wood floors, wood cabinets and trim, and wood furniture… all in different shades. It can be an overpowering amount of the same material! So, I’ll paint the walls or cabinets a light color to neutralize the overall look.”

  • 04 of 07

    Soften Your Angles

    A rectangular bedroom with a round mirror mounted on the wall

    Lesley Semmelhack

    “A lot of homes have rectangular rooms, lined with rectangular windows with rectangular panes,” said Lesley. This is all enhanced with boxy furniture, and that’s often where homeowners go wrong.

    “In situations like this, it’s all about softening the angles. I like to add circular coffee tables, round mirrors, and plush furniture with organic shapes. It creates a great balance.”

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Work From the Outside In

    the front of a home with well manicured landscaping

    Rose Sklar

    Florida-based real estate agent Rose Sklar of Coldwell Banker suggests starting before you even enter your home. “The front door and curb appeal are critical,” she said.

    “Clean up your landscaping, [give] your front door a fresh coat of paint, and be bold with color. [Add fresh] mulch, trim the garden, add some flowers or a potted plant and change the door hardware if needed.”

  • 06 of 07

    Update the Small Stuff

    A living area that is light and bright with white sofa and chairs and a big window without window treatments

    Rose Sklar

    When it comes to staging a home, it’s easy to pick out the big things that need changing, like carpeting or paint colors. But Rose told us that the smaller accents play a huge role in the feel of a space, too. “Dated light fixtures and draperies make a room feel tighter and smaller,” she said. “An easy fix can be removing heavy cornices, balloon curtains, or dark draperies that keep out the light. This can brighten up the room and make it feel larger.”

    If you prefer a moody space, you can still create a more welcoming vibe. For a  “darker, cozy feel,” said Rose, “just removing some oversized furniture can make a room feel more airy, giving it a more open feel. Lighten up the rug color and some light-neutral accessories.”

  • 07 of 07

    Work With Your Floorplan–Not Against It

    home staging tips

    Rose Sklar

    A difficult floor plan can feel like a massive hurdle when staging a home, but Rose has tricks for this, too. “The key is to utilize furniture that is scaled properly to the room. Try and create small spaces that work together, using rugs to designate where the spaces begin and end.”

    This doesn’t just apply to large-scale rooms. “If you have small spaces, lighten up the color to create the illusion of more space. Make sure the ceiling is not dark as this closes in the feel of the tight space. Remove dark draperies and let the sunshine in. LED lighting is king.”

One thing is for sure: whether you’re looking to make a few small tweaks for your own day-to-day style or you’re hoping to make a great first impression on guests, real estate agents know what it takes to make a home truly shine.